Kansas State University


Graduate School

Graduate Student Achievements

Graduate Student Appreciation Week

The first ever campus wide graduate student appreciation week was celebrated April 6-11, 2015. Colleges and departments honored the graduate students by featuring special events, activities and free food in appreciation of their dedicated service and contributions to the teaching, research and scholarship, and outreach during the academic year. The inaugural Graduate Student Council Awards and Recognition Reception, held April 8 in the K-State Student Union, paid tribute to the notable achievements of the graduate students.

GSC members serving ice cream for graduate student appreciation week.
GSC members serving ice cream for graduate student appreciation week.

Galliart Double Award Winner

MaMatthew Galliart, a biology graduate student, recently became a dual award winner. First, Matt received notification from the Provost office that he is the 2015 recipient of the Presidential Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Student in Research. Less than 24 hours later, Matt received a 2015 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program Fellowship. His selection was based on his demonstrated potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the US science and engineering enterprise. Matt received his undergraduate degree in December 2014 and began his master’s studies in January. He has been working in Dr. Loretta Johnson’s lab since May 2012. For his graduate research, he will focus on the experimental field selection of big bluestem ecotypes across the Great Plains: A novel test for the strength of local adaptation. Loretta Johnson, professor in the Division of Biology and EGI co-director, nominated Matt for the honors, stating, “Matt has an incredible work ethic, as well as a level of intellect and maturity rarely observed in undergraduate students.”

Story was written by and included in the Ecological Genomics Institute newsletter.

Three doctoral candidates selected to receive Sarachek awards for their academic and research achievements

Damien Downes Aashima Khosla Courtney Passow

Damien Downes, doctoral candidate in genetics, Australia, was awarded the $17,000 Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek Predoctoral Honors Fellowship in Molecular Biology. Awarded the $1,000 Sarachek Scientific Travel Awards are Aashima Khosla, doctoral candidate in biochemistry and biophysics, India, and Courtney Passow, doctoral candidate in biology, Round Rock, Texas.

Downes received his bachelor’s degree with honors at the University of Melbourne. He will graduate with his doctorate in May. Downes’ research focuses on the way protein-protein and protein-DNA interaction turn genes on and off in response to different environmental stimuli. Richard Todd, assistant professor of plant pathology, is Downes’ major professor.

He will use the fellowship to relocate to Oxford, U.K., where he plans to pursue a postdoctoral position. Downes also plans to attend conferences in 2015 and 2016 to further his research contributions.

Khosla plans to use the funds to attend the 2015 Plant Metabolic Engineering Gordon Research Conference in New Hampshire, where she will discuss her recent results on putative ligands of the START domain. Khosla’s research focuses on the plant specific class, IV HD-Zip transcription factors, that contains START which is a special binding domain. Her major professor is Kathrin Schrick, assistant professor of biology.

Khosla received her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Delhi University and her master’s degree in biotechnology from M.S. University of Baroda, India.

Passow plans to use the funds to attend and present her research at the Ecological and Evolutionary Genomics Gordon Research Conference in Biddeford, Maine. Her research focuses on determining the underlying genetic and physiological mechanisms of adaptation to natural stressors by using an extremophile fish that lives in the presence of naturally occurring toxic hydrogen sulfide. Her major professor is Michael Tobler, assistant professor of biology.

Passow received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Texas A&M University.

Alvin and Rosalee Sarachek established the fellowship and travel awards to recognize resident graduate students enrolled in a doctoral program at Kansas State University and thus have demonstrated exceptional research and scholastic accomplishments. An interdisciplinary faculty selection committee determines the fellowship and award recipients. The awards program is offered through the university’s Graduate School.

More information on the Sarachek awards is available on the Graduate School Website

Research work pays off for graduate students at annual research forum

Oral and poster presentations have earned 31 Kansas State University graduate students scholarships at the Graduate Student Council’s 20th annual K-State Research Forum.

More than 90 graduate students participated in this year’s event, which was March 31 at the K-State Student Union. They presented research being conducted in agricultural sciences, biological sciences, engineering, humanities and education, physical sciences and social sciences. The annual forum, open to graduate students in all disciplines, provides students with the opportunity to learn about research conducted by their peers in other disciplines and to build interdisciplinary collaborations. University faculty members judge and select up to three presenters to receive scholarship awards in each session.

