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The head of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s chemistry department has been named interim head of the Science Alliance, a state Center of Excellence that links the university with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Craig Barnes

Craig Barnes, a NATO postdoctoral and Alexander von Humboldt fellow, will begin serving as interim director of the center on September 1. Barnes has since stepped down as head of the chemistry department.

“The administrative experience that Craig has from running the chemistry department and working with ORNL makes him an ideal candidate for this role,” said Wes Hines, interim vice chancellor for research and engagement. “Craig is highly respected by his peers, and I look forward to working with him to advance the goals of our scientific alliance with the lab.”

Barnes came to UT from Stanford in 1984. He maintains an active research program in inorganic materials chemistry, focused on developing new heterogeneous catalysts and nanostructured materials. Funded by the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, the program involves five graduate students and two undergraduate researchers.

“I am excited to become the interim director of the Science Alliance,” said Barnes. “I look forward to keeping this valuable program active in its mission to support new and existing collaborations between the talented faculty and researchers at UT and ORNL.”

Jesse Poore

Barnes replaces Jesse Poore, who led the Science Alliance for more than a decade.

“Jesse Poore has provided excellent leadership and vision for the Science Alliance for the past ten years through management of a group of seven distinguished scientists, three of whom were recruited and hired under his watch, and making strategic investments in the UTK–ORNL scientific collaboration,” said Hines. “The distinguished scientists have made major contributions to the development of research programs, both at the lab and the university.”

The revitalization of the UT–ORNL Distinguished Scientist program resulted in the UT president and ORNL director meeting with the governor and Tennessee legislative leaders to establish the Governor’s Chair program. The Science Alliance has participated in launching all of the UT–ORNL joint institutes, with the distinguished scientists frequently serving as joint institute directors. Hines noted that while leading the alliance, Poore managed his own research program which focused on the economical production of high-quality software and federal software policy.

The search for the permanent director will begin under the direction of the new vice chancellor for research and engagement, once he or she is hired.

The Science Alliance, the state’s largest Center of Excellence, was created in 1984 to increase collaboration between UT and ORNL and to improve UT science programs.