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Harold A. Richards, PhD

Research Assistant Professor


Interdisciplinary scientist with graduate degrees in nutrition and plant biotechnology and postdoctoral research in food science and microbiology. Led a start-up company that explored the potential viability of commercializing University of Tennessee intellectual property in the agricultural biotech market. Directed a prestigious National Science Foundation graduate training program at UT designed to train the next generation of computational biologists.

Curriculum Vitae

Areas of Expertise

  • Genetic Characterization
  • Cross-curricular instructional design
  • Plant Biotechnology: Genetic Engineering
  • Grant writing and proposal development
  • Interdisciplinary Research Programs
  • Design of graduate education programs
  • Entrepreneurship and industrial research
  • Budget planning
  • Food Pathogen Risk Assessment
  • Mentorship of undergrad and grad students


Proposal Development and Writing Teams

Integrated Research and Training for Data-Enabled Materials Design through Synthesis, Modeling and Neutrons (SyMoNe), NSF Research Training grant (2014)

  • Developed and wrote a training program for next generation scientists of the Materials Genome Initiative and was senior personnel tasked with grad student mentoring and project coordination

Data Analytics and Computational Experience supporting Energy Science and Engineering (DAnCE for ESE), NSF Research Training grant (2014)

  • Developed and wrote a training program for a new model of data science training in energy related fields and was senior personnel tasked with grad student mentoring and project coordination.

Graduate Advance Placement System (GAPS), NSF LSAMP Broadening Participation Research grant (2012)

  • Co-developed a mentoring program to facilitate transition of underrepresented minorities to graduate school and was the primary proposal author and a Co-PI

SCALE-IT 20/20, NSF IGERT graduate training program (2012)

  • Developed and wrote a training program for interdisciplinary computational biologists

Customized Energy and Renewable Carbon through Lignocellulosic Engineering (CERCLE), NSF IGERT graduate training program (2011)

  • Developed and wrote a training program for interdisciplinary energy scientists


  • PhD Nutrition Science and Biotechnology - UNC, Greensboro 2002
  • MS Life Sciences, Plant Physiology and Genetics - University of Tennessee 1998
  • BS Botany and Environmental Science - Miami University, Oxford 1995

Professional Service

Project Director – SCALE-IT Fellowship Program (University of Tennessee 2012 – Present)

  • Managed budget for multimillion dollar graduate training program
  • Supervised administrative assistant
  • Conducted duties of Program Manager

Program Manager – SCALE-IT Fellowship Program (University of Tennessee 2008 – Present)

  • Mentored 24 PhD level graduate students through all stages of graduate school including selecting advisers, planning research programs, and pursing post graduate careers
  • Built a multidisciplinary learning community for doctoral students based on a cohort model
  • Managed the development and growth of an interdisciplinary graduate training program integrating high performance computing and computational biology
  • Planned and conducted an extensive student recruiting effort including efforts to attract underrepresented students in STEM disciplines
  • Designed and implemented new programming elements including the Science Communication Center.


Bhaduri, S, I Wesley, HA Richards, FA Draughon, and M Wallace (2009), Clonality and Antibiotic Susceptibility of Yersinia enterocolitica Isolated from US Market Weight Hogs, Foodorne Pathogens and Disease 6(3): 351-356

Doane, CA, P Pangloli, HA Richards, JR Mount, DA Golden, and FA Draughon (2007), Occurrence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in diverse farm environments, Journal of Food Protection 70: 6-10

Richards, J, G Skolits, HA Richards, FA Draughon (2006) “Snapshots of Science in Practice: The Science of Salmonella.” Educational Leadership, vol. 64 (4), December 2006/January 2007.

Richards, HA, D Perez-Conesa, CA Doane, BE Gillespie, JR Mount, SP Oliver, P Pangloli, and FA Draughon (2006), Genetic characterization of a diverse Escherichia coli O157:H7 population from a variety of farm environments, Foodborne Pathogens and Disease 3: 259-265

Rodriguez, A, P Pangloli, HA Richards, JR Mount, and FA Draughon (2006), Prevalence of Salmonella in diverse environmental farm samples, Journal of Food Protection 69: 2576-2580

Pangloli, P, F Jackson, HA Richards, JR Mount, and FA Draughon (2006), Comparion of conventional plating and SimPlate methods for enumeration of aerobic microorganisms, coliform and Escherichia coli in farm environmental samples, Journal for Rapid Methodology and Automation in Microbiology 14: 258-265

Richards, HA, C Han, RG Hopkins, MA Failla, WW Ward, and CN Stewart Jr. (2003), Food safety evaluation of recombinantly produced green fluorescent protein, Journal of Nutrition 133: 1909-1912

Richards, HA, MD Halfhill, RJ Millwood, and CN Stewart Jr. (2003), GFP fluorescence as an indicator of recombinant protein expression in transgenic plants, Plant Cell Reports 22: 117-121

Halfhill, MD, HA Richards, SA Mabon, and CN Stewart Jr. (2001), Expression of GFP and Bt transgenes in B. napus and hybridization with B. rapa, Theoretical and Applied Genetics 103: 659-667

Richards, HA, VA Rudas, H Sun, JK McDaniel, Z Thomaszewski, and BV Conger (2001), Construction of a GFP-BAR plasmid and its use for switchgrass transformation, Plant Cell Reports 20: 48-54

Harper, BK, SA Mabon, SM Leffel, MD Halfhill, HA Richards, KA Moyer, and CN Stewart Jr. (1999), Green fluorescent protein as a marker for expression of a second transgene in transgenic plants, Nature Biotechnology 17: 1125-1129

Review Articles and Book Chapters

Richards, HA, LC Hudson, MD Halfhill, and CN Stewart, Jr. (2004), Genetically Modified Plant Controversies: Sensational Headlines verses Sensible Research, In: Plant Development and Biotechnology, RN Trigiano and DJ Gray (eds), pp 251-263. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL

Richards, HA and S Hefle (2003), Plant biotechnology and food safety evaluation, In: Transgenic Plants: Current Innovations and Future Trends, C.N. Stewart Jr. (ed), pp 217-232. Horizon Press, Norfolk, England

Stewart, CN Jr., MD Halfhill, and HA Richards (2000), Transgenic plants and biosafety: Science, misconceptions, and public perceptions, Biotechniques 29: 832-834

Contact Information

  • 525J John D. Tickle Building
  • Phone: 865-599-4553
  • E-mail: