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Common Ground


Today's Common Ground listed Tim Rials' and David White's titles incorrectly. They are both associate deans for Research and associate directors of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station with UT AgResearch. We regret the errors.


It's hot out there, but that didn't keep attendees away from our largest field day of the year to date. Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Summer Celebration Lawn and Garden Show at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center. Despite a little rain, the crowd was huge—Center staff counted 1,618—and was hungry for information on urban gardening. Among the sessions at the field day were Fruits of Labor, Groceries in the Fence Row, the Consummate Container, Disease Management Screening, and Woodie Goodies. The Extension Kitchen Divas were a huge hit again this year, and their program was titled "Herbalicious." (Find their recipes here.) Congratulations to Dr. Bob Hayes and his team for organizing a great event. Thanks to all the faculty and Extension agents for teaching the sessions.

UTIA recently led a ten-member UT delegation to China to explore partnership opportunities for our students and faculty. An important aspect of the trip related to our China Scholars Program, which brings PhD students to UT through support from the China Scholarship Council. UTIA representatives included Bill Brown, Tom Gill, John Stier, Jie Zhuang, Sean Schaeffer, Chris Clark, Gina Pighetti, Juan Luis Jurat-Fuentes, and Siqun Wang. Also on the trip was Jindong Tan from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UT Knoxville. The team visited and built connections with nine institutions, including Shenyang Agricultural University, Nanjing Agricultural University, and the Chinese Academy of Forestry. They also visited with the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Thanks to Joe Zhuang for his leadership in organizing the trip.

On August 5, we will hold our annual UTIA Awards and Promotions Luncheon. All individuals who received promotions this year will be recognized, as well as our many annual award winners. We can be proud that approximately $60,000 will be awarded to faculty and staff this year. Congratulations to all the winners.

Go Vols!


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


Stellar Hands-on Learning for Our Students—

UT Turfgrass Student a Part of Wimbledon History

Playing tennis at Wimbledon was always the dream of UT CASNR sophomore and honors student Ryan Hammitt.

While it didn't happen as a competitor, he made it there another way—helping to prepare the turf for one of the premier sporting events in the world.

This spring, the turfgrass science and management major traveled to Great Britain where he was the only American on the Wimbledon grounds staff.

From photo opps with tennis legends to learning the intricacies of maintaining natural grass courts at a precise 8mm height, Ryan says the internship and his international experience are proving to be the learning opportunity of a lifetime.

Ryan is just one of three students in the Turfgrass Sciences and Management program interning in Europe this summer. Stellar internships our turfgrass students have access to across the United States and world are a hallmark of the program. More ...


Three Outstanding New Leaders Arrive with Fall



The start of a bright new academic year also marks the beginning of work for three newly appointed Institute leaders. AgResearch is gaining two, and the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology is receiving the third, as its new head. Dean Bill Brown along with Deans Tim Cross and Caula Beyl say they could not be more excited about the talent the newcomers and one UTIA veteran are bringing to the positions.

AgResearch has appointed two career professionals to the positions of associate dean of research and associate director of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station. David White is leaving his post as chief science officer and research director with the Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine for the US Food and Drug Administration. He expects to begin in mid- to late August. Tim Rials is well known at the Institute. He has served as director of the UTIA Center for Renewable Carbon since its establishment and, previous to that, the UT Forest Products Center. Rials starts in his new position August 1.

DeWayne Shoemaker, a research scientist with USDA-ARS at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology in Gainesville, Florida, is the new head of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. He will begin August 15. More ...


FCS Using Farmers Markets to Encourage
Healthy Food Choices

Promote, educate, and support healthy Tennessee food choices...is a focus of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) Extension programs across the state. Local FCS agents and program assistants are using promotional campaigns and work with local partners to design environments that support healthy choices.

Farmers' Market Fresh is a new program that incorporates all three elements to encourage citizens to make healthy food choices, including consuming fruits and vegetables. The program is particularly focused on limited-resource families.

Learn about Farmers' Market Fresh in a column by UT Extension Associate Dean Laura Stephenson. More ...


Strengthening University's Ties with China



UTIA led a ten-person trip to China June 18-25. The delegation visited and built connections with nine institutions during a one-week visit to Beijing, Shenyang, and Nanjing. The trip had two goals. The first was to further build the UT China Scholars Program. We visited our three Chinese partner institutions (China Agricultural University, Nanjing University, and the Institute of Applied Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shenyang) and interviewed twenty potential students for entrance into the program.

The second goal was to build partnerships around the land-grant mission of research, teaching, and extension. To that end, we formalized collaborations, visited four institutions, and five of our faculty each gave talks at five institutions to extend teaching and research collaborations with Chinese partners. More ...


NACTA Honor for New ALEC Faculty Member

The Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications' newest faculty member, Arthur Leal, has received a significant national award. Leal is an assistant professor responsible for courses in agricultural communications. He holds a PhD in agricultural education and communication from the University of Florida.

Last month, Leal received a Graduate Student Teaching Award at the annual conference of the North American Colleges and Teachers of Agriculture held at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. The theme for the conference was Gathering to Cultivate Student Success.

