Student illustrates his experience winning major ag industry award
As I stood on the stage before 1,800 delegates at Alltech's 24th International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium in Lexington, Ky., my heart raced with both apprehension and anticipation. I had entered for the Alltech Young Scientist Award at...
As I stood on the stage before 1,800 delegates at Alltech's 24th International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium in Lexington, Ky., my heart raced with both apprehension and anticipation. I had entered for the Alltech Young Scientist Award at the suggestion of my professor, Dr. Duarte Diaz. With his guidance and many hours of research and preparation on my topic, mycotoxin zearalenone, while simultaneously continuing my coursework at Utah State University, I faced the climax of a competition I was so eager to win.
I was joined on the stage by the three other regional winners in the Alltech Young Scientist Award. With the slit of an envelope and a proclamation by Dr. Inge Russell, 727 entries from 80 distinguished universities around the world were narrowed to one, and I was officially named the winner of Alltech's Young Scientist Award and recipient of a $5,000 scholarship.
I definitely was surprised when my name was announced as the global winner. The chance to win an award such as this was not something that I had imagined myself doing at the beginning of my college career. However, I have learned that when surrounded by the correct people in the correct place, great things can happen.
Expectation and inspiration
This competition opened my eyes to the great things that can come from scientific research. On a personal level, the professional nature of this contest encouraged me to dive more deeply into the scientific literature regarding zearalenone than a typical undergraduate course would have required. Also, researching and writing a paper of this magnitude under the guidance of Dr. Diaz, gave me a snapshot into what could be expected when working on advanced degrees in the future.
Touring Alltech's facilities, I was inspired by the agricultural technology and research techniques.
Preparation and competition
Entering the competition was simple. After my professor alerted me to the competition, I found the only requirement was a submission of a 3,000- to 3,500-word paper on an issue relating to natural solutions to animal health challenges.
I had worked for Dr. Diaz on a research project at Utah State University as part of my undergraduate curriculum. I decided to take his advice and submit my paper on "The Estrogenic Mycotoxin Zearalenone and its Importance in Livestock Production."
For the contest, I was asked to make a 15-minute presentation to a panel of judges on the subject of my paper. I had practiced presenting my material to Dr. Diaz and Dr. Gustavo Pena, a veterinarian currently working on a master's degree under Dr. Diaz. Their insights as to how to better present the material allowed me to be much more relaxed when presenting to the judges at the conference, I stood before experts from around the globe and shared my findings on zearalenone.
Overall, my research, paper and presentation were a success. Winning the scholarship was not the only benefit of entering the competition; I received the opportunity to further my career in the agricultural industry.
Editor's Note: Louder is a student at Utah State University. He presented a paper entitled "The Estrogenic Mycotoxin Zearalenone and its Importance in Livestock Production." His paper was selected from more than 720 entries from around the world. The competition, originally geared toward undergraduate students, has expanded to graduate-level students. Students may now register at www.alltechyoungscientist.com .