Three undergraduate researchers selected as Goldwater scholars
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Kansas State University students Erianna Basgall, junior in biochemistry; Mackenzie Thornton, junior in microbiology and pre-health; and Gabrielle Phillips, senior in chemical engineering, are 2019 Goldwater scholars.
MANHATTAN — Three Kansas State University undergraduate student researchers are among the 2019 national Barry M. Goldwater scholars.
Erianna Basgall, junior in biochemistry, Ellis; Mackenzie Thornton, junior in microbiology and pre-medicine, Leawood; and Gabrielle Phillips, senior in chemical engineering, Wichita; have received the prestigious Goldwater scholarship.
Established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater from Arizona, the Goldwater scholarship is the premier undergraduate scholarship for students interested in research careers in engineering, mathematics or the natural sciences. Awardees receive up to $7,500 annually for college-related expenses. For the 2019-2020 academic year, it was awarded to nearly 500 students across the nation. With 77 Goldwater scholars to date, Kansas State University ranks among the nation's top 10 universities for producing Goldwater scholars.
Mentored by Greg Finnigan, assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, Basgall is working with CRISPR gene editing and developing applications to work with the technology. She has co-authored two peer-reviewed publications about CRISPR technology.
Basgall is a member of the University Honors Program, a master alchemist for the Beta Rho chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma co-ed professional chemistry fraternity, and is a student affiliate of the American Chemical Society. In addition to the Goldwater scholarship, she has received a Kansas-IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Star Trainee award. A 2016 graduate of Ellis High School, Basgall is the daughter of Jason Basgall, Ransom, and Noël Servais-Leach, Ellis.
Mentored by Katsura Asano, professor of biology, Thornton is researching regulation of translation in cancer cells. She also has worked in the otolaryngology department at the University of Kansas Medical Center, researching head and neck cancer.
Thornton, a university semester honors list student, is the membership chair of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and a member of Cancer Journal Club. In addition to the Goldwater scholarship, she has received a Cancer Research Award and a Kansas-IDeA Network of Biomedical Research scholarship, been named a Kansas-IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Star Trainee, and was a part of the University Kansas Cancer Center Summer Student Research Training Program. A 2016 graduate of Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, Thornton is the daughter of Parker and Gina Thornton, Leawood.
Mentored by Ruth Welti, university distinguished professor of biology, Phillips researches and characterizes plant genes at the Kansas Lipidomics Research Center. She also has worked with Kathrin Schrick, associate professor of biology, as part of her research of plant molecular biology. In summer 2017, Phillips interned at the Institute of Bioprocess Engineering at Technische Universitat Kaiserslautern, where she worked to increase the efficiency of pharmaceutical production of plant cell lines. In 2016, Philips helped program a virtual reality headset to better understand the neural pathway of balance reflexes with Nils Hakansson at the Human Biomechanics Design Lab at Wichita State University.
Phillips is a member of the University Honors Program, Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, American Red Cross Club, Steel Ring and Mortar Board. In addition to the Goldwater scholarship, she has received many research scholarships, including a Kansas-IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Star Trainee award, Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry Research Grant, Kansas-IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Campus Scholarship and a Johnson Cancer Research Center Undergraduate Research Award. She also was awarded a research internship in science and engineering from the German Academic Exchange Service. She is a recipient of the Putnam Scholarship and Fred and Mary Koch Foundation Scholarship. A 2015 graduate of Trinity Academy in Wichita, Phillips is the daughter of Matthew and Daphne Phillips, Andover.