The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Governor's Schools


Dr. George Siopsis, Director of GSSE

Dr. George SiopsisGeorge Siopsis is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Tennessee. He grew up in Greece and attended Sussex University in England where he got his B.Sc. degree majoring in mathematical physics. He did his graduate work at Caltech studying theoretical elementary particle physics, receiving his PhD in 1987. He then spent a few years as a research associate at Texas A&M University working on string theory before moving to Tennessee in 1991.

In recent years, his research has focused on quantum gravity and related issues (holography, entanglement, black holes and the information loss paradox), and applications to condensed matter physics. He has trained several PhD students who have embarked on promising careers, and introduced undergraduates as well as high school students to research in quantum physics and fundamental interactions. Currently, he is working on quantum computing and quantum information processing in collaboration with members of the Quantum Information Science group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Dr. Lila Holt, Course Director (STEM Skills)

Lila HoltDr. Lila Holt is a lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She also teaches as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the College of Education. Her interests include finding ways to better use technologies for learning and for life. Rapid advancements in computers and technology create a need for adaptation for learning and for life skills. Her research covers using technology, including the web and multimedia, for effective communication for instruction and for work place excellence.

William Schleter, Course Director (STEM Skills)

William SchleterWill Schleter (B.S. Mechanical Engineering, University of Missouri, Rolla, MS Instructional Technology, University of Tennessee) is a Lecturer in the Engineering Fundamentals Division at the University of Tennessee where he teaches subjects such as Engineering Graphics, Computer Aided Design, Programming, Physics, Statics, and Dynamics. Mr. Schleter's special interests include teaching, instructional technology, programming, sports, and, most importantly, his wife and two daughters.

Dr. Richard Pagni, Course Director (STEM in Society)

Dr. Richard PagniRichard Pagni, a native of Chicago, received his BA degree from Northwestern University in 1963 and his PhD degree in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1968.  After spending fifteen months as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, he stated his academic career at the University of Tennessee in 1969 from whence he retired in 2007.  His research has dealt with photochemistry, physical aspects of organic chemistry, and environmental and green chemistry.  In more recent years he has investigated unusual aspects of chirality including the origin of optically active molecules on the pre-biotic world.  At various times in his career he has worked at and consulted with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  Since his retirement, he has devoted his efforts to the history and philosophy of science.

Dr. Stephanie Drumheller-Horton, Course Director (Biology)

Stephanie DrumhellerMy research interests center on vertebrate taphonomy, ichnology, paleopathology, and paleoecology. In particular, I study bone surface modifications generated under modern and experimental conditions to better understand the processes which left similar traces on bone in the fossil record. My current research projects include:

  1. testing methods for applying these modern analogies in a deep time perspective
  2. interpreting trophic interactions, behavior, and diet from bite marks left by different archosaurian groups, especially members of Crocodyliformes
  3. identifying and differentiating historically understudied traces and pathologies, such as bite marks vs. shell disease and different types of plant mediated damage to bone.

Dr. Bhavya Sharma, Course Director (Chemistry)

Dr. Bhavya SharmaBhavya Sharma is originally from Hawaii. She received her BS degree from SUNY at Buffalo and her PhD degree in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh in 2011. Bhavya was a postdoctoral researcher in Rick Van Duyne’s group at Northwestern University. She started her academic career at the University of Tennessee in August 2015. Bhavya’s research involves the use of Raman spectroscopy, a light scattering technique, to examine the underlying physics and chemistry of biological systems. In particular, her group is interested in biomedical applications of Raman spectroscopy. Dr. Sharma’s group also uses nanoscience in their development of biochemical assays for biomarkers of human health.

Dr. Remus Nicoara, Course Director (Mathematics)

Dr. Remus NicoaraDr. Remus Nicoara earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from UCLA, and his Bachelor's Degree from the University of Bucharest, Romania. He is currently an Associate Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Math Honors Program at the University of Tennessee. His main research interest lies in von Neumann algebras, which are algebras of operators that model quantum mechanical systems. Outside of work, Remus likes to hike, bike and garden while thinking about math. He enjoys meditation, Sci-Fi books, and Hanayama puzzles. He is also an avid gamer and he currently teaches a class about video games and math, called Math Effect.

Dr. Norman Mannella, Course Director (Physics)

Norman MannellaNorman Mannella is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UTK. Norman came to the US in 1997 after graduation from “Universita’ degli Studi di Milano” (Milano, Italy) with Laurea in Fisica (Master in Physics) in 1996. He enrolled in the Physics Graduate program at Univ. of California, Davis, and got his PhD in 2003 with Prof. C. S. Fadley. He was a Postdoctoral Fellow, at the Geballe Laboratory for Advanced Materials (GLAM), Physics Department, Stanford University, and a Visiting Scientist at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), LBNL, Berkeley, under the supervision of Prof. Z.X. Shen and Dr. Z. Hussain from Sep 2003 to Oct. 2006. He joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UT, Knoxville, in late 2007, after spending one year (2006-2007) as a Beamline scientist at the ALS, LBNL, Berkeley, in the Scientific Support Group of Dr. Z. Hussain and as a Research Associate in GLAM, Stanford University, with Prof. Z.X. Shen.

Norman’s general research interests concern the study of the electron correlations and the mechanisms of the interactions among different degrees of freedom in complex electron systems. Complex electron systems, featuring high temperature superconductors and colossal resistive manganites as prominent examples, are capable of exhibiting spectacular and unexpected phenomena arising from the interplay and competition of several degrees of freedom such as charge, lattice, and spin. This interplay is at the heart of the physics at play behind the functionality of complex electron systems suitable for technological applications which may have a strong impact on energy-saving and environmental science. Spectroscopic and structural probes in the soft x-ray regime are employed as the main tools in his research.

He is a recipient of the NSF Career Award (2012), the SPS Outstanding Teacher Award (2012), and the 2013 Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement.

Dr. Claudia Rawn, Course Director (Engineering)

Claudia RawnDr. Claudia Rawn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Prior to joining the University of Tennessee Knoxville (UTK) full time she was a Joint Faculty Member between the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UTK and the Materials Science and Technology Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for twelve years. Some of the primary courses she has taught at UTK include Introduction to Materials Science and Engineering (MSE201) and Principles of Ceramics (MSE360). She received her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Arizona in 1995. Among Dr. Rawn’s research interests are the following:

Chris Wetteland, Course Director (Engineering)

Chris WettelandChris Wetteland is a lecturer in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK). He coordinates and teaches three undergraduate laboratory courses in the department and has also supervised students in the Senior Design Course. Prior to coming to UTK, Chris was a Staff Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and a Research Fellow at the University of Wisconsin. He has a BS in Geology, an MS in Materials Science, and is presently a doctoral student in the Earth and Planetary Sciences Department at UTK. He is a certified solar electric and solar thermal installer and has designed and installed numerous renewable energy systems. His primary research interests include:


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