• UWA students awarded at Undergraduate Research Symposium

    Posted: March 13, 2014

    Author: Public Relations

    e College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of West Alabama hosted its third annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on Tuesday, March 11. Several students received awards for their research projects.

    Campus organizations and other sponsors offer monetary awards to encourage and reward student researchers. The President’s Award carries a $200 cash prize. The President’s Award recipient was Blake Cleckler for her project entitled “Bio-Boom: Enhancing crop production using habitat specific fungal endophytes.”

    A native of Prattville, Ala., Cleckler’s research is focused on the discovery of beneficial fungal endophytes associated with wild plants growing under naturally stressed environments to use them to enhance crop productivity and increase their environmental stress tolerance such as drought, heat and high salt levels.

    “I feel very humbled to have been a part of UWA’s growing Undergraduate Research Symposium,” Cleckler said. “To be chosen for the President’s Award, out of all the other very deserving researchers, is a great honor. The research that I have done as an undergraduate has greatly motivated me to pursue further research in a graduate school setting.”

    Another special award was presented by Madoline Thurn in memory of her late husband and UWA geology professor, Richard Thurn. The recipients of the Thurn Award are Hakima Amerg, Graham Berry, Brianna Davis, Karissa Lopez and Lindsey Moroski.

    Pascagoula, Fla., native Katelyn Knight received the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences Award.

    “The opportunity to present at professional meetings increases my abilities as a biologist on many levels. Communication is one key factor that’s important in my field,” Knight said. “I am thankful for this award and forever grateful for the opportunities I’ve received from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

    Other award winners include: the Provost’s Award, Lauren Acord, Mara Deluca, Fhallon Ware-Gilmore and Savanna Wooley; the Dean’s Award, Abby Carroll; the Office of Sponsored Program’s Award, Brittany Harry; and the Center for the Study of the Black Belt Award, Fannetta Dancy, Nicole Davis, Brandon Nelson, Stephanie Shoup and Tamya Thompson.

    Another highlight from the symposium was the graduate school forum. Representatives from the Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Virginia Tech and many others explained the benefits of their graduate programs.

    Keynote speaker, Marilyn Roossink from the Department of Plant Pathology at Pennsylvania State University delivered a presentation that enlightened students and faculty on her research involving viruses and other microbes and their possible role in improving crop production.

    For more information on participation in the 2015 Undergraduate Research Symposium, contact Dr. Mustafa Morsy, assistant professor of biological and environmental sciences, via email mmorsy@uwa.edu or call 205-652-5541.

    Photo 1: Blake Cleckler, 2014 President's Award recipient

    Photo 2: The 2014 URS participants and professors

    Photo 3: Keynote Speaker Marilyn Roossink

    Photo 4: The newly added Graduate School Forum at the Undergraduate Research Symposium

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