Honorary Degree: Doctor of Science
Susan Hockfield has distinguished herself in a career that has spanned advanced scientific research, the presidency of one of the world’s premier institutions of higher learning, and now, leadership of a renowned global nonprofit dedicated to advancing innovation that benefits the world.
Hockfield, president emerita of MIT, is the president-elect of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which was founded in 1848 to make science and engineering an integral part of public life—a mission that aligns with Hockfield’s own ideals as a scientist and academic leader.
Named MIT’s 16th president in 2004, she brought to life her advocacy for the research university as an engine of innovation and economic growth through several pioneering programs and initiatives.
In keeping with MIT’s entrepreneurial spirit and strength, Hockfield actively fostered the burgeoning Kendall Square innovation cluster, which features both global giants as well as startups.
She championed the breakthroughs emerging from the historic convergence of the life sciences with engineering and the physical sciences, in fields from clean energy to cancer, including the founding of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and the MIT Energy Initiative.
The latter was part of a larger MIT effort to shape emerging national policy on energy technology and next-generation manufacturing. As a result, President Obama asked Hockfield to co-chair the steering committee of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.
She also forged an online learning partnership with Harvard University to make advanced course work more accessible, and she made her vocal commitment to diversity a signature of her presidency.
Hockfield, who stepped down as MIT president in 2012, continues to hold a faculty appointment as professor of neuroscience and a member of the Koch Institute. At the AAAS, she will retain the role of president-elect for one year, followed by a term as president in 2017, and a term as board chair in 2018.
Prior to her appointment at MIT, Hockfield held several faculty and leadership positions at Yale University, including provost, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the William Edward Gilbert Professorship of Neurobiology.
As a biologist, she has focused her research on the development of the brain and on glioma, a deadly form of brain cancer. She pioneered the use of monoclonal antibody technology in brain research.
Hockfield is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has received numerous academic and civic awards.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Rochester and a doctorate from Georgetown University School of Medicine, Hockfield was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at San Francisco.