UAPB aquaculture/fisheries graduate student wins at annual research forum

A graduate student of the School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences recently took top honors at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) 31st Annual Student and Faculty Research Forum.

Nitin Challa, a graduate student of aquaculture/fisheries, won the Dr. William M. Willingham Award presented to the overall winner for the best graduate presentation. He was awarded the first-place prize of $50 and a commemorative plaque for his paper, entitled “Therapeutic Potential of Bioactive Compounds for Treating Fish Disease.”

Challa’s research concerned the potential use of plant extracts in treating bacterial diseases in fish, as opposed to the use of traditional antibiotic drugs.

“Plant extracts are well known for their anti-microbial properties, and their use as therapeutics is high for human pathologies,” said Dr. Grace Ramena, assistant professor of fish health in the Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries and Challa’s advisor. “However, there is limited knowledge about the effectiveness of these natural compounds in the treatment of fish disease.”

Dr. Ramena focuses on identifying new therapeutic molecules – using approaches such as targeted therapy, nanotechnology and bioactive compounds – to treat fish bacterial diseases that commonly cause significant economic loss to Arkansas’ aquaculture stakeholders.

“Stringent regulations on the use of antibiotics call for new, alternative solutions that can be safe and cost-effective,” Dr. Ramena said. “The natural compounds Nitin identified in his research could serve as potential alternative therapeutics to antibiotics to treat columnaris disease in fish.”


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