Melody Brown Burkins, PhD
Senior Director, Research and Strategic Initiatives
Interim Director, Vermont Advanced Computing Center
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 Interim Director of the Vermont Advanced Computing Center (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 Vice Chair of the National Academies' U.S. National Committee for the International Union of Geological Sciences (USNC/IUGS). She is also an advocate for innovative approaches to science and engineering education, co-editing a collection of invited essays: Holistic Engineering Education: Beyond Technology (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 Institute for Environmental Diplomacy and Security (IEDS) Internal Governance Committee, the Center for an Agricultural Economy Steering Committee, and the Town of Jericho Planning Commission.
Burkins lives in Jericho, Vermont with her husband, Derek, and their two sons.