“All the graduate students who presented did an excellent job in sharing their research with the K-State community,” said Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School. “The Research Forum provides the students an excellent professional development experience since it requires students to practice communicating complex scientific knowledge in a manner that can be understood by the general public, a critical skill for our graduates. I extend my congratulations to all who presented and those selected as winners. I also want to thank the members of the Graduate Research Forum Committee and Dr. Megan Miller for their contributions to the success of the event.”

To see the individual winners and to read the entire article go to: K-State Today

Golden Key recognizes outstanding GTA and GRAs of the year

Twelve of K-State’s GTAs and GRAs were nominated by faculty to be recognized for their outstanding leadership and diligence at the Golden Key International Honour Society’s GRA and GTA Awards Ceremony and Reception on Sunday, April 19th in the K-State Union.   Among those who were nominated, two were selected to receive the GTA of the Year award and GRA of the Year award.

Back row: Taylor Wadian, Aaron Entringer, D. Scott Sibley, Scott Ferguson, Nassim Sabhafar, Ryan Broxterman Front row: Amanda Martens, Ashley Hough, Morgan Bialas, Brooke Cull, Travis Hale  Not pictured: Melisa Lynes
Back row: Taylor Wadian, Aaron Entringer, D. Scott Sibley, Scott Ferguson, Nassim Sabhafar, Ryan Broxterman
Front row: Amanda Martens, Ashley Hough, Morgan Bialas, Brooke Cull, Travis Hale
Not pictured: Melisa Lynes

D. Scott Sibley, a doctoral student in human ecology, was nominated by his major professor Dr. Amber Vennum for the GTA of the Year award.

Dr. Amber Vennum with D. Scott Sibley, receiving the GTA of the Year award.
Dr. Amber Vennum with D. Scott Sibley, receiving the GTA of the Year award.

“Scott loves teaching,” said Dr. Amber Vennum, assistant professor in family studies and human services.   “He has an uncanny ability to manage small and ridiculously large classrooms of undergraduates with poise. He is passionate about what he teaches and about helping young adults reach their potential.”

Ryan Broxterman, a doctoral student in physiology, was nominated by his major professor Dr. Thomas J. Barstow for the GRA of the Year award.

Dr. Thomas J. Barstow with Ryan Broxterman, receiving the GRA of the Year.
Dr. Thomas J. Barstow with Ryan Broxterman, receiving the GRA of the Year.

“Since coming to my lab over six years ago, Ryan has grown into an outstanding doctoral student,” said Dr. Thomas J. Barstow, professor and graduate coordinator for kinesiology. “I can think of no other collection of attributes that would better describe an outstanding graduate research student than those that Ryan possesses. He is the quintessential senior doctoral student.”

Nominees recognized:


  • D. Scott Sibley- School of Family Studies & Human Services, nominated by Dr. Amber Vennum
  • Melisa Lynes- Agricultural Economics, nominated by Dr. Allen Featherstone
  • Ashley Hough- Entomology, nominated by Dr. James Nechols
  • Scott K. Ferguson- Kinesiology, nominated by Dr. David C. Poole
  • Travis Hale- Curriculum and Instruction, emphasis in Music Education, nominated by Dr. Ruth Gurgel
  • Taylor Wadian- Psychology, nominated by Dr. Rebeca Paz


  • Nassim Sabhafar- Civil Engineering, nominated by Dr. Mustaque Hossain
  • Brooke Cull- Human Nutrition, nominated by Dr. Sara K. Rosenkranz
  • Ryan Broxterman- Anatomy & Physiology/ Kinesiology, nominated by Dr. Thomas J. Barstow
  • Morgan Bialas- Graduate School, nominated by Dr. Carol Shanklin
  • Amanda Martens- Graduate School, nominated by Dr. Carol Shanklin
  • Aaron Entringer- Graduate School, nominated by Dr. Carol Shanklin

Notable Scholarly Achievement Newsletter

Want to know what else our graduate students have accomplished? View the Spring 2015 Notable Scholarly Achievement newsletter.