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2007 Saw Several New Faculty Members Join UTSI

At the start of the new year, as we plan for the next 12 months, we also reflect on the past year’s events and accomplishments. The University of Tennessee Space Institute continued to grow in 2007, increasing in student enrollment and adding to the faculty. UTSI’s faculty consists of some of the world’s most brilliant minds in the fields of science, engineering and technology, and, as leaders in their various fields, the five new faculty members that joined the UTSI family in 2007 will only add to that reputation.

Joining the UTSI faculty most recently, as a Research Associate Professor of Aviation Systems, Mr. John Muratore arrived in December after spending 24 years with NASA, working at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. Muratore held many interesting positions at NASA, including Mission Control Center Chief at JSC, responsible for leading the development of the new Mission Control Center, and Space Shuttle Flight Director. “As Flight Director, I was responsible for planning and conduct of Space Shuttle missions from liftoff to landing,” said Muratore.
Muratore led the X-38 Crew Return Vehicle Project from inception to the end of the project. “The X-38 was a prototype vehicle intended to act as an ambulance or lifeboat for the space station,” said Muratore. “Four of these vehicles were built and flown in the atmosphere.” While serving as project manager for the X-38, he was also mission director in the control room, a launch panel operator aboard the B-52 drop aircraft and a flight test engineer on many other test flights.

Muratore added, “Following loss of the shuttle Columbia, I was transferred  to the Shuttle program as Chief of Space Shuttle Systems Engineering and Integration for the Return To Flight Effort. I led activities to modify the shuttle system so that it was ready to resume flight operations.”

Muratore will be leading research efforts at UTSI, working to develop an airborne environmental research aircraft for UTSI, which, he said, “will be used to sample and remotely sense the environment in order to understand natural changes and the effect of human activities on the natural environment.” “I’ll also be working to integrate simulation and improved instrumentation and data processing technologies into Aviation Systems’ existing flight test courses and aircraft at UTSI,” said Muratore.

A registered professional engineer in Texas, Muratore received a Senior Executive Service Presidential rank in 2006. He has also received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. In addition, Muratore is a senior member of the Society of Flight Test Engineers.

Muratore now resides in Huntsville, Alabama. He and his son, Daniel, 13, enjoy geo-caching, a game involving finding small hidden caches, or “treasures,” at various locations using a GPS. He also has a daughter, Alison, 25, who resides in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Muratore is a gliding enthusiast as well as an avid skier and sailor.

Dr. Jacqueline Johnson joined the UTSI team in November as an Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Johnson comes to us from Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois where she was performing important research on the structure of amorphous materials, specifically glass ceramics for medical imaging devices and diamond-like carbon as a coating on medical prosthetics. 

Dr. Johnson was recently honored with an R&D 100 award for developing a new mammography system based on glass-ceramic plate. She is continuing her mammography research here at UTSI.

Dr. Johnson now resides in Tullahoma. Dr. Johnson and her husband, Charles, a physicist who will also be joining UTSI, have four children: Lisa, 23, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology and is now applying for medical school; Will, 21, a professional soccer player in the Netherlands, who represents Canada internationally, (he was born in Canada); Ben, 19, who is at Western Illinois University studying business; and Zoë, 15, who attends Tullahoma High School.

Dr. Johnson enjoys cycling and is a dedicated member of a search and rescue team, along with her seven-year-old German Shepherd, Largo. She and Largo attend weekly search and rescue training, and are a great benefit to the local community. Dr. Johnson has another seven-year-old German Shepherd who is a qualified therapy dog.

UTSI added two new professors in August, Dr. Denise Jackson, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, and Dr. Thad Morton, Research Assistant Professor of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Jackson had been a faculty member of UT Knoxville’s Department of Industrial Engineering since 1984 and has previous experience as an Industrial Engineer at Union Carbide Corporation in Oak Ridge. At UTK, Dr. Jackson served as the chair of the Graduate Committee from 1999 to 2005. During that time she interacted with the UTSI faculty in engineering management in making decisions concerning acceptance of applicants, in serving on capstone project committees, and in teaching distance courses. Thus, joining the UTSI faculty was an almost seamless transition.
Dr. Jackson is currently teaching distance education courses for UTSI in Productivity and Quality Engineering, Quantitative Approaches in Engineering Management, Knowledge Management, and Change Management at UTSI’s Oak Ridge facility. She is also focusing her research efforts on the management of knowledge as a key organizational asset. This is an extension of her earlier work with information systems. According to Jackson, “information provides answers to “who”, “what”, “where”, and “when” questions in an organization; knowledge, however, answers “how” questions – the questions dearest to an engineer.”

At UT Knoxville, Dr. Jackson conducted and published research on performance measurement, information systems, and systems analysis and design as well as teaching a wide variety of industrial engineering classes. Dr. Jackson is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Tennessee and has been certified as a Six Sigma Green Belt by the American Society of Quality.

Dr. Jackson resides in Knoxville with her husband Andrew and their youngest son, Chris. Their oldest son, Zack, is a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Jackson spends her Friday nights in the fall rooting for Bearden High School’s football team, where Chris is a freshman.

Dr. Thad Morton worked as a gas turbine design engineer at General Electric and Rolls-Royce before joining UTSI. He brings expertise in the areas of bluff-body aerodynamics, mathematical methods for rotational flows, fluid friction, heat transfer, turbine blade design, and turbine cycle analysis and simulation.

Dr. Morton has conducted and published research on vortex-dominated fluid flows, and his experience, skills and research fit in very well with UTSI’s research initiative. He is eagerly looking forward to teaching related courses at UTSI.

Lastly, Dr. Zhongren Yue is beginning his second year with UTSI as a Research Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering after joining the Institute in January of 2007. Dr. Yue previously worked as a research scientist with the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

At UIUC, Dr. Yue conducted research on advanced materials including activated carbon fibers for water and air purifications. He played a critical role in a DARPA project by designing a filter system to remove a wide range of impurities specified by DARPA to well below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contaminant level values. He had also made outstanding contributions to the Center of Advanced Materials for Purification of Water with Systems (CAMPWS) at UIUC funded by the National Science Foundation.

At UTSI, he is continuing his carbon fiber research with Professor Ahmad Vakili, focusing on the fabrication of low-cost carbon fibers, fiber surface modifications, fiber-reinforced composites used as advanced lightweight construction materials, and high surface area activated carbon fibers used as advanced environmental remediation materials.

Dr. Yue is also teaching courses on Fiber Science, Fundamental Principles of Composite Materials and Polymer Science and Engineering at UTSI. Dr. Yue resides in Tullahoma with his wife, Ling (Linda) and their 16-year-old son Wenqiang (William), who is a junior at Tullahoma High School. When he isn’t working, he loves to fish and spend time enjoying Middle Tennessee’s beautiful lakes, woods, rivers and streams.