A doctoral student in Mississippi State University’s Department of Plant and Soil Sciences recently received a national fellowship from the Southern Regional Education Board.

Andre Payne of Mount Olive, Miss., was selected as a fellow for SREB’s competitive State Doctoral Scholars program, which works to increase the number of minority faculty members at universities in the South. Payne will receive $20,000 per year for up to four years of study.

She is a student under the direction of Frank Matta, a horticulturalist and researcher for the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. She has completed one year of her doctoral coursework.

“Andre is pursuing a doctoral degree in horticulture, and her dissertation research involves the use of mychorizal fungi on blueberries to increase uptake of soil nutrients and to improve yield and quality,” Matta said. “She has excellent training in horticulture, having previously worked with crop production and plant breeding. Andre has proven to be a very dedicated and independent researcher and a conscientious and hard-working individual who is always trying to excel.”

Payne plans to pursue a career as a professor and researcher. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Alcorn State University.