Alcorn delegation participates in the Mississippi Academy of Sciences 80th Annual Meeting, students win awards

The Alcorn State University School of Agriculture, Research, Extension and Applied Sciences (AREAS) was well-represented at the 80th Annual Meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences (MAS) held at the Thad Cochran Convention Center, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, February 18-19, 2016.

The event was attended by over 800 students, staff, faculties, and scientists of universities, colleges and private organizations from throughout the state.

In addition to Alcorn State, the following universities presented papers: Mississippi State University, University of Mississippi, Jackson State University, Alabama A&M University, West Virginia State University, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Student participants from Alcorn State were agronomy graduate students Ashley Williams and Damerius Johnson; plant and soil science students Curtis Lee, freshman, and seniors Jazmarkey Wiggins, Willie Mims, and Margeria Smith; graduate students in the biotechnology program David Henderson, Amber-Shelby Jones, and Landrick Akrong; and Mariah Good, a junior in the agribusiness management program.

Student presentations were highly rated by their respective divisions and several awards were received. Jazmarkey Wiggins won first place for her undergraduate poster presentation titled, “Evaluation of Switch Grass Stand Established upon Soil Color.” This research work was supervised by Dr. LaShunda Anderson-Hodges, assistant professor, Department of Agriculture.

Ashley Williams won second place in undergraduate poster presentation. The research titled, “Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment of Dark Septate Endophytic (DSE) Fungal Assemblages in Switchgrass,” was advised by Dr. Keerthi Mandyam, assistant professor, and co-advised by Dr. Anada Nanjundaswamy, assistant professor, and Dr. Girish Panicker, director of the Center for Conservation Research, and chair, Division of Agriculture and Plant Sciences of MAS for 2015-16.

David Henderson won third place in the graduate oral presentation category under the advisory of Dr. Yan Meng, assistant professor, for his presentation titled, “ Development of Transgenic Sweetpotato with Multiple Virus Resistance in the United States,” and co-authored by Dr. Chunquan Zhang, assistant professor, and Dr. Njiti, associate professor, interim chair of the Department of Agriculture at Alcorn, and vice chair for the Division of Agriculture and Plant Sciences for MAS for 2015-2016.

Margeria Smith presented on “Spatial, Seasonal and Temporal Abundance of Root Colonizing Fungi in Giant Miscanthus.” Under the advisement of Dr. Mandyam, Smith won first place in the undergraduate oral presentation category. Her work was co-authored by Dr. Njiti and Dr. Nanjundaswamy.

Willie Mims won second place for his undergraduate oral presentation titled, “Melon (Cucumis Melo L) Production With Composted Manures on a Heavy Soil,” supervised by Dr. Panicker, co-authored by West Virginia State University staff Padma Nimmakayala, Umesh Reddy, and Yan Tomason.

During the business meeting, Drs. Njiti and Raja Reddy, professor of agronomy, Mississippi State University, were elected chair and vice chair for 2016-17, respectively.

According to Panicker, this year’s meeting had a record number of presentation in its history, including both oral and poster presentations. The event was a great success and almost 80 percent of the oral presentations in the Division of Agriculture and Plant Sciences were from Alcorn State University.

“We are very pleased with the results of this meeting. Presenting at a meeting like this helps students to meet with USDA agencies and representatives from agricultural companies, which increases opportunities for internships and employment,” Panicker added.

During the business meeting, Drs. Njiti and Raja Reddy, professor of agronomy, Mississippi State University, were elected chair and vice chair for 2016-17, respectively.

Drs. Nanjundaswamy, Njiti (Alcorn State), Te-Ming Pau Tseng, assistant professor and Raja Reddy ( both of Mississippi State University) served as the judges.

All papers presented by the scientists and students of the School of AREAS were published in the Journal of Mississippi Academy of Sciences, spring 2016 edition. They are:

1. Jazmarkey Wiggins, Lashunda Anderson-Hodges: Evaluation of Switchgrass Stand Establishment upon Soil Color

2. Ashley Williams, Keerthi Mandyam, Ananda Nanjundaswamy, Girish Panicker: Qualitative and Quantitative Assessment of Dark Septate Endophytic (DSE) Fungal Assemblages in Switchgrass

3. David Henderson, Yan Meng, Chunquan Zhang, Victor Njiti: Development of Transgenic Sweetpotato With Multiple Virus Resistance in US

4. Margeria Smith, Keerthi Mandyam, Ananda Nanjundaswamy, Victor Njiti: Spatial, Seasonal and Temporal Abundance of Root Colonizing Fungi in Giant Miscanthus

5. Willie Mims, Girish Panicker, Padma Nimmakayala, Umesh Reddy, Yan Tomason: Melon (Cucumis Melo L.) Production with Composted Manures on a Heavy Soil

6. Landrick Akrong, Yan Meng, Victor Njiti, Christopher Clark, Chunquan Zhang: Construction of Full-Length Genomic cDNA Clones of Sweetpotato Feathery Mottle Virus

7. Robert Williams, Patrick E. Igbokwe: Sweet Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) Evaluations

8. Amber Jones, Ananda Nanjundaswamy, Victor Njiti, Girish Panicker, Franklin Chukwuma: Optimization of Substrate and Enzyme Loading for Ethanol Production Response Surface Methodology

9. Angela Jackson, Ananda Nanjundaswamy, Victor Njiti, Xia Qun, Franklin Chukwuma: Submerged and Solid State Fermentation Optimization of Sweetpotato Using Basillus Subtilis

10. Damerius Johnson, Victor Njiti, Ananda Nanjundaswamy, Franklin Chukwuma: Biochemical Characterization of Sweetpotato Grown in Hydroponic System in the Greenhouse

11. Girish Panicker: Short-Season Summer Cover Crop on Fall Organic Broccoli (Brassica Oleraceae) Production

12. LaShunda Anderson-Hodges: The effect of Seed Priming on Arkansas Grand Prairie Switch Grass Stand Establishment.

13. Tahir Rashid, Jian Chen, Paul McLeod: Insecticidal Effect of Two Ant-Derived Oleochemicals

14. Caroline Mensah, Jermiah Billa, Fengxiang Han, Girish Panicker, Karthik Eti, Joseph Dimpah, Deborah Quaye, Sai Mayreddy: Radiological Implications of Locally Produced Fertilizers.

15. Elena Kostyleva: Economic Characteristics of Honey Plants in Mississippi

Student Media Intern KeAmber Council contributed to this story.

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