The Excellence in Academic Outreach award honors those who exemplify UT’s land-grant mission by using intellectual capital to benefit the citizens of Tennessee.
Throughout her distinguished career, Suzanne Lenhart has worked to share her research and teaching with the wider community. Lenhart, a mathematics professor and Chancellor’s Professor, also serves as associate director for education, outreach, and diversity at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. Lenhart’s outreach efforts have included volunteering at middle schools and a high school in Knox County. As a MATHCOUNTS coach, she led her middle school math competition team to win Knoxville’s competition and place second in the state tournament. She was president of the Association for Women in Mathematics from 2001 to 2003, helping to organize a teacher partnership program that matches K–12 teachers with mathematicians from academia, government, and industry. She also served as director of UT’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, funded by the National Science Foundation. Since joining NIMBioS, Lenhart has taken part in a wide range of outreach programs, including a series of workshops for teachers and girls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) camp for middle school students in Campbell County; Biology in a Box workshops for more than eighty school systems across Tennessee; and NIMBioS undergraduate and graduate workshops at UT. Louis Gross, the director of NIMBioS, wrote in her nomination letter that Lenhart’s “persistent devotion” to giving more opportunities to students interested in STEM careers has “directly benefitted thousands of participants since NIMBioS has operated, and been a major contributor to the ongoing success of this institute.”