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Dr. George Siopsis, Director of GSSE

George Siopsis, DirectorGeorge Siopsis is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tennessee. He grew up in Greece and attended Sussex University in England where he got his B.Sc. degree majoring in mathematical physics. He did his graduate work at Caltech studying theoretical elementary particle physics, receiving his PhD in 1987. He then spent a few years as a research associate at Texas A&M University working on string theory before moving to Tennessee in 1991.

In recent years, his research has focused on quantum gravity and related issues (holography, entanglement, black holes and the information loss paradox), and applications to condensed matter physics. He has trained several PhD students who have embarked on promising careers, and introduced undergraduates as well as high school students to research in quantum physics and fundamental interactions. Currently, he is working on quantum computing and quantum information processing in collaboration with members of the Quantum Information Science group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Dr. Lila Holt, Course Director (STEM Skills)

Lila Holt, Course DirectorDr. 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.

Dr. Richard Pagni, Course Director (STEM in Society)

Richard Pagni, Course DirectorRichard 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.

Dr. Stephanie Drumheller-Horton, Course Director (Biology)

Stephanie Drumheller-HortonMy research interests center on vertebrate taphonomy, ichnology, paleopathology, and paleoecology. In particular, I study bone surface modifications generated under modern and experimental conditions to better understand the processes which left similar traces on bone in the fossil record. My current research projects include:

  1. testing methods for applying these modern analogies in a deep time perspective
  2. interpreting trophic interactions, behavior, and diet from bite marks left by different archosaurian groups, especially members of Crocodyliformes
  3. identifying and differentiating historically understudied traces and pathologies, such as bite marks vs. shell disease and different types of plant mediated damage to bone.

Dr. Bhavya Sharma, Course Director (Chemistry)

Bhavya Sharma, Course DirectorBhavya Sharma is originally from Hawaii. She received her BS degree from SUNY at Buffalo and her PhD degree in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. Bhavya was a postdoctoral researcher in Rick Van Duyne’s group at Northwestern University. She started her academic career at the University of Tennessee in August 2015. Bhavya’s research involves the use of Raman spectroscopy, a light scattering technique, to examine the underlying physics and chemistry of biological systems. In particular, her group is interested in biomedical applications of Raman spectroscopy. Dr. Sharma’s group also uses nanoscience in their development of biochemical assays for biomarkers of human health.

Dr. Remus Nicoara, Course Director (Mathematics)

Dr. Remus Nicoara, Course DirectorDr. Remus Nicoara earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from UCLA, and his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Bucharest, Romania. He is currently an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Math Honors Program at the University of Tennessee. His main research interest lies in von Neumann algebras, which are algebras of operators that model quantum mechanical systems. Outside of work, Remus likes to hike, bike and garden while thinking about math. He enjoys meditation, Sci-Fi books, and Hanayama puzzles. He is also an avid gamer and he currently teaches a class about video games and math, called Math Effect.

Dr. Haidong Zhou, Course Director (Physics)

Haidong Zhou is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UTK. Haidong obtained his PH.D. in Physics in December 2005 from University of Texas at Austin. He became a Postdoctoral Associate at National High Magnetic Field Lab/Florida Sate University with Prof. C. R. Wiebe. In August 2008, he obtained a position as assistant scholar/scientist in NHMFL. He became an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at UTK in August 2012.

Haidong’s research is concerned with the nature of phase transitions in condensed matter systems, especially strongly correlated systems and quantum matters. More specifically, he is involved with the single crystal growth and using the x-ray scattering, low temperature and high magnetic field measurements, and neutron scattering, as complementary probes to study the spin, electron and structure of solids. His research interests are:

  • Single crystal growth
  • Geometrically frustrated magnets (GFM)
  • Multiferroic systems
  • Systems with strong spin/orbital/lattice coupling
  • Systems approaching the itinerant electron limit

Dr. John E. Kobza, Course Director (Industrial & Systems Engineering)

John is the Department Head and Professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. John received his BS in Electrical Engineering from Washington State University, received his MS in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University, and received his PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. John’s research interests include:

  • Modeling, Analyzing and Designing Systems involving uncertainty and risk.
  • Applying Quality Tools to Improve the Performance of Organizations, such as Healthcare Systems.

Floyd Ostrowski, Course Director (Industrial & Systems Engineering)

Floyd is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. He has a forty year progressive track record in advanced manufacturing concepts beginning as a machinist apprentice and culminating in a Chief Operating Officer position with multi-plant, multi-state, international operations experience, and strong lean manufacturing skills. Floyd has attained results that have radically streamlined and improved supply chain processes, achieving entitled levels of profitability, responsiveness, inventory turns and customer satisfaction. This was accomplished through driving the implementations of JIT (pull replenishment), TQM, and employee empowerment (Kaizen blitz events and cross functional teams).

Floyd received his BA in Business Administration from Antioch University. He received his MS in Industrial Technology, Manufacturing Concentration, from East Carolina University.

Dr. Kurt E. Sickafus, Course Director (Materials Science & Engineering)

Dr. Sickafus has been an experimental researcher in the field of materials science for about 34 years; investigating structure and properties in metals, polymers, and ceramics, in bulk, thin-film, and composite forms. He graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 1978 (BA in Physics & Mathematics), and he received his Ph.D. degree from Cornell University in 1985 (Materials Science & Engineering). Dr. Sickafus also worked as a postdoctoral research assistant in the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge (1985-1987) and as a staff member at I.B.M. (1987-88) before joining Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1989. He worked as a Staff Scientist at Los Alamos for 22 years before moving to the U. of Tennessee in 2011.

Dr. Sickafus’ primary experimental expertise is in electron microscopy, with an emphasis on transmission electron microscopy (TEM), scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM), and analytical electron microscopy (AEM) techniques. His research interests are primarily in the areas of crystallography, radiation damage effects, and microstructure of materials. Currently, his research is concentrated on the radiation damage behavior of oxides with structures ranging from spinel to ilmenite to pyrochlore to fluorite to perovskite.

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