K-State Current

K-State Current - January 5, 2022

K-State Current is a weekly news update for the Kansas Board of Regents to apprise the Regents on a few of the many successes and achievements made by K-State faculty, staff and students.K-State Salina Student

K-State News

Kevin Nalette appointed interim chief of staff, director of community relations

Kevin NaletteKevin Nalette has been named Kansas State University’s interim chief of staff and director of community relations by President Richard Myers.

Effective Jan. 3, Nalette will serve in this interim position until a national search is conducted to permanently fill the position that will be vacated when Linda Cook retires on Feb. 1.

Nalette is a 1996 graduate of K-State with a Bachelor of Science in life sciences and had a 27-year career with the U.S. Air Force before retiring in summer 2021 and returning to his alma mater as coordinator of Non-Traditional and Veteran Student Services.

“Kevin brings significant senior leadership experience, as well as demonstrated skills in managing high-level projects, collaborating with multiple constituents in addressing complex issues, and communicating with various audiences on critical and complex topics,” Myers said. “His skill set will be invaluable as K-State begins the process of transitioning from my retirement in February and the arrival of incoming President Rich Linton on Feb. 14.”

While in the Air Force, Nalette’s career spanned many levels and culminated as the executive vice president of the Air Force Sustainment Center in Oklahoma City, where he was the senior leader for a 40,000 person organization that generated over $16 billion in annual revenue. While assigned to the Air Force's European headquarters, he served as the deputy chief of staff and executive officer charged with all aspects of the leadership transition between a retiring and an incoming four-star general officer.

After retiring from the Air Force, Nalette served as an adjunct instructor of supply chain management and logistics at the Price College of Business at the University of Oklahoma.

“I look forward to serving in this interim role as chief of staff and director of community relations,” Nalette said. “As an alumnus, my passion for K-State runs deep. It’s an honor to be able to utilize my experience and expertise to support and guide the university during this transitional period.”

Nalette will report directly to the university president, serve as a member of the president’s cabinet, and play a key role in the transition between university presidents. He will also coordinate community affairs for the university, representing the president’s office on issues related to the city of Manhattan and Riley County.

Nalette will provide leadership for the prestigious Landon Lecture Series and coordinate special projects working with the president and provost. In addition, he will serve as a liaison for the president’s office with the KSU Foundation and K-State Alumni Association. The Office of Institutional Equity, McCain Auditorium and Beach Museum of Art will also report to Nalette.

In addition to his bachelor’s degree from K-State, Nalette has a master’s in aerospace science-management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, and a master's in military arts and sciences-strategy from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. He also completed a research fellowship with RAND Corp. in Santa Monica, California.


Ashley Martin named interim vice president for communications and marketing

Ashley MartinAshley Martin will serve as Kansas State University's interim vice president for communications and marketing. Martin's appointment was made by President Richard Myers and will take effect on Jan. 17.

Currently the assistant vice president for communications and marketing, Martin will take over leadership for Jeff Morris, who is retiring on March 19. A national search will be conducted later for the permanent vice president, with more details on that search to be announced in the future.

Martin, who earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from K-State, has served with the Division of Communications and Marketing since November 2012, starting as a client manager, becoming director of marketing in April 2014, appointed as executive director of university marketing and creative services in December 2017 and promoted to assistant vice president of the division in May 2019.

"Ashley's significant experience in helping create and carry out branding, marketing and communication strategies for key university initiatives, including the development and now implementation of our universitywide branding campaign, a key part of our Strategic Enrollment Management plan, will be particularly valuable when incoming K-State President Richard Linton begins his duties on Feb. 14," Myers said. "Her expertise will be relied upon to ensure that K-State's branding and creative strategies remain strong and active during this transitionary period."

In her current role, Martin developed and led K-State's institutionwide brand campaign launch in August 2020 in partnership with Vice President Morris, marketing leaders across the university and an external agency partner. She also has managed ongoing campaign adoption and execution across K-State, including the migration of websites to new templates supporting the branding campaign. This work includes developing, launching and managing the university's first comprehensive undergraduate student recruitment advertising strategy. Martin directly supervises the division's marketing, creative and photography units and also supports the news and communications unit during high-volume periods, including with its COVID-19 communication efforts. She also assists Morris with executive-level strategic projects and day-to-day management of the Division of Communications and Marketing.

"I am honored to serve the university in this expanded capacity as the interim vice president for communications and marketing," Martin said. The transformational power of higher education — and more specifically, the K-State experience — is a story that we all need to share with urgency, consistency and passion. I look forward to collaborating with the university community during this transition to ensure we continue to elevate the K-State brand in the marketplace."

As interim vice president, Martin will report directly to the university president, serve on the president's cabinet and be the senior communications advisor to university leadership. She will lead collaborative efforts to create and manage a unified, institutional brand strategy for the university and university-level presence in all media. The interim vice president will define creative strategy at the university level and drive alignment with campuses, colleges, departments and other major units.

