VSU Students Demonstrate Leadership in Food and Agri-Science Research

virginia state university
Three VSU graduate students, 26 undergraduate students, and 25 faculty and staff participated in the Association of 1890 Research Directors’ 20th Annual Research Symposium in Atlanta, GA, April 2-5. Photo courtesy of Virginia State University.

Food and agricultural scientists play a vital role in determining how we will feed and clothe the approximately 25% more people on the planet in 2050.

This population increase, coupled with challenges such as climate change and recent supply chain disruptions, is currently at the forefront of the brightest scientific minds to ensure our food supply remains plentiful, affordable and on.

Virginia State University demonstrated its leadership in developing the next generation of food and agriculture scientists, who will tackle this problem, during the 20th edition Association of Research Directors 1890 inc. Research Symposium April 2-5 in Atlanta. There, seven of their students won research grants.

The conference offers scientists and students from the nation’s 19 historically black land-grant universities the opportunity to present research papers and posters on innovative and practical research findings in food and agricultural science . The theme for this year’s conference was “Pathways to Build Back Better”.

Training young people from minorities and under-represented backgrounds for scientific careers is one of the main objectives of VSU College of Agriculture, which contains the land-grant university’s agricultural research station, the cooperative extension program, and the university’s food and agro-science programs. Students who attended the symposium worked alongside VSU College of Agriculture faculty members while conducting experiments, collecting data, analyzing results, and preparing their presentations. In doing so, they have gained important practical experience in finding solutions to the challenges facing agriculture today.

Melissa Romero Flores, a VSU junior agriculture major and third-time oral presentation winner, said that meeting students from other 1890 land-grant institutions at the symposium, “made me feel very empowered to know that our generation has the ability to continue to develop and advance agricultural science.

First place winner of the oral presentation, Camron Jones, who is an agriculture major from VSU, added, “What stood out to me the most about attending the symposium was the number of companies, d companies and institutions that go above and beyond to seek and find talent at HBCU schools.

This year’s students who won an award include:

  • Camron Jones (undergraduate student) – 1st place winner for an oral presentation on “The evaluation of chemical, physical, and hydraulic properties of varying rates of biochar-vermiculite mixtures and their impact on kale growth and yield (Brassica Oleraceae)”
  • Aliah Jacobs (undergraduate student) – 2nd place winner for oral presentation on “The Effect of Protein Content on the Physicochemical, Microstructural, and Functional Properties of Hemp Heart Protein”
  • Alexandra Ovalle-Cisneros (Graduate Student) – 3rd Place Winner for Poster Presentation on “Characterization of Green and Yellow Papaya (Carica papaya) for Antioxidation and Glucose Uptake Stimulating Activity in HepG2 liver cells”
  • Kevin Brown (Undergraduate) – 3rd Place Winner for Poster Presentation on “Effect of Chilling Rate on Sperm Movement Characteristics of Ram’s Semen During Liquid Storage at Two Temperatures”
  • Melissa Romero Flores (undergraduate student) – 3rd place winner for oral presentation on “Prevalence of Escherichia Coli virulence genes in fecal samples from pre-weaned and per-weaned lambs”
  • Michael Ibarra-Bautista (undergraduate student) – 3rd place winner for poster presentation on “Integrated Methods for the Production of Pathogen-Free Ginger Seed Rhizomes”
  • Desmyn Owens (undergraduate student) – 3rd place winner for poster presentation on “The Chemical, Physical, and Hydraulic Properties of Selected Potting Mixes and Their Effect on the Growth and Yield of Kale (Brassica Oleracea) »

“The quality of the ARD Symposium presentations this year represents the hard work of our students and their faculty advisors and has resulted in the highest number of student winners in recent memory,” said Dr. Wondi Mersie, Associate Dean of VSU College. of Agriculture and Director of Agricultural Research. “The work we do on campus to prepare students for the symposium is another example of how VSU is a leader in developing the next generation of minority leaders in STEM careers like agriculture and science. eating.”

A total of three graduate students and 26 undergraduate VSU students attended the symposium. Additionally, 25 VSU College of Agriculture administrators, faculty, and staff participated in the symposium, many of whom served as judges or moderators.

Even students who participated but did not win prizes greatly benefited from the experience of presenting their results, interacting with their peers, and learning from other participants. They have also benefited from attending “soft skills” and professional development workshops, such as “Life After College: Where Do We Go From Here and How Do We Get There?” These workshops are designed to help students in their future workplace, as well as to meet with graduate school recruiters and representatives from federal agencies, both of whom are exhibiting at the symposium.

“The most meaningful thing for me was to prepare my students to present their research at the national level, to compete with their peers, to learn from this experience and to seek other training and research opportunities offered by different institutions. “, said Dr. Rafat A. Siddiqui. , a food chemistry and nutritional science researcher, who served as an advisor to two of the VSU student participants. “One of my graduate students, Karter Causer, received a Thomas Wyatt Turner Fellowship through Cornell University Graduate School. Another of my graduate students, Alexandra Ovalle-Cisneros, received second prize in a poster competition.

ARD is the federation of 19 self-governing 1890 land-granting universities that coordinates research initiatives among 1890 member institutions in cooperation with federal, state, and private partners. The association’s mission is to provide leadership to institutions as they address the food and agricultural research challenges facing the state, the nation, and the world. ARD’s research program is broad and targets areas that meet the needs of all members of society, especially those who are underrepresented and often overlooked in the range of issues facing our society.

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