Published: Jan. 25, 2013

2013 Robert F. Banks Award for Institutional Leadership

Elizabeth Simmons
Lyman Briggs College and
Department of Physics
College of Natural Science

Elizabeth Simmons came to MSU with credentials that already included an international reputation in theoretical particle physics and national recognition for her support of underrepresented groups in the sciences, especially women. Not only has she continued to enhance her reputation in these endeavors, but she has also excelled as an administrator. Simmons led Lyman Briggs from a school within the College of Natural Science back to its original status as an independent residential college, one of three such colleges at MSU. The transition required working effectively with other administrators, in addition to students and faculty, in science and nonscience disciplines across campus. Simmons accomplished this difficult task with such skill that her leadership was recognized and applauded by everyone involved. And the Lyman Briggs College has flourished.

After earning her Ph.D. at Harvard University, Simmons worked as a tenured associate professor at Boston University. Among the awards she has received for her research and academic accomplishments are an NSF Career Award, a Department of Energy Outstanding Young Investigator Award, and a Teacher/Scholar of the Year Award from Boston University. Simmons was elected a fellow in the American Physics Society in 2002, has received an impressive number of grants and engaged actively in publishing, and is regularly invited to speak around the world.

Among her many activities in support of women in science, Simmons founded a program to encourage high school girls to pursue studies and careers in STEM fields. Students appreciate her availability and willingness to participate in the many activities they are encouraged to initiate. Simmons has an extraordinarily full home and campus life. She places a strong emphasis on a healthy work–life balance, which is greatly appreciated by Briggs’ faculty and staff and leads to an extraordinarily high level of morale. Her commitment to excellence and her professionalism make those around her better scholars and better people.