KNOXVILLE—Stacey Patterson, University of Tennessee associate vice president for research since 2015, was confirmed by vote of the UT Board of Trustees today as the University’s next vice president for research, outreach and economic development.
Patterson was appointed interim vice president by UT President Joe DiPietro in July, filling a vacancy created by David Millhorn, former UT senior vice president and vice president for research, outreach and economic development, when Millhorn transitioned to a new role focused on serving as Oak Ridge National Laboratory relations advisor.
Patterson is the first woman to serve as vice president for research in the history of the UT system, and her appointment is effective immediately.
“I am deeply honored and grateful for the opportunity afforded me by Dr. DiPietro and the Board of Trustees to help lead the University of Tennessee in this new role,” Patterson said. “I’ve had the distinct privilege to have worked with Dr. David Millhorn over the past eight years, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to move UT’s research enterprise forward.”
Patterson joined the University in 2006 in a joint role as a licensing associate for the UT Research Foundation (UTRF) and a research scientist in the Center for Environmental Biotechnology (CEB). At UTRF, she was responsible for managing a broad portfolio of intellectual property for licensing and commercialization to the private sector. Her research at CEB led to significant external funding and the launch of a startup company developing biological cell lines for optical imaging applications.
In 2009, Patterson joined UT System administration as director of research partnerships for the executive vice president office. She served as lead author of a proposal for research infrastructure that won a $24-million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Among several statewide initiatives Patterson has led is the $62.5-million Volunteer State Solar Initiative. In 2012, she was named assistant vice president and director of research partnerships, and in 2015 she was promoted to the dual roles of UT associate vice president for research and vice president of the UT Research Foundation.
As UT vice president for research, outreach and economic development, Patterson also now assumes the role of president of the UT Research Foundation (UTRF). UTRF promotes commercialization of UT intellectual property and encourages an entrepreneurial culture.
“The University of Tennessee is fortunate to have in Stacey Patterson someone with top-notch scientific credentials, an understanding of the statewide UT system and expertise in conducting research and facilitating partnerships to sustain the remarkable momentum now in place,” UT President Joe DiPietro said.
That momentum includes a UT system-wide record $481 million in research and sponsored program expenditures in the most recent fiscal year ended (2017). UTRF filed 98 patents in fiscal 2017, received an all-time high 166 new invention disclosures, and executed 17 new license agreements. UTRF is among the world’s top university producers of patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, has successfully licensed more than half of its patent portfolio, and actively manages more than 200 technology license agreements for UT intellectual property.
“Research and graduate education are what really differentiates UT from all other public institutions in the state, and UT research is one of the most important avenues for the University to increase quality of life and opportunities for all Tennesseans,” Patterson said. “It’s what allows us to prepare next-generation thought leaders and innovators solving the world’s greatest challenges. It’s a distinction we are very proud of and is a product of our unique mission.
“It’s a privilege to serve my alma mater, and I look forward to continuing the development of strong collaborations and partnerships to grow the discovery culture at all UT campuses and institutes.”
Patterson has bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in microbiology from UT Knoxville and a master’s degree in environmental health sciences from East Tennessee State University. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of South Florida and returned to UT Knoxville with a joint appointment in research and technology transfer in 2006. Patterson has secured and administered nearly $100 million in extramural research funding from agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the U.S. Army, NSF, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Health. She has been a contributor on discoveries achieving seven U.S. patents in sensor development and cancer imaging.
As a UT Knoxville undergraduate, Patterson met her husband, Brian Patterson, when both were members of the Pride of the Southland marching band. The Pattersons live in Farragut and are the parents of two sons, Andrew, 15, and William, 11.
UT system research encompasses programs on the flagship campus in Knoxville, at UT Chattanooga, UT Martin, the Health Science Center in Memphis, initiatives of the Institute of Agriculture, Institute for Public Service, and the Space Institute at Tullahoma.