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Sources: Frank White, 785-532-1362,;
and Susan Brown, 785-532-1625,
Photos available. Contact or 785-532-2535.
News release prepared by: Emily Vietti, 785-532-2535,

Friday, Oct. 8, 2010


MANHATTAN -- A developmental geneticist and a plant microbiologist are the recipients of the 2010 Commerce Bank Distinguished Graduate Faculty awards at Kansas State University.

Susan Brown, professor of biology, and Frank White, professor of plant pathology, will be recognized at the K-State Graduate School commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, 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.

"For 16 years now, Commerce Bank and the William T. Kemper Foundation have joined with K-State to support the Commerce Bank Distinguished Graduate Faculty Awards," said Tom Giller, community bank president, Commerce Bank, Manhattan. "Student success depends on exceptional instruction. We are proud to help the university honor faculty members who excel in research and the teaching and mentoring of K-State students."

Kirk Schulz, K-State president, said that supporting excellent faculty will help the university achieve its goals for the future.

"For K-State to succeed in reaching its goal of being a top 50 research university by 2025, we need our faculty to continue to excel in research and teaching," Schulz said. "I am glad that Commerce Bank is supporting our efforts to promote excellence in our faculty with these awards."

Brown has a bachelor's degree in biology from Smith College and a doctorate in genetics from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She came to K-State as a research associate in 1983 and became a full professor in 2007.

She is a developmental geneticist studying the genetic regulation of embryonic development in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum. She has developed genetic and genomic tools to establish Tribolium as a premiere genetic model organism and was a leader in the Tribolium genome project, which produced the first complete genome sequence of a beetle. Brown is the director of the Arthropod Genomics Center and the K-State Bioinformatics Center.

"All of the graduate faculty work hard to mentor students, so it is an honor to be selected by my peers for this award," said Brown.

White received a bachelor's degree in molecular biology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His master's and doctoral degrees, both from the University of Washington-Seattle, are in microbiology/immunology.

He has been at K-State since 1985 and has been a full professor since 2001. He is a fellow of the American Phytopathology Society and an international authority on the molecular basis of plant disease.

"I am honored to be the recipient of the 2010 Commerce Bank Distinguished Graduate Faculty award, and I commend the university and Commerce Bank for placing important emphasis on graduate training," White said. "I rely a great deal on the dedicated efforts of many excellent graduate students for progress in our research and consider the award as much a testament to their efforts as mine. Of course, graduate student mentoring involves many other people, including the graduate school, fellow departmental faculty and our excellent staff in the department of plant pathology, and my thanks go to them also."