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Faculty

Dr. George Siopsis, Director of GSSE

George SiopsisGeorge 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 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. Richard Pagni, Course Director (STEM in Society)

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.


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

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. Tessa Burch-Smith (Biology II)

Dr. Tessa Burch-Smith is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Burch-Smith completed her Ph.D. thesis Yale University, studying the plant innate immune response to viruses.  She then conducted post-doctoral research with at the University of California, Berkeley, studying the regulation of intercellular trafficking mediated by pores in the plant cell wall called plasmodesmata. Her current research uses a variety of molecular and cell biological approaches including advanced light and electron microscopy and plant viruses to investigate plasmodesmata in a variety of plant species and under diverse growth conditions. Her lab also investigates chloroplast gene expression and how signals from chloroplasts can control expression of nuclear genes related to plasmodesmata. She is the author of numerous scientific articles and has received research funding from the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. She is also a Senior Editor at the scientific journal Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions and is a scientific reviewer for numerous research journals.


Dr. Remus Nicoara, Course Director (Mathematics)

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, Course Director (Physics)

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

Floyd Ostrowski, Course Director (Industrial & Systems Engineering)

Floyd OstrowskiFloyd 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. David J. Keffer, Course Director (Materials Science & Engineering)

David J. Keffer was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He pursued a technical education earning a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. After a year as a post-doctoral scholar at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., he began his career as an engineering professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he remains today, leading a computational research group interested in materials relevant to the pursuit of sustainable energy. He has published about 120 technical papers in archival journals. He was awarded a Fulbright Grant and spent a year (2010-11) at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.

Prof. Keffer’s teaching and recent interests focus on the intersection of computational materials science and sustainability.  An understanding of the processing-structure-property-performance relationships of materials relevant to the generation, conversion and storage of renewable energy plays a distinct role in the interdisciplinary response to addressing the global climate/energy crisis.


Dr. Chris Wetteland, Course Director (Materials Science & Engineering)

Chris Wetteland is a senior lecturer in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) at the University of Tennessee. He has a BS in Geology from Northeastern Illinois University, an MS in Ceramics and Materials Engineering from Rutgers, and a Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from UT. Chris worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a Staff Member from 1997-2006. His primary research was in ion beam analysis and radiation damage in materials. From 2010-2013 he was a Research Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he investigated accelerated aging of nuclear materials using particle accelerators. He presently teaches the laboratory coursework and advises senior design projects in MSE. His research interests include early solar system processes, radiation damage in nuclear materials, ceramic processing, solar energy, ion beam analysis, advanced manufacturing, and STEM outreach.


Dr. David Donovan, Course Director (Materials Science & Engineering)

David Donovan is an assistant professor in the Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville (UTK). He received his PhD in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011 and his BS in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  His PhD work was in the area of Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) Fusion for the purpose of creating and utilizing small-scale neutron generating devices to detect explosives and other illicit materials.  He was a post-doctoral research associate at Sandia National Laboratories-Livermore where he worked in the area of plasma-surface interactions in magnetically confined fusion devices.  He collaborated extensively with the DIII-D tokamak operated by General Atomics in San Diego, CA as well as with the Tritium Plasma Experiment located at Idaho National Laboratory. Since joining UTK in 2014, he has developed a research program in fusion energy science, plasma physics, plasma-material interactions, and near term applications of nuclear fusion devices. He has introduced new plasma/fusion undergraduate and graduate courses including Introduction to Plasma Physics, Introduction to Fusion Technology, Plasma Diagnostics, and Boundary Plasma Physics. His group has constructed a compact electron cyclotron resonance (ECR) plasma exposure stage at UTK for low flux ion damage studies, which has been combined with material characterization tools (SEM, FIB, EBSD, GIXRD) to perform studies of He ion damage to tungsten. His research group has performed plasma and heat flux diagnostic implementation on the Proto-MPEX linear plasma device at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and performed surface chemistry studies at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) on the LTX-Beta device. Prof. Donovan also leads a collaborative research effort with the Boundary Plasma Material Interaction Center (BPMIC) at the DIII-D fusion experiment at General Atomics in the area of diagnostic development, boundary plasma experiments, and impurity transport studies.


Dr. Doug Aaron, Course Director (Materials Science & Engineering)

More info to come.


Dr. Libby Barker, Course Director (Materials Science & Engineering)

More info to come.