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Current News, Events, and Seminars

(Updated: 12/15/2014)


Dec. 3, 2014

Chemical, Materials Engineering Students Have Strong Showing

KNOXVILLE—Seven students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Engineering's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Department of Materials Science and Engineering recently took part in the undergraduate poster competition of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers conference in Atlanta.

The seven—seniors Aston Thompson, Christian Wilson, Chris Bruneau and Chris Ludtka and sophomores Mary McBride and Melanie Lindsey from CBE and sophomore Samantha Medina of MSE—are all part of the Zawodzinski Group, a group dedicated to electrochemical and energy storage research run by Governor's Chair Thomas Zawodzinski.

"Being chosen to take part in such a prestigious event is a real honor for our students and a good reflection on our departments" said Gabriel A. Goenaga, senior research associate in the Zawodzinski Group. "We encourage students to go to conferences, giving them the opportunity to display their research among some of their best and brightest peers.

"It is a great opportunity and good experience for their future careers."
The students used research that they have worked on under Zawodzinski, a professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, as the basis for their respective posters in the competition.

All told, more than 400 posters were presented at the conference, with UT having a strong showing.
Ludtka took home second place in Fuels, Petrochemicals and Energy II and the Undergraduate Presentation Award from AIChE industry partner Wood Group Mustang, Inc., while Lindsey (Fuels, Petrochemicals and Energy I), Wilson (Fuels, Petrochemicals and Energy II) and Bruneau (Catalysis and Reaction Engineering II) each took home third places finishes.

"We're really pleased for them to get that level of recognition while representing our university," said Goenaga. "To have that many high finishes from one research group is confirmation for both our students and our research group."
The Tennessee Solar Conversion and Storage using Outreach, Research and Education—or TN-SCORE—program, of which Zawodzinski is the Thrust II leader, made the trip and poster presentations possible.


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CMP Poster Competition Sends Students to LSU Conference

At the end of the summer of 2014, the Center for Materials Processing (CMP) hosted a poster competition for undergraduate researchers. The winners of this internal poster competition were awarded travel expenses to participate in the 6th annual Louisiana State University (LSU) Undergraduate Research Conference (URC), "Excite/Explore/Experiment" held on October 31st.
The four students traveling were Karson Stone (sophomore, mechanical engineering), Jesse Johnson (sophomore, materials science and engineering), Maverick Echivarre (senior, materials science and engineering), and Christopher Hobbs (senior, materials science and engineering) along with Dr. Michael Koehler (Undergraduate Research Coordinator for the CMP). Ms. Stone and Mr. Johnson were placed in the Level 1 competition category reserved for 1st year researchers, while Mr. Echivarre and Mr. Hobbs were placed in the Level 2 category reserved for students who have been performing research for 3+ semesters.
Christopher Hobbs (pictured above) walked away with 1st place in the Technology & Engineering category and a monetary award for the poster "Numerical Modeling and Furnace Augmentation for Improved Growth of Large-Diameter Scintillators". Mr. Hobbs is an undergraduate research assistant at the Scintillator Materials Research Center (SMRC) and the Department of Homeland Security supports his research.

Pharr Named to National Academy of Engineering

Faculty member George Pharr has been named to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering. He is the fifth National Academy member in our College of Engineering. George is a Chancellor's Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and joint faculty scientist in the Materials Science and Technology Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Read more.

Mandrus Named UT Engineering's First Henry Endowed Professor

David Mandrus, a professor in the College of Engineering, has been selected as the first Jerry and Kay Henry Endowed Professor. Mandrus was chosen for the honor because of his research, teaching, and publication record. A fellow of the American Physical Society, Mandrus has done work covering everything from LED research to researching materials for the electronics of the future.



Improving Plant-based Battery with Neutrons and Simulations

09.18.14 Researchers at ORNL and the University of Tennessee are studying the structure of plant-based battery materials by combining neutron experiments and supercomputer simulations.
Initial testing of the lignin-derived battery showed promising results in terms of capacity and cycling stability, but the researchers wanted to understand how and why the material behaved so differently from other graphites. Rios began collaborating with the University of Tennessee's Computational Materials Group, led by David Keffer, to further examine the fibers' structure and behavior.
"There aren't many techniques we can use to study these unique materials made of crystalline domains within an amorphous matrix," said UT's Nicholas McNutt, a graduate student in Keffer's group. "We wanted to tie together some of Oak Ridge National Lab's best resources -- neutrons and computers -- and see what we could do."
The team ran neutron scattering experiments at ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) to analyze how lignin-based fiber samples reacted with lithium. The SNS is a DOE Office of Science user facility that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development.
Using the neutron data, the team developed computational models and ran simulations on supercomputers including the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility's (OLCF) Titan, supported by DOE's Office of Science, and UT's Kraken, supported by the National Science Foundation. The team detailed its approach in the Journal of Applied Crystallography.
"Our models allow us to take experimental neutron scattering data and predict things about the local atomic structure," McNutt said. "We are using computation to understand experimental data in a way that you couldn't do before."
The initial combination of neutron experiments and simulation gave the UT-ORNL team a first glimpse into how the material's structure affects its overall performance. Now that they have confirmed their model's accuracy, the researchers plan on applying the technique to how the material's structure changes with and without added lithium, mimicking the charging and discharging cycles of a real battery. Read more

