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Kansas-related research wins two graduate students honors at State Capitol event

Friday, March 30, 2018

Stuart Sprague

Stuart Sprague, a doctoral student in horticulture at Kansas State University, received recognition for his research on heat stress in corn at the 15th Capitol Graduate Research Summit. | Download this photo.


MANHATTAN — Two Kansas State University graduate students received statewide recognition for their Kansas-related research at the 15th Capitol Graduate Research Summit, March 27, at the State Capitol in Topeka.

Stuart Sprague, doctoral student in horticulture, Manhattan, and Laura Constance, doctoral student in pathobiology, Clyde, North Carolina, were the two Kansas State University winners at the summit. Constance was the university's winner of the BioKansas scholarship, which is supported by BioKansas.

The BioKansas award not only recognizes the top researchers, but also those projects that have the best potential for commercialization and for impacting the state of Kansas, said Dennis Ridenour, president and CEO of BioKansas.

The Capitol Graduate Research Summit is a statewide event that features current graduate student research of graduate students at Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, the University of Kansas Medical Center, Wichita State University, Fort Hays University, Emporia State University and Pittsburgh State University. Each university invited a university professor and an industry representative to judge the student poster presentations. The top presenters from each university received awards.

Sprague's poster was "Expression of ATGRXS17 in maize increases yield under heat stress." His adviser is Sunghun Park, associate professor of horticulture and natural resources.

Sprague's research focuses on increasing heat tolerance in corn, which can severely impact seed development. This research is important to Kansas because corn is one of the state's most economically important crops and, in the face of a growing world population, Kansas wants to continue its status as a leader in food production.

"Attending the Capitol Graduate Research Summit was a fantastic experience," Sprague sad. "I met some amazing people and had great discussions. This experience helped me realize that my public speaking skills have improved and I'm honored to have won because the other presenters' work was all very impressive and had unique important implications for Kansas."

Constance's poster was "Role of the gut microbiome in response to vaccination and viral respiratory infection in growing pigs." Her advisors are Megan Niederwerder, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology with the K-State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, and Raymond Rowland, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.

Constance's research goal is to use alternative methods, such as fecal microbiota transplantation, to help control and treat respiratory disease in swine. Her work with swine could benefit not only swine health, but also have more broad implications in other food animals and advance science as a whole.

"It is an honor to receive the BioKansas Award and I look forward to working more with them in the future," Constance said. "Our goals are intertwined in that we are both dedicated to helping advance and promote bioscience research. Kansas is 10th in the nation for swine production and in 2017 sold approximately 3.3 million swine with a market value of about $468 million."

To learn more about the Capitol Graduate Research Summit and who participated in the event visit the Graduate Student Council website, k-state.edu/grad/students/studentcouncil/research-forums.

Laura Constance

Laura Constance, doctoral student in pathobiology, was Kansas State University's winner of the BioKansas scholarship at the 15th Capitol Graduate Research Summit. Constance researches alternative methods to help control and treat respiratory disease in swine. | Download this photo.


Graduate School

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Manhattan, Kansas, and Clyde, North Carolina

Written by

Kelsey Peterson