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Hockfield, Susan, 1951-



  • Existence: 1951 March 24


Susan Hockfield is Professor of Neuroscience, and was the sixteenth President of MIT (2004-2012). Hockfield was the first woman and the first life scientist to lead the Institute.

After earning a B.A. in biology from the University of Rochester and a Ph.D. from Georgetown University at the School of Medicine, carrying out her doctoral research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dr. Hockfield was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at San Francisco. She then joined the scientific staff at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York. Joining the faculty of Yale University in 1985, Dr. Hockfield 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 demonstrating that early experience results in lasting changes in the molecular structure of the brain. She gained tenure in 1994 and was named the William Edward Gilbert Professor of Neurobiology.

At Yale, Dr. Hockfield emerged as a strong, innovative university leader, first as dean of its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, with oversight of more than 70 graduate programs, and then as provost, Yale’s chief academic and administrative officer.

From December 2004 through June 2012, Dr. Hockfield served as the sixteenth president of MIT, where she continues to hold a faculty appointment as professor of neuroscience and as a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research (as of Spring 2023).

Under her leadership, in 2006 MIT launched the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI), raising more than $350 million to accelerate research, policy and education towards a sustainable energy future. In recognition of MITEI’s momentum, in October 2009 U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a major energy address at MIT and visited its research laboratories, the first American President ever to do so. In 2015, she served as a member of a Congressional Commission evaluating the U.S. Department of Energy laboratories.

As the first life scientist to lead MIT, she championed the breakthroughs emerging from the historic convergence of the life sciences with the engineering and physical sciences, in fields from clean energy to cancer, including the founding of MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. Dr. Hockfield’s book, The Age of Living Machines (2019), focuses on this historic convergence of the life sciences and engineering.

Long an advocate for the research university as an engine of innovation and economic growth, Dr. Hockfield also helped shape national policy on energy technology and next-generation manufacturing. In June 2011, President Obama appointed her co-chair of the steering committee of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a working coalition of academic, government and industry leaders.

She is a life member of the MIT Corporation and a board member of the Belfer Center at the Harvard Kennedy School. She has served as a Science Envoy with the U.S. Department of State and a member of a Congressional Commission evaluating Department of Energy laboratories. Hockfield serves as a director of Cajal Neuroscience, Break Through Cancer, Fidelity Non-Profit Management Foundation, Lasker Foundation, Mass General Brigham Incorporated, Pfizer, Inc., Repertoire Immune Medicines, and Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research.

*Prepared by MIT's Office of the President


Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Inaugural Committee records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: AC-0036
Scope and Contents of the Collection The collection consists of records of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) president inaugural committees since 1900. The records are primarily documents with some photographs and memorabilia. The inaugurations of Henry Pritchett, Richard Maclaurin, Ernest F. Nichols, and Samuel Wesley Stratton are documented in notebooks which contain minutes of committee and subcommittee meetings and copies of inaugural addresses. The inaugurations of James R. Killian, Julius A. Stratton,...
Dates: 1900 - 2005

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Office of the President, records of Susan Hockfield

Identifier: AC-0606
Scope and Contents

This collection consists of records during Susan Hockfield’s tenure as President of MIT. Materials include correspondence, speeches, MIT’s centers, labs, and programs records, MIT schools records, MIT corporation records, MIT Executive Committee and the MIT Visiting Committee records. The collection also contains some records from the tenures of Charles Vest and Rafael Reif as President of the Institute.

Dates: Majority of material found within 2004 - 2012; 1980 - 2019

Susan Hockfield papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MC-0642
Scope and Contents

This collection documents the activities of Susan Hockfield, who was a professor of Neurobiology at Yale University before joining MIT in 2004-2012 to serve as president of the Institute. Materials in this collection span her the 1980s through the early 2000s, including her time at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Among the materials are correspondence, research materials and writings.

Dates: approximately 1980 to 2004