Tag Archives: college of agriculture

College of Ag hosts USDA Forest Service HBCU research summit

By Alexis Clark, Charlie Morrison

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s College of Agriculture hosted the USDA Forest Service-Southern Research Station HBCU Research Summit earlier this week, commemorating 30 years of research, partnership, and collaboration among the USDA, Southern Research Station (SRS), and HBCUs engaged in agricultural research.

The 2024 SRS-HBCU Programs Summit welcomed USDA Undersecretary Homer Wilkes as a special guest. Wilkes’ participation provided additional opportunities for sharing partnering successes, exploring challenges and intersections, and fostering ongoing collaboration.

Held on campus in various College of Agriculture buildings, the event featured SRS Director Dr. Toral Patel-Weynand, presentations on the university’s history and its SRS partnership, and a panel discussion on future collaborations. Sessions throughout the day mapped out future interactions between research universities and their government counterparts at the USDA.

SRS Director Dr. Toral Patel-Weynand, left, and USDA Undersecretary Homer Wilkes at TSUs USDA Forest Service-Southern Research Station HBCU Research Summit

This marks the second consecutive year the College of Agriculture has hosted the summit in collaboration with SRS and the USDA, showcasing the institution’s commitment to fostering relationships with government agencies. Dr. De’Etra Young, Associate Dean of Academics and Land-grant Programs, highlighted the importance of collaborative partnerships during the event.

“We wanted to host the summit again this year because fostering collaborative partnerships with the Southern Research Station and other 1890 institutions is critical to our mission of bringing the best research opportunities to our talented student body,” Dr. Young said during the event.

“The end result of our work to collaborate with our industry partners is to improve the quantity and quality of the research avenues available to our student body and that’s always going to necessitate a close relationship with the USDA.”

USDA Undersecretary Homer Wilkes, an HBCU alumnus, expressed gratitude for TSU hosting the event.

“I’m very thankful for TSU for hosting this event,” Wilkes said. “It gives us an opportunity to have an exchange of information. If we say we want to be helpful, we need to know how can we be helpful. And that’s the type of dialogue we have with these deans and the university setting.”

Fellow representatives from other HBCUs participated in the panel discussion about industry partnerships, grant funding efforts, student recruitment and more during the summit event.

Wilkes was appointed to his position under the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack by President Joe Biden in 2021.

Dr. Toral Patel-Weynand said SRS has more than 200 research, education, and outreach activities with HBCUs or 1890 land-grant schools since 2017. “My vision is to keep building on the solid foundation we’ve established over the past three decades, and to set the stage for even greater engagement and expansion to include more 1890 schools,” Patel-Weynand said.

“TSU and the other HBCUs can look forward to a continued commitment from SRS to work with faculty at each of the six universities to design a program to grow and enhance the relationship for mutual benefit while building capacity and developing scientists at the undergraduate and graduate level.”

Dr. Quincy Quick, TSU’s Associate Vice President of Research and Sponsored Programs, participated in the HBCU panel discussion alongside representatives from other HBCUs. They discussed industry partnerships, grant funding efforts, student recruitment and retention, and diversity at governmental organizations. Dr. Quick addressed the importance of diversity in thinking and research.

“We have diversity in that our mission is to train and develop African-American students, but what should not get lost in any discussion about diversity, and it gets lost, is that really what you’re talking about is diversity of thinking,” Quick said. “That’s what helps create, develop, and sustain partnerships, accepting that diversity.”

During the day-long summit, TSU hosted not only USDA and SRS but also representatives from Tuskegee University, Florida A&M University, Southern University, Alabama A&M University, and North Carolina A&T University. It serves as another demonstration of the university’s commitment to research and its pursuit of an ‘R1’ designation under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning.

The summit event highlighted TSU’s dedication to advancing research collaboration not only with the USDA and SRS but also with fellow HBCUs.

About USDA Forest Service

The Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages the nation’s 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands, encompassing 193 million acres of land.

College of Agriculture’s  De’Etra Young receives USDA National Teaching Award

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University is proud to announce that Dr. De’Etra Young, Associate Dean for Academics and Land-grant Programs, received the prestigious U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Teaching Award. The national award, presented by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the USDA, recognizes excellence in agricultural sciences teaching and student engagement. Dr. Young is one of two recipients this year for the annual award and said she is honored for this recognition.

Dr. Manjit Misra, director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and Dr. Young.

