Thom Dunning
Dr. Thom Dunning

from August 10, 2002 Knoxville News-Sentinel
original URL:,1406,KNS_347_1317548,00.html

N.C. professor to lead institute for UT, ORNL

Focus is advanced research

By Jamie Satterfield, News-Sentinel staff writer
August 10, 2002

North Carolina professor Dr. Thom Dunning has been tapped to head a program that hasn't been fully developed yet and will be operated from a building that hasn't been built yet.

But Dunning does have one vital bit of information as he looks to his future as director of the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences: game-day advice.

"Avoid Kingston Pike," Dunning said Friday as he joked about the wisdom fellow University of Tennessee officials have imparted to the soon-to-be "distinguished professor" and institute chief.

UT officials gathered Friday afternoon to introduce Dunning to the media and announce his selection as the head of the institute, a joint venture between UT and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

"Thom Dunning is probably the very best person in the country for this job," said Dr. Jesse Poore, director of the UT-ORNL Science Alliance. "Not only does he have extensive scientific management experience, he has a sterling record in research."

Dunning, who is a University of North Carolina chemistry professor and director of that university's Research and Education Network, will be moving to Knoxville in the fall.

But the building from which the joint institute will operate won't be completed. A groundbreaking ceremony for the $10 million facility, to be near ORNL's visitors center, is set for later this month.

Dunning said he is undaunted by his responsibility for getting the program off the ground.

"The next two or three years of my life will be spent establishing this (institute)," he said. "What this is doing is changing the way we do research."

The joint institute was established in 1991 through the Science Alliance, which is a UT Center of Excellence, and ORNL, according to a release on Dunning's appointment.

Dunning is the author of more than 100 scientific publications on advanced techniques for molecular calculations, laser spectroscopy and the chemical reactions of combustion, the release stated.

In short, Dunning is touted as a master at using "supercomputers" to do complex experiments and make complicated calculations. As an example, he cited research that could lead to automobile designs to increase efficiency and lower "our reliance on petroleum."

"Its impact isn't obvious on the surface," Dunning said of the research he expects to lead in his new position.

Jamie Satterfield may be reached at 865-342-6308 or

Copyright 2002, KnoxNews. All Rights Reserved.
Mirrored with permission.

This page is part of the CSMD web archive and is not maintained.
Please visit for the latest CSMD information.