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Global Engagement Champions

We are announcing a new series of feature stories called Global Engagement Champions. In this series, you will find stories about our faculty and staff who bring global opportunities that transform the lives of many students, those whose research impacts communities across the continent, and those who touch the lives of others through their outreach activities. You can nominate yourself or a colleague to be featured in the series by emailing

We would like to present to you our first global engagement champion, Dr. Sam Swan, Professor of Journalism and Electronic Media, and Director of Global Programs and Outreach at the College of Communication and Information.

Swan has received two Fulbright Specialist awards that allowed him to teach at the University of Zagreb in Croatia in 2012 and two universities in Ethiopia in 2015. Swan recently received a grant from the US Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia that involves both the design and delivery of an online course in Serbia and a student exchange between the University of Tennessee and three universities in Serbia.

Read more about Dr. Swan’s global impact. 


In celebration of AAPI Cultural Heritage Month, our Global Engagement Champion for May is Dr. Joe Zhuang, Professor of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science and Program Coordinator of the China Scholars Program. 

Zhuang founded the China-UT EcoPartnership Scholars Program for PhD students, the largest program for students between UT and China. Zhuang currently serves as the project leader of the international research coordination network for “Creating Transdisciplinary Nodes of Food-Energy-Water to Support Sustainable Urban Systems” (FEWSUS). Zhuang’s work has been recognized and funded by the US National Science Foundation for his efforts in urban sustainability. 

Read more about Dr. Zhuang’s global impact.

Samara AkpovoDr. Samara Madrid Akpovo, Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies and Director of the Intercultural and Classroom Culture Research Lab, is our June Global Engagement Champion. Akpovo’s global impact comes from her cross-cultural and intercultural research and teaching collaborations with early childhood education colleagues in Nepal, Australia, and New Zealand. Akpovo co-developed an international early childhood teacher education program entitled, Collaborative Online Learning Across Borders (COLAB), which is a virtual exchange module to foster intercultural competence and sensitivity among university students. Throughout the four years of implementing COLAB, Akpovo’s work has been recognized and awarded on numerous occasions including a Global Catalyst Grant, Teaching and Learning Innovation Teaching Support Award, and most recently honored with the Frances Speight Clark Faculty Enrichment and Development Award in the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences.

Read more about Dr. Akpovo’s global impact.

It is an honor to announce that our first Global Engagement Champion of our fall semester is Dr. Curtis Luckett, Director of the Center for Sensory Science and Assistant Professor in the Department of Food Science.

From spicy to sweet or mushy to crunchy, food and the human response can vary significantly across cultures. In order for Luckett to further his research on food perception, he has collaborated with global laboratories to help food and beverage companies understand what consumers like and dislike. Luckett’s research concentrates on sensory science focusing on odor & texture perception. His work has been published in the Journal of Sensory Science, Chemical Senses, Journal of Agriculture & Food Chemistry, Food Quality & Preference, and Journal of Food Science.

Read more about Dr. Luckett’s global impact.

It is an honor to announce that our September Global Engagement Champion is Misty Anderson, James R. Cox Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, head of the Department of English, and adjunct professor of theatre and religious studies. Anderson’s work focuses on 18th-century studies with an interest in gender studies and the history of religion. She has been honored this year with the Angie Warren Perkins Award, which acknowledges a woman who has made outstanding contributions to the university.

Read more about Dr. Anderson’s global impact.



It is an honor to announce that our December Global Engagement Champion is Dr. Dawn Duke, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese. Duke is chair of the Portuguese program, an administrator of Africana Studies and faculty in the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program. Duke also previously served as chair of the Africana Studies Program, which recently became its own department.

Born and raised in Guyana, Duke’s passion for teaching language is influenced by the many languages and flexible communication style of Caribbean, Latin American and Afro-Caribbean cultures. As an undergraduate, Duke studied at both the University of Guyana and the Federal University of Pará, Brazil. She completed her first master’s degree at the University of Campinas, Brazil, in applied linguistics with research on the area of translation. She taught as a professor at the University of Guyana for five years before continuing her graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh and obtaining a PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures.

Read more about Dr. Duke’s global impact.

It is an honor to announce that our Global Engagement Champion for March is Dr. Moonhee Cho, associate professor in the School of Advertising and Public Relations.

Cho’s research interests lie in public relations and strategic communication management in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Prior to obtaining her M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Florida, Cho worked as a fundraiser and public relations practitioner at Partners for the Future Foundation, the charity arm of the American Chamber of Commerce in South Korea. Cho obtained her undergraduate degree from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea.

Read more about Dr. Moonhee Cho’s global impact.


It is an honor to announce that our Global Engagement Champion for April is Dr. Paul Gellert, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and director of the Global Studies program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Gellert earned his MS and PhD in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He worked as a lecturer at UW and assistant professor at Cornell University before joining UT as an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology in 2005 and later stepping into the role of GLBS program director in 2018.

Read more about Dr. Paul Gellert’s global impact.



It is an honor to announce that our Global Engagement Champion for August is Dr. Krista Wiegand, associate professor of Political Science and director of Global Security at the Howard Baker Center.

Wiegand studies international affairs — including territorial and maritime conflict, conflict resolution, civil war and more — in East Asia and the Middle East.

Read more about Dr. Krista Wiegand’s global impact.