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Common Ground

The Governor's Rural Challenge is a ten-year strategic plan for agriculture and natural resources in Tennessee. Many of our programs are contributing to this effort. Julius Johnson, Tennessee's commissioner of agriculture, recently released the 2014 progress report for the Rural Challenge. I hope you will take a look at the many accomplishments to date.

May is always a time of celebration. The graduation ceremonies for CVM and CASNR went really well. Dr. Joe Bartges was the commencement speaker for CVM, and he provided a very entertaining speech. U.S. Forest Service leader Jerri Marr spoke to the CASNR graduates and provided them with a list of "keys" they will need as they move beyond college. Thanks to all the individuals who worked so hard to make the graduations go so smoothly.

You probably saw my recent "heads up" about the parking garage construction project that will begin in 2016. We really need additional parking capacity on the ag campus, and this project will give us capacity for many years to come. The garage will be constructed on the south end of staff lot 65/66 and commuter lot C4 next to CVM and the UT Gardens. If you have questions, there will be an information session with Steve Glafenhein, director of General Services, from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m., May 28, in 156/157 Plant Biotech.

Go Vols,

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


U.S. Forest Service leader Jerri Marr, third from right, joins CASNR's newest graduates in a celebratory moment. Marr returned to her alma mater on May 6 as commencement speaker. She told the university's spring graduates that success doesn't happen in a vacuum. It happens in a community. "So don't forget to say thank you and remember everyone who helps you along the way."

Marr informed them that their keys to success include not only the incredible technical skills they learned in their education here, but also soft skills "like communication, flexibility, teamwork and collaboration, problem solving and analytical skills, self-confidence, conflict resolution and the ability to accept constructive criticism, to name just a few. These are the keys to open doors. I can guarantee you that if you have these keys, they will help you to succeed in all that you do."

The Memphis native earned a B.S. in forestry and natural resource management from CASNR in 1992 and now is assistant director for recreation for the Forest Service in Washington, D.C. There she oversees planning and coordination of outdoor recreation program policies and provides technical leadership and guidance to the national recreation program.

Plant Sciences Grad Honored as Hooding Ceremony Speaker

UT's Graduate Hooding Ceremony is always a tremendously special ceremony, crowning the achievements of doctoral students' hard work and dreams. This spring, CASNR faculty are especially proud that one of the College's own, plant sciences doctoral graduate Jeneen Abrams, was chosen as the spring 2015 Hooding Ceremony speaker. Abrams is believed to be the first African American woman in the nation to earn a PhD in plant breeding, and her achievements in this discipline have earned her two national research awards. More ...

Governor's Rural Challenge Forges Public-Private Partnership

In December 2012, Governor Bill Haslam challenged the Tennessee Farm Bureau, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, and UTIA to develop a practical, affordable, and actionable strategy for making Tennessee the number one state in the Southeast in the development of new and prosperous agricultural and forestry industries over the next decade.

Read a column by AgResearch Dean Bill Brown about a new partnership between the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the Tennessee Farmer's Cooperative, and UTIA that is initiating a beef heifer development program to advance Tennessee's beef industry. More ...

Pendergrass Library Has Moved for Summer

Due to renovations, Pendergrass Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Library has relocated to Brehm Animal Science Room 243, for the duration of the summer. Hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with assistance also available by chat and email agvetlib@utk.edu, or by calling 865-974-7338.

Veterinary medicine and statistics help are available in the College of Veterinary Medicine Room A301 B5.

See the Library's Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

International Honor for Entomologist Karen Vail

In February, the East Tennessee Pest Control Association endowed a scholarship fund for urban entomology students in honor of professor Karen Vail of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. In March, she was recognized by her peers in the Southeastern Branch of the Entomological Society of America with the Distinguished Award in Urban Entomology. And now Vail has received an international honor.

Vail and collaborators on the StopPests in Housing Program received the International IPM Award of Recognition at the eighth international IPM Symposium. More ...

