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Source: Emily Tummons,
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News release prepared by: Kayela Richard, 785-532-2535,

Monday, May 9, 2011


MANHATTAN -- Making it easier to clean up after disasters like last summer's Gulf oil spill could be the future career of Kansas State University's Emily Tummons, thanks to the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship she has received.

Tummons, Leawood, who graduates May 14 from K-State with a bachelor's in biological systems engineering, will use the fellowship to pursue a doctorate in environmental engineering at Michigan State University. The competitive award, which recognizes outstanding students who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, includes a yearly $30,000 stipend and $10,500 for tuition and fees.

"I'm very honored and privileged to have received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. It opens so many doors for me at the next level," Tummons said.

Tummons credits her success in landing the fellowship to her hard work and her professors at K-State.

"They pushed me so hard to excel at every level," she said. "I also got involved in multiple organizations that really broadened my horizons."

For her doctoral degree, Tummons would like to focus on membrane separations for water purification.

"Oil and water separation is important because of issues like the Gulf oil spill last summer," she said. "All of the oil on the top of the water can be easily skimmed off, but lots of the oil is broken into very small particles and disperses throughout the water. This is very harmful to aquatic life and plants. These oil particles are not easy to remove but it's very important to try."

After earning her doctorate, Tummons hopes to continue her work on oil and water separation at a prestigious research university. She also wants to be active with groups like Engineers Without Borders, a nonprofit organization committed to humanitarian efforts around the world.

"It's very important to give back to those in need," she said.

Tummons would like to see more K-State students to apply for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

"I definitely encourage more students to apply for the fellowship because it really broadens your horizons and allows you to do whatever type of research you are individually focused on rather than what the university has funding for," she said. "It also helps K-State excel on the national scale and that's attractive to students who are research-focused."

Tummons received a 2010 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. She is a member of the K-State chapters of Golden Key international honor society, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Phi Kappa Phi honor society, Tau Beta Pi national engineering society and Alpha Epsilon honorary society for biological and agricultural engineers. She is also a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and is the first vice president of the K-State chapter of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. She is the daughter of Philip and Louann Tummons, Leawood, and a 2007 graduate of St. Teresa's Academy.