Tag Archives: Dr. Chandra Reddy

TSU using $20K from Tractor Supply company to address students’ needs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is using a $20,000 donation from Tractor Supply Company to help fulfill the needs of students, particularly during the pandemic.

The funds will be used by TSU’s College of Agriculture to help “students in need of financial support,” says Dr. Chandra Reddy, the college’s dean.

Braxton Simpson

“We are very excited and are very thankful to Tractor Supply Company for this support,” says Reddy. “We have so many needs in the college, but our biggest need is providing support to outstanding students that are in dire need of funding. This investment in our students by Tractor Supply company will go a long way in preparing future agricultural leaders in the country.”

TSU senior Braxton Simpson of Atlanta is majoring in agricultural business. She says she’s glad the funding will be used to help students with financial hardships, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It allows students to stay focused and not worry about paying for school,” says Braxton. “We’re very grateful for the donation.”

Jamie Isabel with advancement and university relations at TSU says the contribution is the “impetus of a major relationship that we are currently working on” with Tractor Supply.

“Our students, graduates will be very pleased to have Tractor Supply as a corporate partner,” says Isabel. “The contribution is indicative of the support that TSU is receiving from corporate America.”

Over the last several months, TSU has worked diligently to ensure students have the tools they need to complete their coursework as a result of COVID-19.

Emmanuel Wallace

In March, TSU students had to transition to remote learning because of the coronavirus. The University purchased laptops and tablets for those students who needed them. TSU recently resumed classes for the fall, but has an alternate plan that includes students continuing to learn remotely if there’s a surge in COVID-19 cases.

TSU junior Emmanuel Wallace of Memphis, Tennessee, is an agriculture major concentrating on food and animal sciences with a pre-vet focus. He says he’s pleased with the University’s effort to help students, and is grateful for the contribution from Tractor Supply.

“As a whole, TSU is doing everything it can,” says Wallace. “This (donation) is very helpful, especially during the pandemic.”

To learn more about the College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

For more on TSU operations affected by the coronavirus, and student information, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU joins other 1890 land-grant universities to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Morrill Act

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service)TSU President Glenda Glover joined the presidents and chancellors of the nation’s 1890 Universities in a weeklong celebration of the 130th anniversary of the federal legislation that designated Tennessee State University and 18 other historically black colleges and universities as land-grant institutions.

President Glenda Glover

The Morrill Act of 1890 established a land-grant university system of HBCUs in states where African Americans were banned from accessing a public higher education. The first Morrill Act 1862 establishing the land-grant universities did not provide higher education opportunities for African Americans.

“On behalf of the TSU family, our students, faculty and staff, it gives me great pleasure to join in the celebration of the 130th Anniversary of the Second Morrill Act, legislation that authorized 1890 land grant universities,” Glover said.

“For 130 years, although underfunded, the 1890 land-grant universities have been true to their mission of providing essential academic, research and extension services to the public that sustains our nation’s food, fiber and renewable production.”

As part of the activities August 24-31 and due to COVID-19, Glover and other higher education leaders, elected officials and policymakers, business and community leaders will participate in an online celebration, culminating with a two-hour virtual forum on Monday, August 31. The forum will explore the history and accomplishments of the 1890 institutions and the important role they play in the nation’s future. 

“The 1890s, including Tennessee State, have a legacy of educating first-generation and economically disadvantaged college students, enhancing the resilience of limited resource individuals,  farmers, families and underserved communities and conducting innovative research to generate new knowledge and solutions to address regional and global challenges,” Glover added.

