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Sources: Craig Smith, smithcra@k-state.edu;
and Ben Wileman, bwileman@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-6415, bbohn@k-state.edu

Thursday, April 8, 2010

TWO K-STATE GRADUATE STUDENTS EARN SCHOLARSHIPS FOR RESEARCH PRESENTATIONS AT CAPITOL GRADUATE RESEARCH SUMMIT

MANHATTAN -- Research presentations by two Kansas State University graduate students earned honors at the seventh annual Capitol Graduate Research Summit, March 25, at the Docking State Office Building in Topeka.

Craig Smith, doctoral student in agricultural economics, Haven, and Benjamin Wileman, doctoral student in pathobiology, Wamego, each earned $500 scholarships from KansasBio for their research posters.

The Capitol Graduate Research Forum is opportunity for select graduate students from K-State, the University of Kansas, KU Medical Center and Wichita State University to showcase their research through poster presentations to the interested public, state legislators and state officials. In all, 32 graduate students from the state's research universities were selected to participate in the summit.

Smith and Wileman were among the 10 K-State students who presented research at the summit. The 10 students were selected earlier this semester at a forum featuring 70 poster presentations on research being conducted at K-State that is relevant to issues being faced in the state of Kansas.

Smith's poster was "Using Watershed Manager to Cost-Effectively Target Cropland Best Management Practices."

"With sedimentation threatening the current and future utility of many of our state's reservoirs, it is particularly critical, especially in tight budgetary times, that conservation investments be targeted to projects that yield the most environmental improvements per dollar spent," Smith said. "This can be a challenging task, considering the multitude of political, economic and environmental variables involved in the local decision-making process. To aid in the development of cost-effective watershed scale management plans, agricultural economists at K-State developed the user-friendly tool, Watershed Manager."

Watershed Manager is a spreadsheet program that can support local technical-assistance outreach to enhance the development of cost-effective watershed-scale management plans. By using this program, Smith said, watershed stakeholder groups and technical assistance providers can estimate, optimize and compare the economic and environmental effects of alternative watershed management plans.

Smith's poster offered a description of how Watershed Manager was used to analyze the cost-effectiveness of various watershed management plans for the Tuttle Creek watershed in northeastern Kansas.

"Using Watershed Manager, each plan was evaluated in terms of the amount of sediment, phosphorus and nitrogen load reduction from cropland fields in the watershed," Smith said. "The results were presented to the local stakeholders for their input. This iterative process occurred over several months and concluded with the approval of a preferred best management practices implementation plan. To date, this tool has been used in 10 watersheds throughout the state of Kansas."

Smith's major professor is Jeffrey Williams, professor of agricultural economics.

Wileman's poster was "Passive Immunity to a Commercial E. Coli-SRP Vaccine in Beef Cattle Colostrum from Cows Grazing Native Range." SRP is a registered trademark.

As one of the top beef-producing states in the nation, Kansas has the responsibility of also being a leading innovator in beef production that includes beef safety technologies, Wileman said. An example of this is that the majority of the beef cattle research on the newly licensed and trademarked E. coli O157:H7 SRP bacterial extract vaccine from Epitopix LLC has been done in Kansas through the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine.

"This unique industry-academic relationship has enabled Kansas producers to take a proactive approach toward beef food safety," Wileman said. "My research poster examined the ability of the E. coli SRP vaccine to be passed on to calves through the colostrum of vaccinated cows."

Wileman said the thought behind the research is that it is known that calves become colonized with E. coli O157 shortly after birth. It also is known that the calf relies on the colostrum it receives from the cow for immunity in its first three to six weeks of its life.

"These two points raise two important questions," he said. "Can we get the E. coli SRP antibodies into the colostrum and into the calf? And, what impact does that have on E. coli O157 shedding down the production cycle at the point of harvest?

"This project demonstrated that we can get the E. coli O157 SRP antibodies in the colostrum and into the calves," Wileman said. "The longer term study, which is in progress, is looking at what affect does cow vaccination and calf vaccination have on E. coli O157 shedding at the point of harvest. With Kansas being the seventh largest cow-calf state in the U.S., this research will have a significant effect on Kansas producers and will help aid them in producing a safe and nutritious beef product."

Wileman's major professor is Dan Thomson, Jones Professor of Production Medicine and Epidemiology in the department of clinical sciences.