Yathish Ramena, a doctoral candidate of aquaculture/fisheries, recently took top honors at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff’s 30th annual Student and Faculty Research Forum.


Ramena received the first-place prize of $100 and a commemorative plaque for his paper titled “Functional Histology Study for Gut Enteritis and Inflammation in Sunshine Bass Fed Diets With New Varieties of Non-genetically Modified Soybeans.”


For the third year in a row, Ramena earned the Dr. William M. Willingham Award for best graduate presentation.


His study is part of on-going research at UAPB on the effect of soybean-based diets on the growth, survival, body composition, gastrointestinal tract histology and non-specific immune responses of sunshine bass. The project examines the viability of fish feed made from non-genetically modified (GMO) soybeans as a healthy and cost-effective alternative to traditional fish meal.


During the most recent phase of the research, Ramena compared levels of inflammation and nutrient absorption in the guts of fish fed either traditional fish meal or meals made from non-GMO soybeans. The project involves scientists at UAPB, the Harry K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center and the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.


“Yathish has gained an impressive depth of knowledge during this project, and he is able to explain his results clearly to different audiences,” Rebecca Lochmann, interim chair of the UAPB Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries and Ramena’s research advisor, said. “I expect him to have many exciting and challenging career opportunities when he completes his Ph.D.”