The Joint Institute for Materials Science is a 2005 expansion of the Tennessee Advanced Materials Laboratory, created by UT in 2000 as one of nine statewide centers of excellence. TAML, directed by Dr. Ward Plummer of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, was highly successful in leveraging its initial $3 million investment and in drawing together faculty whose research interests lay in the area of materials.
In 2005 a federal grant of $20 million was made to UT for a building for JIAM through the federal Transportation Department, because of the extreme impact materials research can have in the field of transportation. Tennessee added $10 million in 2005 for the building and Governor Bredesen committed another $10 million for equipment.
The location of the JIAM building became embroiled in the dissention between the Knoxville campus and the UT system about management and control of the Cherokee Farm, resulting from the release of President John Petersen’s August 2007 Mission Statement for the institution. President Petersen made the decision that the facility would be located on the Cherokee Farm, and a drawing showing the site of the building was released in February 2008. The facility was the first announced for the intended university/private research park and slated for completion in fall 2014.
Barber McMurry and Bullock Smith and Partners were selected as architects for the $56 million facility, and Blaine Construction was the contractor.
JIAM is an interdisciplinary joint institute with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory focusing on the development of new materials. Dr. Ward Plummer was the founding director and Dr. George Pharr the deputy director.