Alcorn State University students win big during ARD 21st research symposium

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Fifty students from Alcorn State University attended the Association of 1890 Research Directors symposium held from April 6-9 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.

JANS – Alcorn State University students secured five awards during the Association of 1890 Research Directors 19th Biennial Symposium held April 6-9 at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn.

“I am thrilled to congratulate our students for their commendable victories at the ARD Research Symposium,” said Dr. Dexter Wakefield, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and director of Land Grant Programs. “Their performances exemplify the dedication, innovation, and excellence that define students at Alcorn State University.”

Themed “Climate, Health and Cultivating the Next Generation of Agriculture Leaders: Creating Solutions in Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources,” this year’s event provided student and faculty researchers with opportunities to present papers and posters from five research areas – Community and Economic Development; Nutrition, Health, and Health Disparities; Renewable Energy, Natural Resources, Environment, and Climate Change; Plant Health and Production;  and Animal Health and Production. Held biennially, the goal of the symposium is to provide leadership to its members as they seek to research and address innovative solutions to the food and agricultural research challenges facing their state, region, nation, and the world. The symposium attracted more than 900 participants, and more than 500 research papers and posters were presented.

“Congratulations to all the students who presented at the conference, and special accolades to the winners,” said Babu Patlolla, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. You have demonstrated exceptional talent, and your success is a testament to your commitment to excellence. Your achievements are a source of pride for all of us here at Alcorn State University, and we look forward to seeing more great things from you in the future.”

Ismael Mayo, a senior biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences, won first place in the Undergraduate Student Oral Presentation category with his research on Renewable Energy. 

Under the guidance of Dr. Marta Piva, interim chair and professor of biology, Mayo’s biofuel project used mutated Baker’s yeast to study their increased capacity to produce ethanol through fermentation of non-edible plants. 

“Participating in the symposium allowed me to connect with like-minded individuals and share my research findings,” said Mayo. “Winning first place…was a proud moment for me and Alcorn State University. I believe my research will contribute to future advancements in renewable energy and pave the way for sustainable solutions.”

Mayo expressed his pleasure in networking with his peers in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences and his pride in the university’s success at the conference. “We sat at a table, and everybody just started winning awards. I literally told one guy, ‘I hope your luck rubs off on me,’ and the next thing I knew, they said, ‘first place!’”

Andjule Davis, a sophomore majoring in agriculture, won second place for her research on Animal Health.

Davis shared, “My research helps instructors and people in the marine field understand how environmental factors affect the lifespan of fish. While in the room with many successful people in agriculture, my experience helped open my eyes to show me how successful I can really be[come]!”

Davis hoped that her award would inspire other students. She credits the guidance of her advisor, Dr. Melissa Mason, associate professor of Animal Science and Director of the University’s Center for Ruminant Research, as fundamental to her success. 

Destiny Mayfield, a junior biology major, secured second place in Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health category. 

“Winning second place boosted my confidence and opened doors for future opportunities,” said Mayfield. “Representing Alcorn at the symposium was an honor, and I am grateful for the support of my advisors and peers.”

Myla Standford also achieved second place in the same category with her research on Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health. Working with Dr. Piva, Stanford studied pollutants in Mississippi’s Big Black River, which crosses near the university. 

Discussing the links between agricultural and biological research, Stanford said, “I think that the Department of Agriculture wanting to branch out with other departments, such as the Biology Department, is a huge thing that will open our horizons. Going to the conference and seeing other professors’ presentations as well as students really showed all that is offered at Alcorn.”

Another student, April Jones, also placed at the conference. She secured third place in the Undergraduate Student Competitive Poster Presentation category with her research on Plant Health.

The Association of 1890 Research Directors is a federation of the 19 autonomous 1890 land grant universities that provide coordination of research initiatives among its member 1890 Institutions in cooperation with federal, state, and private partners. Since 1976, its Research Symposium has provided opportunities for scientists and students to present research papers and posters that share innovative and practical research findings. The conference features workshops, general and plenary sessions, student competitive paper and poster sessions, scientists’ paper and poster sessions, award programs, and exhibits by colleges and universities, government agencies, and private industry. 

Alcorn State University, founded in 1871, is the oldest public historically Black land-grant institution in the United States. All 1890 land-grant institutions are historically Black universities established under the Second Morrill Act of 1890 and share the distinction of having teaching, research, and extension programs in food, agriculture, and related sciences. They integrate expert research with community-based USDA Extension programs, which provide socially and economically disadvantaged communities with the opportunity to gain information, skills, and access to programs to improve their quality of life. 

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Alcorn State University students win big during ARD 21st research symposium

By Jackson Advocate News Service
May 20, 2024