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VOL. 45 | NO. 51 | Friday, December 17, 2021

Tickle College faculty win R&D Awards

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University of Tennessee Tickle College of Engineering faculty members Michela Taufer, Tony Schmitz, Yilu Liu and Lin Zhu were included in research teams that have been honored with R&D 100 awards.

The awards acknowledge scientific achievement in engineering and technology, drawing upon thousands of possible winners from around the world to recognize 100 across several categories.

Tickle College’s Min H. Kao electrical engineering and computer science department had three faculty on winning teams. UT professor Taufer and her teammates at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory earned recognition for their work on a project known as Flux, a system of maintaining processing capacity on computers used by multiple researchers.

Liu, who is UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Power Grids, UT research assistant professor Zhu and teammates from ORNL and the Electric Power Research Institute won for GridDamper, developed to better control the oscillations within transmission and distribution of electricity.

Schmitz, an engineering professor at UT, his colleagues at ORNL, researchers at MSC Industrial Supply Company and Manufacturing Laboratories also won for their team’s MSC MillMax, which increases the accuracy and productivity of machines used in manufacturing.

Legal Aid of ET honors pro bono work

Legal Aid of East Tennessee has announced its 2021 Pro Bono Award Winners:

• Pro Bono Partner of the Year: YWCA of Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley. In its current incarnation, YWCA Knoxville and the Tennessee Valley offers a wide range of services from advocacy for victims of domestic violence to housing and afterschool care.

• Pro Bono Attorney of the Year: J. Spencer Fair, founder and coordinating attorney for the Monthly Veterans Legal Advice Clinic. Since 2016, Fair has been the leader of this essential joint clinic with the Knoxville Barristers, the Young Lawyers Division of the Knoxville Bar Association, KBA/Barristers Access to Justice Committees, Legal Aid of East Tennessee, Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office, the University of Tennessee College of Law, Lincoln Memorial University-Duncan School of Law and the local Veterans Affairs office. He leads the outreach efforts to spread the word to eligible veterans and diligently attends the monthly clinics.

• Pro Bono Student of the Year: Nathan Wallace, a graduate of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City with a degree in criminal justice and criminology. He is in his third year at Lincoln Memorial Duncan School of Law and is an active member of the Tennessee Army National Guard. Wallace clerked for Legal Aid of East Tennessee this summer and fall. When the summer ended Wallace stayed on at Legal Aid to head a law student staffed project to gather information for a statewide data collection effort. He continues to serve Legal Aid clients by volunteering with the will signing program and helping at the Veterans Clinic. He will take over as Pro Bono Project law clerk.

• 2021 Forging Justice Pro Bono Law Firm Of The Year: Sobieski, Messer & Elledge. A supporter of Legal Aid of East Tennessee and a partner in the Pro Bono Project. In the past three years, attorneys at Sobieski, Messer & Elledge have taken 13 family law cases for pro bono representation. Also, firm attorney Caitlin Elledge has provided feedback on how to refine LAET’s conservatorship placement program.

• The Donald F. Paine Memorial Pro Bono Hall of Fame has inducted Chief Justice Gary Wade in recognition of his dedication to the citizens of Tennessee and his longstanding support of Legal Aid of East Tennessee. Wade has been a pillar in East Tennessee for over 50 years. After earning his law degree at the University of Tennessee, he served as mayor of his hometown, Sevierville, and later as city attorney for Pigeon Forge. He was subsequently appointed to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals, where he remained through many reelections until his appointment to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Wade was retained by the voters of Tennessee in two subsequent elections, later serving as chief justice. Although he retired from the bench in 2015, he continued to be a presence in the legal community as dean of Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School.

Trust’s CIO Carr honored as wealth manager

Miranda Carr, chief investment officer for The Trust Company of Tennessee, has been named to the 2022 class of American Bankers Association 40 Under 40 in Wealth Management.

This national award recognizes wealth management and fiduciary professionals across the country who are committed to the highest standards of achievement at work and in their communities.

