Artificial Intelligence pioneer returns to Knoxville

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Lynne Parker

A Knoxville native who oversaw the development of a national Artificial Intelligence (AI) policy has returned home to oversee a new initiative at the University of Tennessee.

Lynne Parker, an expert in the field of robotics, will be UT’s associate vice chancellor and director of the new AI Tennessee Initiative starting Sept. 6. 

“She will lead the university’s strategic vision and strategy for multidisciplinary artificial intelligence education and research,” a UT spokesperson said.  “The initiative is designed to increase UT’s funded research, expand the number of students developing interdisciplinary skills and competencies related to AI, and position the university and the state of Tennessee as national and global leaders in the data-intensive knowledge economy.”

Parker just completed a four-year term as deputy United States chief technology officer and director of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office within the White House. Before she joined the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy in 2018, Parker served as interim dean of UT’s Tickle College of Engineering. She has also served as the National Science Foundation’s division director of information and intelligent systems.

“My goal has always been to advance AI initiatives and policy to the benefit of the American people, and indeed our world,” Parker said. 

“I am proud of the accomplishments we have made over three administrations, together with colleagues from across government, academia, and industry,” she continued. “In my new role, I look forward to advancing Tennessee’s engagement in this work by bringing together the broad perspectives and expertise of faculty and students from across many disciplines, not only on the UT Knoxville campus but also with partner institutions and organizations across the state.”

Parker earned her first degree in computer science at Tennessee Technological University in 1983. She earned her master’s degree from UT in 1988 and finished her Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. 

Her dissertation, Heterogeneous Multi-Robot Cooperation, is considered a pioneering work in the field of multi-robot systems. She has published extensively and has received numerous awards for her research, teaching, and service.

“Lynne’s involvement in shaping AI policy for the country over the last four years will be of enormous benefit to our students as we endeavor to provide new and exciting opportunities for students who want to major, minor, or take courses in the field,” said Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor John Zomchick.

Published on August 22, 2022.