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Turfgrass Project

The Turfgrass Project provides industry professionals with research-based information and helps foster the development and sustainability of an industry that improves citizen’s quality of life while contributing significantly to the state’s economy. The Turfgrass Project is an alliance of faculty and staff in the Institute of Agriculture. It has a unified focus of integrating turfgrass research, teaching, and outreach activities to benefit members of the turfgrass industry. Our group focuses on economical and environmentally friendly practices in turfgrass management and fosters the development and sustainability of an industry that annually contributes more than a billion dollars to the state economy.


  • College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
  • Department of Plant Sciences
  • Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology

Core Faculty

  • James T. Brosnan, Ph.D., assistant professor, turfgrass weed science
  • Brandon Horvath, Ph.D., assistant professor, turfgrass pathology
  • Thomas J. Samples, Ph.D., professor, turfgrass science and management
  • John C. Sorochan, Ph.D., associate professor, turfgrass science and management

Achievements / Distinctions

Students completing the Turfgrass Project’s program have regularly found success after graduation, with job placement approaching 100 percent annually. While enrolled, students have been awarded prestigious internships in the National Football League, Major League Baseball, and the Professional Golf Association. Student teams participating in the Sports Turf Manager’s Association’s Student Challenge and in the Golf Course Superintendents Association’s Collegiate Turf Bowl excel in competition against other universities.

The research arm of the Turfgrass Project is one of the strongest in the nation and is supported by numerous companies and organizations in the turfgrass industry. Faculty members and graduate students participating in these programs have been recognized by associations such as the Crop Science Society of America, the Weed Science Society of America, the Sports Turf Managers Association, the Southern Weed Science Society, the Northeastern Weed Science Society, and the United States Golf Association.


Tennessee is ideally located to facilitate investigation of the impact of stresses including drought, cold, and heat on turfgrass physiology. Turfgrass Project research interests are diverse, focusing on areas such as golf courses, athletic fields, and residential and commercial landscapes. Research projects evaluate the performance of many turfgrass species in Tennessee, cultural practices to improve turf performance, and integrated pest management practices to control weeds and diseases. Faculty publish regularly in peer-reviewed journals such as Applied Turfgrass Science, Crop Science, HortScience, HortTechnology, Weed Science, Weed Technology, and the International Turfgrass Research Journal.


The Turfgrass Project houses a B.S. program in turfgrass science and management, highlighted by an accelerated 10-week spring semester, “Spring Block.” By completing the spring semester early, students can begin internships before those enrolled at other universities. This competitive advantage has allowed students to obtain internships at some of the most prestigious turfgrass facilities in the world, including Augusta National Golf Glub and Fenway Park.

Working with members of the Turfgrass Project, students can pursue M.S. and Ph.D degrees in plant sciences. Graduate students in the Turfgrass Project conduct cutting-edge research that has been recognized by awards from various agronomic societies.


The outreach arm of the project is one of the nation’s best and has garnered international attention. Traditional and web-based extension activities help the Turfgrass Project reach thousands of practitioners in more than 30 different countries. A new alliance with the Asian Turfgrass Center in Thailand, has helped promote the project’s international efforts. We host research field days and seminars that draw attendees from across the United States.


The Turfgrass Project is housed on the Agricultural Campus of UT Knoxville. Offices and laboratory facilities are located in the Plant Biotechnology Building and the Ellington Plant Sciences Building. The Turfgrass Project conducts numerous field trials at the East Tennessee Research and Education Center in Knoxville, as well as the West Tennessee Research and Education Center in Jackson. Entomology and pathology laboratory facilities are located at the Ellington Agricultural Center in Nashville.

The Future

A future goal of the Turfgrass Project is to explore the role turfgrass management can play in long-term environmental sustainability.

Contact Information

James T. Brosnan, Assistant Professor
Turfgrass Weed Science
252 Ellington Plant Sciences Building
Knoxville, TN 37996-4333

Phone: (865) 974-8603

Websites: | |

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