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Fall 2017

Innovation is a key driver of economic growth. At UT AgResearch our faculty and staff are developing new and improved products and processes that enhance the lives of Tennesseans and beyond. We’re finding real-life solutions for real-world problems.

In this issue of Impacts, we highlight several innovators within our UT AgResearch family, like Drs. Shigetoshi Eda and Jayne Wu, whose development of a new biosensor is saving diagnosis time for infectious diseases and saving lives. Then there is Dr. Sindhu Jagadamma, whose work on microbial decomposition of organic carbon in soil recently earned her the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award. We also recap the recent UTIA Awards and Promotions Luncheon, where some of our top faculty and staff members were honored.

Keep reading to learn about innovative research projects that are making an impact right now. A briefing on dicamba technology provides an update on a complex issue facing the US agricultural industry and highlights the importance of unbiased research provided by land-grant universities.

Below you’ll find more infomation on 2017’s remaining field days and special events held at our AgResearch and Education Centers. Plus, you can get to know one of our newest faculty members in Faculty 360.

Thanks for your support of UT AgResearch. We hope you enjoy this newsletter and we welcome your feedback.

AgResearch Faculty and Staff Presented with Awards at 2017 UTIA Luncheon

Three top AgResearch faculty received awards at the 2017 Awards and Promotions Luncheon in late July. Among them were Dr. Doug Hayes, professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, who received the AgResearch Impact Award. This award is given to a faculty member whose efforts have had a profound effect on improving efficiency, sustainability, and/or economic viability of the food and fiber industry of rural areas in Tennessee. Dr. Hayes’s largest project is a $4.5 million USDA-funded project addressing the adoptability and profitability of using biodegradable mulch in specialty crops production.

Dr. Faith Critzer from the Department of Food Science; Joe Sarten from the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science; and Amelia Rader from the AgResearch and Education Center at Greeneville were also award winners. Read more about our award recipients here.

Faculty Promotion and Tenure 2017

Twelve AgResearch, CASNR, and Extension faculty were recognized at this year’s UTIA Awards and Promotion Luncheon held in Knoxville on July 28. Of the twelve who were promoted, eight also received tenure. We would like to send our congratulations to all faculty who were recognized at the banquet. Read more about the work of the promoted faculty here.

Chancellor Davenport Recognizes Powe Awardees Jagadamma, McCord

UTIA’s Sindhu Jagadamma and UTK's Rachel Patton McCord are recipients of the 2017 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

Chancellor Beverly Davenport recently presented plaques to Jagadamma, assistant professor of biosystems engineering and soil science in the UT Institute of Agriculture, and McCord, assistant professor of biochemistry and cellular and molecular biology, in recognition of the honor. More...

New Ventures | Rapid Diagnostic Test Reduces
Testing Time and Increases Accuracy

Professors Shigetoshi Eda and Jayne Wu have developed and licensed a new diagnostic testing technology designed to reduce testing time and increase diagnostic accuracy. The technology, called ABC biosensor, uses a small handheld device that has a chip on which users place a sample; results are ready in less than two minutes. Currently, developers at Vortex Biotechnology are focusing on developmental validation of the instrument for use in disease diagnostics, but ultimately, the technology will be used in environmental testing, evaluating health conditions, and detecting pregnancy in heifers. More…

UTRF Maturation Funding Program: Open for Submissions

The University of Tennessee Research Foundation (UTRF) is announcing a call for submissions for the ninth annual UTRF Maturation Funding program. Proposals must be received at the appropriate campus research office by 5:00 p.m., October 24, 2017. The program is designed to help UT researchers further develop technologies that have potential for commercial success. Up to $15,000 in direct costs will be awarded to the highest-ranking proposals.

Read the full program requirements and submission guidelines here.

2017 FEWSTERN Symposium

The office of AgResearch invites you to participate in the FEWSTERN (Food, Energy, Water Systems Transdisciplinary Environmental Research Network) Symposium scheduled for December 7-9, 2017, in Franklin, Tennessee. This NSF-supported meeting is being hosted by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and UT Knoxville. A primary outcome is the development of a Research Coordination Network (RCN) designed to identify transdisciplinary research opportunities for scientists in the US and China, focusing on the nexus of food, energy and water systems (FEWS). The registration deadline is October 31. Additional meeting and registration information is available at

Promoting the Responsible Conduct of Research

At the heart of public assurance in the credibility of UTIA’s research, scholarship, and public service is research integrity. It is the responsibility of UTIA faculty, staff, and students to understand the many facets of responsible conducts of research (RCR) to ensure this continued public trust. Associate Dean for AgResearch David White and UTIA compliance officer Jane Burns discuss the RCR and UTIA’s updated RCR Institutional Plan. Full story

Dicamba Briefing

If you spent even a few minutes with Dr. Larry Steckel this summer you know his phone didn’t stop ringing. Many of the calls were from farmers concerned about crop injury. More than 100,000 acres of Tennessee soybeans exhibited leaf whitening and cupping–symptoms that point strongly to off-target movement of dicamba herbicides.

Steckel walked most of these fields, as well as vineyards, lawns, and gardens that also received damage. Now as harvest approaches, Steckel recaps what he learned about dicamba in 2017 and what producers can expect in the days ahead. Read more.

Field Day Season Winding Down

There are just four remaining events on our 2017 Field Day schedule:

October 12: Northeast Tennessee Beef Expo

October 14: Heritage Festival

October 21: Fall Folklore Jamboree

October 26: Organic Crops

Faculty 360 | Jada Thompson

Faculty 360 is an all-around look at a UT AgResearch faculty member. In this issue we feature Jada Thompson, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Thompson joined UTIA in July of 2017 and has an 80 percent research and 20 percent teaching appointment. Her research primarily focuses on animal health and production economics. Outside of her research she enjoys learning about new cultures and languages; at last count she can greet you in twenty languages. Meet her here.

Neal Stewart Nominated for UT President’s Discover Award

Dr. Neal Stewart, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Ivan Racheff Chair of Excellence in plant molecular genetics, was nominated for the UT President’s Discover Award. Chancellor Tim Cross and Dean for AgResearch Bill Brown nominated Dr. Stewart for his research work in the area of herbicide resistance in weeds. He has authored more than 260 refereed scientific papers, secured more than $25 million in extramural funding, and has disclosed eighty-three inventions. The Discover Award honors discoveries and applications of knowledge. More…

Research Spotlight |
Managing Target Spot in Cotton and Soybeans

Historically, target spot has been a minor disease in Mid-South cotton and soybean fields. However, in recent years pathologists have been observing this disease more frequently, with some states even reporting significant yield loss to target spot. Watch as Dr. Heather Kelly discusses target spot identification and mitigation in soybeans at the recent Soybean Disease Field Day at the AgResearch and Education Center at Milan.

Or keep reading for more information about a target spot research project involving cotton.

Then & Now | Cotton Research

Fall means time to harvest cotton for many Tennessee producers…as well as researchers at UTIA. The photo on top shows a one-row cotton picker ready to harvest plots at the West Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center in the 1970s. On the bottom, members of today’s cotton crew rate plots at WTREC.

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