Interdisciplinary Graduate Students

Ali, Ali Abed

(CEMB - Ph.D. - Bluhm)


Alshuwaili, Fakhir

(CEMB - Ph.D. - Bluhm)


Bieger, Baronger

(CEMB - Ph.D. - Egan)


Buyu, Hazel

(PLPA - M.S. - Bluhm)


Davis, Jason

(PTSC - Ph.D. - Spurlock)


Haydon, Kathryn

(PTSC - Ph.D. - Korth)

 As a Ph.D. student and Distinguished Doctoral Fellow working for Dr. Ken Korth, she uses CRISPR gene-editing to improve post-harvest rice quality, such as shelf life and starch functionality. She has identified potential genes from the scientific literature and designed guide RNAs to target and either mutate or precisely modify the genes of interest by producing transgenic rice expressing her guide RNA molecules as well as the DNA-cutting enzyme Cas9. She also works in Dr. Martin Egan’s lab using new molecular techniques to investigate the pathogenicity of the rice blast fungus Magnaporthe oryzae by fusing fungal effector molecules to an enzyme that labels effector targets within infected rice cells for identification. She is originally from Texas where she graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Texas in 2013. She earned an M.S. in Food Science here at the University of Arkansas in 2016, researchers the effects of storage conditions on rice quality and functionality, advised by Dr. Terry Siebenmorgen.

Ortega, Laura

(PLPA - M.S. - Rojas)


Ridenour, John B.

(PTSC - 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.

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