“Miranda uses her expertise to help our firm and valued clients reach their goals,” says Daniel Carter, president of The Trust Company of Tennessee. “She has a dynamic skill set in wealth and portfolio management, asset allocation, behavioral finance and more. On behalf of our entire team, congratulate Miranda on this acknowledgement.”

Carr leads the firm’s investment committee and provides investment support for its relationship managers. She previously served as chief operating officer of Lirio and president of its Finworx division. Before Lirio, she was managing director of public funds for Quintium Advisors LLC and portfolio manager for two of its hedge fund strategies.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in finance from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia Business School with a focus on finance and economics. She is a CFA charterholder and member of the CFA Society.

KSO extends contract of music director Demirjiant

The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra board of directors has renewed Aram Demirjian’s contract as KSO music director for four more years, extending his tenure through the 2025-26 season.

“It is our great fortune that Aram Demirjian will continue to serve as the music director of the KSO for the next four years,” KSO Board President John T. Winemiller says. “Aram’s creativity and artistic excellence have brought tremendous energy to all aspects of the KSO, from concert programming to collaborations with local artists and arts organizations. Our community is stronger because of his presence here.”

Currently in his sixth season for the KSO, Demirjian has brought the orchestra to new artistic heights during his tenure. Demirjian’s visionary programming emphasizes cross-disciplinary collaboration with regional and national artistic leaders, including Big Ears Festival, Violins of Hope and the poetry collective, The 5th Woman.

Under Demirjian’s leadership, the KSO has launched multiple initiatives that have received national recognition, including KSO1x1 and KSO: UnStaged. Demirjian also helped spearhead the joint commission by KSO and Knoxville Museum of Art of the Cycle of Life violin concerto composed by Michael Schachter, which is featured on the Public Broadcasting Service show, Craft in America, and will be performed by the KSO April 21-22, 2022, at the Tennessee Theatre.

Demirjian says, “I am humbled, honored and excited to extend my commitment to the KSO and the Knoxville community. I love Knoxville, I love our musicians, staff, board and League, and I am beyond eager to continue the work of sustaining and advancing a thriving orchestra that is essential to our audience and to the civic life of our city.”

Demirjian is the 2020 recipient of The Sir Georg Solti Conducting Award from The Solti Foundation U.S. His guest conducting highlights include engagements with the Philadelphia, Minnesota and Breckenridge Music Festival orchestras; the Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, New England Conservatory, North Carolina, Omaha, Portland, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis and Tucson symphonies; and the Louisiana and Orlando philharmonics. Demirjian holds a joint bachelor’s degree in music and government from Harvard University and a Master of Music in orchestral conducting from New England Conservatory.

Hess tapped to lead UT’s School of Communications

Jon Hess, Ph.D., has been named the next director of the School of Communication Studies at the College of Communication and Information, effective July 1.

Hess currently serves as associate dean for faculty scholarship, internationalization, and inclusive excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences and professor in the department of communication at the University of Dayton.

Hess is a scholar of interpersonal and instructional communication. His research has focused on communication in relational maintenance, particularly in managing relational challenges, and how interpersonal dynamics such as immediacy and face support impact classroom outcomes. He has published articles in journals such as Human Communication Research, Personal Relationships, and Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. He is also a past editor of the discipline’s flagship journal for instructional communication research, Communication Education.

In addition to his faculty work, Hess has held a range of academic leadership roles across his career: Introductory course director, director of graduate studies, department chair, associate dean, and president of the university’s academic senate.

His work across these roles has included curriculum design at every level, including development of a new general education architecture; diversity, equity and inclusivity initiatives; personnel and hiring processes; onboarding and mentoring faculty; and global learning initiatives. Hess has also served on the National Communication Association’s Chair’s Advisory Council, and the University of Dayton’s Athletics Advisory Committee.

“I am impressed with the university’s forward-looking approach and commitment to innovation, along with the collaborative spirit I have seen in my visit to campus,” Hess says.

Hess will succeed Dr. John Haas, who announced in April 2021 that he will return to the faculty after serving as the school’s director for the past 27 years.

Hess holds a doctorate in speech communication from University of Minnesota, a master’s degree in interpersonal communication from Ohio University and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Manchester College.

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