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Common Ground

As I write this article, I feel incredibly honored to serve as interim chancellor for UTIA. My goal is to support the continued advancement of the Institute, building on the solid foundation and work of Dr. Larry Arrington and the entire UTIA leadership team. Thanks to Larry's good work during the past five years, we are very well positioned for continued growth and success.

One of our biggest Institute events of the year is this Saturday, September 24—Ag Day! The Tennessee Volunteers host the Florida Gators at 3:30 p.m., which means our event starts at 11:30 a.m. in Brehm Animal Science Arena. We'll have a special presentation at 1:00 p.m. to recognize key leaders and supporters with our Institute awards.

Ag Day enables us to showcase our programs and connect with alumni, students, parents, retirees, and stakeholders from across the state as we enjoy plenty of fellowship, food, and fun throughout the morning.

The day before is the Institute's opportunity to thank you in person for all you do for UTIA. Our annual Faculty and Staff Appreciation Lunch occurs Friday, September 23, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Brehm Arena. Come preview the Ag Day displays and join colleagues for a relaxed lunch. I hope you'll join us for both events.

People are our most important resource, and we welcomed new employees to UTIA at our new employee orientation session on September 15. I'm always impressed with our new hires and the skills, abilities, and enthusiasm they bring to our workforce.

For the past year, we've been working on the development of bold priorities for UTIA, and that work will continue when we conduct another UTIA Priorities Forum. The webcast is expected to start at 8:45 a.m. Eastern on September 27. Looking ahead and projecting future needs and opportunities is critical to ensure that our education, research, and outreach programs remain relevant, high-quality, and innovative. All UTIA employees are invited and encouraged to participate in this web-based forum.

Finally, let me remind you of the search for a new Chancellor for the Institute. The search committee has been named, a position announcement has been distributed, and the process is moving ahead according to an established timeline. The committee will keep us apprised of the process.

Go Vols,

From Department Head Mark Morgan—

Name Change for Department of Food Science
& Technology

Recently, some confusion has arisen among employers around the difference between "technology" and "technical" degrees. To emphasize the science-based aspects of our degree program, the faculty has decided to drop the word "Technology" from the department's name and simply be named "Food Science." We feel the shorter name adequately describes the department's mission, the faculty's expertise, and the breadth of our degree programs.

Learn about our department, its teaching, research and Extension programs, and explore its history in an article about us. More...
A PDF of the article can be found here.

UTIA International Programs Showcase TODAY

You are invited to UTIA's First International Programs Showcase today from 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. in Hollingsworth Auditorium on the UTIA campus. View the full agenda here.

All faculty, staff, and students are welcome as is the general public. The event features keynote speaker Otto Gonzalez, director of the Center for International Programs, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Gonzalez will speak on his vision for advancing international programs under USDA-NIFA and his plans for expanding international opportunities for land-grant institutions under the USDA-NIFA portfolio.

The showcase also highlights ongoing programs from several faculty and recent student international experiences as an opportunity to consider UTIA's global impacts and reach. Following the morning program, you can learn about future opportunities to travel and work abroad at the CASNR Study Abroad fair. While a luncheon is included for people who RSVP'd earlier, you can still attend the Showcase program even if you did not reserve a meal.

For more information on UTIA's international programs, contact Tom Gill, Smith Chair in International Sustainable Agriculture, at tomgill@tennessee.edu.

From AgResearch Dean Bill Brown—

Preparing 'Big Grants'—How to Lead a Team Effort

This month we have asked Doug Hayes, professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, to share his thoughts concerning the development of "Big Grants," which involve multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, and public/private partnership opportunities.

Doug has served as project director for several "Big Grant" proposals and recently was awarded a "Big Grant" USDA/NIFA Specialty Crop Grant award as project director. Doug's comments are very thoughtful and insightful, and I hope that you will take the time to read the article. We are beginning to see more "Big Grants" awarded to UTIA faculty as the project director with faculty at other institutions wanting to subcontract with us. This is a testament to the high-quality and cutting-edge work taking place by UTIA faculty. Read Doug's article here.

Plant Scientist Elected President of Hort Society

Carl Sams, distinguished professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, has been elected president of the American Society for Horticultural Sciences. To be honored and recognized in this way by your peers is another tremendous achievement by one of our faculty members!

Sams has been a member of ASHS for forty years and was honored as an ASHS Fellow in 2000. He has served in numerous leadership positions with the society, including treasurer, chair of the Finance Committee, and member of the Board of Directors from 2008 to 2010. He co-chaired the organization's Annual Conference Technical Program Committee from 2010-2016.

UTRF Calls for Submissions for Maturation Funding Program

The UT Research Foundation is announcing a call for submissions for the 2017 Maturation Funding program. Proposals are due by 5:00 p.m., Friday, October 21.

The program helps UT researchers further develop technologies that have potential for commercial success. Up to $15,000 in direct costs will be awarded to the highest ranking proposals.

UTIA researchers have been among the winners in each of the ten years the competition has occurred. Details of this year's competition ...

Know Someone Thinking about Becoming a Farmer?
Center for Profitable Ag to Help People Get Started

A century ago most Americans either grew up on a farm or were just one generation removed from life on the farm. They absorbed their farming education mostly firsthand through chores and kitchen table discussions. Today that is not the case, and many would-be farmers have no idea how to get started in the business.

A new workshop offered by the UT Center for Profitable Agriculture is being offered to those who have been dreaming of green acres. Sponsored by Farm Credit Mid-America, USDA Rural Development, and UT-Tennessee State University Extension, "Considerations for Beginning Farmers" is open to anyone interested in becoming a farm owner-operator.

