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Dr. Lila Holt, STEM Skills Course Director 

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.

Dr. Kristina Gehrman, STEM in Society Course Director

Dr. Kristina Gehrman is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She specializes in ethics and environmental philosophy, and she is especially interested in understanding the thoughts processes people use to make decisions. How do we solve moral dilemmas? Make major life decisions? Etc. And – could philosophy possibly help us to make better decisions? She received her PhD from UCLA.



Dr. Stephanie Drumheller-Horton, Biology Course Director

My 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. Doug Stuart, Chemistry Course Director

Dr. Stuart has a Masters in Literature from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and a PhD in Bioanalytical Chemistry from Indiana University Bloomington. He did postdoctoral research at Northwestern, and was a Professor at The University of West Georgia for over a decade before coming to UT in 2019 to be the Advanced Lab Director and Lecturer. He has done research using microscopy and spectroscopy to peer into cells, to develop new ways to image cancerous tissue, to design biochemical assays for biomarkers and DNA, and to investigate laser-based methods to detect chemical/ biological warfare agents and monitor glucose levels.

Dr. Remus Nicoara, Mathematics Course Director

Remus NicoaraDr. Remus Nicoara earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from UCLA, and his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Bucharest, Romania. He is currently a 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, Physics Course Director

Haidong ZhouHaidong 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. Gary Null, Industrial & Systems Engineering Course Director

Dr. Gary Null is an Assistant Professor of Practice in Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), following more than 30 years in leadership roles within the government and industry. He teaches ISE, Engineering Management, and the Heath Integrated Business and Engineering Program courses. Before joining the University of Tennessee, his leadership roles included serving as an officer in the US Navy, a civilian senior manager in the US Army, and most recently, as a senior manager with General Motors. He is a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt and a Design Thinking facilitator and coach.  He received his Ph.D. in Systems and Engineering Management from Texas Tech University. He received his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, his MBA from the University of Colorado, and his BS in Systems Engineering from the US Naval Academy.

Mary Kocak, Materials Science & Engineering Course Director

Mary Kocak earned her Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Kentucky. She is currently a full-time professor in the Department of Engineering and Media Technologies at Pellissippi State Community College and an adjunct instructor in the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee. Mary started her career in a manufacturing position, progressed to an international consulting firm that specialized in the physical protection of industrial and commercial properties against fire, explosion, earthquake, collapse, and windstorm damage, and transitioned to faculty appointments at the university and community college levels. Courses that she teaches include Materials and Manufacturing Processes, Mechanics, Strength of Materials, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics.

Mary’s research experiences include thermal contact conductance of materials at high temperatures, landfill gas as an alternative fuel for industrial boilers, alternative energy methods for the desalination of salt water, advanced manufacturing and prototyping, and the integration of novel metal alloys in the field of die-casting. In her many collaborations, she has worked with diverse teams of engineers and she looks forward to sharing the relevance of material science to students of all engineering disciplines.


Dr. Dustin Gilbert, Materials Science & Engineering Course Director

Dustin Gilbert is an Assistant Professor in the Materials Science Department and Adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Tennessee. Gilbert was a Physicist and NRC Fellow at the National Institute for Standards and Technology Center for Neutron Research for four years after earning his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Davis in 2014. His research has included a range of nanoscale technologies including quantum materials, data storage and processing, and biomedical devices. Currently, Gilbert’s lab focuses on the novel use of neutrons to investigate chiral spin textures, including magnetic skyrmions, under a DOE Career award, functional high-entropy materials and nano-composite textiles in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.