Kansas State University undergraduates receive special grants for research projects in College of Veterinary Medicine
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
MANHATTAN — Two Kansas State University undergraduate students are among the first three students in the nation to receive research funding through the Histochemical Society's new Capstone Grant program.
MaRyka Smith, senior in animal sciences and industry, Hoyt, and Kaitlynn Bradshaw, junior in biology, Manhattan, have each received $500 grants for their research projects, which will be conducted in the College of Veterinary Medicine under the mentorship of A. Sally Davis, assistant professor of experimental pathology.
The Histochemical Society's Capstone Grant program promotes the use of immunohistochemistry or other histochemical techniques in biological research.
Bradshaw's project is "Calcofluor White Labeling of Pneumocystis" and involves the fungus pneumocystis, which is known for its ability to cause life-threatening pneumonia in immunocompromised individuals.
"For years, calcofluor white has been used to stain tissues to detect pneumocystis," said Bradshaw, a student in the College of Arts & Sciences. "It had long been assumed that this fluorescent dye was staining chitin. However, recent sequencing of the genome of pneumocystis has determined that this fungus produces no genes capable of synthesizing chitin."
Bradshaw's research project will try to determine what it is that calcofluor white is staining. After finishing her undergraduate degree, Bradshaw plans on earning a master's degree in the field of pathology.
Smith's project is "Mechanisms of Acute Kidney Injury in RVFV Infected Ruminant Tissues." It is a continuation of recently published work on the development of cattle and sheep Rift Valley fever virus challenge models for vaccine efficacy testing in which renal damage was observed.
"Rift Valley fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease that causes large economic losses in Africa and the Middle East," said Smith, a student in the College of Agriculture. "Currently, there are no commercially available vaccines for humans, and those available for livestock are difficult to administer and can be dangerous to young and gestating animals. My project aims to determine the mechanism of renal damage during Rift Valley fever in ruminants."
Smith is finishing her prerequisites and will apply to veterinary school this fall. Her ultimate goals include working in the pathology of large animals.
"I'm thrilled that Katie and MaRyka have both made the transition from practicing experimental pathology techniques to leading their own research projects in which they can pursue interesting unanswered questions regarding infectious disease," Davis said. "I look forward to their discoveries and their communication of them to the wider scientific community. These awards from the Histochemical Society are confirmation that Kansas State University is strong in its ability to provide undergraduate research opportunities, and I am proud to be part of that tradition."
The Histochemical Society is an organization of scientists sharing a passion for the development and use of visual techniques that provide biochemical and molecular information about the structure and function of cells, tissues and organs and for the dissemination of this knowledge through education and outreach.