The First Tennessee Professorships

The First Tennessee Professorships were established early in 2005 as part of a partnership between the First Tennessee Foundation and the U of M to help the University recruit and retain outstanding faculty and to support economic and financial literacy programs.

Ted Burkey, Chemistry

Ted BurkeyDr. Burkey is active in providing research opportunities to underrepresented groups in chemistry. He has been the director and a mentor with Project SEED at University of Memphis. Project SEED is supported by the American Chemical Society and local industry and provides a summer stipend for outstanding high school students that are economically disadvantaged. Each student does research with a faculty mentor from the University of Memphis Department of Chemistry.

Under a state of Tennessee grant, Dr. Burkey directs MUR (Minority Undergraduate Mentoring and Immersion in Research) which provides students an opportunity to mentor high school students and work full time on research in the Chemistry Department. He also serves as an advisor to the University of Memphis Chapter of the National Organization for the Professional Development of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE).

His recent research activities have focused on making ultrafast, and ultra-efficient photochromic compounds as molecular devices.

Roy Van Arsdale, Earth Sciences

Roy Van ArsdaleA Geologist, Dr. Van Arsdale received his Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Utah in 1979. After holding positions first in industry and later in academia at Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Arkansas, he joined the Department of Geology at then Memphis State University in 1993. He was promoted to Full Professor in 1994 and served as Interim Chair 2001-2002.

He has received numerous awards and professorships including Meritorious Faculty Award, Fellow of the Geological Society of America, Dunavant Professorship and the Distinguished Research Award in the Sciences and Mathematics. His publications include 54 refereed journal articles and 85 abstracts with research grants totaling over 4.5 million dollars.

Primary research focus is on the geology and geologic history of the Mississippi River Valley with an emphasis on the New Madrid seismic zone. One of his recent articles is from the 2007 Scientific American entitled "The Mississippi's Curious origins" co-authored with colleague Randy Cox.