Skip to main content

mcsweenHarry “Hap” McSween, Distinguished Professor of Science, received the President’s Award for research on Tuesday following President Joe DiPietro’s State of UT address. The award honors discoveries and applications of knowledge.

The newly established awards program recognizes employees whose exceptional contributions have helped fulfill one of the university’s three mission focus areas: education, research, and outreach. The education category award winner was Julie Hill, director of percussion studies at UT Martin. The outreach category award winner was David McBeth, professor of art at UT Martin. Each of the winners received and commemorative plaque and a $3,000 cash award.

Since a graduate student, McSween’s work has led him to Mars. He is a co-investigator for the NASA Mars Oydssey, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor, and Mars Exploration Rover missions. In 1999, he led a team of researchers that discovered geologic evidence from a meteorite that water existed deep in Mars’s crust.

“We believe that Professor McSween embodies the very essence of what it means to push the boundaries of science and innovation,” wrote Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek in his recommendation letter.

McSween joined UT in 1977 and was named Distinguished Professor of Science in 1998. He has won the National Academy of Sciences’ J. Lawrence Smith Medal and Southeastern Conference Professor of the Year. He has been named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He also is the namesake for asteroid 5223 McSween.

Several Knoxville-area faculty and staff also were among the nominees for the three awards. Other nominees for the education category were:

  • George Pharr, professor and director, materials science and engineering and director of the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials. Pharr has brought national and international attention to the university as the world leader of small scale mechanical testing. He has received the College of Engineering’s Moses E. and Mayme Brooks Distinguished Professor Award. He consistently receives the highest marks whether he’s teaching an introductory course or an advanced graduate course. One student wrote in an evaluation, “In class demos are really cool: Materials Science you can explain to your mom.”
  • Elizabeth Strand, Institute of Agriculture and College of Social Work, associate clinical professor, biomedical and diagnostic. Strand has been the visionary leader in veterinary social work and has revolutionized student education in veterinary medicine. She invented the term veterinary social work and serves as the director of the first program of its kind in the country.

Nominees for the research category included:

  • Tim Rials, Institute of Agriculture, professor and director, forestry, wildlife and fishery.
  • Stacey Patterson, UT System, associate vice president for research and vice president of the UT Research Foundation. Patterson was an integral part of the effort to secure the $259 million Department of Energy award for the IACMI-Composites Institute. She also served as the leader for the $65 million Department of Energy award to create the West Tennessee Solar Farm. She also was the principal investigator for the $20 million TN-SCOR project from the National Science Foundation.

Michael Handelsman, professor of modern foreign languages and director of the Global Studies Interdisciplinary Program, was nominated in the outreach category. Handelsman developed links to Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar in Ecuador and the Federal University of Ceara in Brazil. He supports students and faculty seeking opportunities to study and research abroad, especially through the Fulbright program. He works to connect students with service opportunities and directs a service learning project in which students with advanced proficiency in Spanish work with local Hispanic children and their families in the Knox County area.