UT Institute of Agriculture Chancellor Larry Arrington congratulates Mike Davidson, left, on his selection as the inaugural recipient of the Institute Professor Award. Davidson, who is professor and former head of the Department of Food Science and Technology, was honored for his sizeable and sustained impacts upon students, his department, the Institute as a whole, and in his field of research and service. Photo by Rich Maxey.
Presentation of New Institute Professor Award
Mike Davidson of Food Science and Technology is Inaugural Honoree

Editor’s note: Here is the speech that announced the inaugural recipient of the Institute Professor Award during the UTIA Awards and Promotions Luncheon on August 1. The presentation was made by Dean Tim Cross, UT Extension, on behalf of UTIA Chancellor Larry Arrington, who was unable to be present.

Our inaugural winner has held a variety of appointments since becoming professor in 1991.
He has a tremendous record of leadership and reputation through service at the national and international levels. Let me read a few excerpts from his nomination letter to illustrate the breadth and depth of his professional accomplishments:

•  As for his leadership and reputation through service at the national and international levels, our Institute Professor has been on the editorial boards of at least six journals and very active in three professional organizations involved with food microbiology: the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP), and the American Society of Microbiology (ASM).
•  Within the Institute of Food Technologists, he has served as chair of the Food Microbiology Division, chair of the Intermountain Section of IFT, and chair of the Committee on Divisions. He has served on numerous committees, task forces and work groups, and most recently was elected a member of the IFT Board of Directors. Recently, he was nominated for the IFT Committee on Nominations and Elections, and that election is still ongoing.
•  In the International Association of Food Protection, he has served on several committees and chaired the Maurice Weber Award Committee.
•  Within the American Society of Microbiology, he has served as chair of the Food Microbiology Division and councilor at large for Divisions. Additionally, he was elected by his peers to the executive committee of the Food Microbiology Research Conference and co-chaired the Neutrons in Foods Conference (Sidney, Australia).
•  His research record, contributions to the field, and dedication to the profession have led to his election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology, International Food Technologists, and International Association of Food Protection.
    This new Institute Professor is most widely known on campus as a former head of the Department of Food Science and Technology. As head, he helped facilitate the teaching, research, and extension programs of the department as a whole. For example, while he was department head, there were significant increases in both undergraduate and graduate enrollments, grantsmanship and awards, publications, and presentations. Currently the enrollment in the undergraduate program is at an all-time high of more than 200 students.

    He has a strong record of scholarly publications and grants. He has published approximately 127 refereed journal articles, five coauthored books, four laboratory notebooks, and thirty-eight book chapters. He has made more than 200 presentations with abstracts and fifty invited presentations in more than fifteen countries around the world. He has more than 2,197 citations and his H-index is twenty-seven. Dr. Davidson has been PI or co-PI on grants in food safety and microbiology totaling more than $12 million, with approximately $4.9 million coming directly to UT. Twelve of fourteen projects funded were in his specialty areas of natural food antimicrobials and thermal inactivation of microorganisms.

    He has mentored twenty-eight MS and seven PhD students and served on committees for an additional fifty-eight MS and twenty-seven PhD students.
    Finally, as a teacher in the Department of Food Science and Technology, our winner has twice won the Departmental Outstanding Teaching Award (1990 and 2004), the Outstanding Teaching Award for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (1991), and the W. F. and Golda Moss Outstanding Teaching Award (2008).

    In conclusion, he has established a record that makes us proud to make him the first-ever UTIA Institute Professor. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Mike Davidson, Institute Professor, Food Science and Technology. Dr. Davidson, please come forward.

    UT Institute of Agriculture Implements New Forage Analysis Method to Better Serve Tennessee Livestock Producers

    Knowing the nutrient content of hay is important for any livestock producer. Without it, feeding a balanced ration to their animals is very difficult. Hay and silage samples can be tested to determine the protein, fiber, and energy content. The UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center has provided this service for several decades. Recently, the Center teamed with the UT Institute of Agriculture Beef and Forage Center (UTBFC) to improve UT’s forage testing capabilities.
    Through the partnership, near-infrared reflectance (NIR) technology is now being used to analyze samples. The process measures light reflectance to estimate protein, energy, as well as many other nutrients. It is providing results more quickly to the producers. Sample results are often available within a week. It is also allowing more precise analysis.

    The UT forage lab is in the process of becoming a certified member of the National Forage Testing Association. The certification will allow its procedures to be nationally ranked for accuracy and provide more accurate forage test results for producers. The UTBFC is a member of the NIRS Consortium, which provides a wealth of knowledge on equation development and a vast database of forage samples necessary to predict forage quality with NIR technology. Over the past four years, the UTBFC has contributed more than 300 Tennessee forage samples from across the state to expand the equations we use.

    Using NIR technology allows samples to be analyzed for specific livestock species. The lab has begun offering forage-testing packages for beef, horse, small ruminant, and dairy. Being able to choose the livestock species allows sample reports to be customized for each producer.

    “We’re delighted to be able to offer NIR forage analysis to Tennessee livestock owners,” says Gary Bates, professor and director of the UT Beef and Forage Center. “Feed costs often make up more than 50 percent of the cost of keeping livestock, so knowing their hay nutrient content is one step in decreasing their expenses and becoming more profitable, not to mention better nutrition for their animals and herds.”

