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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
141 Chalmers Hall
1711 Claflin Rd.
Manhattan, KS 66506
785-532-7278 fax

Biotechnology Core Facility
206 Burt Hall
785-532-6297 fax

Biomolecular NMR Facility
37 Chalmers Hall

Recent Department Achievements

Faculty Achievements | Student Awards | Publications | Presentations | Research and Exhibitions

Faculty Achievements

  • John M. Tomich, Gerald Reeck (deceased), Adriana Avila Flores* and Chandrasekar Raman* received a patent for "Nucleic Acid-Peptide Capsule Complexes." K-State Today
    *No longer at K-State.
  • Anna Zolkiewska was one of four featured investigators in "Angles of Attack" in the Spring 2022 edition of K-State's SEEK magazine.
  • Erika Geisbrecht was featured in "Trimming Cancer: Biochemist discovers protein involved in normal and abnormal cell growth" in the 2022 edition of K-State Johnson Cancer Center's Conquest magazine.
  • Mike Kanost received a National Institutes of Health, MIRA grant entiltled "Function of hemolymph plasma proteins in insect immune responses."
  • Anna Zolkiewska received the Flossie West Breast Cancer Research Award from the K-State Johnson Cancer Research Center for "Imunotherapies for Breast Cancer"
  • Erika Geisbrecht received a 5 year renewal on her NIH grant 2 RO1 AR60788 entitled ‘Mechanisms Underlying Muscle Development and Maintenance in Drosophila'.
  • Michal Zolkiewski received a 4-year $1.9 million award from the National Institutes of Health to develop new antibiotics entitled "Discovery of Hsp100-selective inhibitors for targeting multiple microbial pathogens.” K-State News

Student Awards and Scholarships

2020/2021 Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Charlie Hedgcoth, Jr. and Phillip Nordin Graduate Memorial Awards for Excellence

Jacob Weber (grad, Gorman), Xin Xu (grad, B. Geisbrecht) and Yao Yan (grad, Finnigan) were awarded the Excellence in Graduate Research.

Other Student Awards
  • Dreah Kuckelman (undergrad, biochemistry) was inducted into the Kansas State University chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious academic honor society. K-State News
  • Ruth Mekuria (undergrad, biochemistry) was awarded the Above and Beyond Award from Developing Scholars. This award recognizes scholars who have done well in their research and beyond. K-State Today
  • BMB undergrad Samira Laytimi, (Schrick, biology) was awarded a Spring 2022 OURCI Research/Creative Activity grant from the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry.
  • Hannah MillerHannah Miller (undergraduate, Prakash) presented “NMR Structural and Dynamics Studies of an Insect Cytokine-like Stress Responsive Peptide” at the 20th Annual K-INBRE, January 13th-14th, 2022. Authors: Hannah Miller, Nitin Mishra, Haobo Jiang and Om Prakash.
  • Carson Gido (undergrad, biochemistry) received the Kim Dierks Tutor of Distinction scholarship. Gido tutored students in biology, biochemistry and chemistry courses at the Academic Achievement Center. K-State Today
BMB Undergrad Presents Research at the ASBMB Annual Meeting

Carson Gido presenting research posterCarson Gido, junior in biochemistry, was selected to present his research poster "Structural Basis for Nanomolar-Affinity Inhibition of Neutrophil Serine Protease Activity by the S. aureus EAP Domain Protein, Eap1" at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting April 2-5 in Philadelphia. Gido works with Brian Geisbrecht studying a white blood cell enzyme that, when over-activated, can cause lung cancer and other lung diseases. Gido's research experience and travel to the meeting were supported by the K-State Johnson Cancer Research Center through an Undergraduate Cancer Research Award. Photo and story courtesy of K-State News.

Fall 2021 K-State Johnson Cancer Research Center Undergraduate Awards

K-State News. BMB undergraduate and mentor unless otherwise noted.

  • Kayden Creamer – Mentor: Ping Li (Chemistry) – "Continued efforts of PhaC crystallization for cancer drug delivery using PHA"
  • Mikaela Garcia-Escamilla – Mentor:Thomas Mueller (Biology) – "The role of tumor-suppressor gene Lhx6 during cellular migration of GABAergic interneurons in the zebrafish forebrain"
  • Carson Gido – Mentor: Brian Geisbrecht – "Inhibition of neutrophil serine proteases by EAP domain proteins"
  • Taryn Lubbers (Life Sciences) – Mentor: John Tomich – "Peptide nanocarrier delivery of mRNA vaccines for treating melanomas"
  • Hannah Miller – Mentor: Om Prakash – "Understanding the molecular recognition basis of EGFR inhibitors for cancer treatment"
  • Abigail Parker – Mentor: Ruth Welti (Biology) – "Subcellular localization of putative transacylase"
  • Mia Thompson – Mentor: Sherry Fleming (Biology) – "Macrophage Phenotypes in Mouse Melanoma"



