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A Message from Dean Bill Brown

During recent travels, I've noticed that many fields are really taking off. Now that summer is here, the crops are growing rapidly.

The progress in the fields reminds me of the increasing growth of UTIA's national stature and reputation. Part of this growth is seen through new faculty coming on board. Notably, many of them had opportunities at several universities, but they believe UTIA is the best place to do the research, teaching, and extension work they are passionate about. We're especially delighted to welcome Dr. Julie Carrier, the new department head for Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science.

Our stature is also growing as a result of the graduate students who are choosing to work with UTIA faculty, especially at the doctoral level. These highly entrepreneurial students are conducting cutting-edge research, publishing in high-quality scientific journals, and finding new ways to help society. I often use the word "horsepower" to discuss the quantity and quality of UTIA's research endeavors; indeed, UTIA faculty, staff, and students have lots of horsepower.

Another factor that I see driving our heightened reputation is the increased number of large and highly prestigious awards that UTIA faculty members are receiving as the Principal Investigator. It is very encouraging that federal agencies see us as an elite institution, and faculty from other universities want to subcontract with us.


Of course our bright future has been built on a golden past. A new survey revealed there are 1,400 Century Farms in our state. This is a testament to the dedication and hard work of Tennessee's farm families ... but it is also a tribute to current and former AgResearch faculty and staff who have delivered solutions to our state's farmers for many years.

Dr. John Hodges is an example of someone whose work will leave a lasting impact on Tennessee agriculture and UTIA. John can honestly feel he has left this place in much better shape than when he came as a result of his work. We wish John all the best in his retirement.

As many of you know, Dr. Barry Sims has moved from Center Director at the Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center to Associate Director of AgResearch. Barry understands the breadth and depth of our statewide infrastructure and he clearly understands research. He will do a great job in his new role.

We've come a long way in AgResearch. A busy summer lies ahead, and we're about to take off. As always, we welcome your comments and questions.


Fruits of the Backyard
June 14, 2016–
Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center, Spring Hill

All the Dirt on Gardening: Bugs, Slugs, and Other Thugs
June 15, 2016–
UT Gardens, Knoxville

Citizen Science Symposium
June 18, 2016–
UT Gardens,

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Please join us for a retirement reception to honor Stephen P. Oliver, Assistant Dean of AgResearch, for his thirty-two years of service to the University. The event will be held June 10, 2016 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. in 156/157 Plant Biotech, Knoxville, TN. A formal invitation can be found here.

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

Our Fondest Memories: Our Tribute to John Hodges

As John Hodges tells the story, one of his first experiences with the UT Institute of Agriculture came as a boy when he accompanied his father to a tobacco field day at the Highland Rim Experiment Station (now the Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center). As they toured the research plots, the young farm kid was especially impressed by how neat, clean, and orderly the fields and roads were kept. The experience made such an impact that at the end of the visit he told his father he hoped he could one day work at an experiment station.

It would be impossible to sum up the contributions John Hodges has made to UT AgResearch and Tennessee agriculture. We've asked a few friends and colleagues to share their thoughts and observations of John. See what they have to say...

UT AgResearch Names New Associate Director

University of Tennessee AgResearch has named Barry Sims as its new Associate Director. He will assume the new role May 1, 2016.

Sims, who has spent the last eighteen years as Center Director of the Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center in Springfield, will provide leadership to the university’s system of AgResearch and

Education Centers. Sims will focus on construction and facility projects at the ten centers, along with coordinating faculty research at these sites. Other responsibilities include the organization of field days, special events, and employee training programs. More...

New Interim Director Named for Highland Rim
AgResearch and Education Center

Rob Ellis has been named as the interim Center Director for UTIA's Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center in Springfield. Ellis is currently the Center Director for the AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville, Tennessee. He will continue in his current role and provide leadership to both centers. Ellis began the interim position on May 1.

"Rob has done an outstanding job at the Greeneville Center, and we are sure that he will provide excellent leadership during this interim period at the Highland Rim Center," says Dean Bill Brown, UT AgResearch. More...

Faculty 360 | Phil Myer

Faculty 360 is an all-around look at a UT AgResearch faculty member. In this issue we feature Dr. 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.

A life experience that connected me with my career choice was being able to observe production agriculture, and my field, throughout the U.S. Contrasting and comparing agricultural systems from Indiana, to Nebraska, and finally Tennessee has allowed me to gain better insight into my research and be a more effective educator. More...

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

Established in 1917, the Middle Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in Spring Hill is one of the oldest AgResearch and Education Centers in the UT system.

Its staff of thirteen manages the versatile 1,200-acre facility to support UTIA faculty in research trials involving beef cattle, dairy cattle, and forages. Here are a few extra facts about the Center.

Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science
Welcomes New Department Head

The Institute welcomed Julie Carrier as the new head of the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science on April 1. Carrier has demonstrated her passion for agriculture, innovation, and education throughout her professional career.

Carrier began her teaching career in biosystems engineering at the University of Saskatchewan. After four years, she moved to the United States where she has been teaching at the University of Arkansas for the past sixteen years. Her work has focused on bioprocessing and the properties of biological materials. She is excited to start this new chapter of her career and is enjoying the scenery in East Tennessee. Her goals for the next few months are to put her education, experience, and ideas to work. She plans to help faculty meet their personal and profesional goals. We are excited to have Carrier join us here on Rocky Top. More...

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 UTIA 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...

Neonicotinoids Provide Value to Mid-South Soybean Production

Neonicotinoid seed treatments provide significant economic benefits in Mid-South soybean production, according to a ten-year study conducted by scientists from four universities.

The results of their meta-analysis come as neonicotinoids face increasing scrutiny by both environmentalists and regulators. The widely adopted insecticides have prompted concerns about their possible impact on pollinators and questions about their economic advantages. The study was published in the Journal of Economic Entomology. More...

How to Manage Our Most Precious Resource

UTIA scientists are in the midst of a five-year project that will develop policies and practices to improve both the quantity and quality of available water in Tennessee. Forbes Walker is leading the project, which is funded through a $5 million grant from USDA's Water for Agriculture Challenge. The study will examine climate change effects on water use and availability in the Tennessee and Cumberland River basins.

In related work, researchers like Chris Clark and Shawn Hawkins will document the actual water use of agriculture and other industries and identify ways water can be conserved. Read more or watch the video.

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 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 UTIA and UT Martin. 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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