Two Virginia Tech undergraduate students took home accolades from the Virginia/North Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation’s Sixth Annual Research Symposium, held April 21 to 22 at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Jancarla Ocampo of Blacksburg, Va., a sophomore majoring in biological sciences in the College of Science, took first place in the symposium’s poster competition. Her research topic was “Parasite dispersal: When do larval trematode parasites leave their first intermediate hosts?” which she has worked on under the direction of Lisa Belden, associate professor of biological sciences.

Alysha Simmons of Virginia Beach, Va., a junior majoring in animal and poultry sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and biological sciences in the College of Science, won second place in the symposium’s oral competition. Her research title was “Activity of decoquinate against three species of cat transmitted besnoitia.” Since her first semester, Simmons has worked with David Lindsay, professor of biomedical sciences and pathobiology at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine.

“We are proud that our students’ hard work is receiving recognition when compared to their peers participating in the alliance from universities across Virginia and North Carolina,” said Jody Thompson, director of the Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program. “Their success would not be possible without the dedication of faculty members across campus, who are teaching our students confidence in research and developing life-long learning skills.”

The Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program coordinates the Alliance for Minority Participation at Virginia Tech. 

The Virginia-North Carolina Alliance for Minority Participation is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program. The purpose is to assist underrepresented undergraduates in successfully graduating from college and ultimately pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Through the program, participants are encouraged to conduct research as undergraduate students. The alliance has nine partner institutions.

The Multicultural Academic Opportunities Program is currently accepting applications for students interested in being part of Alliance for Minority Participation at Virginia Tech for the 2013-14 academic year. Applications are due June 17, 2013.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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