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Sources: Carol Shanklin, 785-532-7927, shanklin@k-state.edu;
and Marcia Molina, 785-532-5720, mmolina@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Greg Tammen, 785-532-2535, gtammen@k-state.edu

Monday, Oct. 11, 2010

DOCTORAL STUDENTS EARN NEW FELLOWSHIPS FOR HIGH-PROFILE RESEARCH

MANHATTAN -- Three doctoral candidates have received $15,000 fellowships through the Kansas State University Research Foundation Doctoral Fellowship program.

The students were chosen because their research has national appeal and future intellectual property associated from it, said Marcia Molina, vice president of the Kansas State University Research Foundation.

"Part of our goal is to help support research at K-State. As such, this program provides tuition support and stipend support for doctoral students," Molina said.

Recipients are Jennifer Hanson, doctoral candidate in human nutrition, Manhattan; Rachel Manspeaker, doctoral candidate in mathematics, Manhattan; and Yi Zhang, doctoral candidate in chemical engineering, China.

Hanson is investigating omega-3 fatty acids and their relation to cognitive outcomes in soldiers deployed to combat areas.

"I'm looking at several hundred members of military at Fort Riley and Texas during pre-deployment and post-deployment to Iraq, and looking for neutral protective factors in their lifestyles -- particularly in their diet," she said.

Her research could help determine whether diets high in omega-3 fats have the potential to protect the brain and psychological wellbeing of soldiers who experience brain injuries or other traumatic events in combat.

Rachel Manspeaker, doctoral candidate in mathematics, Manhattan, is using data mining software to gather information, compile data and identify patterns in clusters of students enrolled in introductory college algebra courses.

"This information can then be used to find which math class would be more suitable for a student: the one with the hands-on approach to learning or the one that's more theory based," Manspeaker said.

Zhang is exploring the synthesis of thin solid films of icosahedral boron arsenide and its characterization, which act as a semiconductor.

"My research is on how to improve the quality of this new semiconductor for electronic devices," she said. "Applications for this semiconductor include more sensitive neutron detectors and long-life nuclear batteries."

Zhang said these detectors would offer more efficient performance, are more compact, operate on minimal power and cost less to produce than conventional detectors. The nuclear batteries could last a decade and be used in remote locations like outer space and the deep ocean.

The Kansas State University Research Foundation Doctoral Fellowship program, which was launched earlier this year, fits in with the university's goal of becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025, said Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School.

Since nominations are by a candidate's major professor, Shanklin said it also showcases a mentor's support of a student's research.

"The purpose of the fellowship is to provide financial support to outstanding doctoral candidates by helping advance and promote their research and the completion of their doctoral programs," Shanklin said. "The students benefit because they can enhance their research projects; travel to national and international conferences to present their research; or travel to special laboratories to gain the expertise needed to conduct their research."