University of Tennessee
Materials Science & Engineering Department

MSE Awards Banquet
Knoxville, TN, April 25, 2024

The Materials Science & Engineering Department held their annual awards banquet on April 25, 2024. In attendance were undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, staff, alumni, members of the departmental advisory board, faculty and their family and friends.

Department head and Chancellor's Professor, Veerle Keppens, presented the Materials Science and Engineering Awards.
Four undergraduate students were recognized (left to right):
  • Jakob Scroggins - Outstanding Junior
  • Emmaline Howard - Outstanding Undergraduate Research
  • Erin McKay - Outstanding Senior
  • Maddie Maben - Outstanding Service

Three graduate students were recognized (left to right):
  • Emily Chambers - Outstanding Teaching
  • Lia Amalia - Outstanding Research
  • Melanie Moczadlo - Outstanding Service

The outstanding staff award went to our financial specialist, Kristi Cook.

Three faculty members were recognized (left to right):
  • Yishu Wang - Excellence in Teaching
  • Eric Lass - Excellence in Research
  • Philip Rack - Excellence in Service

Our outstanding alumnus award went to Dr. Zhenzhen Yu.

About Dr. Zhenzhen Yu:
Zhenzhen Yu joined our dept as a graduate student in 2006, and graduated a PhD in 2010, with a dissertation on "Optimization of friction stir welding in Mg alloys", advised by Prof. Hahn Choo. After 3 years as post-doc and staff member at Materials Science and Technology Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, she joined Colorado School of Mines (CSM) as a tenure-track assistant professor in 2013 and was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2020. She is currently the director of Center for Welding, Joining and Coatings Research at Mines, as well as the site director of NSF I/UCRC Manufacturing and Materials Joining Innovation Center. She has quickly established herself as the leading expert in welding metallurgy, as shown by her NSF CAREER award and a huge list of awards from welding communities and funding from NSF, NREL, DOE, and industries. She currently leads a national consortium on repairing molten salt thermal energy tanks. Her stellar leadership in promoting welding and advanced materials to national significance makes her a very deserving recipient of our outstanding alumna award.

Prof. Keppens presented MSE junior Jakob Scroggins with a new award, the Ian Greeley award, celebrating the life and legacy of Ian Greeley, an alum of the UTK MSE undergraduate program.

About the Ian Greeley award:
Ian Greeley graduated from our dept in 2020. Ian was the first of our 6 recent Goldwater recipients, he distinguished himself as an exceptional student but also as a remarkable individual whose contributions left a lasting mark on our community. Ian's academic excellence and passion for research as well as his kindness, leadership, and enthusiasm have enriched our department in countless ways. Ian passed away last fall, while he was attending graduate school in Michigan. In recognition of Ian's extraordinary contributions and the profound impact he has had on our department, we have established an MSE student award in his honor. This award is intended to be a tribute to everything Ian embodied and valued, aimed at encouraging and recognizing an MSE student who demonstrates the same qualities of academic excellence and leadership we cherished in Ian. We may not have a qualified recipient every year, but this year, we certainly do have a student who truly reflects those qualities. Jakob Scroggins is our 2024 Goldwater recipient, and our 2024 outstanding junior. He has demonstrated academic excellence, his contributions to research have been recognized, he's a leader, and he's also very kind.

Advisor and advisee pose with the department head.

Prof. Yanfei Gao served on Dr. Yu's dissertation committee and requested a photograph with our outstanding alumna.

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.