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Panicker's Melon Research Impacts Obesity Statistics

Dr. Girish K.S. Panicker, associate professor of the Center for Conservation Research, along with others co-principal investigators, received a grant from the USDA/NIFA in the amount of $499,876 for evaluating 192 varieties of watermelons for important yield traits. After studies on the genetic make of these varieties of watermelons are conducted, they will be crossbred for new varieties. The best watermelons, based on qualities of yield, size, color, sugar content, etc., will be selected for conservation research.

In 2013, Paniker also received a grant from the USDA/NIFA in the amount of $498,561 for researching 103 musk melons and cantaloupes from around the globe for fruit yield and adaptability. This research, along with others has contributed to a decline in the state of Mississippi's obesity rate. Because of the grants received, Panicker has been able to distribute organic seeds, free of cost, to more than 1,500 farmers in the state of Mississippi. Consequently, these farmers collect the seeds from their melons to share with their neighbors and friends.

"Our efforts are working very well and their impacts are great," he said.

For more information, contact Dr. Panicker at 601-877-6598 or

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