Auburn ag students finish first in global health competition

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By Maggie Smith

A six-member team of Auburn agriculture majors won first place in the university’s inaugural Global Health Case Competition in January and advanced to the 2019 statewide contest in March at the University of Alabama Birmingham.

Members of the winning team include animal sciences/pre-vet senior Monica Suero, agriscience education/agricultural science senior Dalton Nelson, biosystems engineering junior Courtney Eagle, environmental science senior Mary Prince, and food science senior Amanda Marinello and junior Cierra James. Agricultural economics professor Joe Molnar was the team’s mentor. Teams were allowed only one hour during the week to consult or meet with their mentors.

For the Auburn competition, sponsored by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station’s Hunger Solutions Institute, seven multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate students were tasked with developing an innovative recovery plan—all within real-world budgetary, technical and time constraints—for a coastal district of Bangladesh in the aftermath of a devastating cyclone. The teams received the case on a Monday and presented their plans to a panel of judges five days later.

The College of Agriculture team’s winning plan for addressing the crisis incorporated such interventions as aquaponics, cholera immunizations, vegetable production, irrigation, community storm shelters and mangrove restoration. Team members shared a $1,500 cash prize.

The statewide event in Birmingham will follow the same format as the Auburn competition. Only the assigned global health case will change.

Amy Wright, associate dean for instruction in the college, and student services coordinator Megan Ross recruited the college’s team members.

“I attended the competition and was truly impressed by the College of Agriculture team’s creativity, research and professional presentation and by their solutions,” Wright said. “I appreciate these students’ hard work above and beyond their regular studies and am grateful to Dr. Molnar for providing them guidance. I look forward to seeing the team compete in Birmingham and know the students will represent Auburn and the college well.”

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