NDSU wheat quality laboratory technician Edil Vidal Torres was recognized for her second place finish in the 2020 Caminos Thesis Competition sponsored by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education. The competition is in partnership with Texas State University and funded through a grant provided by the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture.
Vidal Torres was recognized at an award breakfast during the 15th annual AAHHE national conference held March 4-7 in Costa Mesa, California.
The competition is open to Hispanic individuals who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents and have completed a master’s thesis that focuses on food and the agricultural sciences. Eligible thesis topics must be related to USDA priority areas, including food safety, climate change, sustainable energy, childhood obesity and global food security and hunger.
The first, second and third place winners received a cash award, complimentary registration and sponsored travel to attend the association’s national conference, where they presented their theses and received their awards. Also, the three finalists also are invited to submit an academic article based on their theses to the Journal of Hispanic Higher Education.
In addition, competition finalists attended the USDA Career Preparation Institute. The three-day institute informs participants about doctoral programs and internship or employment opportunities in the USDA and related agencies. Topics included research opportunities, job application and interview preparation, presentation techniques, leadership development and networking strategies.
“The Career Preparation Institute gave me important tools to be applied in my professional career,” said Vidal Torres, who is from the Dominican Republic and completed her master’s degree in food science and technology at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez in 2019. Her thesis was “Quinoa and Amaranth: Multi-Purpose Agroindustrial Crops.” She interned at NDSU in the wheat quality laboratory in summer 2018 and was hired as a technician in 2019. The NDSU wheat quality laboratory is directed by Senay Simsek, Bert L. D'Appolonia Cereal Science and Technology of Wheat Endowed Professor.
“Through the conference I had the opportunity to meet professionals in all areas of science, acquire knowledge to be a successful professional and overcome the challenges presented day by day,” said Vidal Torres. “Seeing successful professionals who have struggled to achieve their goals in a disciplined and constant way made me think that everything is possible in life when you have a purpose. They inspired me to contribute to society and younger generations through science.”
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