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Common Ground

We're having a very busy but productive week in Nashville. Yesterday I was honored to share with the Tennessee Legislature all the great work going on at UTIA, and then had the privilege of hearing our UT President Joe DiPietro give his State of the University address.

Today is UT Day on the Hill where the theme is national security, and we are showcasing the College of Veterinary Medicine's Center for Agriculture and Food Security and Preparedness (CAFSP). There is much to tell about the center and its important impacts.

Earlier this month, I was fortunate to attend the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists meeting in Mobile, Alabama. UTIA was well represented across the many disciplines that participate in this meeting, and it was good to see our faculty and staff engaged with peers from across the southern region.

Now that the search has been launched for a new UTIA Dean of Extension, I'd like to encourage everyone to consider nominations of qualified individuals. Watch for the position announcement which will be released soon, and communicate your nominations to Dr. Jim Thompson, chair of the committee.

Congressional and legislative visits are scheduled in late February and early March. I plan to share updates on UTIA accomplishments and new, innovative programs during these visits, as well as remind our elected officials of the many benefits that accrue from UTIA funding. Your hard work is what makes visits like these very easy, and I take great pride as I share information about the impressive range of the real-life solutions the people of UTIA develop and deliver.


Ask Students for Feedback

Student Satisfaction Survey Underway

UT's first My Campus Student Experience Survey, which seeks to learn students' perceptions of our campus environment, is underway. The statewide survey is open for a month.

Creating and maintaining a campus environment where all students thrive is among our most important goals. Please encourage any undergraduate or graduate students you know or teach to take part in the online survey and to be sure to complete it because questions specific to CASNR and CVM can be found at the end.

Aid for Animals Harmed by Mountain Fires

by UTCVM Dean Jim Thompson

The fires that ravaged the mountains in Sevier County and the Gatlinburg community are something you see on the nightly news that happens somewhere else: earthquakes in California, tornadoes in the Midwest, hurricanes on the East Coast. Fourteen lives were lost, thousands of acres burned, and nearly $1 billion in insurance claims filed to date. For the Sevier County Humane Society, the devastation led to quick evacuation of its animal shelter and the setting up of an emergency shelter at the county fairgrounds. Animals were triaged with the help of local veterinarians and veterinary technicians with the most serious cases sent to our veterinary medical center at UTCVM. Our faculty veterinarians, students, and staff teamed to provide medical care and comfort that has continued through this month, when the last of the animals was able to return to the Sevier County area. More...

UTIA Researchers Central to TN Ag Analysis

Seven UTIA Agricultural and Resource Economics faculty made key contributions to the Economic Report to the governor of Tennessee. The report provides Governor Bill Haslam and his administration with an in-depth analysis of how Tennessee's economy performed over the past year and how those economic indicators compare to recent and historical trends.

Burton English, Andrew Griffith, David Hughes, Kimberly Jensen, Robert Menard, Aaron Smith, and Edward Yu of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics assisted with the report. Their findings reflect the vast scope of the agricultural industry and the major role it plays to enhance the economy and quality of life for all Tennesseans. More...

Conferences Ahead

Excellence in Action

Marketing & Communications' Edlund to Lead Int'l Society

Starting this June, Doug Edlund, assistant director of operations for UTIA Marketing and Communications, will be the new vice president of ACE, the Association for Communications Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences.

ACE is an international organization of hundreds of communications professionals from land-grant universities.

His election places Edlund on a track to serve as the organization's president-elect for 2018, and then ACE president for 2019. As such, he will preside over the organization's conference that year.

Edlund has served on the ACE board and as leader of the Learning Communities Special Interest Groups. Now he will take over this very important role.

"This is outstanding news, and reflects very positively on Doug's abilities and the confidence his peers have in his leadership abilities," says Chancellor Tim Cross. "It also is a great reflection on our entire Marketing and Communications Department and staff, and it's exciting to know that one of our own will be leading this important national group in the future."

Winners' Ribbons for Other UTIA Members, as well

Purdue University's Provost and Butler Center of Leadership Excellence have selected CASNR Dean Caula Beyl as a 2017 Distinguished Women Scholar Honoree. "Dr. Beyl has an impressive set of credentials and exemplifies the Purdue spirit in her work and dedication to her field," says Patrice Buzzanell, Butler Chair and Center director. Beyl holds a PhD in stress physiology and a master's in horticulture from Purdue. She is the first woman to serve as dean of CASNR. Purdue's honor is the latest in a series of awards Beyl has received for her leadership and achievements.

A project to identify and track threatened, endangered, and at-risk avian species on US Department of Defense (DoD) facilities has been named the DoD's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) project of the year for 2016.

David Buehler, professor in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, directed the team effort with Richard Fischer of the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center serving as DoD project manager. More...

