Norris' Unamimous Election Honors a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievement
Pamela M. Norris, executive dean of the University of Virginia School of Engineering and the Frederick Tracy Morse Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, has been elected an honorary member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, among the society’s highest honors.
The society’s Board of Governors unanimously chose Norris for “international leadership in nano, micro and macroscale thermal science and engineering research; for tireless efforts to advance diversity in STEM fields; and for demonstrating engineering excellence as an outstanding mentor for students and faculty,” according to their notification letter. The award will be presented in November.
“I am deeply humbled at being chosen for this tremendous honor,” Norris said, “and I am proud to support the society’s mission for advancing the profession through world-class research and mentorship of future professionals.”
Honorary members are chosen for their lifetime of distinguished service “that contributes significantly to the attainment of the goals of the engineering profession," the society’s website says.
Norris joined the UVA Engineering faculty in 1994, and founded both the Nanoscale Energy Transfer Lab and the Aerogel Research Lab. Today, she is recognized globally as a leading expert in both research fields. After receiving her Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in 1992, Norris completed post-doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
As a leader in her fields, Norris routinely chairs and speaks at international conferences and has published more than 100 heavily cited refereed journal papers. She holds patents for applications of aerogels in areas ranging from biological warfare detection, to lab-on-a-chip, to thermal insulation, along with patents for innovative thermal management techniques for jet-blast deflectors and landing pads. Norris has drawn more than $25 million worth of research grants to UVA and she is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. In May, international academic publisher Taylor & Francis Group announced that Norris has accepted the position of editor-in-chief of the Nanoscale and Microscale Thermophysical Engineering journal.
Norris is also well-known for her mentoring skills. One of her former Ph.D. students, Patrick Hopkins, now a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UVA, recently earned the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ 2021 Gustus L. Larson Memorial Award for outstanding achievement in mechanical engineering within 10 to 20 years following graduation with a B.S. in mechanical engineering or related field.
Norris is acclaimed for her dedication to increasing the representation and retention of women in the STEM disciplines. She is among those responsible for making UVA Engineering the No. 1 public engineering school in the United States for the percentage of women graduates, among schools with at least 75 engineering degree earners. She served as the director of UVA’s NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation program to promote gender equity among faculty in STEM fields.
She also has been honored with multiple awards for her contributions, including the 2016 Society of Women Engineers’ Distinguished Engineering Educator Award “for enduring, positive influence on students’ lives as a gifted teacher, mentor, and role model, and for promoting greater diversity in STEM higher education;” the Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award from UVA’s Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, which “celebrates the leadership that is found in many areas and positions at UVA;” and the Raven Award, which “recognizes excellence in service and contribution to the University” and is the highest honor the Raven Society, the oldest honorary society at UVA, bestows upon an individual.