Emerging Leader

Kerri Phillips, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

For technical expertise and thought leadership in weapons systems technologies; for advocacy of inclusive STEM opportunities; and for serving as a dynamic role model for next-generation engineers.

Kerri Phillips, Ph.D., is the air and missile defense sector chief scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), where she serves as a senior leader influencing air and missile defense strategy and technology.

Immediately prior, Dr. Phillips was the intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting (ISR&T) program area manager with a portfolio focused on developing, prototyping, and transitioning state-of-the-art capabilities to revolutionize ISR&T in the U.S. military.

Dr. Phillips also served as the program manager of APL’s hypersonic weapons portfolio, working closely with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to support rapid development and fielding of hypersonic systems. She also served as assistant supervisor of the Strike Analysis Group, co-leading a team of 50 staff members performing strike and electronic attack analyses.

Since joining APL in 2011, Dr. Phillips has made significant technical contributions as a subject matter expert in missile guidance and control, flight test analysis, and systems engineering. As the APL missile lead for the Missile Defense Agency Sea-Based Terminal Increment 2 Program, she developed and transitioned an innovative algorithm into the missile system, earning a prestigious U.S. DoD Letter of Recognition.

Concurrently, Dr. Phillips was an instructor of mechanical engineering and technical management at the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) from 2013 to 2019. She serves on West Virginia University’s (WVU’s) Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering advisory committee.

For her technical achievements, Dr. Phillips was named a 2020 associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). In AIAA, she served as missile systems technical committee chair and is currently the Region I public policy deputy director and member of the ethics committee.

Dr. Phillips is a public speaker, outreach volunteer, and advocate for women in engineering, always striving to give back to her university community and West Virginia, where she was raised. Her commitment to outreach began through WVU SWE as a volunteer for its annual 8th Grade Visitation and Girl Scout Day. In 2013, she and a colleague started STEMPals, which connected students from a West Virginia high school with STEM professionals.

Many other outreach opportunities have followed in recent years. In 2019, Dr. Phillips was the featured guest speaker for the SWE Diverse podcast episode, “Dr. Kerri Phillips Encourages Girls to ‘Stay in the Game.’” In 2020, she gave an invited lecture titled “Breaking Down Barriers to Diversity and Inclusion in STEM” to more than 200 attendees of the APL Colloquium, one of the longest-standing lecture series in the Baltimore/Washington area.

Dr. Phillips holds dual bachelor’s degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from WVU; and a master’s degree in systems engineering from JHU. She and her husband have two daughters. She enjoys volunteering, softball, home renovations, and walking her dog.