Tag: school of agriculture and applied sciences

Langston University group photo at 2024 K-INBRE Symposium

Two Langston University students earn awards at annual K-INBRE Symposium

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by Ellie Melero, Media Relations Specialist

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Two Langston University students took home awards at the annual Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE) Symposium Jan. 12-14.

Senior crop and soil sciences major Kayla Smith earned a 2nd place Award of Excellence in Oral Presentations for her research on “Impairments in Cerebral Autoregulation and Cerebral Reactivity in Cancer Survivorship.” Junior biology major Daysha Isaac earned an Award of Excellence in Poster Presentations for her research on “Stalk Cell Movement in Drosophila: A model to understanding how migrating cells shape tissues and organs.”

“My experience was fun and also interesting,” Smith said. “It was my first time presenting oral presentations.”

Kayla Smith presenting at the 2024 K-INBRE Symposium
Senior crop and soil sciences major Kayla Smith earned a 2nd place Award of Excellence in Oral Presentations at the 2024 K-INBRE Symposium. Photo provided by Kayla Smith.

K-INBRE is a collaborative effort of medical and academic institutions in Kansas and Oklahoma to “promote multidisciplinary research networks with a focus on Cell and Developmental Biology,” according to the K-INBRE website. Langston University is the only Oklahoma-based institution partnered with K-INBRE.

The program offers LU students mentored research opportunities as well as opportunities to present their research at events like the annual Symposium. For example, Smith, a second-year K-INBRE participant, worked with researchers at Kansas State University.

This is Isaac’s first year participating in K-INBRE. She was introduced to the program by one of her biology professors, Dr. Kj Abraham, who helped mentor her in presenting her research. She also received advice on the structure and presentation of her research from Dr. Lindsay Davis.

Isaac has enjoyed her time in K-INBRE so far, and she was excited to present her research at the Symposium. She studied the ovarioles present in female fruit flies’ ovaries and tracked mutations and their effects on the stalk cells.

Daysha Isaac presents at the 2024 K-INBRE Symposium
Junior biology major Daysha Isaac earned an Award of Excellence in Poster Presentations at the 2024 K-INBRE Symposium. Photo provided by Daysha Isaac.

“This information allowed us to apply it to birth defects in infants,” Isaac said. “No way are we trying to cure it but gather more information about cell movement to make a connection. Such birth defects we compared it to were spina bifida and microcephaly.”

Smith is likewise passionate about the research she has helped conduct in K-INBRE, and she is confident her experiences in the program will aid her as she prepares to pursue medical school after graduation.

“I realize that my career goal is actually attainable,” Smith said, “and practice does make perfect.”


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Written by Christina Gray

The Langston University School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences (SAAS) recently received federal funding to offer additional scholarship opportunities to students through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) in partnership with 1890 Land Grant Universities. Langston University was awarded $752,632 in funding.

The scholarships created by this funding will support students pursuing degrees in food and agriculture sciences and other closely related areas as defined by the USDA. This program offers mentorship and opportunities to the Langston University undergraduate students within the SAAS. The scholarship program will begin in Fall 2020. Students can apply for this scholarship here.

“Langston University produces highly trained agricultural graduates in Oklahoma,” said Dr. Wesley Whittaker, Dean of the School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. “Through this program, we are able to better develop students through mentorship and training opportunities. Furthermore, this opportunity will increase the number of qualified graduates that are placed in our state’s industries and graduate schools.”

About the 1890 Scholarship Program

The 1890 Scholarship Program provides scholarships to support recruiting, engaging, retaining, mentoring, and training undergraduate students. The scholarships are intended to encourage outstanding students at 1890 institutions to pursue and complete baccalaureate degrees in the food and agricultural sciences and related fields. By developing a highly-skilled workforce, the 1890 Scholarship Program helps facilitate rural prosperity and economic development aligning with USDA’s strategic goals. For full details, please refer to the official National Institute of Food and Agriculture press release.


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Written by Kendra Oregon

Langston University’s recipient of the 2018 prestigious Justin Morrill Smith Scholarship is Monica Mascarenas, a senior animal science major. The Justin Morrill Smith Scholarship is awarded by the 1890 Land-Grant Universities Foundation to 19 graduating seniors; one at each of the 1890-member universities.

The $2,500 scholarship is a commemoration to Justin Smith Morrill who advocated dedicating public lands to create higher education institutions that taught agriculture and other subjects to all. In 1862, President Abe Lincoln signed the Morrill Land Grant Act, a law that ultimately funded 1862 Land-Grant institutions, and later established 1890 Land-Grant Universities dedicated to educating African Americans and other minority groups.

Mascarenas is an outstanding student as she carries a 4.0 GPA. Apart from excelling in the classroom, she has participated in research projects both at the small ruminant research campus as well as in research laboratories. Mascarenas is also active on campus. She serves as the president and co-founder of the Animal Science Club; she is a member of the Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), student representative on the LU-SAAS Publication Committee, and a faithful volunteer in many other groups. With regards to her research endeavors, Mascarenas has participated in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funded research project, the USDA Food Safety Symposium, the Oklahoma State University (OSU) Research Symposium, and American Dairy Goat Association (ADGA) annual conference.

Mascarenas is known around the School as someone who is reliable and enthusiastic to share her Langston experience. One of her most outstanding characteristics is her positive attitude toward work that has not gone unnoticed by her peers, professors, and the University administration. The scholarship is a blessing to Mascarenas as she says, “Receiving this scholarship means a great deal to me. I am the second oldest of six, and my parents are not able to pay for my college. This scholarship allows me to focus more on classes without having to worry about how I am going to pay for school. It is truly an honor to be selected for my hard work and achievements.”

Department Chair for Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as her mentor, Steve Zeng, Ph.D., expressed high praise saying, “Ms. Mascarenas has exceeded all expectations and has been one of the brightest students to have matriculated into our program.” In presenting the award, Wesley Whittaker, Dean of LU-SAAS, lauded Mascarenas for her outstanding academic performance as well as her dedication to community service and social issues.