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KNOXVILLE — Yilu Liu, an expert in the technologies used to monitor power grids and a researcher in ways to create the next generation “smart grid,” has been named the fourth University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair.

Yilu Liu
Yilu Liu
Liu, currently the director of the Center for Power Engineering at Virginia Tech, will hold appointments at ORNL’s energy and transportation science division and the department of electrical engineering and computer science in UT Knoxville’s College of Engineering.

“Dr. Liu’s expertise meshes closely with key priorities for the state and for the nation,” said acting UT President Jan Simek. “Her appointment as a Governor’s Chair and the work she will accomplish here enhances the university’s role as an energy leader.”

The Governor’s Chair program, funded by the state of Tennessee and ORNL, attracts top scientists to broaden and enhance the unique research partnership that exists between the state’s flagship university and the nation’s largest multi-program laboratory.

“We’ve made strategic investments to position Tennessee to be a leader in the renewable energy sector, and our partnership with the University of Tennessee and ORNL is central to that future success,” said Gov. Phil Bredesen. “I’m confident that Dr. Liu will be a valuable contributor as a Governor’s Chair to UT-ORNL’s cutting edge energy technology research.”

“There is perhaps no issue more pressing than the need to change the way we distribute energy, and her research and teaching will continue to push UT Knoxville to the forefront of national energy research,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “Yilu Liu is exactly what we are looking for in a Governor’s Chair, and we are proud to add her expertise to UT Knoxville’s participation in the program.”

Liu’s work focuses on developing new and better ways to monitor and understand the flow of energy through the nation’s power grid on a large scale. While at Virginia Tech, she led the creation of FNET, the North American power grid monitoring network, which her group continues to operate.

She also has done research into ways to develop the “smart grid,” a term used to describe the next generation of electric transmission technology that will move energy more efficiently and effectively from where it is generated to where it is used.

As a Governor’s Chair, Liu will have the opportunity to further her research by taking advantage of the advanced resources and expertise available at both UT Knoxville and ORNL. The laboratory’s Electric Grid Research and Development Program conducts about $20 million in research each year.

“A smarter, more efficient power grid is vital to the nation’s energy plan and a key part of ORNL’s research portfolio,” said ORNL Director Thom Mason. “Dr. Liu’s work will greatly strengthen our scientific efforts to address this energy challenge.”

Liu has spent her entire post-doctoral career at Virginia Tech. She began as an assistant professor in the school’s department of electrical engineering in 1990, rising to the rank of full professor in 2001. Liu earned her master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from Ohio State University in 1985 and 1989, respectively. She earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Xian Jiaotong University in Xian, China, in 1982.

About the Governor’s Chair program:

The UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair program is designed to attract exceptionally accomplished researchers from around the world to boost joint research efforts that position the partnership as a leader in the fields of biological science, computational science, advanced materials and neutron science.

Other UT-ORNL Governor’s Chairs include:

– Jeremy Smith, a computational biologist, who came to UT Knoxville and ORNL from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He was appointed in 2006.
– Howard Hall, an expert in nuclear security who came to UT Knoxville and ORNL from Lawrence Livermore National Lab. He was appointed this year.
– Alexei Sokolov, a polymer scientist who came to UT Knoxville and ORNL from the University of Akron. He was appointed this year.

C O N T A C T :

Jay Mayfield, UT Knoxville (865-974-9409,
Mike Bradley, ORNL (865-576-9553,