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Our Undergraduate Scholarships


Bill Bugg holds a bachelor's degree in physics from Washington University in St. Louis (1952) and spent two years in the U.S. Army before coming to UT Physics as a graduate student. He finished the PhD in 1959 and then joined the physics faculty, becoming department head in 1969. Among the chief responsibilities of his tenure was the management of a National Science Foundation "Centers of Excellence" grant. In 1968, physics was one of two UT departments (the other was chemical metallurgical engineering) to win $1,450,000 from NSF. Under Dr. Bugg's leadership, the department bought new equipment and hired new faculty, spurning a rapid growth in the physics program. In 1968, the department had about $150,000 in external funding. By 1996, that number was $5 million. Dr. Bugg's own research group in high energy/particle physics has enjoyed great success in funding, winning a Department of Energy contract that has brought more than $20 million to UT over the years. He retired from professorial duties in 2002 but remains active in departmental life. To honor his service, the physics faculty established the William Bugg General Scholarship Fund in 1997.
Sam Hurst grew up in Bell County, Kentucky, and enrolled in Berea College at age 15. He went on to earn an MS in physics from the University of Kentucky and a PhD, also in physics, from the University of Tennessee in 1959. Beginning his career at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1948, Dr. Hurst worked as a researcher in the emerging field of Health Physics, to which he made significant contributions in instrumentation and field analysis. Dr. Hurst served as Professor of Physics at the University of Kentucky in the late 1960s and later returned to ORNL, where his career took a new direction into ultra-sensitive laser-based spectroscopy. He invented the original computer touch-screen and was founder or co-founder of five companies in East Tennessee, which provided hundreds of jobs for the area. Dr. Hurst was also a Ford Foundation Professor at the University of Tennessee and founder of the UT Institute of Resonance Ionization Spectrosopy (RIS). The UT Physics Department honored him in 2005 with the Distinguished Alumni Award, along with his lifelong friend Rufus Ritchie. Dr. Hurst and his wife, Betty P. Hurst, established this scholarship to assist physics students in achieving their educational goals. Dr. Hurst passed away on July 4, 2010.
James McConnell was an electrical engineering graduate from the University of Tennessee, earning both his bachelor’s (1961) and master’s (1962) degrees. He spent his career at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and worked in neutron physics. In the 1970s he part of the team that measured the rate of heat generation from the decay of fission products in reactor fuel, an effect crucial to determining what might happen during loss-of coolant accidents at reactors and how much emergency cooling would be required for reactor cores. Mr. McConnell established the James W. McConnell Physics Excellence Endowment for scholarships and fellowships for students, faculty awards to acknowledge outstanding teaching and/or research, technology purchases, and any other uses that support or enhance the department’s academic mission as determined by the department head and the dean of the college. He established an identical fund in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Mr. McConnell passed away on March 25, 2008.
Physics alumnus David O. Patterson and his wife Joan established two scholarships for students in the sciences and engineering, including one in the UT Department of Physics and Astronomy. The David O. Patterson Endowed Scholarship recognizes students pursuing a major in the UT Martin College of Engineering, while the Joan Greene Patterson Endowed Scholarship is reserved for students pursuing study in physics at UT Knoxville. Dr. Patterson holds a BS in engineering physics (1962) and a PhD (1966) from UT’s Physics Department and is retired from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Technologies developed in his advanced lithography program are now being used to produce leading edge computer chips. When DARPA ranked its top developments to celebrate the agency’s 50th anniversary, advanced lithography ranked favorably with others including GPS, the Internet, stealth bomber, cruise missile, and unmanned air vehicles.
Dr. Rufus Ritchie enjoyed a long and storied career at Oak Ridge National Laboratory beginning in 1949 until his retirement in 1994. In 1957, Physical Review published his paper “Plasma Losses by Fast Electrons in Thin Films.” Three years later, Cedric Powell at the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST), ran a series of experiments confirming the existence of the surface plasmon, where electrons move collectively in response to the electric field of a penetrating charged particle. The potential applications of this knowledge are still being realized in computing, communications, laser technology, environmental monitoring, and medical diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Ritchie was named an ORNL Senior Corporate Fellow and was also a Ford Foundation Professor in the physics department, teaching graduate students on a part-time basis from 1965 until he retired from ORNL. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Kentucky before completing a PhD in physics at UT in 1959. In 2005 Dr. Ritchie received the UT Physics Department’s Distinguished Alumni Award, an honor he shared with longtime friend and colleague Sam Hurst.
Robert Talley earned a master’s degree in physics at UT in 1948 and a PhD in 1950 under the direction of Dr. Alvin Nielsen. His specialty was all things infrared, and he made a career of it. He went on to become chief of the Naval Weapons Center Solid State Division in White Oak, Maryland. In 1958 he moved to Santa Barbara, California. He went to work for the Santa Barbara Research Center, a Hughes Aircraft Company, building infrared detectors and sensors for the Department of Defense and the national space program. One of the sensors was for the Pioneer satellite and it took pictures of Venus, Jupiter and other planets before being the first man-made object to leave the solar system with the sensor still working 30 years later. He retired in 1989 as president and CEO. In 2004 the department honored him with the Distinguished Alumni Award. Dr. Talley is married to Sue Talley, who graduated from UT in 1946 with a degree in home economics. Dr. and Mrs. Talley established the Robert Talley Physics Scholarship Endowment at UT to encourage undergraduate physics education.
Dr. Isabel H. Tipton was a professor in the UT Physics Department from 1948 to 1972. Born in Monroe, Georgia, she attended the University of Georgia, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1929 and a master’s in 1930. She went on to Duke University where she finished her PhD in 1934. In 1948 she joined the UT Physics faculty, where she was not only an excellent teacher but also conducted research that’s still relevant. She published 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals and her papers have received 2500+ citations (25 in 2014 and 10 in 2015, reflecting that her work still has an impact today). In 1962 she became the coach for the College Bowl, a national television program that pitted school teams of four scholars against each other, challenging them to answer difficult questions in all fields. The UT team managed to get to the last confrontation, and though they lost, Dr. Tipton was often called “Coach of the Year” for that accomplishment. She was selected for the UT Alumni Association’s Outstanding Teacher Award in 1966. After her retirement UT honored her by dedicating a Graduate Study Room in the UT Library to her. In 2015 her daughter, Jennifer Tipton, established this scholarship in her name at the University of Tennessee to help students in the physics department, primarily women.
Glenn Young was a double major in physics and math at UT, graduating in 1973. He went on to earn his PhD at MIT in 1977. He joined Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1978 as a Wigner Fellow, and went on to become leader of the High Energy Reactions Group in 1986. In 2002 he became Director of the ORNL Physics Division, retiring in August 2009. He is now at the Jefferson Lab in Virginia and is associate project manager for physics for the 12GeV upgrade. He and his wife, Elise, established the Dr. Glenn R. and Elise I. Young Scholarship Endowment to support students studying physics, especially to help cover the costs of textbooks. Dr. Young was honored with the department’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2016.

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