PLPA Graduate Students

 Ali Ali

Ali, Ali Abed

(CEMB - Ph.D. - Bluhm)


Alshuwaili, Fakhir

(CEMB - Ph.D. - Bluhm)

Bradshaw (Thomas), Amy Christine
(PTSC - Ph.D. - Kirkpatrick)

Amy received her B.S. in Agricultural Sciences from Southern Arkansas University in 2004 and her M.S. in Plant Pathology from the University of Arkansas in 2006. She is currently working on her doctorate. Her research is dealing with the TN14 fungus and the soybean cyst nematode. Amy is currently a full time instructor of agriculture at Southern Arkansas University.

Hazel Buyu

Buyu, Hazel
(PLPA - M.S. - Bluhm)


Fagundes, Wagner

(PLPA - M.S. - Bluhm)

Kathryn Hayden

Haydon, Kathryn
(PTSC - Ph.D. - Korth)

Kathryn comes to Plant Pathology as a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow.



 kozaczek pic

Kozaczek, Melisa

(CEMB - Ph.D. - Rojas)


Manley, Aurora

(PTSC - Ph.D. - Correll)

Newsom, Jade
(PLPA - M.S. - Korth)


The focus of my work is to elucidate the genetic and physiological determinants of salt tolerance in soybean. By exploiting the differential responses of soybean cultivars to salt stress, I hope to clarify the mechanisms responsible for salt tolerance in soybean such that breeders may begin to select for improved tolerance in future variety releases.  Through reciprocal grafting of rootstock from tolerant cultivars onto scions from sensitive cultivars and vice versa, we have established rootstock as the primary source of salt tolerance in soybean via exclusion of chloride from foliar tissues. Currently ongoing quantitative PCR gene expression studies should reveal some key genetic components influencing this primary tolerance mechanism which can then be targeted for selection by breeders.

Ridenour, John B.

(PTSC - Ph.D. - Bluhm)


Garcia Rodriguez, Raymond

(PTSC - Ph.D. - Correll)


Saito, Katsunroni
(PLPA - M.S. - Correll)


Segalin, Samantha

(PTSC - Ph.D. - Rojas


Shaffer, Cullen

(PLPA - M.S. - Tzanetakis)

Sharma, Sandeep
(CEMB - Ph.D. - Bluhm)

My areas of interests include functional genomics of plants and plant pathogenic fungi. I am particularly interested in identifying the mechanisms of plant resistance to pathogens, as well as mechanisms of pathogenicity in different plant pathogens through the use of different molecular biology techniques and next generation sequencing tools. I am studying different  host-pathogen systems like Fusarium verticilloides in corn, Cercospora spin corn and soybean, Phomopsis longicolla in soybean, reniform nematodes in soybean, and a novel nematophagous fungal strain, ARF 18. I am also using functional genomics to study gene functions in different host-pathogen systems.


Smith, Sharon "Faye"

(ENDY - Ph.D. - Bluhm)


Stetina, Terea
(PTSC - Ph.D. - Tzanetakis)


The overall goal of my research is to contribute to the understanding of R. solani epidemiology in Arkansas. I am particularly interested in the effects of mycoviruses on fungal pathogenicity, and their potential role in biological control. We have optimized a protocol for the extraction of viral dsRNA from fungi and have identified dsRNA bands in > 50% of isolates collected from five different fields. Using next generation sequencing, we have discovered at least 20 new virus species. We have also identified Rhizoctonia solani RNA virus 1 (RsRV1) in an AG-4 isolate. This virus was previously reported in an AGI-1A isolate from China associated with slow growth and reduced fungal pathogenicity. This discovery provides evidence that R. solani mycoviruses may infect different anastomosis groups, elevating their potential for biological control in field environments. Future work will determine spatial distribution of Rhizoctonia spp., anastomosis groups, and mycoviruses; as well as correlations between these and environmental factors. We will also be working to characterize rates of mycovirus transmission via hyphal anastomosis, and the effects of mycovirus infection on pathogen fitness.

Julia Stover

Stover, Julia

(PTSC – Ph.D. - Bluhm)







Katie Wilkinson

Wilkinson, Katherine (Katie)

(PLPA - M.S. - Rojas)

Wilson, Kyle
(PLPA - M.S. - Rothrock)

The main goals of my research are to characterize the spatial distribution of the primary soilbourne pathogens in the cotton seedling disease complex as well as determine the spatial distribution of seedling disease incidence and determine the soil factors that spatially correlate to disease in order to predict where, within fields, seedling diseases are most likely to occur.  This information will be useful for site-specific management of cotton crops to increase profitability and sustainability through more efficient management practices.  My field research takes place in research plots at the Judd Hill Cooperative Research Station and in Grower’s fields in Mississippi and Ashley counties.

Zaccaron, Marcio
(PTSC - Ph.D. - Rupe)

Marcio is pursuing a Ph.D. degree under Dr. John Rupe, working on charcoal rot, a soybean disease caused by Macrophomina phaseolina. He received his B.Sc. in Agronomy from the Universidade Federal da Grande Dourados–Brazil in 2009. During his B.Sc. he worked on different projects related to epidemiological aspects of soybean rust, caused by Phakopsora pachyrhizi. From 2009 to 2012 he worked on his Plant Pathology M.Sc. degree at Iowa State University under Dr. X. B. Yang focusing on soybean sudden death syndrome, caused by Fusarium virguliforme


Zhou, Jing
(PTSC - Ph.D. - Tzanetakis)

I am working on Soybean bean vein necrosis virus (SVNV), a unique member of genus Tospovirus, family Bunyaviridae. We have characterized the full genome of SVNV, performed population analysis and designed effective detection assays for the virus. SVNV is present in all soybean growing areas of North America and has become an emerging disease on soybean in recent years. To minimize the impact of SVNV and develop sustainable approaches to control the disease, we will further dissect SVNV from the following aspects:

1) identify the alternative hosts and vectors

2) identify and develop resistance to the virus

3) study the effect of mixed infection between SVNV and other important soybean viruses

Other than that, I also work on several side projects including new viral diseases on sugarberry and blueberry.