New ion beam materials laboratory for materials modification and irradiation effects research

ABSTRACT: "A new multifunctional ion beam materials laboratory (IBML) has been established at the University of Tennessee, in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The IBML is currently equipped with two ion sources, a 3 MV tandem accelerator, three beamlines and three endstations. The IBML is primarily dedicated to fundamental research on ion–solid interaction, ion beam analysis, ion beam modification, and other basic and applied research on irradiation effects in a wide range of materials. An overview of the IBML facility is provided, and experimental results are reported to demonstrate the specific capabilities."
SOURCE: Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research B 338 (2014) 19-30

Three Engineering Professors on "World's Most Influential" List

From left to right: Governor's Chair Ramamoorthy Ramesh;
Matthew Mench, head of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace,
and Biomedical Engineering; and Professor David Mandrus.

Since having your work recognized by your peers has long been considered a top honor for those in higher education, a trio of College of Engineering professors recently became academic all-stars. Governor's Chair Ramamoorthy Ramesh and professors Matthew Mench and David Mandrus were recently named to the "World's Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014″ list by Thomson Reuters news service. "This is a tremendous personal honor for all three of them, and also a strong validation of some of the things that we have going on here in the College of Engineering at Tennessee," said Wayne Davis, dean of the college. To compile the list, Reuters studied research and releases across the globe and measured the total number of times that other researchers, professors, and students cited the material in their own findings. Rather than just basing their result on which people had been cited the most overall, Reuters looked at which individual papers within the results had been cited the highest number of times. Those findings placed Ramesh, Mench, and Mandrus in the top 1 percent of all research scientists across the world. "For them to be on the list itself is nice enough, but for it to be based on the respect that others in their fields have for them—for their peers to so often cite them as leaders—underscores the sort of people we have on our faculty here," said Davis.

Along with being a Governor's Chair, Ramesh is the deputy director for science and technology at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in addition to his role in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UT—where Mandrus is also a professor—while Mench is the head of and the Condra Chair of Excellence in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering.
Ramesh is an expert in solar nanotechnology, while Mench studies electrochemical power storage, transport, and conversion, and Mandrus is a leader in developing breakthroughs that lead to ever-smaller, more efficient electronics.

Yang Tong receives Acta Student Award

Yang Tong

Yang Tong, a graduate student in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has received the prestigious Acta Student Award for 2013. This award honors the best student contribution to Scripta Materialia in 2013. The competition is very tough for this award, and only best papers are chosen. Tong also contributed to Acta Materialia in 2013. Both Scripta and Acta are high impact journals. Tong's contribution to Scripta has gained a lot of attention in the metallic glass community and has been very popular on the Elsevier website.
See all of 2013 ACTA Student Awards recipients:

Dr. Zhang and Dr. Weber win the (EFRC) Grant

DOE-OBES yesterday announced the winners of the Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRC). Professor Yanwen Zhang's nuclear materials EFRC proposal was selected! Please join me in heartily congratulating Professors Zhang and Weber on winning this new EFRC.

GSS representative for graduate students in the MSE department is Adam Lindsey

The Graduate Student Senate (GSS) is the branch of the Student Government Association (SGA) that represents the interests of all graduate and professional students at the University of Tennessee. GSS is the official voice of graduate students and is the organization that administrators turn to when the opinion of the graduate student body is desired. For more information on the GSS, email the president at or visit Read more about GSS here:

Theory and experiments met at SMRC labs

Students from MSE 250 (Introduction to Materials Kinetics and Transport Phenomena) had the opportunity to connect the theory learned in class to the actual experiments at the Scintillation Materials Research Center (SMRC). Dr. Mariya Zhuravleva and Mrs. Merry Koschan kindly showed the MSE 250 undergraduates how Czochralski and Bridgman methods were used to grow single crystals, while Dr. Yanfei Gao, the instructor of MSE 250, had taught the underlying theories in class. The abstract concepts of forced and natural convection, thermocapillary convection, and motion of solid/liquid interface became better understood by the students, as shown by their smiling faces.

Lundin receives AWS award

Dr. Carl Lundin, metallurgy and welding professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, received the District Educator Award (District 8, Northeast Tennessee Section) for 2012-2013 from the American Welding Society (AWS) in recognition of teaching and expanding the knowledge of welding-related subjects.

Important Dates


The MSE Honors/Awards Banquet Tuesday, April 1, 2014 Calhouns on the River 6:00 pm
Application for S-STEM Scholarship Program
2014 2015 (Submission window opens Feb. 15, 2014)


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