Will Hehemann | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) has awarded Dr. Rebecca Lochmann, chair of the Department of Aquaculture/Fisheries at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), a $125,000 grant through its 1890 Faculty Research Sabbatical Program. The program provides faculty at 1890 land-grant universities the opportunity to participate in a residency at an ARS laboratory to conduct cooperative research of mutual interest with ARS scientists.
Starting in September, Dr. Lochmann will step down from her administrative duties as chair of the aquaculture/fisheries department at UAPB to conduct the year-long sabbatical project at the H.K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center (SNARC). She will be working alongside Dr. Carl Webster, a USDA-ARS fish nutritionist and co-writer of the research proposal, to investigate ways to enhance the sustainable production of hybrid striped bass and white bass.
“Sportfish – including hybrid striped bass – are top aquaculture products of Arkansas,” 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 and insect products in their diets to make culture of these species more cost effective and environmentally sustainable.”
One of the novel components of the project will be research on the nutritional requirements of the white bass – little research is currently available on this topic, Dr. Lochmann said. White bass are crossed with striped bass to make the hybrid referred to as “sunshine bass.”
Dr. Lochmann said researchers at UAPB and SNARC have collaborated for many years and that the sabbatical program will strengthen the ties.
“The Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center has excellent research scientists, support staff and facilities,” she said. “At UAPB, we have faculty with similar interests and students who can do part of their research in Stuttgart. This way, the students will gain experience in a USDA lab and acquire new professional contacts.”
A pending grant will allow Dr. Lochmann to hire a graduate student to work on the sabbatical experiments starting in January 2023.
“The sabbatical starts next month, so we will use the time until January to formulate experimental diets, which we will develop at a collaborative USDA-ARS 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 to run the feeding trials in Stuttgart starting in early 2023.”
Dr. Nina Lyon Bennett, assistant dean for academics at the UAPB School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences (SAFHS), said three SAFHS faculty members applied for the sabbatical program after meeting with a group of ARS researchers comprised of Dr. Michele L. Reba, Arlene Adviento-Borbe and Dr. Joe Massey. During an informational Zoom session, the ARS personnel urged the UAPB professors to apply for the program because there had previously been no applicants from UAPB.
“The three SAFHS faculty to apply for 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 pleased Dr. Lochmann is the first faculty from UAPB-SAFHS to be selected for this prestigious program. She is blazing a trail 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 last, as we will continue to encourage faculty to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
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