1. K-State home
  2. »Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
  3. »News

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
141 Chalmers Hall
1711 Claflin Rd.
Manhattan, KS 66506
785-532-6121
785-532-7278 fax
biochem@k-state.edu

Biotechnology Core Facility
206 Burt Hall
785-532-5956
785-532-6297 fax

Biomolecular NMR Facility
37 Chalmers Hall
785-532-2345

Recent Department Achievements

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

Matthew Brettmann, Member of the First Graduating Class in BMB Medical Biochemistry, Speaks About His K-State Education

Matthew Brettmann, BS '16 Medical Biochemistry and Psychological Sciences

Read more from Matthew about his K-State education.  Photo courtesy of Arts and Sciences.

Faculty Achievements

Michael Kanost Recognized with Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award
Michael KanostMichael Kanost, university distinguished professor of BMB and nationally recognized expert in insect biochemistry, is one of two recipients this year of Kansas State University's Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award. He will receive a honorarium of $2,500 for his excellence in mentoring and teaching of graduate students and in research. The award, Kansas State University's top honor for graduate teaching and research, recognizes current members of the graduate faculty who are respected nationally and internationally for their outstanding scholarly achievements and for their contributions to graduate education at the university. Photo courtesy of K-State News.
  • 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
  • Gregory Finnigan was featured in K-State University's Seek Magazine with "CRISPR Connections: how scientists use genetic technology to improve our world"
  • Brian Geisbrecht was featured in Johnson Cancer Center's Conquest Magazine with "Counter-attacking cancer - Biochemist investigates tumor growth trigger linked to immune system"
  • Timothy Durrett has earned tenure and a promotion to associate professor. K-State Today
  • Erika Geisbrecht has earned a promotion to professor. K-State Today

Student Awards and Scholarships

Presidential Graduate Teaching Assistant Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching recipient from Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Ashish Kumar, doctoral student in biochemistry, is the 2020 recipient of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Kumar's award includes a $5,000 honorarium sponsored by the university president's office and Curtin Property Company, a real estate development firm with offices in Manhattan and Kansas City.

Ashish Kumar, GTA'Kumar has been a graduate teaching assistant for the biochemistry and molecular biophysics department since 2016 and consistently earns high marks from students for his teaching. Courses he has been involved with include General Biochemistry Lab and Introduction to Organic and Biochemistry, both of which serve 50 or more students each semester. He is in charge of ensuring the lab courses have the appropriate equipment and materials. He also has created a new experiment for the General Biochem Lab course based on his own research findings.

"Apart from concentrating on giving lectures, demonstrating labs, quizzes, etc., I try to create that kind of environment in the class where all the students can know each other more than just by their names," Kumar said. "And when this happens, interactive sessions with students become so fruitful. For me, this is the most enjoyable part about teaching."'

Philip Klebba, university distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, nominated Kumar for this distinguished award. Kumar has worked as a GTA with Klebba several semesters and is a member of his lab. Excerpt and photo courtesy of K-State News.

2019 Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Charlie Hedgcoth, Jr. and Phillip Nordin Graduate Memorial Awards for Excellence

Ashish Kumar and Taihao Yang (grads, Klebba) were awarded the Excellence in Graduate Teaching.

Simranjot Bawa (grad, E. Geisbrecht) and Ashish Kumar (grad, Klebba) were awarded the Excellence in Graduate Research.

