The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Governor's Schools

Teaching Assistants

Yazeed Alkhrijah (STEM Skills)

Yazeed AlkhrijahYazeed Alkhrijah is an Electrical Engineering student working toward his M.S. degree at the University of Tennessee. He received his B.S. from King Saud University, Saudi Arabia, with honors. He worked at Saudi Aramco as an instrument engineer. He joined UT in 2014 and will graduate by the summer of 2017. He was elected president of the Saudi Arabian Student Association in Knoxville. His hobbies include hiking, kayaking, soccer, and outdoor activities.

Taylor Berger (STEM Skills)

Taylor BergerTaylor Berger is a current sophomore at the University of Tennessee studying Biomedical Engineering. Outside of school she enjoys swimming and working on the family farm.


Justin Condon (STEM Skills)

Justin CondonI am a Senior majoring in Civil Engineering with concentrations in Environmental and Water Resources. I am from Sevierville, TN. I am an officer for The American Society of Civil Engineers and I worked with their concrete canoe team this past semester. I have worked in The University of Tennessee Engineering Fundamental’s Innovation of Collaboration Studio for the past few years. When not busy with school I like to go hiking, swimming, and playing video games.

Matthew Geiger (STEM in Society)

Matthew GeigerMatthew is a senior at the University of Tennessee working on a major in Physics with a general concentration. He is also pursuing a second major in Philosophy with an emphasis on ethics. Originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan, Matthew served for seven years in the United States Navy before settling in Knoxville. In his free time he volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee, mentoring a local youth. Matthew also enjoys sports and hiking with his dog Maggie.

Erica Allen (STEM in Society)

EricaAllenMy name is Erica Allen and I am a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Earth and Planetary Science. I study sedimentology with Chris Fedo focusing on Martian analog sediment and image analyses. I have a BS in Geology and a MS in Secondary Science Education. I am currently pursuing a MS in Geology. I have taught Chemistry and Geology at the L&N STEM Academy and 6th grade science at Gresham Middle School. I also teach Environmental Geology at the University of Tennessee as a Teacher's Assistant. I have an 11 year old son and two Jack Russells. I enjoy running and gardening in my free time. I look forward to teaching at the Governor's School this summer!

Jennifer Bauer (Biology)

Jennifer BauerJen Bauer is a PhD candidate in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Her primary field is evolutionary paleobiology. She focuses on understanding evolutionary relationships and respiration of extinct animals. For her research she has been fortunate to travel to many museums and wonderful fossil localities over the past several years. Jen spends a significant amount of time providing educational lessons on fossils to young students, both at the McClung Museum and at local grade schools. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, mountain biking, and knitting scarves.

Sarah Sheffield (Biology)

Sarah SheffieldI am a paleobiologist, so I an interested in understanding how life evolved through Earth’s history. Currently, I’m working on a group of extinct echinoderms (the group that includes sea lilies and sea stars): the diploporitans. These fossils and are not well understood. Their evolutionary relationships to other echinoderms, biogeography, or even why the diploporitans went extinct are big questions that don’t have answers. To learn more about this puzzling group, I do field work all over the world to uncover new fossils and travel to international museum collections to museums to restudy diploporitan collections. I am very active with science outreach and work with the local natural history museum, public schools, and the Darwin Day Program at the University of Tennessee to get people excited about science and to learn more about evolutionary biology.

Taylor Payne (Chemistry)

Taylor Payne I am a sophomore at the University of Tennessee here in Knoxville. I grew up not too far away in Johnson City, TN. I am double majoring in Chemistry and Spanish and am part of the Chancellor’s Honors Program. My plan is to go to medical school once I graduate from UT. For the past year I have been pursuing my passion for science by doing chemical research in the Sharma group. We use a spectroscopic technique to detect physiological levels of neurotransmitters. Also, I am an undergraduate teaching assistant in an introductory biology lab. Each week I help international students practice English during Conversation Club, and I volunteer with various organizations in Knoxville. I spend my free time riding my bike, working out, playing guitar, and listening to music. I am very excited to get to know you and experience Governor’s School with you this summer!

Adam LaClair (Mathematics)

Adam LaclairAdam is a proud graduate of UT in mathematics and computer science and is an upcoming graduate student in mathematics at Purdue University. This is Adam’s third year working as a teaching assistant for the mathematics Governor’s School program, and he is excited to assist the incoming Governor's School mathematics students as they learn about linear algebra, quantum teleportation, and goats! In addition to studying mathematics, Adam enjoys outdoor activities, contra dancing, and practicing handstands.

Daniel Odell (Physics)

Daniel OdellDaniel will be entering his fourth year in graduate school this fall. He’s been studying nuclear and atomic structure as part of the theoretical nuclear physics group for a little over a year. After earning his B.S. in Physics from Clemson University, working for the Department of Energy, and teaching high school science, he brought his family to Knoxville to pursue his PhD. When he’s not at school or thinking about school, he enjoys trail running and spending time with his wife and two adorably exhausting children.

Willie Kemp (Engineering)

Willie KempWillie is a senior in Materials Science and Engineering from Gallatin, TN. His interests are in the areas of additive manufacturing and STEM education outreach. Willie was a SULI intern at Oak Ridge National Laboratory this past summer, where his research focused on 3D printing of high performance magnets. Upon graduation in May 2016, Willie will be attending graduate school back at UTK studying Engineering Sciences. On campus he has been involved with the Ignite program, Leadership Knoxville Scholars, student requirement in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and the Multicultural Mentoring Program. His hobbies include basketball, running, and anything that deals with UT sports.

Aaron Miller (Engineering)

Aaron Miller My name is Aaron Miller. I am a first year PhD student in Biomedical Engineering department. I graduated from UTK with a BS in Biomedical Engineering in May of 2016 and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UTK in December of 2016. I am working in a lab on campus with a primary focus of monitoring rehabilitation in patients post-stroke using minimally invasive sensors. I enjoy watching TV, playing board games, and getting outside.

Robert Minneci (Engineering)

Robert MinneciRobert is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee, obtaining his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering in Spring of 2016. During his time as an undergraduate, he worked as an intern at Oak Ridge National Lab on several projects focusing primarily on composite materials and additive manufacturing, as well as a research assistant under Dr. Claudia Rawn on sol-gel synthesis of ceramic materials. He also served on the Chancellor's Honors Council as a representative and was team leader of his senior design project on the addition of graphene and carbon fiber to polymers for additive manufacturing. He decided to stay at UT as a PhD candidate under Dr. Claudia Rawn studying the residual stresses of additive manufacture space propulsion parts for a project for NASA using Neutron Diffraction and is close to finishing his first year. Robert enjoys hanging out with his friends, reading, and being active.

Brianna Musico (Engineering)

Brianna MusicoBrianna is a senior in Material Science Engineering with an Honors Concentration. Her current research under Dr. Tom Meek is in Urania-based Direct Conversion Neutron Detectors over a range of stoichiometries and grain sizes. After graduating with her B.S in August 2016, she plans to continue this research in graduate school here at UT in the fall and work towards a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering. Brianna has been involved in many groups at UT. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, the Engineering Mentors Program, and a former UT diver. In her free time she enjoys cooking, reading, going to the gym and re-finishing furniture.


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Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System