“This recognition celebrates my dedication to education and symbolizes the rich legacy of Tennessee State University, an HBCU committed to preparing students for success,” Young said. 

“At TSU, we take pride in our mission to excel in teaching and learning, offering experiential learning opportunities and fostering professional development for our students. This award is a testament to the University and College of Agriculture’s commitment to innovation in the classroom.”

The annual award includes a $5,000 stipend for teaching enhancements at TSU. Young is recognized as a leader in undergraduate research that is driven by her passion for environmental science and urban forestry. She has been committed to motivating students, like junior Blake Wright, to have that same passion and drive.  The Dallas, TX native is studying agricultural sciences. 

Blake Wright

“Even when I started my freshman year, Dr. Young had helped me so much.” Wright said.

“I was able to get accepted for an 1890 farm bill scholarship, and she makes sure students are aware of leadership opportunities. She overcomes challenges, presents great opportunity, and this national recognition is long overdue.”

As a mentor, Young has created many aspiring researchers over time, who have also gained national recognition for their contributions, according to the APLU website. CheKenna Fletcher, stated that she wouldn’t be in the position as a first-year Ph.D. student in agricultural sciences without Young’s support.

“Her tireless commitment to guiding students through their academic journey and beyond is unmatched,” Fletcher said.

CheKenna Fletcher

“From crafting heartfelt recommendation letters to being a constant source of encouragement, she embodies selflessness like no other, proving that leadership leaves no room for personal rest but thrives in the success of others.”

Dr. Chandra Reddy, the dean of the College of Agriculture, said Young is very deserving of this award as she is a role model to many TSU students and faculty.

“Dr. Young is an exceptional teacher, mentor, and advisor,” Reddy said.

“Dr. Young’s passion to engage high school and undergraduate students in research makes our novel summer apprenticeship and dean’s scholar’s program so popular with participating students and their families. I congratulate her on behalf of my colleagues in the College for getting selected for this prestigious national teaching award.”

Young, who has been at TSU for ten years, has been awarded more than $30 million in funding as a principal investigator (PI) and Co-PI.

Dr. Young assisting college of Agriculture students during the fall semester.

 “We applaud the 2023 winners of the Excellence in College and University Teaching Awards for Food and Agricultural Sciences,” said Wendy Fink, Executive Director of the Academic Programs Section at APLU.

“Through their dedicated and focused passion in mentoring and instruction, they serve as inspirational leaders for their students and other faculty striving to serve their students better.”

Dr. Young received her bachelor’s degree in Urban Forestry at Southern University and A&M College, and a masters and a Ph.D both in forestry from Texas A&M University. Visit our website to find more information about TSU’s Agricultural Sciences program or majors.

TSU continues to revolutionize farming with 19th annual expo

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) –  For nearly two decades, Tennessee State University has provided vital resources to the State’s small farmers. One of the major resources is the TSU Small Farm Expo. The event is dedicated to supporting small-scale farming, along with providing sustainable practices and agricultural education.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, the dean of the college of agriculture expressed the university’s commitment to the event.

TSU Director of New Farmer Academy and Small Farms, Finis Stribling III

“This is the very purpose of why we exist,” Reddy said. “As a land-grant institution, we want to support the producers.” 

The event drew over 250 attendees, including more than 60 university students, and featured workshops, engagement speakers, and farmers.

Finis Stribling, III chaired this year’s Small Farm Expo and noted that one of those small farmers is Danielle Buyton. Buyton was recognized as the 2023 TSU New Small Farmer of the year and received $3,000 to support her farming efforts. 

“We started this expo about 19 years ago to showcase what TSU is doing in relation to small farms,” Stribling said.

Aria McElroy, a senior agricultural science major with a concentration in environmental science, was among the dozens of students who attended the expo.

Dr. Reddy trying a bitter melon beverage at one of the food crop tables during the Small Farm Expo at TSU.

“After I graduate in May, I would love to work with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and get a strong foundation of what conservation is like and how I can bring that to private and public land.”

Aria, an 1890 Farm Bill scholar, also highlighted the significance of seeing Black farmers and landowners.

“It’s really good for TSU to have this event. Just seeing black farm and landowners in this space is great.”

In addition to chairing the expo, Stribling is the director of the academy. He is also a third-generation farmer and established the academy to support beginner small farmers across the country.Stribling noted how the New Farmer Academy graduates play a pivotal role in expanding the small farming community to sustain production in our ecosystem.

