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Two graduate students receive awards for their Capitol event poster presentations

Monday, March 11, 2019

Obdulia Covarrubias Zambrano

Obdulia Covarrubias Zambrano, a doctoral student in chemistry at Kansas State University, received recognition for her research on use of a blood test for pancreatic cancer detection at the 16th Capitol Graduate Research Summit. | Download this photo.


MANHATTAN — Two Kansas State University graduate students received statewide recognition for their Kansas-related research at the 16th Capitol Graduate Research Summit, Feb. 27, at the State Capitol in Topeka.

Obdulia Covarrubias Zambrano, doctoral student in chemistry, Liberal, and Ana Stoian, doctoral student in pathobiology, Romania, were the two Kansas State University winners at the Capitol Graduate Research Summit. Stoian was the Kansas State University winner of the BioKansas Scholarship, which is supported by BioKansas.

The Capitol Graduate Research Summit is a statewide event that features current research of graduate students at Kansas State University, the University of Kansas, the University of Kansas Medical Center, Wichita State University, Fort Hays State 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. Additionally, BioKansas judges selected one winner from each school. 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.

Covarrubias Zambrano's poster was "Liquid biopsy: The simplest technique for pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer detection." Her adviser is Stefan Bossmann, professor of chemistry.

Covarrubias Zambrano's research focuses on the development of a nanobiosensor for early pancreatic cancer detection by means of a simple blood test. Pancreatic cancer has a low survival rate because it is usually diagnosed at a late stage due to the lack of an efficient detection technique. Currently, detection techniques include MRI, CT and PET scans, which not only expose patients to radiation but are very expensive. A simple blood test would be less expensive and expose patients to fewer risks than current detection methods.

"Having the opportunity to share my research work with legislators was such a unique experience, both personally and professionally," Covarrubias Zambrano said. "I had the opportunity to share my work with people outside of my discipline: legislators and university faculty and students from different academic backgrounds not related to chemistry. A couple of legislators shared with me their personal stories about losing a family member to cancer. I really enjoyed sharing some of the important research that is going on at K-State — really exciting research that we hear about in the news."

Stoian's poster was "Survival of African swine fever virus, ASFV, in feed ingredients under transboundary shipping conditions." Her adviser is Raymond Rowland, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology.

Stoian's research goal is to support global food biosecurity by examining how African swine fever virus is transmitted via animal feed ingredients. Kansas ranks 10th nationwide in pork production with a market value of approximately $460 million. If introduced into the U.S. and onto Kansas swine farms, the highly contagious virus would cause devastating losses to animal health and the state's economy. Gaining a better understanding of how the virus is transmitted through animal feed can help with identifying methods to reduce feed contamination.

"The Capitol Graduate Research Summit was an incredible opportunity to present my research in front of legislators and scientific peers," Stoian said. "This meeting allowed me to underline the impact of a potential outbreak of African swine fever in the U.S. through contaminated feed and feed ingredients. I am very grateful for receiving the BioKansas award and for being able to promote bioscience research."

To learn more about the Capitol Graduate Research Summit and who participated in the event visit the Capitol Graduate Research Summit website.

Ana Stoian

Ana Stoian doctoral student in pathobiology, was Kansas State University's winner of the BioKansas Scholarship at the 16th Capitol Graduate Research Summit. Stoian studies the transmission of African swine fever virus in animal feed. | Download this photo.


Megan Miller


Graduate School

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