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Going the Extra Mile: Arts and Sciences Spotlights Professor Xue

Ben XueAs part of  Faculty Appreciation Week 2016, four College of Arts and Sciences faculty members, including chemistry professor Ben Xue, were highlighted in Tennessee Today for “going the extra mile” in their teaching, research and outreach.

Article from TN Today by Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,

Ben Xue

“Science is not only what you see on papers and do in the lab, but also what you can use when faced with everyday problems,” said Ziling (Ben) Xue, a professor of chemistry.

Xue, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science whose areas of expertise are analytical chemistry and inorganic chemistry, puts that philosophy into practice by incorporating many elements of experiential learning into his courses and labs.

“I am a firm believer that putting students in real-life situations and engaging them to solve critical problems can enhance their learning experiences and lead to value-added educational outcomes,” he said.

When the Kingston Fossil Plant had a catastrophic coal fly ash slurry spill more than seven years ago, millions of pounds of coal ash overtook residences and businesses in the area. Xue and a team of students took samples from the Emory River in order to analyze the heavy metal content in the water.

Xue and his graduate students also volunteer with the UT Math and Science Center where they mentor high school students who are on their way to becoming first-generation college students.

In 2013, the Xue Group developed a quick and easy-to-use sensor that can detect trace amounts of biodiesel contamination in diesel fuel. The project was then funded by the UT Research Foundation to help commercialize the technology.

“Dr. Xue is committed to helping us reach our full potential as scientists,” said Shelby Stavretis, a doctoral candidate who works in Xue’s laboratory. “He is always willing to put in extra time and effort to ensure we are successful.”

Xue came to UT in 1992 after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Nanjing University College of Pharmacy, completing his doctorate from the University of California, Los Angeles, and doing postdoctoral research at Indiana University. He serves as the College of Arts and Sciences representative on a university-wide committee, the China Scholars Program, which seeks to recruit graduate students from China to UT.

His service also extends beyond the UT campus.

In December, Xue completed his term as membership chair in the Inorganic Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society, where he sought to recruit undergraduate and graduate students as members of the organization. He is also an associate editor of Science China Chemistry, a renowned comprehensive chemistry journal in China.

During the holidays, Xue volunteers with the Empty Stocking Fund to provide food and holiday gifts to those in need.

Read about other highlighted faculty members on TN Today