Engineering professor receives National Science Foundation award

Wei He, an assistant professor in UT's College of Engineering has received a National Science Foundation's (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award.

He received the award for her project "Immunologically Responsive Therapeutic Biomaterials to Modulate Wound Healing in the Nervous Systems: An Integrated Research and Education Plan." The award is effective from Aug. 1, 2011 through July 31, 2016. She holds a joint appointment in the college's Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical departments.

The CAREER award is one of NSF's most prestigious awards to support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

He's research focuses on the interface of biomaterials and biological systems, particularly the nervous system where implantable materials are reconnecting the damaged neural network to improve patients' quality of life. She also is developing new bioactive materials for orthopedic applications.

He received her bachelor's degree in chemistry from Tianjin University in China and her doctorate from the University of Connecticut. Her doctoral thesis work sparked her interest in the biomedical engineering field.

He held a post-doctoral position at Georgia Tech where she advanced her research in the field of neural engineering, particularly on brain-machine interface and nerve regeneration. In 2006, she accepted a senior fellow position at the University of Washington in Seattle to develop new materials for tissue engineering. Shortly thereafter, she joined the UT faculty.

Chancellor Cheek names five Chancellor's Professors

Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek has named five senior faculty members as the new class of Chancellor's Professors. This is the university's highest permanent academic honor.

The new Chancellor's Professors are: Jeffrey M. Becker, professor and head of the department of microbiology; Suzanne Lenhart, professor of mathematics; Lawrence Townsend, Robert M. Condra professor of nuclear engineering; Beauvais Lyons, James R. Cox professor of art; and William "Bill" Fox, Willaim B. Stokely distinguished professor of business and director of UT's Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER).

Becker has trained more than 30 doctoral students who hold faculty or staff positions at many major institutions, has published more than 240 peer-reviewed articles, and has been awarded grants for research from many national agencies. He holds a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant in the thirty-third year of continuous funding, and he has received a Research Career Development Award from NIH.

Becker is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He serves on the NIH Drug Discovery and Mechanisms of Antimicrobial Resistance Study Section, on the editorial board of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, and as associate editor of the journal Microbiology. Becker has been a consultant to the pharmaceutical companies Eli Lilly, Merck, and Smith-Kline Beckman.

Lenhart's work in the field of mathematical biology has been used in devising drug strategies to treat HIV and in making recommendations to change the chest pressure pattern in CPR. Her work also has been used to help combat environmental problems, such as black bear population control, fishery maintenance and control of the gypsy moth.

Lenhart has received grants from the National Science Foundation almost continuously since 1985, and she is the associate director for education, outreach and diversity at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS). She was the director of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in the Department of Mathematics for fifteen years and is now the director of such a program for NIMBioS.

Townsend's work in space radiation protection and transport codes has been used by NASA's Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) project team, part of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft and by the NASA Space Radiation Analysis Group, which handles radiation exposure monitoring for astronauts on manned space missions.

Townsend was a senior scientist and radiation expert at NASA before coming to UT and recently has been an expert source for the media on radiation sickness symptoms in light of the nuclear crisis in Japan.

Lyons is an expert in printmaking, contemporary art, art parody, mock documentation and art censorship issues. His one-person exhibitions have been presented at more than 60 galleries and museums in the United States and abroad.

Lyons is well known for his "Hokes Archives," creating mock academic projects in archaeology, medicine, folk art and zoology. His prints are in numerous public collections, including the Smithsonian Museum of American Art in Washington, D.C., the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2002, and in 2003 and 2004 he served as president of the UT Faculty Senate.

Fox is the leading national expert on Internet taxation and has extensive expertise in state tax policy, public finance (operations between government and private sectors) and fiscal federalism.

He has served as a consultant on finance, taxation and economic development in the U.S. and in developing countries including Rwanda, Egypt and Jordan. He has worked with multinational organizations, such as the World Bank, in creating and revamping tax structures for foreign governments.

Chancellor's Professors are appointed by the chancellor based upon the nomination of a college dean, screening by current Chancellor's Professors and recommendation of the provost. The honor comes with a one-time research stipend of $20,000.

The new Chancellor's Professors will be honored at a luncheon this summer.

With the new honorees, there are now eleven Chancellor's Professors.

The program began in 2008 when the first seven Chancellor's Professors were announced.

They are Joy T. DeSensi, professor of exercise, sport and leisure studies and associate dean of the Graduate School; Charles Glisson, professor of social work and director of the Children's Mental Health Services Center; Sally Horn, professor of geography; Harry "Hap" McSween, distinguished professor of earth and planetary sciences and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; the late John T. "Tom" Mentzer, who was a professor of marketing and logistics; George Pharr, professor of materials science and engineering, head of the materials science and engineering department and director of the UT/ORNL Joint Institute for Advanced Materials; and Carol Tenopir, professor of information sciences and director of the Center for Information and Communication Studies.

At any given time, UT can have up to twenty Chancellor's Professors.

For more information about the program, visit