Photo of Professor Robert Gilliard

Visiting Professor Robert J. Gilliard Awarded 2021 Packard Fellowship

Categories: Awards, Faculty

Gilliard is one of 20 scientists and engineers at the forefront of their fields to be awarded $875K for their world-changing research.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor Robert J. Gilliard has been awarded a 2021 Packard Fellowship by the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. Established in 1988, Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering allow the nation’s most promising professors to pursue science and engineering research early in their careers with few funding restrictions and limited reporting requirements. Gilliard is among the 2021 class of 20 scientists and engineers at the forefront of their fields to be awarded $875K for their world-changing research.

“The unrestricted nature of the Packard Fellowship will give the Gilliard Laboratory the financial freedom to pursue bold new ideas and research projects that may be ‘too preliminary’ to obtain support through traditional avenues,” said Gilliard. “In my experience, the majority of funding agencies are risk averse and you almost have to have the chemistry done beforehand or they will not support it. I appreciate that the Packard foundation sees the value in front end, cutting edge fundamental science because it truly is the only way to make major advances in science and technology. Although the funds will have a substantial impact on our research, I am equally excited about meeting and interacting with other Packard fellows.”

A member of the faculty at the University of Virginia (UVA), Gilliard will be in residence at MIT for the remainder of the year.

Gilliard earned his bachelor’s degree from Clemson University in 2009, and his PhD from the University of Georgia in 2014. Gilliard completed joint postdoctoral studies at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich) and Case Western Reserve University, and joined the UVA faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2017. His research is multidisciplinary and combines various aspects of organic, inorganic, main-group, and materials chemistry. At UVA, the Gilliard Group develops novel synthetic methods to access molecules that are relevant to a wide range of energy-related problems. Gilliard is best known for his creative synthetic chemistry involving main group elements in unusual oxidation states or bonding arrangements, with applications to energy storage and catalysis.