Making an Impact: CASNR Spotlights Grant, Hart

Through teaching, research, and service, our faculty are making an impact on student lives, on our community, and on the world. Here’s a look at two faculty members from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Both impact students through creative thinking and real passion for their field.

Jerome Grant

JeromeGrantBetween social media and smartphones, teachers are finding it increasingly difficult to engage students who are in a perpetual state of information overload.

Jerome Grant is up for the challenge.

Grant, a professor in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, uses a combination of unconventional and interactive teaching methods to capture the interest of his students as they explore the wonderful world of insects.

“I readily accept teaching as a challenge and a responsibility, and I am committed to student success in my courses,” said Grant. “To do that, I try to create a learning environment that focuses on hands-on activities and real-life situations to promote creative thinking and encourage students to be inquisitive and problem solvers.”

In class, the “Bug Man” has students do fun activities such as writing insect-themed poetry, playing insect charades, and hosting a “Buggy Buffet” to illustrate the importance of insects as food throughout the world.

JeromeGrant-InsectFestivalGrant takes learning outside of the classroom as well, with field trips to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to view the impact of invasive species, visits to places around Knoxville to see insect damage to ornamental plants, and even a trip to Nashville to tour facilities that provide entomology-related services.

“Jerome uses a teaching style that encompasses all the senses,” said Caula Beyl, dean of the college. “He delights in having students experience not only the pleasures of learning about bugs, but tasting, touching, hearing, smelling, and seeing them in all their glory as well.”

Grant hopes that by sharing his deep love for the field he cultivates that same level of passion in his students.

“I love interacting with students, both undergraduate and graduate, and sharing my passion about insects with them. I encourage students to become passionate about things that interest them and to pursue that passion in their lives and in their professions.”

Outside the classroom, Grant talks about bugs whenever he can.

“Insects provide many opportunities for sharing science and observing nature with people of all ages, from one to 100,” he said. “Every person has a bug story; why not use it as a teaching opportunity?”

William Hart

William Hart CASNR photoWhether in the classroom or through his extracurricular work, William Hart’s message to his students is the same: always look for the open door.

“If folks had told me in high school that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I would’ve laughed them right out of the room,” said Hart. “I’ve always said that you make lots of plans in life, but then doors open and lead you somewhere unexpected.”

Hart, an associate professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, inherited a deep passion for farming and agriculture while growing up on a traditional farm in a small community outside of Jonesborough, Tennessee As he got older, he dreamed of working for tractor supply giant John Deere.

“During my senior year of college I interviewed with them,” he said. But by the time he graduated, the sluggish economy had dealt a major blow to the agricultural field. “I contacted Deere and they said that due to the economy all of their positions had to be filled internally, and my heart sank.”

“But again, when one door closes, another opens and you have a choice.”

After Hart completed a graduate research assistantship at UT, the school offered him a job.

Now, you can find him in the classroom inspiring a new generation of students and faculty colleagues with his genuine enthusiasm and dedication to the field.

“In every department, there is one faculty member who is always available when there is a need. Dr. Hart is one of such people. To say he is caring and dependable is an understatement,” Beyl said.

Outside the classroom, Hart serves as advisor for the student branch of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. Last year he chaired the UT Institute of Agriculture’s Ag Day, an annual event that showcases current happenings within the institute for alumni and the public.

Curriculum aside, Hart credits the love of his job to his students.

“They are the reason that I love what I do,” he says. “So at the end of the day, all I want for them is to get the same kind of enjoyment out of their careers as I do mine.”

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, ablakely@utk.edu)