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Alexandre and Varriano Receive Undergraduate Research Awards at Chancellor’s Honors Banquet

During the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet, Dr. Gladys Alexandre received the University’s top recognition for an undergraduate research mentor. Dr. Alexandre was named the Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year for her ongoing work to support undergraduate research at UT, including the research mentoring of 52 UT undergraduates and 6 non UT-undergraduates. She has a track record of co-authoring peer-reviewed publications with her students and supporting them in both on-campus and off-campus presentations, showings, performances, awards or scholarships related to research. Many of her students have gone on to graduate school and medical school.

Dr. Gladys Alexandre (pictured on the right) is a Professor and Associate Head in the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT). Her research focuses on the molecular events underlying sensing and signaling in bacteria. Alexandre completed two M. S. degrees, one in plant biology (1994) and one in microbial ecology (1995), before getting her Ph.D. in microbial ecology (1998) from the Universite Claude Bernard, Lyon (France). She worked as a postdoctoral research scientist under the advising of Igor B. Zhulin at Loma Linda University, School of Medicine (1998-2000) and then the Georgia Institute of Technology (2000-2001). She obtained her first academic position in the department of Biology at Georgia State University (2001) before moving to UTK in 2005. She was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2007 and to full professor in 2013. Since 2014, she is the PI and director for the NIH-funded program for Excellence and Equity in Research (PEER) which aims at increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups earning Ph.Ds in Biomedical and Behavioral sciences. Alexandre has published over 35 papers, has participated in several dozen conferences and has been invited as a speaker around the world. Alexandre’s research has been continuously supported from the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2003, including with a prestigious CAREER award. Her research is currently supported by NSF and the Science Alliance (UTK/ORNL).

At the same event, Louis Varriano was named Undergraduate Researcher of the Year. Since 2013, Louis has conducted research at UT, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Christian Brothers University, and the Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS) in L’Aquila, Abruzzo, Italy. He has numerous presentation credits to his name as well as several authored publications. Louis was recognized for his leadership with the Society of Physics Students, the Undergraduate Research Students’ Association, and as Editor-in-Chief of Pursuit: The Journal of Undergraduate Research at UT. Louis received the Barry Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention for Tennessee in 2016. Louis has also received UT’s highest honor, being named a Torchbearer.

Originally from Memphis, Tennessee, Louis is currently a senior in physics at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has done extensive research on the mirror matter model of dark matter, with a particular focus on the phenomenological aspects of neutron-mirror neutron oscillations. His work developing a formalism to describe these oscillations in a gaseous environment has allowed him and other researchers to begin designing an experiment to search for these theorized oscillations. The experimental detection of each of these phenomena requires new physics which will ultimately affect every other theory in physics, from early cosmology to current high energy particle physics. The proposed neutron regeneration experiment will radically transform our understanding of the universe if evidence for mirror matter is found. Through his research, he has attended and presented at many conferences in the United States and abroad. In addition to his academic and research endeavors, he is also heavily involved in the undergraduate life of his department and of the university more broadly and has spent significant time trying to improve the research experience of undergraduates across the campus.

Recalling Her Own Experience, Nursing Student Wants to Help Kids Understand Asthma

Adaya Troyer

Amanda Troyer, center, with Associate Professor and Interim Associate Dean Sadie Hutson and Professor and Associate Dean Tami Wyatt.

Adaya Troyer, a senior in nursing at UT, was only two when she was diagnosed with asthma. Now, as an undergraduate researcher, she’s trying to help young children with asthma understand and manage their condition.

UT’s eighth-annual Research Week kicks off today and runs through Friday, April 21. UT faculty and student research that impacts everyday life will be highlighted through a variety of events, including a Rube Goldberg Challenge, the annual Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement (EUReCA), a research photo contest, lectures, seminars and cultural events. A full list of which can be seen at

Troyer is just one of more than 1,400 UT undergraduates actively involved in research, an activity that embeds students in the learning process and enhances their preparation for graduate school or a career. Between 2015 and 2016 UT saw a 103 percent increase in the number of undergraduates involved in research and an 87 percent increase in the number of faculty serving as research mentors.

