Posted: Thursday Apr 10, 2014
April 10, 2014
Dr. Patrick D. Gallagher, a physicist and former U.S. Commerce official who will become the 18th chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh on Aug. 1, will be recognized with the conferral of an honorary doctor of science degree and be the principal speaker at the 168th annual commencement of Saint Vincent College, it was announced by Saint Vincent College President Br. Norman W. Hipps, O.S.B. More than 300 undergraduate and graduate degrees will be awarded at the Saturday, May 10, ceremony which begins at 2 p.m. in the Robert S. Carey Student Center.
A native of Albuquerque where his father, John, worked at Sandia National Laboratories, Gallagher spent summers working on public health and sanitation projects in Mexico, Ecuador and Honduras under sponsorship of Amigos de las Americas.
He studied physics and philosophy at Benedictine College, Atchison, Kan., where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1985. Benedictine College and its sponsoring monastery, St. Benedict’s Abbey, are “daughters” of Saint Vincent. It was the fourth Benedictine institution founded in the United States in 1858 “in the wilds of the Kansas frontier” by monks of the 1,500-year-old order who traveled from Saint Vincent Archabbey in Latrobe, which was founded by Boniface Wimmer in 1846.
He earned a Ph.D. in physics in 1991 at the University of Pittsburgh, where his thesis research was directed by current Saint Vincent board of directors member and co-chair of the academic affairs committee, Dr. James Maher. Gallagher did postdoctoral research at Boston University.
Gallagher, 50, currently serves as acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
Gallagher was appointed acting deputy secretary by President Barack Obama on June 1, 2013. In that capacity, he serves as the chief operating officer for the department, with overall responsibility for budget, planning and operations. The mission of the department, which has a total operating budget of more than $10 billion and has 40,000 federal employees, is to help make American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad.
As director of NIST, a position he has held since 2009, Gallagher provides high-level direction for the agency, which promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology. Many of NIST’s areas of priority -- including manufacturing, information technology and cybersecurity, energy, health care, the environment and consumer safety, and physical infrastructure -- reflect high national priorities.
NIST employs about 3,000 scientists, engineers and other staff at its two main locations in Gaithersburg, Md., and Boulder, Colo. NIST also hosts about 2,700 associates from academia, industry and other government agencies who collaborate with NIST staff and access user facilities. In 2013, Pitt awarded Gallagher an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree in recognition of his contributions to advancing the nation through science and technology.
Prior to assuming the directorship of NIST, Gallagher served in a number of capacities with that agency, including deputy director, director of the NIST Center for Neutron Research, and leader of the Research Facilities Operation Group in the Center for Neutron Research as well as a NIST agency representative at the National Science and Technology Council. He is a member of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Sigma Xi Honor Society and the Sigma Pi Sigma Honor Society.
He currently lives in Brookeville, Md., with his wife, Karen Jane (Abrahamson), an occupational therapist, and their three sons, Sean, Devin and Ryan.
Photo: Dr. Patrick D. Gallagher
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