Renfro is currently the Tennessee Valley Authority Professor and the Chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UK. Since 2015, Renfro has led the department in growing its faculty, staff and student numbers by 20% and its research portfolio by 300%. Under Renfro’s tenure, the Department added bachelor, master’s and Ph.D. programs in aerospace engineering. Today, it consists of 40 faculty and over 1000 students, two undergraduate and seven graduate degree programs, two campuses, and an annual research budget of over $11 million.
Renfro’s research focuses on optical diagnostics applied to power production and high-temperature systems. Currently, his research explores the development and use of laser-based measurement tools to study flame stability and propagation, ignition and extinction, sensor development for high-temperature fluid systems, and optical measurements of high-temperature coatings and thermal protection materials. He has advised eight doctoral students, 17 master’s thesis students and over 40 undergraduate research projects. Renfro’s research has been supported by the NSF, DOD, DOE, NASA, state agencies and industry with total funding of over $18 million as the principal investigator or co-principal investigator. He received an NSF CAREER award in 2002. Renfro has published over 65 journals and 110 conference papers. Renfro also teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics and has received multiple department and university awards for teaching.
Prior to joining UK in 2015, Renfro was a faculty member at the University of Connecticut where he also served as Associate Department Head and as Director of Graduate Studies. Renfro received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2000.