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Rai-Lynne AlexanderUT Knoxville employee Rai-Lynne Broach Alexander has been honored by the Tennessee Science Olympiad Board of Directors with the 2011 Service Award. Alexander was honored for her contributions to the Tennessee Science Olympiad State Tournament.

David Stanislawski, director of the Tennessee Science Olympiad and president of the board of directors, gave her the award at the tournament awards ceremony in early April.

Alexander is an administrative assistant in the Governor’s School for the Sciences and Special Programs office, within the College of Arts and Sciences. Stanislawski said Alexander has been the behind-the-scenes cohesive force driving and organizing much of what happens at the state tournament. She has coordinated the tournament since 2004, working with three faculty directors over the years.

For the past three years, Jeffrey Kovac, UT professor of chemistry, has directed the state tournament. As a team, Kovac and Alexander have advanced the tournament in many ways and earned high praise in program evaluations.

“One of the reasons I agreed to serve as director was that I would have Rai-Lynne as my coordinator,” said Kovac. “There are hundreds of details that go into the planning and execution of the tournament, and Rai-Lynne handles them calmly and competently. I could not ask for a better teammate.” Alexander and Kovac also administer the Governors Schools for Science and Engineering together; Kovac is the director and Alexander serves as coordinator.

On the day of the Tennessee Science Olympiad State Tournament, roughly 1,000 participants, including students, coaches, and parents from across the state, are on campus competing in events, and more than 160 faculty and student volunteers help with the competition. Alexander oversees the communication, logistics, facilities, catering, and scheduling for the event and is on site that day to make sure everything runs smoothly.

Alexander is a 2002 UT Knoxville graduate in ecology and evolutionary biology. A former science student, she enjoys watching students compete in the tournament and demonstrate their knowledge and skill. She also enjoys interacting with the faculty at the tournament.

“It’s a very rewarding experience, and each year I learn something that we can implement next year to make the tournament even better,” she said.

The 2011 Tennessee Science Olympiad State Tournament is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences with support from the UT/ORNL Science Alliance, the College of Engineering, and the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.