Published on 04/18/18

CAES students highlight research achievements at CAES Undergraduate Research Symposium

By Merritt Melancon

Almost 50 University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) undergraduate students showcased their research projects and competed in the seventh annual CAES Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 11.

The symposium gives students a chance to highlight their research and present their work in a formal setting.

Faculty members in disciplines ranging from food science to plant breeding served as students’ mentors.

“I am very proud of the participants,” said Doug Bailey, the college’s assistant dean for academic affairs. “The high quality of research conducted and the presentations made by our students are truly impressive.”

Each student presented their work 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 mentors and project titles are listed below.

  • First place: Carolyn Einertson, who was mentored by Stephen Nickerson of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science, presented “Using Pre-Calving Mammary Secretions to Predict Udder Infection Status in Dairy Heifers.”
  • Second place: Thomas Gottilla, who was mentored by Katrien Devos of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, presented “Investigation Into the Genetic Mechanisms of Salt Tolerance of P. vaginatum Through Genotyping by Sequencing and Comparative Bioinformatics Analyses.”
  • Third place: Vivian Yang, who was mentored by Ron Walcott of the Department of Plant Pathology, presented “Does XopJ Play a Role in Host Specificity of Acidovorax citrulli, the Causal Agent of Bacterial Fruit Blotch of Cucurbits.”
  • Fourth place: Josephine Oakley, who was mentored by Caitlin Foley of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science, presented “Diagnosing Ketosis in Early Lactation Dairy Cows — Which Test is Best?”
  • Fifth place: Sierra King, who was mentored by Nancy Hinkle of the Department of Entomology, presented “Optimal Anopheles quadrimaculatus Larval Density for Laboratory Rearing.”
  • Sixth place: Ansley Almond, who was mentored by Sheba MohanKumar of the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Veterinary Biosciences and Diagnostics Imaging, presented “The Effect of Prenatal Exposure of Bisphenol-A (BPA) and Other Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals on the Sprague Dawley Rat Development.”

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

  • First place: Isaac Steinmetz, who was mentored by Luke Mortenson of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science, presented “Sphingolipid Manipulation of Mesenchymal Stem Cell Morphology and Immunosuppressive Potency.”
  • Second place: Daniel Seeler, who was mentored by Ronald Pegg of the Department of Food Science and Technology, presented “Re-examination of Dietary Fiber Content in Tree Nuts and Peanuts.”
  • Third place: Zachary Jones, who was mentored by Franklin D. West of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science, presented “Magnetic Resonance Imaging T2 Weighted Sequences Demonstrate Acute Changes in Cerebral Hemisphere, Ventricle, and Lesion Volumes in a Pig.”
  • Fourth place: Shyla Giancola, who was mentored by Kelsey Hart of the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine, presented “Immunomodulatory Effects of Cortisol, Vitamin C and Thiamine on Equine Leukocytes Function in an Ex Vivo Bacterial Sepsis Model.”
  • Fifth place: Jaiko Celka, who was mentored by Puneet Dwivedi of the UGA Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, presented “Economic and Environmental Trade-off Analysis of Food Waste Reduction Solutions in the United States.”
  • Sixth place: Lindsey Fenster, who was mentored by Alexander Stelzleni of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science, presented “Evaluation of Warm-Season Annual Grasses for Southeastern Forage-Finished Beef Systems.”

To learn more about undergraduate research opportunities available to CAES students, visit Photos from the symposium can be found at

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