Crystal Vance received her master’s degree in agronomy from Alcorn in 2015.

Alcorn State University’s graduate Crystal Vance ’15 was recently accepted into Louisiana State University School of Agriculture, Plant, Environmental and Soil Sciences as a Ph.D. student. Vance will major in soil science with a full assistantship of $22,500 per year and her tuition waived. Her area of study is “Environmental quality: reducing phosphorus runoff in poultry litter ash.”

Vance completed her master’s degree in agronomy in the Department of Agriculture, School of Agriculture, Research, Extension, and Applied Sciences in August 2015 with a 4.0 GPA. She completed her master’s thesis titled, “Plant Density Effect of Four Varieties of Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.) on Biomass and Nutrient Development in a Heavy Soil,” under the supervision of her major advisor, Dr. Girish K. S. Panicker, associate professor and director, Center for Conservation Research. Dr. Lashunda Anderson, assistant professor of soil science, and Dr. Patrick Igbokwe, professor of horticulture and director, Alcorn Experiment Station, were members of her thesis advisory committee.

“Crystal’s thesis research was completely funded by the United States Army with an annual stipend of $18,000 per year,” said Panicker. “The technique applied to enhance the germination percentage and the procedure used to raise this important biofuel crop on Memphis Silt Loam soil will be utilized in the future to avoid soil erosion problems on the U.S. Army’s training lands.”

When asked about her experiences at Alcorn, Vance shared that the graduate program gave her a strong background and prepared her well for her studies at LSU.

“My advisors at Alcorn have greatly influenced me to be the best in everything,” said Vance. “Dr. Girish Panicker has inspired me in so many ways. In his class he provided us with so much valuable information! Dr. Lashunda Anderson has presented me with numerous opportunities, including introducing me to my present advisors at LSU.

Vance added, “I plan to become a soil scientist, a professor and mentor that encourages other minority students to pursue opportunities in agriculture. Also, I plan on writing books on agricultural science for children, and returning to Alcorn later in my career and present opportunities to students.”