The Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board (ASPB) and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture recently awarded ASPB Fellowships to two University of Arkansas graduate students.

Lanny Ashlock, ASPB research coordinator, and Mark Cochran, University of Arkansas vice president for agriculture, said the fellowships were awarded on the basis of academic accomplishments and future career plans that will advance the soybean industry.

The ASPB Fellows are Kimberly A. Cochran of Springdale, Ark., who is pursuing a Ph.D. degree in plant sciences, and Sharon Faye Smith of Mountain Home, Ark., who is in the master's degree program in crop, soil and environmental sciences. The fellowships provide $3,000 per month for the doctoral degree program and $1,500 per month for the master's degree program.

Ashlock said, "Arkansas soybean producers deal with ever increasing production, environmental and marketing challenges. The ASPB is dedicated to improving the Arkansas soybean industry. One way is to assist and encourage young Arkansas agriculturalists who have an interest in soybean to remain in Arkansas to help improve the Arkansas soybean industry. On behalf of the state's soybean industry, I am delighted that we can help these outstanding students achieve their academic and career goals."

Cochran said, "On behalf of the entire Division of Agriculture, I am extremely grateful to the Arkansas Soybean Promotion Board for this generous support of our graduate students as well as the major funding the ASPB provides for our statewide research and extension programs."

Kimberly Cochran is an honors graduate of Springdale High School and the University of Central Arkansas as a biology major. She earned a Master of Science in Plant Pathology degree from the University of Arkansas in 2009 and was named the department's outstanding M.S. student. She is a graduate research assistant working on plant disease and soil ecology research.

Sharon Faye Smith graduated with honors from Mountain Home High School and from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences in 2011. Smith is a research graduate assistant studying the interactions between soybean crop management and sustainability of the soil. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in environmental and agricultural sciences.

The fellowship recipients were recommended by soybean producers on the ASPB Audit/Fellowship Committee, including Gary Sitzer of Weiner, West Higginbothom of Marianna, Rusty Smith of Des Arc and Shannon Davis of Bono.