Dr. Chandra Reddy

Although TSU, founded in 1912 “came late in the game” among 1890 institutions, officials said the university has remained a leading institution in teaching, research and extension. For instance, the TSU College of Agriculture has more than 100 graduate students, 34 state-of-the-art laboratories, three field research stations, and about 70 staff providing outreach services in 50 of the 95 counties in Tennessee. Overall, TSU received more than $54 million from various funding agencies for 2019-2020, exceeding its annual awards goal, according to the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

“We at TSU are doing extremely well relative to all of the other 1890 universities, thanks to federal, state and local government support,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the TSU College of Agriculture. “We have the largest outreach program. Our research program is very competitive, and for the last 10 years, TSU has continuously been the number one university among 1890 institutions in terms of securing competitive grants from the USDA, thanks to our faculty. So, we at TSU are very excited for the 130th anniversary celebration of the second Morrill Act that established 19 1890 universities.”

During the week of August 24, leaders and members of the 1890 university community, policymakers, business and community leaders will use an array of platforms to reflect on and celebrate the legacy of these land-grant institutions, including social media using #Celebrate1890s. They will highlight innovative programs at the 1890 land-grant universities and their role in developing solutions for local, regional, and global challenges.

The celebration ended with a virtual webinar on August 31. The webinar had two panel discussions. One panel featured several 1980 university presidents, and Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. The second panel included private sector leaders such as Fred Humphries, corporate vice president of U.S. Government Affairs, among others.


The other 1890 land-grant universities are: Alabama A&M University, Alcorn State University, Central State University, Delaware State University, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, Kentucky State University, Langston University, Lincoln University in Missouri, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, South Carolina State University, Southern University and A&M College, Tuskegee University, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Virginia State University and West Virginia State University.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State UniversityFounded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU, UT partnership prepares Ag students for success in vet school

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University has partnered with the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine (UT-CVM) to help TSU agriculture students transition to vet school once they complete their degrees.

College of Ag Dean Dr. Chandra Reddy

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) identifies qualified TSU freshmen and immediately sets them on an academic trajectory to successfully meet the requirements for admission into UT-CVM, or other institutions of veterinary medicine.

“The MOU between TSU’s College of Agriculture and UT’s College of Veterinary Medicine provides a pathway for students majoring in animal science at TSU to get into the veterinary school at UT. We are very pleased with this new arrangement between the schools,” said TSU College of Agriculture Dean Chandra Reddy, who was instrumental in finalizing the agreement.

“It will help increase minorities in the veterinary profession and help us prepare our students appropriately for veterinary college. Health care for pets is a huge demand in society today. Many of our students are interested in the veterinary profession and we welcome this opportunity to prepare and place students in this competitive and demanding field.”

Dr. Mike Jones, director of Student Services, Diversity, and Recruitment at UT-CVM, shared Dr. Reddy’s sentiment about the TSU and UT-CVM Pre-Veterinary Emphasis (PVE) Scholars Program. 

Dr. De’Etra Young

“I’m very excited about it,” said Jones. “Veterinary medicine is considered one of the least diverse of all health care professions. We want to serve the needs of the underserved.”

The agreement between the universities began in 2016 when Jones, a UT-CVM professor of Avian and Zoological Medicine, came to TSU to speak to agriculture students in the student organization Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS). Dr. James P. Thompson, the dean of UT-CVM, sent Jones with the mission to form an agreement with TSU to recruit its students into UT’s vet college.

There, Jones met Dr. De’Etra Young, the MANRRS advisor, who works closely with TSU’s top students. For the next four years, Jones and Young worked on the MOU, which was signed in June.

“We are excited to enter this new partnership with UT-CVM,” said Young, who is now interim associate dean of Academics and Land-grant Programs at the College. “We are increasing our efforts to provide experiential learning and hands-on experiences to prepare our students for graduate studies or the workforce. This new arrangement will assist us in preparing our students appropriately for veterinary school.”

TSU sophomore Cierra Woods, pre-vet focus

Students will be notified in September if they are accepted into the program. The students will be assigned mentors — one each from TSU and UT-CVM. The mentors will work together to advise each student, monitor their progress, ensure ongoing commitment, and support other training opportunities, such as summer jobs or internships.

