Neil Rhodes, Professor in Plant Sciences, Is the Winner of the Webster Pendergrass Award

Picture of Neil Rhodes with UTIA leaders

Neil Rhodes, professor in Plant Sciences, is the winner of the Webster Pendergrass Award. Pictured from left to right: Michael Buschermohle, UT Extension interim assistant dean; Neil Rhodes, Department of Plant Sciences; and Tim Cross, UT Institute of Agriculture senior vice president and senior vice chancellor. Photo by T. Salvador, courtesy UTIA. Download image​

​​KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture recognized some of its top faculty, staff, researchers and Extension experts at UTIA’s annual Awards and Promotions Luncheon held on the UTIA campus in Knoxville August 2, 2019. Many of the awards are gifts made possible by past faculty, alumni and friends of the Institute.

UTIA Senior Vice President and Senior Vice Chancellor Tim Cross hosted the award winners and praised them for their work. “The faculty and staff of the UT Institute of Agriculture are known on campus and throughout the state as dedicated, hard-working and knowledgeable experts who provide real-life solutions to challenging issues every day,” said Cross. “The awards presented at this ceremony recognize excellence in research, education, Extension outreach as well as service programs that benefit our stakeholders. They serve as our way to express our gratitude for a job well done.”

Neil Rhodes, professor in Plant Sciences, is the winner of the Webster Pendergrass Award. This honor is presented in memory of former Vice President of Agriculture Dr. Webster Pendergrass and recognizes a teaching, research or Extension faculty member who has contributed most to the fulfillment of the Institute’s goals and objectives.

The recognition is especially meaningful for Rhodes because his father, Neil Rhodes Sr. was the first ever winner of this award, and was close friends with Dr. Pendergrass and his family.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive the Webster Pendergrass Award for Outstanding Service,” says Rhodes. “I have been fortunate to work for UT since 1985, and it has been a pleasure serving the people of Tennessee, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, the County Extension Offices, and farmers across the state. I am blessed to have a job that I love.”

Rhodes is how in his 34
th year of service to UTIA, including serving as interim department head for Plant Sciences in the early 2000’s. He is a weed scientist by trade, with work in forage, row crop, tobacco, biofuels and aquatic weed management. A major focus of his program is pasture and right-of-way herbicide stewardship. This year he was also named as the Southern Weed Science Society Fellow Award.

When it comes to YouTube, Rhodes is no Kardashian. But 174,615. That’s the number of times a 2007 video with Rhodes about kudzu has been viewed – one of the most-watched segments in the UTIA video department’s history. When not killing weeds or appearing on screen, Rhodes loves fishing, woodworking, singing in his church choir, and volunteering his time for Alzheimer’s Tennessee.

Through its mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.



Charles Denney, UTIA Marketing and Communications, 865-382-8058,

Neil Rhodes, Department of Plant Sciences, 865-974-7208,