During the Small Farmer recognition program, Danielle Buyton, was announced as the 2023 TSU New Small Farmer of the year and received $3,000 in total to support her farming efforts. 

“We are here to showcase research relevant to small farms across Tennessee,” he said.

Stribling added that Buyton is also a graduate of the TSU New Farmer Academy, the only academy of its kind in the State that has graduated over 530 farmers from across the country.  

Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher was one of several state officials who attended the expo and praised the New Farmer Academy, reaffirming the importance of supporting small-scale farming and sustainable agriculture practices. 

“It’s one of the best training programs for new farmers and beginning farmers in the United States. It’s been so impactful,” Hatcher said.

Aria McElroy

“It’s one of the most worthwhile programs we need to get behind. It’s going to make a difference in the interests of people.”

Reggie Marshall is a small farmer working to have an impact and credits TSU for his success. Marshall is also one of the first graduates of the TSU New Farmer Academy established in 2014. As he walked and greeted others at the expo he reflected on the important work the TSU College of Agriculture is doing for small farmers across the state.  

“In order to make these small farms viable, we need programs like the New Farm Academy because it walks you through every phase of getting started,” he explained.

Sydney Wyche

The Expo featured speakers from local, state and federal levels, and provided workshops on topics such as urban agriculture, hemp research, organic agriculture, vertical gardening, bee keeping, food demonstrations, food crop production, and more.

TSU student, Sydney Wyche, a sophomore from Huntsville, echoed Aria’s sentiments regarding how beneficial the event was. Sydney attended the Expo to learn more about the agricultural companies and opportunities available.

“I am looking for internships and trying to find new connections,” Wyche said.

Dr. Emmanuel Omondi, Assistant Professor of Agronomy and Industrial Hemp Extension Specialist during the Small farm expo.

“I wanted to learn more about the agricultural companies. From the medicine you take to what you eat, agriculture is connected to everything.”

In addition to being a resource, the expo serves as a platform to bring small farmers together and as well as extension agencies from across the state.  

Tennessee State University reaches over $100 million in research awards, second among nation’s HBCUs

Continues path to obtain R1 status with record-setting external funding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has reached a historic milestone, with the institution receiving over $100 million in research awards. The $100,031,082 million in funding is the second highest total among the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the 2022-2023 fiscal year. According to TSU President Glenda Glover, the record-setting awards are a part of the University’s plan to reach R1- research status.

“I applaud our Research and Sponsored Programs division for the implementation and continuation of a robust program that speaks to TSU’s commitment to changing the world through our research,” said TSU President Glenda Glover. “We understand that a significant increase in research expenditures is the key metric to obtain the R1 designation, the highest research classification for institutions.”

Anthony Thai

Some of the funding will focus on innovations in renewable energy, sustainable technologies, and global food security. University officials believe these research efforts will continue to transform lives and shape the future of TSU students.

“The aim of research in general is so that research will have a societal impact across the board from a local, state, regional and national level,” said Dr. Quincy Quick, associate vice president of Research and Sponsored Programs.

“All of the research that was awarded from the Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences to all the awards in the College of Agriculture will have a huge impact.”

In 2021, TSU’s external research funding was just over $70.7 million and has increased by 34% since then. This includes an $18 million United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA NIFA) NEXTGeneration grant awarded to the College of Agriculture that helped to propel TSU to the new record setting total.  

“The USDA/NIFA grant isn’t just a financial fortune, but it is a transformative opportunity that will propel TSU to new heights and academic excellence,” Dr. Quick added.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the College of Agriculture, right, with Dr. John Ricketts, left, a professor in the Department of Agricultural Sciences with the College of Agriculture, is the principal investigator for the NEXTGENeration Inclusion Consortium for Building the “Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences Pipeline (FANHP)” grant funded by USDA/NIFA for $18 million.

Quick also received a $2,970,000 grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, adding to the total. The award will be used for the renovation of Harned Hall in the College of Life and Physical Sciences, which houses (13) research labs and (2) teaching laboratories.

“We have hit the highest total in grant awards in the institution’s history. This puts TSU in the upper echelon of research funding among HBCUs.”

Quick, who is leading the R1 designation effort, says the goal is to ultimately reach $150 million in total grant awards within the next five years. TSU has had record awards in three of the last four years, $54 million (2019-2020); $70.7 million (2020-2021); and over $100 million (2022-2023).  

The R1 status is the highest research designation, under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning. The designation would mean more doctoral programs, research initiatives and funding for students and the university. Currently, TSU is one of only 11 HBCUs with an R2 designation under the category of “high research activity.”

