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NMSU students earn first, second place in national Animal Science competition

Two students from New Mexico State University?s Animal and Range Sciences Department dominated the Western Section of the American Society of Animal Science competition at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas.

Kendall Samuelson, right, and Kelsey Quinn, left, earned first and second place, respectively, at the Western Section American Society of Animal Science competition this June. (Courtesy Photo)

Kelsey Quinn and Kendall Samuelson, both graduate students pursuing a doctorate in Animal and Range Sciences, participated under the mentorship of faculty, presenting their research in the competition, which was held in June.

?The competition is for graduate students across the western U.S., and allows them to present their research data to their peers,? said Ryan Ashley, assistant professor of Animal and Range Sciences and Quinn?s mentor. ?It is highly competitive and most often the highlight of the entire conference.?

Animal and Range Sciences Professor Clint Loest, who worked with Samuelson, said the competition consists of two graded categories ? written proceedings, which are scientific publications of their research, and an oral presentation of their research using PowerPoint slides.

A panel of judges then scores each student?s scientific paper and presentation awarding the top three students with the best score.

Samuelson placed in first with her research entitled ?Effects of dietary urea concentration and zilpaterol hydrochloride on performance and carcass characteristics of finishing steers.?

?This was my first time attending at the Western Section meeting, so I really didn?t know what to expect,? Samuelson said. ?I think the most difficult part of preparation for the oral presentation is trying to anticipate potential questions because the question and answer period is also taken into consideration for your overall score.?

Quinn was awarded second place with her research on the role of chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) and its ligand, CXCL12, during early pregnancy. CXCL12 and CXCR4 activation is associated with immune functions, cell survival and proliferation and vascularization.

?My presentation involved specific localization of CXCL12 in sheep uterine tissue during early gestation,? Quinn explained. ?We found chemokine increases on day 24 of gestation in fetal membrane tissue, therefore it may play an important role in embryo survival.?

Through this competition students not only enhance their critical thinking skills, professional presentation demeanor and refine their research, but also earn recognition in the scientific community.

?Participation in the WSASAS Graduate Student Paper Competition is one of the best experiences our graduate students can get because in preparation for the competition our students are trained to design, conduct, analyze, publish and present high quality research,? Loest said.

Quinn added that even though her research is basic science, it was still challenging to present the data, making sure people unfamiliar with the subject would understand it.

?Not only does attending and presenting at such events allow for great networking, but it also helps to inspire new ideas through discussion with other scientists and industry professionals,? Samuelson said. ?It is nice to be recognized for your work because it helps confirm that you are completing high-quality and relevant research that is important to the industry you are working in.?

NMSU students continually place in the top three spots almost every year, Ashley said.

?This in itself speaks volumes of the preparation and training our students receive,? Ashley added. ?The ANRS faculty genuinely cares about the students and their training because we want to see them succeed when they leave our department.?