Chris Boyer, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, has been selected to receive an Emerging Scholars Award by the Southern Agricultural Economics Association (SAEA). The award is presented to high-performing, early career professionals with demonstrated research and resulting publication activity.

Boyer was chosen among peers nationwide for this distinguished honor. He received the award February 6 during the annual SAEA meeting in Mobile, Alabama. He also delivered a presentation at an invited symposium during the meeting. "Chris has clearly established a distinguished path within our profession that is noteworthy and deserving of this honor," says the newly installed SAEA President Lisa House. Boyer's research focuses on the connections between farm and environmental management in order to increase the long-term sustainability of agricultural production through more profitable and environmentally conscious production systems.

The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded $375,000 in funding to support a four-year investigation of the relationship between grasslands and soil biodiversity. Professor Pat Keyser of the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries will lead a large, transdisciplinary team of UTIA scientists. More...

UTIA scientists have won the outstanding paper award presented by the Weed Science Society of America. The honorees are Matthew Wiggins, a recent PhD graduate; Robert Hayes, director of the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center; and Larry Steckel an Extension specialist based at the Center. Both Hayes and Steckel are professors in the UT Department of Plant Sciences. Meanwhile Shawn Butler, a doctoral candidate who conducts research at the Center, won first place in the student oral paper competition at the 2017 Beltwide Cotton Conference.

UT is celebrating Sarel Van Amstel, a recently retired professor with Large Animal Clinical Sciences, as its first Wellness Warrior of 2017.

International Outreach

Food security for the citizens of Rwanda, young and older, is the goal of a UTIA partnership launching in the central east African nation.

A team from UTIA arrived in Rwanda in late January to kick-start a small farmer poultry initiative in partnership with USAID/Rwanda, Zamura Feeds Ltd., and the African Sustainable Agricultural Projects Foundation (ASAP), launched by UT alum and former Tyson CEO Donnie Smith, '80. More...

Last week visitors from Jilin Agricultural University, China, met in Knoxville with faculty and staff. The four-person delegation traveled to Knoxville to discuss partnership possibilities for teaching and research with UTIA and UT Knoxville. Visitors included Qu Zhengwen (assistant to the university president), Li Yadong (professor, College of Horticulture), Liu Shuyan (professor, College of Agriculture), and Wei Xiaoming (dean, International Cooperation and Exchange Office).

Partners to Advance Financial Literacy

The SunTrust Foundation has approved a $75,000 grant to grow UT Extension's On My Own financial literacy program in Tennessee. UT Extension's Family and Consumer Sciences Department, a part of UTIA, has been dedicated to supplementing financial literacy in Tennessee's schools for more than a decade. Its simulation-based program currently reaches more than 30,000 middle school and high school-age children in approximately 275 schools. More...

UTIA Anytime, Anywhere

A podcast produced by UTIA Marketing and Communications is up and running. It's called "AgCast" and features stories from across the Institute.

Among the issues-based content covered to date are profiles about Sevier County wildfire relief efforts; Dicamba; talking with your kids about tragedies; forestry; turfgrass; and Operation Christmas Child.

You can find "AgCast" on SoundCloud, iTunes, Stitcher, and TuneIn radio and listen using a computer, smartphone, or tablet. "AgCast" apps available at the App Store and the Google Play Store work on most mobile devices.

So, no matter where you are, you can take UTIA with you. Just search for UTIAg and subscribe.

In Memoriam

A.C. Clark, age 94, a former UT Extension district supervisor and Extension agent, and former Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture. Clark was a dynamic leader who contributed significantly to UTIA, Tennessee, and our country. Memorial

Ray Spann, age 88, former UT Extension dairy specialist. As a college student, Spann supported his study by working as a herdsman at the UT dairy farm. Memorial

Lyme Disease's Divide

Biomedical Picture of the Day—Symptoms of Lyme disease, which is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria transmitted via tick bites, include fever, headache, fatigue, and rash. Blacklegged ticks (larvae of this species are pictured) are the most common vector of B. burgdorferi and prevalent throughout the eastern United States. Yet, surprisingly, northeastern states report many more cases of Lyme disease than those in the South. Now there's a clue why.

In the North, juvenile blacklegged ticks climb up onto twigs and blades of grass, which allows them to attach to passing humans. However, ticks die if exposed to extended periods of heat and low humidity, and a multi-member research team, including Graham Hickling with the UT Center for Wildlife Health, discovered that in the South, where temperatures are highest, juvenile ticks stay buried under leaves to retain moisture. The photo above taken by Hickling—whose talents with macrophotography were recognized with many awards in Institute-wide Gamma Sigma Delta photo competitions—was featured as biomedical picture of the day by the UK-based Medical Research Council. See fuller context about the findings. More...


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 without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, physical or mental disability, or covered veteran status.

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