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A Message from Dean Bill Brown

December is typically a time of reflection...a time to celebrate past successes and look ahead to future goals. At UT AgResearch we have much to celebrate. We've attracted outstanding new faculty. Faculty are very competitive with their science resulting in increases in the number of research/sponsored projects, scientific presentations, and published refereed papers. Through AgResearch Field Days and other special events, UTIA faculty have provided educational opportunities to more than 30,000 Tennesseans. UTIA faculty and staff continue to do an excellent job of advancing science in agriculture and natural resources and providing solutions to a diversified clientele.

As we look ahead, however, there is still much to do. In making UT AgResearch resolutions for 2016, elevating our focus on solving societal grand challenges is at the top of the list. How will we feed nine billion people by the middle of the century? How will our farmers produce upwards of 70 percent more food in just a few decades to meet the growing demand? And can we do this while still improving our environment, our health, and our economy? Addressing these challenges will require a strategic and collaborative approach that will include coordinating new faculty hires across departments and creating transdisciplinary teams to tackle research projects.
Infographic The new year will also bring changes in leadership. With the retirement of Drs. Steve Oliver and John Hodges, we have two important positions to fill. We have asked Dr. Blake Brown, director of the UT AgResearch and Education Center at Milan, to investigate the possibility of serving in the position of associate director of AgResearch. Blake will be meeting with center directors and department heads today (December 3) to discuss the position. We have also scheduled time for Blake to meet with faculty and staff today for comments and open discussion. The meeting with faculty and staff will take place at 3 p.m. EST in 260 Brehm Animal Science Building.

In this e-newsletter, you will find more stories of success from faculty members, departments, and AgResearch Centers. We also spotlight a young faculty member and the Ames Plantation. Finally, UT Gardens, Knoxville, Director Sue Hamilton provides some holiday spirit with an article on new varieties of poinsettias. We hope you enjoy this issue and we welcome your comments and questions.


Bull Test Station
Open House

December 10, 2015
Middle Tennessee AgResearch Center–
Spring Hill

Faculty Fellows,
Session III

December 11, 2015–
Various East Tenn. sites

2016 Field Day Schedule Announced
10 Field Days and 5 Special Events are scheduled. See the full schedule here

See all events

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Dr. Joe Bozell, Center for Renewable Carbon, is one of four UT professors who are serving as Fulbright Scholars this academic year. His research includes catalyst design for the sustainable production of chemicals and fuels from renewable feedstocks. Read the full story here.


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

White House Honors UTIA Professor

On Monday, October 26, the White House recognized Don Tyler as a Champion of Change for Sustainable Agriculture. Tyler is one of twelve Americans being honored for leadership and innovation in agricultural production and education. Tyler is a professor and soil management researcher in the Institute's Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science.

According to a White House press release, the Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity to feature individuals who are doing extraordinary things to inspire and empower members of their communities. The Champions have helped implement agricultural practices that promote soil health and energy efficiency, improve water quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More ...

Faculty 360 | Ky Pohler

Faculty 360 is an all-around look at a newly hired UT AgResearch faculty member. In this issue we feature Ky Pohler, assistant professor in Department of Animal Science. Dr. Pohler joined UTIA last June. His research focuses primarily on the mechanisms associated with fertility and reproductive efficiency in cattle. Pohler received his PhD in animal science with a minor in college teaching from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He is a native of Shiner, Texas, and enjoys the outdoors and playing golf.

I start my workday with a GIANT cup of coffee, reading some popular press or journal articles dealing with my field or industry, followed by answering and deleting emails.

If you raided my bookshelf, you'd find many odd books dealing with the field I work in, however, there are a few that are personal favorites. One that sits closest to my desk and a favorite is a personalized signed copy of "Letters to a Young Scientist" by E.O. Wilson. I think this book does a great job guiding a developing young scientist and in my opinion is a must read

My favorite quote from the book is, "In science when everyone is marching in one direction, pick up and march in the opposite direction." More ...

Five Things You Didn't Know about
the AgResearch and Education Center at Ames Plantation

With more than 18,000 acres stretching across two southwestern Tennessee counties, Ames Plantation is the largest land base available to UT AgResearch. Ames facilitates investigations in the areas of forestry, wildlife management, and crop and animal sciences. Outside of academia, it is probably best known as the long-time home of the National Championship for Field Trialing Bird Dogs. Here’s a look at some interesting facts about Ames. Read more about this and other facts you may not have heard.

