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KNOXVILLE — Earlier this month, three Farragut High School students had the chance to interact with a leader in international science during his visit to the University of Tennessee.

Emma Stockdale, Michael McCormick and Kyle Peterson, greeted Kuangdi Xu, the president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the president of the China-U.S. People’s Friendship Association, in UT professor Ward Plummer’s nanotechnology laboratory.

Plummer, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is a UT distinguished professor of physics and a distinguished scientist in the Solid State Division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He asked the students, who work with him, to be on hand to explain their research to Xu.

The students have worked in Plummer’s lab for the past two semesters through the UT Pre-Collegiate Research Scholars Program (PRSP). The program, which launched this summer, engages students from Farragut and Fulton High Schools in independent research in university labs. Besides enriching the schools’ advanced placement science curricula, the program lets UT faculty mentors cultivate students’ knowledge and enthusiasm in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) disciplines.

Plummer, an esteemed physicist with more than 40 years of professional experience and more than 300 publications, is one of several top scientists at UT who host students in their labs.

“My research may win awards or recognition,” said Plummer, “but it is meaningless unless I can share my discoveries with others. These bright young scholars are the next generation of scientists, and their excitement in the field indicates a promising future, both for them and for nanotechnology.”

At 7 p.m. this Thursday, Nov. 1, Plummer will address Farragut High School’s Science Academy about the work he undertakes in his laboratory. The lecture will look at how materials science is evolving in the 21st century.

Xu’s wife, Luoping Xu, who is a professor at Shanghai University, accompanied him on the tour, as well as representatives from the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Science.


Jay Mayfield (865-974-2225,