Valentine named Vanderbilt faculty liaison with ORNL

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory collaboration with Vanderbilt University will grow stronger through a new faculty liaison—a School of Engineering professor—and enhanced management of travel assistance awards.

Jason Valentine, associate professor of mechanical and electrical engineering, is the new faculty liaison and will carry on the collaborations established by Carlos Lopez, assistant professor of biochemistry and biomedical informatics. As liaison, Valentine will work closely with Vanderbilt faculty, the Office of the Provost, university deans and Vanderbilt University Medical Center leadership to advance key research themes that align with both Vanderbilt and ORNL priorities.

Jason Valentine, associate professor of mechanical and electrical engineering, will serve as the faculty liaison to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“With his deep and broad expertise in nanomaterials as well as his existing relationship with Oak Ridge National Lab, Jason is perfectly positioned to advance scientific collaborations between Vanderbilt and Oak Ridge further,” Vice Provost for Research Padma Raghavan said. “I am delighted to have him in this role, and look forward to working with him to develop this important collaboration further.”

Valentine joined the faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Vanderbilt in 2010. His past and current work includes the development of negative index optical metamaterials, optical cloaks, dielectric metamaterials and hot electron devices. His work was selected by Time magazine as one of the “Top 10 Scientific Discoveries in 2008.” At Vanderbilt he has received an NSF CAREER Award and the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award as well as the Chancellor’s Award for Research.  Valentine was named deputy director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Nanoscale Science and Engineering earlier this fall.

Under Valentine’s guidance, Vanderbilt will continue to support VU researchers who visit ORNL for collaborations, workshops and meetings.

“ORNL has some of the best equipment and personnel for materials and nanotechnology research. They are constantly pushing the frontiers of innovation on technique development,” said Piran Kidambi, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Kidambi utilized the travel support offered by Vanderbilt to work with ORNL researchers earlier this year to image sub-nanometer defects in single-atom-thick membranes.

Matt Wilkins, a postdoctoral fellow at the Vanderbilt University Center for Science Outreach, agrees that travel funds open doorways for interdisciplinary collaboration with ORNL. He spent time at ORNL facilities last summer.

“It was a great experience meeting with researchers and staff at ORNL about my work with the Center for Science Outreach and how to bridge the gap between STEM experts and K-12 audiences,” Wilkins said.

As the new senior research projects manager in the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Jane Hirtle will support the Vanderbilt community by managing travel support available to researchers seeking to use ORNL facilities and collaborate with ORNL researchers. Her work will help advance research and discovery at Vanderbilt and promote educational accessibility to one of the most innovative labs in the world.  Vanderbilt researchers can request limited travel support to visit ORNL by completing this form.

ORNL, located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is the largest U.S. Department of Energy science and energy laboratory conducting research in energy security. Since 2004, ORNL has been working with Vanderbilt to offer opportunities for faculty, postdoctoral researchers and students to access its world-class facilities as well as develop collaborations with ORNL researchers.

By Lauren McGuire