June 6, 2016

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Joshua Cowger Wins Economic Development Award at VSU Symposium

Pictured are Dr. Brian Gerber, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; Joshua Cowger; and Dr. James LaPlant, assistant vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School.

VALDOSTA — Joshua Cowger’s “Computational and Solubility Studies of a New Weed Control Application Approach for the Herbicidal Agent Glyphosate” won the Economic Development Award at the 2016 Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted by Valdosta State University.

“Glyphosate-resistant weeds are an increasing problem across the world,” said the 44-year-old who anticipates graduating from VSU in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry.

“There are currently no herbicides as effective as glyphosate. There is no ‘next glyphosate’ in production. Methods of making glyphosate more effective against resistant weeds are needed. The research is investigating new application methods.”

Cowger’s award-winning research was guided by Dr. Thomas Manning, a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry.

All freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors at VSU were invited to submit proposals for the 22nd annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. Individual academic departments and colleges then selected the university’s best paper, poster, and video research presentations, as well as creative arts exhibits, to be featured throughout the four-day event and to compete for prizes.

“Each year I am incredibly impressed with the quality of our undergraduate student research, scholarship, and creative work,” said Dr. James LaPlant, assistant vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School. “The students are making original contributions to the body of knowledge of their disciplines. Many of the students are doing research that we often do not see until the graduate level.”

The Undergraduate Research Symposium reflects VSU’s commitment to increasing the opportunities available for undergraduate students to participate in research through specialized courses, engagement in internships and service learning, and other opportunities. This has many benefits, according to the university’s Council on Undergraduate Research, as students who engage in research activities are able to build relationships resulting in enhanced learning with their faculty mentors, are more likely to be retained, are more likely to pursue advanced degrees, have an increased knowledge base of research methodology, and are more likely to promote an innovation-oriented culture.

Prior to studying chemistry at VSU, Cowger served more than 20 years in the United States Air Force. He said his next step after earning a bachelor’s degree is to continue his education and earn a Master of Education. The Hahira resident is a member of the American Chemical Society.

Cowger donated his Economic Development Award prize money back to VSU, asking that it be split between the College of Arts and Sciences and the Harley Langdale Jr. College of Business Administration in honor of his son, Michael Cowger, who is battling cancer. The younger Cowger was awarded degrees in economics and finance during a special graduation ceremony in March.   

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Valdosta State University’s 2013-2019 Strategic Plan represents a renewal of energy and commitment to the foundational principles for comprehensive institutions.

Implementation of the plan’s five goals, along with their accompanying objectives and strategies, supports VSU’s institutional mission and the University System of Georgia’s mission for comprehensive universities. 

The story above demonstrates VSU's commitment to meeting the following goals: 

Goal 1: Recruit, retain, and graduate a quality, diverse student population and prepare students for roles as leaders in a global society.

Goal 3: Promote student, employee, alumni, retiree, and community engagement in our mission.

Goal 4: Foster an environment of creativity and scholarship.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/administration/planning/strategic-plan.php to learn more.