Kansas State University


College of Arts & Sciences eNewsletter

Category: August 2016

College Highlights, August 2016

In the College of Arts and Sciences, there are always big things happening. Take a look at some of our highlights from August 2016:

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics



Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies



Journalism and Mass Communications

Modern Languages

Music, Theatre, and Dance


Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work


Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Michael Kanost, university distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, led a team of 114 researchers from 50 institutions and 11 countries in a project to sequence and annotate the genome of the tobacco hornworm — a caterpillar species used in many research laboratories for studies of insect biology. The researchers have published their work “Multifaceted biological insights from a draft genome sequence of the tobacco hornworm moth, Manduca sexta” in the journal Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and have made the genome sequence available to the public through the National Agricultural Library.

“This project represents years of collaborative research across the world,” said Kanost, who studies insect immune systems. “We wanted to provide these valuable data to scientists, and our hope is that this sequenced genome will stimulate new research in molecular studies of insects.”

The tobacco hornworm, or Manduca sexta, develops into the Carolina sphinx moth. The name Manduca comes from the Latin word for glutton because these caterpillars eat so much. Manduca sexta occurs naturally in North, Central and South America and is a known pest to gardeners: It eats the leaves of tomato plants and also can be found on pepper, eggplant and potato plants. Crops and weeds from this plant family, which includes tobacco, produce chemicals such as nicotine that deter feeding by most insects, but not Manduca sexta, which makes its physiology especially interesting to scientists. The sequenced genome can lead to improved molecular biology, physiology and neurobiology research in insects and also may help in developing future new methods for insect pest management.

The life cycle of the tobacco hornworm, or Manduca sexta.
The life cycle of the tobacco hornworm, or Manduca sexta.

Kanost has studied the tobacco hornworm for decades, and he and Gary Blissard, from the Boyce Thompson Institute at Cornell University, decided to start the collaborative project to sequence the tobacco hornworm’s genome in 2009. Kanost’s research focuses on proteins in caterpillar’s blood and how insects protect themselves against infections. Kanost and the Kansas State University research team prepared and purified the DNA of the tobacco hornworm and sent the samples to the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston, which performed the genome sequencing. The international team used a common computer system so that the researchers from around the world could analyze the gene sequences based on their areas of expertise.

Other Kansas State University researchers involved in the project included Susan Brown, university distinguished professor of biology; Rollie Clem, professor of biology; William Bryant, research assistant professor in biology; Neal Dittmer, research assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics; Subbaratnam Muthukrishnan, university distinguished professor emeritus of biochemistry and molecular biophysics; Lorena Passarelli, professor of biology; Yoonseong Park, professor of entomology; Nicolae Herndon, doctoral graduate in computer science; Jayne Christen, doctoral graduate and former postdoctoral research associate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics; and Di Wu, former postdoctoral research associate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics. The project received financial support from the National Institutes of Health (Kanost) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA (Blissard). Return to top


Walter Dodds, university distinguished professor of biology, was named an inaugural fellow of the Society for Freshwater Science.

Dodds is recognized for his contributions to freshwater science, promoting freshwater science through education and outreach and membership in the society. The society’s board of directors selected fellows for the inaugural class.

The society is an international scientific organization that promotes further understanding of freshwater ecosystems — rivers, streams, wetlands and lakes — and ecosystems at the interface between aquatic and terrestrial habitats, such as streamside vegetation. Dodds will be recognized and inducted into the inaugural class of fellows at the society’s annual meeting, June 4-9, 2017, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Return to top


The Comics of Herge: When the Lines Are Not So Clear book coverJoe Sutliff Sanders, associate professor of English, published two edited collections: “The Comics of Herge: When the Lines Are Not So Clear” (UP of Mississippi, 2016) and, with colleague Michelle Ann Abate, “Good Grief! Children’s Comics, Past and Present” (Ohio State University Libraries, 2016).

Sanders also published essays in each collection: “Herge’s Occupations: How the Creator of Tintin Made a Deal with the Devil and Became a Better Cartoonist” and “How Comics Became Kids’ Stuff.” Return to top

Continue reading “College Highlights, August 2016”

Join us for Wildcat tailgating fun!

The College of Arts and Sciences hosts a tailgate party in Cat Town prior to each home football game this season and we are extending an invitation to the entire ArtSci family to join the fun and connect with your college!

Last year, nearly 500 college alumni and friends made this the best pre-game party in Cat Town. We hope you’ll join the fun in 2016!

People in purple K-State shirts eating barbecue under a white and purple striped tent.


Cost: $25 per person

Location: Cat Town, USA, which is located at the south end of the west parking lot at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Click for a map.

Start time: The party starts two hours prior to kickoff for each home game.

What does your $25 include?

  • Catered food and drinks from local favorite Cox Brothers BBQ
  • Pre-game visit from the K-State Marching Band
  • Opportunity to meet the Dean
  • Departmental updates
  • Purple Pride to take with you, like pens, chip clips, magnets and more
  • The festive pre-game atmosphere of Cat Town, USA leading up to kickoff


To RSVP, click the “Register/RSVP” link next to the picture of Willie Wildcat on the following link: www.found.ksu.edu/rsvp/as-cattown


Need tickets to the game? Contact the K-State ticket office at www.kstatesports.com or 800-221-CATS.


Anthropology Professor Launches New Podcast

Associate Professor of Anthropology at K-State Mike Wesch is determined to shake up traditional teaching methods and the ways faculty and students interact with and understand each other.

Three people sitting in a radio production studio. Two are young male students and one is professor Mike Wesch, creator of the "Life 101" poscast.
Wesch (far right) discusses “Life101” story ideas with students during a production team meeting.

Wesch has been dubbed “the prophet of an education revolution” by the Kansas City Star and “the explainer” by Wired magazine. He was named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic and has won several major awards for his work, including the US Professor of the Year Award from the Carnegie Foundation and the Wired Magazine Rave Award. His videos, which touch on issues of pedagogy and cultural understanding, have been viewed more than 20 million times, translated into 20 languages and are frequently featured at international film festivals and major academic conferences worldwide.

His latest project is a podcast, “Life101,” in which he seeks to tell the stories of college students through their own words and share their lived experiences in their own spaces. The goal? To lay bare the multifaceted, complicated, unique and ever-changing lives of modern students for a generation of faculty who are content to rely on Millennial stereotypes.

“The end game [of this research] is to allow all teachers and students to see past the stereotypes that lock us in to thinking this or that way about different people and about college life,” Wesch said. Continue reading “Anthropology Professor Launches New Podcast”