TSU’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences and the College of Agriculture received a total of $65.9 million awards of this year’s total.

Here are the top awards received in 2022-23: 

  • Dr. John Ricketts – College of Agriculture, $18,000,000 (USDA NIFA)
  • Dr. Kimberly Smith- RSP, $10,444,445 (TN Department of Human Services)
  • Dr. Andrea Tyler – Title III, $10,254,498 (Department of Education) 
  • Dr. Quincy Quick – RSP, $5,000,000 (Department of Energy) 
  • Dr. Quincy Quick –RSP, $2,970,000 (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
  • Dr. Karla Addesso – College of Agriculture, $2,479,982 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Melanie Cantu – College of Agriculture, $2,016,694 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Rebecca Selove – RSP, $1,772,784 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Deo Chimba – College of Engineering, $1,611,168 (Dept. of Transportation) 
  • Dr. Margaret Whalen – RSP, $1,255,618 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Roy Sonali – College of Agriculture, $1,158,373 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Jianwei Li, College of Agriculture, $1,118,709 (USDA) 

TSU College of Agriculture adds high-demand Master of Science Program

By Dr. Alyssa Rockers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University College of Agriculture will welcome the first students in a new Master of Science in Agribusiness and Leadership degree program in Fall 2023. The new program will allow students pursuing a master’s degree in agricultural business or agricultural leadership, education, and communications (ALEC) to take a program of study more specific to their needs and interests. TSU will offer this new degree both in person and online, with and without the thesis option.

PhD student Sunil Gurung at TSUs small farm expo.

“The new MS degree will broaden the scope of graduate degree offerings in the College and meet the tremendous market demand and student interest,” said Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of TSU’s College of Agriculture.

According to Dean Reddy, Agribusiness is a popular undergraduate major at TSU and many other institutions, and the new program will align graduates with their career choices, which will benefit students in finding better employment opportunities.

“Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication is very popular with those wanting to be leaders and communicators in the agricultural sector,” he said. “Many of our extension agents have been asking for such a graduate degree for a long time. The new degree is a more robust program and will be helpful to students seeking employment.”

Dr. Prabodh Illukpitiya, agricultural business professor in the College of Agriculture said the college has been anticipating this great opportunity as it will have a tremendous impact and benefit for the university.

“It’s a great collaboration between agribusiness and agricultural leadership, education, and communications,” Illukpitiya said.

 TSU alum Madison Lewis showcasing an Ag. Literacy presentation during her masters program.

“The program will benefit TSU by providing more opportunities to minority students and will enhance student retention and TSU’s reputation in agribusiness and ALEC programs.”

Agricultural education professor Dr. John C. Ricketts noted that in addition to creating workforce development opportunities, the program will specifically allow the university to offer agriculture teachers and extension agents an online program that’s respective of their needs. In addition to an experience for those who aren’t looking to become a bench scientist.

“It’s also going to provide content that meets their needs as educators,” Ricketts said.

“They will be able to take research and statistics courses that are meant for them as social scientists. Our students will be prepared to lead others and perform at top levels in business, education, government, nonprofit, and communication sectors,” he said.

To learn more about this new program and specifically the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication focus, contact Dr. John Ricketts (jricket1@tnstate.edu). If students are interested in Agribusiness Management, contact Dr. Probodh Illukpitiya (pillukpi@tnstate.edu). To apply for the program contact Dr. Bharat Pokharel (bpokhare@Tnstate.edu), the department of Agriculture Director of Graduate Programs.

TSU College of Agriculture’s Center of Excellence trains students to take on climate change and other global issues 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University’s wetland is crucial to the health of both water resources and wildlife in North Nashville. TSU graduate student Devin Moore said that’s why he is grateful to be able to participate in research of the TSU wetland project, ultimately benefiting local Nashville communities.

Moore’s study of TSU’s wetland is made possible through a $6 million grant from the 1890 Center of Excellence Land. The award is for three years and will provide critical research on creating a quality environment that mitigates the impact of climate change in Tennessee, across the nation and globally.  

“Through the funding from the Center of Excellence (COE) we have been able to measure and analyze some of the toxins in the water through new progressive technology,” Moore said. 

Devin Moore placing teabags in the TSU Wetland to absorb and test toxins found. (Photo submitted)

Moore is receiving a master’s degree in agriculture with a focus on environmental sciences and is currently researching harmful algal blooms in the TSU Wetland and at the Ted Rhodes Golf Course in North Nashville. 

