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The Legacy and Impact of Mildred Dresselhaus on Next Generation Career Education

Helen Zeng recounts Millie's mentorship through the years and Millie's impact on AARD.

Published onApr 14, 2018
The Legacy and Impact of Mildred Dresselhaus on Next Generation Career Education

Helen Zeng
Senior Scientist, with Prof. Millie Dresselhaus at MIT Jan 2013-Dec 2014
Affiliated with Millie Group 2015-2016. AARD Founder


Millie’s Impact on My Professional Career and to AARD


We miss Millie so much! She was a mentor to my career development at MIT and to my own personal life. As a fellow woman in science and engineering, she was a huge inspiration. She would always say, “Just do it even if you hear ‘no’”. I had been a faculty member in KY for 4 years (2004-2008), a visiting professor at MSE in MIT (2008-2009), and worked with Dr. J. Kong for over 3 years before I worked with Millie as a senior scientist in her group (Jan. 2013-Dec. 2014). At that point I had already obtained two research grants at MIT, successfully supervised diverse students, visiting scholars, and served on the NSF proposal panel for over 15 years. With my intensive experience in education and training students, I planned to establish an academy for high school and undergraduate students in 2015, and it won her support.


The Academy for Advanced Research and Development (AARD) was born in January of 2016 at the Cambridge Innovation Center. Our mission is to provide year-round professional training for students in the labs for research experience in order to prepare them for more advanced studies fields of interest and for successful career development in top universities.

Apart from mentoring to me, Millie promised to be one of the supervisors for AARD, but she left us. Although she is no longer with us physically, her ideals of educating and opening opportunities for the youth moves us forward.

Our group members were with Millie for her MRS Von Hippel Award in 2013.

Millie’s Impacts on My Professional Career at MIT

She always encouraged me to help students with developing research projects, helping to design experiments, solving problems, and supervising students for data analyses, and writing publications. She specially supervised me to write better proposals for funding.

Millie would help me bring our supervised students to conference events for public judgements.

Millie’s last paper with me and our student Andrea. With Millie’s help, I supervised Andrea for her project at MIT. Published on Jan 19, 2017

Millie’s Impacts on Women’s Professional Career Development in Science/Engineering Community

Millie always encouraged me to go to professional conferences, and introduced her collaborators to me. She taught and inspired to keep overcoming problems and face challenges in the scientific community.

Millie’s Impact on My Personal Life

We sincerely thank the Dresselhaus family for inviting us for Thanksgiving dinner in 2009. We will never forget the musical performance put up by Millie’s family.

Celebrating birthdays for Millie

Celebrating birthdays for Millie on Nov. 11th was a tradition in our office for Dr. Dresselhaus’ and Dr. J. Kong’s groups.

Millie advised me to keep my son busy by involving in science.

Millie’s Impact on AARD

❖ Building a bridge for high school/college students to top universities

❖ Discover students with high potential in STEM programs

❖ Provide professional trainings to youth for the future to Serve the World

❖ Provide internship research opportunities and perform better career supervision


After I have spent much time to help high school and college student visiting groups. I discussed with Millie for the need of high time commitment and professional training demand in preparing the students ready for top universities. Thus the AARD was founded by me with Millie’s mentoring support in Jan. 2016. Prof. Zhonglin Wang in Georgia Tech gave the name “Academy for Advanced Research and Development (AARD).

AARD Team is formed by retired MIT and Harvard professors/scientists, and alumni. Millie mentored me for how to legally become users of shared facilities, and advised us for how to find advisors from her colleagues.

AARD Continues… and so does Millie!

In memory of Millie’s supervision in STEM education for the youth, we offer STEM programs & lab research projects year-round in our AARD labs. We prepare these talented candidates for top universities and to become industry leaders.

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