Published on 04/18/13

CAES students participate in Undergraduate Research Symposium

By Merritt Melancon

More than 30 undergraduate students in the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences competed in the third annual CAES Undergraduate Research Symposium on Thursday, April 17.

The undergraduate research symposium highlights the research students completed this school year, and gives them the experience of presenting their work in a professional environment.

“We are very excited to have this many students participating in undergraduate research. The quality of their work is excellent,” said Jean Bertrand, CAES assistant dean for academic affairs. “We hope this will encourage some of them to pursue graduate school and a research career. We need a lot of bright, young minds interested in solving problems related to producing food and protecting the environment.”

This year’s winners in the oral presentation competition are — in order of first to fifth place — Holly Young, ag communication; Forrest Goodfellow, biological science; Elizabeth Carr, food science and technology; Amber R. Williams, animal science; and Jessica Guthrie, animal science.

In the poster presentation competition, winners are — in order of first to fifth place — Buck Trible, entomology and ecology; Simone Lavani, animal science; Richard Evans, biological science; Charnae Ross, food science and technology; and Andrew Norton, food science and technology.

Winners receive cash prizes ranging from $200 to $750.

This year, dozens of CAES students completed an undergraduate research project. Faculty members, in disciplines ranging from food science to plant breeding, serve as mentors to undergraduate researchers.

Three of the students participating in this year’s symposium started their research in high school through the CAES Young Scholars Program.

The young scholars internship program allows high school students from across Georgia to work in a UGA research lab during their summer vacation. The students earn money, learn job responsibilities and most importantly, are introduced to the work of agricultural scientists.

The goal of the internship program is to encourage outstanding high school students to pursue careers in science, and many of them do.

Nakia Lee, a freshman from Dekalb County, started her research on the oxidation of beef during the program this summer, under Anand Mohan in the CAES Department of Food Science and Technology.

Kelly Murray, a senior from Tifton, is performing research on how the introduction of guppies affects insect populations in streams. She started her research career doing a young scholars internship on UGA’s Tifton campus. She is now pursuing bachelor’s degrees in both ecology and entomology, working with researchers Marianne Shockely Cruz in entomology and Catharine Pringle in ecology.

Ridwan Amin Mahbub, a biological science major from Athens, is working with Marin Talbot Brewer. He is researching genetic markers that can be used to identifying dormant fungus on blueberries. He started his research career during a young scholars internship at UGA Griffin campus.

Other students who presented at the symposium include Tae-Young Lee, Taylor Childress Lee, Brandon Lord, Brigid Burns, Josh Caldwell, Dervin Junior Cunningham, Jacquelyn Dahling, Cody Gibbs, Caitlin Hodges, Rachel Hughes, Jeanette Jiricek, Jenn Kicklighter, Delaney Kolich, Yeon Lee, Daniel Isaac Rodriguez-Grandose, Tori Staples and Emily Vermillion.

Merritt Melancon is a public relations manager with UGA's Terry College of Business and previously served as a public relations coordinator for the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and UGA Extension.

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