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Babu Appointed Senior Advisor for Research and STEM Workforce Development Initiatives


We are excited to share that Dr. Suresh Babu has accepted a new position as senior advisor to the Office of the Provost and the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development. The position will focus on strategic investments in research and development and curricular innovations aimed at preparing a 21st-century STEM workforce.

Suresh is transitioning from his role as interim education director of the UT–Oak Ridge Innovation Institute and director of the UT–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

Dr. Philip Rack will be the new interim education director for UT–ORII. Dr. Rack is a professor, associate department head, and Leonard G. Penland Chair in UT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He joined the department in 2001 and has held a joint faculty appointment with the ORNL Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences since 2005.

Read the news release on Suresh and Philip.

As interim education director, Philip’s focus will be on leading and growing UT–ORII’s three PhD programs: the Energy Science and Engineering program and the Data Science and Engineering program, both in the Bredesen Center, and the Genome Science and Technology program in UT’s College of Arts and Sciences.

We will also be drawing on his 16 years as a UT–ORNL joint faculty member to strengthen and expand collaborations between the two institutions. We are excited Philip is moving into this position and look forward to working with him to develop and grow our partnerships and collaboration.

Suresh has served as director of the Bredesen Center since 2019 and interim educator director for UT–ORII since 2020. He has extensive experience shaping national policies on STEM research and workforce development in addition to widespread professional networks.

In his new role as senior advisor for research and STEM workforce development initiatives, he will advise the Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development on national strategic developments in STEM research and education and bring his knowledge of those developments to ORIED. Goals will include expanding research opportunities, serving as a champion and role model for interdisciplinary research and education, and providing support and mentorship for individual and teams of faculty preparing proposals in response to federal and industry funding opportunities.

Suresh will also advise the Office of the Provost on opportunities for developing traditional and online academic programs that will be responsive to existing and emergent workforce needs in STEM disciplines.

We are delighted he will serve in this new capacity.

Suresh will retain his position as UT–ORNL Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing, a joint appointment between the Manufacturing Science Division of ORNL and UT’s Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering within the Tickle College of Engineering. He also holds a professorship in UT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Please join us in congratulating Suresh and Philip on their new roles.

John Zomchick
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Deb Crawford
Vice Chancellor for Research