Patrick Hopkins, an expert in nanoscale energy transport, joins prestigious group that links national security community with leaders in science and technology.


Patrick Hopkins, a University of Virginia Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering professor who is nationally recognized for his groundbreaking contributions to nanoscale energy transport, has been selected for the U.S. Defense Science Study Group, a prestigious program bringing together the United States’ top scientists and engineers to address national security challenges.

Hopkins will join the Defense Science Study Group’s 2020-21 class and will have the opportunity to work alongside top-level officials from the Department of Defense and other government organizations, intelligence agencies, the White House and Congress.

The group will investigate high-level defense policy issues, support related research and development, and bolster the systems, missions, and operations of the armed forces and the intelligence community.

“I am honored and excited to take part in this program, and to be able to learn how my research in energetic processes and heat transfer in materials can better help the United States’ security challenges, contribute to the DoD’s missions, and make our nation a better, safer place,” said Hopkins.

The Defense Science Study Group is a program directed by the non-profit Institute for Defense Analysis and sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Each group member develops “think pieces” on national security issues of their choice, influencing key Department of Defense policies. Past think pieces have, for example, positioned the military to implement more effective supply chains for equipment and reduce reliance on commercial off-the-shelf computing solutions.

Hopkins, who earned both his undergraduate and graduate degrees from UVA, will bring his expertise in nanoscale energy transport to the group. He currently supports the Multifunctional Materials Integration Initiative, a multidisciplinary effort at UVA Engineering to develop advanced, complex materials and devices with built-in energy efficiency and functionality that does not exist today. 

From identifying and developing the thermoelectric materials that can enhance the efficiency of jet engines to developing the components for compact, wearable artificial vision devices, Hopkins and his team are creating new functionalities in many technologies that are core to modern society.

“Dr. Hopkins' selection reflects the growing role that prominent researchers at UVA play in shaping national and global security”, said Joan Bienvenue, Senior Executive Director of the Applied Research Institute at the University of Virginia, who nominated Hopkins for the post.

Hopkins has won numerous awards for his work, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers. He also earned the Harry S. Truman postdoctoral fellowship at Sandia National Laboratories, as well as the Office of Naval Research and Air Force Office of Scientific Research young investigator awards.

“Patrick Hopkins is quickly establishing himself as one of the foremost scholars in his field,” UVA Engineering Dean Craig H. Benson said. “His experience at UVA, where we take a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to solving society’s most complex challenges, fits perfectly with the Defense Science Study Group’s goal to develop connections between the national security community and leaders like Patrick in science and technology. He will make a significant contribution to the group.”

Hopkins will participate in the first week-long session for his Defense Science Study Group cohort in summer 2020.