University of Tennessee
Materials Science & Engineering Department

MSE Awards Banquet
Knoxville, TN, May 1, 2023

The Materials Science & Engineering Department held their annual awards banquet on May 1, 2023. In attendance were undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, staff, alumni, members of the departmental advisory board, faculty and their family and friends.

The first three awards, presented by MSE graduate student Cole Franz, recognized the winners of the "Science as Art" competition in which undergraduate and graduate students framed visualizations of their research in an artistic light. Third place went to MSE graduate student Kim Pestovich. Kim's entry was titled and "Pixels of Light" and can be viewed in the UTK MSE 2022 "Science as Art" online gallery here.

Second place went to MSE graduate student Bogdan Dryzhakov. Bogdan's entry was titled and "Rice Field on Nanoterraces" and can be viewed here.

First place went to MSE undergraduate student Michael Broud. Michael's entry was titled and "A Floral Arrangement of Lignin-Based Carbon Quantum Dots Designed to Remove CO2 from the Atmosphere as Readily as Plants" and can be viewed here.

Prof. Keppens (right) presented the Materials Science and Engineering Awards. Four undergraduate students were recognized (left to right):
  • Kyle Pardue - Outstanding Junior
  • Marlena Alexander - Outstanding Undergraduate Research
  • Matthew Valderrama - Outstanding Service
  • Raymond Wysmierski - Outstanding Senior

Four graduate students were recognized (left to right):
  • Collin "Cotton" Pekol - Outstanding Teaching
  • Daniel Rutstrom - Outstanding Research
  • Kim Pestovich - Outstanding Service
  • Xuesong Fan - Outstanding Research (not pictured)

The outstanding staff award went to our amazing advisor, Jake Working.

Three faculty members were recognized (left to right):
  • David Keffer - Excellence in Service
  • Mary Kocak - Excellence in Teaching
  • Kate Page - Excellence in Research

Our outstanding "junior" (graduated within the last ten years) alumnus award went to Dr. John Salasin, who among his many other contributions to the MSE department and discipline, currently sits on our departmental board of advisors.

The 2023 inductee to the Materials Science & Engineering Wall of Fame is Prof. George Pharr.

Professor George Pharr spent a good part of his distinguished career in the Materials Science and Engineering department at the University of Tennessee as a faculty member and department head. During that time, he was routinely recognized for excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship. In particular, his knack to inspire students at all levels made him a faculty member that was looked up to by his colleagues and loved by our students. He was selected for the inaugural class of Chancellor's Professors in 2008, and in 2015, he received the university's Macebearer award, the university's highest honor, bestowed only on faculty members that excel by their outstanding service to the university and its students. He is recognized at a world-leader in nanoindentation, an area that he pioneered along with Dr. Warren Oliver. Working closely together, they developed nanoindentation as a materials characterization tool that has helped to power the nanotechnology revolution. Their 1992 paper is known throughout the materials science community as one of the most highly cited papers in the field of materials science, with 19,575 Web of Science citations as of the award banquet. For his important pioneering efforts in this field, Professor Pharr was awarded the inaugural "Innovation in Materials Characterization Award" of the Materials Research Society in 2010. In 2014, he was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering. We are extraordinarily proud to add Prof. Pharr to the University of Tennessee Materials Science & Engineering Wall of Fame.

In this photo, you can get a better comparison of the likeness in the plaque.

We all had a good time at the banquet. Thanks to everyone who attended and who make the University of Tennessee Materials Science & Engineering Department a special community to call home.

More photos on the Keffer research group site.