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The Torchbearer with a hazy winter sky, lit from behind.
The Torchbearer statue on a snowy morning. Photo by Steven Bridges/ University of Tennessee

Elbio Dagotto, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Distinguished Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has received a 2024 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award. Dagotto is among 14 professors, one from each conference institution, to earn this honor.

Dagotto. Photo by Showni Medlin-Crump

“I am deeply honored to be selected among so many distinguished faculty to represent the University of Tennessee for the SEC Faculty Achievement Award. I am proud to be a Volunteer, proud to be a faculty member of the Department of Physics and our wonderful university at large, proud of my state of Tennessee, and proud to live in the South of the USA,” said Dagotto. “In my 20 years here, I have witnessed the steep positive trajectory of our academic efforts in many fields of research. Everybody in the national and international scientific community now knows that something big is brewing in East Tennessee, in conjunction with our partner institution Oak Ridge National Laboratory.”

Dagotto was named the department’s Teacher of the Year by the Society of Physics Students in 2019, 2021 and 2023. He is the only three-time recipient of that honor.

“The College of Arts and Sciences celebrates Dr. Dagotto’s recognition as UT’s recipient of the 2024 SEC Faculty Achievement Award,” said Robert Hinde, interim executive dean of the college. “His dedication to outstanding teaching and high-impact research and scholarship, and his efforts to facilitate access to the benefits of higher education to a wide range of populations, exemplify the Volunteer spirit. Dr. Dagotto’s work helps make UT a university on the rise.”

Dagotto is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. Last year he was honored with the university’s Alexander Prize, in recognition of his superior teaching and distinguished scholarship, and the David Adler Lectureship Award in the Field of Materials Physics, a national recognition given by the APS.

“Dr. Dagotto is an outstanding scholar-teacher, well deserving of this recognition from the Southeastern Conference,” said John Zomchick, provost and senior vice chancellor. “As a leading researcher, he brings the latest knowledge to his students, who regularly credit him with inspiring their own academic pursuits.”

Dagotto earned a PhD in physics at Instituto Balseiro, Bariloche, in his native Argentina. He has a keen interest in supporting other Hispanic scientists at all stages of their careers. He and Professor of Physics Adriana Moreo have organized a series of Hispanics in Physics lunch gatherings for the department, welcoming everyone from undergraduate students to senior faculty.

“Dr. Dagotto is an exceptional member of our college community, embodying the ideal scholar-teacher. He not only excels as a leader in his research field but also holds a special place in the hearts of his students,” said Kate Jones, divisional dean of natural sciences and mathematics and professor of physics. “It is such a pleasure to see Elbio being recognized at the regional level, adding to the honors he has already received at UT.”

The annual SEC Faculty Achievement Awards recognize faculty with outstanding records in research and scholarship at member universities. A recipient selected from each university receives an honorarium and memento. Dagotto will represent the university in the running for SEC Professor of the Year, which will be announced during the annual SEC Awards Dinner to be held in Destin, Florida, in the spring.


Cindi King (865-974-0937,

Catherine Longmire (865-974-8950,