Three graduate students named winners at statewide research summit
Monday, Feb. 8, 2016
Marcus Olatoye, a doctoral student in agronomy, with his award-wining poster at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit in Topeka. Olatoye received a $500 scholarship from BioKansas for his poster presentation, "Genomic dissection of leaf and panicle architecture traits in sorghum using nested association mapping." | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — Three Kansas State University graduate students received statewide recognition for their Kansas-related research at the 13th Capitol Graduate Research Summit, Feb. 2, at the State Capitol in Topeka.
Matthew Galliart, master's student in biology, Hutchinson, and Caroline Ylioja, doctoral student in animal sciences, Canada, were the two Kansas State University winners and received $500 scholarships from the university's Graduate School. Marcus Olatoye, doctoral student in agronomy, Nigeria, was the Kansas State University winner of the $500 BioKansas scholarship, which is supported by BioKansas.
"The K-State students' presentations were professional and were a positive reflection on the quality of our graduate programs and the research being conducted," said Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School. "Judges for the event commented on how difficult it was for them to select from among all the excellent research and presentations. They noted that the students were well prepared and their responses reflected the depth of their knowledge of the research and how the results can benefit Kansas."
The BioKansas award not only recognizes the top researchers, but also those projects that have the best potential for commercialization and for impacting the state of Kansas, said Dennis Ridenour, president and CEO of BioKansas.
"Marcus Olatoye's work stuck out to us, as he was extremely well spoken and it was readily apparent that he understood both the work he was doing and the import of that work," Ridenour said. "It also helped that his research has tremendous potential to impact agriculture both here in Kansas and abroad in developing nations."
The Capitol Graduate Research Summit is a statewide event that features current graduate student research of graduate students at Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, the University of Kansas Medical Center, Wichita State University, Fort Hays University and Pittsburgh State University. Each university invited a university professor and an industry representative to judge the student poster presentations. The top presenters from each university received awards.
Galliart's poster was "Adaptive ecotypic variation and genetic divergence of a widespread grass andropogon gerardii across a great plains' climate gradient." His adviser is Loretta Johnson, professor of biology.
Galliart's research focuses on identifying regional plants best suited for restoration, conservation and for rangeland sustainability within Kansas in future drier climates.
"Kansas has the largest expanses of native prairie remaining and is the third largest cattle-producing state in the United States," Galliart said. "My research seeks to characterize natural trait variation and the underlying genomics of big bluestem across a natural precipitation gradient in the Great Plains."
Ylioja's poster was "Spinning straw into milk: can an all-byproduct diet support milk production?" Her faculty mentor is Barry Bradford, associate professor of animal sciences and industry.
Ylioja's research supports the use of byproduct feeds in the diets of dairy cattle, in terms of efficient use of feed resources and the human food supply, and highlights the ability of ruminant animals to consume feeds that are not edible by other livestock or by people.
"As scientists, it is important to be able to effectively share research and results with scientists in other fields as well as with non-scientists," Ylioja said. "The Capitol Graduate Research Summit was a great opportunity to practice that, as well as a great chance for fellow Kansans to become aware of and be proud of the innovative technologies and practices that are being developed right here in our state."
Olatoye's poster was "Genomic dissection of leaf and panicle architecture traits in sorghum using nested association mapping." His faculty mentor is Geoffrey Morris, assistant professor of agronomy.
Olatoye's research focuses on understanding the genetic basis of adaptive agro-ecological traits in sorghum. And how these can be used to develop molecular genetic tools to breed for better adapted and yielding sorghum varieties needed by farmers in the state.
"Having won the BioKansas award is encouraging to me and my lab members because society appreciates what we do and encourages us to bring more to the table in addressing pressing challenges," Olatoye said. "One member of the Kansas Sorghum Commission told me that he isglad we have new kids who are interested in sorghum research."