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Engineering Faculty Leaders Named 2020 Chancellor’s Professors

Engineering faculty leaders Matthew Mench and Leon Tolbert are among the 2020 class of Chancellor’s Professors, one of the highest faculty honors bestowed by our university.

They join three other exceptional scholars, researchers, and professors to represent the best of what the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has to offer. With expertise spanning humanities, forensic sciences, engineering, and geography, they represent UT with distinction and are doing work that improves lives and our understanding of the world.

Read about the roster of 2020 Chancellor’s Professors.

“Selecting the nominees for the Chancellor’s Professor is typically a difficult process because of the limit of two nominations—and we have a ‘deep bench’,” said Paul Frymier, associate dean of faculty affairs and engagement and faculty diversity director. “However, this year there were two very deserving faculty members who came to the top at all levels of review.”

Mench and Tolbert are both known as leaders with distinguished histories of service to UT.

“They are people with excellent insight and judgement. The Chancellor couldn’t have made better choices than Matthew Mench and Leon Tolbert,” said Frymier. “TCE can be extraordinarily proud to have both of our nominees selected.”


Matthew Mench

Matthew Mench

Matthew Mench most recently served as interim vice chancellor for research and engagement, leading the department through the COVID-19 pandemic initial response before returning as head of TCE’s Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering.

His research focuses on electrochemical power conversion and storage including polymer electrolyte fuel cells, flow battery systems, and biological energy systems. He has also studied computational simulation of electrochemical power conversion and storage systems as well as simulation of the influence of rapidly evolving sociocultural factors on decision-making dynamics.

Mench is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and has held multiple leadership positions within the society. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate at the Pennsylvania State University and has been awarded numerous honors and recognitions over the years.


Leon Tolbert

Leon Tolbert

Leon Tolbert is TCE’s Min H. Kao Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a faculty member in the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education. He is an adjunct participant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and conducts joint research at the National Transportation Research Center.

He is a registered professional engineer in the state of Tennessee, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a member of the IEEE Industry Applications Society, IEEE Power Electronics Society, and IEEE Power Engineering Society, with numerous professional awards and service honors.

Tolbert’s research specializes in the areas of electric power conversion, application of wide bandgap power electronic devices, multilevel converters, electric vehicles, interface with renewable and distributed energy resources, and reactive power compensation and active filters. He received his bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD, all in electrical engineering, from the Georgia Institute of Technology.