Interim UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute Director Selected

Interim UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute Director Selected

June 12, 2023 — David Sholl has been named the interim executive director of the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII). Sholl will assume the leadership role on June 12. Joan Bienvenue, the institute’s inaugural executive director, has accepted a position at the University of Texas System and will be leaving at the end of June.

UT-ORII’s Executive Council, made up of UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory leadership, will conduct a national search for the institute’s executive director. UT and ORNL launched UT-ORII in March 2021 to better align university and national lab capabilities in a way that will establish Tennessee as a hub for convergent research and talent development.

“I appreciate David moving into this integral role. His expertise and background will be a great complement to the strong team already in place as UT-ORII works to develop the talent, workforce, and innovation in areas of vital importance to Tennessee and our nation,” said UT System President Randy Boyd.

Sholl joined ORNL two years ago to lead the Laboratory’s Transformational Decarbonization Initiative (TDI). For the last year he has also served part-time with the Department of Energy’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), working on the portfolio strategy and multiyear program plan for OCED’s execution of clean energy demonstration projects. Prior to joining ORNL, Sholl chaired the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech.

ORNL interim lab director Jeff Smith said, “David brings to the interim role a strong scientific background, excellent leadership experience, and a deep understanding of both university and national laboratory organizations.”

UT Knoxville Chancellor Donde Plowman said, “the work UT faculty and students are doing in partnership with ORNL researchers is advancing the frontiers of knowledge, and strengthening Tennessee’s leadership role in areas like clean energy, future mobility, advanced materials, and next-generation manufacturing. We look forward to working with David, and to leveraging our strategic partnership with ORNL to advance discoveries, learning and innovations that make life and lives better here in Tennessee and around the world.”

Thanks to generous support from the state of Tennessee, UT-ORII is accelerating recruitment of 100 researchers and mentors along with 500 graduate students who will be leaders in these and other emerging fields.

“UT-ORII has the capacity to combine the world-class talents of researchers at the University of Tennessee and ORNL to tackle problems of genuine national need,” Sholl said. “I look forward to working with students and faculty from UT and staff from across ORNL to generate breakthroughs in these areas and train the next generation of scientific leaders.”