UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute Names Education and Bredesen Center Director

Brynn Voy, UT Faculty Member and Former ORNL Scientist, Steps Into New Role Aug. 1

KNOXVILLE, TN – July 25, 2023 —The University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute has selected Brynn Voy as education and Bredesen Center director, effective Aug. 1. Voy will lead the institute’s efforts to expand UT-Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s joint graduate research opportunities for students across the UT System. She will be filling the position that has been held on an interim basis by UT Knoxville faculty member Philip Rack.

“Brynn’s passion for advancing STEM education and mentoring students, coupled with her extensive background as a UT alumna, ORNL postdoctoral fellow and staff scientist, and UT faculty member and department leader, make her ideally suited to take on these important leadership roles for the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute,” said David Sholl, the institute’s interim director.

“On behalf of UT-ORII, I also want to extend our deepest gratitude to Dr. Rack for the significant role he has served in helping us to expand our joint graduate programs while serving as our interim education and Bredesen Center director,” Sholl said.

Rack will continue working with UT-ORII on a part-time basis as Voy onboards into these important leadership positions.

Voy received her Ph.D. in physiology and bachelor’s degree in zoology from UT. She then spent 13 years at ORNL, first as a postdoctoral fellow in the Mammalian Genetics and Genomics Group and then as a staff scientist in the Systems Genetics Group through 2009.

Voy returned to UT to join the faculty in Animal Science, where she is a professor. Voy recently completed service as the interim head of the Department of Nutrition, a position she held since 2021. She has been involved with the UT-ORNL joint Bredesen Center Genome Science and Technology program since her time at ORNL, serving as a core faculty member in the program since 2005.

As a native Tennessean, Voy said she was drawn to this position because of its potential impact to the state she was raised in and continues to call home.

“UT is one of only two land grant institutions in Tennessee. The mission of a land grant institution is to improve the lives of our citizens, students, individuals, families within the state through education, especially through readily available, research-based, knowledge-based education programs and resources,” Voy said.

“We’re in a really unique position as a land grant here, that we have a national laboratory in our backyard,” she explained. “That is a huge benefit, a huge opportunity, because of the high-level, big

science, team-based, cutting-edge capacity that is at ORNL. Most other universities can only dream of having that as a resource.”

Voy went on to say, “the programs offered by UT-ORII have the potential to bolster the career trajectories of our students, to spark interest in science among the region’s K-12 students, and to develop a workforce that is exceptionally well-trained to fill the needs of a rapidly evolving STEM workforce.”

Over the course of Voy’s career, she has mentored more than 100 high school to Ph.D. students. In recognition of Voy’s commitment to her students, in 2018, she was nominated by her students and received the UTK Educational Advancement Faculty Mentor Award. While serving as UT-ORII education and Bredesen Center director, Voy will maintain her UT faculty role. She also will be teaching this upcoming semester.

Covering topics from nanoparticles to obesity to livestock disease and nutrition, Voy has received nearly $10 million in multi-agency research funding. She has published more than 75 research papers, authored 93 scientific abstracts and has lectured around the globe.

“Brynn brings to this role excellent leadership experience; a strong background as a researcher, educator and mentor; and a deep understanding of UT and ORNL,” Sholl said. “We are absolutely thrilled to have her join our team and help us meet and hopefully, exceed our goals of recruiting 100 UT-ORNL researchers and student mentors, and 500 graduate student leaders.”

About the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute

UT and ORNL officially launched the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII) in 2021. Thanks to generous support from the state of Tennessee and the Department of Energy, UT-ORII is accelerating its efforts to establish Tennessee as a hub for critical collaborative research and innovation, interdisciplinary graduate education and talent development.

To get to the goal of having 500 Ph.D. research students working jointly at UT and ORNL, UT-ORII is bumping up recruitment to its three Bredesen Center programs and expanding its support of joint research opportunities for grad students at the College of Engineering, College of Arts & Sciences and the Institute of Agriculture at UT Knoxville, and to other graduate students across the UT System.

UT-ORII is initially focusing its attention on two convergent research areas of national and statewide importance: clean manufacturing and advanced materials, and energy storage and transportation. For more information on UT-ORII and its joint graduate research opportunities, please go to www.utorii.com

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