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K-State News
Kansas State University
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Source: James Hohenbary, 785-532-6904, jimlth@k-state.edu
Hometown connection: Fort Scott, Junction City, Kanopolis and Wichita, Kan.
News release prepared by: Stephanie Jacques, 785-532-3453, sjacques@k-state.edu

Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012

2012 Goldwater scholarship nominees share interest in research

MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University has nominated four students -- Sterling Braun, Fort Scott; Joshua Ericson, Junction City; Graciela Orozco, Kanopolis;and Angela Grommet, Wichita --for the 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

Established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater from Arizona, the scholarship is awarded to nearly 300 college students across the country every year. Awardees receive up to $7,500 annually for college-related expenses. With 67 Goldwater scholars to date, Kansas State University ranks first among the nation's 500 public universities.

All four of this year's nominees have active research projects and intend to pursue careers in mathematics, sciences or engineering -- a requirement of the scholarship.

Braun is a junior in premedicine and microbiology with a minor in English. He is currently researching cancer biology with Alexander Beeser, assistant professor of biology. Specifically, Braun is studying the DUSP12 enzyme and its role in the cellular processes and pathogenesis of liposarcoma. In summer 2011 he participated under Jeffrey Rosen in the Summer Medical and Research Training Program at Baylor College of Medicine, where he studied the Wnt signaling in mammary glands and its role in breast cancer.

Braun is the recipient of several awards and honors, including a Putnam scholarship; the June Hull Sherrid Division of Biology scholarship; the Division of Biology University Distinguished Professor scholarship; the Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, or K-INBRE, scholarship; the Phi Kappa Phi honor society sophomore scholar award; and a Johnson Cancer Research Center research award. In 2010 he placed second for his platform presentation at the eighth annual K-INBRE conference and gave a poster presentation at the 50th annual American Society for Cell Biology symposium. He has volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Texas Children's Hospital. Braun is also a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. A graduate of Fort Scott High School, he is the son of Elizabeth and Edward Braun, Fort Scott.

Ericson is a junior in mathematics and is conducting research with Pietro Poggi-Corradini, professor of mathematics. He is looking for ways to use mathematics to accurately describe how biological epidemics can spread in rural settings. Using tools such as probability theory and graph theory, Ericson hopes to find a strategy for preventing such outbreaks from occurring in the future. His research is sponsored by the university's Center for Engagement and Community Development.

Ericson is a 2011-2012 department of mathematics I-Center scholar. His other scholarships include a K-State Transfer scholarship, a Friends of Mathematics scholarship, a Sarah G. Sitz Mathematics scholarship and a National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant. Ericson has been invited to present his findings at the American Mathematical Society Central Section meeting in March in Lawrence. He attended Wichita State University before coming to Kansas State University. A graduate of Junction City High School, he is the son of Don Ericson and Suzy Lauseng, Junction City.

Orozco is a sophomore in biological engineering and biology. She has several ongoing research projects. Two of her projects involve working with stable isotopes with Jesse Nippert, assistant professor of biology. Her first project with Nippert uses stable isotopes in bison tail hair and surrounding vegetation to reconstruct a bison's diet. Her second project with Nippert looks at the stable isotopic signatures of dogwood trees across varying topoedaphic gradients to establish an isotope map across varying environmental gradients on the Konza Prairie Biological Station. She is also working with Stacy Hutchinson, associate professor of biological and agricultural engineering, to investigate how temperature affects native tallgrass water demands on Konza Prairie.

Orozco is the president of Sigma Lambda Gamma, a Latina-based sorority, and is a member of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization. She takes part in the Multicultural Engineering Program, Engineering a Dream and the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. She is a McNair scholar and a National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering scholar. She was awarded the Division of Biology Most Promising Student award and the Leadership Studies Gallery of Peace and Justice Grant in 2011. She also participates in St. Isidore's Liturgical Ministries. A graduate of Ellsworth High School, she is the daughter of Peter and Bonnie Orozco, Kanopolis.

Grommet is a junior in chemistry with minors in physics and English literature. She is working with Christer Aakeroy, professor of chemistry, to research the binding patterns of a group of chemical compounds called 2-aminopyrimidines, which are commonly found in pharmaceuticals and agriculture chemicals. If they can understand how the molecules of the compound bind, it could lead to improvements of commercial substances. Grommet and Aakeroy recently published research results involving diclofenac -- a painkiller used to relieve rheumatoid arthritis -- in Pharmaceutics, an international peer-reviewed journal published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.

Since August, Grommet has worked as a laboratory-teaching assistant for organic chemistry. She is a member of the university chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma professional chemical fraternity and Phi Eta Sigma national honor society. She has received a Putnam scholarship and a Johnson Cancer Research Center research award. In spring 2011 Grommet presented a poster at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif., and in fall 2011 she gave a talk at the regional meeting of the American Chemical Society in St. Louis. A graduate of Andover High School, she is the daughter of Gary and Anne Grommet, Wichita.