Students, Postdoc Receive Awards During TAMU Research Competitions

The winners from Student Research Week 2018. From left to right: Makaylee Crone, Pierre Lau, and Sydney, Tippelt.

The winners from Student Research Week 2018. From left to right: Makaylee Crone, Pierre Lau, and Sydney, Tippelt. Photos by Rob Williams

The Department of Entomology has received a lot of recognition this spring as several students and one postdoctoral research associate received honors for their research during Student Research Week and the Ecological Integration Symposium in March and April.

The first set of awards were awards were given during Student Research Week in March. Ph.D. student Pierre Lau and undergraduate students Sydney Tippelt and Makaylee Crone as they received awards during the university’s Student Research Week.

Lau received Second Place Oral in Graduate Sciences Category for his presentation titled “Are honey bees out for the gains? Honey bee pollen preferences between nutritionally distinct diets” while Tippelt received First Place Oral presentation in the Undergraduate Sciences category for her talk titled “Assortative Mating in the Anopheles gambiae Species Complex.”

“Pierre has become such a good presenter,” Lau’s faculty advisor Dr. Juliana Rangel said. “He looks very calm, cool and collected when presenting his research. This shows how much he has improved in his presentation skills and I’m very proud of that.”

Alex Payne standing with her award

Alex Payne

Tippelt is an undergraduate biomedical sciences major that is working in Dr. Michel Slotman’s lab and Crone is a bioenvironmental sciences major working in Rangel’s lab.

“Sydney did an outstanding job in her research project. As a testament to her excellence, she has received a full fellowship to support her PhD studies in the Texas A&M Genetics Program and I expect great things from her in the future,” Slotman said.

Lau also received the Sigma Xi Interdisciplinary Science Award while Crone received the Vice President for Research Excellence in Research Award for her outstanding efforts with undergraduate research.

Christine Madamba (left), Cody Gale (center), and Zoey Kramer (right). Submitted photo.

Christine Madamba (left), Cody Gale (center), and Zoey Kramer (right). Submitted photo.

“I am honored to win an award for my oral presentation in my respective section and for my interdisciplinary research,” Lau said.  “I am grateful for the GPSC for putting this event together and the Sigma Xi for supporting research and young scientists. I am also thankful for my mentors for supporting me throughout my program.”

Six students also received awards at the annual Ecological Integration Symposium during a special awards presentation on Friday, April 7.

In the graduate oral presentation category, Ph.D. student Alex Payne received first place for her talk titled “Synergistic effects of in-hive miticides and agro-chemicals on honey bee (Apis mellifera) colony growth while Ph.D. student Bert Foquet received third for his talk “The molecular basis of locust phase polyphenism in a phylogenetic framework.”

Payne works in Rangel’s lab while Foquet is in Dr. Hojun Song’s lab.

Bert Foquet standing outside the Biocontrol Center

Bert Foquet

“I am very glad to learn that Bert has received the third place for his talk at EIS. Bert’s project focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of density-dependent phenotypic plasticity in locusts and grasshoppers, and he has generated and analyzed an impressive amount of data,” Song said. “His research provides a novel insights into understanding what makes locusts, and I am confident that he will continue to produce excellent research.”

Christine Madamba received first place for her presentation titled “Fungal Seed Treatment Enhances Defensive Volatile Responses to Herbivory in Cotton” and Zoey Kramer received third for her talk titled “Effects of Habitat Complexity on Estuarine Environments.” Both Madamba and Kramer are undergraduate students working in Dr. Greg Sword’s lab.

Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr. Travis Calkins received first place in the postdoctoral category for his talk titled “Brain Gene Expression of Queen Fire Ants.” Calkins is currently working in Dr. Patricia Pietrantonio’s lab.

Travis Calkins in Dr. Patricia Pietrantonio's lab

Travis Calkins

“I am very pleased that his effort in research has been recognized. The presentation summarized our most recent publication on the fire ant queen brain transcriptome and despite being a group effort,” Pietrantonio said. “Travis’s participation allowed for speedy project conclusion. I could not be happier for him in receiving the EIS award, he is a truly outstanding and committed post-doc.”

In the poster competition, Sword Lab member Benjamin Thomas received second place in the undergraduate category for his poster titled “The effect of macronutrient intake on gossypol susceptibility in Helicoverpa zea (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae).”

Sword was very pleased with his lab members receiving the honors during the symposium.

Benjamin Thomas in front of banner

Benjamin Thomas, left, with Ashley Tessnow. Submitted photo.

“Undergraduate research can be a pivotal experience for students getting degrees in science because it provides them with the opportunity to see how science really gets done and to participate firsthand in the process,” he said. “The quality of the research Zoey and Christine and Benjamin have done and the importance of their contributions to the lab really shines through in their receipt of awards at EIS this year. We are very proud of them, and thrilled to watch them succeed.”

“The awards were well deserved and I am proud of everyone,” Rangel said.

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