MSU graduate students take top honors at regional competitions


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Posted: 5/14/2008


Three Mississippi State University graduate students in the College of Forest Resources are top winners in recent regional research competitions.

Luke Jones of Ackerman took first-place honors among a field of 15 students in a visual display contest at the Seventh Annual Bioproducts and Renewal Energy Conference.

Jones, a 2005 MSU cum laude bachelor's degree graduate in forestry, has focused his master's-level research on factors for determining the best location for a bio-energy mill. His investigation is directed by associate professor Emily Schultz and professor Tom Matney.

Katya Kovalenko of Starkville received top honors for a research report given at the annual meeting of the Arkansas and Mississippi chapters of the American Fisheries Society. A doctoral student in wildlife and fisheries, her study is directed by professor Eric Dibble and examines the impact of invasive aquatic plants on fish feeding habits.

Kovalenko, a Russian native who received an MSU master's degree in 2001, was among approximately 30 students from the two-state region taking part in the 2008 AFS competition.

Vanessa Oquendo, a Gainesville, Fla., resident working toward a master's degree in wildlife and fisheries, received a third-place award in the Southeastern Wildlife Conclave Essay Contest. Her impromptu entry described appropriate advocacies by wildlife professionals in dealing with land development and human population issues.

Oquendo's research is directed by associate professor Kevin Hunt and focuses on gender differences as potential motivations to hunt in Mississippi, as well as other activities considered suitable substitutes for hunting.

NEWS EDITORS/DIRECTORS: For more information on the students' projects, contact Dr. Schultz at 662-325-2697 or; Dr. Dibble at 325-7494 or, or Dr. Hunt at 325-0989 or

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