Martin also will lead the internal strategic communications team to provide reputation management, crisis communications and proactive public relations efforts. This includes primary responsibility for internal communications at the institutional level. The interim vice president will also maintain strategic relationships with external communications partners, including K-State Athletics, K-State Alumni Association, KSU Foundation, Kansas Board of Regents and other key constituents.

Graduating summa cum laude from K-State in May 2007 with a bachelor's degree in journalism and communications, Martin served as a K-State admissions representative from 2007-2008. She then held various higher education marketing positions in Colorado before returning to K-State in 2012, including serving universities across the country while working with Educational Marketing Group Inc. and leading online marketing and communications efforts at Regis University.

Martin earned a master's in mass communications from K-State in 2014.


K-State Faculty Highlights

Tonnie Martinez and Michael Raine recognized as Professor and Professional Staff of the Week

Tonnie Martinez and Michael Raine

Tonnie Martinez, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, and Michael Raine, information technology manager, were recognized as Professor and Professional Staff of the Week at the Jan. 4 men's home basketball game.

Faculty Senate, the Office of the President, K-State Athletics and the Division of Communications and Marketing wish to recognize their contributions to K-State.

Martinez joined the College of Education in 2006 as an assistant professor and associate director of the Center for Intercultural and Multilingual Advocacy. Martinez's career in the college is exemplary in the three areas of teaching, research and service. In her current position as the executive director of the Center for Public School Improvement, she teaches future educators and works with school administrators to plan professional development to meet the evolving needs of public schools. Her research includes trauma and brain development, creative strategies for diverse learners, personalized instruction, and innovative professional development for educators. This role provides an additional platform for her scholarship and research that enhances her exemplary teaching, student recruitment and student support. Martinez serves as the co-author and co-principal investigator for multiple grants of significant funding.

Martinez presents her scholarship and innovative research findings regularly at regional and national conferences and symposiums. Her stellar reputation for addressing the learning needs of the multicultural community reflects well on the College of Education. Martinez is also very cognizant of and dedicated to meeting the land-grant mission of K-State by working with school district personnel throughout Kansas to enhance the success of all Pre-K and K-12 students.

Martinez's passion for caring and educating all students permeates through all of her positions and roles. Her exemplary college teaching to pre-service educators is demonstrated by her commitment to effective and innovative instruction. She models for her students the strategies and dispositions necessary for successful teaching and learning. Her professionalism is grounded in her belief and dedication to the education of all students and is demonstrated by her enthusiasm and excitement for the professional growth of all educators.

Raine goes above and beyond, working tirelessly every day to ensure that each faculty and staff member can do their job, to keep building technology functioning well and exemplifies staff excellence. He will meet with individuals one-on-one to help and is always willing to go the extra mile to see to it that issues are resolved quickly and efficiently. He is an amazing boss and helps instill lifelong lessons to each of his student employees, not only related to IT but helping each student build valuable skills that would make them an asset to any company upon graduation.

Raine works incredibly hard behind the scenes making sure that that the college and its tech resources run smoothly. His dedication to his job is off-the-charts. One colleague shared that he shows truly remarkable patience to those who are not very technology-savvy, and this is deeply appreciated.

He also shows extreme care for his student staff and all staff and faculty that he works with; he truly cares about people. He takes time to check in on how his employees are doing outside of their work lives. It was shared by one of his student staff that he has paid for everyone's dinner at many staff meetings, has offered to drop off a get-well kit when someone was sick, has reached out and engaged with employees when he could see they were struggling with something, along with many other examples.


University announces research collaboration to improve COVID-19 vaccine stability

Robert DeLong

Robert DeLong, right, associate professor at the university's Nanotechnology Innovation Center of Kansas State, with second-year veterinary medicine student Hanah Huber. DeLong and other K-State researchers are part of a research collaboration with Tonix Pharmaceuticals that seeks to increase stability of mRNA vaccines, including those for COVID-19.

Researchers at Kansas State University are expanding on an industry partnership to increase stability in mRNA vaccines — including those again COVID-19 — during transport and storage.

The agreement, coordinated by K-State Innovation Partners, is an exclusive license and option agreement and research collaboration with Tonix Pharmaceuticals.

Through the partnership, researchers will develop zinc nanoparticle, or ZNP, mRNA vaccines that replace the lipid nanoparticle, or LNP, technology in current COVID-19 vaccines. The new zinc nanoparticle technology confers increased stability to mRNA vaccines over a wide range of temperatures in model systems. The temperature-sensitive nature of zinc nanoparticle mRNA formulations limit vaccine shipping and storage to ultralow temperatures, which limits rapid global deployment. Under the research agreement, K-State will advance preclinical development of a new zinc nanoparticle mRNA vaccine to protect against COVID-19 based on the spike protein from SARS-CoV-2.

"The LNP technology of current mRNA COVID-19 vaccines limits our ability to deploy these vaccines in many parts of the world," said Robert DeLong, associate professor at the Nanotechnology Innovation Center of Kansas State. "The technology we have developed uses zinc to replace LNPs and results in more temperature stable mRNA vaccines."