Assistant Professor Carollyn Boykins-Winrow teaches animal science classes at TSU and will be serving as mentor to the students selected for the program.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the students,” said Boykins-Winrow. “The students will know what to expect from UT and UT will know the preparation the student went through to get there.”

TSU junior Emmanuel Wallace is an agriculture major concentrating on food and animal sciences with a pre-vet focus.He agreed the programwill be beneficial to freshman students.

“I think it is awesome,” said Wallace, of Memphis, Tennessee. “It will tell them what classes they need to take, as well as give them the overall hands-on experience they need to be successful.”

TSU junior Emmanuel Wallace, pre-vet focus

Cierra Woods, a sophomore Ag major at TSU who also has a pre-vet focus, said she is glad students will have the opportunity to work with a variety of animals.

“People always think domestic animals, but there are so many animals you can work with,” said Woods. “I think everyone should have the opportunity to try something different.”

Both Woods and Wallace are interns in a partnership the College of Agriculture has with the Nashville Zoo to also prepare students for vet school.

For more information about the partnership and the TSU and UT-CVM program, contact Dr. De’Etra Young at (615) 963-5123 or email dyoung23@tnstate.edu.

To learn more about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

NOTE: College of Ag communications specialist Joan Kite contributed to this story.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU Thanks Healthcare Workers On the Frontlines Fighting COVID-19, Highlights National Nurses Week

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University recently showed its appreciation for frontline workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by gifting more than 2,500 potted African Violet plants to healthcare workers at several hospitals, clinics and other facilities in the Nashville metro area.

Each healthcare worker received an African Violet plant with a note thanking them for their effort on the frontline. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

Representing TSU President Glenda Glover, the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Dr. Chandra Reddy, led a group of university officials and staff to deliver the plants to doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers at Ascension Saint Thomas West, Select Specialty Hospital, Nashville General Hospital, Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Clinic, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

The act of kindness was in recognition of National Nurses Week, May 6-12.

Each plant, decorated in a see-through shimmering plastic wrap, carried an inscription that said, “Thank you for being on the frontline for all of us.” They were donated through a partnership with Optimara, a horticulture company in Nashville.

“We just want to say thank you to nurses, doctors, medical technicians, and other hospital workers for risking their lives to save COVID-19 patients and the community,” Reddy said, as dozens of nurses, each observing required social distance, lined up at the main entrance at St. Thomas Went to receive a plant.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, Dean of the College of Agriculture, talks to the media about TSU’s immense gratitude to the frontline workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“The African violet plant we are gifting is just a symbol of freshness and hope going forward in our fight against this pandemic.”

Samantha Straton, Chief Nursing Officer at Ascension Saint Thomas West, who received the TSU representatives, thanked the university and said the hospital staff was grateful for the gift.

“This is really meaningful for our frontline caregivers who have been working so hard through the COVID-19 pandemic, and it happens to be Nurses Week,” Straton said. “This is a great way to express appreciation for the hard work of all our nurses and frontline caregivers. We really value our relationship with TSU. We often have clinical students here at Ascension Saint Thomas West as well as  some of our other facilities. It is a great partnership and we really just want to say thank you.”

The Director of the BSN program at TSU,  Dr. Pinky Noble-Britton, was among those representing the university. Like Straton, Noble-Britton highlighted the “outstanding” partnership TSU has with medical facilities in Nashville.

Samantha Straton, left, Chief Nursing Officer at Ascension Saint Thomas West, joins Dr. Reddy, and Reinhold Holtkamp, Sr., President of Optimara, to present plants to the staff of the hospital. (Photo by TSU Media Relations)

“As a nurse and an educator, it’s heartwarming to see the community support, especially for the men and women on the frontlines providing care during this pandemic,” said Noble-Britton, who is also associate professor of nursing.

“We have a great nursing program and want to also thank St. Thomas West and all of the other hospitals and clinics, as well as Optimara for being such focused community partners with us.”

Reinhold Holtkamp, Sr., president of Optimara, said his company and TSU have had a long relationship in many areas.

