[Lexington, KENTUCKY] – The audience was singing “Oh Canada” as two University of Guelph students took home the top prize when global animal health company, Alltech announced the prestigious winners of its annual Young Scientist competition during Tuesday’s general session at its 26th Annual Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium held in Lexington, Kentucky. The award has gone from strength to strength, growing from 75 entrants in its first year, to more than 5,000 five years later. The goal of the program is to increase the number of students studying animal science, thus creating a “brain gain” that will improve the technology available to farmers around the world.
The graduate level winner was Michael Steele from the University of Guelph in Canada, with a groundbreaking research paper that examined the molecular mechanisms underlying rumen epithelial adaption to high grain diets in dairy cattle. He utilized transcriptomic data to reveal the potential metabolic mechanisms involved in how the cells adapt during ruminal acidosis.
“Discussing my research with the world’s best agricultural scientists present at this meeting has made this one of the most exciting weeks of my life and the best part of the competition,” said Steele.
The undergraduate winner was Lee Ann Huber, also from the University of Guelph. She carried out very important new research examining amino acid use in swine diets, specifically the previously ignored area of optimal ratio of isoleucine to lysine in pig starter diets.
“This competition was an amazing learning experience and every university student should take advantage of this opportunity,” said Huber.
“These students are outstanding examples of young scientists with an ability to communicate their research both to other scientists and to the public, with a strong dedication to our industry, a passion for research, and an unflagging determination to increase animal health using state of the art laboratory technologies combined with field experimentation,” said Young Scientist Program Director Dr. Inge Russell.
To participate, students wrote a scientific paper based on a topic about animal feed technologies. The first phase of the program includes a competition within each competing country. The winners of each local competition move on to a regional phase and the regional winners compete in the global phase
In the past the program featured only undergraduate students, but was expanded last year to feature graduate students. This year the program was expanded once again with a regional competition for Africa and the Middle East and with increased topic areas that span agricultural science. Ten regional winners representing Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America came to Lexington to compete by presenting their research before a panel of judges, for the graduate grand prize of $10,000 and the undergraduate grand prize $5000.
“Our desire to have this program continually grow will encourage students interested in the field of agricultural science, as well as continue our dedication to young people and research,” said Alltech president and founder, Dr. Pearse Lyons. “From the first year, our rate of applicants has grown from 75 registrants to over 5,000 registrants. We hope to eventually have 50,000 potential ‘young scientists’ take part in our annual program. ”
Alltech is the proud sponsor of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games to be held in Lexington, Kentucky, September 25 – October 10, 2010. Visit the official site of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games at www.alltechfeigames.com for complete information about the event or to purchase tickets.