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KNOXVILLE — A veteran computer scientist at the University of Tennessee has been named to head the Science Alliance, a state Center of Excellence linking the university with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Dr. Jesse H. Poore, who holds the Ericsson-Harlan D. Mills chair in software engineering, has been named the new director of the alliance, said Dr. Dwayne McCay, UT vice president for research and information technology.

“The Science Alliance is the key to UT’s interaction with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory,” McCay said. “The director manages a group of distinguished scientists that are major contributors to the development of research programs both at the lab and at the university.

“Jess is very experienced as a scientist and as an administrator. If you look at his credentials, you won’t find anyone much better.”

Poore came to UT from Georgia Tech in 1986. He established the computer science department’s Ph.D. program and recruited two distinguished scientists and 18 new faculty members. Funding for the department increased for $60,000 to $4 million during his tenure.

“I’m excited about the new responsibilities,” Poore said. “With the UT-Battelle science and technology program and new leadership at both ORNL and the university, the potential for fruitful interaction is dramatically improved.”

Poore’s tenure begins an era of restructuring that will broaden the alliance’s focus on basic science, increase the emphasis on engineering and bring additional attention to agriculture and medicine, McCay said. The deans of arts and sciences, engineering, agriculture and the UT Graduate School of Medicine will oversee the alliance, with input from UT Distinguished Scientists and UT-Battelle. McCay chairs the committee.

Poore said that UT-Battelle plans 40 new joint faculty positions and 40 adjunct positions, and the state has pledged $26 million for new facilities.

“The Spallation Neutron Source is arguably the greatest opportunity before us. We also have significant opportunities in the life sciences and computational sciences,” Poore said.

Poore succeeds Dr. Thomas Callcott, a UT physics professor who stepped down from the post in April after eight years as director. The Science Alliance, the state’s largest Center of Excellence was created in 1984 to increase collaboration between UT and ORNL and to improve UT science programs.