Wetlands have their own distinct ecosystem that can help advance the knowledge and resolutions to complex problems, including those related to climate change. According to scientists, extensive training and research is needed to solve these environmental issues.  

“I am excited for the research that I am doing,” added Moore, who obtained his bachelor’s degree from Yale University. “As someone who came from a social sciences background, it is nice to be around people who are experts in their field and are willing to sit down with me and bridge the gap,” he said.  

“It feels like what we’re doing could have some big global implications. I am grateful and thankful for the COE and everything they have enabled us to do.” 

Dr. Chandra Reddy

College of Agriculture Dean Chandra Reddy, who also serves as director of research, said the university was granted this opportunity in 2022 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture due to its faculty expertise and capacity to manage the funds.  

“Using our expertise within TSU and with our partners, we want to come up with some ideas and concepts, ways that we can mitigate the impact of climate on our famers and citizens. That’s the bigger goal, but to achieve that you need long term research, continuous support and build at capacity,” Dr. Reddy said. 

The COE consists of more than 20 faculty members, scientists, PhD, master’s, and undergraduate students. It is an investment that helps increase rural prosperity and economic sustainability of food systems in underserved farming communities, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Acting Director Dr. Dionne Toombs. 

“Our goal is to really get the data generated, analyzed, and shared with the public and the funding agencies, and impress them in such a way that we get additional funding to create a physical space for students and experts to conduct extensive research in some of the most pressing environmental issues facing society,” Reddy said.

Agriculture master’s students Champagne Cunningham, right, and Faith Perry collecting water quality measurements from the TSU wetland. (Photo by Joan Kite)

Experts at the Center of Excellence are working on a variety of research projects ranging from renewable energy to animal sciences. TSU scientists are currently researching national issues such as how climate change impact seagrass production and greenhouse gas emissions. University scientists are also researching winter canola oil varieties that will work well for Tennessee farmers, and new export crops for the region such as grain amaranth used as chicken food. 

Champagne Cunningham, a master’s student who plans to become a freshwater ecologist after graduating this May, is also doing research in Nashville on harmful algal blooms. 

“Being able to say I am a part of a research group or a center that is doing such outstanding real-world groundbreaking research is interesting,” Cunningham said. “We get lots of hands-on experience. Because of TSU, I am learning techniques that will help me long term and secure a job as an ecologist.” 

TSU’s College of Agriculture is collaborating with four other HBCUs that make up the 1890 Center of Excellence. They are Alabama A&M University, Southern University, Florida A&M University and Langston University, to host the 1890 Center of Excellence.

About the Center of Excellence

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced this investment in 2022.

This will provide collaborative opportunities among 1890 Institutions to develop management practices that will promote natural resources, explore renewable energy sources, and develop climate smart agricultural production practices to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and improve environmental quality and sustainability, according to NIFA.

TSU reports over $70 million in research funding, impacts childcare, global food security and more

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Early childcare for Tennessee families and global food security are among the top areas Tennessee State University is focusing on as the University reports continued record growth in research funding. TSU’s external research funding is just over $70.2 million with four months remaining in the 2022-2023 submission cycle. To date, the University’s Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences and the College of Agriculture have received the largest single awards totaling $28.9 million.

“TSU’s continued high research output and funded awards are a true testament to the hard work and commitment of our faculty and staff, especially as we also focus our attention on moving from an R2 to R1, the highest research designation, under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning,” says TSU President Glenda Glover.

The TSU Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences is using grants to fund childcare and family support programs in Tennessee.

“A crucial cornerstone of an institution’s success is measured through its research and just as important is how that research will benefit our communities.” 

For its work with children and families, the TSU Center of Excellence for Learning Sciences received a total $18,958, 417 in federal and state funding. The Center is using the grants to fund childcare and family support programs in Tennessee.  Of that amount, nearly $5.3 million came from the Administration for Children and Families, Office of Head Start (ACF/OHS) to support Head Start and two Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership programs; and just under $13.7 million came from the Tennessee Department of Human Services (HHS/TDHS) to support the Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance and Tennessee Family Child Care Network. 

President Glenda Glover


The funding will provide services to 256 children and families and employ approximately 115 staff needed across the state. 

