Phillip Jenkins, resident of Washington, D.C., and an electrical engineer at the U. S. Naval Research Laboratory who heads a section of scientists working on advanced imaging and solar cell technology, has stretched to the reaches of outer space with his vision. In recognition of his work, Jenkins, a member of the Denison University class of 1978, was recently honored by his alma mater with an alumni citation, the highest honor bestowed upon a graduate or friend of the college.
Jenkins became a research assistant at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where he worked with a brilliant group of physicists in the areas of solar cells and semiconductors, making more efficient solar cells for use in space. His efforts led him to a partnership with the Mars Pathfinder program.
Working with his colleagues, Jenkins helped develop a solar cell experiment that rode on the Sojourner rover. His accomplishments at NASA led to several highly successful experiments with the International Space Station for the Naval Research Laboratory where he continues his work with solar energy.
Jenkins first found his interest in engineering in his physics lab classes at Denison, where he could make conjectures and observe results. He received his Master’s of Electrical Engineering from Cleveland State University. Jenkins says he “saw engineering as the active application of physics, which offered opportunities to invent, discover and create a better world.” He adds, “I am fortunate when looking up in the night sky and seeing Mars, knowing my handiwork exists there gives me an enduring connection to the universe that few have the opportunity to experience.”