College of Agriculture students win big in specialty competitions

Students pose for a picture with Aubie

Students in three College of Agriculture departments performed well in regional, national and international competitions this spring.

A team from the Department of Horticulture placed first in its size group (10-24 students) in the 45th National Collegiate Landscape Competition, held virtually in mid-March.

More than 1,000 people participated in the event, including 600 students from 40 schools and 347 industry professionals.

Additionally, several students placed in the top 10 individually. Courtney Arnold placed eighth out of 58 students in Annual and Perennial ID and fifth out of 76 students in Woody Plant ID. Cody Story placed sixth out of 40 students in Compact Excavator Operation, and Andre Kirkland placed ninth out of 44 students in Business Management.

Horticulture Department Head Desmond Layne commended Assistant Professor Paul Bartley, who advises the Auburn University Landscape and Nursery Association, and Associate Director of the Paterson Greenhouse Complex Health Hoffman for investing valuable time and training into the team to help them prepare for the competition.

Hoffman said he was extremely proud of the entire team and particularly the students who placed high individually.

“Placing in the top 10 in a single event is a great accomplishment in this national competition,” he said. “I know the entire college joins me in the excitement of how well these students performed.”

Also in March, the Departmental Entomology Team placed first in the Southeastern branch of the Entomological Society of America’s Entomology Games.

The team includes captain Seun Olaitan Oladipupo, Chelsea Smith, Dan Aurell, Sanower Warsi, Festus Ajibefun and Luis Mendez. They will participate in the national competition in November 2021 — the same competition in which they placed first in 2020.

Chair and Endowed Professor Nannan Liu, who serves as the team coach, commended the “excellent job” the team did in this regional competition.

“I want to wish a big congratulations to our team members for their hard work,” she said.

Finally, four graduate students received awards in the poster competition at the Virtual International Poultry Scientific Forum (IPSF) held Jan. 25-26.

Sponsored by the Southern Poultry Science Society, the Southern Conference on Avian Diseases and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, the forum is part of the International Production and Processing Expo.

Aftab Siddiqui, Charles Herron and Kaicie Chasteen received awards in the poster competition. Susan Bonilla won a presentation award in the Metabolism & Nutrition section.

Siddiqui’s research studied the efficiencies of machine learning algorithms for the classification of woody breast myopathies and spaghetti meat myopathies in chicken breast fillets during processing in the poultry industry when compared with the conventional statistical model.

Bonilla’s research, meanwhile, evaluated particle size, feed form and pellet diameter on performance and nutrient digestibility of broilers at 39 days of age to determine the interactive effects of feed form and corn particle size on broiler performance and nutrient digestibility.

Chasteen researched the effects of gypsum mineral treatment on Alphitobius diaperinus, or darkling beetle populations in poultry litter. Darkling beetles are ubiquitous pests found in poultry houses that consume almost any available nutrient source including spilt feed, dead and live birds, and other beetles and larva, according to Chasteen.

Finally, Herron’s research was about predicting Salmonella food safety issues as a result of a disruption in the cold chain during the last mile of supply chain.

“While being recognized for your hard work is always gratifying, it is especially gratifying knowing it bring positives exposure to you and everyone involved with your research,” he said.


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<p><a href="" target="_self">Kristen Bowman</a></p>

Kristen Bowman

Kristen Bowman is a communications and marketing specialist with the College of Agriculture. She received her bachelor's degree in journalism from Auburn University and loves reading and spending time with her husband and two children.

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