The honor recognizes and rewards elite graduate students who excel as teachers in agricultural disciplines and are involved in classroom instruction. The award is criterion-based and student dossiers are reviewed by a committee of NACTA members.

NACTA is an agricultural professional society that focuses on the scholarship of teaching and learning at the postsecondary level. We are excited to have this nationally recognized scholar of teaching and learning joining UTIA!


Eleven Biologists to Follow on Instagram. Ours is #1!



On July 5, UT wildlife management student Mallory Tate received a big social media shoutout. Mallory is a technician in assistant professor Emma Willcox's bat lab in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries.

A website called Inverse found Mallory's posts about her research and decided she merited a place on their list of the top eleven biologists to follow on Instagram—the top spot, in fact. "Let's be real, who doesn't like bats?" Inverse asked. "Especially from a bat biologist catching said bats. Throw in some picturesque shots of Tennessee, and this is one fun Instagram."
More ...


Learn How to Start a Company—
by Starting a Company!

AgResearch, the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Ag Launch, and the UT Federal Credit Union have united to offer UT students, faculty, and staff throughout the state the opportunity to take their dreams of launching a business into reality.

If you have an idea for starting a business but just don't know where to begin, or if you've ever wanted to be involved in a start-up, but didn't have an idea that you thought would work, then the upcoming Ag 3-Day Startup (Ag 3DS) boot camp is for you.

The intensive, three-day event will be held September 30 through October 2 on the Institute campus in Knoxville. The goal of Ag 3DS, which is free to attend, is to start between five and seven new ag-based companies. More ...


From Department Head Delton Gerloff—

Spotlight on the UT Department of Agricultural
& Resource Economics

The UT Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics will soon celebrate its 100th birthday, marking its inception as a department in 1919. While we are proud of our history and accomplishments, we are also committed to provide teaching, research, and Extension programs that are relevant and effective for today's world.

Our teaching program is in the midst of significant change. Departmental research addresses current and emerging issues, as do our Extension educational programs. Learn more about our unit, our students, faculty members, and staff, along with our excitement about what the future holds for our next 100 years.
More ...



Local & Fresh—A UTIA study found farming operations located closest to markets usually had improved transportation fuel use efficiencies compared to foods shipped from California, despite the local farmers' relatively small truckload weights. The authors believe that their conclusions could be useful to stakeholders working to build more resilient local food economies. More ...



Better Beans—Evaluations of new soybean lines developed by USDA-ARS researchers are underway at UT AgResearch and Education Centers in Milan and Jackson. The lines show promise for Tennessee growers in fighting significant yield robbers such as Frogeye leaf spot and multiple races of soybean cyst nematode. More ...



STEM Learning—UT Extension is one four programs in the US to receive a $10,000 grant from HughesNet to implement STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) experiences during Junior 4-H camp this summer. Youth at each of 4-H’s three camps across the state will explore STEM through learning-centered activities such as the energy of zip-lining, the ecology of wildlife and nature, and the science of archery. More ...


Trio of Field Days Ahead

July is the height of summer. That means it's prime time for the Institute's field days and special events. This Thursday, we're hosting a Tobacco and Forage Field Day at the UT AgResearch and Education Center in Greeneville.

Next up, the biggie returns. It's the UT Milan No-Till Field Day on Thursday, July 28, in West Tennessee. This event occurs every two years and historically draws the largest crowds of all our field days, exceeding 2,000 participants.

In its earliest years, when row-crop producers were first hearing how no-till could save their soil, save fuel, save inputs, and save time—among other benefits—crowds at the field day would swell above 10,000. Milan's event justly claims the title, "the Nation's Largest Field Day Devoted to Improving the Production of No-Till Crops."

On August 2, the Plateau AgResearch and Education Center in Crossville will host a Steak and Potatoes Field Day starting at 8:00 a.m. This event shares information on the diversity of research underway at the Center.




When we get heavy rains in paved, urban areas, the storm runoff can contaminate rivers and streams. It's a problem that biosystem engineering students in CASNR and students in the College of Engineering worked on in a competition hosted by UTIA and UT Knoxville. Watch a video about their efforts by UTIA Marketing and Communications' Charles Denney ...


Where Beef Is Big—

In the green rolling hills of northeastern Tennessee, one of the top cattle and forage production areas in the state, Dr. Alex Dulaney (black shirt) of Greeneville's East Tennessee Veterinary Hospital is assisting former CASNR student James Powell with some of the most advanced DNA cattle improvement work in the country. The American Angus Association ranks several of Powell Farm's non-parent cows in the Top 100 in the US. Dulaney graduated in 2000 with a degree in animal science through the program's pre-vet 3+1 concentration. He then graduated with a DVM degree from UTCVM in 2003.

"This fall, one of my cows is the donor parent of potentially thirty calves. I've been in business only three years, and we're listed on a number of indexes by the American Angus Association. Partnering with Alex, I'm excited about what the future holds for my operation," Powell says. At his farm in Limestone, Tennessee, Powell buys and sells cattle and genetic material from across the US. You can visit the operation online here.




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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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