Continue reading at

Cinema Student Finds Way to ‘Make a Real Impact’

Carolyn Knight

Caroline Knight works with friend and mentor Chad McClarnon, who helped her produce “Still Sophie.”

Caroline Knight, a graduating senior in cinema studies, is an award-winning filmmaker whose latest project is now being shown at film festivals around the country.

Knight is among more than 1,400 UT undergraduates participating in research or creative activities that help them apply what they’re learning in the classroom and prepare them for graduate school or a future career. Between 2015 and 2016 UT more than doubled the number of undergraduates involved in research or creative achievement and saw an 87 percent increase in the number of faculty serving as mentors.

UT’s eighth-annual Research Week is now underway and a full list of activities is available online.

Continue reading at

Congratulations Louis Varriano!

We are so happy for Pursuit Editor and senior Louis Varriano, who has recently been named a 2017 Torchbearer, the most prestigious recognition that is given out to graduating seniors each year at the University of Tennessee. Read more about Louis and the 6 other seniors in the Tennessee Today article below. Thank you for all that you do for students at UT and for the Office of Undergraduate Research! Congratulations!

2017 Torchbearer Article



Summer Undergraduate Research Internship Recipients 2017

Congratulations to our 2017 Summer Research Internship Recipients! These students will work with UT Faculty Mentors to conduct research during the summer months. We look forward to seeing their work at Discovery Day in August! Read more about the program.

Student’s Name Academic Major Faculty Mentor
Emeri Allan Nursing Lizanne Elliott
Charles Barnes Biochem/Cellular/Molecular Bio Albrecht Vonarnim
Luke Blentlinger Geography Sally Horn
Ashlee Boles Microbiology Heidi Goodrich-Blair
Chandler Brown Ecology/Evolutionary Biology Joseph Williams
Alayna Cameron Biochem/Cellular/Molecular Bio Franc Barrera Olivares
Tiffany Cantrell History Lynn Sacco
Terrell Carter Biochem/Cellular/Molecular Bio Jennifer Schweitzer
Benjamin Chance Computer Science Yuri Kamyshkov
Jared Clements Chemical Engineering Cong Trinh
Emily Conner Management Jackie Jacobs
Malagon Daniel College Scholars Honors Matt Gray
Grant Dilliha Chemical and Biomolecular Engr Steven Ripp
Jeffrey Dixon Biomedical Engineering Steven Ripp
Codi Drake Civil Engineering Nicholas Wierschem
Mark Drake Music Andrew Sigler
Carter Earhart-Brown Computer Science Kwai Wong
Lydia Elise Ferguson Audiology/Speech Pathology Jillian McCarthy Maeder
Christopher Finotti Interdisciplinary Programs Kalynn Schulz
Aaron Free Psychology Gordon Burghardt
Nandwani Gayatri Classics Erin Darby
Nathaniel Graham Psychology Matthew Cooper
Gillian Harris Nursing Sadie Hutson
Anna Hendrix Biology Stephen Kania
Chavarria Janelle Nutrition Hollie Raynor
Abigail Jarratt Microbiology Erik Zinser
Young Jonathan Art Carolyn Staples
Lauren Jones Modern Foreign Lang/Literature Bernard Issa
Julie Edwards Psychology Patrick Grzanka
Rob Ledbetter Philosophy Kalynn Schulz
Jonathan McCammon Art Carolyn Staples
Rachael Miller Audiology/Speech Pathology Jillian McCarthy Maeder
Mary Mitchell Chemical and Biomolecular Engr Jeremiah Johnson
Andrea Nickels Audiology/Speech Pathology Jillian McCarthy Maeder
Ellen Nikbakht Theatre Casey Sams
Han Noh Biology Jennifer Schweitzer
Kyle Noordhoek Physics Liu Jun
Megan Pitz Engineering, Interdepartmental Xiaopeng Zhao
Miguel Rodriguez Pre-Professional Programs Elena Shpak
John Sayegh Architecture R Dekay
Starla Smith Nursing Joel Anderson
Whitney Stone Nursing Sandy Mixer
Peyton Terry Biochem/Cellular/Molecular Bio Rachel McCord
Angel Torres Electrical Engr & Computer Sci Jayne Wu
Morgan Vantrease Nursing Deb Chyka
Anna Young Biomedical Engineering Steven Ripp
Sheev Zaver Chemistry Shawn Campagna


Posters at the Capitol 2017

Each year, undergraduate researchers from across the state converge upon the State Capitol to share their projects with state legislators. This year, eight students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will travel to Nashville Wednesday, March 1, for the Posters at the Capitol event. Students will present research on subjects ranging from Aegina’s Role in Regional Maritime Trade Relations to Engineering Bacteria to make Natural Scents from Chemical Wastes.

