The University of New Mexico welcomed Rear Admiral Phillip G. Sawyer, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, during Albuquerque Navy Week -  an opportunity for our community to connect with the Navy and learn about its mission, people and importance to the nation’s security and prosperity.  

Monday afternoon was filled with lively discussions with UNM leadership and faculty conducting Navy-funded research at UNM on the ongoing relationship between the Navy and UNM. The visit concluded with a tour of research laboratory facilities at the UNM Electrical & Computer Engineering department. 

Despite being far from the sea, UNM has long history with the Navy going back to 1944, from the Naval ROTC program marking its 75th anniversary this year, to preparing Engineering and other students for careers in or related to the Navy, to ongoing Navy-funded research in a variety of areas.

President Robert G. Frank noted how pleased he was to meet the Rear Admiral and said “the Naval ROTC detachment has a large footprint at UNM and the program is very successful.”


Distinguished Professor Edl Schamiloglu - Rear Admiral Phillip G. Sawyer
Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Edl Schamiloglu describes work in his research lab to Rear Admiral Phillip G. Sawyer.

Provost Chaouki T. Abdallah, Vice President for Research Gabriel P. López, Interim Associate Vice President for Research Patricia A. Henning and Director of Faculty Research Development Mary Jo Daniel briefed Rear Admiral Sawyer on the UNM research enterprise and highlighted UNM research areas that align with the Navy’s research and development initiatives in addressing near-term requirements as well as the next generation of naval technologies.  

In today’s landscape of rapidly changing new technology, Rear Admiral Sawyer expressed “what keeps us ahead is the research and development at the fundamental level.”  

Since the 1970s, UNM has enjoyed over $20 million dollars in support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR). UNM’s strong legacy of ONR funded programs, driven by world renowned researchers, continues today in advancing innovation via basic research, applied research and advanced technology development in the fields of physics, biology, astronomy, quantum information, and engineering.

Faculty in attendance, Professor Gregory Taylor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Distinguished Professor Edl Schamiloglu, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Professor Jane Lehr, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Research Assistant Professor Linnea K. Ista, Center for Biomedical Engineering, and Distinguished Professor Carlton M. Caves, Department of Physics and Astronomy, discussed their ONR-supported research and engaged in stimulating dialogue with Rear Adm. Sawyer. 

OVPR, Engineering group
Several faculty members sat down to discuss various aspects of research at
The University of New Mexico with Rear Admiral Phillip Sawyer.

These faculty members and the Rear Admiral discussed a wide variety of interesting ideas and fundamental research techniques, which we’re thinking about here at UNM, noted Henning. 

“Our nation’s security is based in good part on our being able to stay at the forefront of breakthroughs in science and technological innovations, which are made possible through fundamental research,” said López. “The University of New Mexico is a hub for progress and our location in the southwest is ideal for tackling 21st century problems and generating new knowledge to benefit New Mexico, the nation and people around the world.

“I thank Rear Admiral Sawyer for taking time to meet with our leadership and faculty and look forward to growing our partnership with the Navy to advance discovery and innovation.”