Lee Riedinger retiring as inaugural Director of the Bredesen Center

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

One of the nicest and most gracious individuals we have ever known has announced plans to retire from the University of Tennessee (UT) at the end of the calendar year. When Lee Riedinger does so, he will be concluding a distinguished 47-year career of service to the university, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the community, and his profession.

The position from which he is retiring – inaugural Director of UT Knoxville’s Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education – is one into which he has literally poured his heart and soul. Riedinger was part of the UT and ORNL team that helped conceive the idea to use both institutions as a way to attract more top flight graduate students to the region, and it has clearly achieved that goal.

Part of the attraction is the ability to do research at ORNL alongside world-leading scientists. Another part is the opportunity for interested students to pursue entrepreneurial activities, including turning their research into a local start-up.

How successful has the latter been? We quickly reviewed the articles previously published on and identified these Bredesen Center entrepreneurial students: (1) Beth Papanek Conerty and Patrick Caveney of Nano Elements Source LLC; (2) Tony Bova of Mobius, formerly known as Grow Bioplastics; (3) Rob Moseley of SimPATH; (4) Alex Lewis of Electro-Active Technologies LLC; and Erica Grant of Quantum Lock, last week’s winner of the latest “Vol Court Speaker Series & Pitch Competition.”

Riedinger’s eight-year tenure as Director of the Bredesen Center builds on previous roles that he held at both UT, Knoxville and ORNL. He became the inaugural Deputy Director for Science and Technology at ORNL when UT and Battelle joined forces to successfully bid on the management contract for lab and later served as Associate Laboratory Director for University Partnerships.

Earlier in his career, Riedinger served as Director of the UT Science Alliance Center of Excellence for five years in the late 1980s, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research from 1991 to 1995, and as head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1996 to 2000. He was the first chair of the Tennessee Science and Technology Advisory Council, serving from 1993 to 1996.

Lee – I usually am more journalistically proper in my writing – and I are of the same general age, separated by perhaps two years. As he retires, we have to congratulate him on a career of great service that leaves a lasting and meaningful legacy. What more could one achieve?

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