In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Jackson recounts her family heritage and describes her upbringing in Washington DC and her early experiences attending segregated schools and visiting the Smithsonian museums. She considers some of the opportunities that came with being high school valedictorian, and she describes the circumstances leading to her undergraduate admission at MIT. Jackson discusses the discrimination she encountered during college and describes her experience amid campus protests against the Vietnam War. She describes her undergraduate thesis on tunneling density states in superconducting niobium-titanium alloys, and she explains why the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. was central to her decision to remain at MIT for graduate school. Jackson describes her thesis research officially under the direction of Jim Young but in reality more with Roman Jackiw. She discusses her experience as a postdoctoral researcher Fermilab, where she continued her thesis research on one-particle inclusive reactions, and then CERN, where she worked as a fellow of the Ford Foundation, and from which she used as a home base to travel in Europe. Jackson describes her subsequent work at Bell Labs where she focused on the electronic and optical properties of layered materials. She explains her decision to join the faculty at Rutgers University and she describes the moment not long after when President Clinton asked her to become the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Jackson recounts the history and structure of the NRC and she shares her views on the role of nuclear power as an energy sources and as part of the solution for climate change. She describes the interplay between regulation and private industry from her vantage point of leading the NRC and the responsibility of ensuring safety in the civilian nuclear energy industry. Jackson discusses her work as a board member of the New York Stock Exchange, and she explains the circumstances that led to her being named President of RPI. She describes the process for establishing a mandate and a vision for the university as she assumed leadership. Jackson discusses her work in the Obama administration as a member of PCAST and the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, and she explains why as president of a university it is important not to get caught up in the political controversies of any particular day. She shares her views on the importance of diversity and inclusivity in higher education and she describes how RPI has dealt with broader issues of racial justice in 2020. Jackson discusses her work on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus task force, and what she has learned from the pandemic. She describes why being awarded the National Medal of Science is so important to her personally and she reflects on her contributions in physics, and particularly on the properties of unique two-dimensional systems. At the end of the interview, Jackson describes her central focus on guiding RPI through the pandemic and championing environmental issues.