The Macebearer is the highest faculty honor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and is symbolic of the faculty’s commitment of service to students, to scholarship, and to society.
Physics Professor Soren Sorenson is this year’s Macebearer.
He joined the faculty thirty-one years ago and has held a research affiliation with Oak Ridge National Laboratory for thirty-four years. An experimental nuclear physicist, he has published 240 refereed papers and has been cited more than 14,000 times.
Students describe Sorenson’s courses as “life changing” and his teaching skills as “mesmerizing” and “captivating.” Many acknowledge his gift for conveying the excitement and importance of scientific research in nontechnical terms.
As a researcher, he performed some of the first experiments at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva. He was part of a team working at Brookhaven National Laboratory when a series of experiments led to the discovery of quark–gluon plasma (QGP).
He is coordinator of a consortium of twelve American universities and national laboratories involved in a large-scale experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider and is leading an $11 million Department of Energy upgrade to the facility.
Sorenson served as head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy for twelve years. His leadership helped to grow enrollment and increase the department’s research and scholarship activity. He also cultivated a nurturing, diverse, and inclusive work environment and led efforts to professionalize operations.
He currently chairs UT’s Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence (STRIDE) committee, which shares important research about bias and diversity with our campus community.
He is a fellow of the Institute of Physics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Physical Society.
Macebearers lead the faculty during commencement ceremonies and carry UT’s ceremonial mace for a full academic year in recognition of their achievement.