Kansas State University


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Capitol Graduate Research Summit

Megan Brown, master’s student in agronomy, discuss her research with Kansas governor Sam Brownback. Brown’s poster was “Greenhouse gas footprints of two non-legume cover crops following winter wheat.” Photo credit: Kansas State University Division of Communications and Marketing David Mayes

Two Kansas State University graduate students have received statewide recognition for their research that benefits Kansas.

Joseph Holste, doctoral student in civil engineering, and Lance Noll, master’s student in veterinary biomedical science, were the two Kansas State University winners at the 11th annual Capitol Graduate Research Summit on Feb. 13. Noll received a $500 scholarship from BioKansas and Holste received a $500 scholarship from the Graduate School.

“We are proud of Joseph and Lance and the eight other graduate students who represented Kansas State University at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit,” said Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School. “All of our graduate students were outstanding in sharing their research with legislators, regents and the public. The judges commented that all of our excellent presenters made it a challenge to select two scholarship winners.”

The Capitol Graduate Research Summit at the State Capitol building in Topeka is a statewide event that features current research of graduate students at Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, the University of Kansas Medical Center and Wichita State University. A university professor and two industry representatives judged the student posters and presentations. The top two presenters from each university received awards.

Holste’s poster was “Transfer bond test used to predict transfer length of concrete railroad ties.” His faculty mentor is Robert Peterman, professor of civil engineering.

Holste’s research focuses on indent patterns in prestressing steel wire, which is used in prestressed concrete railroad ties. Holste is studying the bonding ability of the different indent patterns and the geometry of the indents to see if it leads to possible splitting.

“My research is important to Kansas because it allows concrete railroad ties to become more durable, which would reduce the need to replace the ties as often,” Holste said. “Concrete tie usage also would decrease the use of creosote that is needed to weatherproof wooden ties.”

Noll’s poster was “A four-plex real-time PCR assay for the detection and quantification of Escherichia coli O157 in cattle feces.” His faculty mentor is T.G. Nagaraja, university distinguished professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.

Noll is studying preharvest food safety in beef cattle, specifically on developing techniques for detecting pathogenic E. coli. He has developed and validated a molecular assay that can detect and quantify four major E. coli genes. The assay is novel, rapid and less labor-intensive than existing detection methods and has the potential for automation, Noll said. The research is funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture Coordinated Agriculture Project grant.

“Beef cattle production is a major industry in Kansas and Kansas State University has a rich tradition in the research on beef cattle production and beef safety,” Noll said. “As a graduate student in veterinary biomedical sciences, I am proud to be a member of a multidisciplinary team in the College of Veterinary Medicine that aims to make beef a safe product for the consumers.”

Story written by Jennifer Tidball and featured in Feb. 25, 2014 K-State Today.

Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek Predoctoral Honors Fellowship in Molecular Biology and Scientific Travel Awards

Four Kansas State University doctoral candidates are being rewarded with Sarachek awards for their exceptional research accomplishments.

Kai Yuan, doctoral candidate in animal sciences and industry received the $17,000 Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek Predoctoral Honors Fellowship in Molecular Biology. Jessica Rupp, doctoral candidate in plant pathology, Sara Duhachek Muggy, doctoral candidate in biochemistry and molecular biophysics, and Damien Downes, doctoral candidate in genetics, each received $1,000 Sarachek scientific travel awards.

Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek established the fellowship and travel awards to recognize exceptional achievements in scholastics and research by resident graduate students enrolled in a doctoral program at Kansas State University. An interdisciplinary faculty selection committee determines the fellowship and award recipients.

Yuan’s research focuses on investigating the interactions between inflammation and metabolism, and developing strategies to improve immune function, metabolism and health of dairy cows. This research has advanced the understanding of dairy cow nutritional physiology and immunology, and has contributed to improving the health and production of dairy cows. Barry Bradford, associate professor of animal sciences and industry, is Yuan’s major professor.

Yuan received his bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Medicine from Yangzhou University and his master’s degree in dairy science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He plans to complete his doctorate in May.

He will use the fellowship to relocate to Michigan to begin postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan Medical School. His research will study the molecular links between obesity and diabetes with the goal of developing drugs that could prevent and mitigate metabolic disorders. In addition, Yuan will attend the 2014 American Dairy Science Association Annual Meeting and the 2014 American Dairy Science Scientific Sessions. He also will use the fellowship to enhance his molecular biology skills at the Molecular Biology Summer Workshop at Smith College.

Rupp plans to use the travel award to attend the 34th annual meeting of the American Society for Virology in Canada where she hopes to present her research. Rupp’s research focuses on reducing annual wheat loss due to the wheat streak mosaic virus and Triticum mosaic virus, where there is currently little resistance available. Her major professor is Harold Trick, professor of plant pathology.

Rupp received her bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and biology from Pittsburg State University.

Duhachek Muggy plans to use the travel award to attend an American Association of Cancer Research conference and the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Her research focuses on understanding metastasis and drug resistance to develop more targeted and effective therapies for breast cancer. The objectives of her research are to improve the quality of life for breast cancer patients by reducing or eliminating negative side effects from therapy and to improve patient prognosis and survival. Her major professor is Anna Zolkiewska, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics.

