UT Institute of Agriculture Presents Top Faculty and Staff Awards for 2021
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 on the UTIA campus in Knoxville July 30, 2021. The event was conducted in person, a welcome return to normalcy after having an online ceremony because of the pandemic last year. The awards honor the extraordinary performance of UTIA employees during a difficult year of online education and changes to procedures because of the pandemic. Many of the awards are gifts made possible by faculty, alumni and friends of the Institute.
UTIA Senior Vice President Tim Cross hosted the award winners and praised them for their work. “After a challenging and stressful year, it’s a pleasure to recognize excellence as exemplified by these award-winning members of the UTIA faculty and staff,” Cross says. “Their continuing dedication to our land-grant mission of serving Tennessee ensures that we develop and deliver real life solutions to improve health, grow the economy and enhance our environment.”
Feng Chen, professor in the Department of Plant Sciences, is the winner of the AgResearch Impact Award. The honor is presented to a faculty member whose efforts have a profound effect on improving the efficiency, sustainability and economic viability of the food and fiber industry of rural Tennessee.
“This award is recognition of the hard work and creativity of many graduate students and postdocs whom I have had the honor to mentor,” Chen says. “Taking this opportunity, I would also like to express my deep gratitude to many of my colleagues and administrators for their support, and to many collaborators from UTIA, other institutions and other countries for their genuine and productive collaborations.”
Chen has served with the department for 17 years and his work focuses on plant functional genomics and the integration of plant metabolism. Chen, along with his colleagues and graduate students, identify and characterize specific genes that play a role in biosynthesis. This knowledge can lead to better crop performance. His research has been published in several prestigious journals, and one of his inventions was licensed by a leading agricultural biotech company.
Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.