ICL Profile

Deborah Penchoff

Deborah Penchoff

Associate Director


  • PhD in Physical Chemistry, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2014
  • Interdisciplinary Graduate Minor in Computational Science (IGMCS), The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, 2013
  • B.S. in Chemistry and Mathematics, Lee University, 2007


Deborah Penchoff is the Associate Director of the Innovative Computing Laboratory (ICL) at the University of Tennessee. In this role, she provides administrative leadership in creating, developing, carrying out and communicating the research program directives, including support for the Director in coordinating with university, national and international organizations with whom the center collaborates. Deborah’s duties at ICL also include leadership, staff management, proposals development, strategic planning, and project development, including directing synergistic projects involving internal and external partners with research focus on scientific computing.

Deborah leads outreach and engagement activities for ICL. In this role, she creates synergy between ICL and various organizations at UTK and in the community. Some of these activities include the DOE Exascale Computing Project Workforce Development and Retention Action Group (HPC-WDR), the UTK Chancellor’s Commission for Blacks, the Retention Committee in Student Success Advisory Board in the Tickle College of Engineering, and the UTK Institutional Review Board. She also leads artificial intelligence (AI) and computational science applications at the American Chemical Society Division of Nuclear Chemistry and Technology, where she is an elected officer.

Prior to joining ICL, Deborah was the Director of the Scientific Fellows Program at the Institute for Nuclear Security. Her research background includes applying HPC and data science for national security with focus on bonding and reactivity of rare earth elements (REEs), lanthanides and actinides. Her research has focused on computational science, including development of protocols for efficient utilization of HPC resources, data science, data analytics, AI/machine learning, solutions in biased and incomplete sets, and molecular computational modeling. The developed protocols have been incorporated in interdisciplinary research including critical materials and shortage of REEs, radiotherapy for cancer treatment, predictive capabilities for epidemiology, selective separations, sequestration of uranium from seawater, radiochemistry, nuclear forensics, and nuclear waste.

She is a member of the ACM special interest group in HPC, the American Chemical Society, and the American Nuclear Society.


Deborah contributes to research in DOE-funded efforts focused on HPC-enabling capabilities to model rare earth elements (REEs) and actinides in applications relevant to nuclear and radiochemistry, radiotherapeutics, energy, nuclear waste, and national security. Students mentored in these projects pursue degrees in the UTK Department of Nuclear Engineering, where she holds a faculty appointment.