Graduate Students from India Carrying out Research Internships at the University of Arkansas

Steve Stephenson (center), with Shoolini University graduate students Lavanya Tewari (left) and Shraddha Tewari (right)

For the second consecutive semester, two graduate students from India are carrying out research internships at the University of Arkansas under the supervision of Steve Stephenson, a research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences (Fig. 1). Lavanya Tewari and Shraddha Tewari, both of whom are students at Shoolini University in Solan, India, are studying myxomycetes (also called slime molds), a group of fungus-like organisms. They are working on two projects. The first of these involves examining the ecological distribution of the myxomycetes associated with four different microhabitats (red spruce twigs, hardwood twigs, forest floor leaf litter, and red spruce bark) in an old-growth red spruce/northern hardwood forest in the mountains of West Virginia. The major question being addressed is whether or not each of these microhabitats supports a distinct assemblage of species. The second project involves documenting the species of coprophilous myxomycetes associated with the dung of three large herbivores (bison, cow, and horse) in the grasslands of North Dakota.

Stephenson, who has collected and studied myxomycetes throughout the world for more than 40 years, visited Shoolini University in the spring of 2017 as a result of a Fulbright Specialist Award. Shoolini University has signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Arkansas to further cooperative research and student exchanges such as the one involving the research internships.