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The state of Tennessee along and a consortium of public and private colleges and universities,
including King College, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) recently received
$20 million in grant funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to boost the
state's energy-related research and education efforts.
The $20 million grant was awarded through the NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate
Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Research Infrastructure Improvement Program. A coalition
of scientists, faculty, and students from the consortium will be grouped together
into network nodes for conducting research, mentorship, and outreach.
Faculty from 11 institutions will be participating in the nodes including East Tennessee
State University; Fisk University; King College; Middle Tennessee State University;
Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Tennessee State University; Tennessee Technological
University; University of Memphis; University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT); University
of Tennessee Space Institute; and Vanderbilt University.
The funded project will draw upon the state's expanding energy industry and bring
researchers from Tennessee universities and ORNL together to boost energy-related
research and education across the state. The award is designed to encourage students
to pursue the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, helping the state
produce a more advanced workforce.
Specifically the grant will fund:
• Awards to new faculty at non-research extensive institutions
• Scholarships/stipends for graduate students participating in academic bridge programs
between Fisk University, Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, and other
• Summer research experience for undergraduates
• Outreach to K-12 classrooms
• Summer internships and a yearlong undergraduate training program
Many of these opportunities will be available for faculty and staff from all Tennessee
colleges and universities.
Dr. John Gilmer, an associate professor of chemistry for King College, will serve
as Partnering University Faculty (PUF) for the team at King College, and also serve
as a primary advisor and mentor for one student. Dr. Gilmer will also work with the
TN-SCORE team in an effort to facilitate the consolidation and growth of science and
technology related for all three focus areas of advanced solar conversion and innovation,
components and devices for energy storage and conversion, and nanostructures for enhancing
Dr. Gilmer, who has been involved in the development of polymeric materials both in
industry and academia, is excited to be able to work with leading scientists at major
universities in the development of new materials for such a key area of application
like solar energy. In his work involving organophotovoltaic materials, Dr. Gilmer
has begun collaborating with Professor Mark Dadmun at UT and ORNL. With the EPSCoR
funding, Dr. Gilmer anticipates involving students in independent research through
summer research experiences at UT and research projects conducted during the semester
at King College. This grant will additionally provide Dr. Gilmer with support for
his own summer research at UT.
It is vitally important for our science students to experience firsthand what it takes
to conduct the scientific research and development of new technologies and to consider
this direction as a potential career path for them, said Dr. Gilmer.
For more information about EPSCoR, visit www.nsf.gov.