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KNOXVILLE — Dr. Henry (Harry) McDonald, former head of the NASA Ames Research Center and a distinguished professor at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, was named interim vice president for research of the UT system Friday.

UT President John W. Shumaker announced the appointment, which is effective immediately. McDonald succeeds Dr. T. Dwayne McCay, who has accepted the position of provost at Florida Institute of Technology.

Shumaker said an advisory committee will be named to assist in identifying candidates for the permanent appointment.

McDonald holds the Chair of Excellence in Computational Engineering in the Computer Simulation and Design Center at UTC.

“Dr. McDonald is known internationally for his work in computer applications,” Shumaker said. “Moving our research and development activities into the marketplace has very significant implications for economic development in Tennessee and the nation.

“Harry not only can keep our momentum going, he will move us toward attainment of our research goals on the UT Scorecard and expand key relationships like those with Battelle and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. His willingness to accept this assignment is very good news.”

McDonald earned a doctorate in engineering from the University of Glasgow in 1985. His research interests are in supercomputing, information technology, artificial intelligence applications and nanotechnology.

“Harry McDonald is just exactly the kind of talent that can serve the entire university’s research needs including very directly launching the new Sim Center at Chattanooga,” UTC Chancellor Bill Stacy said.

McDonald served as Center Director at the NASA Ames Research Center in the heart of Silicon Valley for seven years. Ames has about 4,500 employees, civil service and contractors, and is the lead NASA research institution for super computing, information science and technology, nano and astrobiology.

Prior to that McDonald was professor and head of the computational science lab at the Pennsylvania State University-s Applied Research Laboratory. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and is married with three children.