Officials announce permanent vice provost for research after yearlong vacancy

The executive dean of the University of Virginia’s engineering school will become the next vice provost for research in November.

Pamela Norris, a leading expert on nanoscale heat transfer also known for her work increasing representation of women faculty in STEM, will begin the role Nov. 1, according to a release Thursday. Norris will replace Carla Berg, the interim vice provost of research since June, becoming GW’s first permanent head of research since officials transitioned to a decentralized, pod research model last year.

“I am truly excited for this opportunity to provide strategic leadership to propel the GW research community toward our mutual vision for meeting society’s pressing needs and serving as an engine for global good,” Norris said in the release.

Norris has worked at UVA since joining the faculty in 1994. As executive dean, she manages the UVA engineering school’s academic and research functions, overseeing nearly $86 million in sponsored research funding last fiscal year, the release states.

Robert Miller, the former vice president for research, moved to a new role last year as officials transformed GW’s research model and began looking for a vice provost for research.

Officials had initially held off on the search last fall as part of budget mitigation efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic but later moved forward as administrators began unwinding the cutbacks. Paul Wahlbeck, the dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, led the search committee comprised of professors, research staff and students.

“I am thrilled that Dr. Norris will be joining the University as the vice provost for research,” Wahlbeck said. “She impressed the search committee with her experience in research administration, interest in working with researchers across campus and the disciplines, commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and her creative ideas for raising our research profile. We look forward to welcoming Dr. Norris to campus.”

Norris will also be appointed as a faculty member in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, according to the release.

Interim Provost Chris Bracey said at a Faculty Senate meeting last month that officials were “winding up” the search and meeting with finalists.

“The continued growth and expansion of our research enterprise across all fields, including in the physical sciences, arts and humanities, is a critical aspect of how GW will fulfill its promise as an innovative institution of higher education, and Dr. Norris’ years of experience as a research administrator and renowned scholar make her a perfect choice to lead the future of research at GW,” Bracey said in the release.

Norris earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and mechanics from Old Dominion University and a Master of Science and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She served as a visiting postdoctoral research engineer and visiting lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley before joining UVA, according to her biography.




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