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Seawater is a potential source of fresh water for human consumption, agriculture, industry, and energy production. However, salt and other contaminants must be efficiently and economically removed in order to use this immense, but largely untapped, resource.

Shannon Mahurin, staff scientist for the Nanomaterials Chemistry Group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will discuss current issues in water supply and how new materials could improve the desalination process to supply future needs at this week’s Science Forum. His talk, “Desalination: The Quest for Clean Water,” will be held at noon on Friday, October 2, in Room C-D of Thompson-Boling Arena.

The Science Forum is a weekly brown-bag lunch series that allows professors and area scientists to discuss their research with the general public in a conversational presentation.

Free and open to the public, each Science Forum consists of a 40-minute presentation followed by a Q-and-A session. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch or purchase it at the cafe in Thompson-Boling Arena. The Science Forum is sponsored by the UT Office of Research and Engagement and Quest, an initiative to raise awareness of the research, scholarship, and creative activity happening on campus.

Mahurin earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of the Cumberlands and his doctorate in chemical physics from UT.

Upcoming Science Forum presentations are:

October 9 – Colin Sumrall, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, “The Origins of Birds: Did the Age of Dinosaurs Really End?”

October 23 – John Schwartz, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, “Restoring Urban Streams: What is ‘Natural’?”

October 30 – David Matthews, professor of architecture and design, chair of interior design, “Design Thinking and Creative Process: How Designers Approach Wicked Problems and Engage the Future”

November 6 – Matthew Mench, Condra Chair of Excellence Professor and head of the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering, “Where Do We Put All the Renewable Energy?”

November 13 – Melissa R. Allen, postdoctoral researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “Climate Variability and Change: What Fundamental Science and Modeling Tell Us”

November 20 – Natalie Mong, education director for Upstate Birds of Prey, “The Fascinating Biology of Birds of Prey”


Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,