Kansas State University


Graduate School

Student successes

Research and the State

Nine K-State graduate students who are performing important Kansas-related research have been chosen to represent the university at the tenth Capitol Graduate Research Summit early next year.

The students were chosen based on their research presentations at Research and the State, an annual on-campus event sponsored by the Graduate Student Council and the Graduate School. The graduate students are researching a variety of topics important to Kansas, including pet food, concrete materials and rainfall detection, among other topics.“These students are making a difference in Kansas by focusing their research on topics important to our community and our state,” said Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School. “By presenting their research at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit, the students will have the opportunity to show the value of graduate research to legislators and other statewide leaders.”

The nine students will present at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit on Feb. 14, 2013, in Topeka. The annual statewide summit for Kansas legislators features current research of graduate students at Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, the KU Medical Center and Wichita State University. Two students from each institution will be chosen as KansasBio scholarship winners.

The nine graduate students and two alternates selected to present at the summit from K-State include:

  • Feraidon Ataie, doctoral student in civil engineering
  • Kelly Foster, master’s student in biomedical sciences
  • Michael Gibson, master’s student in grain science
  • Michael Joseph, doctoral student in grain science
  • Marcie Lechtenberg, doctoral student in marriage and family therapy
  • *Melissa Lynes, doctoral student in agricultural economics
  • Tanner Miller, master’s student in biomedical sciences
  • Vahid Rahmani, doctoral student in biological and agricultural engineering
  • Tera Rooney, master’s student in biomedical sciences
  • Kabita Kharel, master’s student in entomology
  • *Katie Burke, doctoral student in environmental design and planning

*indicates alternate

Graduate Student Teaching Excellence

At any given time, one of the 322 graduate teaching assistants can be found grading papers, teaching a course or helping a student outside of class. Graduate teaching assistants provide valuable contributions to the mission of the university and to the students they serve. Recently, two graduate students were recognized for their excellence as graduate teaching assistants.

Tammy Sonnentag, doctoral candidate in psychology, and Jarred Pfeiffer, master’s student in fine arts, were recipients of the K-State Graduate Student Council Award for Graduate Student Teaching Excellence for 2012. The award recognizes graduate students who have excelled in classroom teaching and serves to promote awareness of the important contributions graduate students make to the scholarship of the university.

As the university award winners, Sonnentag and Pfeiffer are the university nominees for the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools 2013 Excellence in Teaching Awards.

Both winners use unique techniques to engage their students in the learning process. For Sonnentag and Pfeiffer, watching students become interested in and enthusiastic about the topics they teach is the real reward. The passion they have for teaching will continue into the future as both plan to pursue teaching positions upon graduation.

Distinguished Thesis Award Nominee

Andy Allen, master’s student in civil engineering, has been selected as the K-State nominee for a Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award. The award recognizes and rewards distinguished scholarship and research at the master’s level. If his thesis, titled “Analytic Element Modeling of the High Plains Aquifer:  Non-Linear Model Optimization Using Levenberg-Marquardt and Particle Swarm Algorithms”, is selected, Allen will receive a $750 honorarium and up to $500 for travel expenses to attend the MAGS annual meeting April 10-12, 2013.