Last month, students and professors from Mississippi State University attended the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Deer Study group.
This is an annual conference where a collection of universities, agencies, and any outdoor organizations meet to deliver research and give presentations about what’s going on in the world of deer biology and deer management in their state. The organizations involved range from Texas all the way to Virginia and West Virginia.
Every year, there is a student competition award, where students are evaluated on presentations about their research . This year, there were about five or six universities and about twenty-five students who competed, where the MSU deer lab students won first, second, and third place, sweeping the row.
Dr. Bronson Strickland, the St. John Family Professor of Wildlife Management and Extension Wildlife Specialist, said they were very fortunate this year to have swept the entire award ceremony with students from MSU.
“This is research they are presenting that’s based on their master’s thesis, so it’s typically the culmination of two years-worth of field work and research, and then as they are developing their thesis and publications, that will go into our technical journals,” Dr. Strickland said.
He said even though they have won several times in the past, this year was very unique because it is the only time MSU and any institution have ever taken all three awards.
Daniel Morina, who is a master student at MSU, won the first place student presentation award.
“As students, we go there to present either our undergraduate research, our master’s research, or our dissertation work,” said Morina. “I’m a master student, so I presented two presentations and I won first place for one of them, which was one of my chapters on female choice on whitetail deer.”
Not only did the winners win an award, they also received $500, $300 and $200 for first, second, and third place.
Morina said ultimately the judges are looking for good results and discussion time, and sometimes they judge you based on the management applications, because this is a deer management meeting.
“I’ve been doing this study for three years and I’m very familiar with my work, and then I did practice for several weeks leading up to it just making sure that when I gave the talk it was very conversational and entertaining,” said Morina.
He stated that the award was just a bonus, because the point is not really to win the award, but to disseminate his research in an interesting way so that people can retain that information, and then it can be used moving forward in future studies.