Advocating Women in Engineering Award

Leslie Phinney, Ph.D.

Sandia National Laboratories

For insight that breaks barriers; for inspired and persistent advocacy and outreach to women engineers; and for personal dedication to ensuring that the achievements of women in technology are recognized.

Leslie M. Phinney, Ph.D., is manager of the thermal sciences and engineering department at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The department consists of around 20 staff, postdoc students, students, contractors, and an administrative assistant; it provides thermal analysis and modeling to support SNL’s nuclear deterrence, national security, energy systems, and research missions. Prior to being promoted, she served as a principal member of the technical staff at Sandia, where she has worked since 2003.

Dr. Phinney is an enthusiastic and persistent advocate for women in STEM, engaging with K-12 girls and women professionals. She has held leadership roles in the Society of Women Engineers, the Sandia Women’s Action Network (SWAN), and other organizations that promote SWE’s mission. She has championed diversity in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), especially in its heat transfer division, in which she founded a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) committee. She has given numerous talks at professional meetings and universities in which she shared her experiences as a woman mechanical engineer.

Dr. Phinney has expanded the image of women engineers through STEM outreach activities. She has been committed throughout her career to encouraging young people, especially young women, to pursue engineering. She has done this through hands-on outreach, raising funds to help establish scholarships for women in engineering, and mentoring through SWE and other professional and technical societies.

A SWE life member, Dr. Phinney received the WE Local Legacy award in 2021 and SWE’s Prism Award in 2017. She is a fellow of ASME and received an ASME Dedicated Service Award for her volunteer activities supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in Sandia’s heat transfer division. In 2022, she was inducted into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni of the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at The University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Phinney’s research interests are in the areas of heat transfer, thermosciences, and microsystems with an emphasis on microscale heat transfer, thermal analysis and simulation, and experimental techniques. She has co-authored two book chapters and dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles, and more than 50 papers have been presented at national and international conferences.

Dr. Phinney earned a B.S. in aerospace engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 1990. While an undergraduate, she received SWE’s Judith A. Resnick Memorial Scholarship. She then spent a year in England on a Churchill Scholarship, earning a certificate of postgraduate studies from Cambridge University. She also holds an M.S. and a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Phinney received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for 2000-2004. Before joining Sandia National Laboratories, she was a member of the mechanical and industrial engineering department faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1997 until 2003.

In her free time, Dr. Phinney enjoys visiting family and friends, reading, and solving puzzles.