“We have collaborated together for many years with the College of Agriculture, and they have given us a lot of support,” Holtkamp said. “So, when we had the opportunity to work together on this sign of friendship for our frontline workers together, we immediately ceased that moment.”

TSU is currently accepting applications for the traditional BSN program. For information on the program, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/nursing/bachelor.aspx

For information on the TSU College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU on the frontline in COVID-19 prevention with production of protective masks for healthcare professionals and hand sanitizer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is helping in the global fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The University is stepping to the forefront and using its educational platform to make protective face gear for doctors, nurses and other medical personnel.

Headband designed by TSU 3D printing machines. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations).

TSU is also sharing information on how families can make their own hand sanitizer while producing the germ fighting solution for campus police.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission has asked TSU to use its 3D printing machines to help design a portion of the mask, which has three components: plastic shield, headband and elastic band. The College of Engineering is leading the campus effort to produce the protective gear, which also includes the College of Agriculture and Library Services.

Reporters from all four Nashville TV stations, as well as WPLN (NPR), came out on March 24 to see demonstrations by TSU professors and grad students.

“We are currently fabricating several of the headbands to donate to THEC,” says Dr. S. Keith Hargrove, dean of Engineering. “We have faculty, staff and students involved in making this product from four different sites at TSU. We hope to collectively support the state’s effort to mitigate and limit the spread of COVID-19.”

TSU grad students Oluwatosin Fagbuyi (left) and Rotimi Joaquim discuss printing technology with WPLN reporter. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The masks will be used to protect Tennessee medical professionals, like nurses and doctors, who are on the front lines caring for individuals with the virus. In Italy, the country with the second highest number of COVID-19 cases, more than 20 doctors have reportedly died and thousands of other health workers have been infected since the outbreak.

Oluwatosin Fagbuyi is one of the graduate students helping to make the headbands using the 3D technology. He says he could not pass up the chance “to help save lives.”

“It’s nice to feel like I can help,” says Fagbuyi, who is majoring in mechanical and manufacturing engineering. “It’s an opportunity I couldn’t turn down.”  

In addition to helping with the mask, the College of Agriculture is also making hand sanitizer and sharing instructions on how individuals can make their own. The college is also producing the alcohol-based solution to make available for campus police.

Dr. Sudipta Rakshit in the College of Agriculture talks to reporters about making hand sanitizer. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“There is such a shortage because of the virus,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture. “The idea is to help people make their own sanitizer in case they can’t get it commercially.”   

The process includes mixing ingredients such as isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. But Ag officials say the main goal is to keep the percentage of alcohol greater than 60 percent. 

For information about TSU operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/covid19.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU to show award-winning documentary about threats to honeybees

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is providing a free screening of an award-winning documentary about the threats to honeybees and other pollinators.

The film, called “The Pollinators,” will be shown on Wednesday, November 6, at 6:30 p.m. in The Forum auditorium in TSU’s Floyd-Payne Campus Center. TSU is one of four college campuses across the state selected to show the film.

“The Pollinators” follows migratory beekeepers and their truckloads of honeybees around the United States and sheds light on some of the threats to the bees’ survival, such as pesticides and other chemicals, according to a synopsis of the film. 

The filmmakers talk to farmers, scientists, chefs and academics along the way to give a broad perspective about the problem, what it means to food security, and how to improve it.

“More than anything, this film is about awareness,” says Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture. “The reality is, we’re losing the bees, and we have to find ways to save them.”

“The Pollinators” has been selected by 25 national and international film festivals and has been honored as “Best Documentary” at seven of them.

Following the film on Wednesday, there will be a panel discussion and Q&A. The panel will include several TSU Ag officials, as well as representatives from the Nashville Area Beekeepers Association.

To see the trailer, visit https://us.demand.film/the-pollinators/.

Note: Featured photo courtesy of Peter Nelson

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

TSU students benefit from Regions Bank and Cheekwood Partnership providing summer jobs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – This summer Tennessee State University is providing paid internships for TSU students thanks to a partnership with Cheekwood Estate and Gardens and Regions Bank.

