Knox County honors researcher for developing N95 mask filtration
Dr. Peter Tsai came out of retirement to help with mask research during pandemic.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A stage full of mask-wearing attendees at the Knox County Commission meeting Monday night posed for a photo with world-renown researcher Dr. Peter Tsai, honoring his work toward the filtration of N95 masks. The commission featured a resolution honoring Tsai for his research years earlier, and for his coming out of retirement to help in recent months during the coronavirus pandemic.
“COVID is not going to defeat us. It’s going to define us,” said University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd after the ceremony honoring the retired professor.
Dr. Tsai led a team of researchers in the early 90s at the University of Tennessee that developed an electrostatic charging technology in a special material that would become the foundation for today’s N95 masks. Now an estimate of one billion people have worn N95 masks, seen as the preferred protection for medical personnel during the pandemic. Dr. Tsai received the University of Tennessee Research Foundation’s Innovator Hall of Fame Award in 2019.
Dr. Tsai, who is originally from Taiwan and lives in Farragut with his family, said of his recent return to work, “I’m obligated to do the work to provide information I have from my 35 years experience at UT to help the communities.”
Of Tsai’s work, Boyd said, “Dr. Tsai is saving the world. The University of Tennessee professor invented the N95 mask that literally is saving millions and millions of people’s lives all across the world. Literally he is defining the University of Tennessee and saving the planet! How much more proud could we be than of Dr. Tsai?”
Dr. Tsai is noted for spending time developing specialized sterilization techniques to extend the lives of N95 masks and has consulted with scientific teams at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and around the globe.
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