Published on 04/13/17

More than 50 CAES students compete in 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium

By Merritt Melancon

More than 50 students of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) completed an undergraduate research project and competed in the seventh annual CAES Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 12. 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 experience presenting their work in a formal setting.

“Enabling the students to work beside world-class scientists is one vital aspect of the experiential approach to learning that we champion in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences,” said Josef Broder, the college’s associate dean for academic affairs. “There’s no better way to learn about the scientific world than to engage in scientific work, and the work of these students has been very impressive.”

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 $600.

The winners in this year’s oral presentation competition, their majors, mentors, departments and project titles are listed below.

  • First place: Christina Workman, animal science major; mentor Hitesh Handa, College of Engineering; “Hydrophilic Top Coat on Nitric Oxide Releasing Surfaces for Enhanced Antibacterial and Antifouling Properties”
  • Second place: Mary Sutton, applied biotechnology major; mentor Rachel Itle, horticulture department; “Texture Evaluations of Southern Highbush and Rabbiteye Blueberry Varieties”
  • Third place: Kendall Lee, animal science major; mentor Kylee Jo Duberstein, animal and dairy science department; “A Preliminary Evaluation of Supplemental Vitamin E Form on Serum α-tocopherol Levels and Oxidative Stress Parameters Measured in Response to a Novel Exercise Challenge”
  • Fourth place: Thomas Gottilla, applied biotechnology major; mentor Marin Brewer, plant pathology department; “Optimization of Virulence Assays for Fusarium oxsporum f. sp. Vasinfectum Causing Fusarium Wilt of Cotton”
  • Fifth place: Rebecca Fortner, food science major; mentor Anand Mohan, food science and technology department; “Analysis and Further Processing of Broiler Breast Meat with Common Quality Defects”
  • Sixth place: Briel Power, biological science major; mentor Paula Lemons, biochemistry and molecular biology department; “Examining the Dynamics of Faculty Learning Community Meetings”

The winners in this year’s poster presentation competition, their majors, mentors, departments and project titles are listed below.

  • First place: William Bowling, turfgrass management major; mentor Gerald Henry, crop and soil sciences department; “Targeting Postemergence Dallisgrass Control Using Cooling Degree Days”
  • Second place: Madeline Young, animal health and biological science major; mentor Jaroslava Halper, College of Veterinary Medicine pathology department; “The Role of Chondrogenic Growth Factors in the Pathogenesis of Equine DSLD”
  • Third place: Adrea Mueller, biological science major; mentor Brian Jordan, poultry science department; “Adaptation of a DNA Purification Protocol for Whole Genome Sequencing of an Eimeria Species”
  • Fourth place: Breanna Hart, poultry science major; mentor Harsha Thippareddi, poultry science department; “Reducing the Risk of Salmonella Transmission by Sanitation of Breeder Hatching Eggs”
  • Fifth place: Jesse Lafian, horticulture major; mentor Marc Van Iersel, horticulture department; “Development of a Low-maintenance, Low-cost Tensiometer to Improve Irrigation Accuracy”
  • Sixth place: Riley Jenkins, biological science major; mentor Kevin McCully, kinesiology department; “Mitochondrial Capacity in Young, Well-controlled People with Type 1 Diabetes”


To learn more about undergraduate research opportunities available to CAES students, visit

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

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