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The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 61.37
Liaison Preston Jacobsen
Submission Date April 3, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Tennessee at Knoxville
AC-10: Support for Research

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 3.00 / 4.00 Preston Jacobsen
Sustainability Manager
Facilities Services
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution have an ongoing program to encourage students in multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability? :

A brief description of the student research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The Smart Communities Initiative was piloted in fiscal year 2015 and encourages faculty to create courses that engage students in solving real sustainability (environmental, social and economic) issues in their local community. These students receive valuable experience by researching and developing plans to help communities to be more sustainable. During fiscal year 2016, the Smart Communities Initiative paired with the Southeast Tennessee Develop District to develop numerous experience learning courses that engaged students in developing a water resource economic assessment and water quality improvement plan, assessing livability conditions for senior citizens in Grundy County, developing a business plan for a farmers market in Pikeville, laying the groundwork for local and regional disaster planning, and designing commemorative spaces along the Trail of Tears, along with nearly a dozen other projects. See http://servicelearning.utk.edu/sci-2015-16-projects/.

Does the institution have a program to encourage faculty from multiple disciplines or academic programs to conduct research in sustainability topics?:

A brief description of the faculty research program, including the incentives provided and any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment (ISSE) is in their fifth year of a seed project program that seeks to foster interdisciplinary research collaborations by funding small projects that can lead to future externally-funded grants. During 2015 – 2016, ISSE research projects engaged 51 UT faculty members, five post-docs, 38 graduate students, and 28 undergraduate students.

The Office of Research Integrity presented seven faculty members with Service Excellence and Leadership Awards during a special celebration at Tyson House in April 2016. Among the recipients was ISSE Director Terry Hazen, who, as the first chair of the institutional laboratory safety committee, has implemented important improvements in laboratory safety and has generated discussion regarding the pathway to improve the culture of lab safety on campus. • ISSE Researcher Jon Hathaway, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering and ISSE researcher, recently earned a prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation for his work in sustainable urban water management. • Rachel Chen, Director of ISSE’s Center for Sustainable Business and Development, was honored as one of UT’s “Women with Big Idea.” • Jonathan Overly (ETCF Director) and ISSE’s East Tennessee Clean Fuels, were one of the recipients of the Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Award. The award recognizes those whose efforts protect Tennessee’s scenic beauty, promote environmental education, or improve the overall environment. • The UTK Hydraulics & Sedimentation Lab (HSL) is featured in the journal Hydrolink (2016, Issue 1), published by the International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research, as one of the top hydraulics labs around the world. Thanos Papanicolaou, TNWRRC Director, heads the HSL. • NSF’s ScienceNation online magazine (dated March 21, 2016), features TNWRRC Director Thanos Papanicolaou’s involovement with the NSF Intensively Managed Landscapes Critical Zone Observatory.
For countless other positive outcomes, view http://isse.utk.edu/publications/pdf/ISSE_AnnualReport_2015-16.pdf

Has the institution published written policies and procedures that give positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions?:

A brief description of the institution’s support for interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and multidisciplinary research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

While there is no language that formally gives positive recognition to interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research during faculty promotion and/or tenure decisions, there are a mechanisms for institution-wide recognition of such research.

The Office of Research and Engagement (ORE) administers the “Strategic and Transformative Investments in Research (STIR)” fund, an internal fund designed to stimulate and support innovative, multidisciplinary, team research with the strong potential to attract significant external funding. One of the ways in which it achieves this is through the direct funding of “Organized Research Units” or “ORUs.” ORUs can receive up to 3 years of funding to support the unit’s strategy for increasing its competitiveness for external funding towards the goal of financial independence. Another investment strategy is through what is called the “Transdisciplinary Academy Program” or “TAP.” TAP funding supports “high-risk/high-return” priority research areas. Currently (FY17), there are 12 funded ORUs and 5 funded TAPs, totaling annual investment of $778,700. All of these awards are made in support of inter/trans/multidisciplinary research efforts.

Outcomes reported from FY16 STIR funding include several new grant awards from federal, state, and private entities; contributions to two large, center proposals to the National Science Foundation; enhanced industry/university and university/university collaborations; and significant advances in the fields of neutron physics, rare-earth nickelates, and sustainable mobility as evidenced by numerous publications and presentations.

The ORE also administers the annual “Chancellor's Success in Multidisciplinary Research Award.” This award recognizes a team of faculty members who are located in more than one academic college, have formed a team, and have succeeded in gaining major external resources and external recognition for their multidisciplinary research. The winning team receives a monetary award and is recognized at the annual Chancellor’s Honors Banquet.

Does the institution have ongoing library support for sustainability research and learning?:

A brief description of the institution’s library support for sustainability research, including any positive outcomes during the previous three years:

The University of Tennessee Library provides research guides for many departments and subjects, which includes an Environmental Studies research guide. This website includes links to environmental science databases, as well as other science databases, social science databases and humanities databases. The website also has contact information for subject librarians for Earth and Planetary Sciences and Biology.

The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.