A University of Arkansas - Fort Smith student is working a summer internship at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville researching methods to combat a parasitic fungus destroying crops across the southwest United States.
Richard Sample of Fayetteville is conducting the research through the C. Roy Adair Undergraduate Research Internship Program at the U of A. In the internship, Sample is analyzing natural fungicides for Rhizoctonia solani, a fungus that destroys crops across the southern U.S.
Introducing a binucleate -- a strain of the same parasitic fungus but with two nuclei -- negates the effect of the fungus, and Sample is researching the effectiveness of the method.
“I’m looking at how much of the binucleate to use, how effective it is and what conditions make it most effective,” Sample said. “I’m also looking at what the best placement is for the binucleate -- if it should be planted with the crop seed, next to the stem once it sprouts, or on the leaves.”
While in the internship, Sample has had the opportunity to sit in on lectures on plant diseases and toured a Monsanto facility in St. Louis. The biology major, who plans to continue his education once he graduates from UAFS, has also gotten a taste of what to expect when he attends graduate school. Following the internship, Sample will present his research at a symposium, which he compares to defending a thesis.
“I’ve been able to talk to graduate students, and they’ve given me advice that will help me,” he said. “I’m getting an experience most people don’t get.”
The C. Roy Adair Undergraduate Research Internship Program is a 12-week summer internship for upper-level undergraduate students. The program honors the late Dr. C. Roy Adair, a geneticist and plant breeder who helped establish the Arkansas rice industry.