UT Institute of Agriculture Presents Top Faculty and Staff Awards for 2023 

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Ernest Bernard Named Institute Professor, UTIA’s Greatest Honor 

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 on August 15, 2023. Many of the awards are gifts made possible by faculty, alumni and friends of the Institute. The event included several new honors this year. 

UT Institute of Agriculture Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President Keith Carver hosted the award winners and praised them for their work. “I’m excited to celebrate the amazing work of our UTIA faculty and staff,” says Carver. “These awards are well-deserved and represent our employees’ steadfast dedication to their work, the Institute and the people of Tennessee. The impact of their accomplishments and passion will be felt for generations to come.” 

Ernest Bernard, professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, was named the UTIA Institute Professor, UTIA’s greatest honor. A renowned nematologist, Bernard has dedicated 46 years of service to UTIA. Among his many achievements, Bernard is a Fellow in the Society of Nematologists, has mentored more than 25 students and has served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Nematology. For the past 12 years, Bernard has served as the editor for minor insect orders for Zootaxa

The other 2023 winners are:  

The Charles and Patricia Goan Excellence in Customer Service Award – Sreedhar Upendram, Agricultural and Resource Economics 

The Charles and Julie Wharton Award for Outstanding Extension Achievements –  
Ranson Goodman, UT Extension Henry County 
Scott Swoape, UT Extension White County 
Tim Woods, UT Extension McMinn County 

Ann and Bill Hicks Outstanding New Extension Worker Award – Elizabeth Eckelkamp, Animal Science 

Tennessee Association of Agricultural Agents and Specialists – Hicks Awards of Excellence –  
Anthony Carver, UT Extension Grainger County 
Lucas Holman, UT Extension Wilson County 
Virginia Sykes, Plant Sciences 

Vernon and Ida Darter Award – Stacy Clark, UT Extension Lawrence County 

The Lloyd and Nettie Downen Endowment Fund Leadership Enhancement Award – Jamie Harris, UT Extension 4-H 

G.L. Carter Jr. Outstanding 4-H Youth Development Agent Award – Sarah Keenan, UT Extension Maury County 

Alice Ann Moore Outstanding 4-H Youth Development Agent Award – Staci Foy, UT Extension Henry County 

William D. Bishop Outstanding Service Award – Lew Strickland, Animal Science 

Webster Pendergrass Outstanding Service Award – Shawn Hawkins, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science  

E.J. Chapman Outstanding Service Award – Dawn Seigel, UT Extension 

Cavender Outstanding Award for Best Publication –  
Kyla Adkins, Mark Morgan and Megan Leffew for Tennessee’s Food Freedom Act – 2022: Homemade Food Allowed under the “Cottage Food Laws” PB 1909 

Bob Ary, Natalie Bumgarner, John Gunter, David Lockwood, Melody Rose, Lee Sammons, Virginia Sykes, Gregg Upchurch and Seth Whitehouse (altogether known as the Tennessee Extension Home Fruit and Vegetable Workgroup) for Tennessee Home Vegetable Garden 2023 Calendar W 436 

J.E. Moss Achievement Awards –  
Darcy Smith, UT AgResearch 
Charley Martinez, Agricultural and Resource Economics 
Brian Whitlock, UT College of Veterinary Medicine 
Emma Willcox, School of Natural Resources 

Williams – E.R. “Prof” Lidvall Outstanding Teaching Award – Brad Collett, Plant Sciences 

William E. Miles M.D. Award for Community Service – Jennifer Weisent, UT College of Veterinary Medicine 

Mildred Pendergrass Award for Outstanding Service – Jason Reeves, UT Gardens, Jackson

B. Ray Thompson Sr. Outstanding Faculty Performance Award – Vince Pantalone, Plant Sciences 

Professional/Academic Award for Outstanding Service – James Newburn, UT Gardens 

T.J. Whatley Distinguished Young Scientist Award – Yang Zhao, Animal Science 

AgResearch Impact Award – Tarek Hewezi, Plant Sciences 

AgResearch Mid-Career Faculty Research Excellence Award – Sindhu Jagadamma, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science 

UT AgResearch Dean’s Award for Outstanding Support Staff – Sandra Marine, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science 

UT AgResearch Dean’s Award for Outstanding Professional Staff – Wesley Wright, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science 

UT AgResearch Dean’s Grantmanship Award –  
Scott Lenaghan, Food Science 
Neelam Poudyal, School of Natural Resources 
Yang Zhao, Animal Science 

UT Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture UTIA Faculty Global Lifetime Achievement Award – Marcy Souza, UT College of Veterinary Medicine 

UT Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture Faculty Global Excellence Award – Denita Hadziabdic Guerry, Entomology and Plant Pathology 

UT Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture Outstanding Staff Global Engagement Award – Lauren Henry, Office of Advancement 

In addition to the winners of the sponsored awards, 31 faculty members received promotions, earned tenure, or both. They are listed on the UTIA Awards and Promotions website

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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