Executive Director, UT-ORII; Vice Provost, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Dr. Joan Bienvenue serves as the executive director of UT-ORII. Bienvenue is responsible for developing and overseeing the Institute’s strategy on establishing leading-edge interdisciplinary graduate research in emerging fields; building world-leading programs that leverage UT and ORNL’s capabilities; and leading recruitment of faculty, staff and students.
Before joining UT-ORII, Bienvenue spent nearly eight years at the Applied Research Institute at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. As that agency’s first executive director, she worked to grow research, education and training, with an emphasis on global and national security. Prior to that, she was program manager and chief scientist for the development of Lockheed Martin’s rapid DNA analysis platform. Before that, she worked as the supervisor of validation and quality control for the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory in Rockville, Md.
She holds a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Virginia, a master’s degree in forensic science from the University of New Haven in Connecticut, an MBA from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rivier University in New Hampshire.
She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and was appointed to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Board on Army Research and Development in 2019, where she has co-chaired several NASEM efforts. She also is a member of the advisory boards for the Tickle College of Engineering at UT Knoxville and the UT One Health Initiative.
Bienvenue is an avid runner and has completed more than 40 marathons.
Director of Scientific Programs and the Science Alliance, UT-ORII
Dr. Shawn Campagna serves as UT-ORII’s director of scientific programs and director of the Science Alliance. He is also a professor in the Department of Chemistry and director of Biological and Small Molecule Mass Spec Core at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Professor Campagna currently works to grow UT-ORII’s scientific and strategic programs. These efforts are facilitated through strategic investments made through several vehicles, including an Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy cooperative agreement and the Science Alliance.
Campagna completed his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at North Carolina State University in 2000 and conducted research on the chemical synthesis of bacterial chromosomes. He received his doctorate from Princeton University in 2006 after conducting team research to characterize the chemical properties of an inter-species bacterial signaling molecule, autoinducer-2.
Campagna performed his post-doctoral fellow research with Professor Joshua D. Rabinowitz at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University where he developed mass spectrometric methods for the identification of novel biochemical pathways and natural products from whole cell extracts. He joined UT Knoxville’s Department of Chemistry in 2007.
Student Recruiter, UT-ORII
Timothy Guthrie serves as the student recruiter for UT-ORII’s three interdisciplinary graduate programs in Energy Science and Engineering, Data Science and Engineering, and Genome Science and Technology, all at UT Knoxville. Guthrie also participates in recruitment initiatives for UT-ORII’s Student Mentoring and Research Training (SMaRT) summer internship program.
Before joining UT-ORII, Guthrie led undergraduate and graduate recruitment efforts for six years at Carson-Newman University. He also served the institution in graduate advising and adjunct faculty capacities.
Guthrie grew up in Knoxville. After graduating from Central High School, he earned both his bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in business administration (leadership) from Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, Tenn.
When he’s not out with his wife exploring all Knoxville has to offer, he’s usually reading a good book next to his cat.
Program Manager, UT-ORII
As UT-ORII’s program manager, Lee is responsible for the U.S. Department of Energy compliance, oversight and management of the UT-ORII’s programs, which include Science Alliance, the SMaRT summer intern program and the Governor’s Chair program.
Lee brings more than 20 years of grant, contract and accounting experience to the Institute. Over the years, she has worked in a variety of accounting roles and industries. Lee joined UT in October of 2015 as UT’s contract manager for a $150 million DOE grant for the Institute of Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation, managed by UT.
Before joining the UT-ORII, Lee was the senior accountant for Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation (AMS), a local nuclear engineering firm. Prior to joining AMS, Lee and her husband owned several furniture stores in Nevada, California and Tennessee. She also worked for a CPA firm in the San Francisco Bay area, where she was a tax accountant for several years.
Lee grew up in California and graduated from Sacramento State University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She is a Certified Research Administrator. Lee enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons, hiking, traveling, gardening and working with the outreach team at Transformation Church to help families in our community.
Communications Associate, UT-ORII
Dakhota Little assists with UT-ORII’s overall outreach efforts, serving as communications associate. Little joined UT-ORII in 2022.
Little has two years of experience in a product manager role and three years working in higher education. She served as product manager for Laughing Dog Studio where she oversaw day-to-day tasks for the gaming company. Little also worked for Western Carolina University as a peer mentor for undergraduate research and as a student intern for the Office of Sustainability.
Little’s unique background as a product manager for an educational gaming company and as a peer mentor for a university allows her to bring new perspectives to UT-ORII.
Business Manager, UT-ORII
Amber Mathes serves as UT-ORII’s business manager. Mathes is responsible for overseeing business support activities for UT-ORII. She also serves as financial manager for Science Alliance, a Tennessee Center of Excellence, which promotes scientific collaboration between UT and ORNL.
