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College of Agriculture and Life Sciences recognizes outstanding graduate students


William Joseph Allen (left) and Adrienne Adria Bhatnagar William Joseph Allen (left) and Adrienne Adria Bhatnagar

BLACKSBURG, Va., April 15, 2011 – Virginia Tech has named Adrienne (Adria) Bhatnagar the Outstanding Master's Student and William (Joseph) Allen the Outstanding Doctoral Student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Adria Bhatnagar of Charlotte, N.C., graduated with a master’s degree from the Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences in December 2010. Bhatnagar’s thesis work represents the first estimation of genetic parameters for sporthorses in North America and is one of the few studies worldwide to investigate heritability of performance-related traits measured in growing foals. She also led major projects investigating bone remodeling in foals and genetic variability in minor horse breeds. Advised by Rebecca K. Splan, associate professor in animal and poultry sciences, Bhatnagar completed her master’s degree with three first-author, peer-reviewed publications, and five abstracts she presented at national and international meetings.

In addition to her academic and scholarly success, Bhatnagar has demonstrated outstanding capability as an educator. She was a graduate teaching assistant for six courses in two years and mentored numerous undergraduates and interns in the equine sciences. She also played a key role in several departmental undergraduate and 4-H events. Building on her work at Virginia Tech, Bhatnagar has begun a doctoral program in animal breeding and genetics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Joseph Allen of Burnsville, Minn., a doctoral candidate in the Department of Biochemistry, will complete his Ph.D. in May 2011. Allen received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Jamestown College in North Dakota and joined Virginia Tech in 2006 to work with Professor David Bevan. He has conducted research on the use of molecular dynamics and other “in silico” techniques to dissect the detailed physical basis of important biomolecular interactions for applications in studying disease models and drug design. Allen’s work has provided the foundation for two first-author research papers in refereed journals as well as two papers where he was cited as second author. Allen has also been recognized as an outstanding instructor and teaching assistant. In partnership with fellow graduate student Justin Lemkul, he conceived, designed, and taught the course Applications of Molecular Modeling.  "He has also been actively involved in a summer science camp where he mentored high school students about the structure of proteins and DNA through interactive molecular visualization demonstrations.

Nationally ranked among the top research institutions of its kind, Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences focuses on the science and business of living systems through learning, discovery, and engagement. The college’s comprehensive curriculum gives more than 3,100 students in a dozen academic departments a balanced education that ranges from food and fiber production to economics to human health. Students learn from the world’s leading agricultural scientists, who bring the latest science and technology into the classroom.