UT Knoxville Spends Record Amount on Research; Important Step for Top 25

KNOXVILLE – The University of Tennessee’s Knoxville campus invested a record $153.8 million in research projects and public service programs for federal and state governments and private industry in fiscal year 2011. This investment impacts our future through the discoveries made and our economy through the people hired and equipment purchased.

The total expenditures were up more than $20 million from the previous fiscal year and more than $12 million from the record set in fiscal year 2009.

Strengthening capacity and productivity in research is one of five key priorities in achieving UT’s goal in becoming a top-twenty-five university.

“Performing quality research is critically important to becoming a top-twenty-five institution,” said Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “The money spent contributes to our knowledge base, our economy through new jobs and tax revenue, and our community through the public services we provide.”

This past year’s research dollars were spent on advancing science and industries that we all rely on. Brian Wirth, Governor’s Chair for Computational Nuclear Engineering, is using supercomputing power to study how long materials inside nuclear reactors can withstand radiation before failing—a topic of critical importance as our nation’s reactors reach their predicted life expectancies.

A multi-disciplinary team of students and faculty members have built a house that uses zero energy and runs on solar power, serving as a prototype for energy-efficient residential homes.

Chuck Melcher, director of the Scintillation Materials Research Center, and his colleagues are studying and growing scintillation crystals to improve medical diagnostics and security through the clarity of images illuminated in PET and CAT scans, X-rays, and security scanners.

UT received $162.5 million in awards this year. This year’s awards are for research in labs and programs in engineering and science, as well as to faculty projects in the social sciences, education, and the humanities.

The top grant was awarded to the National Defense Business Institute by the Department of Air Force for $44 million. EPSCoR; Tennessee Solar Conversion and Storage Using Outreach, Research, and Education, received the second largest grant of $20 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

An $18 million award from the NSF places UT center stage in creating a new generation of linkages among the nation’s high-performance computers and research facilities. Called XSEDE, the program helps solve the world’s toughest dilemmas in areas such as climate change, fatal diseases, and the energy crisis.

Another $18 million NSF award establishes an engineering research center called CURENT, which allows UT to play a lead role in developing technologies that can overhaul our nation’s chronically overstretched electric power grid.

Other grants support research by students and faculty in a variety of disciplines at the Y-12 National Security Complex. This year, UT formally entered into a partnership with Y-12 that allows for joint appointments of key researchers, engineers, executives, and staff.

Federal agencies supplied almost 70 percent of fiscal year 2011 funding, while the state of Tennessee contributed 16 percent, and money from private organizations made up 11.5 percent.

To view this and past annual reports, visit http://research.utk.edu/reports.

C O N T A C T:

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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