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BEAMS People


Jackie Johnson

Jacqueline A. Johnson


Jacqueline Johnson completed her doctorate in solid state physics in the research area of magnetic phase transitions at the University of Liverpool in 1985. She transitioned to working on glass materials after being approached by Pilkington Glass to solve technical problems. She was a Professor in Liverpool until 1995 when she joined Argonne National Laboratory in the United States, where she was introduced to solving the structure of amorphous materials using neutron scattering. After a 2-year period in administration she returned to research to develop a new mammography system using a glass-ceramic plate. In 2007, Johnson returned to academia at the University of Tennessee Space Institute and continues to synthesize and characterize glasses, glass ceramics and nanomaterials pertaining to medical devices, non-destructive evaluation and image enhancement. 

Charles Johnson

Charles E. Johnson

Research Assistant Professor

Charles Johnson did his D. Phil. at Oxford in 1955 on nuclear orientation using magnetic hyperfine fields. After a Fulbright fellowship at Berkeley he was among the pioneers of Mössbauer spectroscopy and worked at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Liverpool. He has published over 300 papers on measurements of magnetic materials, biological molecules and inorganic complexes with applications to alloys, biomedicine, mineralogy, chemistry, archaeology and glasses. 

Lee Leonard

R. Lee Leonard

Research Associate Professor

Lee Leonard received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in the summer of 2015 and became a faculty member of the UT Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering later that year. Leonard also holds an M.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering (2010) from UT and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (1995) from Tennessee Technological University. He is a member of the American Ceramic Society and has served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation on multiple occasions. Prior to joining UTSI in early 2009, Leonard worked for twelve years as a project and tooling engineer in the high pressure aluminum die casting industry.

Saeed Kamali

Adjunct Professor

Since 2015 Saeed Kamali has been performing his research at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. His PhD was in experimental condensed matter Physics from Uppsala University, Sweden. He studied aspects of Material Science, especially on magnetism in nano-structured materials such as superlattices and nano-crystallines using various characterization techniques with emphasis on Mössbauer spectroscopy. For Post-Doctoral studies, he joined the Spintronic Division at the Department of Microelectronics and Applied Physics at The Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. Subsequently, he received a high prestige Japanese grant from Japan Society for the Promotion of Science to work at Japanese synchrotron facility, SPring-8, for two years. During 2009-2015 he continued his research at University of California Davis. He is heavily involved in synchrotron radiation research as well. He is also serving as a Physics instructor at Middle Tennessee State University.


Lu Liu

Lu Liu

Research Scientist

Lu Liu obtained her Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Maryland in 2017. She has more than 10 years of experience in experimental design, material synthesis, testing, and screening, including magnetic materials, battery electrode materials, metal/metal oxide nanoparticles, and functional polymeric materials and composites. She joined UTSI in February of 2021 she has been working on iron nanoparticle (FeNP) synthesis for biomedical applications. She has developed experimental apparatus for both thermal decomposition and reduction methods to synthesize FeNPs with different size distributions and crystalline structures. She has also participated in preliminary characterization of the FeNPs using TEM, XRD, Dynamic Light Scattering (DLS), and Mössbauer Spectroscopy and she will continue working on surface modification of FeNPs for magnetic particle imaging (MPI) tracer design and engineering.

Current Students

Austin Thomas

Austin Thomas

Masters Student

Austin Thomas is a third-year graduate student at the University of Tennessee Space Institute. Austin is a Tennessee native, having grown up in Knoxville. He earned his Bachelors degree at The University of Tennessee Knoxville in the field of Materials Science and Engineering and earned his Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee Space Institute in 2021. He is now pursuing a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. His current research is the synthesis and characterization of carbon-carbon composite materials.

Aleia Williams

Masters Student

Aleia Williams is a second-year graduate student at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.  She is from Morristown, TN and graduated from Carson-Newman University with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. Her current research comprises the synthesis and characterization of iron nanoparticles and their application as an MRI contrast agent.

Emily Moore

Emily Moore

Masters Student

Emily Moore was raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Biloxi, Mississippi and graduated from Mississippi State University in May 2021 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering, and her research is concentrated in developing and optimizing glass-ceramic scintillators for use as X-ray conversion screens for digital radiography applications.

Former PhD Students

Charles Bond

Charles “Chad” Bond

Chad Bond was raised in Tullahoma, Tennessee and graduated from University of the Cumberlands in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. He obtained his Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Tennessee in August 2018 and May 2021, respectively. He is currently employed as a Research and Development Specialist with GALA North America in Dublin, VA.

Adam Evans

Adam Evans

Adam Evans was born and raised in Knoxville, Tennessee and graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in 2013 with a degree in Biomedical Engineering through the Chancellor’s Honors Program. He arrived at UTSI in the fall of 2014 and completed his Master’s in Biomedical Engineering in August 2016. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Biomedical Engineering in December 2020. He is currently employed by the US government.

Julie King

Julie King

Julie King was born in Mount Airy, NC and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics from King University in Bristol, TN in 2012. She obtained her Master of Science degree in biomedical engineering in 2015 and Graduate Certificate in engineering management in 2016 from UTSI. Julie received her PhD from UTSI in the spring of 2019. Julie is currently employed as Manager of Special Projects Operations at Pike Corporation in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

Jason Hah

Hien-Yoong (Jason) Hah

Hien-Yoong (Jason) Hah received his doctorate in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee Space Institute in 2018. He obtained his Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering in 2016 from UTSI. His work at UTSI was mainly focused on superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles used as contrast materials in magnetic resonance imaging. During this time, he also worked on the synthesis of cathode materials for sodium-ion batteries as well as flurochlorozirconate glasses. After graduation, Hien-Yoong became a postdoctoral associate at Rutgers University, working on the synthesis and characterization of nuclear waste storage glasses.