Two graduate students recognized for research that benefits Kansas
Monday, Feb. 23, 2015
MANHATTAN — Two Kansas State University graduate students have been named winners for their Kansas-related research presentations at the 12th Capitol Graduate Research Summit.
The two students — Kavitha Penugonda, doctoral student in human nutrition, India, and Ryan Schmid, doctoral student in entomology, Kingsley, Iowa — were chosen among 10 Kansas State University graduate students who presented at the Feb. 12 research summit.
Penugonda and Schmid will each receive a $500 scholarship from the Kansas State University Graduate School. Penugonda also will receive a $500 scholarship from BioKansas.
"We are proud of all of our students who were involved with the Capitol Graduate Research Summit and who were excellent representatives of Kansas State University and the caliber of research that our students conduct," said Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School. "At the successful summit, our students interacted with legislators and statewide leaders and showed how their research truly is making a difference in our state."
The Capitol Graduate Research Summit at the State Capitol building in Topeka 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 and Pittsburg State University. University professors and industry representatives judged the students' posters and presentations. The top presenters from each university received scholarships.
Penugonda's research poster was "Iron bioavailability of sorghum, cowpea, corn and soybean fortified blended foods." Her faculty mentor is Brian Lindshield, associate professor of human nutrition.
Penugonda is assessing the iron bioavailability of sorghum-based fortified blended foods and comparing them with traditional corn-soy fortified blended foods. Sorghum is a gluten-free, non-genetically modified grain that is drought-tolerant and cost-effective. While both sorghum and cowpea are rich in iron, the presence of anti-nutrients gives sorghum poor iron bioavailability.
Penugonda used extrusion cooked — a food processing technique — sorghum, soybean and cowpea fortified blended foods. Penugonda studied 14 different fortified blended foods, including two white varieties and one red variety of sorghum, and compared them with traditional fortified blended foods. By comparing different blends, Penugonda found that the bioavailability of extruded sorghum-cowpea and sorghum-soy fortified blended foods was comparable to traditional corn-soy fortified blended foods.
"Kansas has been the top producer of sorghum for many years and is contributing around 50 percent of the national sorghum production," Penugonda said. "Our study has found that equal iron bioavailability of sorghum-based fortified blended foods compared to corn-soybean fortified blended foods may mean that sorghum can be used in these products, which may increase the demand for Kansas-grown sorghum."
Schmid's research poster was "Hessian fly, Mayetiola destructor, response to different colors of LEDs." His faculty mentor is Brian McCornack, associate professor of entomology.
The Hessian fly is a major pest of wheat in Kansas. Schmid's research aims to examine trap design, deployment strategies and reporting systems to develop economical and efficient devices to monitor for the Hessian fly. He examined Hessian fly attraction to light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, of different colors, including blue, green, amber and red. Schmid found that the Hessian fly prefers green light produced by an LED significantly more than any of the other colors. His research also shows that female Hessian flies are significantly more attracted to LED-produced light than male flies. Schmid will incorporate these results into new trap designs to improve trap attractiveness and effectiveness at monitoring changes in Hessian fly populations.
"This research benefits Kansas by taking a proactive approach to controlling Hessian fly outbreaks," Schmid said. "Monitoring for this pest across Kansas with traps will allow wheat producers to use real time information to make management decisions, thus protecting the valuable commodity of wheat and livelihood of much of rural Kansas."