“The Center is proud of the work we do to support children, families, and professionals within the early childhood community,” says COELS’ director Dr. Kimberly Smith.  “We remain focused on educating and uplifting the early childhood workforce in Tennessee and we remain committed to improving the lives of the families we serve.”  

In the College of Agriculture, researchers are using a $10 million capacity building grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support 57 different projects in agricultural education, agricultural business, biotechnology, food science, animal science, environmental science, renewable energy, and human health and nutrition. Two of the major projects will conduct research to enhance nutritional security and environmental quality. 

Dr. Chandra Reddy

Dr. Chandra Reddy, dean of the college and principal investigator of the capacity building grant, says the objective is to find solutions to challenges in global food security, enhancing the environmental quality, and nutritional security. 

“The other important goal of these projects is the diverse workforce development,” Reddy says.  “We are creating new knowledge and graduating diverse background students both at undergraduate and graduate levels.  We also share the research findings with public through our statewide extension programs to improve their productivity and quality of life.” 

CheKenna Fletcher is a first-year Ph.D. student in agricultural sciences with a concentration in food and animal sciences. Her research focus is on the extraction, isolation, characterization, and application of novel materials in health-promoting food products. She is ecstatic about the amount of funds the university is attracting for research. 

“TSU provides students and even professors with various opportunities to conduct research in a variety of fields with global interest,” says Fletcher, of Lebanon, Tennessee. “There are so many conferences, symposiums, and more one can attend to present his/her research, worldwide.” 

CheKenna Fletcher

In the first half of this fiscal year, TSU research proposals garnered more than $68.8 million in external sponsored research funding and now stands at $70.2 million, which is on pace to surpass the record $70.7 million received in 2021. That record-setting year for the University was one of the highest among all HBCUs. The new funding report is a major boost for the University in its continued planning to receive the “R1” research designation.  An R1 designation would mean more doctoral programs, research initiatives and funding for students and the university.  

Associate Vice President of Research and Sponsored Programs Dr. Quincy Quick, who is leading the R1 designation effort, says the goal is double the total amount of grants received. He believes TSU faculty and staff can ultimately reach the $140 million award mark.

Dr. Quincy Quick 

“Our recent historic research productivity and achievement over the last two fiscal years is a consequence of our outstanding and dedicated faculty and staff and their commitment to conducting and performing innovative and transformative high-level research,” says Quick. “Our faculty and staff are enthusiastically engaged in our mission for the highest status as we work collegially and diligently to become the fourth R1 designated institution in the state of Tennessee.” 

Here are some of the other top awards received in 2022-23: 

  • Dr. Andrea Tyler – Title III, $10,254,498 (Department of Education) 
  • Dr. Quincy Quick – RSP, $5,000,000 (Department of Energy) 
  • Dr. Karla Addesso – College of Agriculture, $2,479,982 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Melanie Cantu – College of Agriculture, $2,016,694 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Rebecca Selove – RSP, $1,772,784 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Deo Chimba – College of Engineering, $1,611,168 (Dept. of Transportation) 
  • Dr. Margaret Whalen – RSP, $1,255,618 (National Institutes of Health) 
  • Dr. Roy Sonali – College of Agriculture, $1,158,373 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Jianwei Li, College of Agriculture, $1,118,709 (USDA) 
  • Dr. D’Etra Young – College of Agriculture, $1,000,000 (USDA) 
  • Dr. Robbie Melton – Academic Affairs, $1,000,000 (Apple/Hewlett Packard) 
  • Dr. Catherine Armwood – College of Engineering, $1,000,000 (NSF) 
  • Dr. Dafeng Hui – College of Life & Physical Sciences, $1,000,000 (NSF) 
  • Dr. Lin Li – College of Engineering, $1,000,000 – (NSF) 
  • Dr. Hongwei Si – College of Agriculture, $1,000,000 (USDA/NSF) 
  • Dr. Richard Mu – RSP, $1,000,000 (NSF) 

TSU College of Agriculture host USDA Forest Service event, pipeline for student employment and ‘R1’ status

Tennessee State University’s College of Agriculture hosted a USDA Forest Service-Southern Research Station Senior Leadership event this week, as a pipeline for employment opportunities for environmental science students.

USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station (SRS) visit this week was yet another opportunity to highlight the university’s ongoing commitment to research and becoming an “R1” designation under the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning.

The TSU College of Agriculture is in the final stages of formalizing a partnership with the USDA Forest Service-Southern Research Station. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

During the event, the university and SRS determined how goals and objectives may align for mutually beneficial outcomes and discussed how to improve connectivity between TSU and SRS scientists. USDA Forest Service representatives presented information about their agency, while TSU faculty and graduate students presented their research findings, with the idea of collaborating and integrating research projects with SRS.