According to Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, these internships are part of the college’s initiative to increase its number of student internships with industry partners.

“This is a great investment by Regions Bank in our students,” said Reddy.  “We place a lot of importance on these internships.  Historically, we used to send a lot of students to the different governmental agencies. Now we are branching out to a lot of industry partners. This summer we have almost forty students across the country in different organizations and companies doing internships.”

Reddy said Regions Bank is providing $25,000 this year for student salaries. 

Daiva Wilson, a senior Agriculture major with a concentration in biotechnology who interned with Cheekwood last summer, said her experience at Cheekwood was eye-opening.

Daiva WIlson

“I’d never been to a botanical garden before, so just seeing the garden was a benefit,” said Wilson, who serves as an intern with USDA this summer.  “Also, I was able to see how the gardeners work with one another. They actually create such a beautiful display for members and people who visit the garden.”

Wilson’s internship at Cheekwood focused on horticulture.  She said she worked with the plant team and had the opportunity to experience the entire Cheekwood garden.  She credits Dr. De’Etra Young, assistant professor of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, with helping her secure the internship.

“The TSU College of Agriculture is really big on students presenting their goals. We have the Dean’s Scholars Program, and students with a 3.0 or higher are partnered with a mentor, which is usually a professor who does research in the lab,” she said. “Dr. Young pretty much says if you are a dean’s scholar, you should have an internship every summer.”

Young said the Cheekwood internships focus on three areas: education, horticulture and aboriculture.

“The role that I play is actually recruiting students and then internally vetting them before we send them over to Cheekwood, and then Cheekwood has their own application and interviewing process,” Young said. “For me, I believe that the experience for our students is hands-on experience that compliments what we are teaching in the classroom.”

Daniel Shaw, a senior Agribusiness major from Lamar, Arkansas, said he enjoys being a summer intern at Cheekwood.

“I am doing maintenance at the garden, like weeding, watering and planting.  Earlier on, we were transitioning from the spring annuals to the summer annuals, and we briefly started doing some plant identification for a daylily collection they have,” he said.

Shaw, who is also considering a career in environmental sciences and was introduced to the opportunity by Young, said he thinks the internship will give him leverage with future employers.

“It shows that you can be committed to something. Hopefully other people are going to be able to see your work ethic and put in a good word for you,” he said.

Shaw and fellow TSU student Jenna Jones, an education major at TSU, began their summer internships at Cheekwood in mid-May and will work through late July. 

TSU students Steve Osborne (left), an Agriculture Sciences major with concentration in Environmental Sciences and Davia Wilson(right), an Agriculture major with a concentration in Biotechnology, with Cheekwood Plant Collections Manager Shanna T. Jones (center) during their summer internship at Cheekwood in 2018.

Although the Cheekwood internship has existed since 2017, it has had multiple funders. This year Regions Bank is playing an instrumental role in the partnership. 

“Regions has longstanding relationships with both Tennessee State University and Cheekwood Botanical Gardens, said Senior VP and Regional Community Development and Partnerships Manager Latrisha Jemison with Regions Bank. “This is an ideal partnership that allows us to invest in a successful program with very talented students. TSU students complete the internship with workforce ready skills and go on to acquire employment in the horticultural profession.”

Reddy said TSU President Glenda Glover initiated the partnership.

“We have been sending out students as interns, and they have been paying the students for internships during the summer and during the regular semester for some time,” he said. “We are interested from an environmental perspective, with regards to botany and understanding the plants.  From their perspective, it is for beauty and environment.” 

He said faculty from the College of Agriculture have also played a role in the partnership.

“Our faculty have been trying to provide technical assistance on some basic things, like how to grow plants hydroponically, and how to take care of the ornamental plants,” he said.  “So there are student internships and faculty support for the public who come to Cheekwood Gardens.”