DeLong said that zinc nanoparticles, unlike lipid nanoparticles, are stable over a range of temperatures, including room temperature. Eliminating the need for lipid nanoparticles in mRNA vaccines could speed deployment of new vaccines and make them more available globally. At scale, zinc nanoparticle-based mRNA vaccines may also be less expensive to manufacture.

DeLong will lead the vaccine research, along with colleagues Waithaka Mwangi, professor of diagnostic pathobiology in the K-State College of Veterinary Medicine, and Juergen Richt, director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases and director of Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

"Our goal in utilizing a new mRNA formulation technology is to vaccinate people all over the world to save lives globally and reduce the emergence of variants of COVID-19 that can evade vaccine immunity," Mwangi said.

According to the Center for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration, the mRNA vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna based on lipid nanoparticles have been shown to prevent COVID-19 for up to six months after two doses and for longer with a booster. Because of the limitations of lipid nanoparticle technology, these mRNA vaccines require ultra-cold storage and transport because they are unstable at room temperature or even in standard refrigerators or freezers.

"The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines against COVID-19 have shown that mRNA technology is rapidly deployable and is likely to be one of the first lines of defense for future pandemics," said Seth Lederman, M.D., chief executive officer of Tonix. "The ZNP technology invented and developed by scientists at K-State has the potential to make mRNA vaccines that are free from LNPs, which could improve the stability of mRNA vaccines at room temperature and facilitate their deployment in places without ultra-cold chain supply systems."


K-State Student News

Phillips 66 Business Ethics Case Competition awards $7,000 to K-State students

Phillips 66 Case CompetitionBack row, from left: Brooke Pickert, Cole Pierce, Tucker Balman, Garrett Gunnerson, Jordan Ast, Brett Jennrich. Front row, from left: Bill Turnley, department head — management, Larrisa Vogt, Maddie Fankhauser, Samantha Crawford, Jacqueline Anzalone, Karl Burg, Reid Seacat, Tyler Rodvelt, Sabine Turnley, senior instructor — management.

The Kansas State University College of Business Administration recently awarded $7,000 in scholarship money to 24 students who competed in the 2021 Phillips 66 Business Ethics Case Competition.

A total of 275 students representing 70 teams entered the competition, which was organized by the college's Ethics and Responsible Business Citizenship Initiative and sponsored by Phillips 66.

Students were challenged to examine a real-world ethical dilemma and were responsible for analyzing the situation, applying appropriate ethical and strategic management principles, and developing a viable set of practical recommendations. After faculty members in the management department evaluated the initial written analyses, six teams were selected to compete in the final round where they presented their analyses and recommendations to a panel of judges.

"This competition provides a unique opportunity for our students to improve their analytical, decision-making and presentation skills," said Bill Turnley, Sam and Karen Forrer chair of business ethics and head of the management department. "The finalists' presentations were excellent. Their recommendations were well justified and did a nice job of balancing strategic and ethical concerns. We very much appreciate the support from Phillips 66 that makes this competition possible."

"Phillips 66 is very proud to support the Business Ethics Case Competition," said Seth Sanders, volumetric accounting director at Phillips 66. "The presenting groups all did a wonderful job and adapted well to the virtual format. It was great to see K-Staters take a broader, more holistic view of the corporate purpose and demonstrate how long-term value can be generated for all stakeholders."

The winning team, The Last Dance, includes Jaqueline Anzalone, senior in sales and supply chain management; Tucker Balman, senior in supply chain management; Tyler Rodvelt, senior in accounting and finance; and Reid Seacat, senior in finance. Each member of the winning team will receive $500 for a total prize of $2,000.

Team members of the second-place team, Clairvoyant Consulting, are Aaron Debolt, senior in financial analysis; and Maddie Fankhauser, Brooke Pickert and Cole Pierce, seniors studying marketing and sales. Each team member will receive $400 for a total prize of $1,600.

Table 7 Consulting was the third-place team and was made up of Jordan Ast, junior in finance and supply chain management; Jackson Boyle, senior in management information systems; Garrett Gunnerson, senior in supply chain management; and Brett Jennrich, senior in management information systems and marketing. Each team member will receive $300 for a total prize of $1,200.

Fourth place was taken by team Cats' Consulting with Joe Lucas, senior in marketing and organizational management; and three seniors in accounting: Jack Beckley, Dayne Homolka and Avery Malloy. Those students will each be awarded $250 for a total prize of $1,000.

Members of the remaining two finalist teams received an honorable mention award of $150 each for advancing through to the final round. Receiving the honorable mention designation was team Fantastic Four with Jake Acosta, senior in finance; Alex Arriaga, senior in finance; Peyton Carr, senior in management; and Zachary Sauer, senior in accounting. Also receiving honorable mention was team GKLS Consulting with Karl Burg senior in management information systems; Samantha Crawford, senior in human resource management; Gunther Shull, senior in organizational management; and Larissa Vogt, senior in accounting.





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