Two bright thinkers representing North America in the 12th annual Alltech Young Scientist (AYS) program in Louisville, Kentucky this week at ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference have each won the world’s most prestigious agriscience competition for university students.
The global undergraduate winner was Joshua C. Gukowsky, who attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the U.S. Gukowsky was offered a fully funded Ph.D. position and $5,000 USD. The global graduate winner was Jonas de Souza, who attends Michigan State University in the U.S. De Souza was offered a fully funded post-doctorate position and $10,000 USD.
Gukowsky has just finished his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and competed with his research project that explores detecting unsafe levels of antibiotics in food. “It actually involves the use of gold nano particles,” Gukowsky explains. “It sounds very fancy, but really they’re just tiny particles of gold and they change color in the presence of the antibiotics. It’s very simple actually, and it’s very effective for detecting low concentrations of antibiotics and its a very innovative new method to ensure the safety of our foods.”
Jonas de Souza, originally from Brazil, is working on a PhD at Michigan State University. He has a passion for research and development and is using that drive to find the most productive ways to manipulate fatty acid for maximum efficiency in dairy cows in a way that offers tangible benefits to producers and consumers. “My career goal is that I want my research to make a difference; I want my research to be applied and be feasible and accessible to everybody,” de Souza says.
Both agree that being part of the AYS program has been an amazing opportunity. It has been a chance to meet other young scientists working on a variety of projects from a variety of places. You can get stuck in your research, de Souza admits, but the conference has broadened his horizons and taught him he can do more than he thought with his research.