Congratulations AJ Jones: Undergraduate Researcher of the Year

Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg

July 2, 2013

Senior Animal Sciences major Aikeen “AJ” Jones has been selected as one of the University of Maryland’s Undergraduate Researchers of the Year. AJ was honored at a reception on campus May 1 during the opening ceremonies of Undergraduate Research Day.

AJ describes himself as an animal lover who is passionate about reproductive physiology. His research focuses on finding new ways to collect and preserve genetic information for endangered species through a process called Seminiferous Tubule Isolation. His work was supervised by Associate Professor Carol Keefer, Ph.D., from the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, who nominated AJ for this prestigious award.

“AJ is one of the most passionate, bright, and well-rounded students I have met in my career,” says Keefer. “His research will provide a valuable means of preserving and extending genetic resources for endangered species.”

In addition to his molecular research, AJ juggles a part-time course load and works as a veterinary technician at a local animal hospital. AJ says his research experience helped him decide what he would like to do professionally after graduating with his bachelor’s degree from UMD this spring.

“Before working in the lab, I only wanted to work with livestock at a farm,” says AJ. “This experience has refined me and now I would love to teach the public about animal reproduction in a zoo setting. I still want to work with animals hands-on, but now I want to find a way to incorporate that with public education regarding animal care, breeding, and conservation.”

For being named one of UMD’s Undergraduate Researchers of the Year, AJ will receive a plaque and $1,000. His work on seminiferous tubule isolation has also been accepted for presentation at an international conference – the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Reproduction – in Montreal, Canada this July.

AJ is also an outspoken supporter of the university's Campus Farm and provided input for the current Campus Farm Revitalization Project. Hear AJ describe his experiences on the Campus Farm in his own words below: