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From the Director

The Science Alliance continues to be a critical component in the continued growth of the partnership between the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Our researchers are collaborating on large initiatives in materials science, biomedical sciences, high-performance computing, and bioenergy science, to name a few.

This year Steven Wilhelm, Kenneth and Blaire Mossman professor of microbiology and Joint Directed Research Development fellow, was awarded a portion of a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The grant was share by Wilhelm and his colleagues at Duke University and ORNL and will facilitate the study of peat moss’s ability to store carbon and the subsequent potential implications for the environment. This is in keeping with Wilhelm’s work in the JDRD program.

In 2019, five faculty members with previous or current Science Alliance funding earned National Science Foundation CAREER awards, highlighting the importance of internal awards like the JDRD program and others you will read about in this document, in the development of successful research on this campus.

Successes like these bring competitive faculty members and researchers and attract the highest-caliber students to our university. In the past year Science Alliance programs supported more than 130 graduate students and 22 undergraduate students. Many of them authored publications, presented their research at meetings or conferences, or worked on sponsored projects. These students are working in the nation’s leading scientific laboratories and learning how to apply for funding, putting them ahead of their peers.

To ensure the success of future scientists and researchers, we must reach out to students earlier in their educational careers. That is why the Science Alliance supports FIRST Robotics. The values espoused by FIRST support collaborative research, increased enrollment in higher education, and participation in STEM fields. The Smoky Mountain Regional competition is an opportunity for Tennessee’s high school students to not only learn more about robotics, but experience collaborations in a competitive setting, preparing them for a future of collaborative work. This is the fourth year Science Alliance has provided support for this program.

The Science Alliance continues to develop and maintain programs, including the Distinguished Scientists, Support for Affiliated Research Teams, and the Student Mentoring and Research Training programs to advance the research enterprise here at UT and with our partners at ORNL.


Shawn Campagna

Faculty Fellow for Research Development