The Office of Research & Engagement, in cooperation with the Office of the Provost, announces a distinctive new program to support the accomplishments of junior faculty in all fields. The program will focus on prestigious national faculty awards and on interdisciplinary collaborations in fields of emerging significance.
On a Scientific Mission to Mars
For decades, a human mission to Mars has been dreamed, discussed, and even worked toward—but it hasn’t happened yet. And there are many reasons including the significant technical challenges that stand in the way.
For one, it takes a lot of fuel to get there and viable techniques haven’t yet been developed to successfully harness enough energy to launch a rocket on a 33.9-million-mile road trip—and then bring it back.
Also, a trip like that would take a long time. More time spent in space means more potentially harmful effects on the astronauts’ health. Living in low gravity and being exposed to space radiation for long periods of time changes the human body, as NASA is now finding out, thanks, in part, to a recent year-long space mission by UT alumnus Scott Kelly.
But, UT engineering students led by UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Nuclear Materials Steve Zinkle are working on overcoming these challenges by peering into “exotic” materials that can withstand extreme environments—as in those created by nuclear-powered thermal propulsion. That’s because one promising approach to get a rocket to Mars and back in a shorter time is by going nuclear.
Learn more about Zinkle’s work at tickle.utk.edu.
ORE to Hold Research Awards Ceremony
This spring, the Office of Research and Engagement will celebrate the achievements of students, faculty, staff, and community partners for their achievements in research, engagement, and compliance activities with an awards ceremony. This annual ORE Research Awards Luncheon will include recognition of the comprehensive research enterprise, including activities related to funding, mentorship, creative achievement, community engagement, and responsible conduct of research.
There are 23 award categories including six that will be recognized from the floor. Many of the awards are based on data points from Elements, a system that helps faculty record their scholarly activities, and Cayuse, a system for creating and tracking research grant proposals. Others will be selected by committee or through a nomination process. Nominations are due by March 1, 2019.
Recognitions, November 14
Ten UT Army ROTC Alumni Inducted into Hall of Fame
Ten distinguished Army ROTC alumni were inducted into the UT Army ROTC Hall of Fame at its annual induction dinner on November 9.
“The Hall of Fame program honors both military and civilian contributions,” said Logan Hickman, dinner chairman and UT Knoxville Army ROTC Alumni Council president. “Our 10 graduates are among the best and highlight UT’s rich military history. This second class of Hall of Fame inductees brings our total number of members to 22. This distinguished group of UT graduates only scratches the surface of a program that started in 1844.”
UTIA Announces New Dean for AgResearch
The University of Tennesee Institute of Agriculture has named Hongwei Xin, currently assistant dean for research in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University, as UTIA’s new dean for AgResearch. Xin will begin his new role in May 2019, after the conclusion of the current academic year.
Geologists Uncover New Clues about Largest Mass Extinction Ever
A new study could help explain the driving force behind the largest mass extinction in the history of Earth, known as the End-Permian Extinction.
The event, also known as the Great Dying, occurred around 250 million years ago when a massive volcanic eruption in what is today the Russian province of Siberia sent nearly 90 percent of all life right into extinction. Geologists call this eruption the Siberian Flood Basalts, and it ran for almost 1 million years.
“The scale of this extinction was so incredible, that scientists have often wondered what made the Siberian Flood Basalts so much more deadly than other similar eruptions,” said Michael Broadley, a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Petrographic and Geochemical Research, in France, and lead author of the paper.
The work, which was published in Nature Geoscience, was co-authored by Lawrence “Larry” Taylor, the former director of UT’s Planetary Geosciences Institute. Taylor, whose prolific UT career spanned 46 years, passed away in September 2017 at age 79.
According to Broadley, “Taylor was instrumental in supplying samples of mantle xenoliths, rock sections of the lithosphere (a section of the planet located between the crust and the mantle) that get captured by the passing magma and erupted to the surface during the volcanic explosion. Taylor also provided advice throughout the study.”