Skip to main content
Andrew Lepore
Bredesen Center student Andrew Lepore stands with the $50,000 check he won as part of ORNL’s Next Big Idea competition.

With the first set of UT Bredesen Center graduates set to receive their doctorates next week, students who will be in the next wave of graduates are already finding success.

Andrew Lepore, working out of the Materials Science and Technology Division through the center, recently won a prestigious ORNL-related prize at the Next Big Idea competition. Lepore is on track to receive his doctorate in 2016.

“For him to go in there against some more seasoned researchers, against students who are further along, and come out with one of the three awards speaks highly of him and of the quality of students we have here,” said Bredesen Center Director Lee Riedinger.

Conceived as a way to give young researchers a chance to present their ideas to the lab’s leadership team, the award provides funding for those with feasible original ideas and is set up in much the same way as the TV show Shark Tank.

Competing against seventeen other researchers, including three others from the Bredesen Center, Lepore was able to convince ORNL Lab Director Thom Mason and Deputy Directors Ramamoorthy Ramesh and Jeff Smith that his idea—revolutionary catalyst technology capable of converting biomass into bio-oil—was worth funding, garnering $50,000 for his research in the process.

To learn more about Bredesen Center and what it offers, visit its website here.


David Goddard (865-974-0683,