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May 17, 2023
By Brittaney MannU of A System Division of Agriculture
Download related PHOTO
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Entomologist Rupesh Kariyat developed a summer externship program
with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley to empower Hispanic student researchers
of agriculture and food science.
The project aims to provide students the training necessary to work in agriculture.
Kariyat, associate professor of crop entomology for the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment
Station, received a $481,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Research
and Extension Experiences for Undergraduates program to fund the summer externship
for three years.
The Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station is the research arm of the Division of
Agriculture. Kariyat also works with the Cooperative Extension Service and teaches
courses through the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.
Kariyat said he was inspired to develop this program for two primary reasons: alleviating
the shortage of skilled people in agriculture and food sciences jobs and addressing
the underrepresentation of Hispanic people in those fields.
“I am looking forward to seeing that the students have a great experience — the best
experience so far in their career,” Kariyat said.
Six to eight undergraduate students who are two years into a biology, chemistry or
environmental science program will attend the University of Arkansas summer session
in Fayetteville. The program will pay for travel and any tuition costs, and students
will receive a $4,000 stipend for their work. The grant also provides funds for collaborating
faculty members to receive a small stipend and purchase supplies.
Kariyat is collaborating with Bradley Christoffersen, assistant professor in the department
of biology at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Christoffersen will receive
$30,000 of the grant as a stipend for his work to help with recruitment and to fund
an orientation for the students before they leave Texas.
Kariyat originally designed the grant program while at the University of Texas Rio
Grande Valley. When he joined the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station in 2022,
he adapted the grant to Arkansas while maintaining the parts he thought were most
“I thought it would be a good idea to keep the core idea of the grant impact, which
is to empower Hispanic students,” Kariyat said.
Students will work Monday through Friday, from May 22 to July 28, to complete a short-term
research project in the lab of their choosing with collaborating faculty members.
Kariyat said he hopes the research and data that students generate will lead to a
research poster or even be part of a research manuscript. “That would be helpful for
the students, so some science comes out of it, interpersonal relationships, exposure
for the students and myself. All these things.”
Kariyat said he also hopes that the students will consider the university for graduate
school after spending a summer at the University of Arkansas.
Arkansas faculty collaborators for the year 2023 include:
Kariyat said he thinks this undergraduate opportunity may parallel his experience
joining the Division of Agriculture.
“I was amazed by the Division of Agriculture and all these resources that we have,”
Kariyat said reflecting on when he attended a faculty orientation program, the “Teaching,
Research and Extension Awareness Training” program under the leadership of Nathan
McKinney, associate vice president for agriculture and assistant director of the experiment
“I am also looking forward to meeting with all these different faculty and different
programs on campus,” Kariyat said. “I hope that this will lead into more interactions
for me and others together, and then maybe it will lead into writing more grants like
To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural
Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture,
visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas,
contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.
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 and services 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: Nick Kordsmeier479email@example.com