Doing a Thesis with Millie Dresselhaus

Dean Tsang (student 1974-1976) recalls the way that Millie mentored him as an undergraduate and helped him to write his thesis.
by Dean Z. Tsang
Mar 20, 2018chevron-down
0 Discussions (#public)
1 Contributor
Doing a Thesis with Millie Dresselhaus
··

Dean Z. Tsang
Student in Millie’s Group and Millie’s Course 1974-1976

Millie was my Bachelor’s thesis advisor. Millie taught me to do research and write scientific papers. Millie wrote influential letters of reference that helped immensely with admission to graduate schools.

I went on to an MSEE (Illinois) and ScD (MIT), and published over 30 additional papers at Lincoln Lab on high-speed modulation of semiconductor lasers and optical interconnects. I also worked in industry on electro-optic variables attenuators and other fiber-optic components and have 8 patents.


HOW DID MILLIE DO IT?

Millie lecturing. Photo courtesy of Dresselhaus Family
Millie lecturing. Photo courtesy of Dresselhaus Family

This much is clear:

First, Millie worked extremely hard. She multi-tasked and could multi-thread simultaneous conversations. She also used every minute that she had to talk science and get work done. For example, near the end of our meetings together, Millie would often ask me to walk with her to West Garage, to utilize the several minutes walk.

Millie was always able to encourage and extract the best from her students.


TOP REASONS TO DO A BACHELOR'S THESIS WITH MILLIE

I wanted to do a thesis with Millie, first and foremost, because I know the work would be publishable. This was important, because no other professor had a publishable topic. It was especially important to me, because it wound up being my first publication.

I also signed up to do thesis work with Millie because she’d allow me to do work over January IAP. This sounded very attractive, but by Jan. 31, I had to register for more thesis and it actually took many times Millie’s estimate.


TOPIC

Intrinsic c-axis electrical conductivity of graphite was controversial. There were two camps of thought.

  • PYROLYTIC GRAPHITE IS INTRINSIC 5.9 (ohm-cm)-1

  • NATURAL GRAPHITE IS INTRINSIC 150 (ohm-cm)-1

A new form of graphite, kish graphite, was found in steel furnaces. Does it have conductivity like natural graphite? Millie’s conjecture was that it did.


MILLIE'S NOTES FROM FIRST THESIS TOPIC MEETING CIRCA Nov 1973


WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WORK WITH MILLIE?

I enjoyed it. I got to work with Millie, herself, personally, and wasn’t fobbed off onto her postdoc or grade students (even though Dave Platts and the group helped me when I asked them for help). I also got weekly one-on-one meetings with Millie, as well as weekly meetings with Millie’s research group.


WEEKLY 1-ON-1 MEETINGS

First, we reviewed the work we’d done the previous week. We discussed progress that had been made, and any problems or issues that had arisen.

Millie then gave suggestions. This was an impressive thing to witness, because Millie had infinite ideas! In fact, I found it was best to leave at the allotted time… otherwise, Millie would give me more ideas than I could possibly do in a week!

Even so, whenever I left, Millie would think up more ideas! I remember her poking her head out of the door of her office, and calling out suggestions for additional things I could try.


BUT THE FLAKES ARE ONLY 2 BY 2 mm AND 0.1 mm THICK!

D. Z. TSANG AND M. S. DRESSELHAUS, CARBON, 14, 43 (1976).


“DON'T PANIC, IT NEVER HELPS TO PANIC” (THESIS DUE IN ~2 WEEKS)


THESIS DRAFT P. 1

We used cursive before PCs.  Here is one of the drafts of my thesis.


ROOM TEMPERATURE c-AXIS CONDUCTIVITY

  • KISH GRAPHITE¹ 130 - 150 (ohm-cm)⁻¹

  • NATURAL GRAPHITE² 150 - 230 (ohm-cm)⁻¹

  • PYROLYTIC GRAPHITE³ 5.9 (ohm-cm)⁻¹

Kish graphite is like natural graphite (so Millie was right)!


¹ D. Z. Tsang and M. S. Dresselhaus, Carbon, 14, 43 (1976).
² W. Primak and L. H. Fuchs, Phys. Rev. 95, 22 (1954).
³ I. L. Spain, A. R. Ubbelohde, and D. A. Young, Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. (London) A262, 1128 (1967).


RELATIVE TEMPERATURE DEPENDENCE

D. Z. TSANG AND M. S. DRESSELHAUS, CARBON, 14, 43 (1976).

(Millie would tell you this is more meaningful than the absolute conductivity.)


COURSE MATERIALS (NOTES, HOMEWORK, AND QUIZZES) FOR MILLIE'S PHYSICS OF SOLIDS II


COURSE MATERIALS COMPARISON VS. MILLIE'S CONTEMPORARIES


Discussions


Labels
Sort

No Discussions Yet