Melody Brown Burkins, PhD
Senior Director, Research and Strategic Initiatives
Director, Vermont Advanced Computing Core
Chair, US National Committee to the International Union
of Geological Sciences (USNC/IUGS)
Dr. Melody Brown Burkins is the Senior Director for Research and Strategic Initiatives at the University of Vermont (UVM). Committed to the successful advancement of high-impact research across disciplines, Burkins has held a diversity of strategic management and administration roles at UVM, including Associate Dean in the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and UVM Director of Federal Relations. Since 2008, she has also served as Director of the Vermont Advanced Computing Core (VACC), connecting university researchers to state-of-the-art, high-performance computing (HPC) cyberinfrastructure and facilitating valuable public-private technology and innovation partnerships for both UVM research and Vermont.
Burkins earned a BS in geology from Yale University and graduate degrees in earth systems science from Dartmouth College, with focus on geochemical studies of economic geology (MS) and life in extreme Antarctic environments (PhD). In 1999, she was chosen as one of 32 national Congressional Science and Technology Fellows to serve in the U.S. Senate, with subsequent appointment as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy for energy, agriculture, and natural resource issues. Back in Vermont, she managed multiple university-state-federal collaborations and external partnerships for UVM, leading the Northeastern States Research Cooperative and the Vermont Monitoring Cooperative before developing the early framework for the UVM national transportation research center.
In addition to her work at UVM, Burkins was recently appointed Chair of the National Academies' U.S. National Committee to the International Union of Geological Sciences (USNC/IUGS) and is an advocate for U.S. science activities in service of global development and diplomacy. She has also written in strong support of innovative approaches to science and engineering education that focus on more integrated and "holistic" systems thinking across disciplines (Holistic Engineering Education: Beyond Technology (Springer, 2010; eds. Grasso and Burkins).
Burkins' strategic interests continue to be informed by years of global travel, field studies, and cultural experiences in Antarctica, the Swiss Alps, central Mexico, southeast Alaska, southern France, and the Bering Sea. She serves on the State of Vermont's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Committee, the Board of Directors for Vermont's Energy Action Network (EAN), the Governing Council of the Science Policy Exchange, and the Internal Governance Committee for the UVM Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security (IEDS).
Burkins lives in Jericho, Vermont with her husband, Derek, and their two sons.