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Source: Morgan Armbruster, morgan21@k-state.edu;
and Anita Cortez, 785-532-5864, cortez@k-state.edu
Photo available. Download at http://www.k-state.edu/media/newsreleases/feb11/armbruster.jpg
Editor's note: Armbruster is a graduate of Buhler High School.
News release prepared by: Tyler Sharp, 785-532-2535, media@k-state.edu

Monday, Feb. 14, 2011

BALANCE IN MOTION: K-STATE JUNIOR MAINTAINS EQUILIBRIUM DESPITE DIVERSE INTERESTS

MANHATTAN -- Morgan Armbruster is interested in movement.

During her time at Kansas State University, Armbruster, a junior in microbiology and premedicine, Hutchinson, has become quite adept at staying in constant motion.

That movement is seemingly necessary for Armbruster to stay on top of all her activities. She is active in the Developing Scholars Program and the K-State dance program, as well as working at Via Christi Village, a Manhattan assisted-living facility, where she is employed as a certified medication aide.

Balancing a variety of activities and maintaining a high grade point average can be a challenge for many students, but Anita Cortez, director of the Developing Scholars Program, credits Armbruster's success to an interest in both science and the arts.

"She draws on multiple modalities using both sides of her brain as she studies science and dance," Cortez said. "She choreographs her days, and manages to do it all with grace."

Armbruster became interested in medicine through her anatomy classes. In addition, a persistent interest in the human body and its functions, as well as the physical and emotional effects of certain medications, helped direct her aspirations. Armbruster hopes to become a doctor specializing in dermatology, but places an emphasis on practicing medicine in a rural community. This has come with experience shadowing doctors and interacting with patients.

"I've realized I also love the care side of medicine in addition to the anatomical aspects," she said.

Her passion for medicine has been manifested through her research with the Developing Scholars Program, which offers underrepresented students opportunities to research projects with faculty mentors. As Developing Scholars, students receive academic, social and financial support while participating in the discovery and creation of new knowledge at K-State.

Armbruster's current research involves working with breast cancer cells and PQ11, a drug aimed at improving the communication and function of cells. She is conducting the research with Annelise Nguyen, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology. The goal of her work is to create a 3-D structure from breast cancer cells in an in vitro setting and to determine the efficacy of anticancer drugs. Such research could lead to quicker testing of therapeutic drugs and a better way to mimic a 3-D setting.

Armbruster says the Developing Scholars Program has been very beneficial in the process.

"I've met many students like me, and I've met several professionals and professors through the Developing Scholars Program," she said.

When she isn't researching human movement, Armbruster is expressing it through dance. She minors in dance and still choreographs dances for a studio in Hutchinson. She has performed in the K-State dance program's SpringDance and WinterDance productions, as well as other student performances.

"It’s nice to have the break from the academic side of school and let the artsy side of my brain do some work, too," she said.

On the professional level, Armbruster has already amassed experience in health care, working as a certified nurse's aide during high school. She is now employed as a certified medication aide. For Armbruster, the personal relationships are the most rewarding part of her work.

"I know the patients appreciate my help, and it makes me feel good knowing that I can help make their lives better," she said.

For Armbruster, it all starts with movement.