Pamela Norris in U.Va.’s Aerogel Research Lab, which she established after becoming fascinated with this versatile material. Photo courtesy of Stacey Evans

Aerogel is the world’s best thermal insulator, and, as such, is used to line electronics in the Mars rover mission.


Dr. Norris is the founder and director of the U.Va Nanoscale Heat Transfer Laboratory and the Aerogel Research Laboratory. The Aerogel Research Lab is active in aerogel production and material modification techniques, flow characterization studies, acoustic studies, and in the development of thin film coatings for electrical, acoustical, and thermal isolation in sensors. The Microscale Heat Transfer Laboratory houses a state-of-the-art laboratory facility for optical techniques in microscale heat transfer and performs experimental, computational, and theoretical investigations of thin-film thermophysical properties and interfacial thermal transport. Her current research interests include: thermal management, optical measurement techniques, microscale heat transfer, thin-film thermophysical properties, integration of sol-gel materials into microanalytical devices and sensors, and advancement of aerogel technology.Dr. Norris also directs the Soft Materials Laboratory, established to produce a biomimetic artificial cell from electro-active polymer materials and the Thermal Energy Management Laboratory, which investigates thermal management techniques such as utilization of heat pipes for dissipation of waste heat generated by electrical generators aboard next-generation aircraft and redesign of landing pads and jet-blast deflectors on future aircraft carriers.

The Norris Research Group is comprised of lab director Pamela Norris,  research scientists,  Ph.D. students, masters students, and undergraduate students at the University of Virginia.  Professor Norris and her past and current team members have been recipients of many honors and awards as the result of their pioneering research.

The Norris Research Group has many scientific publications, including book chapters, journal articles, conference publications, and presentations, available in the online library.

Professor Pamela Norris leads a team of researchers who were awarded funding from the highly competitive federal 2007 Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) Program. The award is for up to five years and $7.5M in research funding with a three-year base period with a two-year option.  Read moreabout the MURI project.

Professor Norris will head the multi-disciplinary, multi-university (MURI) team with members from Arizona State, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Illinois, and Rensselaer Polytechnic University. View a listof MURI collaborators.

Resources for researchers.

Conference and event information.