Student Researchers Place at Annual Symposium

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

ORANGEBURG, S.C. – Four SC State University student researchers placed in competitions at the bi-annual 1890 Association of Research Director’s (ARD) Conference. The 40th ARD Conference was held on March 30th – April 3rd in Jacksonville, Florida.


Coast Guard

Nafisat Isa, a senior biology major, won first place in the undergraduate student oral presentation in the category of Energy, Natural Resources and Environment. Her research is entitled, “A Preliminary Provenance Study of Nok Sculptures in the I.P. Stanback Museum with Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis.”

The study analyzes West Nigerian Nok sculptures with an active nuclear test to examine the differences between the compositional profiles of artifacts. Isa’s principal investigator for the study is Dr. Zaijing Sun, assistant professor of SC State’s Nuclear Engineering Program. She was also guided by Dr. Frank Martin, the director of the university’s I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium.

Makaela Jackson, a junior biology major, also won first place in the undergraduate poster presentation competition in the category of Renewable Energy, Natural Resources and Environment for her research, “Efficient Delivery of Tn5 for the Production of Biosurfactant Deficient Mutants of Alcaligenes Piechaudii.” Jackson’s research involves performing random transpositional mutagenesis to identify specific genes in alcaligenes piechaudii that are involved in biosurfactant production. The microorganism has been demonstrated to reduce uranium levels, which is a process enhanced by biosurfactant activity. Jackson’s principal investigator is Dr. Waltena Simpson, biology professor, in the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences.

Desmond Williams, a sophomore industrial engineering major, placed second in the undergraduate student competitive poster presentation in the category of Family, Youth, Community and Economic Development for his research, “Efficiency-Based Facility Location-Routing Design Problem with Disruption Risks.” The research uses a goal programming (GP) model and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) approach to design the most efficient configurations for the facility location, allocation and routing systems.

The GP model and DEA technique are designed to help practitioners and decision makers responsible for strategic and operational decision plans, as they relate to supply chain network structures and mitigate the impact of disruptions. Williams’ principal investigator is Dr. Jae-Dong Hong, Distinguished Professor of the Industrial Engineering Program.

Kayla Mazariego, a junior biology major, placed third in the undergraduate competitive poster presentation in the category of Plant Health and Production and Plant Products for her research, “Ozone as an Alternative Fumigant for the Control of Oryzaephilus Mercator (Coleoptera: Silvanidae).”

Additionally, she was awarded first place during a special poster session in the Implementation of Integrated Pest Management in Specialty Crops, Postharvest and Communities competition, where she competed against graduate students. She investigated the efficacy of ozone for controlling all life stages: eggs, larvae, pupae and adults of oryzaephilus mercator (merchant grain beetle) in the presence or absence of food. Mazariego’s principal investigator is Dr. Rizana Mahroof, professor of biological sciences.

“I am extremely proud of students and faculty who participated at the symposium,” said Dr. Louis Whitesides, 1890 Research and Extension Program director. “I received numerous compliments from other universities on how well prepared and knowledgeable the students were in their area of research. They represented themselves and demonstrated what SC State University is all about, and that is excellence. The students can compete with the best, and it was proven as our students placed in their respective categories.”

“The future of research was on full display at the conference, as students displayed their expertise through poster and oral presentations,” said Delbert T. Foster, executive director of 1890 Research and Extension Programs. “Competing and winning against all of the 1890 universities is a major accomplishment. I would like to thank the 1890 researchers for their guidance and level of commitment towards their students, as they prepare them to become the leaders of tomorrow through research discoveries and innovation,” he continued.

The Association of Research Directors is the federation of all 19 1890 land-grant universities. The association provides coordination of research initiatives among 1890 institutions in cooperation with federal, state and private partners. The 2019 symposium included more than 900 participants. Over 500 research papers and posters were presented during the 2019 symposium.

For more information about the ARD Conference or the 1890 Research and Extension Program, contact Dr. Louis Whitesides at (803) 536-8616 or