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Common Ground

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Four Fulbrights

Two UTIA faculty members and two of our students have received Fulbright awards. These prestigious grants are awarded through competitive, merit-based proposals and support international educational exchanges that expand recipients' horizons while providing a platform to share their expertise for the good of society. Please join me in congratulating faculty members and scientists Seong-Hoon Cho and Denita Hadziabdic Guerry as well as student recipients Alex Crockett of Jamestown and Miles Ownby of Murfreesboro.

Photo of David Harper

Advancing Biofuels, Bioenergy & Biobased Products

Researchers with the Institute continue to be at the forefront of the development of alternative fuels and bioderived chemicals and materials. In the past several months, researchers with the UT Center for Renewable Carbon have been awarded more than $7 million in external funding to advance the broader program.

Most recently, David Harper, an associate professor of materials science in the Center, received a $1.4 million grant from the US Department of Energy. Harper will lead UTIA research that aims to improve the nation's energy security through the development of affordable commercial biofuels and bioenergy that increase and diversify our domestic energy sources.

Photo of Linda Frank

Veterinary Dermatology Professor Honored

The American College of Veterinary Dermatology has honored Dr. Linda Frank, a board-certified specialist in veterinary dermatology, with the 2018 Award for Excellence for Outstanding Contributions to Science and Education.

Frank and colleagues have developed a new vaccine to treat or prevent skin infections and other diseases caused by a certain type of staphylococcal bacteria. This organism, S. pseudintermedius, has developed widespread resistance to antibiotics. She received the award at the North American Veterinary Dermatology Forum in Maui, Hawaii, where she also presented an abstract about the new vaccine. Photo courtesy of Dr. Stephen Kania.

Message from the Chancellor

As we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Institute, qualities come to my mind that have remained constant from 1968 to present. These are qualities that define us and in which we take pride. For example, we continue to have a significant presence in Knoxville and in every county of the state. We maintain a student-focused campus with close relationships with students, and we still offer education and conduct research that benefits farmers, families, youth, and communities. We also refer to ourselves as a UTIA family, just as we always have.

Of course, not everything is the same. We're in the midst of renovations to the Pendergrass Library and will soon start construction of a Teaching and Learning Center addition to the College of Veterinary Medicine building. State appropriations for design of a new Energy and Environmental Science Research and Education Center building have been approved. The center will replace Ellington Plant Sciences Building, and we are starting a five-year process of developing construction plans, vacating the existing facility, and erecting the new building.

Our people are changing, too. Recently two of our longtime leaders were selected for new leadership opportunities. Robert Ridenour moved to the position of chief information security officer for the UT System in May, and Keith Belli will serve as dean of the College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Life Sciences at Clemson University beginning September 1. We wish both of them great success in their new roles.

Here's to another fifty years of continuity and changes!


P.S. Be sure to follow me and the latest Institute developments on Twitter at @UTIAChancellor.

Field Days Underway

Photo of a pepper plant

As we continue marking our anniversary, Pete Gossett, UTIA vice president from 1987 to 1998, was on campus recently and shared insight on how UTIA's first leader, Webster Pendergrass, put strong emphasis on field days. He saw them as key in delivering Institute research to Tennesseans, and that tradition continues today. Our 2018 Field Day season began in March with the Beef Heifer Development School and will extend to October 11's Northeast Tennessee Beef Expo. This week features Fruits of the Backyard and Tobacco, Beef and More. Meanwhile, special events hosted in connection with field days start next Tuesday with a Green Industry Day and conclude on October 20 with the Fall Folklore Jamboree. Find news about each at our website as their date nears.

4-H Building Dedicated to A.C. Clark

A photo of Katherine Terry Clark beside the new A.C. Clark Recreation hall sign

The late A.C. Clark had a passion for agriculture—and took great pride in the potential for Tennessee's youth to grow through 4-H. Now a building has been named in his honor and memory at the Clyde York 4-H Center in Crossville.

The A.C. Clark Recreation Hall was dedicated in conjunction with a meeting of retirees of the UT Extension Cumberland District, with members of Clark's family and Institute representatives present for the ceremony. Clark served as supervisor of District IV, which comprised 15 of the counties in the Cumberland District. Prior to that, he was a 4-H agent in Putnam County. After his retirement from the university, he went on to become Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture and served on the UT Board of Trustees and Tennessee Board of Regents, as well as on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission and the 4-H Foundation Hall of Fame. Clark's widow, Katherine Terry Clark, stands beside the building's new signage. Photo courtesy of Jenny Yeary.

Photo of Michael Pelton with an armful of bear cubs

Then & Now in UTIA's 50 Years

Fifty years ago, groundbreaking research launched at UTIA on our region's most iconic animal: the black bear.

Michael Pelton, now professor emeritus in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, began his research on black bear populations in 1968 at the request of the National Park Service after noticing a declining bear population across the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Pelton, along with his graduate student assistants, began collecting samples and data as well as trapping bears and fitting them with radio collars—a first for research in the eastern United States.

Not only did Pelton create a legacy for UTIA, but his research and innovative methodologies spread across the globe. Bear studies modeled on his work began for five additional species on four continents and within seven countries, totaling thirty-seven different study sites. While research methodologies on bear studies have advanced, what endures is the Institute's reputation as home to the longest continuous study of any bear species in the world.

UTIA's bear research continues today, with faculty, staff, and students engaged in collecting data. Just last week we shared a story about how this work is expanding to Western North Carolina through the Southern Appalachian Cooperative Bear Study, a research program in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries.


Common Ground is published monthly by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Send comments and suggestions to commonground@tennessee.edu. The University of Tennessee is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA institution in the provision of its education and employment programs and services. All qualified applicants will receive equal consideration for employment and admission without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, and parental status.

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