Other Student Awards
  • Jacob Weber (grad, Gorman) received a Johnson Cancer Research Center Graduate Summer Stipend Award for his research project "Biochemical properties and physiological functions of extracellular iron-binding proteins".
  • Phil Haynos (senior, BMB) was selected for the Snyder Leadership Legacy Fellows Program.
  • Maxwell Harman (sophomore, BMB) was awarded a Walter Martin Memorial Scholarship by Blue Key Honor Society. "Blue Key scholarships are awarded based on the honorary's values of scholarship, leadership and service. All scholarship recipients undergo a rigorous application process." K-State News
  • Sara Haggard, Curtis Niehues, and Kinsley Ochsner (freshmen, BMB) were selected as new members of Silver Key, the sophomore honorary for 2020-2021. K-State News
  • Abigail Parker (undergrad, biochem) was awarded the Tillman Family Scholarship for undergraduates who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance in a plant pathology minor or through plant pathology undergraduate research. K-State Today.
  • Michelle Coca (undergrad, Gorman) was awarded the Developing Scholars Anita Cortez award for excellence in research, innovative thinking, grit and work toward social justice.
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics students received awards for their scientific research presentations at the 18th annual Kansas IDeA — Institutional Development Awards — Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, or K-INBRE, Symposium Jan. 18-19 in Wichita. K-State Today
    • Isabel Lewis (undergrad, Finnigan) gave an oral presentation "CRISPR Cas12a endonuclease in a gene drive: Cuts only as good as the guide."
    • Erianna Basgall (undergrad, Finnigan) presented a poster "Design of S. pyogenes Cas9 nuclease immune to anti-CRISPR inhibition."
    • Mayme Loyd (undergrad, Tamura [A&P]) presented a poster "Cell wall membrane fraction of Chlorella sorokiniana enhances host anti-tumor immunity and inhibits colon carcinoma growth in mice."
  • Pavithra Natarajan (grad, Tomich) emerged as one of the eight finalists in the Three Minute Thesis competition with "A magnetized peptide-based delivery system for tracking and treating melanoma" on February 14. She will compete in the final competition at 5:30 p.m. on February 27 in the K-State Alumni Center Banquet Room. K-State Today
  • Erianna Basgall and Megan Goeckel (undergrads, Finnigan) received K-State College of Arts and Sciences Student Research Travel Awards to attend the American Society for Microbiology's Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Aneheim, CA, November 13-16.
  • Isabel Lewis (undergrad, Finnigan) received an American Society of Microbiology Student Travel Award to attend the American Society for Microbiology's Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Aneheim, CA, November 13-16.
  • Simran Bawa (grad, E. Geisbrecht) was recognized with the ‘Best talk’ award for her presentation "Drosophila TRIM32 cooperates with glycolytic enzymes to promote cell growth" at the recent Midwest Drosophila Conference held in Allerton, IL Nov. 2-3, 2019.
  • Diana Najera (undergrad, Gorman) was accepted as a 2019 McNair Scholar.
  • Sara Haggard (BMB undergrad) was selected as a member of Quest Freshman Honorary for 2019-2020. K-State Today
  • Samantha Goetting, senior in biochemistry, and Jeremiah Shipman, junior in medical biochemistry, were selected as members of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society. K-State News
From Research and the State to Capitol Graduate Research Summit Top Honors for Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Graduate Student
Ashish Kumar and his poster at Topeka

After winning top honors and a $250 scholarship at Research and the State on October 31 (K-State News), Ashish Kumar, doctoral student in biochemistry, was one of 10 representatives of K-State at the 17th annual Capitol Graduate Research Summit on February 26, 2020, at the State Capitol in Topeka. He presented his poster "Fluorescence Assays for Detection, Discrimination and Quantification of Siderophores" and discussed the implications his work has on issues in the state of Kansas with state legislators, members of the Kansas Board of Regents, and the public. Kumar again won top honors and received a $500 award sponsored by MO Valley PDA and a $250 certificate for enrollment in a professional development workshop sponsored by BioKansas. Kumar's faculty advisor is Dr. Phillip Klebba, university distinguished professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics. Photo courtesy of K-State News

Fall 2019 K-State Johnson Cancer Center Undergraduate Cancer Research Awards

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

  • Jacob Cindrich - Mentor: John Tomich - "DNA-Branched Amphiphilic Peptide Capsule Complexes in Saline Solutions"
  • Baltazar Claro-Martinez – Mentor: John Tomich - "Tissue distribution of BAP-magnetic nanoparticles in control and tumor bearing mice"
  • Michelle Coca - Mentor: Maureen Gorman - "Preventing inflammation by limiting the innate immune system in disease"
  • Megan Goeckel (Microbiology) – Mentor: Gregory Finnigan - "Coordination of cell signaling pathways through the cytoskeleton in a yeast model system"
  • Samantha Goetting – Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht - "TRIM32-mediated regulation of glycolysis a new model for the Warburg effect in cancer"
  • Madelyn Hilgers – Mentor: Chingakham Singh (Biology) - "Role of c-Myc and 5MP oncogenes in aberrant mRNA translation in colorectal cancer"
  • Courtney Johnson - Mentor: Chris Culbertson (Chemistry) - "Microfluidic-based single cell analysis for the examination of rare cells indicative of early stages of cancer or chemotherapy resistance: the development of an integrated heating element to maintain cell viability during high-throughput single-cell analysis"
  • Diana Najera – Mentor: Maureen Gorman - "Alternative pathways for cellular iron uptake"
  • Abigail Parker - Mentor: Ruth Welti (Biology) - "The role of a tafazzin homolog in lipid metabolism and the cellular life cycle disease"
  • Seth Peery – Mentor: Kathrin Schrick (Biology) - "Flavonoid anticancer compounds and associated transcriptional regulators in green algae"
  • Marta Stetsiv - Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht - "Cancer promoting roles of NUAK and Stv in the context of protein aggregation"
Erianna Basgall
Goldwater Scholar from Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics
Erianna Basgall, junior in biochemistry, was selected as one of three K-State 2019 Barry Goldwater Scholars. Basgall is working with CRISPR gene editing and developing applications in the lab of Gregory Finnigan, assistant professor in BMB. The Goldwater scholarship is the premier undergraduate scholarship for students interested in research careers in engineering, mathematics or the natural sciences.

Photo courtesy of K-State News.

