Who We Are
Sylvia Thomas, Ph.D.

Sylvia Thomas, Ph.D.

Interim Vice President for Research & Innovation, University of South Florida


Sylvia Wilson Thomas, PhD, was appointed interim Vice President for Research and President & CEO of the USF Research Foundation, Inc. on November 10, 2021. She is a Professor in Electrical Engineering, affiliate faculty in Medical Engineering, and former Assistant Dean (Engineering) at the University of South Florida (USF) College of Engineering in Tampa, Florida. She is a Senior Member of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Vanderbilt University, where she was a Patricia Roberts Harris Fellow. Dr. Thomas received her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Howard University, as a NSF Materials Research Center of Excellence Fellow and was a National Science Foundation (NSF) EAPSI research fellow in Korea at Chonbuk National University during her doctoral program.

Dr. Thomas serves as President of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Engineering in Medicine and Biology Florida West Coast Section, advisor for Society of Women Engineers and National Society of Black Engineers, and member of the Board of Directors for Black Girls Code and Florida Senate Appointee to the Florida Education Fund Board of Directors.

Dr. Thomas is a motivational speaker/consultant for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, continued/graduate education, K-12 efforts, career transitioning, mentoring and professional development. Her involvement and constant dedication to STEM education, diversity, and professional development have led to her recognition in local and national news and publications, including the most prestigious 2020 US Black Engineer BEYA Educational Leadership Award, 2018 USF Undergraduate Teaching Award, 2018 Women in Leadership and Philanthropy Award, 2016 STEM Woman of the Year Award-Pinellas Cty Girls Inc., and 2015 USF Graduate Faculty Mentor Award.

Dr. Thomas leads the Advanced Membrane and Materials Bio and Integration Research (AMBIR) laboratory at USF. Dr. Thomas' research and teaching endeavors are focused on the investigation of bio (biomedical, biological) and nano electronic device integration using advanced material systems for nano membrane technology, energy harvesting, sustainable environments, drug delivery, and bio-applications to meet global technological challenges. She also conducts research on the diversity, equity and inclusion of under-represented minorities and women. Her research has been funded by more than $4.8M and 12 patents/patent disclosures. She has directly mentored over 150 students as major/co-major professor (12 PhDs, 10 MS), committee member (50 PhD/MS), REU mentor (over 90 undergraduates, inclusive of role as NSF REU PI, 3 Senior Design projects and 1 Honors Thesis), and RET mentor (30 teachers, inclusive of role as NSF RET CoPI). She has also fostered and been engaged in collaborations and engineering education efforts in Italy, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Portugal, South Korea, Mexico, and South Africa.