Three graduate students receive awards for their Capitol event poster presentations
Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021
MANHATTAN — Three Kansas State University graduate students received statewide recognition for their Kansas-related research at the 18th Capitol Graduate Research Summit, conducted virtually Feb. 18-25.
Cameron Osborne, doctoral student in entomology, Fresno, California; Stephen Hammond, doctoral student in human ecology, specializing in kinesiology, Warsaw, Ohio; and Kelly Shunje, doctoral student in chemistry, Zimbabwe, were the three K-State winners at the summit.
Shunje was K-State's first-place winner and recipient of a $500 scholarship. She also was selected by BioKansas for a first-place award and a $150 award. Osborne was selected as K-State's runner-up and received a $300 scholarship. Hammond was selected by BioKansas for a second-place award and received a $100 award.
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 university faculty and industry representatives to judge the student poster presentations. The top presenters from each university received awards. Additionally, BioKansas conducts a competition for students conducting research related to biotechnology, drug-development or commercialization applications.
Shunje's poster was "Fine-Tuning the Physical Properties of Urea Fertilizer Using Crystal Engineering." Her adviser is Christer Aakerӧy, university distinguished professor of chemistry. Shunje's research uses crystal engineering to manipulate interactions between chemical compounds to design materials with desired functionalities. In the research she presented in the summit, the active compound urea — a nitrogen-based fertilizer — is combined with molecular partners to make new solids where physical properties like solubility can be altered in a predictable manner.
"Our ultimate goal is to develop a sustainable urea form for improving plant nutrient acquisition efficiency, not only for Kansas farmers but for global farmers at large," Shunje said.
Osborne's poster was "Identifying Enzymes Limiting an Effective RNA Response in the Biting Midge Culicoides Sonorensis." His adviser is Kristopher Silver, research assistant professor of entomology. Osborne researches new, more specific techniques for controlling pest insects in the form of RNAi.
"These insecticidal products could reduce the impact of insects on livestock without impacting ecosystems," Osborne said. "This technology will benefit producers, consumers, and communities at large in livestock producing states like Kansas."
Hammond's poster was "Skin Blood Vessel Responses Following 5-Fluorouracil Chemotherapy Administration." His adviser is Carl Ade, associate professor of kinesiology. Hammond's research primarily focuses on the adverse cardiovascular responses to cancer therapy. Specifically, the research he presented highlights how the chemotherapy drug 5-Fluorouracil negatively impacts the ability of blood vessels to respond appropriately to different stimuli.
"Since 5-Fluorouracil is used to treat a number of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the state of Kansas, our hope is that this research can provide insight into what causes these adverse cardiovascular side effects to occur during treatment so that protocols can be implemented to alleviate them," Hammond said.
More information about the Capitol Graduate Research Summit is available at k-state.edu/grad/student-success/student-council/research-forums/cgrs.html.