  • Xin Xu successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled “Structural and Functional Analysis of Complement Proteins” on November 19th, 2021, under the supervision of Dr. Brian Geisbrecht. Xin will be joining Bristol-Myers Squibb in Redwood City, CA as a staff scientist in January 2022. Congratulations Dr. Xu!
  • Jacob Weber successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “Biochemical properties and physiological functions of extracellular iron-binding proteins” on August 27, 2021. Jacob was part of Dr. Maureen Gorman’s research team. His work greatly increased our knowledge of the structure and function of insect transferrin, and his findings will be the basis of future research to understand iron homeostasis in insects. Congratulations, Jacob!
  • Ashish Kumar successfully defended his doctoral disseration entitled “Fluorescence Measurement of Metal Uptake by Pathogenic Bacteria” on August 9, 2021. Ashish works in the lab of Dr. Phillip Klebba. Congratualations, Dr. Kumar!
  • Nicholas Neumann (graduate, Durrett) gave an oral presentation, "Generation of Camelina Mid-oleic Acid Seed Oil by Identification and Stacking of Fatty Acid Biosynthetic Mutants", at the 2021 AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo in the Plant and Algae Lipid Biotechnology and Genomics session on May 6, 2021 by Zoom. Co-authors: Nicholas Neumann, Tara Nazarenus, Jose Aznar-Moreano, Sergio Rodriquez-Aponte, Balerie Mejias Veintidos, Luca comai, Timothy Durett, and Edgar Cahoon.
  • Hawa Dembele successfully defended her master's thesis entitled “NMR and Molecular Dynamics Structural Investigations of Manduca sexta Stress Response Peptides and Anopheles gambiae Ecdysis Triggering Hormone” on April 9, 2021. She will be joining Harvard Medical School to begin her Ph.D. as a Herchel Smith Fellow during Fall 2021. Hawa’s major professor is Dr. Om Prakash, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics.
  • Chathurange Ranaweera successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled "Bacterial AAA+ Disaggregase ClpB: Mechanism and inhibition" on April 6, 2021. He was menotored by Dr. Michal Zolkiewski. Part of Chathu’s research has been performed in the laboratory of Dr. Roman Ganta, Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology. Chathu’s results will help develop novel antimicrobial therapies targeting a molecular chaperone ClpB.
  • Anthony DiProperzio successfully defended his master's thesis, "Use of Computational Methods to Identify New Binders of ROR𝜸", on April 6, 2021. Anthony did his research with mentor Dr. Ho Leung Ng.
  • Simranjot Bawa successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled "Differential mechanisms for TRIM32-mediated muscle tissue growth and homeostasis " on October 29, 2020. Her thesis studies spanned multiple disciplines, including genetics, cell biology, biochemistry, metabolism, and structural biology. Simran was mentored by Dr. Erika R Geisbrecht.
  • Yeni Romero successfully defended her masters thesis entitled "Regulators of the breast tumor immune microenvironment: PD-L1 and regulatory T cells" on October 1, 2020. The research presentation and final examination were performed virtually. Romero's faculty advisor was Dr. Anna Zolkiewska.
  • Indhujah Thevarajan successfully defended her doctoral dissertation entitled "Effects of missense mutations on protein function in human disease: tumor suppressor p53 and the AAA+ ATPase CLPB" on October 1, 2020. The research presentation and final examination were performed virtually. Thevarajan's faculty advisors are Drs. Michal Zolkiewski and Anna Zolkiewska (Co-Major Professors).
  • Pavithra Natarjan defended her doctoral dissertation on July 20, 2020. Her work spanned several areas including organic chemistry, nanomaterials, cell biology and cancer research. Her thesis studies generated 3 first author publications. As her co-advisor along with Sherry Fleming, in the Division of Biology, we greatly appreciated her hard work and dedication and wish her well with her future endeavors. -Dr. John Tomich
  • Lynn Goss Schrag successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled "Biophysical Studies of Selected Intrinsically Disordered Proteins: Insect Stress-response Peptides and Cancer-linked Variants of Human p53 Transactivation Domain" on June 22, 2020. The research presentation and final examination were performed over the Internet, as required by the university administration during the limited operations period at K-State. Schrag's faculty advisors are Dr. Om Prakash (Major Professor) and Dr. Michal Zolkiewski, (Co-Major Professor).
  • Samson Souza successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “Protein-Ligand Interactions of Druggable Protein Targets" on March 17, 2020. The research presentation and final examination were performed over the Internet, as required by the university administration during the limited operations period at K-State. Major professor: Dr. Ho Leung Ng.

Research and Exhibitions

Covid-19 has limited the opportunities for this research outlet.

  • Carson Gido (undergrad, Brian Geisbrecht) presented a poster, “Structural Basis for Nanomolar-Affinity Inhibition of Neutrophil Serine Protease Activity by the Staphylococcus aureus EAP Domain Protein, Eap1” at the American Society for Biochemistry and Moleccular Biology annual meeting in Philadelphia, PA on April 2-5, 2022.
  • Two BMB student researchers will present in Kansas Undergraduate Research Days virtual event March 1-3, 2022. K-State News
    • Carson Gido (Brian Geisbrecht) - "Inhibition of Neutrophil Serine Proteases by Staphylococcus aureus Extracellular Adherence Protein Domains."
    • Dewey Leierer (Brenda Oppert, USDA) - "Shotgun Metagenomic Case Study of a Yellow Mealworm (Tenebrio Molitor) Colony Collapse"