CANR Summer Institute announces inaugural class
Students participating in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Summer Institute are, from left, Yaqoob Thurston, Dawn McRae, Kristofer Dewberry, Corinna Lynn Willis, Shakara Tyler and Kishana Williamson.
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9:02 a.m., June 23, 2009----In its inaugural year, the Summer Institute in the agriculture and natural resource sciences sponsored by the University of Delaware's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) is hosting six undergraduate students.

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The four-week program, which began June 7 and will run to July 3, is specifically designed for students from under-represented populations who have a strong interest in pursuing graduate degrees in agriculture and natural resources at UD. The main goal of the institute is to introduce current undergraduates to the complex and exciting world of graduate education.

The Summer Institute is funded jointly by a $25,000 Graduate Innovation and Improvement Grant from the UD Office of Graduate and Professional Education and CANR.

“The Summer Institute is a team effort by faculty from all departments in our college,” said Tom Sims, associate dean of the college. “It provides these six outstanding undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct hands-on research and learn about the range of graduate education opportunities available in the agricultural and natural resource sciences. We are very appreciative of the funding support provided through this grant.”

During their stay, the students are taking part in ongoing research projects guided by their personal faculty mentors, networking with current graduate students and other staff within CANR, and interacting with industry professionals. This hands-on experience will give the students a great opportunity to broaden their horizons and learn about what it takes to earn a degree at the graduate level.

Maria Pautler, CANR Summer Institute Program coordinator said, “I am very pleased with the selections made for the inaugural year of the CANR Summer Institute. The students, who come from a diverse array of educational backgrounds, are very enthusiastic about becoming involved in research at UD and I am excited to see where this opportunity takes them.”

The 2009 CANR Summer Institute participants are:

Shakara Tyler, of Philadelphia, Pa., is currently an agricultural science major at Penn State University with minors in law and communications, expecting to graduate in December 2010. Tyler is the treasurer of the Penn State chapter of Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources (MANRA) and a writing intern in the Penn State agricultural communications department. Her faculty mentors are Tom Ilvento and Josh Duke in the Department of Food and Resource Economics.
Tyler said, “I applied because I plan to pursue my graduate degree in agricultural communications and public policy. The University of Delaware has two excellent programs that I am eager to participate in, in the agricultural science college and the public policy college.”

She is an S-PLAN mentor (Support, Survival, Success), mentoring first-year Penn State students of African-American and Latina descent. In 2009, Tyler was a student volunteer in the Penn State Lagniappe: New Orleans Service Trip Experience where a small group of students in the College of Agricultural Sciences traveled to Louisiana to enhance agricultural learning in schools.

Kristofer Dewberry, of Hamilton, N.J., is a sophomore agriculture education major at the University of Delaware with minors in wildlife conservation and biology. In addition to the CANR Summer Institute, Dewberry will be participating in the McNair Scholars Program this summer. Dewberry's career goal is to become an epidemiologist for the Center for Disease Control. His faculty mentor is Mark Parcells in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

Kishana Williamson, of Teaneck, N.J., is an animal science and wildlife conservation double major at the University of Delaware. With particular interest in animal behavior and conservation, Williamson is interested in becoming a zoo curator and eventually own or manage a wildlife preserve. She is involved in Woman of Promise, Undergraduate Research Scholar, Ag Ambassadors, Undergraduate Research, and the Social Chair of the animal science club. She is the president of Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resource Related Sciences (MANRRS) and was a member of the 2008-2009 Ag Day planning team. Her faculty mentor is Jacob Bowman in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology.

Corinna Lynn Willis, of Jefferson City, Mo., is a student at Lincoln University of Missouri studying plant and soil science. Willis would ultimately like to become a professor of agriculture, specializing in plant-made vaccines. In 2007, she was selected as one of 10 students from land grant universities to attend the 2007 USDA Diversity Outlook Forum. Her faculty mentor is Janine Sherrier in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

“The University of Delaware is an institution that I am interested in for graduate or doctorial studies; participating in an internship will give me the opportunity to look into the programs, research projects, mentors, and campus,” Willis said.

Dawn McRae, of Atlanta, graduated in May of 2009 with a bachelor's degree in animal science from Tuskegee University. McRae, who is interested in reproductive physiology and avian immunology, would like to become a zoologist specializing in exotic birds and birds of prey. She was a member of the Tuskegee University Pre-Vet Club, MANRRS, and was the recipient of the MANRRS Senior award. Her faculty mentor is Robin Morgan, dean of the college.

Yaqoob Thurston, of Washington, D.C., graduated in May of 2009 with a bachelor's degree in biology from Edward Waters College. Thurston is interested in pursuing a graduate degree leading to a career as a wetlands scientist. While at Edward Waters, Thurston was president of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, president of the Biology Club, and SGA attorney general. He played football while maintaining dean's list status and graduated with honors. His faculty mentor is Randall Wisser in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences.

Article by Rachael Dubinsky