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College of Agriculture

Student Researchers Bring Home Top Prizes from San Antonio

Announced on: Thursday, Dec. 05, 2019

 Student researchers and professor Hossein ZakeriSenior crop science and horticulture major Chloe Duggar placed first for the second year in a row in the undergraduate research poster competition at the 2019 joint annual meeting of the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), American Society of Agronomy (ASA), and Crop Science Society of America (CSSA). She also earned the Golden Opportunity Scholarship, and senior crop science and horticulture major Saul Estrada placed third in the undergraduate research poster competition.

At the meeting, students had the opportunity to see keynote speakers, educational talks, and a career symposium while networking with producers and members of academia from across the nation. In addition to Duggar and Estrada, the group included Amanda Cox, Raul Saldivar, Marco Fernandez, Jocelyn Garcia and Taylor Ford, accompanied by Professor Hossein Zakeri.

“Before attending the conference, I had thought about graduate school as an option, but I was very in closed-minded,” Estrada said. “This experience really opened my eyes to all of the research and opportunities in the Midwest.”

In the research poster competition, students presented their research projects to producers and academia during a poster symposium. Duggar’s first place project aimed to evaluate Nitrogen 15 and Carbon 13 in anatomical parts of the fava bean plant, while Estrada’s research looked at pod production potential of fava beans in Northern California.

As her first experience presenting research with the college, Ford described the experience as a bit nerve-racking but a great opportunity to showcase the knowledge she gained through her undergraduate courses.

“When you are in a room filled with individuals who share the same passion about making a difference, it enhances even a bigger drive to keep searching for answers through research,” she said. “As a future high school educator, this experience and making connections in industry will help me when I start teaching because I can provide real-life experiences and have those in the industry come into my class. I believe that this will help motivate my future students and help them develop a passion for learning.”

The objective of the Golden Opportunity Scholar program is to pair undergraduate students with mentors within their individual fields of study with whom to collaborate and form connections. The mentors help guide students into graduate school, research studies, or directly into their field of endeavors. This year, Duggar was selected to receive a scholarship to the conference and take part in the esteemed mentorship program.

“It was a great experience to get to know professionals in the field and talk to them about research and advancements in the industry,” she said. “To see their excitement when we would talk about our research and talk about their similar involvement was really encouraging.”