School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, School of Arts and Sciences host 5th annual Center for Research Excellence Symposium

Paying registration fees, uploading abstracts, designing posters, and preparing presentations were all a part of the process of making the 5th annual Centers for Research Excellence Symposium one to remember. Held in the Biotechnology Building Thursday, Feb. 7, the purpose of the symposium was to unveil the research conducted at Alcorn State University and to provide students and professionals with an opportunity to showcase their expertise both professionally and academically. Students, faculty, and staff from Alcorn as well as exhibitors and vendors from throughout the state were in attendance. 

“This happened about six years ago. Dr. Davida Crossley came to me with an idea to start something so that our students would be better prepared for presenting and communicating their research at regional, national and international conferences,” said Dr. Keith McGee, CRES chair and associate dean for Research and Administration. “It has steadily grown since its first year.”

The symposium featured six undergraduate oral presentations, four graduate oral presentations, 28 poster presentations, and ten professional speaker presentations. To celebrate the symposium’s fifth year, new increments like resume workshops, mock interviews, and an ice cream social were added to the experience. 

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to spotlight the diversity and research we have here,” said Dr. Wandra Arrington, judging chair and professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness management. “Our students are very knowledgeable in different areas. This is a great way for us to expose others to what we’re doing here at Alcorn.” 

Students appreciated having the opportunity to showcase their talents in a professional setting. 

“This symposium really gave me an opportunity to see the broader picture of science and help build me as a scientist,” said Naquan Thomas, a second-year master's degree student. Thomas presented a poster titled, “Monitoring Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Virus-Host Interactions.”

According to Dr. Melissa Mason, CRES co-chair and assistant professor, “Our goal was to make this symposium more realistic and similar to how other conferences run. We want our students to present themselves well and be confident, and that comes through experience.”

During the awards ceremony, each participant received a certificate of appreciation. Those who stood out among the crowd were given plaque awards and monetary gifts. First place winners received $250 and second place winners received $150. 

The awardees for best undergraduate poster presentation were Asia Thomas, who placed first for her work on the “Prevalence and Environmental Risk Factors for Obesity in Elementary School Aged Children;” and Kaelin Travis, who placed second for her work on “Bacillus Subtilis Assisted Bioprocess Modification of Sweet Potato-Soymeal under Solid State Fermentation (SSF).”

Best undergraduate oral presentations went to Temitope Omole, who placed second for her presentation on “Arbuscular Mycorrhizal and Dark Septate Endophytic Fungal Abundance in Bioenergy Grass Giant Miscanthus;” and Lydia Batey, who placed first for her presentation on the “Bioprocess Kinetics of Corn Ethanol in Benchtop Bioreactors Involving Simultaneous Saccharification and Fermentation (SSF) and Separate Hydrolysis and Fermentation (SHF).”

Best graduate poster presentation awards went to Andrew Frye for his work on “No-till Organic Production of Melon (Cucumis Melo L.) On a Healthy Soil and its Effect on Biomass, Yield, and Soil Physico-Chemical Changes;” and Courtney Hauer for her work on “The Reproductive Performance of Kiko and Spanish Goats in an Accelerated Breeding Program.”

Cyril Khokhar received best graduate oral presentation for his work on “Recognition of Bruised Apples Using a 3-D Imaging and Feature Extraction Algorithm; ”and Faith Iseguede received second place for work on “Elimination and Detection of Viruses in Meristem-Derived Plantlets of Sweetpotato in Mississippi.”

Michael Atkins, instructor, Department of Advanced Technologies, received an award for best professional poster on the“Radiological Implications of Locally Produced Fertilizers.” Dr. Q. Hu and Dr. H.K. Sanghapi received awards for best professional oral presentations for their work on “Bullwhip Effect in a Supply Chain Model with Multiple Delivery” and“Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS): A Unique Alternative Analytical Tool with Many Applications.”

For more information on upcoming research events, contact Mason at (601) 877-4006 or[email protected]