The CAES Young Scholars program brought more than four dozen high school students to UGA campuses in Athens, Griffin and Tifton this summer for real-world research opportunities. Image credit: Merritt Melancon.

More than 60 Georgia teenagers spent the better part of their summer working in some of the most prestigious research laboratories at the University of Georgia. For more than two decades, the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Young Scholars’ Program has paired researchers in CAES, the College of Pharmacy, the Warnell School of Forestry and the College of Veterinary Medicine with high school students to foster their love of science and introduce them to the breadth of science that is the foundation of agriculture — Georgia’s largest industry.

“We have students representing high schools from all over the state, including 20 different counties and 34 high schools,” said Victoria David, director of the CAES Office of Diversity Relations. “These students really are the cream of the crop.”

The students worked in some of the most advanced laboratories at UGA in Griffin, Tifton and Athens during the six-week program. They assisted with actual research projects led by UGA faculty, and at the end of the program they presented their findings in a research symposium. Some students may be listed as coauthors on these studies when they are published in academic journals, which is rare for students who have not completed high school.

“The science that underlies everything that we do in the college requires that we have the best and brightest study in our area whether it’s animal and dairy science, agricultural and applied economics, food science, education and leadership — those are the areas that are going to impact our state, but also, quite frankly, our nation and our world,” CAES Dean Sam Pardue told this year’s Young Scholars at the 2016 closing ceremony on July 8.

“Many of you in this room may have aspirations to be physicians or lawyers or engineers,” he said. “I hope you will take at least a few seconds to consider the great career you can have in the disciplines that are involved in food production and agriculture.”

Of the 16 past or current Young Scholars who will come to UGA in the fall, seven will be joining CAES.

A complete list of this year’s Young Scholars cohort is below. More photos from this year’s Young Scholars Program can be found at

Promoting Science for 27 Years

The Young Scholars Program began on the UGA Griffin Campus in 1989 and was originally intended to provide a collegiate experience to students who were not planning to attend college.

Since then, the program has expanded to include scientists at the UGA Athens campus and the UGA Tifton campus. The program strives to select students that are truly ready to engage in real-world research and match them to projects of potential interest.

Because of this experience, many Young Scholars continue their research careers when attending UGA as students through the college’s undergraduate research program.

For more information about the Young Scholars Program, visit or email Victoria David, director of the CAES Office of Diversity and the Young Scholars Program at

The application period for next year’s Young Scholars Program will run from October 2016 to January 2017.

Those who participated in this year’s CAES Young Scholars program include:

Athens Campus

  • Amaja Andrews, Houston County High School
  • Kayla Braggs, Dutchtown High School
  • Camille Evans, Oconee County High School
  • Michael Gabriels, Cedar Shoals High School
  • Melissa Gilpin, Peachtree Ridge High School
  • Jala Johnston, Newton High School
  • Dong Kyun Kim, Cedar Shoals High School
  • Sierra King, Mill Creek High School
  • Xavier Latore, Eagles Landing High School
  • Ansley Lockett, Arabia Mountain High School
  • James Michael Loggins, Oglethorpe County High School
  • Alexandria Maddox, Westside High School
  • Karlin McGhee, Woodland High School
  • Jeeten Mistry, Douglas County High School
  • Gary Nicholas Moon, Cedar Shoals High School
  • Rashidatu Olorunsola, Mundy’s Mill High School
  • Isaac Powell, Cedar Shoals High School
  • Quentin Reeves, Northgate High School
  • Kentrell Richardson, Dutchtown High School
  • Eduardo Ricome, Cedar Shoals High School
  • Payton Rutland, Tift County High School
  • Mark Swain, Oconee County High School
  • Ciara Thomas, Eagle’s Landing High School
  • Henry Vencil, Cedar Shoals High School
  • Anne Whatley, Oconee County High School
  • Malcolm Williams-Green, St. Andrews on the Marsh

Griffin Campus

  • Jatoria Beckham, Griffin High School
  • Ian Binek, Northgate High School
  • Courtney Britt, Northgate High School
  • Moriah Byrd, Whitewater High School
  • Victor Cama, McIntosh High School
  • Daniel Deluzio, Pike County High School
  • Riti Desai, Eagle’s Landing High School
  • Zabeena Dharani, McIntosh High School
  • Akiel Etienne, Union Grove High School
  • Karen Ezenn, Jonesboro High School
  • Cierrah Guerrero, Pike County High School
  • Katie Gwaltney, Union Grove High School
  • Elizabeth Hanson, Pike County High School
  • John Marsh Hollberg, Spalding High School
  • Xavier Jones, Luella High School
  • Turner Jordan, Spalding High School
  • Sara Reeves, Skipstone Academy
  • Kayla Rice, Union Grove High School
  • Iyanla Smith, Spalding High School
  • Elizabeth Smyly, Spalding High School
  • William Cole Stansell, Griffin High School
  • Taylor Thomas, Pike County High School
  • Francisco Zepeda, Splading High School

Tifton Campus

  • Lauren Asbell, John Milledge Academy
  • Mackenzie Brown, Crisp Academy
  • Zoya Day, Tift County High School
  • Selyna Gant, Colquitt County High School
  • Julie Jernigan, Forest High School
  • Catherine Kemeness, Tift County High School
  • Sarah King, Tift County High School
  • Michaela Lubbers, Tift County High School
  • Michael Pannell, Lowndes High School
  • Reaiah Tyson, Irwin County High School
  • Bailey Veeder, Clarke Central High School