Alcorn delegation participates in the Mississippi Academy of Sciences 79th Annual Meeting, students win awards

Alcorn State University School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences was well-represented at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences (MAS) held at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Thad Cochran Center in Hattiesburg, Miss. Feb. 26-27.

The delegation consisted of the following students: Crystal Vance, a graduate student in the agronomy program, Cori Pittman, a junior, and Jarvis Sims, a senior, both majoring in agriculture business administration, as well as Erica Davis, a graduate student in the animal science program.

Employees participating in the meeting were: Dr. Victor Njiti, associate professor of agriculture, Dr. Patrick Igbokwe, professor of horticultural science and director, Alcorn Experiment Station, Germania Salazar-Mejia, research associate, Rani K. Panicker, data analyst, Dr. Chunquan Zhang, assistant professor, Dr. Elena Kostyleva, staff writer and adjunct instructor, Dr. Franklin O. Chukwuma, coordinator of off-campus centers, Dr. Melisa Mason, research associate, and Dr. Girish K. S. Panicker, associate professor and director of the Conservation Research Center, who served as vice chair for the division of Agriculture and Plant Sciences of MAS for the year 2014-2015.

Student presentations were highly rated by their respective divisions and several awards were received.

Crystal Vance won first place for her graduate oral presentation, “Plant density effects on biomass development and rate of residue decomposition of four varieties of switch grass (Panicum virgatum L.) on Memphis silt loam for erosion prediction, nutrient management, and conservation planning.” This research work was financially supported by the United States Army. It was supervised by Dr. Panicker, co-authored by Dr. Igbokwe, Dr. Lashunda Anderson-Hodges, assistant professor, Salazar-Mejia, and Dr. Cary Timothy, agronomist, U.S. Army.

“Crystal is expected to graduate in 2015 and her thesis will be the first from Alcorn State University to support the U.S. Army’s efforts for controlling soil erosion problems on the agencies training lands,” said Panicker. “We hope that the success of her paper will help Alcorn get continuous financial support for our students from this federal agency.”

Tori Hampton won first place for undergraduate oral presentation of her research paper, “Best season to produce cabbage in southwest and central Mississippi: empirical evidence.” The paper was co-authored by Cori Pittman and Jarvis Sims. The research was supervised by Panicker and Dr. Alena Funtikova, former assistant professor of agribusiness at Alcorn.

“The Center for Conservation research has done a number of presentations and publications on conservation research at regional, national and international levels. We are elated that the first time the data for one of our horticultural crops, cabbage, was successfully used for economic evaluation and agribusiness studies done by our students. It shows that the Center’s data on the remaining 37 crops can be utilized by agricultural economics and agribusiness students for economic evaluation in future,” said Panicker.

Erica Davis, graduate student in the animal science program, received an award for the presentation of research titled, “Dynamics of progesterone, TNF-alpha, and PGF2a in blood plasma following embryo transfer.” This research paper was co-authored by Dr. Evelin Cuadra, professor of animal science and Dr. Mason.

During the business meeting, Panicker was elected as chair, and Njiti was elected as vice chair for the division of Agriculture and Plant Sciences of MAS for the year 2015-2016.

All papers presented by the scientists and students of the School of AREAS have been published in the Journal of Mississippi Academy of Sciences, spring 2015 edition.

“Comparative analysis of yield and fruit quality attributes of organically grown melons (Cucumis melo L.) from around the globe.” Girish K.S. Panicker, Germania Salazar-Mejia (Alcorn State Univeristy). Padma Nimmakalaya, Yan Thomason, and Umesh Reddy (West Virginia State University).

“Whole genome sequencing and the genetic diversity of an Alcorn State sweet potatoe leaf curl virus (SPLCV) isolate.” Chunquan Zhang, Leonna Tyler, Qun Xia, Ming Gao, and Victor Njiti (Alcorn State University).

“Effect on agronomic practices of peanut growth and yield potential.” Marcus Shorter and Patrick Igbokwe (Alcorn State University).

“Honey plant diversity in the state of Mississippi.” Elena Kostyleva (Alcorn State University).

Integrated pest management education for small farm families in rural Mississippi.” Victor Njiti, Patrick E. Igbokwe, and Franklin O. Chukwuma (Alcorn State University).

“Sustainable vegetable production, marketing and management for limited-resource farmers.” Franklin O. Chukwuma, Patrick E. Igbokwe, and Victor Njiti (Alcorn State University).

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