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Two doctoral students earn 2018 University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awards

Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018


MANHATTAN — MANHATTAN — Outstanding achievements in their academic work and scholarship has earned two Kansas State University graduate students awards from the university's highest-ranking professors.

The winners of the University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awards will be recognized at the Sept. 18 meeting of the University Distinguished Professors Group. Ryan Greenway, doctoral student in biology, Amarillo, Texas, and Catherine Steele, doctoral student in psychological sciences, Katy, Texas,will each receive a $5,000 award to support their research.

The awards recognize graduate students who have shown exceptional achievement in graduate studies and demonstrate excellence in scholarship through publications and other accomplishments appropriate for their academic field. The University Distinguished Professors Group has established a set of guidelines and criteria for the evaluation of candidates, and Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School, coordinates the selection process.

Greenway's dissertation is "Adaption and ecological speciation in sulfide spring fishes." His research is focused on using different fish populations that have evolved to live in extremely toxic environments to study the genetic changes allowing organisms to live in extreme conditions and how such changes can cause new species to form. He will study evolutionary solutions to deal with high concentrations of this toxin and the possible implications they have for biomedical and toxicological research relevant to human disease and aging. Greenway's advisor is Michael Tobler, associate professor of biology.

"This award will be a major benefit during my transition from doctoral student to postdoctoral researcher as I develop and establish an independent research program by guaranteeing funding for large-scale project independent of my dissertation research projects," Greenway said. "Specifically, I am using the funds from this award to pay for genomic analyses for a project investigating hybridization and resource competition between three closely related cichlid fishes in southern Mexico. This is a study system that I intend to pursue into my postdoctoral career, and this award will allow me to collect important preliminary data to inform further research in this system."

Steele's dissertation is "Dietary effects on impulsive choice: An investigation of physiological moderators and mediators." Her current research project will use an animal and human translational model with parallel designs to uncover the extent to which body fat percentage, insulin signaling and inflammation explain the dietary effects on impulsive choice. Steele's advisor is Kimberly Kirkpatrick, professor of psychological sciences.

"The funds from this award will be used to purchase the kits necessary to analyze insulin signaling, inflammation and body fat percentage," Steele said. "In addition, funds will be allocated to purchase equipment for a novel real food impulsive choice task that I have developed. Overall, the funds from this award will support the incorporation of translational methods into my current research, which will help me achieve my goal to become an independent researcher and professor in a university setting."

"For several years now, we have collaborated with the Office of the Vice President for Research to award outstanding graduate students who enliven research and scholarly activities at Kansas State University," said Sue Brown, university distinguished professor of biology and president of the University Distinguished Professors Group.

The awards are made possible through a combination of donations from individual university distinguished professors and support from the university's vice president for research.


Carol Shanklin


University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awards

News tip

Amarillo and Katy, Texas