Two students accepted the top global awards for the 12th annual Alltech Young Scientist (AYS) program, the world’ most prestigious agriscience competition for university students. The AYS awards, recognizing pioneering research in the agriscience sector, were presented at ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference (ONE17), an event dedicated to inspiring innovation in Lexington, Ky., held May 21 through May 24. Now in its 33rd year, the annual international conference is expected to draw approximately 4,000 attendees from nearly 80 countries to network and discuss disruptive ideas in business, technology, food and agriculture.

The global undergraduate winner was Joshua C. Gukowsky, who attends the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the U.S. Gukowsky was offered a fully funded Ph.D. position and $5,000 USD. The global graduate winner was Jonas de Souza, who attends Michigan State University in the U.S. De Souza was offered a fully funded postdoctorate position and $10,000 USD.

Dr. Aoife Lyons, director of educational initiatives and engagement at Alltech, and Victoria Liu, Alltech Young Scientist program manager, presented the awards in the famed Rupp Arena during ONE17.

“This year, we encouraged students to think about the ONE disruptive idea that will transform the way we think and work in agriculture in order for it to thrive and be sustainable,” said Lyons. “The international panel of judges, led by Irish professor Maurice Boland, was encouraged by this group of hugely talented students, all of whom place a huge emphasis on their scientific education.

“I speak for all of the judges on this year’s panel when I congratulate the 2017 winners,” continued Lyons. “The students not only exemplified great skill, but also aptitude and curiosity, which, in our minds, demonstrate their potential as the scientific leaders of tomorrow.”

This year, the program received more than 150 nominations from 134 professors, representing the world’s top 121 universities from 36 countries. To participate, students were nominated by their professors and submitted scientific papers on topics such as animal health and nutrition, agriculture analytical methods, food chain safety and traceability, human health and nutrition, and other agriscience-related sectors. Each student’s paper first competed within their own region of North America, Latin America, Asia-Pacific, or Europe and Africa. The first place regional winners, eight in total, were invited to an all-expenses-paid Alltech Discovery Week in Kentucky that culminated at ONE17, where a panel of leading judges selected the winners for the 2017 program.

“Thank you, everyone — this is a great honor to receive this prize,” said de Souza, the graduate winner. “Thank you to Dr. Aoife Lyons for putting this competition together to support new and young scientists. We are all winners in this program.”

De Souza’s research focused on altering the ratio of dietary palmitic, stearic and oleic acids, or fatty acids, in diets with or without whole cottonseed and the responses of dairy cows.

“Wow, thank you so much — I was really not expecting this,” said Gukowsky, the undergraduate winner. “First and foremost, I want to thank my parents and family.”

Gukowsky’s research featured detecting antibiotic residues in the foods we consume.

Entry for the 2018 program will open in September 2017.

For more information about ONE: The Alltech Ideas Conference, visit Join the conversation online with #ONE17.