Peter Grimaldi, vice president of gardens and facilities at Cheekwood, said the internships provide students with an experience that includes a combination of direct service, working in the garden along with Cheekwood’s permanent professional staff, and project-based work.

“Public Horticulture includes the full spectrum of horticulture, and the opportunities at our operation pretty much include bits and pieces of almost any professional opportunity you can seek out in the green industry,” he said. “The interns have been very impressive, the students themselves, and if they are in anyway a representation of the young professionals that TSU is sending out into the workplace and the community, and they are, then that’s something the university should be proud of.”

Grimaldi said the botanical garden plans to have two additional internships this fall.

For more information about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Tennessee State University Ag Professor Receives $650,000 in Grants for Food Safety and Disease Prevention Research

By JOAN KITE

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) — Tennessee State University professor Dr. Ankit Patras has received two grants totaling $650,000 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Trojan Technologies of Canada, and California-based Aquafine Corporation. The grants will fund research to make food safer by eliminating harmful viruses and bacterial endospores in juices and other beverages.

Dr. Ankit Patras

In the NIFA grant, Patras, as principal investigator, and his research team at TSU, including Dr. Agnes Kilonzo-Nthenge and Dr. John Rickettes, are collaborating with researchers at the University of Tennessee, and the Institute of Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Together, Patras and his fellow researchers will study the effect of highly energetic photons at 253.7 nm wavelength for the inactivation of viral particles, bacterial spores, and mycotoxins.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, said TSU is glad to partner with USDA and private industry in a research project that is aimed to make food safe for consumers without worrying about bacterial or viral contamination and illnesses.

“Dr. Patras is one of the national leaders in this area of research and he and his team are exploring some novel ways to contain or eliminate bacteria and viruses in foods through these grants,” Reddy said. “As our new Food Science building comes online in a year or so, we will intensify the food science research at TSU.”

Dr. Ankit Patras demonstrates the thin film pilot UV system, a novel pasteurization technology for inactivating viruses and bacterial endospores in liquid foods. Research Fellow Dr. Brahmiah Pendyala looks on. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

According to Patras, who is research assistant professor of agricultural science, the ultimate goal of this project is to develop new and improved non-thermal technologies to inactivate viruses and bacterial endospores. He said one of the unique aspects of the project is the use of novel approaches for ensuring uniform UV exposure to bacterial and viral particles in fluids, without any arbitrary fluence rate distribution and uncertainty in the delivered UV fluence within the UV systems.

“Another important aspect of the study is to create science-based knowledge and bridge existing knowledge gaps by assessing the sensitivity of target foodborne viruses and spores to this treatment,” Patras said. “We want to identify markers of oxidative stress, which can be correlated to microbial inactivation.”

Madison Purifoy, a graduating senior participating in a science summer program for exceptional high school seniors, explains her findings in an experiment where she tested e coli in synthetic fluid using UV radiation to see if it will grow or create mutations. Purifoy is from Plano West Senior High School in Plano, Texas. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The team will develop chemical and biological sensors (biodosimeters) to quantify the UV dose delivered to pathogenic targets ensuring accurate dose delivery. The overall integrated approach will generate fundamental knowledge on the inactivation of viruses and bacterial spores on bench and commercial UV systems. Members of federal agencies including USDA-ARS, US-FDA, and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada are on the advisory board. Patras’s grant is one of the few awarded by the AFRI Foundation and Applied Science Program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Among Patras’ team at TSU is Taylor Ribeiro, a third-year Ph.D. student in biological sciences, who is working on the inactivation of bacterial in blue berry-flavored functional beverage. She said it feels good to be working with something that’s in the forefront of technology because “current pasteurization methods are starting to fail us.”

Some members of Dr. Patras’ research team in the Meats Processing Lab at TSU (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

“We are starting to see outbreaks left and right. So, to be at the forefront of something that is going to be global pretty soon is a big deal for me,” said Ribeiro, who is from Chesapeake, Virginia. “I am enjoying it. I enjoy working with Dr. Petras and the rest of the team.”

