Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Humanities
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) awarded Dr. Rebecca Lochmann, chair of the Department of Aquaculture/Fisheries at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), a grant of $125,000 as part of his 1890 research sabbatical. The program offers faculty from 1890 land-grant universities the opportunity to participate in a residency at an ARS laboratory to conduct cooperative research of mutual benefit with ARS scientists.
From September, Dr. Lochmann will step down from her administrative duties as Chair of the UAPB Aquaculture/Fisheries Department to lead the one-year sabbatical project at the HK Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center (SNARC). She will work alongside Dr. Carl Webster, USDA-ARS fish nutritionist and co-author of the research proposal, to research ways to improve the sustainable production of hybrid striped bass and white bass.
“Sport fish — including hybrid striped bass — are Arkansas’ finest aquaculture products,” Dr. Lochmann said. “Dr. Webster and I are conducting feeding trials with hybrid striped bass and white bass to determine the potential for using various soybean products and insects in their diets to make the culture of these species more cost effective and more environmentally sustainable.
One of the new parts of the project will be research into the nutritional requirements of white bass – little research is currently available on this topic, Dr Lochmann said. White bass are crossed with striped bass to create the hybrid called “sun bass”.
Dr. Lochmann said UAPB and SNARC researchers have collaborated for many years and the sabbatical program will strengthen the bond.
“The National Aquaculture Research Center in Stuttgart has excellent researchers, support staff and facilities,” she said. “At UAPB, we have professors with similar interests and students who can do some of their research in Stuttgart. This way, students will gain experience in a USDA lab and gain new professional contacts.
A pending grant will allow Dr. Lochmann to hire a graduate student to work on the sabbatical experiments beginning in January 2023.
“The sabbatical begins next month, so we will use the time until January to formulate experimental diets, which we will develop in a USDA-ARS collaborative lab in Bozeman, Montana,” she said. “By the time the student is hired, the diets will be ready, allowing the student to focus on preparing for the diet trials in Stuttgart from early 2023.”
Dr. Nina Lyon Bennett, assistant dean for academics at UAPB’s School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Humanities (SAFHS), said three SAFHS faculty members applied for the sabbatical program after having met a group of ARS researchers consisting of Dr. Michele L. Reba, Arlene Adviento-Borbe and Dr. Joe Massey. During a Zoom briefing, ARS staff urged UAPB faculty to apply for the program as there were previously no UAPB applicants.
“The three SAFHS professors to apply to the program were Dr. Emmanuel Asiamah, assistant professor of animal science, Dr. Satish Ponniah, associate professor of plant science, and Dr. Lochmann,” Dr. Bennett said. “I am delighted that Dr. Lochmann is the first professor from UAPB-SAFHS to be selected for this prestigious program. She paves the way for other faculty to apply for this funded sabbatical program specifically designed for 1890 land-grant institutions. Dr. Lochmann may be the first selected from UAPB, but she will not be the last, as we will continue to encourage faculty to take full advantage of this opportunity.
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