Professor Pam Thomas has been the Pro Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Warwick with responsibility for academic leadership of the research portfolio and strategy across the whole of the institution since February 2016. In her personal research, she leads the Ferroelectric Crystallography group, which is part of the Condensed Matter and Materials activity in the Department of Physics. She has published more than 160 peer-reviewed journal articles and two patents, one of which became the basis of a spin-out company, Pro KTP, to exploit the invention of a new low-conductivity variant of the nonlinear optical material potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP). Pam has graduated more than 20 PhD and MSc students several of whom have gone on to post-doctoral research in the group . Her alumni have held staff positions at scientific facilities in the US and the UK (Diamond, ISIS) and in academia world-wide (Israel, Germany, China, UK) as well as in industry and commerce. She was educated at Oxford University, where she took a BA (Hons) in Physics and a DPhil on the subject of Optical Activity in Crystals in the Physical Crystallography Group of the Clarendon Laboratory.
Motivated by her interest in how physical properties are derived from structure on a variety of scales, Pam was the architect of Warwick’s inter-departmental X-ray diffraction facility, and oversaw its development into one of Warwick’s original Research Technology Platforms (RTPs) in 2014 when she became its first academic director. Two of her PhD graduates are now the expert staff members in this RTP (Dr David Walker, who is the Facility Manager, and Dr Steven Huband, who specialises in Small Angle Scattering). Pam was the inaugural Director 2009-2011 of the Science City Research Alliance, a major HEFCE-funded (£10m) research programme for the universities of Birmingham and Warwick, which employed circa 40 Early Career Researchers across the two institutions, many of whom have gone on to significant academic and industrial careers. She also oversaw and managed the investment of £57M from regional and European funding agencies into research infrastructure under the Science Cities initiative, which notably resulted in construction of the Clinical Trials and Mechanochemical Cell Biology buildings at Warwick Medical School as well as major investments in facilities for research in Advanced Materials and Energy.
Pam was appointed to Chair of the Faculty of Science, Warwick’s equivalent of Dean, in 2011 and provided over-arching academic leadership to the 9 Departments then in the Faculty, which ranged from Life Sciences and Psychology to Engineering and WMG via Chemistry, Physics, Computer Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics. Notable innovations during this time were Faculty-level activities in widening participation, employability, engineering education and public engagement. Her initial appointment as a Pro Vice Chancellor in December 2014 was focussed on People and Public Engagement with particular emphasis on Warwick’s 50th Anniversary in 2015 and on matters of Equality and Diversity. In this role, Pam was the initiator of Warwick’s work on the Race Equality Charter Mark and she remains an Executive Board Champion for this. Subsequently, Pam led the successful renewal (2018) of the institutional silver Athena Charter Mark.
Pam’s activities for the scientific community have been numerous and she has chaired, led and participated in activities throughout her career for the Institute of Physics, for the Crystallographic Associations in the UK and Europe, the Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). She is also a frequent panel member and chair for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). She was invited by the Minister for Universities and Science in 2016 to lead a task-force on Open Research Data to advise on the implementation of the Open Research Data Concordat. “Realising the Potential”, the final report of the Open Research Data Task-force, was published on HMG’s website 2019.
Pam has been a trustee of both the Turing (2016-2018) and of the Faraday Institution (2018-2020) and is a member of the executive management board of the Midlands Innovation collaboration of universities.
Non-linear optical materials; ferroelectrics, X-ray crystallography; materials for energy