The Excellence in Academic Outreach award honors those who exemplify UT’s land-grant mission by using intellectual capital to benefit the citizens of Tennessee.
Since his arrival in fall semester 2011, Brad Collett, associate professor of plant sciences, has consistently engaged in the types of integrated scholarship that this award is meant to recognize. His projects center on the critical issue of freshwater usage in the southeastern United States. His leadership in the Plan East Tennessee (PlanET) program has helped communities develop innovative and sustainable solutions for handling storm water. Additionally, Collett helped launch UT’s Smart Communities Initiative, whose 2014–15 pilot program paired faculty and students with community partners in Cleveland, Tennessee, to develop strategies for environmental issues—giving students a taste of real-world work. As part of SCI, Collett led his students in working with the Southeast Tennessee Development District, where they developed HydroLIT: Southeast Tennessee Water Quality Playbook, a publication to heighten understanding of the interconnectedness between water resources and urban, suburban, and rural systems. Collett is now engaged in the Tennessee River Project, a multiyear teaching, research, and outreach effort to gain an understanding of the river system’s contemporary challenges and devise potential solutions.