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AFS senior Graysen Ortega takes top honors in undergraduate research contest

AFS senior Graysen Ortega takes top honors in undergraduate research contest

Graysen Ortega has always been one to jump at new opportunities. Competing in the Minority Access National Role Models Conference’s Undergraduate Research Competition was no different for the Texas Tech senior food science major. He was named the winner of the biomedical and biological sciences category last month (Sept. 29) at the Washington, D.C. meeting.

“Graysen is highly deserving of this award,” said Mindy Brashears, a professor within the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and Ortega’s mentor. “One of his greatest attributes is his ability to stay focused on his future and create opportunities for success. I’m certain he will make a significant impact on the world.”

Competing against students from across the nation, the Lubbock native gave a 10-minute presentation over his undergraduate research. The title of his work was, “Prevalence of Shiga Toxin Producing Escherichia coli Non-O157:H7 in Beef in Mexico.” In addition to monetary awards for top winners, Minority Access will distribute summaries of winning research presentations with research departments in the industry.

“There were some very impressive projects, including students that worked on NIH research projects,” Ortega said. “It was very rewarding to see all the hard work from countless hours in the lab pay off.”

Ortega’s campus involvement includes the Texas Tech Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Research Scholar Program, the International Center for Food Industry Excellence, and Tech’s Food Science Club and Mortar Board. Off campus, Ortega was an intern with the House Committee on Agriculture in Washington, D.C. this summer, and is actively involved in his church. After his December graduation, Ortega will intern with the U.S. State Department in Rome. His future plans include law school.

According to program officials, the Minority Access National Role Models Conference is an assembly of high-achieving innovators, recruiters, researchers, faculty, administrators, students, mentors and alumni. More than 230 colleges and universities have participated in the National Institutes of Health supported event.

Written by Faith Jurek

CONTACT: Mindy Brashears, Professor, Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2805 ext. 235 or mindy.brashears@ttu.edu

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