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K-State News
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Four internationally recognized faculty members join ranks of university distinguished professors

Thursday, April 14, 2022


Kansas State University's newest university distinguished professors, from left: Hans Coetzee, professor and head of anatomy and physiology; Roman Ganta, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology and director of the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases; Brian Geisbrecht, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics; and Robert Goodband, professor of animal sciences and industry and extension swine specialist. 



MANHATTAN — Four professors are earning Kansas State University's highest faculty title of university distinguished professor.

The 2022 recipients of the lifetime honor are Hans Coetzee, professor and head of anatomy and physiology; Roman Ganta, professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology and director of the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases; Brian Geisbrecht, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics; and Robert Goodband, professor of animal sciences and industry and extension swine specialist.

"As leading researchers in their fields, Drs. Coetzee, Ganta, Geisbrecht and Goodband also have distinguished themselves as teachers and mentors," said Chuck Taber, executive vice president and university provost. "They consistently demonstrate K-State's land-grant mission of excellence in teaching, research and service and are quite deserving of their new titles of university distinguished professors."

University distinguished professors are appointed following a universitywide nomination and evaluation process conducted by the provost. The four faculty members will receive a personalized plaque and medallion at the university's fall 2022 commencement ceremonies.

Coetzee is internationally recognized for developing objective measures of pain during routine husbandry procedures in food-producing animals, including beef and dairy cattle, sheep and swine. Coetzee also researches bovine anaplasmosis and developed a single-dose implant vaccine that provides long-term immunity against anaplasmosis infections.

Awarded more than $21.2 million in research funding in the last 16 years, with over $18 million from highly competitive federal sources such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Coetzee has authored or co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts in the same period. He also is highly in demand for consultation by livestock producers, practitioners, academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies on livestock pain assessment. He has presented his work at continuing education sessions and conferences around the world.

His work has earned several international and national honors, including being the first North American recipient of the World Veterinary Association Global Animal Welfare Award in 2017, only the second recipient of the World Buiatrics Congress Well-being Achievement Award in 2018 and the youngest recipient of the American Veterinary Medical Association Animal Welfare Award in 2017. He also has received the American Association of Bovine Practitioners Award of Excellence and the Zoetis Award for Research Excellence.

Coetzee first served at K-State from 2005 to 2011 as an assistant professor of clinical sciences. He rejoined the university in 2016 in his current position. He also is serving as interim director of the Nantechnology Innovation Center of Kansas State and the Institute of Comparative Medicine in the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Ganta is an international authority on tick-borne rickettsial diseases, contributing significantly to the knowledge of the biology, pathogenesis, immunology, diagnostics and vaccine studies of rickettsial pathogens from the Ehrlichia species, Anaplasma species and Rickettsia species, particularly E. chaffeensis, E. canis, E. ruminantium, A. marginale, A. phagocytophilum and R. rickettsia, which are spread by the bite of infected ticks.

As a principal investigator, Ganta has received approximately $19.65 million in extramural research funding since joining K-State in 1998, including continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health since 2002. Ganta currently holds three major NIH R01 grants to investigate pathogenesis and vaccine development targeting diseases affecting companion and agricultural animals and people. Other funding agencies that have supported Ganta's research include the Morris Animal Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Russell L. Rustici Rangeland and Cattle Research Endowment. His work has led to seven patents as inventor or co-inventor and he has eight more patent applications under review.

Ganta established the Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Disease in 2015 at the College of Veterinary Medicine to highlight and expand vector-borne disease research program at K-State. He generated $1.2 million in foundation support to promote the center's research goals. The center's researchers are from across campus and around the world and its many projects include vaccine development for Rocky Mountain spotted fever, bovine anaplasmosis, canine anaplasmosis and canine ehrlichiosis.

The author or co-author on 88 peer-reviewed publications, seven reviews and 12 books chapters, Ganta is actively involved on national grant review panels, serves on the editorial boards of five journals and provides peer reviews of manuscripts for 34 journals.

Ganta serves as the instructor or co-instructor for several graduate and professional courses. He has mentored 21 postdoctoral students, six faculty, two visiting scientists and eight undergraduate students, along with serving as a major professor to 23 graduate students. He is the recipient of the Pfizer Animal Health Award for Excellence in Research and was recognized as a fellow of the Association of Biotechnology and Pharmacy in India and fellow of the Conference of Research Workers in Animals Diseases, USA.

Geisbrecht is one of the world's experts on the structure and biochemistry of proteins that function in the innate immune system. In particular, his lab studies molecules produced by pathogenic bacteria that block activity of these innate immune components. Geisbrecht's work to date has determined and published the molecular structures of more than 30 proteins of the innate immune system or their bacterially-derived inhibitors. His laboratory's objective is to understand these interactions at the molecular level and to use that information as a basis for therapeutic discovery and development.

Since joining the K-State biochemistry and molecular biophysics department in 2013, Geisbrecht has received NIH support of $5.8 million for his work. This includes two new awards that will further understanding of the interactions between the innate immune system and pathogenic bacteria. Since 2013, his lab has published seven articles in the Journal of Immunology, six articles in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, two articles in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and individual articles in other prestigious journals. Illustrations from his laboratory's recent articles in the Journal of Immunology and Journal of Biological Chemistry were selected to illustrate the journals' covers.

Geisbrecht has served on national and international grant review panels and on the editorial board of several respected scientific journals, including the Journal of Immunology. He has been an invited speaker and presenter at conferences and meetings across the U.S. and world.

Teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels and serving as an undergraduate advisor, Geisbrecht has been the mentor for four postdoctoral fellows, lead professor for eight doctoral students and one master's student, and has served on the dissertation/thesis committees of 25 other graduate students. He has supervised 27 undergraduate researchers in his laboratory.

Goodband is part of a national and internationally known swine nutrition team with programs focused on developing, evaluating and disseminating the latest information to increase the profitability of pork producers while maintaining the highest level of animal health and welfare. Goodband also is internationally known for his research on feed processing, feed management and swine nutrient requirements. His research found that reducing the grain particle size in swine feed from 900 microns to the currently recommended 300 to 500 microns results in a 5% reduction in feed usage industrywide and improves the profitability and sustainability of swine producers. It also has reduced the environmental impact of the industry by reducing swine waste by more than 20%.

Goodband's research has helped define amino acid requirements of growing pigs, establishing new ways of integrating feed-grade amino acid into their diets. He aided the industry during the global pandemic through his research on slowing the growth rate of pigs, which helped protect the nation's food supply and save pork producers millions of dollars.

Awarded research grants totaling $13.8 million, Goodband's work has produced eight patents, more than 400 refereed journal papers, nine book chapters, 900 research reports and 170 extension publications. He also is widely sought as a speaker at national and international meetings, giving 164 invited presentations at conferences in 11 countries.

Goodband regularly advises around 40 undergraduates each year and mentoring more than 120 graduate students since joining K-State in 1989. His work has earned many honors, including K-State's 2019 Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award; the 2019 Nonruminant Nutrition Research Award from the American Society of Animal Sciences, which is considered the society's highest research honor; and fellowship status with the American Society of Animal Sciences in 2021.


Hans Coetzee

Roman Ganta

Brian Geisbrecht

Robert Goodband
785-532-1228, goodband@k-state.edu

Coetzee is COULD-see
Geisbrecht is GUYS-breckt


University distinguished professors

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Hans Coetzee

Roman Ganta

Brian Geisbrecht

Robert Goodband

Written by

Beth Bohn