UACES Facebook Student intern gets research experience with Division of Agriculture scientist
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Student intern gets research experience with Division of Agriculture scientist

By Robby Edwards, Director of Communications
Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Ioannis Tzanetakis, professor of plant virology at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, received help from a student intern this summer with a project on the epidemiology of berry and ornamental viruses.

Adair Bollenbacher Scholarships
ANTIVIRAL -- Maria Jose Gomez, a senior biology major from Colombia, works with Dr. Ioannis Tzanetakis on an Adair Bollenbacher Scholarship project to detect viruses in ornamental and berry plants. (UA System Division of Agriculture photo by Fred Miller)

Epidemiology is the study of incidence, distribution and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health.

Maria Gomez, a third-year student at Universidad Los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, assisted Tzanetakis with his plant virome research, a holistic approach studying the effect of plant viruses on their hosts.

Tzanetakis, a plant pathologist with the Division of Agriculture’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station and a faculty member in the U of A’s Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Science, is evaluating the effect of mixed virus infections in blackberry and peony plants.

Gomez participated in the project as an Adair Scholar, which funds undergraduate student summer internships. She was in Fayetteville from the end of May through early August.

The department of entomology and plant pathology offers the undergraduate endowed scholarship in honor of C. Roy Adair, a geneticist and plant breeder, whose accomplishments helped establish the preeminence of Arkansas rice. The first rice breeder to work in Arkansas, Adair and his wife Ethel Owen Adair left their entire estate of more than $1 million to scholarship funds at the U of A and Hendrix College in Conway.

Gomez investigated a subset of viruses that infect blackberry and peony, their ability to be mechanically transmitted to other plants and their ability to infect the next plant generation through infected seed.

"Maria is an exceptional student with an excellent background and drive to resolve scientific problems," said Tzanetakis. "Operating a multinational lab with individuals from five continents, we expand our scientific and personal horizons, benefiting from the experiences of the internships and providing students with toolboxes to improve their research in their home country.”

Tzanetakis added, “We are able to elevate the status of the U of A and the Division of Agriculture across the globe. Many of the Adair scholars have come back to become graduate students in our department and been successful in academia, industry and extension in Arkansas, the U.S. and internationally."

The research internship is offered every year to junior and senior undergraduates, at the U of A or other institutions, with an interest in plant pathology. The application is available here:

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearchand Instagram at ArkAgResearch.


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.

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.

Media Contact: Fred Miller
U of A Division of Agriculture
Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station
(479) 575-5647

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