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Common STEM in the Morning

STEM in Society

Science and the environment. Science impinges on modern society in more ways than anyone can imagine. For example, most of the things which improve the quality of our lives are made of chemicals which are made in chemical plants such as Eastman Chemical Company in Kingsport, Tennessee. Many of these same things unfortunately also often have led indirectly to environmental degradation including water pollution, acid rain, smog, ozone depletion, and global warming, to name a few. Although people in the past weren’t aware of humanity’s profound impact on the earth, or didn’t care, we know better today and can do better. We have in our power to eliminate or significantly reduce our numerous environmental problems. Scientists are in the forefront in solving these problems.

In this course, we will examine together the science of the environment, including the science of the earth in the absence of people, with an emphasis on environmental chemistry, which is concerned with the effect that chemicals used in our civilization have had on the planet, and green chemistry, a new field devoted to finding and developing methods to carry out chemistry in an environmentally friendly manner.

Credit Hours: 1

Course Requirements

  • Write a group report on an environmental issue (graded).
  • Prepare and present a poster or talk on a topic of environmental concern.

STEM Skills

Virtually everything in today’s society interfaces with computers. By necessity, tomorrow’s scientists and engineers will need to be very conversant with a wide range of computer related technologies. This class will focus on providing students with exposure to a many different technology applications via fun, hands-on projects involving programming, 3D modeling, 3D-printing, mobile application development, and other topics to support STEM skills.

Credit Hours: 1

Course Requirements

The criteria for assigning grades for the course are the following:

  • completion of projects
  • class/group participation as project requires

Passing grade for the course: C

Course Instructors

Richard PagniRichard Pagni, a native of Chicago, received his BA degree from Northwestern University in 1963 and his PhD degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1968.  After spending fifteen months as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, he stated his academic career at the University of Tennessee in 1969 from whence he retired in 2007.  His research has dealt with photochemistry, physical aspects of organic chemistry, and environmental and green chemistry.  In more recent years he has investigated unusual aspects of chirality including the origin of optically active molecules on the pre-biotic world.  At various times in his career he has worked at and consulted with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Since his retirement, he has devoted his efforts to the history and philosophy of science.

Lila HoltDr. Lila Holt is a lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She also teaches as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Education. Her interests include finding ways to better use technologies for learning and for life. Rapid advancements in computers and technology create a need for adaptation for learning and for life skills. Her research covers using technology, including the web and multimedia, for effective communication for instruction and for work place excellence.

Megan StantonMy name is Megan Stanton and I will be a junior at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville in the fall. I am majoring in Computer Engineering and minoring in Cybersecurity, and I am also a part of the Chancellor’s Honors Program. I plan on getting my masters in Cybersecurity when I graduate. I like to volunteer at the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley whenever I have time, and I also love playing video games. I am very excited to get to know everyone and teach you about exciting STEM topics!

Molly CappsMy name is Molly Capps, and I’m from Seymour, TN. I am a rising junior in Chemical Engineering, and I’m a member of The Society of Women Engineers. After graduation, I want to work in the chemical manufacturing industry. I enjoy hiking, sports, and studying Spanish.

Sam ZimmermannMy name is Sam Zimmermann. I am a rising Junior in Computer Engineering with a minor in Physics. I am part of the Chancellor’s Honor’s program at UT and am also working on starting a crochet/knitting club! I am also an undergraduate researcher in the EECS department, and a teaching assistant for the Engineering Fundamentals program. I volunteer at the local animal shelter on the weekends, and along with crocheting and knitting I enjoy reading and gaming. After graduation, I would like to go to graduate school to continue doing research, or work for a national lab.

Emma Farrar My name is Emma Farrar and I am a rising junior majoring in Computer Engineering and planning to minor in Cyber Security. I’m a member of the Society of Women Engineers as well as Systers, and I also work at Barley’s in downtown Knoxville. In my free time I love powerlifting, running, and reading!

Taiesha YoungMy name is Taiesha Young and I am currently a 6th grade ELA/Math teacher for Knox County Schools. I have an 4 year old son. I enjoy traveling and exploring in my free time. I look forward to teaching at the Governor’s School this summer!

My name is Shahram Hatefi Hesari .I am currently Ph.D. Student and Graduate Teaching and research assistant in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. My background is in analog integrated circuit design, semiconductor device physics, and sensor design. Since August 2017 I’ve been involved in the development of several integrated circuits using different CMOS process technologies. I am also TA for Governor’s School and I am very excited to get to know you and share with you all I’ve learned about electronics!


Erica AllenMy name is Erica Allen and I am currently a 6th grade science teacher for Knox County Schools. I have an 12 year old son and two Jack Russells. I enjoy running and gardening in my free time. I look forward to teaching at the Governor’s School this summer!