Sarachek Fellowship Award Recipient
Ismael E. Badillo-Vargas
Ismael E. Badillo-Vargas is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Plant Pathology working under the guidance of Dr. Anna E. Whitfield. His research focuses on understanding the molecular basis of the interaction between Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) and its most efficient insect vector, Frankliniella occidentalis. TSWV is one of the most devastating plant viruses known and it is transmitted plant-to-plant by tiny insects commonly known as thrips. Ismael characterized the proteome of thrips and studied the response of thrips to the virus to identify insect molecules that respond to virus infection or that may play a role in antiviral defenses. He is also studying the thrips proteins that directly interact with TSWV particles during entry to, replication in, and spread through the insect vector’s body. Furthermore, Ismael is developing RNA interference (RNAi) tools to conduct functional assays with thrips. His research will provide farmers with novel strategies to control plant viruses transmitted by insects and scientists with new research tools to further understand TSWV-Frankliniella occidentalis interactions.
Prior to coming to Kansas State University, Ismael received a bachelor’s degree in Crop Protection from the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez, his home country, and a master’s degree in Plant Pathology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. At K-State, Ismael earned a 3.9 GPA and he has been awarded the Timothy R. Donoghue Graduate Scholarship, the K-State Ecological Genomics Graduate Fellowship, and the Tillman Family Agriculture Graduate Student Enhancement Award. Additionally, Ismael has received a K-State Arthropod Genomics Center Travel Award, an NSF-funded Ecological Genomics Travel Fellowship, and a United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Predoctoral Grant.
Ismael will use the Sarachek Fellowship to support future postdoctoral research and professional development. He plans to attend a proteomics workshop in Cold Springs Harbor Laboratories, New York, and the X International Symposium on Thysanoptera and Tospovirus in Brazil. The fellowship will also help Ismael relocate to Europe to begin postdoctoral research.
Sarachek Travel Award Recipients
Emily Archer Slone
Emily Archer Slone is a doctoral candidate in microbiology. Her current research focuses on over-reactions of the immune system. The goal of her research is to understand the molecular mechanisms and cellular responses contributing to the excessive immune response following periods of oxygen deprivation. She is currently investigating the role of an enzyme that regulates cell membrane lipids and, when activated, causes lipid changes in the membrane beginning a cascade that activates the immune system and results in inflammation and damage. These studies may provide a new therapeutic target.
She completed undergraduate coursework at the University of Minnesota, Morris and received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Kansas State University. Emily is also completing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at Kansas State University.
Emily plans to use the Sarachek Scientific Travel Award to attend the Society for Leukocyte Biology’s annual meeting focusing on innate immunity. There she will have the opportunity to learn from and network with leading scientists in her field.
Alina De La Mota-Peynado
Alina De La Mota-Peynado is a doctoral candidate in biology working in the laboratory of Dr. Jeroen Roelofs. Her current research objective is determining how proteasomes are assembled and the roles “helper” proteins play in this process. Altering assembly can alter proteasome activity which can lead to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancers such as Multiple Myeloma. Identifying new drugs that affect proteasome assembly may enable new treatments for these serious diseases.
Alina received a bachelor’s degree in industrial microbiology and a master’s degree in biology from the University of Puerto Rico. She is a National Science Foundation Graduate STEM Fellow in K-12 Education.
She plans to use the travel award to attend conferences relevant to her research, which will allow her to network with leading scientists and showcase her work as she applies for postdoctoral positions.