UT AgResearch Appoints New Director for East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center

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Industry Leader to Join AgResearch Team

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Ethan Parker, a group leader in herbicide biological research and development with Syngenta Crop Protection, has been named as the new director of the University of Tennessee’s East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center. The center is one of ten research and education centers operated by University of Tennessee AgResearch, a division of the UT Institute of Agriculture.

Parker is no stranger to the University of Tennessee. He earned a Ph.D. in plant sciences from UT after receiving a B.S. and M.S. from Auburn University. Among his industry accolades, Parker recently received a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt from Villanova University. He is very active in various weed science societies.

“We are very excited about Ethan’s high energy, enthusiasm and passion about UT AgResearch, and his vision for growing our programs and impacts at the East Tennessee AgResearch Center,” says Hongwei Xin, dean of UT AgResearch. “His strong technical and management experiences in industry, as well as his commitment to excellence and superb communication skills will serve our mission well in this new leadership position.”

The East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center is headquartered in Knoxville and serves as a field laboratory providing experimental plots, lands, livestock, orchards, turfgrass, equipment, and other types of support for research programs developed by AgResearch scientists. It also serves as an outdoor experiential learning facility for students in UT’s Herbert College of Agriculture and College of Veterinary Medicine. It’s among the nation’s most historic agricultural research facilities, having been established on land purchased by the university in 1869. Since that time, six more units have been added, increasing the land to 1,968 acres in Knox and surrounding counties. Areas of research include turfgrass management; row crop breeding and production, including variety testing; energy crop breeding and production; organic vegetable production; reproductive management in beef and dairy cattle; wildlife studies including research involving amphibian diseases; research and development for the Tennessee Tree Improvement Program; and studies involving bacterial pathogenesis, antibiotic resistance and more.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to return to such a prestigious research and education center where I can serve as a steward of the facilities and research,” says Parker. “I am excited to begin this new journey and look forward to learning and growing alongside the faculty and staff to build upon the foundations created by those who preceded us to deliver solutions to the wonderful people of Tennessee.”  

Parker will join the AgResearch leadership team for the system of ten research and education centers statewide. Together, the facilities represent the various climate and topological conditions that exist across the state and provide perfect backdrops for research that can advance our knowledge of the environment and agricultural and natural resource management practices that can benefit Tennesseans and beyond.

Parker will replace Bobby Simpson who is retiring in July after almost 30 years of service to UTIA. Parker will begin his new role on July 18.

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.

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Ethan Parker, East Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center