from Arkansas State University

For Release: Nov. 11, 2002
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Grippo, Farris receive federal grant
for aquaculture research in Delta

Two Arkansas State University professors were recently awarded $246,000 by the U.S. Department of the Interior to support research in aquaculture.

Dr. Richard Grippo, associate professor of environmental biology, and Dr. Jerry Farris, professor of environmental biology, are the two researchers.

Over the next three years, Grippo and Farris will oversee research on the environmental risk assessment of potassium permanganate, an aquaculture therapeutant (fish drug) to help get it approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The research will look at the drug’s short-term and long-term effects on a host of test organisms including catfish, the primary production species for which approval of the drug is being sought.

Potassium permanganate is widely used in aquaculture to treat parasitic and fungal diseases of fish.

The project will be conducted in two phases. The first phase will look at acute effects of the drug on standard test organisms (water fleas, minnows, midges and algae) at the Ecotoxicology Research Facility in the Department of Biological Sciences at ASU. The ERF was constructed in 1992-93 under the direction of Dr. Farris, who also serves as the facility director.

The second phase will occur at the H. K. Dupree Stuttgart National Aquaculture Research Center in Stuttgart. Artificial ecosystems (mesocosms) will be used to simulate catfish ponds. Investigators will study the chemical fate of the drug and its effect on catfish at normal and high doses over a one year interval.

Melissa Hobbs, a doctoral candidate in the Environmental Science Ph.D. program at ASU, will conduct the research for her dissertation project. Dr. Grippo will chair Hobbs' dissertation advisory committee, and Dr. Farris, who also directs the Environmental Sciences program, will serve as a member of the advisory committee.

Dr. Billy Griffin, a microbiologist at the research center in Stuttgart, is also on Hobbs' committee and will be overseeing her research activities.

This project supports the mission of the Environmental Science Ph.D. program: to enhance environmental protection while at the same time maintaining or increasing economic growth in Arkansas and especially in the Delta.

Aquaculture in the Arkansas Delta is a $167 million industry with an economic impact of more than $1.2 billion.

Drs. Grippo and Farris have collaborated on several projects in the past, including an ecological evaluation of an ordnance site and harbor expansions in Missouri, and modeling toxicant discharge at the former Eaker Air Force base in Blytheville.

Dr. Grippo joined the biology faculty in the fall of 1995 after teaching and conducting research as a faculty member in the School of Forest Resources at The Pennsylvania State University. He received his doctoral degree from Penn State in 1991. He and his wife Anne (also a faculty member of the Department of Biological Sciences), have two children, Marisa and Adam.

Dr. Farris joined the biology faculty in the fall of 1992 after serving as a faculty member in the Center for Environmental and Hazardous Materials Studies at Virginia Tech. He was manager of the Center's Ecosystem Simulation Laboratory. He received his doctoral degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1986. He and his wife Kathy have two children, Whitney and Caitlin.

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