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A Tribute to Millie

Petero Kwizera describes his time spent with Millie as a graduate student (1972-1981), and how Millie impacted his life after he graduated.

Published onMar 21, 2018
A Tribute to Millie
Me and Gene and Millie, at Millie's 80th birthday. Photo credit: Paul McGrath

Petero Kwizera
Edward Waters College
1658 Kings Rd
Jacksonville, Florida 32209


I first came to MIT as a graduate student from Uganda starting with the fall semester of 1974.

I joined Millie’s research group in 1977 when she supervised my research for a masters of science degree in Physics at MIT. In addition to my masters degree (1978), Millie supervised my doctorate research — also in physics — which I completed in 1981

To me, Millie was not only a teacher and mentor but also a mother and friend. She made me feel confident at MIT and also made me feel comfortable socially. She helped me to solidify my academic status and invited me not just to research group meetings, but also to events at her house and events with her family. I was invited to her home several times and attended her daughter’s graduation and wedding.

Research guidance by Millie and Gene Dresselhaus led to several publications.

My First Research Effort under Millie

The first research effort was on electronic structure of nickel dichalcogenides for the Mott insulator-metal transition due to electron-electron and electron-phonon interaction in the 3d eg band associated with the nickel ions. This led to an SM degree in Physics in collaboration with A. K. Mabatah, Millie’s doctoral student from Nigeria.

Me (left) helping Millie and Gene to celebrate their anniversary, 1978

Physics for Development

I attended a conference on “Focus of Physics on Science and Technology for Development” in Nova Scotia, Canada (1980). This was due to Millie’s support, as her research assistant and doctoral student. The conference led to the report listed in the Papers and Publications section below. This helped to prepare me for my work in East Africa (Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda) from 1982 to 2002.

I also had a second area of where I placed major research effort under Millie’s supervision. The next research effort as Millie’s doctoral student and research assistant was in alkali metal intercalation of graphite fibers. From this effort, I wrote even more papers.

Me and Millie at her 80th birthday. Photo Credit: Paul McGrath


From 1977 to 1981, I was a research student under Millie, and had the benefit of support from Millie and Gene. I attended science conferences in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia. The research group was very supportive even after I returned to teach in East Africa (University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, University of Nairobi in Kenya, and Makerere University in Uganda). While I was working in Tanzania, Millie also provided me with support for a research visit for three months during summer of 1984.

My life lesson from Millie and Gene is that it is possible to combine excellence and persistence with compassion.

Papers and publications

ELECTRONIC STRUCTURE OF NICKEL DICHALCOGENIDES. P Kwizera, A.K. Mabatah, D Adler and M. S Dresselhaus. proc. 15th Int. Physics of Semiconductors . Kyoto.1980.

P. Kwizera, M.S. Dresselhaus and D. Alder, "Electrical Properties of NiS2-x Sex", Psy. Rev. B21 pp. 2328 - 2335 (1980).

P. Kwizera, A. K. Mabatah, D. Alder and M. S. Dresselhaus. "Electronic Structure "Electronic Structure of Nickel Dichalcogenides", J. Pys. Soc. Japan 49 SUPPL. A. (1980) pp. 691-694.

P. Kwizera, A. Erbil and M.S Dresselhaus, "Staging in Alkali Metal Intercalated Graphite Fibers as characterized by X-ray Diffraction and Raman Spectra", Carbon 19 pp. 144 - 146 (1981).

P. Kwizera, A. K. Mabatah, M.S Dresselhaus and D. Alder, "Electrical Properties of Ni I-Z CuZ S2 Phys. Rev. B24 pp. 2972-2977 (1981).

P. Kwizera, Final report prepared by the POPA Committee on International scientific Affairs.

For the APS Panel on Public Affairs, to the APS panel on public Affairs, to the APS Council and physics Community on Baddeck Conference on Focus of physics on Science and Technology for Development 16-19 Oct. 1980, P. W89, p. W89 (Uganda). An American physical Society Sponsored Workshop at the Alexander Graham Bell Complex, Baddeck, N.S Canada.

P. Kwizera, M.S. Dresselhaus and G. Dresselhaus, "Raman Spectra and Staging of Intercalated Graphite Fibers", Carbon 21 pp. 121-129 (1983).

P. Kwizera, M.S Dresselhaus, D.R. Ulmann, J.S. Perkins and C.R. Desper, "The Microstructure Of Intercalated Graphite Fibers", Carbon 20 pp. 387-394 (1982).

P. Kwizera, M. Z. Tahar and M.S. Dresselhaus "Temperature Dependence of Resistivity of Graphite Fibers", Tanz. J. Scie. Vol 11 pp. 95-101 (1985).

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