Adair Scholarship Exposes Horticulture's Lancaster to Plant Pathology Research

Amber Lancaster (left), a Bumpers College senior in horticulture and assistant professor of plant pathology Clemencia Rojas
Fred Miller

Amber Lancaster (left), a Bumpers College senior in horticulture and assistant professor of plant pathology Clemencia Rojas

Clemencia Rojas, assistant professor of plant pathology at the U of A, received help from a student intern in researching methods of combatting the rice disease bacterial panicle blight.

The bacteria impacts Arkansas rice crops by causing grains and plantlets to rot.

Rojas, a faculty member of the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Science's Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology and scientist with the U of A System Division of Agriculture, has received funding from the Chancellor's Fund and the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board to investigate the genetic basis of resistance to bacterial panicle blight and find antimicrobials to kill the pathogen.

For assistance with the research, she had help this summer from Amber Lancaster, a U of A Bumpers College senior majoring in horticulture, landscape and turf sciences, who was involved with the project in both greenhouse and lab settings.

Lancaster participated in the project as an Adair Scholar, which funds undergraduate student research internships during the summer. She worked on the project from the end of May until early August.

Lancaster was involved in screening rice cultivars to determine which may be resistant to bacterial panicle blight and also finding bacterial strains with properties that may kill the pathogen causing the disease.

"We were lucky to have Amber onboard," Rojas said. "She is a serious and dependable student who learned very quickly all the procedures required for her project. I am confident her contributions will be very valuable. Through her work this summer, we expect to identify rice cultivars with increased resistance to bacterial panicle blight and also identify sources of antimicrobials against the pathogen. I expect this research experience will also contribute to the development of Amber's future career."

The Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology offers the undergraduate endowed scholarship in honor of C. Roy Adair, a geneticist and plant breeder, whose accomplishments helped establish the preeminence of Arkansas rice. The first rice breeder to work in Arkansas, Adair and his wife, Ethel Owen Adair, left their entire estate of more than $1 million to scholarship funds at the U of A and Hendrix College in Conway.

The research internship is offered every year to junior and senior undergraduates at the U of A or other institutions with an interest in plant pathology. The application is available here.

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.


Robby Edwards, director of communications
Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences


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