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David J. Keffer

Professor & Associate Department Head


David J. Keffer was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He pursued a technical education earning a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota. After a year as a post-doctoral scholar at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., he began his career as an engineering professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he remains today, leading a computational research group interested in materials relevant to the pursuit of sustainable energy. He has published about 120 technical papers in archival journals. He was awarded a Fulbright Grant and spent a year (2010-11) at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.


Prof. Keffer's teaching and recent interests focus on the intersection of computational materials science and sustainability. An understanding of the processing-structure-property-performance relationships of materials relevant to the generation, conversion and storage of renewable energy plays a distinct role in the interdisciplinary response to addressing the global climate/energy crisis.


Prof. Keffer also has an active interest in undergraduate retention and student success. He leads the TranSCEnD project, which provides academic, social and financial support to engineering students at UT who have transferred from Tennessee community colleges. Beginning in 2012, Prof. Keffer began participating in the first year studies program, teaching a course on sources of courage for creating in unconventional directions, using as a vehicle for this discussion the subject of non-idiomatic improvisational music.


  • Multi-Scale materials modeling
  • Advanced Materials for renewable energy systems
  • Computational interpretation of X-ray & neutron scattering experiments
  • Classical molecular dynamics simulation
  • Density functional theory
  • Sustainable energy, structure/property relationships in nanostructured materials
  • Coarse-Grained Modeling of polymers



  • PhD, Chemical Engineering
    University of Minnesota, 1996
  • B.S. Chemical Engineering
    University of Florida, 1992

Post-Doctoral Training

  • National Research Council Post-doctoral Fellow
    United States Naval Research Laboratory, Washington D.C.,1996-1997

Professional Service

Faculty Appointments In

  • Energy Science & Engineering Program,
  • Joint Institute of Advanced Materials
  • Joint Institute of Computational Science


Awards and Recognitions

2019 Outstanding Service Award, Tickle College of Engineering, UT

2010-2011 Fulbright Distinguished Lectureship, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea

2008 Allen & Hoshall Engineering Faculty Award


See Full List of Publications on ORCID Here

Contact Information