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Office of Research funds five students selected by Sigma Xi


BLACKSBURG, Va., April 17, 2009 – Treating children with phobias, advancing dairy cow nutrition, protection of rainforest carnivores, community-based conservation, and cell behavior in plants are the student research projects selected by Sigma Xi for recognition and support.

The Virginia Tech chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, presented awards to five students in the form of funding from the Office of the Vice President for Research. The office provides the support to advance research opportunities for the students.

The undergraduate winner is Emma Kate Evans of Crozet, Va., an undergraduate double major in animal and poultry science and dairy science in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who is doing research on how dairy cattle could utilize nitrogen more efficiently, a problem in protein synthesis. Her advisors are Paul Siegel, emeritus animal and poultry science professor, and Marc Hanigan, associate professor of dairy science.

Master's level winners are Kristy Benoit, of Havre Boucher, Nova Scotia, a student in psychology in the College of Science; and Brian Gerber of Amherst, Mass., a student in fisheries and wildlife sciences in the College of Natural Resources. Benoit is part of a study looking at treatments of children with specific phobias. Her advisor is Tom Ollendick. Gerber is working to develop programs for the conservation and management of resources in the rainforests of Madagascar and the protection of rainforest carnivores and their lemur prey. His advisor is Assistant Professor Sarah Karpanty.

Doctoral level winners are Elitsa Ananieva of Radomir, Bulgaria, a biochemistry major in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; and Nabin Baral of Pokhara, Nepal, a forestry major in the College of Natural Resources. Ananieva is looking at the cell behavior of plants and how it is regulated by a complex network of intracellular signaling pathways. Her advisor is Glenda Gillaspy, associate professor of biochemistry. Baral is determining the institutional resilience of community-based conservation in the face of the Maoist insurgency in Nepal. His advisor is Assistant Professor Marc Stern.

The recipients were selected based on their academic record, their research project, and their promise as a researcher as attested by a letter of support from an advisor or project supervisor.