Annual competition recognizes outstanding undergraduate participation in research efforts


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Six University of Tennessee students in the UT Institute of Agriculture College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources won top honors in a research competition held for UT Knoxville students.
Ariel Buehler won the highest honor for her project, “Microgreens: use of green fluorescent proteins to evaluate antimicrobial efficacy.”  Buehler’s mentors are professors Faith Critzer and David Golden of the Department of Food Science and Technology.
Nineteen projects competed in the CASNR division of the EURēCA competition. Three teams from college’s Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science also competed, representing students majoring within the college and also students representing the UT College of Engineering. The annual EURēCA competition is designed to encourage, support and reward undergraduate participation in the campus research enterprise.
Other top CASNR prizewinners were:
William Barbour for his project, “Sneak-Peek: A tool for underwater video exploration and GPS mapping”. Barbour’s research mentor was professor Paul Ayers of the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science.
Samantha Brown for her project, “Cj0843c, a putative lytic transglycosylase contributes to beta-lactam resistance in Campylobacter jejuni.” Professor Jun Lin of the Department of Animal Science was her research mentor.
Anthony Cicco for his project, “Comparison of grapeseed, pomegranate, and cranberry extracts against Salmonella enterica serovars typhimurium and enteritidis.” His research mentor was professor Doris D.Souza of the Department of Food Science and Technology.
Joshua Grant for his project, “Functional analysis of a putative membrane-bound endo-B-1,4-glucanase from Panicum virgatum.” Racheff Chair of Excellence professor Neal Stewart of the Department of Plant Sciences was his research mentor.
Chelsea Johnson for her project, “Molecular characterization of herbicide resistance in horseweed (Conyza canadensis L.). Stewart was her research mentor.
Top prize in the College of Engineering went to Ryan Hodges, Brandon Massengill, Brittani Perez and Chanci King for their research project, “Subclinical mastitis inline detection.” Professor John Wilkerson of the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science was their mentor.
Associate Professor Kimberly Gwinn of the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology coordinated the students’ participation in EURēCA. Gwinn coordinates the CASNR undergraduate research and honors programs. Gwinn says, “Cultivating a culture of undergraduate research is an major emphasis in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Record numbers of CASNR students are now participating in the University’s EURēCA competition each year. Undergraduate research provides students with an opportunity to understand the research process, to learn how faculty think and work on real problems, and to shift from passive to active learning.”
Assistant professor Becky Trout Fryxell, who is a medical and veterinary entomologist served as a judge for the competition. "This was my first time attending the EUReCA program and judging for CASNR,” Fryxell says. “All of the projects exceeded my expectations. I could easily see a majority of the projects leading to a publication, a graduate student project or as preliminary data for a competitive grant. To be honest, it was a bit difficult for me and the other judges because there were so many excellent student projects."
Kimberly Gwinn, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, 865-974-7135,