Student’s Paper on Blackberries Places Second in National Competition

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Bethany Sebesta, a senior majoring in horticulture, landscape and turf sciences in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences at the University of Arkansas, has had a paper she co-authored place second nationally for the American Pomological Society U.P. Hedrick Award.

The paper, “Pyrene Attributes and Seediness Evaluation of Blackberry Genotypes,” was co-written by Sebesta, horticulture professor John Clark, food science professor Luke Howard and Renee Threlfall, a research scientist in the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s Institute of Food Science and Engineering.

The paper concentrated on an evaluation of the pyrenes (seeds) of blackberries under development in the Division of Agriculture’s blackberry breeding program. Pyrenes vary in size and perception by the consumer, and the work investigated these and other aspects of “seediness” in a range of cultivars and breeding selections. The findings helped pinpoint major aspects of seediness to allow closer focus for certain areas in cultivar development in the breeding program.

“Bethany did exceptional work in her special projects investigation on blackberry pyrene evaluations,” said Clark. “As with many research studies, her project expanded from a summer endeavor into the fall and winter, encompassing over six months of data collection. I have never worked with an undergraduate student more accomplished and focused than Bethany. It was a joyful experience for all of us who mentored her in her research.”

 
Bethany Sebesta

Sebesta, who is from Bentonville, is interning this summer with a berry breeding company in Watsonville, Calif.

“An instilled love for things that grow and a passion for learning brought me to the horticulture department in 2012,” said Sebesta. “I asked for a special topics project even though it was not required. This experience enhanced my research and writing skills, along with project development and critical thinking. I thank Dr. Clark and Dr. Threlfall for guiding me in project development and research techniques, and Dr. Howard for his input and resources.”

Sebesta has been involved with Feed Fayetteville, an organization founded to find solutions to local hunger and childhood obesity issues, and the GroGreen student organic farm club.

The American Pomological Society is the oldest fruit organization in North America. It was founded in 1848 to foster the science and practice of fruit growing and variety development.

The Ulysses Prentiss Hedrick Award annually goes to the best Journal of American Pomological Society paper submitted by horticulture students.

Clark co-authored the winning paper with Erik Stafne in 2004, “A Retrospective of Blackberry Breeding and Production in Arkansas.” The first year of the award, 1983, horticulture professor Curt Rom co-authored the winning submission while a student at Ohio State University with D.C. Ferree, “Spur Leaf Characteristics of Nine Apple Cultivars.”

Sebesta, Clark, Howard and Threlfall will be recognized at the American Pomological Society business meeting in Palm Springs, Calif., in late July.

Contacts

John R. Clark, university professor
Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sci
479-575-2810, jrclark@uark.edu

Robby Edwards, director of communications
Bumpers College
479-575-4625, robbye@uark.edu


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