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UMass, Michigan students are 2017 Alltech Young Scientists

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Two United States students took home the top prize in the 12th annual global Alltech Young Scientist (AYS) program, the world’ most prestigious agriscience competition for university students. The AYS awards, recognizing pioneering research in the agriscience sector, were presented at ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference (ONE17), an event dedicated to inspiring innovation in Lexington, Kentucky, held May 21–24.

The global undergraduate winner was Joshua C. Gukowsky, who attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Gukowsky was offered a fully funded Ph.D. position and $5,000 USD. Gukowsky’s research featured detecting antibiotic residues in the foods we consume.

The global graduate winner was Jonas de Souza, who attends Michigan State University. De Souza was offered a fully funded postdoctorate position and $10,000 USD. De Souza’s research focused on altering the ratio of dietary palmitic, stearic and oleic acids, or fatty acids, in diets with or without whole cottonseed and the responses of dairy cows.

Dr. Aoife Lyons, director of educational initiatives and engagement at Alltech, and Victoria Liu, Alltech Young Scientist program manager, presented the awards in the famed Rupp Arena during ONE17.

“This year, we encouraged students to think about the ONE disruptive idea that will transform the way we think and work in agriculture in order for it to thrive and be sustainable,” said Lyons. “The international panel of judges, led by Irish professor Maurice Boland, was encouraged by this group of hugely talented students, all of whom place a huge emphasis on their scientific education.

“I speak for all of the judges on this year’s panel when I congratulate the 2017 winners,” continued Lyons. “The students not only exemplified great skill, but also aptitude and curiosity, which, in our minds, demonstrate their potential as the scientific leaders of tomorrow.”

This year, the program received more than 150 nominations from 134 professors, representing the world’s top 121 universities from 36 countries. To participate, students were nominated by their professors and submitted scientific papers on topics such as animal health and nutrition, agriculture analytical methods, food chain safety and traceability, human health and nutrition, and other agriscience-related sectors. Each student’s paper first competed within their own region of North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, or Europe and Africa. The first place regional winners, eight in total, were invited to an all-expenses-paid Alltech Discovery Week in Kentucky that culminated at ONE17, where a panel of leading judges selected the winners for the 2017 program.

Entry for the 2018 program will open in September 2017.

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