Publications

eLife Online Recognizes work of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Graduate Student
Simran Bawa (grad, E. Geisbrecht) was first author on a published paper that was chosen for banner highlights on the eLife website. Bawa S, Brooks D, Neville K, Tipping M, Sagar M, Kollhoff J, Chawla G, Geisbrecht B, Tennessen J, Elicieri K, and Geisbrecht ER. (2020) Drosophila TRIM32 cooperates with glycolytic enzymes to promote cell growth. eLife. Published online March 30, 2020. Photo courtesy of eLife.Banner from eLife website

Presentations

  • 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.
  • Miao Li successfully defended her doctoral thesis "Study of Serpins and Antifungal Peptides in Manduca sexta" (pdf) on October 4, 2019. Major pofessor: Dr. Michael Kanost.
  • Hannah Lusk successfully defended her masters thesis "Identification and characterization of C-terminal alterations in Arabidopsis thaliana FATTY ACID DESATURASE 6 (FAD6)" (pdf) on August 23, 2019. Major Professor: Dr. Ruth Welti (biology).
  • Anna Zolkiewska presented a talk “Protein ectodomain shedding by ADAM proteases in breast cancer” during the 2019 Martha Vaughan, M.D. Symposium: Remembering Her Legacy, which was held at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, MD, on September 9-10, 2019.
  • Gregory Finnigan gave and invited seminar "Shifting into second gear: programming CRISPR-based gene drives in budding yeast" on September 9, 2019 at Emporia State University.
  • Brian Geisbrecht gave a talk "Design of novel peroxidase inhibitory protein with broad target specificity" on September 7, 2019 at the 11th International Human Peroxidase Meeting in Brno, Czech Republik.
  • Ho Leung Ng gave a presentantion "Deep neural network affinity model for BACE inhibitors in D3R Grand Challenge 4" at the Drug Design Data Resource Workshop on August 22. 2019 in San Diego, CA. The Ng research team placed fourth in the world for the Grand Challenge 4 to predict drug activities for the Alzheimer's disease drug target, BACE1.
  • Kayla Nutsch successfully defended her masters thesis "Oral and transdermal delivery of branched amphiphilic peptide capsules in vivo" (pdf) on August 16, 2019. Major Professor: Dr. John Tomich.
  • Brian Geisbrecht gave an invited talk "Exploring the functional consequences of conformational substates in C3b,” on June 14, 2019 at the 12th International Conference on Complement Therapeutics in Rhodes, Greece.
  • Ho Leung Ng gave an invited talk "Applications of Machine Learning to Structural Biology,” on June 13, 2019 at the IDeA Central Region Conference in Oklahoma City, OK.

Research and Exhibitions

  • Erianna Basgall (undergrad, Finnigan) presented a poster, "Design of S. pyogenes Cas9 nuclease immune to anti-CRISPR inhibition" on November 13-16 at the American Society for Microbiology's Annual Biomeical Conference for Minority Students in Aneheim, CA.
  • Megan Goeckel (undergrad, Finnigan) presented a poster, "Examination of multiple septin association domains within Bud3 in S. cerevisiae" on November 13-16 at the American Society for Microbiology's Annual Biomeical Conference for Minority Students in Aneheim, CA.
  • Isabel Lewis (undergrad, Finnigan) presented a poster, "CRISPR gene drive with Cas12a nuclease: only as good as the guide" on November 13-16 at the American Society for Microbiology's Annual Biomeical Conference for Minority Students in Aneheim, CA.
  • Gregory Finningan presented a poster "CRISPR Gene Drives in Yeast Using the Francisella novicida Cas12a Nuclease" on June 22, 2019 at the American Society for Microbiology "Microbe 2019" Conference in San Fransisco, CA.
  • Miao Li (grad, Kanost) presented a poster, “The Manduca sexta serpinome: analysis of serpin genes and proteins in the tobacco hornworm,” on June 14 at the 12th Annual Arthropod Genomics Symposium at Kansas State University.
  • Maureen Gorman presented a poster, "Phylogenetic Analysis of Insect Transferrins," on June 13-14 at the 12th Annual Arthropod Genomics Symposium at Kansas State University.

"First Graduating Class of BMB Medical Biochemistry Majors Achieve 100% Acceptance to the University of Kansas School of Medicine"

Image of six students accepted to KU from left to right: Natalie Ost, Matthew Brettmann, Samuel Broll, Tate Gilchrist, Mackenzie Wahl, and Garrison Olds.

Photo by Maxwell Braasch

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics is pleased to report that all of its undergraduate majors who applied to the 2021 Class of the University of Kansas School of Medicine were accepted. The students are in order left to right: Natalie Ost, Matthew Brettmann, Samuel Broll, Tate Gilchrist, Mackenzie Wahl and Garrison Olds. All six of these seniors participated in the recently developed Medical Biochemistry track, which BMB created in 2013 for its undergraduate students. This curriculum allows biochemistry students who desire a career in medicine or other health-related fields to both prepare for entrance exams and focus their classroom study on subject matter that will comprise their first year of medical, veterinary or nursing school. In 2016, the overall acceptance rate for US applicants to in-state medical schools was 60.6%, so K-State BMB's 2017 acceptance rate of 100% was well above the norm. (Read full pdf article.)