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Simpson named new JIBS director

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Oct. 21, 2014 – Dr. Michael Simpson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Corporate Fellow and Group Leader of the Nanofabrication Research Laboratory Group in the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) at ORNL, has been appointed the next director of the UT-ORNL Joint Institute for Biological Sciences (JIBS). This appointment is in addition to his role at CNMS.

Simpson, an expert in stochastic processes in gene expression, nanobiosciences, and synthetic biology, is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and is a member of the JIBS Advisory Board. His appointment begins October 20, 2014. Simpson will follow Dr. Gary Sayler as the second JIBS director. Sayler, Professor of Microbiology and Director of the Center for Environmental Biotechnology, will retire at the end of 2015.

Simpson looks forward to working with scientists and engineers at UT and ORNL who are interested in grand challenges around understanding complexity in biological systems. At a recent symposium on the future of JIBS hosted by UT and ORNL, attendees explored new collaborative opportunities, and Simpson hopes to connect that energy and interest to move JIBS forward.

“This is a special opportunity for me to focus on building thought leadership around solving grand challenges in this fascinating area of complexity in biological systems,” said Simpson. “Between the two institutions, we have significant resources in both research talent and exceptional facilities that can be leveraged to achieve scientific excellence.  I see many opportunities that align with the ideas that I have heard from both UT and ORNL. It will be exciting to collaborate and get going.”

Dr. Martin Keller, Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environmental Systems at ORNL, said, “This is a special time in the biological sciences for DOE and other federal agencies and for the desire to solve these grand challenges. We hope to see JIBS become the premier thought leader in this space and leverage the opportunities that exist at ORNL and UT. I am delighted to work with Mike as we move forward.”

“I look forward to working with Mike and the two institutions to help position JIBS as a national intellectual magnet in biological complexity,” said Taylor Eighmy, UT Vice Chancellor for Research & Engagement. “Mike’s background in synthetic biology and his deep involvement on campus will be helpful as we continue important conversations and planning about the future of JIBS. I am grateful for Gary’s leadership as the founding director of JIBS. There is a wonderful foundation to build on and add to from both institutions.”

Simpson’s CV can be found here:

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