    “Forage analysis is one more way we strive to assist Tennessee producers at the UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center,” says Center manager Debbie Joines. “This team effort with UTBFC has enabled us to serve in a greater capacity to provide more information such as starch and sugars for horse owners. Large and small ruminant reports will also include more data to assist in determining forage quality.”

    Click here https://ag.tennessee.edu/spp/Pages/forage.aspx for more information on forage analysis conducted by UT.

    The UT Beef and Forage Center, http://utbfc.utk.edu/ facilitates research and communication of science-based information to advance the Tennessee beef and forage industry. The Center functions as an information hub for the industry and Tennessee producers and a focal point and catalyst for research, extension, and teaching efforts related to issues facing beef and forage systems in Tennessee.

    The laboratories of the UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center https://ag.tennessee.edu/spp/Pages/default.aspx have served homeowners, farmers, nursery growers, and researchers since 1949, providing information to assist in all areas of production.

    UT Extension Forms Collaboration with UT College of Law

    A special spring break project in March for four University of Tennessee College of Law students has paved the way for a new collaboration involving the Center for Profitable Agriculture and University of Tennessee Extension.

    Through the project, the students gained practical experience on legal issues relevant to agriculture in Tennessee. The collaborative project uniting the three units can be traced to the students’ desire to take their agricultural backgrounds and passion and apply them to their legal education.

    Center for Profitable Agriculture (CPA) Director Rob Holland says, “The students, with the help of the College of Law’s Access to Justice Coordinator Brad Morgan, reached out to Dr. Chris Clark in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Dr. Clark then asked if we in the Center would be interested in collaborating. I jumped at the chance.”

    Holland says, “With the value-added ventures we work with, we often encounter issues, obstacles, and opportunities with legal ties. Sometimes an attorney is needed, but on other occasions we need to know what the law is and how it applies to a given situation. Having law students provide a thorough review of a subject, including a written report summarizing their findings, can go a long way in the educational programs we conduct.”

    Each year during spring break, UT law students dedicate time and effort to service learning projects designed to deepen their exposure to and knowledge of particular subject areas, while simultaneously providing service to the community. This year, four students expressed a desire to use their legal training to make a positive impact on the lives of Tennessee agricultural producers. The four rising second-year students who participated are Luke Ihnen, Erica Rose Marino, Will Mazzota, and Laura Vaught.

    “I came to law school to work on farmland conservation. It did not take me long to find fellow colleagues who wished to pursue agricultural law as a career path too,” says law student Will Mazzota.

    “The Alternative Spring Break project was an excellent opportunity to explore our area of interest, apply our knowledge, and work in the public interest. Each of us explored legal topics relevant to the UT Extension program and created brochures for publication. For some of us, this was our first opportunity to use our legal education in a practical application,” adds Mazzota.

    Morgan says, “Growing up in families with deep agricultural roots, these students have seen firsthand some of the legal questions that can arise in this industry. We reached out to Dr. Clark and Director Holland to explore the viability of a collaborative project that would not only benefit the students and the CPA, but the greater Tennessee community. We are so pleased that the response was positive.”

    Clark, who teaches an agricultural and environmental law class for undergraduate students and worked with the law students on their Alternative Spring Break projects, says, “I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with these students, and I’m excited about the prospects of helping Tennessee’s future attorneys gain a deeper understanding of some of the legal issues facing Tennessee’s agricultural producers.” 

    The spring break project planted the seed for an expanded collaboration among the CPA, UT Extension, and the College of Law. “We are developing an ongoing schedule that allows us to pitch project ideas to UT law students interested in agricultural issues,” says Holland.

    Robert Burns, assistant dean of UT Extension Agriculture, Natural Resources and Community Economic Development programs, participated in an August planning meeting for the collaboration. “UT Extension is very pleased to formally collaborate with the College of Law in identifying real-world issues facing agriculture. It is a win-win situation when law students participate in pro bono projects, classroom practicums, and field placement projects that provide the students with an opportunity to work on real-world agricultural issues while assisting Extension to provide accurate, up-to-date information to our clients across Tennessee.”

    “Working with the Center for Profitable Agriculture and the Institute of Agriculture has been a great opportunity,” says Vaught. “Because I grew up on a farm and studied agriculture as an undergraduate, it has been exciting to apply what I have been learning in my first-year law school classes to an industry that I am passionate about. I’m looking forward to the work we can do together in the future to serve Tennessee farmers.”

    The Center for Profitable Agriculture is a cooperative effort between UT Extension and the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation. UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the UT Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state, and national levels.

    The UT College of Law boasts the nation’s longest-running legal clinical program, ranked in the top 10 by U.S. News and World Report. The college is regularly ranked in the Social Science Research Network as the top U.S. law school, based on new downloads per paper by its faculty, and U.S. News consistently ranks the college among the nation’s top 50 public law schools and its legal writing program in the top 10 among U.S. public universities. UT Law also has five Fulbright Scholars among its faculty and has hosted three U.S. Supreme Court justices in the past four years.