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Research excellence earns three students 2015 University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awards

Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015


MANHATTAN — Kansas State University's university distinguished faculty members will recognize three outstanding graduate students with 2015 University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awards.

At a Sept. 15 awards ceremony, Andrew Marshall, doctoral student in psychological sciences, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, will receive $5,000; Adam Kell, doctoral student in chemistry, St. Peters, Missouri, will receive $2,500; and Sam Procter, doctoral student in computing and information sciences, Manhattan, will receive $2,500.

The awards recognize graduate students who have shown exceptional achievement in graduate studies and demonstrate excellence in scholarship through publications and other accomplishments appropriate for his or her academic field. Kansas State University's university distinguished professors have established a set of guidelines and criteria for the evaluation of candidates and Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School, coordinates the selection process.

Marshall's dissertation is "A reinforcement-learning approach to understanding loss-chasing behavior in humans and rats." Using multiple experimental methods and reinforcement-learning and computational-analytical techniques, his research will determine the underlying mechanisms of loss-chasing behavior in both humans and rats, a nonhuman pre-clinical animal model of human risky choice behavior. His advisor is Kimberly Kirkpatrick, professor of psychological sciences.

"When I arrived at K-State the summer of 2010, the primary goals that I set to achieve by the time I graduated were to be a good member of my lab and the psychological sciences department, conduct solid research and, maybe, make a contribution to the field," Marshall said. "This award confirms that I'm on my way to meeting these goals and shows how well the psychological sciences department prepares all of its students to be successful and productive at K-State and in the future."

Kell's dissertation is "Energy Transfer and Exciton Dynamics in Photosynthetic Pigment-Protein Complexes." His research focuses on attempting to understand fundamental processes — energy transfer, structure-function relationships, etc. — in photosynthetic pigment–protein complexes. His advisor is Ryszard Jankowiak, university distinguished professor of chemistry.

"I feel honored to be selected as one of the recipients," Kell said. "While problem-solving and overcoming challenges in research is rewarding in and of itself, being recognized for one's efforts truly helps to drive motivation as I enter my final year of graduate study."

Procter's dissertation is "An Application Development Environment for Medical Application Platform Apps." His work is focused on creating a development environment for software applications that would be used to organize medical devices into a system of cooperating medical devices. His advisor is John Hatcliff, university distinguished professor of computing and information sciences.

"The funding from of the award will enable me to travel so that I can meet, and work face-to-face with, collaborators from other institutions and universities, such as the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University," Procter said.

"The University Distinguished Professors Group is very much aware of the fact that high-quality research is critical to the overall success of this institution," said Christer Aakeröy, president of the group and a university distinguished professor of chemistry. "We hope to promote research activities across campus and highlight the performances of some of the best graduates with the help of this award, and we were delighted to receive so many applications from a diverse cadre of outstanding and promising graduate students. The three 2015 University Distinguished Graduate Student Award winners displayed achievements and future potential of the utmost caliber and their contributions will undoubtedly help to further raise the research profile of Kansas State University."

The awards are made possible through a combination of donations from individual university distinguished professors and support from the university's vice president for research.


Carol Shanklin


University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Award

News tip

Manhattan, Kansas; St. Peters, Missouri; and North Kingstown, Rhode Island

Written by

Kelsey Peterson

At a glance

Three Kansas State University doctoral students are being recognized with the 2015 University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awards.