Dr. Chandra Reddy, Director of Research and Administrator of Extension in the College of Agriculture, said the goal is to further expand the scope of the Center of Excellence on Natural Resources, Renewable Energy, and Environment with assistance from the SRS team.

SRS Director, Dr. Toral Patel-Weynand and Director of Research and Administrator of Extension in the College of Agriculture Dr. Chandra Reddy. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“SRS scientists conduct deep research in all aspects of the forestry with climate change filter,” Reddy said. “As we are building our capacity in environmental sciences, we want to build a strong partnership with the SRS team in training our graduate and undergraduate students, in addressing climate change concerns, and supporting the small forest landowners. We are very excited to host the leadership of the Southern Research Station of US Forest Service.”

SRS Director, Dr. Toral Patel-Weynand, highlighted their vision for increased collaboration. “We are working hard to make sure our workforce is inclusive and representative of the public we serve, a place where individuals can thrive and contribute to our collective success. We see places where TSU students can contribute to and gain experience from our research studies.”

HBCU Program Manager and Coordination Lead for SRS, Dr. Johnny Grace, said the Station, which is part of the nation’s largest forest research organization, is searching for ways to more effectively partner with TSU.

HBCU Program Manager and Coordination Lead for SRS, Dr. Johnny Grace (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“We are attempting to connect with TSU students and faculty to develop a pipeline into our science programs and workforce,” Grace said.

While TSU scientists presented their lab work, a few graduate students studying agriculture presented their research as well.

Maria Schutte, a Dayton, Ohio native who is receiving her master’s degree from the environmental sciences program, said this opportunity will have more people involved in the forestry industry as the department of agricultural and environmental sciences is working towards being accredited for a forestry program.

“I think anything that helps us for research in a timely manner will help us get to R1,” Schutte said. “Having access to scientists through an established partnership to be able to set up projects will be great. It’s helping with our environmental sciences program, and I think this partnership will help us flush out environmental sciences as a major here.”

Maria Schutte (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

Robert Lee, former Deputy Program Manager for the SRS Forest Inventory and Analysis Program, said building positive relationships to enhance and sustain their nation’s forest ecosystems is one of the most important obligations to have. “This obligation also extends to promoting a diverse and inclusive workforce which are mutual goals of TSU and the Southern Research Station,” Lee said.

The TSU College of Agriculture is in the final stages of formalizing a partnership with the USDA Forest Service-Southern Research Station.

About USDA Forest Service

The Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation’s 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands. The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of land.

TSU receives $5 million grant that could lead to state being top hemp grower in region

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University has received nearly $5 million in a hemp research grant, an investment that could make the state of Tennessee the number one grower in the Southeast region. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the investment this week, awarding the grant to the College of Agriculture towards a new partnership for a Climate-Smart Fiber Hemp Project.

This investment for sustainable hemp fiber research will promote market development of industrial hemp supply as a climate-smart commodity through incentives to underserved Tennessee growers enrolled into the program.

Dr. Emmanuel Omondi

Dean and Director of Research/Administrator of Extension Chandra Reddy said the department is excited to support hemp producers in the state, particularly with climate smart production practices.

“We have been at the forefront of identifying appropriate hemp varieties to grow in Tennessee and have been facilitating producers’ meetings on our campus,” Reddy says. “This multi-million-dollar project strengthens our Center of Excellence focusing on developing Climate Smart practices in managing Natural Resources, Renewable Energy, and Environment.”

The hemp project is a collaborative initiative to expand the production of industrial hemp as a climate-smart commodity, evaluate its greenhouse gas benefits, and promote the value of market development to a cross-section of production agriculture, including historically underserved producers across the state of Tennessee.

Dr. Emmanuel Omondi and PhD student Anand Kumar at Tennessee State University’s agricultural farm

The project is led by Dr. Emmanuel Omondi, Assistant Professor of Agronomy and Industrial Hemp Extension Specialist.

Omondi says the greatest percentage of funds will be used to provide support and incentives to historically underserved farmers owning up to 500 acres to grow fiber hemp. The fiber hemp will then be processed and supplied to the motor vehicle industry as raw materials for manufacturing critical motor vehicle parts such as fabrics and bioplastics, he says.