Ames Plantation Featured in Quality Whitetails

The October/November issue of Quality Whitetails, the journal of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), featured an in-depth article on the successful implementation of Quality Deer Management (QDM) practices in the Ames Plantation Hunting Club. The goal of QDM is to promote a healthy deer population and maintain adequate habitat while improving hunter satisfaction. Quality Whitetails is considered a go-to source for QDM techniques, and its contributors are regarded as the nation's top experts in deer biology and habitat management.

The article, titled "QDM Journey: The Ames Story," was written by Allan Houston and Craig Harper, both professors in the UT Institute of Agriculture Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries. More ...

AgResearch Launches AgInnovations Program—
Will Size Up UTIA Ideas to Speed Their Flow to Society

Accelerating new technologies and ideas from the lab to the market is the goal of a groundbreaking new program launched this fall by AgResearch. Ambitious in scope, the program, called AgInnovations, has been several years in the making.

AgInnovations is a result of a convergence of factors, including UT's desire to be an economic driver for Tennessee and a challenge from UT President Joe DiPietro for the university to become more entrepreneurial in finding revenue sources. More ...

Faculty as Learners
Development Program Prepares Future Leaders

Class is in session, and, for seventeen UTIA faculty, the subject is faculty success. Since 2012, the Faculty Development Program has been helping pre-tenure faculty be successful and competitive during their time with the Institute. Forty-six faculty members have participated to date. The program is open to all UTIA faculty, and the 2015-2016 class represents all four Institute units.

The program consists of three main components: learning activities, consultation, and grantsmanship. More ...


The UTIA Marketing and Communications team has a new tool for sharing research news...EurekAlert! This global news distribution service focuses on science, health, medicine, and technology. It's used by more than 8,000 journalists from 75 countries, and is the news distribution site for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Its website boasts more than 1 million visitors per month. The new service will connect our Marketing and Communications team with journalists from major media outlets who have come to rely on EurekAlert! as an authoritative research news source. More ...

Do We Need More Space?

A new study aims to find the balance between dairy production and cow welfare by evaluating the additive effect of stocking density and other stressors for dairy cows. Peter Krawczel, assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science, is leading the project in conjunction with the Miner Institute and with funding from the USDA. The goal is to find the optimal stocking densities for a variety of settings while still promoting health and productivity.

"This research will build upon established knowledge to drive the dairy industry forward while educating students and bettering animal welfare," says Krawczel. More ...

UT Plant Scientist Named AAAS Fellow

C. Neal Stewart, Jr., professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and the Institute's Ivan Racheff Chair of Excellence in Plant Molecular Genetics, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon association members by their peers. Stewart was elected as a member of the Biological Sciences Section for his distinguished contributions to the field of plant molecular genetics, particularly bioenergy and biotechnology. More ...

UT Arboretum Listed Among the Most Beautiful College Arboretums

If you like towering trees, quiet forest walks, and beautiful outdoor spaces, it's hard to disagree with the latest ranking from "Best College Reviews." The online guide that helps students identify institutions that suit their educational goals and other preferences has published a list of the fifty most beautiful college arboretums, and the University of Tennessee Arboretum is listed as number 22.

The website,, says the following criteria were used to compile the rankings:

  • Size of arboretum
  • Size of the collection
  • How long the garden has been established
  • Opportunities for college students
  • Connection with the community

The organization ranked the F.R. Newman Arboretum at Cornell University as the number 1 college arboretum. More ...

New Twists on Traditional Christmas Flower

Poinsettias continue to be the favored flowering holiday plant this time of the year. While red is still the most popular and traditional color, pinks, whites, variegated, salmon, yellow, and even orange varieties abound. Plant sizes vary from standard four- to six-inch pots, to miniatures to tree forms and even hanging baskets. I'm a big advocate of supporting our local green industry, so I encourage you to purchase your holiday plants from our many family-owned and operated garden centers and nurseries in Tennessee. More ...

UTIA Researchers Receive $1.8 Million USDA Grant to Study Organic Dairy Production

Over the years, organic dairy producers have expressed frustration over a lack of available information on forage production. Research-based information regarding forage for their herds has been difficult to come by, which in turn, may have led to decreased profitability for their operations. Recently, researchers with the Institute received funding from the USDA to conduct research that may address this issue. More ...

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