Kansas State University


Graduate School

Graduate Student Successes

Research excellence earns three students 2015 University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awards

Associate Dean Gerry Craig, Adam Kell, Sam Procter, Dean Carol Shanklin and Andrew Marshall
Associate Dean Gerry Craig, Adam Kell, Sam Procter, Dean Carol Shanklin and Andrew Marshall

Kansas State University’s university distinguished faculty members will recognize three outstanding graduate students with 2015 University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awards.

At the Sept. 15 awards ceremony, Andrew Marshall, doctoral student in psychological sciences, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, received $5,000; Adam Kell, doctoral student in chemistry, St. Peters, Missouri, received $2,500; and Sam Procter, doctoral student in computing and information sciences, Manhattan, received $2,500.

The awards recognize graduate students who have shown exceptional achievement in graduate studies and demonstrate excellence in scholarship through publications and other accomplishments appropriate for his or her academic field. Kansas State University’s university distinguished professors have established a set of guidelines and criteria for the evaluation of candidates and Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School, coordinates the selection process.

Marshall’s dissertation is “A reinforcement-learning approach to understanding loss-chasing behavior in humans and rats.” Using multiple experimental methods and reinforcement-learning and computational-analytical techniques, his research will determine the underlying mechanisms of loss-chasing behavior in both humans and rats, a nonhuman pre-clinical animal model of human risky choice behavior. His advisor is Kimberly Kirkpatrick, professor of psychological sciences.

“When I arrived at K-State the summer of 2010, the primary goals that I set to achieve by the time I graduated were to be a good member of my lab and the psychological sciences department, conduct solid research and, maybe, make a contribution to the field,” Marshall said. “This award confirms that I’m on my way to meeting these goals and shows how well the psychological sciences department prepares all of its students to be successful and productive at K-State and in the future.”

Kell’s dissertation is “Energy Transfer and Exciton Dynamics in Photosynthetic Pigment-Protein Complexes.” His research focuses on attempting to understand fundamental processes — energy transfer, structure-function relationships, etc. — in photosynthetic pigment–protein complexes. His advisor is Ryszard Jankowiak, university distinguished professor of chemistry.

“I feel honored to be selected as one of the recipients,” Kell said. “While problem-solving and overcoming challenges in research is rewarding in and of itself, being recognized for one’s efforts truly helps to drive motivation as I enter my final year of graduate study.”

Procter’s dissertation is “An Application Development Environment for Medical Application Platform Apps.” His work is focused on creating a development environment for software applications that would be used to organize medical devices into a system of cooperating medical devices. His advisor is John Hatcliff, university distinguished professor of computing and information sciences.

“The funding from of the award will enable me to travel so that I can meet, and work face-to-face with, collaborators from other institutions and universities, such as the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University,” Procter said.

“The University Distinguished Professors Group is very much aware of the fact that high-quality research is critical to the overall success of this institution,” said Christer Aakeröy, past-president of the group and a university distinguished professor of chemistry. “We hope to promote research activities across campus and highlight the performances of some of the best graduates with the help of this award, and we were delighted to receive so many applications from a diverse cadre of outstanding and promising graduate students. The three 2015 University Distinguished Graduate Student Award winners displayed achievements and future potential of the utmost caliber and their contributions will undoubtedly help to further raise the research profile of Kansas State University.”

For information about the UDP Graduate Student Awards visit the Graduate School.

Courtney Passow attended Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

A Kansas State University doctoral student spent part of her summer interacting with Nobel laureates, postdoctoral researchers and graduate students from across the world in physics, physiology, medicine and chemistry.

Courtney Passow, a doctoral student in biology from Round Rock, Texas, attended the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany. Passow was one of 672 young scientists selected worldwide to attend the meeting.The Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings invited Passow to attend the meeting, which occurred June 28 to July 3, 2015.

“One of the most unique experiences at the conference was the small discussions, which were held in the afternoon sessions,” said Passow. “Most conferences that graduate students attend have abundant opportunities for the broad dissemination of research between peers. Nonetheless, there is less emphasis on small-group discussions, which can be conducive for furthering knowledge in ones area of focus. At the Lindau meeting, each Laureate chairs a discussion session, which was only accessible to the young scientists. These sessions provided informality between the Laureate and young scientists allowing for any questions to be asked, whether it be research driven, personal or controversial.”

Passow is studying the underlying physiological and genetic mechanisms of adaptation to natural stressors. She focuses on Poecilia mexicana, a small live-bearing fish that lives in the presence and absence of hydrogen sulfide, a natural toxicant.

“By attending the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting, I gained an experience of a lifetime,” said Passow. “I not only grew as a scientist, but gained valuable proficiency in the dissemination of my research, which will provide me with further experience in developing my own academic career in the future.”

Passow has been conducting research with Michael Tobler, assistant professor in the Division of Biology. Tobler nominated Passow for the prestigious designation of attending the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

Doctoral student earns inaugural Marie R. Bonebrake Graduate Award

Kansas State University is recognizing the recipient of the inaugural Marie R. Bonebrake Graduate Award. Zenova Williams, doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy, Vicksburg, Mississippi, will receive $2,400.

