Graduate Students

Horticulture Graduate Students

Mitchell Armour

Mitchell Armour  

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Margaret Worthington

“I am investigating the trait responsible for primocane-fruiting in blackberries (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus Watson) to develop a molecular marker that will assist in selecting for future varieties with extended growing seasons to increase their availability in the marketplace. I am also examining the incidence of red drupelet reversion in blackberries regarding their time of harvest and level of firmness after low temperature exposure to better understand their postharvest storage capabilities.”

Ginnie Beasley

Virginia Beasley

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Elena Garcia

"I am studying the effectiveness of high tunnels for cultivating table grapes and comparing the post-harvest marketability traits of high tunnel-grown grapes with that of outdoor vineyards. This project combines elements of both horticulture and food science and will be entitled "Evaluation of Cluster Thinning for Arkansas Table Grapes Grown in High Tunnel Systems". 

 Gehendra Bhattarai

Gehendra Bhattarai  

Ph.D Student

Advisor: Dr. Ainong Shi

"My research focuses on understanding and expanding the genetics of downy mildew disease resistance in spinach, using genome-wide association studies and bi-parental mapping strategies. We expect to map several downy mildew resistant accessions and identify tightly linked or associated DNA (SNPs) markers. We will use the new markers identified in this study to stack resistant alleles from multiple accessions and successively breed and release durable downy mildew resistant spinach cultivar in the near future. My long term goal is to identify and characterize the genes involved in the downy mildew resistance in spinach followed by a comprehensive and systematic understanding of the complex genetic mechanism of the downy mildew disease resistance."

 

Thomas Mason Chizk

Ph.D Student

Advisor: Dr. Margaret Worthington

 

I am studying muscadines and breeding. 

Sam Doty

Sam Doty

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Ryan Dickson

"I am currently growing four different cultivars basil in three different types of hydroponic systems. I am testing for interactions between the different cultivars and the different hydroponic systems.  I intend to evaluate the yields from the shallow aggregate ebb and flow (SAEF) system developed here at the University of Arkansas, when compared to yields from traditional deep flow technique (DFT) and nutrient film technique (NFT) systems."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morgan Gramlich

M.S. Student

Advisor: Drs. Amanda McWhirt and Renee Threlfall

Erika Henderson

Erika Henderson

M.S. Student 

Advisor: Dr. Amanda McWhirt

"I am studying the effects of the Rotating-Cross Arm (RCA) Trellis on three Arkansas blackberry cultivars yield, and fruit quality as compared to their performance on a Standard T-trellis. This study is analyzing changes in blackberry plant physiology that result from different trellising systems as well as understanding the effects of trellising on the occurrence of plant disease, cold damage, and pest pressure. The RCA Trellis is used by northeastern blackberry growers, but is being evaluated for its potential use by blackberry growers in the Southeast."

 

 

Jose Hernandez

Jose Hernandez  

M.S. Student 

Advisor: Dr. Elena Garcia 

"My project involves sustainable table grape production under protected high tunnel systems. I will be taking into account balanced pruning and cluster thinning of the grape vines. The goal is to increase fruit quality while decreasing chemical and labor inputs."

Alden Hotz

Alden Hotz

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Amanda McWhirt

"As I pursue a graduate degree in Horticulture, my focus of research is to further evaluate the potential benefits of using a variety of cover crops. These cover crops will help to ensure the development of sustainable agriculture. Cover crops have been used for many benefits including weed control, erosion reduction, insect population control, and nutrient supplementation. My research is to find some solutions to issues local farmers have dealt with in recent years particularly in watermelon production. The research will be testing a variety of cover crop combinations to discover which options are viable in producing quality fruits, managing weed grow, as well as increasing plant available nutrients. A particular issue the research will show is the outcome for different options of cover crop termination. This research will be applicable across many agriculture disciplines as the demand for quality produce with minimal or no pesticide use increases."

 

Carmen Johns

 

 

 

Carmen Johns

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Margaret Worthington

 

Jennifer Lewter

Jennifer Lewter

Ph.D. Student

Advisor: Dr. Ainong Shi

"I am working to find significant quantitative trait loci (QTLs) associated with mealy flesh types in peach [Prunus persica (L) Batsch] as part of the national RosBREED 2 initiative, and I am making genetic linkage maps which include the loci for flower sex and berry color in muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia Michx.). I am also evaluating a new, portable, LED-based color scanner called the Nix Pro Color Sensor™ for horticulture applications such as patent data."

 Leala Machesney

 

Leala Machesney

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Ryan Dickson

“My thesis project is working with novel blackberry production in a greenhouse environment."

Karlee Pruitt

Karlee Pruitt

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Elena Garcia

“My thesis project is a joint analysis on the efficiency of biopesticides in strawberry plasticulture with Texas A&M University. I am specifically testing biofungicides on disease management and bioinsecticides on insect control.”

 

 

Waltram Ravelombola

Waltram Ravelombola

Ph.D Student

Advisor: Dr. Ainong Shi

"With a rapidly growing population, efforts toward increasing and diversifying crops are critical to meet needs in food; therefore, I am working on cowpea Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp., a legume which has long benefited less scientific and public attention despite of its potential to contributing to global food security. My research aims at unraveling the genetic architecture underlying cowpea responses to salt and drought conditions through a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and QTL mapping. I am dealing with  more than 300 cowpea genotypes, collected from more than 40 countries, and using  the latest genomic technology with a significant emphasis on whole genome (re)sequencing analysis; the results of my research will positively impact both big agriculture-related companies and the most vulnerable smallholder farmers in developing countries."

 

Maxwell Vonkreuzhof

 

 Maxwell Vonkreuzhof

M.S. Student 

Advisor: Dr. Margaret Worthington

"I am working on developing resistance for a disease known as Bacterial Spot (Xanthamonas arboricola pv. pruni), on Peaches (Prunus persica) to increase the economic feasibility of growing them commercially in Arkansas. I am utilizing both traditional evaluation methods, as well as utilizing molecular tools in attempt to find QTL's that correlate with resistance. I am also developing a phylogenetic tree for Xanthamonas arboricola, to achieve a better understanding of it's genetic background."

 

 Bazgha Zia

 

 

 Bazgha Zia 

Ph.D. Student 

Advisor: Dr. Ainong Shi  

"I am focusing on developing disease resistance in Spinach, specifically developing resistance to Downy mildew, caused by pathogen Peronospora effusa. Currently, it is the biggest challenge being faced by the spinach growers in USA. My project will employ some plant breeding techniques along with some molecular techniques to generate disease resistance in Spinach." 

 

Turfgrass Science Graduate Students

 Tyler Carr

Tyler Carr

M.S. Student

Advisor: Dr. Doug Karcher

"Both of my research trials focus on drought tolerance/resistance in cool-season turfgrasses. One trial uses lysimeters to compare evapotranspiration between two Kentucky bluegrasses in different soil textures while being irrigated at different frequencies and volumes. The other trial evaluates Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue for their water use and drought resistance, with irrigation being withheld until a desired drought stress threshold is met."

 

Eric DeBoer

 Eric DeBoer

Ph.D. Student

Advisor: Dr. Mike Richardson

“My PhD program is focused on the use of nanobubble technology to superoxygenate water for the use of irrigating gold course putting greens, as well as for use in hydroponic lettuce production.”