A doctoral student at West Virginia University has received a prestigious award for her research and the opportunity to compete for a global honor.

Lei Wang, a doctoral student in reproductive physiology in WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, was named the North America Region’s first-place graduate student winner of the Alltech Young Scientist competition.

Wang will receive $2,000 for her regional honor. She has also been invited to participate in the global competition in May in Lexington, Ky. where she could win a top prize of $10,000.

“I was very excited when I got the news for winning this award and to further compete for the global winner,” said Wang, who earned her undergraduate degree in animal science from China Agricultural University in Beijing.

The Alltech Young Scientist Award brings together the world’s brightest scientific thinkers from colleges and universities across the globe. To compete for the top prizes, undergraduate and graduate students are asked to submit a scientific paper on an agriculture topic such as veterinary science, animal nutrition, feeding technology, agricultural management or agricultural economics.

“In our lab, we are very interested in how important factors affect egg quality and developmental competency,” Wang explained. “Currently we use cattle oocytes and rainbow trout eggs as model systems to find out what is the master regulator for the early embryonic development. The paper I submitted to Alltech is about an important factor called KPNA7 and its function as an indicator for egg quality.”

“The ultimate goal of her research is to identify molecular markers that are predictive of oocyte competence and subsequent potential reproductive success post-fertilization,” said Jianbo Yao, Wang’s thesis adviser and an associate professor of animal biotechnology and genomics in the Davis College.

Their study may lead to the development of genetic and pharmacological tools to reduce infertility of beef and dairy cattle, and increase production efficiency of rainbow trout.

“Lei is an excellent student in my lab,” said Yao. “I am very confident that she will have a great chance to win the global competition in May.”

Founded in 1980 by Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech improves the health and performance of people, animals and plants through natural nutrition and scientific innovation. With more than 3,000 employees and a presence in 128 countries, the company has developed a strong regional presence in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.