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K-State Today

Division of Communications and Marketing
Kansas State University
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Manhattan, KS 66506

April 13, 2022

Microbiology senior, mathematics professor earn K-State research, mentoring awards

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Grant and Nguyen

Kansas State University is recognizing an undergraduate student for excellence in research and a faculty member for being an outstanding mentor to undergraduate researchers.

Grant Brooke, senior in microbiology, Lawrence, is the recipient of the University Award for Distinguished Undergraduate Student in Research. Dinh-Liem Nguyen, associate professor of mathematics, is the recipient of the University Distinguished Faculty Award for Mentoring of Undergraduate Students in Research. Both will be honored at the All-University Awards Ceremony at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, May 12, in the Banquet Room at the K-State Alumni Center.

Brooke has worked in the lab of Dana Nayduch, a research leader in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Arthropod-Borne Animal Diseases Research Unit in Manhattan, since 2019. He first joined as a volunteer but was later hired as a biological science aid and participates in all aspects of the lab's work. Brooke is currently assisting on several projects on house fly transmission of bacterial diseases at cattle operations, including on the ability of house flies to carry antimicrobial-resistant bacteria in Kansas cattle operations. He presented this research at the annual Entomological Society of America Conference in November 2021 and received first place. It was his first time presenting research at a conference. He also is co-author of two or three papers based on work done at the Nayduch lab that are expected to be published this year.

Brooke is now conducting his own project on house fly behavior and learning that he developed from scratch.

"I decided to get involved with research at K-State because I wanted to help solve problems that affect people's everyday lives," Brooke said. "My favorite parts of performing research are meeting new and interesting people and the sense of accomplishment I get when successfully completing a project."

Brooke will graduate summa cum laude in May with a bachelor's degree in microbiology and has already started working on his doctorate in microbiology. Once he earns his doctorate, he would like to research human pathogens at either a government agency such as the National Center for Emerging Zoonotic and Infectious Disease, or at a private company. 

Since joining K-State in fall 2017 as an assistant professor, Nguyen has actively involved undergraduates — from freshmen to seniors — in his research and leads a team of graduate researchers as well. His research interests include inverse problems and imaging, direct and inverse scattering, and scientific computing.

"I find it very rewarding to help my undergraduate students learn about the research process and improve their skills in math, programming, communication, etc.," Nguyen said.

Each of the five undergraduates mentored by Nguyen and his graduate students in the last year has worked on a different project that is related to Nguyen's currently funded research by the National Science Foundation. This work focuses on developing fast and efficient computational methods for solving inverse problems in imaging that have applications in radar and nondestructive evaluation.

Being part of Nguyen's group also helps students find success. One recent bachelor's graduate of Nguyen's group is a co-author, along with Nguyen and his doctoral students, of a research paper published in the journal Inverse Problems. A current undergraduate researcher was nominated by K-State for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which was established by the U.S. Congress for top students seeking careers in mathematics, science and engineering.

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