SU students, team earn awards in academic competition


A Southern University student team, called the Ag STARS (Shaping Tomorrow's Agricultural Research Scientists), earned second and third place honors in an academic competition at a recent conference in Birmingham, Ala.


The Undergraduate Oral Research and Poster Competition was conducted at the 29th annual Minority in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) Conference March 27-29. 


The second and third place papers were titled, "Examining University Students' Body Mass Indices and Frequency of Reading Nutrition Facts Labels" and "An Empirical Investigation of U.S. Demand for Beef," respectively. 


The second place poster was titled: "An Economic Analysis of Chicken Consumption in the United States from 1970-2012."  A non-competitive poster titled, "Assessing Financial Literacy Among A Selected Group of Undergraduate Students" was also presented at the MANRRS Conference.


The second place recipient in the oral competition was Adria Smith, senior, agricultural economics major from Salina, Kan. Her presentation was "Examining University Students' Body Mass Indices and Frequency of Reading Nutrition Facts Labels."

"I was really elated when they called my name," said Smith. "This was my first time presenting anything. I felt surprised and blessed."

She worked more than five months on the research for of her project for months. "I felt prepared" for the competition, Smith said.

The third place recipients for the oral competition were: Pickney Perez, junior, agricultural economics major, Zachary, La.; Robert Hobbs, Jr., senior, agricultural economics major, Collinston, La.; and Jeremy Thomas, junior, agricultural economics, Opelousas, La. 

"An Empirical Investigation of U.S. Demand for Beef," was the group's project.

Thomas said his group was shooting for a higher position, "but we were excited to hear our school called. Dr. Meyinsse has us well prepared." Dr. Patricia E. McLean-Meyinsse is the faculty advisor for the students' papers and posters.

Members of the second place team for the poster presentation were: Megan Thomas, sophomore, agricultural economics, Opelousas, La.; Tewanda Pinson, junior, agricultural economics, Houston; and Donzel Lee, senior, animal science, Tallulah, La.

"We were well prepared and extremely confident" Thomas said of her group's presentation, "especially since this was the first time we had done this kind of research."

"We took great pride in representing Southern University," she said.

Authors of the non-competitive poster were: Aramis Harris, junior, agricultural economics, Washington, La.; Patience Muse, senior, agricultural economics, Greensburg, La; and Darius Knox, junior, agricultural economics, Zachary, La.

Ag STARS members must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 2.50 and above and must be majoring in or intend to major in agricultural economics, animal sciences, or plant sciences. Each participant is required to attend weekly mentoring sessions, and in turn, receive a $2,500 stipend per semester.

The program's primary goal is to use interdisciplinary research in the food and agricultural sciences to enhance participants' critical-thinking, analytical, writing, and oral communication skills. The Ag STARS Program is funded by a grant under the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Capacity Building Grant Program.

Dr. McLean-Meyinsse is the principal investigator for the grant.


The students, from left on the front row, are: Adria Smith, Tewanda Pinson, Perez Pinkney, Megan Thomas, and Patience Muse. Students in the back row are: Donzel Lee, Aramis Harris, Darius Knox, Jeremy Thomas and Robert Hobbs.


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