Recent Department Achievements
David Manning presented with a celebratory pin in recognition of his 40 years of service for the State of Kansas
Hired into a Research Assistant position for the Biochemistry Department at Kansas State University in Sept. 1979, Dave’s initial work involved the collection of data from ultracentrifugation of self-associating molecules. These analytical studies used computer simulations, which required connection to an IBM mainframe via phone modem and at times punch cards. As the first monochrome Zenith computers started their appearance in the department, there was a notable pivot in focus for his duties. Dave’s role continued to evolve into a support person for multiple professors, specialized equipment, various operating systems, network connectivity, and eventually for the main office itself. Stretching the lifetime of our computers and other scientific equipment, has helped free up funds for use in research. Participation in the inventory and accounting duties, and assisting in safety concerns have also played a part in recent years. There have been seven department heads during the years of Dave Manning’s employment and he has found himself located within five different buildings on campus. Awarding his pin is Dr. Michal Zolkiewski, head of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics.
Phillip E. Klebba Selected as a 2020 AAAS Fellow
The world's largest scientific society, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has chosen Phillip E. Klebba as one of the 489 fellows this year. The fellowship program recognizes individuals whose efforts toward advancing science applications are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished. Klebba distinguished himself with contributions to the understanding of the membrane transport mechanisms of bacteria relevant to their practical applications in human and animal health. Photo courtesy of K-State News.
- 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
Jessica Changstrom Wins Stamey Award for Advising
The College of Arts and Sciences recognizes Jessica Changestrom with the 2020 William L. Stamey Award for Advising. Changstrom is the primary advisor for biochemistry and molecular biophysics. Her nominator says this about her, "Jessy's job as the chief undergraduate advisor in three highly dissimilar departments should be considered unique, unconventional and quite challenging. It is Jessy's enthusiasm, dedication, and hard work, but also her warm and empathic personality, which made her a truly outstanding advisor for an incredibly diverse group of students." K-State Today
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
- 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
- Diana Najera (undergrad, Gorman) was awarded the Rita G. Perez Exemplary Scholar Award from Developing Scholars. This award honors a Scholar who, like Rita Perez herself, exemplifies the whole package! K-State Today
- Ruth Mekuria (undergrad, Klebba) was the First Year, honorable mention in the Coffman Excellence in Research Awards from Developing Scholars. This award is given for excellence in research, student engagement and accomplishments. K-State Today
- Dylan Feist and Lindy Karrer (undergrads, biochemistry) were selected as members of Silver Key Honor Society's class of 2021-22. K-State Today
- Max Harman (undergrad, biochemistry) was selected as a member of Blue Key Honor Society's class of 2021-22. K-State News
Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Senior Awarded Fulbright Travel Grant
Cole Wilson, senior in biochemistry, is granted a Fulbright award for travel abroad in the next academic year. He will travel to Germany to conduct bioengineering and neuroscience research. Fulbright grant recipients receive round-trip transportation, tuition when applicable and a monthly living stipend for one academic year abroad. In 2019, Wilson was awarded a Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, or German Academic Exchange Service, internship to Potsdam, Germany. Wilson works with Timothy Durrett, associate professor in biochemistry and molecular biophysics, researching why different plant enzymes produce different oil products. 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"
- Souza SA*, Held A, Lu WJ, Drouhard B*, Avila B*, Leyva-Montes R*, Hu M, Miller III BR, Ng HL. (2021). Mechanisms of allosteric and mixed mode aromatase inhibitors. RSC Chem. Biol. Advance Article. 19 March 2021.
*Samson Souza (grad, Ng); *Brendan Drouhard, Bryant Avila, and Raul Leyva-Montes (undergrads, Ng)
- Nicholas G. Neumann*, Tara J. Nazaremus, Jose A. Aznar-Moreno, Sergio A. Rodriguez-Aponte, Valerie A. Meijas Veintidos, Luca Comai, Timothy P. Durrett, Edgar B. Cahoon. (2021) Generation of camelina mid-oleic acid seed oil by identification and stacking of fatty acid biosynthetic mutants. Industrial Crops & Products 2021 January 159:113074. doi.org/
10.1016/j.indcrop.2020.113074. Epub 2020 Nov 18.
*Nicholas G. Neumann (grad, Durrett)
- Weber, J.J.*, Kashipathy, M.M., Battaile, K.P., Go, E., Desaire, H., Kanost, M.R., Lovell, S., and Gorman, M.J. (2020) Structural insight into the novel iron-coordination and domain interactions of transferrin-1 from a model insect, Manduca sexta. Protein Science, Nov 16. doi: 10.1002/pro.3999.
*Jacob J. Weber (grad, Gorman)
- Weber, J.J.*, Kanost M.R., and Gorman, M.J. (2020) Iron binding and release properties of transferrin-1 from Drosophila melanogaster and Manduca sexta: implications for insect iron homeostasis. Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 125: 103438. doi: 10.1016/j.ibmb.2020.103438.
*Jacob J. Weber (grad, Gorman)
- Thevarajan, I., Zolkiewski, M., and Zolkiewska, A. (2020) Human CLPB forms ATP-dependent complexes in the mitochondrial intermembrane space. Int. J. Biochem. Cell Biol. 127, 105841
- Brooks D, Naeem F, Stetsiv M*, Goetting SC*, Bawa S, Green N, Clark C, Bashirullah A, Geisbrecht ER. Drosophila NUAK functions with Starvin/BAG3 in autophagic protein turnover. PLoS Genet. 2020 Apr 22;16(4):e1008700. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1008700. PMID: 32320396
*Marta Stetsiv and Samantha Goetting (undergrads, E. Geisbrecht)
- Diana G. Najera*, Neal T. Dittmer, Jacob J. Weber, Michael R. Kanost, and Maureen J. Gorman. (2020) Phylogenetic and sequence analyses of insect transferrins suggest that only transferrin 1 has a role in iron homeostasis.Insect Science 31 March 2020. doi: 10.1111/1744-7917.12783.
*Diana Najera (undergrad, Gorman)
- Mi Young Noha, Sung Hyun Kimb, Maureen J. Gorman, Karl J. Kramer, Subbaratnam Muthukrishnan, Yasuyuki Arakane. Yellow-g and Yellow-g2 proteins are required for egg desiccation resistanceand temporal pigmentation in the Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus.Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 122 (2020) 103386.
- Romero, Y., Wise, R., and Zolkiewska, A. (2020) Proteolytic processing of PD-L1 by ADAM proteases in breast cancer cells. Cancer Immunol. Immunother. 69:43-55
- 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.