The Faculty Managers of the Ned Ray McWherter Institute for Collaboration and Innovation (NRMI) represent each of the university’s five colleges. Working in partnership with the director, Faculty Managers’ responsibilities include the development, implementation, and delivery of NRMI programs. The Faculty Managers establish curricular content and lead the Institute’s Collaboratory sessions. They meet regularly with the director to plan and organize the activities of The Institute. In addition, they maintain open lines of communication with students – assisting them with assigned projects, serving as mentors, offering feedback and support, and assessing their progress as McWherter Innovators. Partnering with a wide range of internal and external constituents, the Faculty Manager Team works with the director to develop and deliver quality and impactful programs. Faculty Managers provide encouragement and support to NRMI students as they engage in innovative experiential learning opportunities, collaborate with a wide range of individuals and organizations, strive for excellence in their chosen fields, and lead through service and by example.
Diane Austin is a transplanted Canadian who has embraced the warmth of Tennessee for over 25 years. She is a Registered Nurse, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1999, attained a Master of Science degree from Union University in 2005, and is pursuing a PhD in Nursing Science from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. She is active in research with interest in Intention and Behavioral Change. Her clinical experience is rooted in Medical-Surgical Nursing and Critical Care Nursing within rural and urban acute care facilities in Tennessee. Currently Diane serves UT-Martin as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nursing and as a member of the Faculty Senate, Undergraduate Committee, and as a Faculty Manager for The Ned Ray McWherter Institute for Collaboration and Innovation. She has represented UT-Martin and the Department of Nursing as a liaison for faculty-student exchange with the University of New Brunswick- Saint John. Her approach to teaching, learning, nursing, and living is the purposeful pursuit to become the best one can be while humbled by the knowledge that our actions impact others.
Teresa Collard, Ed.D., is an Associate Professor of Communications at the University of Tennessee at Martin, and she is the Director of the UTM Women’s Center and Coordinator of Women’s Studies. Dr. Collard received her bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications and Political Science and her master’s degree in Speech Communications from Eastern Illinois University. She has 45 post-master’s hours in Communications from Southern Illinois University and has an Ed. D. in Leadership and Higher Education Administration from Union University. In addition to teaching, Dr. Collard devotes a great deal of time to consulting on interpersonal communications and its applications to the business and educational environments. She serves as a consultant for the Cobb County Education Consortium in Atlanta, Georgia and various other state and regional organizations. Dr. Collard was the recipient of the UT National Alumni Association Outstanding Teaching Award in 2002 and 2013. She was also the recipient of the Tennessee Communication Association's Presidential Service Award in 2011.
Robbie Montgomery, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Analytical Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Physics. Dr. Montgomery received her B.S. in Chemistry from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in 2002 and her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 2008. While at SIUC, she started a research development company, RM Technology, which was later closed when she accepted the faculty position at UTM. Since coming to UTM Dr. Montgomery has worked along with Criminal Justice Department to develop a Forensic Science program at UTM. She has also served as a research mentor in the area of protein separations for many undergraduate research students who have presented their work at local, regional, and national meetings. Dr. Montgomery is also an advisor for students majoring in chemistry and for those planning to attend pharmacy, dental, or medical school.
Darshak Patel is Assistant Professor of Economics at The University of Tennessee at Martin. Prior to joining the UT Martin faculty in 2012, Dr. Patel was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Roanoke College economics program. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from The University of Kentucky.
Dr. Patel’s current research focuses on how individual, personal, social and institutional factors affect the time it takes for students to transfer from two to four-year colleges, to dropout, and to graduate from a post-secondary institution. Other research areas of his include patents and innovations. His teaching interests are Principles of Micro and Macro Economics, Intermediate Microeconomics, Labor, Managerial and Industrial Organization.
Dr. Patel has extensive global experience. His parents moved to Kenya in 1978 - he and his brother were born in Nairobi and lived in Kenya through high school, learning via the British school system. Aside from Economics, Dr. Patel has a passion for soccer and is a big fan of the Arsenal Football Club. He also enjoys trying different foods and his most exotic meals have included Kenyan game meats such as giraffe, zebra, and antelope.
Jason Roberts, Ph.D., a veterinarian, is the founding director of the University of Tennessee at Martin Veterinary Technology Program and an associate professor in the Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Geosciences. Dr. Roberts received his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from UT Martin in 1998 and his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from The University of Tennessee in 2002. Previously, he worked 7 years as a private veterinary practitioner in a rural Tennessee community before joining UT Martin. Along with serving as Director of the Veterinary Technology program, he teaches, advises, and coordinates the pre-veterinary medicine and veterinary technology option at UT Martin.