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New Class of UT-ORNL Joint Directed Research and Development Faculty Named

Developed in collaboration between UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Joint Directed Research and Development program nurtures collaborative research from the two institutions. The program recently announced the selection of twelve UT faculty researchers to benefit from its current cycle of funding.

The program funds projects that might otherwise be mired at a particular point of the development process, providing resources to help the research progress. For the past ten years Science Alliance, through the JDRD program, has helped numerous faculty and staff of both institutions pursue their goals.

The majority of the selected projects include undergraduate students, graduate students, or postdoctoral scholars.

“The involvement of students has been the critical glue to building lasting collaborations,” said Janet Nelson, associate vice chancellor for research and development at UT.

Covering a wide array of interests from the College of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences at UT, the following faculty members are the latest to have projects funded through the JDRD program:

  • Francisco Barrera, Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology—Determination of protein impact on lipid nanodomains with tunable probes
  • Subhadeep Chakraborty, Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering—An augmented reality setup to incorporate human factors in intelligent transportation
  • Brett G. Compton, Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering—Additive manufacturing of bio-inspired hybrid materials for controlled neutron absorption
  • Steven Johnston, Department of Physics and Astronomy—Quantum Monte Carlo studies of correlated one-dimensional multiorbital systems
  • Ramki Kalyanaraman, Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering—Ultrastable bimetallic thin films for plasmonic-based chemical sensing
  • Veerle Keppens, Department of Materials Science and Engineering—Electronic and magnetic phase control of complex materials using ionic liquid gating
  • Anahita Khojandi, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering—Multimethod cognitive simulators for urban dynamics
  • Jian Liu, Department of Physics and Astronomy—Magnetoelectric multiferroic nanocomposites—going beyond complex oxide perovskites
  • Nicole McFarlane, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science—CMOS based neutron detection
  • Liem Tran, Department of Geography—Examining the energy-water nexus through the lens of the super-network: Combining water routing networks with energy production-consumption networks
  • Xiaopeng Zhao, Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering—Visualization and analysis of multimodal unstructured health data: a scalable infrastructure for patient care management

The projects can be funded for up to two years, with an evaluation at the end of the first year to see if further funding is warranted.

“This year’s funding reflects investments across nine UT priority topic areas, with an emphasis on their intersection with ORNL’s strategic priorities,” said Nelson. “The resulting awards represent a breadth of topics such as exascale computing, neutron science, complex biological systems, and urban infrastructure.”

All projects must feature a component of both UT and ORNL, with the overall program serving to work in conjunction with the US Department of Energy’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program.

While the JDRD program identifies complementary research at UT and ORNL and supports the opportunity for researchers from the two organizations to work collaboratively in a given research area, the LDRD program supports a limited number of projects with the intent of positioning ORNL to be a leader in emerging national initiatives.

The Science Alliance was established in 1984 as a Tennessee Center of Excellence. Much like the LDRD program, it has a goal of bringing together university and governmental research programs in science and engineering. The center supports other UT-ORNL joint programs, including a computational science initiative and joint institutes in advanced materials, biological sciences, computational sciences, heavy-ion research, and neutron sciences.



David Goddard (865-974-0683,