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Student sits at a table at a previous TLSAMP Research Conference.

UT to Welcome Hundreds for TLSAMP Research Conference


  • Tennessee universities created the alliance to boost minority participation
  • The annual conference is a place for students to showcase research
  • This year’s theme is on engagement and creativity in STEM

Hundreds of STEM-focused college students and faculty members from across Tennessee will come to Knoxville this week for the 17th Annual Tennessee Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP) Research Conference.

“This event is a nice opportunity for students from around the state to see different approaches to research going on at other schools and to get inspired about their own work,” said Travis Griffin, the Fred D. Brown Jr. Director of Engineering Diversity Programs in UT’s Tickle College of Engineering. “We think we’ve got a great agenda for our guests, and we’re really excited to host this year’s conference.”

TLSAMP brings together underrepresented students for presentations, discussions, and poster competitions related to engineering, math, science, and agriculture.

This year’s theme, “Research Engagement and Creativity Through STEM,” helped guide students on their posters and oral presentations. For purposes of judging, four broad areas were split into two groups, with engineering and math in one pod and science and agriculture in the other.

Speakers include UT Chancellor Donde Plowman, Emory University Vice President for Research Robert Nobles, UT Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor David Manderscheid, and Tennessee State University executive program director Lonnie Sharpe, with a keynote to be delivered by Al-Aakhir Rogers.

Rogers earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University before getting his doctorate at the University of South Florida. He is a process engineer with i3 Microsystems and also created and runs The Rogers Connection, a Florida organization that helps improve the culture for employees at businesses.

Tennessee’s version of the alliance is an offshoot of the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation initiative, which was established by Congress in 1991, with Tennessee State coming up with the idea for a state-wide, state-only version in 2003.

Led by Tennessee State and including UT, the other nine institutions that make up the alliance in the state are Fisk University, LeMoyne-Owen College, Middle Tennessee State University, the University of Memphis, the UT Health Sciences Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville State Community College, Southwest Tennessee Community College, and Tennessee Technology University.