The full-day workshop is being offered at locations across the state. Topics include the language of agriculture; a self-assessment of goals, desires, and commitment; basic crop and livestock needs; evaluating land suitability; equipment and tools; potential risks; and more.
Details here ...

Farmers Urged to Take the High Road—Safety
This Is National Farm Safety & Health Week

Farmer Safety Week is being observed across Tennessee and the US this week. The observance is coordinated by the Tennessee Agricultural Safety and Health Partnership, which involves multiple organizations and has the statewide focus to promote farm safety and health. Webinars are being presented each day this week connected to the observance.

The theme this year is "Take the High Road—Safety," says Eileen Legault with Tennessee AgrAbility.

"We want all Tennesseans to think safety first. Make safety a priority, follow safe work practices, and set good examples for others to prevent incidents on your farm. Farming consistently ranks in the top three most hazardous jobs. Almost every farmer knows of a person killed or injured on a farm." This week the AgrAbility program is marking its twenty-five years of operation. More about the week ...

UT Gardens' Hort Therapist Wins National Award

Congratulations to UT Gardens, Knoxville, registered horticulture therapist Derrick Stowell. Last Friday, Stowell was presented the Rhea McCandliss Professional Service Award by the American Horticultural Therapy Association at its annual conference in St. Louis.

"This is such a great reflection on Derrick, the Gardens, and UTIA!" says UT Gardens Director Sue Hamilton.

The award is given in recognition of significant contribution to the field of horticultural therapy characterized by distinctive service in the promotion, organization, and development of horticultural therapy programs or for an original or unusual contribution affecting the philosophy or practice of horticultural therapy.

"It is an honor to be given this award. I love being able to utilize gardening as therapeutic intervention for individuals," Stowell says. "I look forward to continuing to help grow the profession of horticultural therapy both at UT and across the nation."

Stowell is currently the only HTR in East Tennessee and one of only three in the entire state. Since 2012, he has helped reach more than 1,400 people through the Gardens' therapeutic programs. Among these have been adults who have autism; adults with intellectual disabilities; ones experiencing dementia and Alzheimer's; children who have severe food allergies; individuals who have chronic and persistent mental health issues; high school students who have disabilities; and students at the Tennessee School for the Deaf. Stowell also has partnered with Alzheimer's Tennessee and other organizations to raise awareness about horticultural therapy and promote its benefits.

In Knoxville, Meet Dr. Cassie Lux
Assistant Professor of Small Animal Surgery

What do you do in your work?

I am a soft tissue surgeon in the UTCVM Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences and specialize in minimally invasive surgery of the abdomen and chest and interventional radiology techniques for urinary and vascular procedures. I also truly enjoy surgical oncology, and I'm often involved in surgical aspects of patient care with our Oncology Service. I love being in an operating room, having control of a sterile environment, and the smell of electrocautery in the morning. The first time I realized advanced surgeries were happening in veterinary medicine was in high school when I read a news article about renal transplants in cats. I knew then that surgery seemed like coolest job I could find, and I needed to do my best to follow that path.

How long have you been with the Institute?

I have been with the College of Veterinary Medicine since the fall of 2013.

What is the best part of your job?

I wanted to be veterinarian so I could help others, so every smile or hug from an owner, head butt from a happy kitty, or tail wag from a dog that's feeling better makes me feel like I'm making a difference. These are the best parts of my job. We see an excellent assortment of cases thanks to the wonderful referrals we receive from inside and outside the hospital. There is never a boring day on soft tissue surgery! The friendly, collegial atmosphere within the hospital and all the opportunities to teach and learn daily make this hospital a wonderful place. I also enjoy teaching and working with students. When students are excited to learn, it's contagious. It makes everything about the work week more enjoyable. Noticing that "lightbulb" go off the first time they transition classroom knowledge to a clinical case is very rewarding.

Other thoughts?

I love veterinary medicine as the everchanging profession it is and learning something new every day. My goal is to offer the best care, newest techniques and options, and adapting knowledge to all aspects of my job. The best part of this profession is that a disease that had no options last week may now be treated in some way tomorrow.

In Memoriam

Names link to obituaries.

Walter "Marty" Clark, 58, senior farm equipment operator at the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center. Clark was a member of the Center's staff for more than twenty-six years.

Jamie Jordan, 37, research specialist in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology since 2013.

Jordan was based at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center and was also a doctoral student majoring in plant pathology in CASNR.

Lisa Vito. Vito was a research associate in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology and member of the department for more than sixteen years. She worked with pathogens of numerous ornamental plants, supervised undergraduate students, and aided graduate students and postdocs from various departments with their work. She also maintained the country's largest isolate collections of Geosmithia morbida and Puccinia emaculata.

The UT Gardens, Knoxville, is pleased to present our third annual Howl-O-Ween Pooch Parade and Pet Expo, a fun Halloween-themed event sponsored by the UT Gardens, Knoxville, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. The event occurs Sunday, October 23, from 1:00-5:00 p.m. The event is free to participants but with a fee for parade pooches.

Catering to dogs and dog lovers, the parade and expo will promote the invaluable resource of the UT Gardens and the College of Veterinary Medicine as well as many other dog-related nonprofits and businesses in the Knoxville area.

This fun event with a spooky twist will include a judged costume parade with prizes, an expo of educational booths, pet businesses, and rescue groups, food trucks, and more. The event will be held rain or shine. More ...

Many Events Ahead ...

How Ag Sends Youth to School

The new school year is here and many kids and teachers are already back in class. But for students to learn and teachers to be effective, they need healthy food, clothing, and school supplies—and many of those come from agriculture. Watch a video by Charles Denney of UTIA Marketing and Communications.


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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