“The number of undergraduates conducting research at the university is increasing each year,” said Marisa Moazen, director of undergraduate research. “So it is important we provide opportunities for them to interact with a variety of audiences. It is also critical for our state legislators to see students engaged and conversant in a range of research topics.”

Students interested in presenting research may still submit an application to participate in EURēCA, the Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement, held each spring semester during Research Week. This year, EURēCA will be held in Hodges Library, April 17–21.

Open House – March 7

Stop by the Office of Undergraduate Research on Tuesday, March 7 between 2-6 pm for our Open House.

  • Learn more about EURēCA and the March 11 abstract deadline!
  • Help us finish our office puzzle highlighting our International Research opportunities.
  • Find out more about travel grants for presenting your research!
  • Join the Undergraduate Research Students’ Association.
  • Discover how to publish your work in Pursuit, the campus Journal of Undergraduate Research
  • Enjoy some yummy food.

Door Prizes for students and faculty

  • $5 Starbucks gift card drawings every 15 minutes (faculty and students)
  • VolShop swag and poster tube drawings every 30 minutes
  • T-Shirt pickup at the event for those who pre-register

We’re located in Blount Hall, Room 407. Not sure where Blount Hall is? We’re directly across from the Dunkin Donuts in Vol Hall and next to the Law School.

Walking? You can enter Blount Hall from White Avenue or James Agee

Ride the T? Take ‘The Fort’ route to the Vol Hall stop.

Driving? You can park in the Vol Hall public parking garage, but you’ll need to pay!

Driving with an Orange Dot? You’ll be parking behind Hoskins Library or in the White Avenue Garage (if you can find a space)

Spring 2017 Undergraduate Research Faculty Funding Recipients

Congratulations to the 16 faculty who received funding to support spring 2017 undergraduate research assistants. The faculty awardees and their projects are listed below.

Faculty Member Name (First) Faculty Member Name (Last)  College  Home Department Project Title
Sue Hamilton College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Plant Sciences Development of ‘Best Practices’ for University Garden Plant Collection Database Designs
William Klingeman College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Plant Sciences “Potential of Two Predatory Beetle Species as a Monitoring Tool for Walnut Twig Beetle Detection”
Denita Hadziabdic Guerry College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Entomology and Plant Pathology “Pathogenicity and Co-Infection Potential of Two Plant Pathogenic Fungi that May Contribute to Severity of Thousand Cankers Disease in Walnut”
Brian Ambroziak College of Architecture & Design School of Architecture “Disembodied Circle: A Twelve-Step Field Manual”
Thomas K. Davis College of Architecture & Design School of Architecture NASHVILLE’S CHARLOTTE AVENUE HEALTHY CORRIDOR URBAN DESIGN STUDY
Francisco Barrera Olivares College of Arts & Sciences Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Pleiomorphic membrane peptides
Stephen Blackwell College of Arts & Sciences Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures A Swing Through Vladimir Nabokov’s Trees (A Comprehensive Study)
Jessica Grieser College of Arts & Sciences English Talking Place, Speaking Race: African Americans, English, and the Language of a Changing Local Identity.
Paul Harrill College of Arts & Sciences School of Art Untitled Film Project
Kandace Hollenbach College of Arts & Sciences Anthropology Analysis of Plant Remains from Late Precontact Contexts at the Topper Site, Aiken County, South Carolina
Keerthi Krishnan College of Arts & Sciences Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Discovering brain circuitry underlying a fine motor behavior in a female mouse model of Rett Syndrome
Robert Washington-Allen College of Arts & Sciences Geography Cross-scale Analysis of Historical Patterns of Land Cover Change as a Driver for the Observed Decline in Bobwhite Quail Abundance
Lars Dzikus College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies An Exploratory Study About the Experiences of Female Interscholastic Head Coaches in East Tennessee
Katie Kavanagh College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences Nutrition Online survey to assess maternal accuracy of infant spit-up quantification
Kelley Strohacker College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies Towards Adapting Flexible Nonlinear Periodization for Untrained Adults: Exploring perceptions of aerobic exercise readiness and workload demand
Ondrej Chvala College of Engineering Nuclear Engineering A Safe and Economical Nuclear Plant to Remediate the Woes of Weapons-grade Plutonium

