Published on 04/21/14

Judges announce UGA ag school undergraduate research symposium winners

By Merritt Melancon

This year, 36 students in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences completed an undergraduate research project and competed in the fourth annual CAES Undergraduate Research Symposium. Faculty members, in disciplines ranging from food science to plant breeding, served as their mentors.

The symposium gives students a chance to highlight the research they completed this school year and gives them experience presenting their work in a professional environment.

“We are very exciting to have this many students participate in undergraduate research. The quality of their work is excellent,” said Jean Bertrand, the college’s 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.”

Each student presented their research to a panel of college researchers over the course of the symposium. Winners in both the poster presentation and oral presentation categories received cash prizes ranging from $200 to $700.

    The winners in this year’s oral presentation competition, their majors and their topic of research are listed below.
  • First place: Austin Bernard, majoring in food science, “Thermal Inactivation of Non-Pathogenic Strains of Escherichia Coli in Non-Intact Beef Steaks Using a Radio Frequency Oven.”
  • Second place: Courtney Wright, biological sciences, “Characterization of Soybean Host Resistance and Asian Soybean Rust (ASR) Pathogen Variability for Durable Resistance.”
  • Third place: Vitoria DeLeo, applied biotechnology, “Intron Loss in the ABCB1 Gene.”
  • Fourth place: Courtney Haviland, animal and dairy science, “Examining Brown Fat: Where is it Located and How Can it Help Combat the Obesity Epidemic?"
  • Fifth place: Caitlin Hodges, water and soil resources, “Characterizing Iron Redox along a Hawaiian Climate Gradient.”

The winners in this year’s poster presentation competitions, their majors and their topic of research are listed below.

  • Tied for first place: Annie Rich, majoring in biological sciences, “Surveying the Concentration and Instar Stages of Northern Fowl Mites Present in Bluebird Nests” and Matthew Doremus, entomology, “Do X-Type Symbionts Protect Aphids from Parasitism?”
  • Second place: Britinee Lett, biological sciences, “Growth, Body Composition and Skeletal Characteristics of Commercial Broiler Chickens under Different Feeding Period Regimens.”
  • Third place: Christina Etheridge, applied biotechnology, “mRNA Reprogramming of Leigh’s Syndrome Patient Human Fibroblasts into Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells for Clinical Research.”
  • Fourth place: Jade Newsome, applied biotechnology, “Fueling Minds of the Future through Education Outreach and Hands-On Experience in Biotechnology.”
  • Fifth place: Kaylee South, horticulture, “The Effects of Using Ice as an Irrigation Method for Orchids.”

Other students who presented at the symposium are Elle Chadwick, Shireen Zolghardr, Amanda Miller, Blair Christensen, Logan Allee, Alexander Hedaya, Kerrianne Fisher, Luke Joseph, Vivien Pham, Hannah Cornelia, Luke Wallace, Erin Napier, William Groover, Jessica Thomas, Olamide Olujohyngbe, Malone Thomason, Jade Newsome, Jessica Vaughn, Chinyere Uzoigwe, Kristyn Nock, Emily Vermillion, Jessica Rook, Rebecca Shirley, Rachel Harrison, Akshun Yadav and Sean Evans.

To learn more about undergraduate research opportunities available to CAES students, see the website

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