UACES Facebook ASMSA senior takes Soybean Science Challenge Award award at West Central Science Fair
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ASMSA senior takes Soybean Science Challenge Award award at West Central Science Fair

By the U of A System Division of Agriculture
March 22, 2019

Fast Facts:

  • 17-year-old takes top prize at fair, wins $300
  • Arkansas Soybean Science Challenge began in 2014
  • State fair scheduled for March 29 

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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 Sukoserm and Dr. Monson edit

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 or Diedre Young at

To learn about science and farming education in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit 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.

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Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126