In the second grant, Patras and Co-PI Dr. Hongwei Si will evaluate the cytotoxicity of irradiated liquid foods. Cytotoxicity of irradiated liquid foods must be evaluated to ensure the novel food processing techniques do not produce cytotoxic chemical compounds.

UV photons can break chemical bonds and could result in modifying compounds in foods. UV disinfection itself is the result of forming dimers (bonds) between adjacent pyrimidines in the nucleic acids of bacteria and viruses. The team aims to evaluate the cytotoxicity against normal colon, blood cells and study the protein expression of these cells. Experiments will be conducted mimicking the human gastric system.

For more information on TSU’s College Agriculture, go to http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

Ag officials hope tariffs not long term

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University agriculture officials say they hope President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods is not long term.

Last month, Trump announced that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would go up from 10 percent to 25 percent. The U.S. has also begun investigating whether $300 billion of other Chinese goods could be subject to tariffs.

And last week, the president announced a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican goods, starting June 10, if that country does not substantially halt illegal immigration across the border.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture, said the tariffs are affecting producers, and that federal government subsidies may not be enough to help farmers who have to take out loans to make ends meet.

Trump unveiled a $16 billion bailout last month for farmers hurt by the trade war.

“It’s very unfortunate that agriculture gets caught in this crossfire,” Reddy said. “It’s not good for us, not good for the rest of the world. Hopefully this is short term.”

Finis Stribling is an area extension specialist and coordinator of the New Farmer Academy at TSU. He and a friend have a farm that grows cotton, corn, soybeans and rice, and they’re feeling the effect of the tariffs.

However, Stribling noted that vegetable farmers are not really affected right now, because they can set their prices.

“It just depends on what part of agriculture you’re in, whether it’s the vegetable market, the livestock market, or the grain market,” he said.

Farm groups have warned the White House against proposed new tariffs on Mexico, saying they could trigger retaliatory trade actions from Mexico and again impede exports to one of the top markets for U.S. crops and meat.  

The National Pork Producers Council, a trade group, estimated that tariffs over the last year from Mexico and China so far have cost U.S. pork producers $2.5 billion.

Despite the trade war, there is still interest in farming. Currently, more than 50 prospective farmers from across the country are participating in TSU’s New Farmer Academy, which covers topics like hydroponics and irrigation, farm equipment selection, and organic production.

Brian MacDonald travels from Orange County, California, to attend the seven-month class that meets the third Monday in each month. He said he’s aware of the effect tariffs are having on farmers, but he’s not letting it discourage him from becoming an organic farmer.

“I have this dream of owning a farm,” said MacDonald, who is a retired president and chief financial officer for an electronics company. “It’s a dream I’ve had for the last couple of years.”

For more information about TSU’s College of Agriculture, visit http://www.tnstate.edu/agriculture/.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a  premier, historically black university and land-grant institution offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs, and seven doctoral degrees.  TSU is a comprehensive research intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation, and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville, Tennessee.  With a commitment to excellence, Tennessee State University provides students  with a quality education in a nurturing and innovative environment that prepares them as alumni to be global leaders in every facet of society. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.

State Lawmakers Converge on TSU Campus on ‘Tennessee General Assembly Day’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – State lawmakers got a chance to see Tennessee State University’s excellence up close earlier this month.

Several legislators – from the Senate and House of Representatives – visited and toured the campus on Nov. 14 in what was termed, “Experience TSU: Tennessee General Assembly Day at Tennessee State University.”

This was a departure from the annual “TSU Day at the Capitol,” when university administrators, students, faculty, alumni and friends converge on Legislative Plaza to showcase TSU’s research and other innovative initiatives. The next TSU Day at the Capitol will be on Feb. 12.

