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KNOXVILLE — Henri D. Grissino-Mayer, associate professor of geography, will discuss “Will Our Great Smoky Mountains Someday Go Up in Flames?” during this week’s Pre-Game Faculty Showcase at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Grissino-Mayer is an expert in climatology and analyzes tree rings to reconstruct past environments. This process has been used to determine that wildfires were very frequent in the southern Appalachian Mountains before fire suppression was a common practice.

The program begins at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 20, in the University Center Ballroom before UT’s game against Florida. It is free and open to the public.

The UT Pre-Game Faculty Showcase, now in its 19th year, is held two hours before every home football game. The College of Arts and Sciences selects a top faculty member for each presentation.

Grissino-Mayer is the director of the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Science in the Department of Geography. The lab is well-respected internationally for its research, teaching and service. Grissino-Mayer and his students have appeared in several documentaries on the History Channel, Discovery Channel, Weather Channel and Court TV.

The study of tree rings in the Smokies has been used to reconstruct past wildfire events going back hundreds of years. A major fire occurred about once every five to seven years. Grissino-Mayer will discuss how suppressing fires has had a negative effect on forests and has made them prone to very large fires in the future.

A UT faculty member since 2000, Grissino-Mayer has won several campus awards including the Chancellor’s Award for Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement and the Outstanding Teaching Award from the Department of Geography.

Each program lasts 45 minutes, including 30 minutes for the presentation and 15 minutes for a discussion period. Light refreshments will be served and door prizes will be awarded.

The Pre-Game Faculty Showcase is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences with the support of the UT Alumni Association, the UT Knoxville Office of Alumni Affairs and UT Athletics.

The College of Arts and Sciences is the largest college on UT’s campus with 600 faculty and 23 departments and schools encompassing the humanities, fine and performing arts, social sciences, life sciences and physical sciences. The college places special emphasis on academic outreach, and its faculty and students are actively involved with the community through the Faculty Speakers Bureau, service learning and other programs.

The University Center is located at 1502 W. Cumberland Ave., a short walk from Neyland Stadium. The ballroom is in Room 213 on the second floor. For more directions, visit


Elizabeth Davis, Media Relations, (865) 974-5179,

Lynn Champion, (865) 974-5332,