Sixteen world-class researchers make up the University of Tennessee Governor’s Chairs—all jointly appointed at UT and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and moving science forward in fields ranging from advanced manufacturing and biomedical informatics to global nuclear security and polymer science.

David Millhorn, UT executive vice president and senior vice president for research, worked with former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen to establish the program in 2006 and describes it as “a complete game-changer.”

“Our Governor’s Chairs bring exceptional capabilities to study the research questions of today in coming up with the solutions for tomorrow. They are recognized, highly sought-after experts who have enhanced the partnership and further strengthened the bond between the University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The outcome of that has been remarkable growth in our ability to compete for and engage in research of national significance,” Millhorn said.

“The Governor’s Chairs have had a dramatic impact on the University’s success in attracting research dollars and additional researchers for collaboration. It is truly an exciting time of growth and an exciting time to be conducting research at the University of Tennessee.”

Bredesen recognized the increasing importance of research and technology to Tennessee’s economy and environment, leading him to invest more than $20 million in state funds for creation of the Governor’s Chair program in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). It was intended to recruit top scientists to Tennessee in research areas that would complement the University’s strengths and build new capacity for the state.

The program has had a dramatic impact on the University, both academically and financially, by attracting economic activity, research dollars and additional researchers for scientific collaboration.

Thirteen Governor’s Chairs currently have joint appointments with UT Knoxville and ORNL. Two others are jointly appointed at the UT Health Science Center in Memphis and at ORNL. One is jointly appointed at both UT Knoxville and the UT Institute of Agriculture, along with ORNL.