2024 Inductees

Sylvia Wilson Thomas

Sylvia Wilson Thomas, Ph.D.

Vice President for Research & Innovation
President & CEO, Research Foundation
University of South Florida

13 U.S. Patents

Sylvia Wilson Thomas, Ph.D. is the Vice President for Research & Innovation at the University of South Florida and President & CEO of the USF Research Foundation, Inc. As a member of the USF president’s and provost’s cabinets, Dr. Thomas directs, manages, and provides vision for USF’s $690M+ research and innovation enterprise. Dr. Thomas also serves as a Professor of Electrical Engineering at USF’s College of Engineering where she leads the Advanced Membrane and Materials Bio and Integration Research laboratory for biomedical, biological, and nano electronic device integration using advanced material systems for membrane technology.

Dr. Thomas’s transformational innovations in miniaturized electronic circuitry and devices and nanotechnologies for sensing applications has opened new pathways for bio and nano electronic device integration using advanced membrane/material systems to meet global technological challenges. Her novel developments, from implantable health monitoring devices to the frontier of wearable electronics, have broad applications from health care to the military.

Prior to joining USF, Dr. Thomas was a research scientist at leading industry companies such as Kimberly Clark Corp, IBM, and Procter & Gamble, and most notably at Bell Labs/Agere Systems/Lucent Technologies, where she began her groundbreaking research in implantable microelectronics.

Dr. Thomas is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors and Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. She is also the recipient of the 2020 Black Engineer of the Year (BEYA) STEM Educational Leadership Award. Her creative, current affairs-driven projects have been supported by a wide range of funders, from USF seed grants to the National Science Foundation for over $4.8M.

Dr. Thomas also serves as the president of the IEEE’s Engineering in Medicine and Biology Florida West Coast Section; Secretary/Treasurer of the Florida Education Fund; former advisor for the Society of Women Engineers, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and National Society of Black Engineers; and an inaugural member of the Board of Directors for Black Girls Code. She is the recipient of the 2023 Top 50 Women Leaders in Education, and 2022 Florida Trend 500 Most Influential Business Leaders.

Dr. Thomas holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University, where she was a Patricia Roberts Harris Fellow, and earned her Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Howard University as an NSF Materials Research Center of Excellence Fellow.