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A Message from Dean Bill Brown

Tennessee is a dynamic and diverse state. We're home to booming cities, thriving communities, and of course, a strong agricultural sector. More than 40 percent of Tennessee's land area is still farmland, managed by producers who are ready to meet the needs of the ever-changing population that surrounds them. To be a university that keeps up with a state like Tennessee requires willingness to adapt and eagerness to grow.


At UT AgResearch we're eager to grow new ideas that make Tennessee an even better place to live and work. This is evident in the quality of research our faculty generate and our rising stature among other universities and institutions. In this newsletter, we'll highlight several of our faculty's new concepts, technologies and ventures.

And speaking of new ventures... a special member of the UT AgResearch team is beginning one. Dr. Steve Oliver will officially begin his retirement soon. Be sure to read our tribute article. Special thanks to past and present colleagues for honoring Dr. Oliver with heartfelt (and sometimes side-splitting) memories.

To bring you up-to-date, progress has been made in the search for Dr. Oliver's replacement. We have identified three candidates and are in the process of scheduling interviews for this spring. More information will be coming soon.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this eNewsletter. I certainly enjoy sharing the many successes of our faculty, staff, departments, and AgResearch and Education Centers. I'm proud of our growth, our ability to adapt to a changing world, and our impact on agricultural research. As always, we welcome your comments and questions.


Junior Bull Test Sale
March 10, 2016–
Middle Tennessee AgResearch Center,
Spring Hill

Faculty Fellows,
Session V

March 15, 2016–

Grass Fed Beef Conference
March 17, 2016–
Middle Tennessee AgResearch Center,
Spring Hill

See all events

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Please join us for a retirement reception to honor Stephen P. Oliver for his 32 years of service to the University. The event will be held June 10, 2016 from 2 - 4 p.m. in 156/157 Plant Biotech, Knoxville, TN. A formal invitation can be found

Is something noteworthy happening in your department? Email and your accomplishment might be featured in the next issue of this newsletter.

Down to the Short Rows
Dr. Oliver set to Retire After 31 Years

Dr. Stephen P. Oliver, referred to affectionately as "SPO," began working at the University of Tennessee in 1984 as an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science. He served as professor in the Department of Animal Science for twenty-six years. During this time, he established a nationally and internationally recognized research program on milk quality and dairy food safety. Among his awards and recognitions, Dr. Oliver received the 2009 Chancellor's Award for Research and Creative Achievement, the 2004 Gamma Sigma Delta Faculty Team Research Award of Merit as a member of the Cloning Research Team, and the 2001 University of Tennessee/Oak Ridge National Laboratory Science Alliance Research Award.

In 2010, Dr. Oliver began serving as Assistant Dean of AgResearch. In this role, he focuses on UT AgResearch programs by facilitating the development of multidisciplinary faculty teams that united departments and institutions. He also promotes AgResearch relationships with commodity groups, agencies, and professional groups. Dr. Oliver will retire this summer with plans to serve in a post-retirement role to provide guidance to the new Assistant Dean of AgResearch. In his retirement, he plans to spend time with family, including his wife, two sons, daughter, and three Labrador retrievers. He will split his time between a beach condo in Florida and lakefront home in Maryville. Dr. Oliver, we wish you all the luck in the world! Colleagues, mentors, and friends share stories...

UT Center Continues Quest for Low-Cost, High Quality Bioenergy

Gasoline and other petroleum-based products are affordable – today – but such was not the case just a few short years ago, and higher prices will likely return in the future. That’s one reason why scientists with the University of Tennessee Center for Renewable Carbon (CRC) continue efforts to develop renewable and cost-competitive biofuels and bio-based products that can be useful for society and to advance rural economies. Read about their efforts here ...

New Ventures | Creative Agricultural Technologies, LLC

Beginning a new venture, be it a business, investment or special project, takes bravery and resolve. As our faculty and staff map out impactful new journeys, we'll take you along for the ride.

Creative Agricultural Technologies (CAT) licenses patented disease-resistant dogwood cultivars from the University of Tennessee for production and sale by wholesale growers. The dogwood cultivars were developed by University

of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture researchers Dr. Robert N. Trigiano, Dr. Mark T. Windham, and Dr. Alan S. Windham of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, and by Dr. Willard T. Witte, who is retired from the Department of Ornamental Horticulture and Landscape Design. The company was formed in 2005 and is located in Maryville, Tennessee. More ...

Five Things You Didn't Know about
the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center

The East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center is composed of six different units in the greater Knoxville area. It facilitates numerous and diverse research projects for UTIA faculty including turfgrass management; soybean, corn and wheat breeding; switchgrass production and processing; reproductive management in beef and dairy cattle and more. Here are a few extra facts about ETREC.

Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science Welcomes New Department Head

The Legislative Plaza at Tennessee’s capitol was all abuzz last month during the annual UT Day on the Hill, a chance for the UT campuses and institutes to showcase their achievements. It was particularly busy at the UTIA booth, where legislators and visitors got a taste of a new project initiated by AgResearch. 'All Vol Cheese' is the first product produced through AgInnovations, a new public-private entrepreneurial program. Working with the AgInnovations staff, faculty, researchers, and students have the opportunity to turn their ideas into a business. More ...

Power Plant

A grant from ARPA-E is allowing a team from UTIA, in conjunction with collaborators at the University of Pennsylvania and University of California at Berkeley, to spend up to three years developing the technology to completely recreate plastomes.

Researchers are re-writing the "software" of plants, with a goal of developing energy-rich biofuels. Read more about the technology and its implications for the future.

Faculty 360 | Phil Myer

Faculty 360 is an all-around look at a UT AgResearch faculty member. In this issue we feature Phillip Myer, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science. Myer joined UTIA in July 2015. His research primarily focuses on biological mechanisms explaining differences in feed efficiency in beef cattle and rumen microbiology. Myer received his PhD in microbiology from Purdue University in 2013. He is a native of Danville, Illinois. In his spare time, Myer enjoys playing piano and cello, as well as hiking and the outdoors with his loving wife Learn more about Phil in this Q & A. More ...

Hodges Tribute

University of Tennessee AgResearch has released the 2016 field day schedule, which includes 10 field days and five special events.

Field days are held at the 10 AgResearch and Education Centers located throughout the state. These events offer farmers, ranchers, gardeners and the general public a chance to see research findings, learn from university and industry experts and network with peers. See the whole tribute ...

New Ventures | Agriculture-Related Startups Please Crowd and Judges at TN Venture Challenge Competition

Two agriculture startups, Farm Specific Technology and CZ Nutrition, placed third and fourth, respectively in the competition, and Farm Specific Technology was voted the “crowd favorite.” Both startups participated in a seven-week entrepreneurial program to improve their pitch and delineate their market. Nine startups competed in the Tennessee Venture Challenge (TVC) semifinals and six teams competed in the final competition.

CZ Nutrition is led by Qixin Zhong, a professor with the University of Tennessee’s Department of Food Science and Technology. CZ Nutrition produces a sugar-free protein drink. Farm Specific Technology is composed of Shawn Butler, Austin Scott, and Daniel Wiggins, all students and graduates of UT Martin and UTIA. FarmSpec is seeking a patent on its Flex Roller Crimper, a device that enhances efficiency of terminating cover crops. To read more about the competition and teams who participated, visit here ...

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