The award recognizes graduate students based on academic merit and financial need. He or she must demonstrate excellence in research, scholarship and creative inquiry appropriate for his or her academic field. The Graduate School has established a set of guidelines and criteria for the evaluation and selection of the candidate.

Williams is examining and predicting relationship quality in interracial relationships using latent growth curve model. Williams’ advisor is Joyce Baptist, associate professor in marriage and family therapy.

The Marie R. Bonebrake Graduate Award was established to honor Case Bonebrake’s late wife, who received her bachelors and master’s degrees from Kansas State University.

Agronomy student receives scholarship for diverse students in STEM fields

Noortije NotenbaertNoortje Notenbaert, master’s student in agronomy, is one of 10 students nationwide awarded the new Monsanto Graduate Student Scholarship for 2015. Notenbaert, whose adviser is Chuck Rice, university distinguished professor of agronomy, received the scholarship in the amount of $25,000 for the 2015-16 academic year.

The scholarship program, in its first year, was established to recognize outstanding diverse students enrolled a master’s degree program in either agriculture-related or science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields.

Notenbaert was born and raised in Belgium and came to America at the age of 21. After serving in the military for three years, she enrolled at K-State and earned a bachelor’s degree in biology.

“As a biology student, I had taken soils classes that I enjoyed very much and I decided to get another bachelor’s degree at K-State, this time in agronomy. After that, I started my master’s degree in agronomy under Dr. Rice with a focus on soil microbiology,” Notenbaert said.

Her research is still in the preliminary phase, but it looks at differences in microbial community structures within the rhizosphere of different corn hybrids.

“After achieving my educational goals, I plan to apply myself in a research environment that focuses on improving crop production while also working toward a better environment,” she said.

According to Monsanto, the purpose of the scholarship is to meet the challenges the world faces in feeding 9 billion people by 2050, and investing in future leaders pursuing STEM careers in food and agriculture is key. The company believes the next generation of innovators will be the ones to ascent and meet the challenges of global food security.

This announcement was written by Steve Watson and published in K-State Today.

Food science student receives national scholarship

Amanda WilderAmanda Wilder, a food science master’s degree student, Meridian, Idaho, has been awarded a 2015 Meat Industry Suppliers Alliance scholarship. Randall Phebus, professor in animal science and industry, is her mentor.

This $10,000 national scholarship is awarded to outstanding students in the meat and food science disciplines working to promote and develop state-of-the-art technology and technical information to support the meat industry. Meat Industry Suppliers Alliance is a sector council within the Food Processing Suppliers Association, a global trade association serving suppliers to the food and beverage industries.

Her research on antimicrobial intervention processes for use in controlling foodborne pathogens during postharvest beef processing is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture Coordinated Agricultural Projects grant to control Shiga toxin-producing E. coli across the beef production-to-consumption continuum.

This announcement was written by Randall K. Phebus and published in K-State Today.

Student earns $10,000 scholarship for dietetic doctoral work

Emily Vaterlaus Patten, a doctoral candidate in the College of Human Ecology, Boise, Idaho, has received a $10,000 scholarship awarded to registered dietitians who demonstrate a commitment to the future of the profession through teaching and research.

Patten is one of only 10 national winners selected by for a 2015 Commission on Dietetics Registration Doctoral Scholarship. She is focusing her research on leadership in clinical dietetics practice.

“Emily’s work fulfills a significant gap in dietetics research,” said Kevin Sauer, associate professor in dietetics, Department of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University and Patten’s major professor.

“Clinical dietitians make up the majority of our profession and they are coping with the complexities of the changing healthcare system and health status of the nation,” Patten said. “The current environment is ripe with opportunity for clinical dietitians to not only progress the profession, but really have a positive influence on our nation’s health. To date, ‘leadership’ has been a feel-good, buzz word without a clear bridge to practice for nonmanagers in our profession. By developing a leadership taxonomy, clinical dietitians and their managers will have a new tool to plan/track development and inform continuing education choices.”

The scholarship winner completed a Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics and master’s degree in nutritional science from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. She has been a clinical dietitian and an administrative dietitian and regional educator in Salt Lake City, an Institute of Child Nutrition consultant at the University of Mississippi in Oxford and a Child Nutrition Management Academy cadre trainer with the Kansas State Department of Education in Topeka.

Patten currently teaches management in dietetics at K-State and plans to teach administrative dietetics at a university.

Also receiving one of the coveted scholarships is Catherine Metzgar, president-elect of the College of Human Ecology alumni advisory board. Metzgar graduated from K-State with a degree in dietetics in 2010 and did her internship with Hershey Company in Pennsylvania.

Commission on Dietetics Registration is the credentialing agency of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the nation’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.

This announcement was written by Jane Marshall and published in K-State Today.