Auburn Grad School honors five College of Ag students

Five College of Agriculture doctoral and master’s students are among 24 graduate students campus-wide who have been selected as winners in the Auburn University Graduate School’s 2015-16 awards program.

Lauren Jescovitch, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, is the recipient of one of four 2016 Merriwether Fellowships, which the Graduate School awards to doctoral students who show great potential in their academic fields. Working under the guidance of fisheries professor Claude Boyd, Jescovitch is investigating the possible benefits of using mechanical aeration in the waste-treatment section a split-pond aquaculture system. She expects to complete her Ph.D. fall semester 2016 or spring semester 2017.

In addition to the fellowships, the Graduate School has recognized winners of its 2015-16 Outstanding Graduate Student Awards, which honor the university’s 20 most distinguished graduate students, 10 at the doctoral level and 10 at the master’s level.

Three of the 10 top doctoral students are in the College of Agriculture, including Feng Liu in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Rajdeep Shakya in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Jun Yao in School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences.

Liu, working under department chair and professor Nannan Liu, is focusing his graduate research on deciphering the cellular and molecular basis of chemoreception in the common bedbug. He will complete his Ph.D. in August.  

The overall utilization of algae for biofuels produced through a hydrothermal liquification process is the focus of Shakya’s research. His major professor is biosystems engineering associate professor Sushil Adhikari. His targeted completion date is spring 2017.

Award recipient Yao’s doctoral research—conducted under Auburn Vice President for Research and School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences professor John Liu— involved a complete analysis of RNA molecules within the genes expressed in the skin of channel catfish, common carp and pleco.

Yao, who also received the Graduate School’s 2015-16 President’s Award, completed his Ph.D. degree in December 2015 and is working as a temporary-services research technician in the school.

At the master’s level, Katie Bivens in the Department of Animal Sciences was among the 10 Outstanding Master’s Student Award recipients. In the research she is conducting under animal sciences assistant professor and Extension specialist Kim Mullenix, Bivens is studying the use of stockpiled Tifton 85 Bermuda grass followed by grazed winter cover crops as part of a stocker production system for south Alabama. She will graduate in August.



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