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Lynne Parker is returning to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, after completing a four-year post as deputy United States chief technology officer and director of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office within the White House. In that role, Parker oversaw the development and implementation of the national artificial intelligence strategy.

Starting September 6, Parker will serve as associate vice chancellor and director of the new AI Tennessee Initiative at UT, where she will lead the university’s strategic vision and strategy for multidisciplinary artificial intelligence education and research. The initiative is designed to increase UT’s funded research, expand the number of students developing interdisciplinary skills and competencies related to AI, and position the university and the state of Tennessee as national and global leaders in the data-intensive knowledge economy.

“My goal has always been to advance AI initiatives and policy to the benefit of the American people, and indeed our world. I am proud of the accomplishments we have made over three administrations, together with colleagues from across government, academia, and industry,” said Parker. “In my new role, I look forward to advancing Tennessee’s engagement in this work by bringing together the broad perspectives and expertise of faculty and students from across many disciplines, not only on the UT Knoxville campus but also with partner institutions and organizations across the state.”

Before joining the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2018, Parker served as interim dean of UT’s Tickle College of Engineering. She has also served as the National Science Foundation’s division director of information and intelligent systems.

“I am thrilled Lynne is returning to UT to deepen and give focus to the research we are doing in AI, both here at UT and throughout Tennessee,” said Vice Chancellor for Research Deborah Crawford. “AI is increasingly important to our economy and our society, and Lynne’s depth of knowledge and unique expertise will ensure our work in this space is meaningful, thoughtful, and supportive of people’s lives and livelihoods.”

“Lynne’s involvement in shaping AI policy for the country over the last four years will be of enormous benefit to our students as we endeavor to provide new and exciting opportunities for students who want to major, minor, or take courses in the field,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor John Zomchick.

A Knoxville native, Parker completed her master’s degree in UT’s Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and her PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She joined UT’s faculty in 2002 when she founded the Distributed Intelligence Laboratory, where she broadened research and knowledge into multirobot systems, sensor networks, machine learning, and human–robot interaction.

Parker was named a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence in 2022. She is also a Fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and a Distinguished Member of the Association for Computing Machinery. In addition to contributing to several conferences over the years, Parker chaired the 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation and served as editor-in-chief of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Conference Editorial Board and editor of IEEE Transactions on Robotics.


Tyra Haag (865-974-5460,

David Goddard (865-974-0683,