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Source: Jayne Christen,
Photo available. Contact or 785-532-6415.
News release prepared by: Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, 785-532-6415,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


MANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University graduate student will spend nearly a week this summer rubbing elbows with some of the world's top scientists.

Jayne ChristenJayne Christen, a doctoral student in biochemistry, has been chosen to attend the 2009 Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany. Christen was one of nearly 100 students chosen from institutions in the U.S. like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California-Berkley. Her attendance at the meeting will be funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.

The meeting, June 28 to July 3, will be dedicated to chemistry. Christen will have a chance to meet with 19 Nobel laureates through lectures and informal meetings.

"What an opportunity, but you have to be at the top of your game when you're talking with Nobel laureates," she said.

Christen said it will be an opportunity to network internationally and to meet scientists who may offer information useful to her own research.

"I'm sure that they have a lot of insight as to what will happen in the future of research," she said. "Maybe I'll meet one of them and get really excited about what they're doing and try to work with them someday."

More information about the meeting is available at

Christen studies with K-State's Michael Kanost, university distinguished professor of biochemistry and head of the department of biochemistry. Her research involves the innate immune system of insects. Specifically, she investigates protease cascades, which are found in blood of vertebrates and invertebrates. She said this is an important area of research because these proteases play a role in processes like blood clotting and production of antimicrobial substances, and could help scientists better understand human immune responses and the evolution of innate immunity.

Christen said this research could also lead to development of new measures to control insect pests while improving the health of insects that are beneficial to humans.

Originally from Tecumseh, Neb., Christen earned her bachelor's degree from K-State in secondary education and her master's degree from K-State in entomology. For her master's research, she worked with James Campbell, a research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service, Grain Marketing and Production Research Center. The main focus of several scientists at the center is on pests that affect stored products, particularly pests in grain bins.

Christen's part of the research examined the behavior and infection process of entomopathogenic nematodes, which are worm-like organisms that infect insects. She said that this research could be useful as a nonchemical form of pest control as increased restrictions have been placed on commonly used chemical methods.