TSU alums and state lawmakers, Rep. Harold Love, Jr.; and Senator-elect Brenda Gilmore, said it was important for their fellow lawmakers to visit the TSU campus. (Photo by Michael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Joining the lawmakers at TSU were the Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, Jai Templeton, and representatives from the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Rural Development.

“We are very pleased to welcome you to Tennessee State University and our beautiful campus on behalf of our President, Dr. Glenda Glover,” said Dr. Curtis Johnson, chief of staff and associate vice president.

“Many of you may be familiar with our campus and for some of you, this may be your first time, but we are just glad that you included us in your busy schedules to make this day possible and to see for yourselves some of the great things taking place at this institution.”

At a luncheon in the President’s Dining Room prior to touring facilities on campus, the lawmakers received briefings and slide presentations from administrators on the university’s 2019 Legislative Priorities for funding consideration by the General Assembly.

Lawmakers and USDA officials watch a computer animation in the CAVE presented by Omari Paul, a 2nd-year Ph.D. student in Computer Information Systems Engineering. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

The priorities include the creation of a STEM Institute, a Community Behavioral and Mental Health Center, the Cumberland Shores Research and Innovative Park, emergency funding for students, and safety and security.

“With the heightened demand for diversification in the STEM work force, an institute would provide research, professional development and training in recruiting and retaining minorities in STEM programs in Tennessee and nationally,” said Dr. Lesia Crumpton-Young, vice president for Research and Institutional Advancement.

With TSU one of only two HBCU’s offering a Ph.D. in psychology in the nation, Crumpton-Young told the lawmakers a community behavioral and mental health center would allow Ph.D. students in psychology to complete their clinical training on campus, instead of at Vanderbilt University, as they currently do.

A group of students from the TSU Career Development Center and the center director, Charles Jennings, right, make a presentation to the visiting legislators at the luncheon in the President’s Dining Room. (Photo by MIchael McLendon, TSU Media Relations)

Two TSU alums and state lawmakers, Rep. Harold Love, Jr., and Senator-elect Brenda Gilmore, were among those present. They said the presence of their colleagues on campus allows them to see “where the money is going.”

“This is so vital because when Tennessee State is engaged and asking for money for campus improvements, security upgrades and for general operation, oftentimes legislators have never been to the campus,” Love said. “By having them on campus, we get to highlight all the wonderful things that are going on at TSU.”

Gilmore shared similar sentiment.

“TSU has so much to offer. They have some of the best and brightest students,” she said.  “I commend TSU for arranging this visit. This is a good start. TSU needs a greater presence, telling the story of what the university is and what the needs are.”

Following the luncheon, lawmakers toured various sites on campus, escorted by TSU’s Assistant Vice President for Public Relations and Communications, Kelli Sharpe, and Johnson.

Leon Roberts, coordinator of the TSU Dental Hygiene program, talks to visitors about the services offered by the Dental Hygiene Clinic. (Photo by Emmanuel Freeman, TSU Media Relations)

Stops included a round-table discussion with administrators and the Dean of the College of Agriculture, Dr. Chandra Reddy, as well as a tour of the Food and Biosciences and Technology Lab, a cutting-edge facility.

State Sen. Frank S. Nicely, 8th District, said he is impressed with work going on at TSU, especially in agriculture.

“I enjoy very much hearing about TSU as a land-grant university,” said Nicely, who is 1st vice-chair of the Senate Energy, Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. “I am excited about the work you are doing with small farmers and reaching out to more counties with your extension program.”

Next, the group stopped in the College of Engineering, where they observed various animations in the CAVE or Computer Assisted for Virtual Environments, a facility for multi-disciplinary research, as well as the Advanced Materials Lab.

The group’s final stop was at TSU’s state-of-the-art Dental Hygiene Clinic, which provides a wide range of reduced-cost dental services to nearly 600 patients in the Nashville community a year.

Department of Media Relations

Tennessee State University
3500 John Merritt Boulevard
Nashville, Tennessee 37209
615.963.5331

About Tennessee State University

With more than 8,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.