Scholarship Recipients, 2017-2018
Awards from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi—the nation's oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines
Ananda Bandara (pictured), doctoral student in plant pathology is one of ten Phi Kappa Phi Dissertation Fellows this year. Bandara's aim is to help researchers be better equipped to defend against stalk rotting diseases such as charcoal rot, which also is a problem in the sub-Saharan African region, where sorghum is a staple food. In addition to sorghum, the pathogen infects more than 500 plant species with important economic influence such as soybean, sunflower, sweet potato, alfalfa, sesame, peanut, cabbage, pepper, chickpea, potato and corn.
Phi Kappa Phi membership, which Bandara has held since 2013, is a requirement for the fellowship. The applicant's need and significance of the original doctoral research also are part of the fellowship selection criteria. The $10,000 fellowship will support Bandara while he finishes his dissertation and completes his degree.
Bandara received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, where he also was a lecturer at the agricultural biology department before attending Kansas State University. He is a member of the American Phytopathological Society, the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.
Sierra Lekie (pictured), graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor's in Economics, political science, and international studies. Lekie also earned minors in Spanish and statistics. She was active in the Student Alumni Board, Blue Key Senior Honor Society and the Economics Club. She also has been involved in the Student Governing Association, the College of Arts and Sciences Ambassadors, Silver Key Sophomore Honorary, Quest Freshman Honorary and Model United Nations. She studied abroad in Brazil during summer 2014.
The fellowship will allow to Lekie to work on a master's degree in international affairs, with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and national security at American University's School of International Service in Washington, D.C. Her goal is to become a foreign service officer.
"It is a great honor to represent the university at the national level and have this achievement reflect what I have learned and gained from K-State over the last four years," Lekie said. "Because of the fellowship, I will be able to spend more time focusing on my studies, taking on extracurricular service and learning opportunities, and possibly pursuing an unpaid internship."