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By the U of A System Division of AgricultureMarch 22, 2019
(438 words)(Download this story in MS Word format here.)
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – A high school senior attending the Arkansas School for Mathematics,
Sciences and the Arts has won the Soybean Science Challenge at the 2019 West Central
Science Fair, held at ASMSA on February 21.
Emily Sookaserm, 17, took the prize for her project, “Identifying quantitative trait
loci for grain size and chalk content in a bi-parental tropical Japonica rice mapping
population.” She was awarded $300, provided by the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board.
Sookaserm’s project had previously taken second place in Plant Sciences at both the
regional fair and Junior Academy of Sciences. Sookaserm will compete at the Arkansas
State Science and Engineering Fair March 29.
Dr. Brian Monson, Sookaserm’s teacher, won the $200 Soybean Science Challenge Teacher
Mentor Award. Monson said Sookaserm’s project was quite sophisticated.
“It’s a nice opportunity to get some state-wide recognition for Emily’s hard work
and to conduct research that is helpful for her home state,” Monson said. “This year
Emily wanted to do something with genetics, so she looked into traits that control
chalk content in rice. Her hope was to find the genes involved in chalk so new strains
could be bred with lower chalk contents. This would improve yield and profitability.”
Dr. Julie Robinson, assistant professor of instructional design for the University
of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the Soybean Science Challenge provides
an opportunity for Arkansas high school students to participate in scientific research
that can impact both the state and the world.
“Soybean Science challenge student researchers learn about this important commodity
crop and its many uses including feeding the world, development of biofuels and sustainable
products,” Robinson said. “The Soybean Science Challenge helps students develop an
understanding of the challenges and complexities of modern farming.
Gary Sitzer a member of the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board, said the competition’s
goal is to “engage students in ‘real world’ education to support soybean production
and agricultural sustainability.
“The program also rewards scientific inquiry and discovery that supports the Arkansas
Soybean Industry,” he said.
The Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge was launched in January 2014 to science students
in grades 9-12. Participants are required to complete an online course in soybean
education in order to have their original soybean-related research projects judged
at Arkansas science and engineering fairs affiliated with ISEF, the International
Science and Engineering Fair.
Information on the 2019-2020 Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge will be available
in summer 2019. For more information, contact Dr. Julie Robinson at email@example.com or Diedre Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn about science and farming education in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative
Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @UAEX_edu.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com