Arlene Maclin, ca. 1975

Arlene Maclin, ca. 1975
Courtesy MIT Lincoln Lab

Arlene Maclin, shown ca. 1975.

Physicist Arlene Maclin is President & CEO at MacSmith STEM Enterprises and a member of the National Alumni Advisory Council for North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where she earned an SB in engineering physics. She is one of the first African American women to receive a PhD in physics. Her research interests include fiber optical-electronic systems to achieve optical switching in semiconductors.

Born in Rawlings, Virginia, Maclin also holds an MS in theoretical nuclear physics from the University of Virginia and a PhD in theoretical solid state physics from Howard University, where she taught from 1988 to 1992. As Professor and Director of the Center for Academic Excellence (2002-09), she developed an optical engineering program at Norfolk State University.

Other appointments Maclin has held include: research physicist at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory (1975-76); program director at the National Science Foundation (1980-81); senior applied research physicist at the Central Intelligence Agency (1981-82); visiting scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (1983-85); and guest scientist at NASA Langley Research Center (1994-95). Maclin has represented the United States in delegations to the International Conference on Women in Physics.

[At MIT Lincoln Laboratory] Maclin’s work focused on determining the sensitivity of the GEODSS [Ground-Based Electro-Optical Deep Space Surveillance] system by varying signal-to-noise ratios. She collected and recorded photometric light curves or signatures applied to identifying new space objects, identifying changes in the objects' attitudes, and diagnosing malfunctions in known objects. She also compared the sensitivity and quantum efficiency of the GaAs and the S-20 photocathode for use in a photometry system on the 31-inch telescope for GEODSS at the test site in Socorro, New Mexico.

MIT Lincoln Lab, Instagram, 21 February 2023

Timeline: 1970s
Career: EngineeringGovernment & LawScienceTechnology
Object: Image
Collection: Harvard, Howard University, Integration and Differentiation 1969-1994, Lincoln Lab, NASA, Women