Joining the K-State faculty in 1991, Dr. Michael Kanost is an international authority in insect biochemistry in the areas of innate immunity and synthesis of the insect exoskeleton. He has been the principal investigator of studies supported by more than $15 million in federal grants. He is the author of more than 150 publications and his research has been cited more than 5,900 times in other publications. Kanost also has been the research mentor for 20 graduate students, 17 postdoctoral assistants and 37 undergraduate students, and until recently the Department head for Biochemistry.
A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Kanost has helped uncover answers to questions about insects’ biochemistry that have eluded scientists since the 1940s. In 2005 Kanost was a member of a small research team that discovered that silencing the enzyme laccase-2 in a beetle prevents cuticle tanning, the process of hardening and pigmenting the insect’s exoskeleton. A hardened exoskeleton keeps insects safe from chemical and biological injuries. Weakening it opens up the possibilities for pesticides. Understanding the exoskeleton’s chemistry may also help develop ideas and methods for future synthesis of durable and lightweight materials for aircrafts, prosthetics and military armor.
For this work, the last school year has seen Kanost receiving not one but two major awards: the Iman Outstanding Faculty Award for Research awarded by Kansas State, and the Olin Petefish Award in Basic Science, one of the Higuchi-University of Kansas Endowment Research Achievement Awards. For the Iman Award for Research Kanost received $5,000 in recognition of his outstanding research. The Olin Petefish Award included a plaque and a $10,000 grant to be used for research materials, summer salaries, fellowship matching funds, hiring research assistants or other research support.
*Information gathered from K-State Alumni Association and Division of Communications and Marketing