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History of the Research Symposium


Our Beginning

A new president, Dr. Frederick S. Humphries, came to Tennessee State University in 1975; shortly after his arrival, many faculty committees were established.  One such committee was a small university-wide Research Committee whose duty was to work with Dr. Calvin Atchison, Sr., the vice president of Research and Sponsored Programs. The committee mainly reviewed proposals before they were submitted to an agency for funding.  Dr. Rubye Torrey, who had received a continuation grant from the Atomic Energy Commission (in year 5+), was chosen to represent the College of Arts and Sciences on the university-wide committee. Dr. Robert I. Hudson, then Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, asked Dr. Torrey to establish and chair such a committee for the College of Arts and Sciences. The following faculty made up the committee: Dr. Richard Hogg, Biological Sciences; Dr. Jacqueline Martin, Biological Sciences; Dr. Harold Mitchell, Speech Therapy; Dr. Ernest Rhodes, Social Sciences; and Dr. Rubye P. Torrey, Physical Sciences and chair of the committee.

Dr. Rubye Torrey

Dr. Rubye Torrey,
02/18/1926 – 10/26/2017
Research Day Founder

Dr. Torrey was very concerned that the research experience be an intricate part of the training of all students.  Furthermore, she was concerned over the fact that those students who participated in research did not have a platform to present their findings.  She had tried on previous occasions to get University funding to take analytical chemistry students to  meetings and to visit the then  National Bureau of Standards (now The National Institute of Standards and Technology/"NIST") – home of the measurement standards that are in use – to no avail. Dr. Torrey suggested to the College of Arts and Sciences Research Committee that they host a university-wide "Research Day" in an effort to give students a platform and proper environment for presenting their research findings.  Each presenter must have a faculty sponsor-mentor, and a panel of appropriate judges would be assembled.  First, second, and third prizes would be awarded in the Graduate and Undergraduate Divisions. Attire would be professional; a time-keeper would be employed, plus all other aspects of a session at a national professional meeting.There were no funds available in the College of Arts and Sciences for such a function. Dr. Torrey approached TSU President Humphries who confirmed the fact that there were no funds in the University for such a function; however, he gave Dr. Torrey permission to solicit funds for the event in the name of the University.  Dr. Torrey solicited funds from First American National Bank, Third National Bank, and Citizens Savings Bank, all of whom responded very favorably, but there was still not enough to cover event expenses and the financial awards to the students.  Everyone who attended received a souvenir – a six-inch ruler/letter holder with the name of the University on it and Research Day.  The Committee members gave the prize money out of their pockets. "Research Day" was successful!

Due to the reviews received and the interest created, Dr. Torrey presented her future plans for expanding the program and requiring students to attend a research session for class credit.  The second year, those recommendations were implemented and the program was expanded to cover two days.  In that same year, Dr. Torrey applied for and received a grant from the National Science Foundation – designing a program to increase the population of students majoring in chemistry, physics, and mathematics.  Since she was the director of the grant, known as the "Technologically-Assisted Physical Science" program ("TAPS"), she served as consultant to the Research Day Committee until she left the university in 1983 to go to NIST.

Dr. Torrey was extremely pleased and honored that the "seed" of Research Day planted has strongly flourished in the annual event of the University-Wide Research Symposium.


About Dr. Torrey

Dr. Rubye P. Torrey
Founder of Research Day at Tennessee State University

Dr. Rubye Mayette Prigmore Torrey grew up in East Tennessee in the town of Sweetwater.  She attended Swift Memorial Junior College and earned both her Baccalaureate and Master of Science degrees at Tennessee State University (TSU) with honors.  Dr. Torrey earned her doctoral degree in radiation-electroanalytical chemistry at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.  After receiving her doctorate, Dr. Torrey performed post-doctoral research in the Mass Spectrometry Division of Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, New York.   At TSU, she established a research laboratory in gaseous ion chemistry with funds from the Atomic Energy Commission.  Dr. Torrey was invited to be a visiting chemist at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards & Technology).  She has held professorships in chemistry at TSU, the University of Tennessee-Nashville, and  at Tennessee Technological University (TTU) in Cookeville, Tennessee Her final role working for TTU was as an assistant vice president for Research and professor of Chemistry (Emeritus).  While active in this capacity, Dr. Torrey worked with faculty to develop proposals, and kept faculty apprised of agencies with available funds compatible with their research interests.


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