In his career with UTIA, professor Arnold Saxton of the Department of Animal Science has not only taught CASNR students foundational and advanced statistics, he has assisted AgResearch scientists in the Institute in making their research programs more efficient and effective. Learn more about his work in an Our Stories video.

UTIA Scientists Contribute to First Book on Deadly Ranaviruses

It's rare that a researcher has the opportunity to publish the first book on a subject, unless that subject is on the cutting edge of science.

Matthew Gray, professor in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries and member of the Center for Wildlife Health, was the lead editor for a book on ranaviruses published this month by Springer. His wife, Debra Miller, professor of wildlife pathology and director of the UTIA Center for Wildlife Health, also contributed a chapter.

Ranaviruses belong to a group of DNA viruses in the family Iridoviridae. Although the pathogen was discovered in the US in the 1960s, large-scale die-offs were not documented until the 1990s. Over 90 percent of the reported ranavirus cases have occurred since 2010. Infection and disease have been documented in more than 175 species of amphibians, fish, and reptiles. Biologists and veterinarians are working to understand the reasons for the recent emergence of ranavirus. More ...

Fruits of the Backyard Field Day Set for June 16

If you're searching for fresh, locally sourced produce, what could be more local than your own backyard? On Tuesday, June 16, UTIA experts will share their expertise on how to make the most of your outdoor space and reconnect with your food sources at the eighth annual Fruits of the Backyard Field Day.The event takes place at UT's Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Spring Hill. More ...

Wheeley Tech Transfer Award Nominations Due by July 15

The UT Research Foundation is accepting nominations for the B. Otto and Kathleen Wheeley Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer through July 15.

The award is given to a UT faculty member, graduate student, medical and/or pharmacy resident, or postdoc who excels in the commercialization of university-based research results.

The B. Otto and Kathleen Wheeley Foundation provides a $5,000 award stipend through an endowment that was established in 1989. The award recognizes faculty who take a direct and active role in the commercialization process. More ...

UT Gardens to Dedicate New Hosta Garden
Everyone is Invited to June 7 Celebration and Sale

Hostas are the number one shade perennial sold in the United States, and now the UT Gardens, Knoxville, is among the top sites in the nation where visitors can see an extensive collection of hosta plants.

Holland, who is shown here at home in her own hosta garden, also named Tranquility, has been collecting hosta since 1995. She allowed UT Gardens personnel to collect divisions from her extensive personal garden that includes both species and hybrids. More ...

Business Administration Grad Endows Forestry Scholarship

Roots are important, especially in the timber industry. However, they can extend and establish themselves in the most unlikely of places. Meet Jeff Siegrist, an accountant turned recruiter, who by his own account owes his livelihood to another industry—timber.

"My connection to forestry is basically, I went to work for a guy who worked in the traditional integrated forest products industry. Then that industry began to split. I just happened to steer the business to follow the trees," says Siegrist.

It may be a bit more complicated than that, but the end result is a $30,000 gift to the UT Foundation to establish an endowed scholarship and one-time scholarship for CASNR forestry students. More ...

A Beautiful, Beneficial Evening for the UT Gardens

The third annual UT Gardens Gala, "Made in the Shade," was held in the Gardens in Knoxville on May 1. Sponsored by HGTV HOME, the evening celebrated all things hosta and shade garden—right down to the full-sized trees in and under the event tents.

Cornelia Holland was honored for her gracious donation of more than 500 hosta varieties to establish a new display garden, which has been declared as one of just twenty-three official hosta display gardens in North America. With the help of honorary chairs, Sharon and Joe Pryse, the event raised $96,590, which resulted in $65,082 returned to the Gardens to ensure its ability to advance the outreach, education, and research that occurs daily there.

To view the videos shown at the gala or event photos from the gala, click one of the following:

Tranquility: The Cornelia B. Holland Story | UT Gardens 2015 | Photos of the Event

Southeastern Shrubs IPM Book a National Winner

Congratulations to Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology professors Frank Hale and Alan Windham of the UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center and assistant professor Amy Fulcher and professor Bill Klingeman of the Department of Plant Sciences.

