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About UT AgResearch and Our Leadership

Message from the Dean


Welcome to the UT AgResearch website!

Agriculture is the largest industry in the state of Tennessee and contributes approximately $74.8 billion (11 percent) to the state’s economy each year. The agricultural industry also provides approximately 357,000 jobs for our state. With more than 10.8 million acres of farmland, research has been and will continue to be the engine that drives our agricultural enterprise. Our cutting-edge research is used to train the next generation of agriculture professionals and the scientific innovations are disseminated to our end users for life-improving applications.

As the world population continues to grow (projected 9.8 billion by 2050), so does the demand for our farmers to produce more food, fiber, and fuel with fewer resources while also minimizing their impact on the environment. Established in 1882, the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station, now AgResearch, has a proven track record of success for the past 137-plus years. Our ten AgResearch and Education Centers strategically located across the state provide the real-world settings for our faculty, graduate students, and other specialized professionals to conduct mission-oriented research and innovation. Our dedicated faculty and staff are committed to finding solutions to improve the lives of people in Tennessee and beyond.

Today AgResearch continues to broaden our research horizons as agriculture moves into a new era. We have started working on new transformational research initiatives in areas such as agricultural synthetic biology, plant and animal genomics, One Health, and smart agriculture. We tackle these grand challenges through collaborations with multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary teams made up of public and private partners across the campus, the state, the nation, and the globe.

Hongwei Xin, Dean and Director


Our Mission

"UT AgResearch advances science in agriculture and food systems, natural resource management, and family and consumer sciences."

We do this through the discovery of new knowledge, the innovation of these discoveries into new products and processes, and the application of these innovations to enhance the lives of citizens of Tennessee and the world.


Discover More about UT AgResearch


Executive Team

Hongwei Xin Profile Page
Hongwei Xin
Dean And Professor
Jane Balch Burns Profile Page
Jane Balch Burns
Interim Director & Comp Ofcr, Sponsored Programs
Cynthia L Nichols Profile Page
Cynthia L Nichols
Budget Director, AgResearch Administration
Timothy G Rials Profile Page
Timothy G Rials
Assoc Dean & Professor, AgResearch Administration
Carrera Romanini Profile Page
Carrera Romanini
Administrative Assistant, AgResearch Administration
Barry Sims Profile Page
Barry Sims
Executive Director, AgResearch Administration
David G White Profile Page
David G White
Assoc Dean & Professor, AgResearch Administration

AgResearch and Education Center Directors

Blake Brown Profile Page
Blake Brown
Research Center Director, AgResearch and Education Center at Milan
Ricky J Carlisle Profile Page
Ricky J Carlisle
Research Center Director, Ames Plantation AgResearch and Education Center
Robert L Ellis Profile Page
Robert L Ellis
Research Center Director, Highland Rim AgResearch and Education Center
Robert M Hayes Profile Page
Robert M Hayes
FR-Professor Emeritus, Plant Sciences
John Walter Hitch Profile Page
John Walter Hitch
Research Center Director, Plateau AgResearch and Education Center
Kevin Patrick Hoyt Profile Page
Kevin Patrick Hoyt
Research Center Director, Forest Resources AgResearch and Education Center
Justin L. McKinney Profile Page
Justin L. McKinney
Research Center Director, Northeast Tennessee AgResearch and Education Center