Plant Science Grad Student Sharfadine Selected for Global Crop Loss Program

Master's degree student Sherif Sharfadine (left) works in the lab of assistant professor of plant pathology Alejandro Rojas.
Fred Miller

Master's degree student Sherif Sharfadine (left) works in the lab of assistant professor of plant pathology Alejandro Rojas.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Sherif Sharfadine, a U of A graduate student, has been selected to participate in the Global Burden of Crop Loss Initiative.

Sharfadine is a plant pathology master's degree student in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

The crop loss initiative is coordinated by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International, and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

"This is a critically important global project focusing on the impacts of pests on food production and availability," said Ken Korth, head of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. "Sherif will have the opportunity to contribute and work with scientists from around the globe."

Sharfadine works with Alejandro Rojas, assistant professor of plant pathology, and a researcher and scientist with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the U of A System Division of Agriculture.

Rojas focuses his research on the interaction of plant and root-associated microorganisms and their effects on plant growth and health.

With Rojas, Sharfadine is working on Rhizoctonia solani, a soilborne fungal pathogen that is the causal agent of sheath blight, a global disease in rice production systems. He is evaluating different options to manage it and other diseases by using chemical and biological treatments applied to seeds. They hope to develop methods and metrics to help establish factors in driving the future of the Global Burden of Crop Loss Initiative, and become part of its network of collaborators.

"This is a great opportunity for us and especially for Sherif since his main interest is international agriculture," said Rojas. "This opportunity will give him access to experts around the world working with a crop that is important locally, but also for many countries around the world."

"I want thank my advisor and mentor Dr. Alejandro Rojas," said Sharfadine. "I give him all the credit for this opportunity. Without him, this would not be possible."

Lost crops impact health, livelihoods and national economies, but data on the scale and causes of crop loss are limited. The Global Burden of Crop Loss Initiative is aimed at providing data-based outputs that will be communicable across sectors and geographies.

CABI is an international, inter-governmental, not-for-profit organization geared toward improving people's lives by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.

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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