Kansas State University


Graduate School

Celebrating Graduate Student Achievements

K-State graduate students make significant contributions to teaching, research, and scholarship. Many also are highly engaged in leadership and service that support the K-State community, Manhattan and surrounding communities, and the state. Graduate student contributions and accomplishments are recognized with several university-wide awards. Award recipients from the last year are acknowledged in this issue of the newsletter.

GSC Award for Graduate Student Teaching Excellence

Annually, one master’s and one doctoral student are selected for the Graduate Student Council (GSC) Award for Graduate Student Teaching Excellence. This award recognizes graduate teaching assistants who have demonstrated excellence in their classroom teaching. The 2019-2020 award recipients were Katie Cline, master’s student in English and Tucker Jones, a doctoral candidate in psychology. Both Cline and Jones received a $500 scholarship.

Cline loves to teach because it allows her to share her passions with her students and help them to develop important writing and critical thinking skills that they can then use to cultivate their own interests. “For some of my students, I will be their last experience in a writing class, and I want them to leave with confidence that they can apply skills learned in my class to papers they may write in the future and that they each have the ability to be a good writer,” she said.

Jones loves to teach because he enjoys sharing with his students all of the interesting principles of psychology that drew him to the field. He believes that when his students use their voices, everyone benefits. “The primary focus of my teaching philosophy is to establish an active dialogue within my classes. I nurture my students’ voices by incorporating activities designed to provide them with an opportunity to join in the day’s conversation,” Jones said

Three Minute Thesis Competition Winners

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition challenges graduate students to present and explain their research in three minutes or less using a single, static slide. Participants develop their communication and presentation skills by explaining their work in a way that can be understood by and is engaging for a non-expert audience.

Cameron Osborne, doctoral student in entomology, won first place and a $500 scholarship for his presentation “Can a livestock pest control itself?” Cameron will represent K-State in a 3MT competition hosted by the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) in Fall 2020.

Mikaela Radar, master’s student in geology, won second place and a $250 scholarship for her presentation “LA-ICP-MS zircon geochronology of granulite xenoliths from the Geronimo Volcanic Field, SE Arizona: implications for crustal evolution since 2.4 Ga.”

Kristen Sikorsky, a master’s student in horticulture and natural resources, was selected by the audience as the People’s Choice winner and a $125 scholarship for her presentation, “Ready for takeoff: Using Drones to protect our parks.”

Alumni Association Awards

The K-State Alumni Association presents annual awards to recognize students who are role models in academics, service, and community leadership.

The recipient of this award is Hojjatollah Fallahi, doctoral candidate in electrical and computer engineering, was the 2020 recipient of the Graduate Award for Outstanding Academics. The award recognizes a graduate student who has made significant contributions to their academic field of study.

Emily Pascoe Oertling, a doctoral candidate in human ecology specializing in apparel, textiles, and interior design, was the 2020 award recipient of the Graduate Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service. This award recognizes a graduate student who has made a positive impact on graduate student life through their leadership and service.

Michelle Washburn-Busk, a doctoral candidate in human ecology specializing in couple and family therapy was the 2020 graduate student recipient of the Tony Jurich Community Commitment and Leadership Award. This award honors one undergraduate and one graduate student who has demonstrated a commitment to community leadership and service.

The K-State Alumni Association’s International Leadership Award program recognizes outstanding international graduating students for service and leadership within the international K-State and Manhattan community. The 2020 graduate student award recipients were Ayyappan Elangovan, a doctoral candidate in chemistry, and Narmadha Meenu Mohankumar, a doctoral candidate in statistics.

University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Award

Three doctoral candidates were selected as recipients of the 2020-2021 University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Award in recognition of their exceptional achievement in graduate studies and demonstrated excellence in scholarship through publications and other accomplishments appropriate for their academic field. Recipients are Matthew Galliart, doctoral candidate in biology, Hayley Fisher, doctoral candidate in psychology, and Simran Bawa, doctoral candidate in biochemistry.

Galliart’s research on the genomic basis for drought tolerance in the dominant prairie grass big bluestem will provide scientifically informed recommendations for conservation and restoration for rangelands and prairies in the face of climate change. Galliart received a $2,500 award to support his research.

Fisher studies neural compensation between two prefrontal cortex regions of the brain. This research could provide reliable behavioral ways to predict and delay disease state onset in humans, leading to better functional outcomes in difficult to treat disorders like schizophrenia. Fisher received a $5,000 award to support her research.

Bawa’s research focuses on the expression of Drosophila TRIM32, which is the gene associated with a type of muscular dystrophy. Her research could lead to therapeutic interventions or limit the growth of cancers that overexpress TRIM32. Bawa received a $2,500 award to support her research.

Explore additional graduate student accomplishments

To learn more about graduate student achievements, view awards and recognition videos that highlight these and other graduate student accomplishments from the 2019-2020 academic year.