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Sources: Melanie Hall, mjhall2@k-state.edu;
and James Hohenbary, 785-532-6904, jimlth@k-state.edu
Photo available. Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-2535.
News release prepared by: Rosie Hoefling and Jennifer Torline, 785-532-0847, jtorline@k-state.edu

Friday, April 1, 2011

SELECT COMPANY: SENIOR FROM JUNCTION CITY IS K-STATE'S 33RD TRUMAN SCHOLAR

MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University student Melanie Hall is a 2011 Harry S. Truman Scholarship winner.

Hall, Junction City, is a senior in psychology and premedicine with certification in conflict resolution. She is K-State's 33rd Truman scholar and will receive as much as $30,000 for graduate study toward a career in public service.

"We're proud of Melanie and we're so pleased that she has been recognized as a Truman scholar," said K-State President Kirk Schulz. "Her dedication to helping others in the university and in the community make her a promising leader in public service. Melanie continues the tradition of K-State success in the Truman Scholarship competition, which will help us reach our goal of becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025."

K-State ranks first among the nation's 500 public universities in Truman Scholarship recipients, with 33 K-Staters earning the honor since the program began in 1977.

Hall was one of 60 students from 54 colleges to receive this year's award. The 60 scholars were chosen from a pool of 602 applications from 264 universities. Truman scholars are selected based on their commitment to public service, record of leadership and likelihood of success in graduate studies.

After graduating from K-State, Hall plans to attend medical school to work on a dual doctorate degree in psychology and medicine, specializing as a pediatric neuropsychologist. She is interested in ultimately working with children who have learning disabilities and challenges.

Hall also has been involved with research during her time as a student and she can trace her interest in her latest project back to a former job: working in a coffee shop. She is looking at the pharmacological effects of caffeine.

"I'm in the middle of investigating the dose dependency curve of caffeine and also looking at the possible reinforcing effects of caffeine," she said. "Some of the data has been interesting, such as showing that mid-range doses of caffeine bring about greater behavioral effects relative to higher doses."

Hall became interested in conducting the research while involved with a project investigating the reinforcing effects of nicotine. Having worked in a coffee shop for eight years, she said it was her personal experience with caffeine that sparked her curiosity.

For the past three years Hall has presented her research at the Society for Neuroscience's international annual meeting under the guidance of her faculty mentor Matthew Palmatier, assistant professor of psychology at K-State.

"Dr. Palmatier has helped me in so many ways," she said. "Not only has he provided me with priceless experience and exposure to things that will help me beyond my undergraduate years, he helped me by inviting me to be a part of his lab in the first place.

"His invitation showed me that if I'm willing to be flexible with my schedule as a mother, student and worker that I could have opportunities that I previously assumed professors would rather give to more traditional students."

Hall is an ambassador for non-traditional and veteran student services, a study abroad mentor and a member of K-State's Golden Key chapter. She is an undergraduate research assistant in psychobiology, a tutor with USD 475 and an applied behavior analysis provider for children diagnosed with autism. In summer 2010 she went on a service-learning trip to volunteer at an autism unit in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in Africa. Hall has also received a scholarship to study peace and conflict in Northern Ireland.

A 2001 graduate of Junction City High School, she is the daughter of Thomas and Cynthia Hall, Junction City.