UA Physicist Awarded Prestigious Jefferson Science Fellowship

Tim Mewes

From the May 2022 Desktop News | The National Academy of Sciences has named Dr. Tim Mewes a Jefferson Science Fellow for 2022-2023. The year-long program allows U.S. citizens in the fields of science, engineering, and medicine to work with the Department of State or the US Agency for International Development on foreign policy issues both in Washington, D.C. and overseas. 

“Dr. Mewes’ research on magnetic materials is world-class and his scientific achievements have been recognized on the national and international stage,” said Dr. James Dalton, provost of The University of Alabama and Mewes’s nominator. “The State Department and USAID will be fortunate to have him at their service. We look forward to the new knowledge and connections that he will bring back to UA from this distinguished appointment.” 

Mewes, whose work at UA focuses primarily on the investigation of the dynamic properties of magnetic materials, will be working with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS). Here, he will work within the DS director’s staff as part of the Operational Planning and Innovation (OPI) unit, providing academic expertise and perspective on the DS mandate to protect people, property, and information throughout the world. The bureau also provides protection to the Secretary of State and visiting foreign dignitaries, conducts visa and passport fraud investigations, and runs the security operations in overseas embassies and consulates. Throughout his one-year fellowship, Mewes will have the unique opportunity to support DS’s mandate, as well as observe, advise, train, and travel as part of the world’s most broadly represented law enforcement agency. 

“This program looks for people from outside these departments with a scientific background to come in and look at a problem from a different perspective,” Mewes said. “I’m looking forward to stepping outside of my comfort zone and, in a sense, trying something that I’ve never done before.” 

This isn’t the first time Mewes has stepped outside of the traditional realm for physicists. In 2020, he was named a distinguished lecturer by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Magnetics Society, an international professional organization of researchers and academics who study magnetism. Throughout the tour, he spoke with a variety of audiences, from highly regarded researchers in the field to those who had never learned about magnetism. Through this experience, Mewes was inspired to continue collaborating with researchers and scholars not in his field, which led him to apply for the Jefferson Science Fellowship. 

“Within this fellowship, I’m going to be faced with problems that I’ve never seen before,” said Mewes. “That’s something that I’ve always loved doing. Having a new problem and trying to figure out how I, as a physicist, can contribute to solving that problem is exciting to me.” 

“The Jefferson Science Fellowship is a prestigious award linking science and policy to advance work on some of the most important and pressing global challenges,” said Dr. Joseph Messina, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “I look forward to his accomplishments during this time.” 

Mewes joins Dr. Patricia Sobecky, professor of biology and Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, as Jefferson Science Fellows from UA. Sobecky was appointed as a fellow by the National Academy of Sciences in 2017. 

For more information on the Jefferson Science Fellowship, visit their website.
For more information regarding the role of Diplomatic Services in the State Department, see this article.