Doctoral student earns Sarachek fellowship for outstanding academics, research
Thursday, April 11, 2019
MANHATTAN — Ryan Greenway, Kansas State University doctoral candidate in biology, Amarillo, Texas, is this year’s recipient of the $17,000 Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek Predoctoral Honors Fellowship in Molecular Biology.
Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek, Wichita, established the fellowship to recognize resident graduate students enrolled in a doctoral program at Kansas State University who have demonstrated exceptional research and scholastic accomplishments. An interdisciplinary faculty selection committee determines the fellowship award recipient. The awards program is offered through the university's Graduate School.
"The Graduate School and the Division of Biology are extremely proud of Greenway’s accomplishments during his doctoral program and his contributions to K-State through his engagement in science communication initiatives at K-State and in the Manhattan community," said Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School. "We sincerely appreciate the continuing support of RosaLee Sarachek of the Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek Predoctoral Honors Fellowship in Molecular Biology and extend our best wishes to Greenway as he completes his doctoral degree and begins his postdoctoral position."
Greenway’s research focuses on understanding the genetic changes that allow animals to live in extreme environments and how these changes can cause new species to form. Michi Tobler, associate professor of biology, is Greenway’s major professor.
Greenway is interested in determining if different groups of animals that live in similar environments evolve similar molecular adaptations. To answer these questions, he studies fish populations that have evolved to live in extremely toxic environments.
"Knowing whether different populations have evolved in the same or unique ways provides insight into the predictability of evolution at the genome level," Greenway said. "Additionally, the toxins these fishes are adapted to is highly toxic to most other animals, including humans, yet, in small concentrations, it also plays an important role in cell signaling. Studying evolutionary solutions to dealing with high concentrations of this toxin may have implications for biomedical and toxicological research relevant to human disease and aging."
Greenway has secured a postdoctoral research position at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology. In this position, Greenway will link evolutionary processes at the molecular level to phenotypic changes that influence environmental processes, which results in feedbacks between evolutionary and ecological processes. The Sarachek funding will support Greenway’s research and professional development activities associated with his postdoctoral position.
"By guaranteeing research funding for my own projects, the funds from this fellowship will be a major benefit to my transition from a doctoral student to an independent postdoctoral researcher," Greenway said.
Ultimately, Greenway plans to pursue a tenure-track faculty position at a research institution.
Alvin Sarachek received his doctorate in genetics from Kansas State University in 1957. He and his wife, RosaLee Sarachek, created the fellowship because he values the university's tradition of offering a broad array of quality programs in the life sciences, many with outstanding national reputations. The Saracheks wanted to contribute to the tradition of excellence by recognizing students who have demonstrated exceptional research accomplishments involving molecular approaches to biological problems.
More information on the Sarachek awards is available on the Graduate School website.