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Pharr Named Director of UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Advanced Materials

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The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has named George Pharr as the new director of the UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Advanced Materials (JIAM).

Pharr, a UT Knoxville chancellor’s professor and head of the department of materials science and engineering, has served as the institute’s deputy director for two years.

In his role as director, he will oversee the institute’s continued development, including helping to guide the design of a planned $30 million facility to be built at UT’s Cherokee Farm campus.

“Prof. Pharr is exactly the right person at the right time to accelerate the advancement of our materials research and training programs,” said Brad Fenwick, UT Knoxville vice chancellor for research and engagement. “He has been recognized as a world-class scientist, knows how to productively integrate the strengths of the university with those of ORNL and, as reflected in his appointment as a chancellor’s professor, holds the respect and confidence of the faculty and the administration.”

In addition to the new building, Pharr, who has been a UT-ORNL joint researcher since coming to UT Knoxville in 1998, hopes to leverage the institute’s significant talent at the university and the laboratory.

“We have built a great base of people in JIAM, and we have an opportunity now to begin thinking in new ways about how to build on that base,” said Pharr.

With an eye toward increased external research funding, Pharr plans to institute a program that will provide research “seed money” to materials scientists and engineers. They can then develop research projects that will attract outside grants and build the institute.

“With his background as a joint researcher, George has the perfect combination of experience to lead the joint institute,” said Wayne T. Davis, interim dean of the UT Knoxville College of Engineering.

JIAM has its roots in the Tennessee Advanced Materials Laboratory, founded in 2001, of which Pharr was a founding member.

Funded with $20 million from the federal government and $10 million from the state of Tennessee, JIAM’s new facility will be a state-of-the-art materials research center upon completion.

Prior to coming to UT Knoxville, Pharr served for 18 years at Rice University. He earned his doctorate from Stanford University in 1979 and had a postdoctoral fellowship at Cambridge University.

JIAM is one of five UT-ORNL joint institutes. The National Institute for Computational Science is home to UT Knoxville’s $65 million Kraken supercomputer, one of the world’s most powerful. Other joint institutes include the Joint Institute for Biological Science, the Joint Institute for Neutron Science and the Joint Institute for Heavy Ion Research.

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Category: Announcements