By Mary Shelley-Snell
The sixteen-month professional development program gives University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture faculty the opportunity to further expand their global engagement by providing them with experiences, knowledge, and networking opportunities. Throughout the program the Smith Global Leadership (SGL) fellows will attend seminars and training as well as visit relevant globally-oriented agencies and organizations in Washington, D.C.
“The Smith Global Leadership Fellows Program is an exciting opportunity for faculty across disciplines and departments to expand their current academic program to include a global component,” Carrera Romanini, post-doctoral manager of the SGL program, said. “We are proud of the work that has been done by the inaugural cohort of fellows and look forward to watching them progress throughout their careers.”
The SGL program includes faculty from a variety of academic backgrounds because finding solutions to the issues facing global agriculture takes many different perspectives and areas of expertise. The fellows’ academic interests include animal science, plant sciences, veterinary medicine, biosystems and soil science, entomology and plant pathology, and infectious diseases. The 2023-2024 SGL fellows are:
- Jennie Ivey, Department of Animal Science
- Alessandro Occhialini, Department of Plant Sciences
- Chika Okafor, College of Veterinary Medicine
- Sree Rajeev, College of Veterinary Medicine
- Sean Schaeffer, Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science
- Avat Shekoofa, Department of Plant Sciences
- Julie Sheldon, College of Veterinary Medicine
- Becky Trout-Fryxell, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology
Charles Kwit, assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources and SGL inaugural cohort member, reflected on the impact of the program on his work, “My recent trip to Spain has fundamentally changed how I will be approaching research on the phenomenon of songbird migration, and how I will encourage others to approach it: not in terms of the traditional approach focusing on its importance to birds, but instead to the ecosystems whose functions (e.g. seed dispersal) are positively impacted by the migrants that stop-over and pass through. In short, the program has helped me form a new worldview on a topic of fascination to many. This new framework will form the big-picture backdrop for my ongoing international work.”
Further impacts of this program on the 2022-2023 cohort are already evident in the ways they have expanded their research, education, and outreach programming, hosted international faculty, and received recognition of their achievements through awards. We look forward to all the ways that both groups of fellows will build on this foundation and continue to grow global within their fields.
For more information about the SGL Program, visit https://smithcenter.tennessee.edu/smith-global-leadership-fellows-program/.