News and Events

Check back often to discover exciting and new things happening in the College of Natural Science and Mathematics at the University of Central Arkansas.

Science Wednesday: The Science of Leadership January 26,2022

Science Wednesday: The Science of Leadership – Jan. 26,2022

From love to sports to science fiction, Science Wednesday is where science meets society. Experts come from the Conway community and events are moderated by a University of Central Arkansas student.

Join us on Zoom for our first Science Wednesday of the semester! On Wednesday, January 26th at 6:30 PM, we’re bringing panelists together from across campus to discuss the Science of Leadership in all forms. The event is informal, and public discussion and questions are highly encouraged.


UCA Geographers Awarded NASA Grant to Study Arkansas Delta Irrigation

UCA Geographers Awarded NASA Grant to Study Arkansas Delta Irrigation

Matthew Connolly and Marisol Filares measure the height of soybean crops. Photo contributed by Yaqian He and Matthew Connolly.

University of Central Arkansas geographers have received $40,000 from NASA to study how the Arkansas Delta’s declining fresh groundwater supply for irrigation can affect local climates and crop yields.

The study is led by Yaqian He, Ph.D., an assistant professor of geography, and Matthew Connolly, Ph.D, an associate professor of geography, who received the grant from NASA’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Through their research, the UCA team is studying irrigation and climate patterns in the northern Arkansas Delta region, such as Jackson County, Arkansas.

The water supply is essential to life, and no industry knows that more than agriculture. This team of geographers is keen to study the area’s water supply because of its effects on crop production and the climate.

“Arkansas is facing a severe issue with groundwater depletion due to over-pumping for irrigation water,” said He. “We are using our backgrounds in waterways, climatology, and remote sensing, to see if we can find over-irrigation and potential best irrigation practices.”

Yaqian He and Marisol Filares take measurements with a GPS device. Photo contributed by Yaquin He and Mathew Connolly.

“It’s important to study this in the Delta because of its large agricultural productivity and the importance of agriculture on the state’s economy,” Connolly added.

The amount of water involved in irrigation is enormous, and the fertile fields of the Arkansas Delta are dependent on groundwater. About 80% of irrigation comes from under Earth’s surface, He said.

“As agriculture is continuing to develop and the population is growing, water resources may be limited. A sustainable irrigation strategy may be needed for Arkansas,” He said.

The main concern is overdraft that occurs when groundwater is pumped at a faster rate than it can be replaced.

Overdraft can have a dramatic impact on a host of activities. When pumps exhaust the fresher water that stays close to the surface, deeper water that contains higher mineral content and salt reach croplands. This leaves room for potential problems like lower crop productivity, as the salt concentration changes the soil chemistry.

Applying groundwater to crops also creates differences in the climate on a local level—called a microclimate. This happens as the temperature and moisture characteristics are distinctly different from the surrounding region. Groundwater for irrigation also reduces soil moisture and increases water available for evaporation into the atmosphere.

Through their research, He and Connolly are using satellite and drone technology to determine what phenomena are happening in the Arkansas Delta.

Crossing Jackson County, they identified farmland to study with the help of the University of Arkansas Extension Service in Jackson County. This collaboration connected the UCA team to farmers, allowing a more practical understanding of how often farmers irrigated their crops.

He and Connolly hired two undergraduate students, geography major Marisol Filares and environmental science major Caden Rhodes, to join the team. The grant allowed everyone to gain the Federal Aviation Administration’s remote pilot certification needed to fly the drone.

The team conducted fieldwork over the 2021 summer, studying crops on the ground and collecting imagery with satellites technology and a drone. As preliminary results become available, Rhodes creates an interactive map that disseminates information to collaborators. Ultimately, farmers will be able to use the study’s results to make strategic decisions on how often to irrigate farmland.

“One of the goals of this project was to try to help farmers to apply their water more judiciously, so that you’re not overwatering when you don’t need it,” Connolly said.

2021 JMNR Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to our photo contest winners.  The winning photos will be displayed in the CNSM Dean’s office located in Lewis Science Center 145.

 Student Category:
1st Place – Jackson Renfroe, Biology Major

2nd Place: Jackson Renfroe, Biology Major


Faculty Staff Category:
1st Place: Mackenzie Hoogshagen, Alumna

2nd Place: Will Flatley, Assistant Professor,Geography

Thank you to everyone who submitted photographs and to our judges, David Dussourd, John Black and Seth Foley!

2020 JMNR Photo Contest Winners

Congratulations to our photo contest winners.  The winning photos will be displayed in the CNSM Dean’s office located in Lewis Science Center 145.

Student Category:
1st Place – Michelle Benson, Biology Major

2nd Place: Erik Stinnett, Computer Science Major

Faculty Staff Category:
1st Place: Windy Lowder, Communications Specialist, UCAPD

2nd Place: Coleman Little, Visiting Lecturer, Biology

Thank you to everyone who submitted photographs and to our judges, John Black and Seth Foley!


4th Annual JMNR Photo Contest

The deadline for the fourth annual Jewel Moore Nature Reserve Photo Contest is rapidly approaching (November 1!!). Instructions for participating are attached.  With the pandemic, economic distress, climate change, and political pandemonium overwhelming us, the nature reserve provides a comforting escape.

Please announce the contest to your students and invite them to submit up to three photographs to my email address.  Please also consider submitting up to three of your own photographs.  There are separate categories for students (undergraduate and graduate combined) and for faculty/staff/alumni.

This is our chance to get a little free publicity for our beautiful reserve – and your chance to see your photographs displayed in the Dean’s office, on the walls in LSC and CCCS, and in UCA publications and web sites.

No cost to enter. Thanks!  David

Dr. David Dussourd
Department of Biology

First Science Wednesday for 2020!

Please visit the Science Wednesday website for more information.

CNSM Wins SGA “Food Fight”

CNSM won the 2019 SGA Colleges “Food Fight” thanks to the efforts of Faith Halcom Yarberry of the Chemistry Department!  Emma Cheek, SGA CNSM Representative, presented the trophy to Dean Addison and Dr. Yarberry on Friday, 1/10/20.  This is the second year of the competition sponsored by the Student Government Association to benefit the Bear Essentials Food Pantry.  

Photo courtesy Rose McGarrity, SGA

CNSM Events During Homecoming Week

This Week in CNSM

Biology Department Publications

Dr. David Dussourd and Dr. Arijit Mukherjee have recently published articles.

Congratulation to Dr. Mukherjee, his lab students  – Ha Ram Kim, Grant Wiggins, Qinqing Yang, and Raj Singh – and former UCA graduate student Jackie Thomas, for their recent publication “RNA-seq reveals differentially expressed genes in rice (Oryza sativa) roots during interactions with plant-growth promoting bacteria, Azospirillum brasilense”!   Please click on this link to read the article.

Congratulations to Dr. David Dussourd and UCA alum Madalyn Van Valkenburg on their publication, along with other authors: “A notodontid novelty: Theroa zethus caterpillars use behavior and anti-predator weaponry to disarm host plants”.   The UCA News website features a more detailed description of the findings, as well as a link to the article at this link.