Category Archives: News

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Rounak Patra selected for the GATE program

PhD candidate Rounak Patra has received the highly competitive Graduate Advancement Training and Education (GATE) fellowship from the University’s Science Alliance program. Through this fellowship, Rounak will be collaborating with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in his research on microbial mechanisms underpinning soil carbon dynamics. Rounak was one of only 12 graduate students to be selected for this university-wide competition. Amazing job, Rounak!

A Volunteer of Distinction in our midst: Ashleigh Montgomery wins Professional Promise Award

Master’s student Ashleigh Montgomery received the award for Extraordinary Professional Promise for her research on manganese geochemistry and plant availability in response to agricultural practices. This is one of only a few awards given by the Office of the Provost to students in each department every year, and dignifies Ashleigh as a Volunteer of Distinction. We are very proud of Ashleigh for this huge accomplishment!

At the awards ceremony, Ashleigh had the pleasure of meeting Smokey himself.

Invited talk by PhD student Ravi Teja Neelipally

Our very own Ravi Teja Neelipally gave an outstanding invited talk in UTK’s Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. He spoke on the role of plant-growth-promoting microbes from cow manure-based organic formulations in mediating the growth of wheat, corn, and soybean. Great job, Ravi!

PhD candidate Rounak Patra receives 2022 ESA Graduate Student Policy Award

We are excited to announce that PhD candidate Rounak Patra has received the Ecological Society of America’s Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award. This award will allow Rounak to participate in a virtual Congressional Visit Day, which is a unique opportunity to add his insights into the importance of federal investments in the biological and ecological sciences. Congrats Rounak!

Learn more about the award here!

MS student Ashleigh Montgomery earns a grant from SSSA

Ashleigh Montgomery is an MS student in our lab who recently received the Graduate Student Travel Grant to attend SSSA this coming fall! This award is given to a limited number of students and Ashleigh is incredibly grateful for the award. At the conference, she will be giving two oral presentations. First, she will be presenting research she conducted during her undergrad at Saint Louis University titled, “Road salt applications affect soil physiochemical characteristics across time and space.” Second, she will be presenting her MS research titled, “Manganese Source and Rate Response of Soil Geochemical Processes and Plant Growth.” Be sure to check out her presentations! Congratulations, Ashleigh!

Welcome Dr. Patricia Lazicki

Dr. Lazicki recently joined Jagadamma Lab as a post doctoral research associate. She recently finished her PhD from University of California, Davis. She is broadly interested in researching ways that farmers can optimize their management techniques to increase the benefits and reduce the risks associated with using organic fertility sources, with a special interest in exploring the best ways to improve and assess soil health. Here, she will be researching how crop management affects the health of Tennessee soils. She will be co-advised by Dr. Jaehoon Lee. Welcome, Dr. Lazicki!

PhD student Ravi Teja Neelipally earns a Research Award!

Ravi Teja Neelipally, PhD student in our lab, received a Student/Faculty Research Award for his project, “Culturing native and beneficial plant growth-promoting species from livestock-based biodynamic preparations.” Ravi ‘s proposal was one of only 13 to be funded. Congratulations to Ravi for this achievement!

Dr. Sutie Xu Now at South Dakota State University


Dr. Sutie Xu was a postdoc in Dr. Sindhu Jagadamma’s laboratory. Last December, she joined the Department of Agronomy, Horticulture, and Plant Science at South Dakota State University as an Assistant Professor. Sutie’s research interests mainly relied on interdisciplinary studies to understand the influence of anthropogenic, environmental, and biotic factors on physical, chemical, and biological processes in soils. Sutie’s future research will focus on soil health under sustainable natural and agroecosystem management and precision farming. She is stationed in Pierre, South Dakota where she has a room with a view as her office is right across the Missouri River! Congratulations Dr. Xu and please stay in touch!

Dr. Xu's Office at Un

Shikha Singh successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis


Last November, Shikha Singh successfully defended her Ph.D. thesis: “Soil Moisture Sensitivity to Microbial Processing of Soil Organic Carbon.” Shikha received numerous awards for oral and poster presentations at the ASA-SSSA-CSSA meetings and recognitions at the university level. Her major advisor was Dr. Sindhu Jagadamma and committee members were Drs. Mark Radosevich, Melanie Mayes, and Stephanie Kivlin. Shikha’s research was funded by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She has recently accepted a postdoctoral position at the Oregon State University. Congratulations to Dr. Shikha Singh!