Discussion on Undergraduate Research in Workload, Promotion, and Tenure at UT

“Integrating High-impact Practices into Faculty Workload and Tenure & Promotion: With a Focus on Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (URSCA)”

Date & Time: Thursday, March 30, 2:00 – 3:30 pm

Location: TBD (Main UT Campus)

RSVP: Complete form below

Join us for a facilitated discussion on the inclusion of undergraduate research into workload, promotion, and/or tenure.

Many institutions have embraced engaged learning and high-impact educational practices (or related phrases) into their documents and promotional materials, but moving from such language to comprehensive adoption of practices, policies, and cultural change presents a series of institutional challenges and opportunities. Critical to such a transformation is re-thinking traditional definitions of faculty role, work, rewards, and recognition. This presentation will explore strategies and issues associated with institutionally aligning faculty work with curricula that embrace engaged learning and the use of high-impact pedagogies, especially undergraduate research, scholarship, and creative activity (URSCA). The discussion will focus on innovating mainstream pedagogies to include URSCA; re-conceptualization of the faculty role as engaged teacher-scholar; re-definition of faculty work to include a full array of high-impact experiences within workload; and right-sizing curricula to achieve essential learning outcomes. If students, faculty, and institutions are to realize all of the salient outcomes and potential gains from an undergraduate education, institutions need to identify mechanisms to shift from traditional teaching load systems to more holistic faculty workload systems.

Speaker Bio: Jeffrey M. Osborn is Dean of the School of Science and Professor of Biology at The College of New Jersey. Dr. Osborn is an administrator-teacher-scholar. His teaching has covered a range of areas, including biology, botany, and interdisciplinary courses such as Understanding Biology through Art. He employs an array of pedagogical methods, directly incorporates authentic research into his courses, and has contributed to major curricular reform efforts at his own institutions and at the national level.

Dr. Jeffrey Osborn to speak at UT

Dr. Jeffrey Osborn, Dean of the School of Science at the College of New Jersey will visit the UT campus on March 29 & 30 to lead faculty workshops on including undergraduate research in the curriculum. The workshops entitled “Integrating Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity into the Curriculum” will be held Wednesday, March 29 from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm or Thursday, March 30 from 9:40 am – 11:40 am.

Faculty can register at:

Undergraduate Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (URSCA) is a high-impact practice that benefits all students across demographic groups and academic disciplines. URSCA is a compelling way to combine the interests of faculty members to engage in scholarly work with the needs of students for challenging experiences that lead to substantial impacts on their learning and development. Yet URSCA opportunities are often optional and highly selective, missing the very students who could benefit most. Integrating research, scholarly, and creative experiences into the undergraduate curriculum in intentional ways can effectively address these concerns and provide all students with more equitable access to the benefits of URSCA. In this workshop, several models and examples of curricular integration will be discussed. This presentation will be followed by an interactive component for attendees to explore and share the opportunities and challenges from their own departmental and institutional contexts.

Information will also be provided on applying for an R-designation for your new or existing course.

Speaker Bio: Jeffrey M. Osborn is Dean of the School of Science and Professor of Biology at The College of New Jersey. Dr. Osborn is an administrator-teacher-scholar. His teaching has covered a range of areas, including biology, botany, and interdisciplinary courses such as Understanding Biology through Art. He employs an array of pedagogical methods, directly incorporates authentic research into his courses, and has contributed to major curricular reform efforts at his own institutions and at the national level.


Sponsored by the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center, the Office of Undergraduate Research, and Experience Learning.
Download the workshop flyer here

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