Our new Experience Learning initiative recognizes that learning is enhanced—and more enjoyable—when lessons are used to experiment, solve problems, and innovate. It challenges faculty to look for new and creative ways to work with students. As part of Faculty Appreciation Week 2016, here is a look at two College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources faculty members who “go the extra mile” in their teaching, research, and outreach.
Creating wetlands. Leading class trips to wildlife refuge camps. Providing opportunities for research and teaching while conducting research into deadly viruses that afflict some amphibians.
These are some of the ways Matt Gray helps improve wildlife ecology while helping his students learn about the field.
Gray is a professor of wildlife ecology in UT’s Department of Forestry, Wildlife, and Fisheries and a member of the UT Institute of Agriculture’s Center for Wildlife Health. He received his bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife management from Michigan State University, his master’s degree in wildlife ecology and statistics from Mississippi State University, and his doctorate in wildlife science and mathematics from Texas Tech University. Prior to joining UT, Gray taught at Texas Tech University.
Gray provides many hands-on experiences for his students, including having them help create five wetlands during the past three years.
“These wetlands provide habitat for various wildlife, filter run-off from Cherokee Trail, and provide opportunities for research and teaching close to UT campus,” Gray said.
Each year, Gray also leads a one-week trip to Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge for forty to fifty seniors majoring in wildlife and fisheries science. The students learn different aspects of natural resources and talk to federal biologists as well as scientists from Mississippi State University about how to manage wetlands for wildlife.
Gray’s research of a virus, which has been called the “Ebola of ectothermic vertebrate species,” has led to more than twenty journal articles. He has also co-edited the first book on ranaviruses. He is currently on a sabbatical at the Universidad de Leon in Spain working with colleagues on a possible new species of virus that is killing frogs and salamanders in Spain, France, and Portugal.
Gray said most of his free time is spent with his three-year-old son, Ethan.
“He loves amphibians and has gone on field trips with us to the Smokies to collect salamanders,” said Gray.
From the many stickers, posters, and fliers that adorn Joanne Logan’s office promoting recycling and earth preservation, it’s easy to see she’s passionate about the environment.
Peek inside her classrooms and you’ll realize she’s also passionate about helping her students succeed while giving back to the community.
Logan earned her bachelor’s degree in agronomy from the University of Connecticut and her master’s degree in horticulture and doctorate in horticulture and forestry from the University of Nebraska. Prior to joining UT, Logan was a research professor at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
Logan is an associate professor of biosystems engineering and soil science. Her focus is in applied climatology and climate change.
As part of her Water and Civilization course, Logan and former student Garrett Ferry, now UT’s stormwater coordinator, take students to Knoxville’s Third Creek twice each semester to collect water samples, giving them the chance to test water in an urban environment. Ferry also assists Logan’s Geographic Information Systems class in collecting data from trees, litter, and stormwater around campus.
Ferry said he has known Logan for close to fifteen years now, first as an advisor, then as a student, and now as a colleague.
“As UT’s stormwater coordinator, I now have pleasure of working with her to help improve the natural environment of campus and watch her continue to sculpt students into true stewards of our earth,” said Ferry. “Her unwavering passion for our students and the environment is unmatched. She has helped shape and continues to shape our university’s most valuable resource—our people.”
In addition, Logan’s environmental climatology class can sometimes be found at Pond Gap Elementary School, teaching kids about weather, flood, and lightning safety through hands-on crafts.
Through Logan’s professional development course, she has found a way to close the gaps in the curriculum by creating a Facebook page. Both former and current students use the page to provide feedback about courses and offer input about things they wish they could have done or learned.
Logan said she wants students to have the opportunity to make connections with the college and the community through real-world experiences.
As part of her professional development course, she also works to connect students with internship opportunities. Since Logan began this effort, about three-fourths of her students have been placed in internships.
In her free time, Logan enjoys going hiking and camping with her husband, reading, gardening, and volunteering at Pond Gap Elementary.
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)