Duhachek Muggy received bachelor’s degrees in chemistry, biochemistry and biology from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

Downes plans to use his travel award to attend the 2014 Mycological Society of America annual meeting in Michigan where he will be a guest speaker. His research focuses on DNA-binding proteins that are involved in regulating genes that help understand and combat the ways pathogens infect their hosts and cause disease. Downes’ major professor is Richard B. Todd, assistant professor of plant pathology.

Downes received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Melbourne in genetics.

Alvin Sarachek received his doctorate in genetics from K-State in 1957. He and his wife, RosaLee Sarachek, created the fellowship and travel awards because he said he values the university’s tradition of offering a broad array of quality programs in the life sciences, many with outstanding national reputations. The Saracheks wanted to contribute to that tradition of excellence by recognizing students who have demonstrated exceptional research accomplishments involving molecular approaches to biological problems.

Story written by Lauren Meehan and featured in Apr. 3, 2014 K-State Today.

K-State Research Forum

Forty-two undergraduate and graduate students have been awarded for their research presentations and posters at the 19th annual K-State Research Forum.

The forum occurred on Wednesday, March 26, at the K-State Student Union and included oral and poster presentations from students from across disciplines. Research topics included engineering, math, physical sciences, agricultural sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, humanities and education, among other topics.

A student presents her research to the judges during the 2014 K-State Research Forum. More than 118 graduate students and 31 undergraduate students participated in the event. Photo credit: Kansas State University Division of Communications and Marketing

“All of our students shared excellent presentations and posters at the K-State Research Forum and we congratulate all of them on their achievements,” Carol Shanklin, dean of the graduate school. “Events such as the K-State Research Forum demonstrate the high caliber of work and research that our students are performing.”

The forum is sponsored by the Graduate Student Council; the Graduate School; and the offices of the president and provost; and Dow Agrosciences.

Winners at the K-State Research Forum include:

Graduate Division

Biological Sciences (poster presentation)

  • 1st:  Clark Holdsworth, doctoral student in physiology

Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences (poster presentation)

  • 1st:  Kaley Oldani, master’s student in civil engineering
  • 2nd:  Joshua Weese, doctoral student in computer science

Social Sciences, Humanities and Education I (poster presentation)

  • 1st:  Mitchel Loring, master’s student in regional and community planning
  • 2nd:  Yijing Li, doctoral student in human ecology
  • 3rd:  Kelsi Doty, master’s student in apparel and textiles

Social Sciences, Humanities and Education II (poster presentation)

  • 1st:  Erika Smith, doctoral student in marriage and family therapy
  • 2nd:  David Arndt, doctoral student in psychology
  • 3rd:  Brooke Cull, master’s student in public health

Agricultural Sciences (poster presentation)

  • 1st:  Nathaniel Dorsey, master’s student in agronomy
  • 2nd:  Jennifer Frederick, doctoral student in grain science

Interdisciplinary (poster presentation)

  • 1st:  Jose Paredez, master’s student in civil engineering
  • 2nd:  Brein Wilson, master’s student in geology

Interdisciplinary (oral presentation)

  • 1st:  Tharanga Kumudini Wijethunga, doctoral student in chemistry
  • 2nd:  Kyleen Kelly, master’s student in geography
  • 3rd:  Kyle Probst, doctoral student in grain science

Agricultural Sciences (oral presentation)

  • 1st:  Joshua Craver, master’s student in horticulture
  • 2nd:  Jonathan Wilson, doctoral student in grain science
  • 3rd:  Leonardo Bastos, master’s student in agronomy

Biological Sciences I (oral presentation)

  • 1st:  Joshua Urban, doctoral student in entomology
  • 2nd:  Alice Harris, doctoral student in entomology

Biological Sciences II (oral presentation)

  • 1st:  Sherry Haller, doctoral student in microbiology
  • 2nd:  Chen Peng, doctoral student in microbiology
  • 3rd:  Cameron Hunter, doctoral student in plant pathology

Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences I (oral presentation)

  • 1st:  Mohamed Ismail, doctoral student in nuclear engineering
  • 2nd:  Logan Kelly, masters student in geology
  • 3rd:  Amgad Mohamed, doctoral student in nuclear engineering

Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences II (oral presentation)

  • 1st:  Mary Harner, master’s student in physics
  • 2nd:  Neda Dadashzadeh, doctoral student in physics
  • 3rd:  Fatemah Shirmohammadi, doctoral student in civil engineering

Social Sciences, Humanities and Education (oral presentation)

  • 1st:  Donka Milke, master’s student in animal science
  • 2nd:  Taylor Wadian, doctoral student in psychology
  • 3rd:  Brock Ingmire, master’s student in communication studies

Undergraduate Division

Undergraduate oral presentations

  • 1st:  Jeffrey Murray, senior in physics
  • 2nd:  Matthew Galliart, senior in biology
  • 3rd:  Brooke Harshaw, sophomore in agricultural communications and journalism

Undergraduate poster presentation I

  • 1st place:  Alexander Fees, sophomore in human nutrition
  • 2nd:  Obdulia Covarrubias, senior in biochemistry
  • 3rd:  Jazmin Zeledon, senior in psychology

Undergraduate poster presentation II

  • 1st:  Laura Walker, senior in family studies and human services
  • 2nd:  Christy Peterson, senior in psychology
  • 3rd:  Blake Johns, senior in kinesiology

Story written by Jennifer Tidball.