Experimental research

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Video conference

In this interview, David Zierler, Oral Historian for AIP, interviews Dr. Julia Phillips, executive emeritus of Sandia National Laboratory. Phillips recounts her childhood in rural Illinois, her early interests in science, and the influence of her father, who was a general surgeon, and her mother, who kept the books for her father’s practice. She describes her undergraduate experience at the College of William and Mary, where she solidified her interest in experimental physics, and her decision to pursue a graduate degree at Yale, where she studied low-energy electron impact excitation in helium and krypton and the threshold for the excitation of the first few excited states. Phillips discusses her work at Bell Labs, where one of the major projects during her time was in extending Moore’s Law. She describes her decision to join Sandia, provides a historical overview of the lab, and explains her work in nuclear verification issues. Phillips discusses her various promotions in leadership at Sandia, and how its role in national security issues have evolved over the years. In the final portion of the interview, Phillips discusses her recent work in professional service, and provides some general advice for young scientists.