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Dr. Leon Tolbert

Min H. Kao Professor

Photo of Dr. Leon Tolbert

Contact Information

Personal Page: EECS

Mailing Address:
520 Min H. Kao Building
1520 Middle Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-2250
Office Phone: 865-974-2881
Office Fax: 865-974-5483

Areas of Interest

  • Power electronics
  • Application of wide bandgap devices
  • Microgrids and power distribution
  • Multilevel converters and utility interface with renewable energy systems
  • Electric vehicles


  • Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, 1999
  • M.S. in Electrical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, 1991
  • Bachelor’s of Electrical Engineering (with highest honors), Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, 1989


Leon M. Tolbert is the Min H. Kao Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT). He received his bachelor’s in electrical engineering with highest honors in 1989, his M.S. in electrical engineering in 1991, and Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 1999 from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

He joined the engineering division of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in 1991 and worked on several electrical distribution and power quality projects at the three U.S. Department of Energy plants in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In 1997, he became a research engineer in the Power Electronics and Electric Machinery Research Center (PEEMRC) at ORNL.

In 1999, he was appointed as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville where he is presently the Min H. Kao Professor in the Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He served as the Department Head from 2013 through 2018. He does research in the areas of electric power conversion, application of wide bandgap power electronic devices, multilevel converters, electric vehicles, interface with renewable and distributed energy resources, and reactive power compensation and active filters. He is a founding member and thrust leader for CURENT, the NSF/DOE Engineering Research Center established at UT in 2011 to develop technologies for the future electric grid. He is also a faculty member in the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research at UT.

Tolbert is an adjunct participant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and conducts joint research at the National Transportation Research Center (NTRC). He is a Registered Professional Engineer in the state of Tennessee, a Fellow of the IEEE and a member of the IEEE Industry Applications Society, IEEE Power Electronics Society, and IEEE Power Engineering Society. He was the Review Chair for the Industry Power Converter Committee of the IEEE Transactions on Industry Applications from 2014-2017. He was an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Power Electronics from 2007 – 2012, and was elected to be an At-Large Member of the IEEE Power Electronics Society Advisory Committee for 2010 – 2012. He was the Membership Chair for the IEEE Power Electronics Society from 2011-2012. He was the chairman of the Education Activities Committee of the IEEE Power Electronics Society from 2003-2007.

He is the recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and the 2001 IEEE Industry Applications Society Outstanding Young Member Award. He has had six prize papers from the IEEE. He has received the following awards at The University of Tennessee: the Charles Ferris Faculty Award in 2019, Moses A. and Mayme Brooks Distinguished Professor Award in 2010, Engineering Research Fellow Award in 2003, 2007, 2012, 2013, and 2017; Chancellor’s Citation for Professional Promise in Research and Creative Achievement in 2003, Chancellor’s Citation for Research and Creative Achievement in 2013, and Chancellor’s Multidisciplinary Research Award in 2012.

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