Professor Mildred (Millie) Dresselhaus has passed away. She was to the international carbon community, what the Queen of the United Kingdom is to her subjects.

Millie Dresselhaus with Abu Yaya at the 2009 NanoteC conference

Millie graciously supported British Carbon Group meetings, such as NanoteC, which she last attended in 2009 in Brussels, invited by Dr Gregory Van Lier. She is shown here with Dr Abu Yaya, from the University of Accra, Ghana, at NanoteC09 where she presented the prestigious BCG Ubbelohde lecture ‘Developments in optical spectroscopy of carbon nano-materials’.

Mildred, initially with her husband, was prominent in the science of graphite intercalation compounds when the carbon nanotechnology revolution started with the discovery of fullerenes. The tide of affairs in the science of carbon gushed from the 1985 discovery of fullerenes through nanotubes to 2004 revelation of graphene and Millie was the pivot about which the accurate characterization of these materials turned. Her extraordinarily successful scientific career was recognised in many ways, but most recently through the US Presidential Medal of Freedom, the US National Medal of Science and the Kävli prize, of which she was the first to be awarded on her own.

We sought a personal perspective from one of her many collaborators, the illustrious Brazilian Professor, Ado Jorio, of UFMG:

Millie is gone, and it is a big loss to so many people. I received so many emails from all over the world. Millie was one of the greatest scientists in this planet, but this is just a detail. She was also an example as a person. Kindness, ready to help, always pointing to the good side of things, always leading towards constructive actions. Just like what this world needs to be better. It was a bless to have had the opportunity to share a piece of Millie´s life. Millie will be eternal, just like a piece of art.”

If anyone is interested to see Millie in action, here is a link to a 2001 video lecture recorded by the Vega Science Trust.

Malcolm Heggie. Chair BCG