“Funds will also be used to continue research into the best management agronomic production practices such as crop rotations, reduced tillage, alternative sources of fertilizers, and good genetics for Tennessee.”

Omondi said he is excited about the opportunity and looks forward to having a, “strong team of multidisciplinary partners who are totally committed to the successful execution of this project.”

TSU alum Frederick Cawthon, President of Hemp Alliance of Tennessee (HAT), who is a key partner within the project, said the overall goal is to create opportunities for underserved Tennessee growers.

“Tennessee can become the leading producer of hemp in the Southeast United States,” Cawthon said. “It’s a proud moment in my career to work alongside my alma mater to create opportunities for Tennessee’s diverse hemp producers. We are committed to growing this industry responsibly, and we encourage all industries to examine how they can utilize this climate-smart and regenerative raw material.”

In collaboration with TSU for the project is HAT, University of Tennessee (UTK), and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) to address the global challenges posed by climate change.


TSU 2022 Fall Career Fair largest turn out in university history with over 1,000 students

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Over 1,000 TSU students will be better prepared for internships and the job market following the university’s Fall Career Fair. The students took advantage of meeting over 240 potential employers at the fair that included representatives from government agencies, aerospace, banking, engineering, healthcare, and several other industries. The employers set up tables and displays in the Gentry Center Complex to network with students about career and employment opportunities. 

Companies representing the automotive, engineering, aerospace, banking and healthcare industries attend the 2022 Fall Career fair. (Photo by Aaron Grayson)

“This is amazing,” Antoinette Duke, Director of the Career Development Center said during the event. “This is the largest career fair that we’ve had.” In preparation of the fair, the university held career readiness sessions at each housing location, on and off campus. The hands-on training sessions were led by executives and representatives of major companies such as Atria, PepsiCo, and Procter and Gamble. 

President Glenda Glover made an announcement mid-event stating how proud she was to see students seeking employment and thanked all the company representatives for coming. “We appreciate the support … thank you to our sponsors for being here,” Glover said.

Whitney Hawkins, a freshman health science major from Chicago, Illinois speaks with represnentives for Overhead Door Company. (Photo by: Aaron Grayson)

“And to the students, I look forward to you all being employees for the companies present, in the near future.”

Whitney Hawkins, a freshman health science major from Chicago, Illinois, said she was excited to see how many companies poured into her HBCU with internship and employment opportunities.

“I am open to learn about all these amazing companies,” Hawkins said during the event. “I am grateful that the school had this opportunity for us. They (employers) were really open and conversational.” While Hawkins was searching for internship opportunities to one day become a physician assistant, Reginald Cooper Jr., a rising senior from Memphis, was on a job hunt for opportunities related to health sciences.

Reginald Cooper Jr., a rising senior from Memphis, spoke with several employers as he seeks interest in a career related to health sciences. (Photo by: Aaron Grayson)

“It was very informative speaking with Fifth Third Bank, as it has been at all the booths,” Cooper said.

“It’s great to see how many booths have come back from the previous years to show that they have an interest in TSU students.” Cooper appreciated how all the employees at each booth was approachable, greeting him with a smile. “I found a lot of opportunities and I’m excited that I see a lot of TSU students here.”

Xenea Ford, a TSU graduate who attended the fair to represent her company, said it was a full circle moment to see how impactful the event was for her and current students. Ford is a 2017 graduate who is an Internal Account Manager for Jackson National Life Insurance Company.

TSU alum Xenea Ford, an Internal Account Manager for Jackson National Life Insurance Company, said her company is offering job and internship opportunities. (Photo by: Aaron Grayson)

“I actually found out about my company at a career fair at TSU in Kean (Hall),” Ford said.

“It feels really nostalgic and amazing to be able to be here. We are looking for diverse talent and I love that we are looking here at TSU. Harold Guy, another TSU alum who is an Account Executive for Enterprise fleet management, couldn’t agree more.

“I have been smiling from ear to ear since I have been here,” Guy laughed during the event. “I am excited to see the students dressing the part and coming in with their resumes.”

Employers said they were impressed about the students’ level of preparation and career readiness. (Photo by: Aaron Grayson)

Like many students, one of those rising seniors who had their resume on hand was Adrien Calvert who is studying Mass Communications.

“This is something to appreciate,” Calvert said noting that many companies told him there is a seat at the table for a communications major.

“We are about to get into the real world.” 

For more information about the TSU Career Services Department, visit https://www.tnstate.edu/careers/ .