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Sources: Gage Brummer, gadbrum@ksu.edu;
and James Hohenbary, 785-532-6904, jimlth@k-state.edu
Photo available. Download at http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/apr11/brummer.jpg
News release prepared by: Jennifer Torline, 785-532-0847, jtorline@k-state.edu

Friday, April 1, 2011

GOLDWATER SCHOLARSHIP HELPS K-STATE JUNIOR CONTINUE STUDYING HIS FAVORITE SUBJECT: SCIENCE

MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University student and 2011 Barry M. Goldwater scholar Gage Brummer has always loved science.

In elementary school, he remembers asking for microscopes and scientific tools for presents, while his friends were interested professional baseball players. His interest in science continued all the way to college, where he decided to study biochemistry and become involved in undergraduate research at K-State.

Brummer, a junior in biochemistry and premedicine, Prairie Village, is now being honored as K-State's 67th Goldwater Scholarship recipient. The national scholarship is given to outstanding students who plan to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences or engineering.

"Science has been my forte since as long as I can remember," Brummer said. "Nothing is more interesting to me than the function of the natural world. It's unendingly complex and there are problems that you will never be able to solve in a hundred lifetimes."

The Goldwater Scholarship provides up to $7,500 annually for students' educational expenses in their remaining one or two years of undergraduate study. This year, 275 scholars were chosen from a field of 1,095 applicants. K-State ranks first in the nation among 500 public universities, with 67 Goldwater scholars.

"Gage Brummer's dedication to undergraduate research since his freshman year is truly noteworthy, and we're proud of his accomplishment in becoming a Goldwater scholar," said K-State President Kirk Schulz. "This kind of undergraduate research involvement, and the opportunities it can create for students like Gage, is exactly the sort of value-added experience we hope to create as we work toward our goal of becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025."

Since his freshman year, Brummer has been performing undergraduate research under Gary Conrad, university distinguished professor of biology. Brummer has spent two years investigating the underlying causes of keratoconus, an eye disease that affects the cornea. He is looking at the current clinical treatment and trying to make it more effective and less harmful to patients.

"Current treatment requires you to expose the eye to UV light for 30 minutes, which kills the cells in the cornea," Brummer said. "It takes about six months for the eye to heal, but it's currently the best treatment. The second part of my project looks at how this treatment works."

Brummer has helped develop a new pretreatment for the eye disease that uses vitamin B6, a nontoxic chemical. His treatment could allow for less exposure to toxic UV radiation. He recently submitted his research for publication and is waiting to hear back from the journal. Brummer will present this work at the international Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in early May.

Brummer also is working on a second research project under Christopher Culbertson, associate professor of chemistry. For the past year, Brummer has been working on microfluidic devices, which measure the behavior, control and manipulation of fluids. Brummer and Culbertson are trying to develop a new analytical technique that has numerous biological applications, such as rapid single cell analysis.

Brummer's research in microfluidics helped him land an internship at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida, where he will spend the upcoming summer working as a research assistant. Previously, Brummer had two summer internships at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory in Salsbury Cove, Maine. He also was awarded the best student presentation at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory Student Research Symposium in 2009.

In September 2010 he helped teach a course on renal physiology research techniques to medical students and doctoral students at the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory under John Forrest, professor of medicine at Yale University. Brummer will return to help teach two more classes this summer before beginning his internship in Florida. At K-State, he has been a teaching assistant for Biology 198 and a lab instructor for Chemistry 1. He is currently a lab instructor for Honors Chemistry 2.

Brummer plans to study abroad in Germany before graduating from K-State. After graduating, he will attend medical school and pursue a combined doctorate of medicine and doctoral degree.

"After medical school I'm planning on conducting research and working in a clinical setting in a low-income area of the world," he said. "I want to gain some perspective on the world."

Brummer has also is a Mark Chapman Scholar and a Kansas Institutional Development Awards Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Undergraduate Research Scholar. He received a June Sherrid Cancer Research Scholarship and a Terry C. Johnson Center Research Scholarship. An Eagle Scout, he graduated from Shawnee Mission East High School in 2008 and is the son of John and Amy Brummer, Prairie Village.