Eight regional winners will move to the next level in the 11th annual Alltech Young Scientist program, the largest global university contest of its kind that rewards scientific genius and experimental application in agriscience. The Undergraduate North America winner was Alonna Danielle Wright, who attends the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., and submitted a paper entitled “Biological control of Agricultural pests.” The Graduate North America winner was Sunhye Lee who attends the University of Georgia in Athens, Ga., and submitted a paper entitled “Gut-brain signaling and microbiota.”

A panel of leading scientists selected four undergraduate and four graduate winners for the 2016 competition. Students were challenged to submit research studies that demonstrated a keen awareness of science and its applications for improving the future of the world.

Earlier this year it was announced that 2016’s program would enter new territory by offering fully-funded Ph.D. and post-doctorate positions to the global undergraduate and graduate winners in addition to international recognition, trophies and cash awards, making the contest the most prestigious agriscience competition for university students.

In order to participate, students must be nominated by a professor and submit scientific papers on topics such as animal health and nutrition, crop science, agriculture analytical methods, food chain safety and traceability, human health and nutrition, and other agriscience related sectors. This year the program received an outstanding 191 nominations from 144 professors representing the world’s top 117 universities from 42 countries. Each student’s paper first competed within their own region of North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and Africa.

Finalists from all four regions are invited to attend an all-expense-paid Alltech Young Scientist Discovery Week in Lexington, where they will compete in the worldwide competition for global titles and fully funded Ph.D. and post-doctorate positions. The winning graduate student will receive a $10,000 cash prize and the winning undergraduate student will receive a $5,000 cash prize. Each finalist will present his or her paper to a panel of international judges and a live audience during ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference from May 22-25.

The eight finalists ranking at the top of their global regions are:

  • Undergraduate Asia Pacific: Maddison Taylor Corlett, Murdoch University, Australia
  • Undergraduate Latin America: Andressa Vieira de Moraes, Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia Catarinense - Câmpus Araquari, Brazil
  • Undergraduate Europe/Africa: Laura Louise O’Regan, University of Limerick, Ireland
  • Undergraduate North America: Alonna Danielle Wright, University of Kentucky, USA
  • Graduate Europe/Africa: Richard Lally, Institute of Technology, Carlow, Ireland
  • Graduate Latin America: Manuela Marques Fischer, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  • Graduate Asia Pacific: Wenkai Ren, Institute of Subtropical Agriculture, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China
  • Graduate North America: Sunhye Lee, University of Georgia, from South Korea, representing USA

Second Place Regional Winners:

  • Undergraduate Europe/Africa: Natalie Gorbunova,Saratov State Agrarian University, Russia
  • Undergraduate Latin America: Antonia Thalyta Lopes Silveira, Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia do Ceará, Brazil
  • Undergraduate North America: Bethany Margaret Dado, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • Undergraduate Asia Pacific: Jeremiah L. Muñoz, Pampanga State Agricultural University, Philippines
  • Graduate Europe/Africa: Sanja Popović, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
  • Graduate Latin America: Caoi Seiti Takiya, University of São Paulo, Brazil
  • Graduate Asia Pacific: Jing Shen, Northwest A&F University, China
  • Graduate North America: Nirosh Dias Senevirathne, South Dakota State University, from Sri Lanka, representing USA

“As a pillar of Alltech, education is highly valued inside and outside the company,” said Dr. Aoife Lyons, director of educational initiatives at Alltech. “We’re proud to showcase some of the brightest ideas in agriscience from around the globe through the Alltech Young Scientist program.”