All are coauthors, and Klingeman, coeditor, of "IPM for Shrubs in Southeastern US Nursery Production: Volume 1," which is being honored by the American Society of Horticultural Science as a 2015 award winner in the category of Extension division education materials. The team is starting its third publication in the series.

In Knoxville, Meet Gina Galyon, Clinical Trials Coordinator

What do you do in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences?

I coordinate imaging studies and other clinical trials for the UT Veterinary Medical Center’s Oncology Service. I received my bachelor of science from UT before earning a certificate as a laboratory animal technologist and later received an associate of science in veterinary technology from St. Petersburg College. Becoming a licensed veterinary technician is one of the best moves I ever made.

How long have you been with UTIA?

I started here in 1990. Since that time I have served the college and UT Veterinary Medical Center in various capacities: research assistant in parasitology, veterinary assistant in large and small animal medicine, small animal veterinary assistant supervisor, facility manager for small animal, and licensed veterinary technician.

What is the best part of your job?

Being on a team of like-minded individuals. We are all here because of a love for animals that, for the majority of us, goes back to childhood. And selfishly, I like the feeling I get at the end of the day when I have made a difference in the life of a pet and owner. I may not always have good news regarding the pet, but pet and owner know that somebody cared for them.

Other thoughts?

While I know I may never get rich as a technician, my purpose in life feels more fulfilled than anything I have ever done. Any patient assigned to me is my pet for the day. I just can’t help it!

UT Farmers Market Opens for the Season

Bring the family every Wednesday from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. to the UT Gardens, Knoxville, for fresh local produce, entertainment, plants, crafts and food!

The UT Farmers Market continues through October 21. Stop by and support our organic farm interns at the UT Harvest Market tent. And don't forget to visit the Grow More, Give More booth to see how you can join UTIA in feeding your hungry neighbors.

Taking a Bite out of Dog Bites

This week is National Dog Bite Prevention Week. Each year, dogs bite an estimated 4.5 million Americans. Children are the most common victims and more likely to be severely injured. The problem is largely preventable, and education is an important tool used to reduce the incidence of dog bites.

The College of Veterinary Medicine educates youth and adults about how to minimize the risk of dog bites and invites you to learn tips on how to do it. More ...

Walk and Wags for a Good Cause

Abby Gibson loved animals, especially horses. This caring ten-year-old brought love and joy into every life—human and animal—she touched. Abby dreamed of one day going to UT College of Veterinary Medicine and becoming an animal doc. In the summer of 2010, Abby died from injuries received in a horseback riding accident.

To embrace Abby's dreams, her mother, Jennifer Gibson Boyle, created the Abby Gibson Veterinary Medicine Scholarship Endowment at UTCVM. To help raise funds for the endowment, Boyle organized the Walk and Wag Dog Walk. The fourth annual event is a dog-friendly, family event to be held June 6 in Abby's memory.

Proceeds will support the endowment at UTCVM and charitable projects done in Abby's memory that help to provide East Tennessee's children and teens with therapeutic and/or educational interactions with animals.

How Do You Give a Gorilla Mom an Ultrasound? Very Carefully

The Knoxville Zoo has two pregnant gorillas, and it has taken months of training just to get them comfortable enough to receive an ultrasound.

Dr. Ryan Sadler is a UTCVM zoological resident who has been working with zoo staff to create a level of comfort with the expectant mothers, Hope and Machi.

"Any time we can avoid anesthesia it's much better for the animal and for us it's less stressful. If we're able to do voluntary training it decreases the animal's level of stress because they're able to participate in something." This month he succeeded in getting the ultrasounds. Watch a video.

Three Cheers and Then Some!

CVM grads painted the Rock in celebration of finishing their degrees. Watch a video of their ending ceremonies.


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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