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Brett DePaolaA K-State physics professor will spend the next school year serving as a scientific adviser to the U.S. Department of State as a Jefferson Science Fellow. Brett DePaola says he was inspired to seek the elite fellowship by President Obama.

DePaola is one of only 12 individuals who received the fellowship for 2010-2011. Tenured academic scientists and engineers from U.S. institutions of higher learning are eligible for selection as Jefferson Science Fellows. They spend a year at the State Department or the U.S. Agency for International Development for an on-site assignment in Washington, D.C., that may also involve extended stays at U.S. foreign embassies and/or missions.

"I applied for this program because I was inspired by President Obama's call for all of us to volunteer whatever we had to offer for the good of the country," DePaola said. "As a teacher, I feel I am already making a contribution. However, as a science adviser to the State Department, I have an opportunity to contribute even more -- for one year -- before returning to my teaching and research at K-State."

DePaola studies the interaction of matter with light research, an area of atomic, molecular and optical physics. While he said his specialization is unlikely to be of direct use to the State Department, the fundamental nature of his research has prepared him to grasp and communicate the essence of a broad range of science topics.

"While my primary motivation is to contribute in the best way I can to our country, I also hope to learn a great deal from this experience and use this to become a better researcher and teacher here at K-State," he said. "For example, being required to learn about many different science issues in order to bring greater understanding to members of the State Department should help me see my own research in the greater picture of science endeavors. Furthermore, the experience of trying to communicate complicated issues in many areas of science to non-technocrats should help me broaden my teaching skills."

When DePaola returns to K-State in fall 2011, he will remain available to the State Department/USAID for short-term projects through 2016.

More information on the Jefferson Science Fellowship program is available at


Art DeGroatRetired Army Lt. Col. Art DeGroat, director of military affairs at K-State, has received the Lt. Gen. Robert H. Forman Award for Distinguished Service from the Association of the United States Army.

The award was presented by retired Army Col. Bob Ulin at the recent Greater Kansas City Army 235th Birthday Celebration at the Westin Crown Center.

"I was honored and humbled," DeGroat said.

DeGroat was recognized for his work in leading the growth of the Fort Riley-Central Kansas Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army as its president; his work in building and directing the K-State Military Affairs enterprise; co-founding the nonprofit foundation, Noble Cause USA; and his support for the care of wounded warriors in the Kansas-Missouri area.

The Forman award is given annually to a member of the national association of the U.S. Army who has distinguished himself for service above all others in a nine-state geographical region. The award's namesake, Forman, attended the celebration event.

DeGroat's said his acceptance remarks were on the need for retired military leaders to continue serving the country at a time of persistent conflict and about the profound personal reward such a service brings.

"I also pledged that I would continue to serve in the spirit and at the level of Lt. Gen. Forman," DeGroat said.

"Personally, I am inspired and motivated by being selected for this award," DeGroat said. "It gives me additional strength to continue my work, persevere through tough challenges and try to build a larger community of leaders willing to support our nation's military."

DeGroat is currently serving his third year as president of the Fort Riley-Central Kansas Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army.