Alumnus Returns as UTCVM Dean

UTIA College of Veterinary Medicine Dean Paul J. Plummer.
Paul J. Plummer

Veterinarian and third-generation UT graduate Paul Plummer returns to the university as dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. Plummer (Knoxville ’99, CVM ’00) spent summers as a youth working cattle and goats on his family’s farm in Sevierville and helping his uncle on veterinary farm calls, inspiring him to pursue a career in large-animal medicine. Most recently, he served as associate dean of research and graduate studies at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and professor and Anderson Endowed Chair in Veterinary Sciences. Plummer joins the college in its 50th year as its sixth dean.

Circular Bioeconomy System Team Wins Grant

Niki Labbe, wearing a white lab coat and glasses resting on top of her head.
Niki Labbé

UT AgResearch and Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists are teaming up to produce sustainable carbon materials for auto manufacturing. Their work on a circular bioeconomy system was selected for a $20 million Convergent Research Initiative of the UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute. Team leaders are Niki Labbé, professor and assistant director of the Center for Renewable Carbon, and Erin Webb, a 1999 Herbert College of Agriculture graduate and senior research and development engineer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The grant provides for hiring 10 new faculty positions paired with postdocs and graduate students.

Expanding Global Opportunities

Callie Robinson standing for a photo at a temple in Cambodia.
Callie Robinson

Fifteen Herbert College of Agriculture students travelled to Cambodia and Vietnam in January. Organized by the Smith Center for International Sustainable Agriculture, the two-week study-abroad experience gave students insights into different farming and livestock practices. Sophomore Callie Robinson says she was intrigued by the fencerows and single-axle tractors used in Cambodia. UTIA Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President Keith Carver joined the students and signed a memorandum of understanding with the Royal University of Agriculture in Vietnam, strengthening the Smith International Center’s partnerships in the nation.

In Memoriam: Jim Herbert

Jim Herbert headshot

UT alumnus and longtime supporter Jim Herbert died in March at the age of 83. The university named the Herbert College of Agriculture in 2018 in honor of the transformational support of Jim (Knoxville ’62) and his wife, Judi (Knoxville ’63). Jim Herbert made his career in the world of food safety, co-founding Neogen Corporation, a pioneer in rapid diagnostic testing for food and animal safety. A Memphis native, Jim’s love for the university started when he was promised a free room on the ag campus if he watered the plants in the greenhouse.

Spread the Word About Garlic

A group of farmers smile while holding a basket full of freshly grown garlic.
Garlic growers in Tennessee are finding the market ripe for the plant.

A partnership between a Fentress County farmer, the county Extension office and the Center for Profitable Agriculture is helping make garlic a bigger and more successful crop in Tennessee. Three education-focused garlic festivals are scheduled across Tennessee: July 26 in Jamestown, Aug. 23 in Blountville and Sept. 24 in Memphis. To register for the 2024 garlic festivals, visit

Read more in the latest issue of UTIA’s magazine: