Pamela Norris

For such a light material, aerogels hold a lot of potential. Still, you’d think that after more than 10 years of research, Norris would tire of concentrating on something that barely seems to exist. “No way,” she says when asked about slowing down. “It’s the coolest substance ever.”

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs
Frederick Tracy Morse Professor
Lab Director

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
PH:  (434) 924-6295   FAX: (434) 982-2037


Interdisciplinary scientist with extensive experience leading diverse teams of students and researchers.  A gregarious, innovative, and creative leader with excellent team-building and negotiation skills utilized to motivate and interact with diverse populations and to provide consistent quality improvement and accomplishments.


  • Nanoscale Heat Transfer
  • Thermal Management
  • Advancement of Aerogel Technologies
  • Ultra-Fast Laser Material Interactions
  • Novel Applications of Heat Pipes


Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering Sept. 1992
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
Dissertation: “An Investigation of Coolant Passage Heat Transfer in a Diesel Engine Cylinder Head”

M.S. Mechanical Engineering March 1989
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

B.S. Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics May 1987
Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA

Additional Professional Development:

Leadership in Academic Matters 2010

Selected to participate in the LAM program, which was developed as a means of developing, inspiring, and rewarding faculty who have demonstrated leadership characteristics and future potential within the University.  This ten week program is facilitated by experts in leadership, business, and higher education.  Sessions focus on key professional development areas such as self-awareness, managing organizational change, financial and strategic decision-making, assessing the dynamics of successful leaders, conflict resolution and negotiation, teamwork, media relations,  and establishing life balance in a dynamic and growing career. 

HERS Bryn Mawr Summer Institute 2007

Graduate of selective month-long intensive residential program for Women in University Administration.  Intensive leadership and management development curriculum.

Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute 2005

Graduate of the Higher Ground Program, a nine-month intensive leadership training program for Women in Higher Education and Faith Organizations.  Taught how to incorporate key leadership principles into professional and personal style; fostering leadership development and collaborative partnerships.

Women in Engineering Leadership Institute (WELI) 2005

Selected to participate in the Leadership Conference, a four day institute targeted at mid-career women engineering professors poised to assume leadership positions in colleges and universities.


University of Virginia, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Frederick Tracy Morse Professor 2010-present

Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs 2011-present

Professor 2004-present

Associate Professor 1999- 2004

Assistant Professor 1994 –1999

•      Director and Founder of the Nanoscale Energy Transfer Laboratory.

•      Director and Founder of the Aerogel Research Laboratory.

•      Graduate Director for the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 2000-2011.

•      Graduate Chair for the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 2006-2011.

Naval Postgraduate School, National Security Institute

Research Professor,  2008-2010

University of California, Berkeley, CA – Department of Mechanical Engineering

Visiting Postdoctoral Research Engineer 1993 – 1994

Conducted research in the area of microscale heat transfer in Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien’s laboratory.  Performed experimental and analytical analysis of heat transfer in aerogels and analytical analysis of facet heating in quantum well lasers.  Oversaw research activities of the lab.

Visiting Lecturer 1993

Taught Thermal Environmental Control.

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA – Department of Mechanical Engineering

Graduate Research Assistant 1987 – 1992

Ph.D. Thesis:  “Investigation of Coolant Passage Heat Transfer in a Diesel Engine Cylinder Head”

Designed and constructed an experimental set-up using a portion of a cylinder head as the test section and simulating conditions in an operating engine.  Developed a method that enabled experimental results to be used along with a finite element model to identify the convection coefficients along the coolant flow passages, with an emphasis on the detection of nucleate boiling.  Utilized a unique statistical approach, based on classical design of experiments, to assess the effect of uncertainty in the boundary conditions on the results of the heat transfer analysis.

Instructor 1991, 1992

Taught courses in Computer Applications and Conduction and Radiation Heat Transfer.

Woodruff Teaching Intern 1991
Selected as a Woodruff School Doctoral Teaching Fellow.  Taught Thermodynamics I.


Perrin Quarles Associates ,  1997
Performed statistical analysis and review.

Breiner and Breiner, Attorneys at Law, 1992 – 1994
Performed thermal analysis of two-stage stretch blow molding process of plastic bottles.


Invited as a Visiting Researcher at the University of Cergy-Pontoise, France from 6/18/01-7/23/01. Assisted with acoustic characterization of sol-gel materials.


Named the Frederick Tracy Morse Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 2010

Finalist in the 2008 National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship (NSSEFF) Program

Elected Fellow of ASME, 2005

Recipient of the Undergraduate Research Network Faculty Award for Mentorship, 2006 and 2007

Listed in Marquis Who’s Who, 2004 and subsequent years

Named a VEF Faculty Fellow, 2002-2004

Recipient of the Georgia Tech Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni Award, 1996

National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Grant, 1995

Recipient of the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning Teaching Excellence Award – Georgia Institute of Technology, 1992

Distinguished Speaker Award – 1989 SAE Off-Highway Congress and Exposition

Elected to Membership in Tau Beta Pi, Pi Tau Sigma, and Alpha Chi


“Apparatus and Method for Purification of DNA using Microchips Filled with Sol-Gels and Beads” U.S. Patent 07,534,623 Awarded 5/2009; Inventors:  J.P. Landers, P.M. Norris, M.E. Power, J.P. Ferrance, S. Shrinivasen, K.A. Wolfe, and M.C. Breadmore

“Multi-stage Sampler and Concentrator”- US Patent 06,101,886 Awarded 8/2000; Inventors: J.S. Brenizer, C.E. Daitch, B. Hosticka, L.R. Mason, and P.M. Norris

“Smart Aerogel”- US Patent 6,447,991 Awarded 9/2002; Inventors: C.E. Daitch, J.S. Brenizer, B. Hosticka, L.R. Mason, P.M. Norris, M. Luo, and L.J. DeLucas

“Development of an Artificial Excitable Membrane for Use as a Tube Pump” – US Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 61/347,595 Filed May 24, 2010; Inventers: P.M. Norris, D.A. Jordan, Jr., and C. V. Haden

“A Multifunctional Heat Pipe Solution to Plate Thermal Buckling” – US Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 61/295,112 Filed Jan. 14, 2010; Inventors: Haydn Wadley, Hossein Haj-Hariri, Frank Zok, and Pamela M. Norris

“Multifunctional Thermal Management System and Related Method” – International Patent Application Serial No. PCT/US2011/021121 Filed Jan. 13, 2011; Inventors: Haydn Wadley, Hossein Haj-Hariri, Frank Zok, and Pamela M. Norris

“Apparatus and Method for Providing Isolation Between Components in Microfabricated Devices” – US Provisional Patent Application Filed Feb 25, 2011; Inventors: Pamela M. Norris, James Detry, Bob Carlson, Art Lichtenberger, Casey Bauer, Matthew Bauer, Roy Matthews


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