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Sources: Charles Rice, 785-532-7217,;
and Amit Chakrabarti, 785-532-1625,
Photos available. Contact or 785-532-6415
News release prepared by: Katie Mayes, 785-532-6415,

Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009


MANHATTAN -- An award-winning agronomist and a theoretical physicist will receive Kansas State University's 2009 Commerce Bank Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award.

Charles Rice, a university distinguished professor of agronomy, and Amit Chakrabarti, professor of physics, will be recognized at the K-State Graduate School commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 11, in Bramlage Coliseum. The awards, which come with a $2,500 honorarium, are supported by the William T. Kemper Foundation and the Commerce Bancshares Foundation. They are coordinated through the Kansas State University Foundation.

"This is the 15th year that Commerce Bank and the William T. Kemper Foundation have partnered with K-State to support the Commerce Bank Distinguished Graduate Faculty Awards," said Tom Giller, community bank president, Commerce Bank, Manhattan. "High quality teaching is critical to student success, so we welcome this opportunity to help the university recognize those who excel in teaching, research and the mentoring of students."

Kirk Schulz, K-State president, said that supporting faculty who go the extra mile to connect with students is key to the university's success.

"At K-State the quality of our faculty is directly linked to student success," he said. "The support we've received from Commerce Bank over the last 15 years had enabled us to recognize and encourage excellence."

Rice, an award-winning soil scientist, was a member of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which was recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its work. Most recently, Rice was awarded the Irvin Youngberg Award for Applied Sciences, one of the University of Kansas' Higuchi Awards, and was named one of five team leaders for a $20 million Kansas NSF EPSCoR project researching global climate change and renewable energy research.

His research, which focuses on soil organic dynamics, nitrogen transformations and microbial ecology, has been supported by more than $15 million in federal grants. In particular, his work on denitrifier ecology in subsoils has advanced the understanding of the impact of cultivation on microbial ecology and the fate of nitrates in soils and groundwater.

Rice came to K-State in 1988, became a full professor in 1998 and earned the university's highest academic rank of university distinguished professor in 2009. He has mentored numerous graduate students, including 15 master's and 16 doctoral candidates.

"I appreciate the recognition of this award," Rice said. "A large part of this is due to the quality graduate students that have come through my program."

Chakrabarti's research interests are in the field of theoretical condensed matter physics. His research is curiosity-driven and focuses on how particles in a dispersed phase come together and form aggregates.

Chakrabarti is presently collaborating with several K-State faculty members on projects that have been funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation. He also is collaborating with Jim Gunton, a professor at Lehigh University, to understand how insulin crystals form from aqueous solutions. Insulin is an important drug in the treatment of diabetes, and understanding the process of microcrystal formation is important for developing new methods of drug delivery.

He has mentored eight doctoral candidates and several postdoctoral fellows.

"I am thrilled to have been selected by my peers at K-State for this award," Chakrabarti said. "K-State is a research-oriented institution and I am sure there were many strong candidates for this award, which makes this award even more special for me."

Chakrabarti joined the K-State faculty in 1990 and was named a full professor in 2000. He has been honored previously for his teaching with K-State's Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and is a two-time winner of the Stamey Award for Teaching Excellence from the College of Arts and Sciences.