Mathes brings 11 years of grant, contract and financial experience to UT-ORII. Mathes served as financial specialist for seven years in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UT Knoxville. Before joining the UT System, Mathes was a junior accountant at Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation, a local nuclear engineering firm.
Mathes grew up in Seymour, Tenn. and completed her Bachelor of Science degree in finance and her Master of Business Administration degree from UT. Mathes enjoys time with her husband, two sons and stepdaughter at sporting events, traveling and other outdoor activities around the area.
Philip D. Rack
Interim Education Director, UT-ORII
Dr. Philip D. Rack was named the UT-ORII’s interim education director in January 2022. In this role, Rack is leading and growing UT Knoxville’s three PhD programs — all are managed by UT-ORII — in Energy Science and Engineering, Data Science and Engineering and Genome Science and Technology. Drawing on his 16 years as a UT-ORNL joint faculty member, Rack also is working to strengthen and expand collaborations between UT and ORNL.
Rack earned his bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his doctorate from the University of Florida, both in materials science and engineering. Rack then joined a small startup company, Advanced Vision Technologies, in Rochester, N.Y., and in 1999 he joined the faculty in the Department of Microelectronic Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
In 2001, Rack joined the Material Science and Engineering (MSE) department at UT Knoxville. Since then, he has held a joint appointment at the Center for Nanophase Materials Science for 16 years and has been the MSE associate department head for the past six years.
Student Services Coordinator
Rachel Roberts serves as Student Services Coordinator at the Bredesen Center providing academic advising and support to graduate students in the three interdisciplinary doctoral programs offered at UT-ORII in Energy Science and Engineering, Data Science and Engineering, and Genome Science and Technology.
Roberts is originally from Atlanta and graduated from Kennesaw State University with a bachelor’s degree in English. Roberts has lived in Knoxville since 2013 and it is where her heart will always be! Prior to the Bredesen Center, Roberts served the UT Health Science Center as medical student coordinator for seven years, working closely with third- and fourth-year medical students in fulfilling their clinical requirements. Roberts then worked for one year serving as residency program coordinator supporting general surgery residents completing training to become board-certified physicians. Prior to UT, Roberts worked at her alma mater in various student service roles. Roberts has a combined eleven years’ experience in higher education.
Roberts was drawn to the Bredesen Center for its interdisciplinary nature and ability to bridge various departments across campus in collaboration with ORNL. It is an exciting experience for her watching these programs expand and being a part of the process. Serving the students as an advisor is a dream come true for her. Roberts looks forward to engaging with our diverse student population and fostering their relationship in research.
Roberts loves watching films and her favorite genre is film noir. You can also find her cheering on her favorite sports teams with her husband. They are big Vols, Predators, and Braves fans! Outside of sports they also enjoy traveling, mountain biking, and weightlifting.
Director of Communications, UT-ORII
As UT-ORII’s communications director, Bridget Waller leads media and community relations efforts, social media, website outreach, external marketing, internal communications, events and sponsorships.
Before joining UT-ORII, Waller led media, government and community relations efforts for clients including Great Schools Partnership, Project GRAD Knoxville, Knox Education Foundation, Global Medical Response, Medicare Advantage and the City of Knoxville through her own business and affiliation with SRW & Associates. Waller served for nine years as community and government relations manager at the Y-12 National Security Complex. She was the communications lead and main spokesperson for Y-12’s Joint Information Center and for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s $6.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility project. Waller also served in leadership positions with the Ingram Group and Akins & Crisp Public Strategies. She started her career as a news reporter and writer for the Knoxville News Sentinel, the Panama City News Herald, the Noblesville Ledger, the original Knoxville Journal and Whittle Communications.
Waller is a Knoxville native. She completed her bachelor’s degree in communications/news journalism from Anderson University in Indiana. She serves on the board of Parents as Teachers and volunteers with the Monroe County Friends of Animals. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters and their three pups, and volunteering with her church, Cokesbury United Methodist.
As UT-ORII’s operations director, Jason Wood is responsible for providing leadership, direction and management of the administrative operations of UT-ORII. He works closely with UT and ORNL colleagues to continue to strengthen the relationship between the two organizations to support the UT-ORII community.
Wood joined the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2014 as the Budget Director for University Libraries, where he oversaw an annual budget of $30 million and all financial, procurement and compliance services. While working at the Libraries, he was awarded the 2018 Outstanding Staff Award.
Before joining UT, Wood held several positions in financial planning and analysis at federal service contractors SAIC and Leidos.
Wood grew up in East Tennessee and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics. From there, he attended Tennessee Technological University to obtain his Master of Business Administration. Wood enjoys spending time with his wife and three kids, playing music and being outdoors.