Progress Update BHEARD Students at Washington State University

Progress report on the research and academic progress of BHEARD Scholars Shimul Das and Mohammad Rahman of Bangladesh at Washington State University.

BHEARD scholar Shimul Das conducting research in his lab at Washington State University.
BHEARD Shimul Das conducting research in his lab at Washington State University.

(Editor's Note: The following is a progress report submitted by Colleen Taugher to the BHEARD Program about BHEARD Scholars Shimul Das and Mohammad Rahman)

Mr. Shimul Das and Mohammad Rahman from Bangladesh are currently pursuing their Ph.D.'s in Plant Pathology at Washington State University ’s Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center (IAREC), Prosser, WA. Dr. Naidu Rayapati, Associate Professor in Plant Virology has been mentoring them since January 2016 to gain theoretical and practical knowledge related to virus diseases and their management relevant to agricultural sustainability in Bangladesh. Since 2013, Dr. Rayapati has been collaborating with Bangladesh institutions funded by USAID’s IPM IL to implement cost-effective, environmentally benign strategies for managing virus diseases in subsistence agriculture. Besides research, he conducted short-term training courses for institutional capacity building to tackle virus disease problems benefiting marginal farmers in Bangladesh. In this context, Dr. Rayapati’s experiences in Bangladesh are valuable for Mr. Das and Mr. Rahman to gain current knowledge about plant viruses and their management relevant to Bangladeshi agriculture. During his meetings with USAID Mission in Bangladesh, Dr. Rayapati was stressing the need to enhance capacity in Bangladesh to address emerging viral diseases in subsistence agriculture. Since institutional capacity to tackle viral diseases affecting crops is very limited, graduate training program for Mr. Rahman and Mr. Das funded by BHEARD through Washington State University’s International Programs is timely in filling this critical gap in Bangladesh.


The program of study for Mr. Rahman and Mr. Das has been approved by Washington State University’s Graduate School in Spring 2017. Both of them will complete course work in spring 2018 and will be taking qualifying exam in Fall 2018 to advance their candidacy for PhD. 


Mr. Rahman and Mr. Das will be focusing on virus diseases infecting vegetable and legume crops, respectively, in Bangladesh. Their research involves a mix of lab-based and field-based studies to gain comprehensive knowledge and hands-on experiences in translational research related to virus diseases in Bangladesh. Lab-based studies are conducted in Dr. Rayapati’s lab at IAREC and filed-based studies will be conducted in Bangladesh. Since summer 2016, Mr.  Rahman and Mr. Das are learning various techniques in molecular biology for applications in their research program. They have gained confidence in conducting serological and molecular diagnostic assays for the detection of viruses in samples collected from vegetable and legume crops. In December 2017, Mr. Rahman and Mr. Das visited Bangladesh to conduct a 10-day survey of vegetable and legume crops for virus diseases, tested samples in the field using immunostrips and shipped samples to Dr. Rayapati’s lab under USDA-APHIS permit. They are currently analyzing these samples using serological and molecular diagnostic assays. Since both students are working with virus disease problems affecting vegetable and legume crops in Bangladesh, the research conducted at WSU-IAREC is transferable to applications in crop improvement against virus diseases benefiting Bangladesh agriculture.

Mohamma Rahman in Lab

(Mohammad Rahman in his lab)

In addition, Mr. Das and Mr. Rahman are learning molecular biology techniques, such as DNA cloning and sequencing as well as next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics techniques to profile viruses present in samples collected from Bangladesh. Both of them are also conducting experiments to screen lentil and pea germplasm lines for identifying sources of resistance against aphid vectors. Since it is not possible to work with insect vectors collected from Bangladesh, the experiences gained through this research are transferable to their programmatic activities in Bangladesh.


Both Mr. Rahman and Mr. Das gave departmental seminar in fall 2017 as part of their degree requirement. They will be giving a second seminar in fall 2018. Mr. Rahman participated in the 2017 Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium at Des Moines, IA, during October 18-20, 2017. Both of them have attended the International Congress of Plant Pathology (ICPP) meeting held at Boston, MA, during July 29-August 3, 2018. This international professional scientific meeting has provided opportunities to gain knowledge about plant diseases and management in global agriculture and build network with peers to pursue professional interactions in their future endeavors.

Mr. Rahman and Mr. Das presented the following posters at the ICPP meeting:

Mohammad Rahman, Basavaraj Bagewadi, Amer Fayad, Alexander V. Karasev, Rayapati A. Naidu.

Title: Molecular characterization of viruses in country beans (Lablab purpureus) in Bangladesh.

Mohamma Rahman Presenting Paper

(Mohammad Rahman presenting his research)

Shimul Das, Basavaraj Bagewadi, Lalit Shah, Kim Hian Seng, Amer Fayad, Alexander V. Karasev, Rayapati A. Naidu

Title: Host-specific lineages of Bean common mosaic virus in Bangladesh, Cambodia and Nepal.

Shimul Das Presenting Paper

(Shimul Das presenting his research)


After completing their doctoral program at WSU-IAREC, Mr. Rahman and Mr. Das will return to Bangladesh in early 2019 to continue field studies towards their PhD. Dr. Rayapati will visit with the students in Bangladesh in early 2019 to help them organize field surveys and collect scientific data. 



Colleen Taugher is the Associate Director for Global Research and Engagement at Washington State University. 

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