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Renowned Scientist Becomes First President’s Distinguished Scholar at UVM

(Photo: courtesy National Science Foundation)

Julia Phillips, a highly accomplished and renowned physicist who has held top leadership positions at national laboratories and scientific organizations, will serve as the University of Vermont’s first President’s Distinguished Scholar.

Phillips currently serves on the executive committee of the National Science Board, which sets National Science Foundation policy, and chairs its science and engineering policy committee. She also is the home secretary of the National Academy of Engineering, and acts as a consultant for Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

A passionate advocate, Phillips was recognized with the first Horizon Award from the US Department of Labor Women’s Bureau for her significant contributions to the acceptance and advancement of women in science, engineering, math, or technology. In 2008, the American Physical Society awarded her the George E. Pake Prize for her leadership and pioneering research in materials physics for industrial and national security applications.

As President’s Distinguished Scholar, which is an honorary role, Phillips will mentor UVM students and faculty members, participate in faculty colloquia, and provide advice and counsel to administrative and academic leadership. The initiative was established by President Suresh Garimella and Provost Patty Prelock to promote academic excellence, research prominence and student success.

“I am delighted to bring a scholar of Julia Phillips’ caliber to campus as a President’s Distinguished Scholar,” said UVM President Suresh Garimella. “She is not only a highly decorated scientist with an impressive list of discoveries and publications, she’s also an international expert in technology transfer and an inspiring leader. Dr. Phillips is a marvelous role model for women in science, and we all will benefit from her presence here. I eagerly await her interactions with our community starting in the spring semester.”

“I couldn’t be more excited by the opportunity to engage with the UVM community,” said Phillips. “I’ve been impressed by the quality of the faculty’s research, by the programs designed to promote its application beyond the university and by the emphasis UVM places on undergraduate teaching. I very much look forward to working with interested students, faculty and staff at the university on projects they are pursuing.”

Phillips is director emeritus and retired vice president and chief technology officer at Sandia National Laboratories, where she held various top leadership positions over two decades. Her work there included leadership of Sandia’s $165-million Laboratory Directed Research and Development program, research strategy development and implementation, and intellectual property protection and deployment. Phillips began her scientific career at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where she was the technical manager of its thin film research group.

The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, Phillips has published extensively in major scientific journals, has written several essays on science and society, and authored book chapters on materials science topics. She has served on multiple editorial boards, and holds five patents.

In addition to the APS and Department of Labor, Phillips has been recognized by organizations including the Materials Research Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“As provost, I’m thrilled at the opportunity to partner with a scholar as accomplished as Julia Phillips,” said UVM Provost Patty Prelock. “I look forward to bringing her together with as many faculty as possible, in an array of disciplines. Her influence will be of great value as we continue and accelerate UVM’s research profile.”