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K-State Today

September 27, 2017



University Distinguished Graduate Student award winners present research at UDP meeting Sept. 19

By Kelsey Peterson

Stuart Miller, Weldensie Embaye and Bhupinder Sandhu

The winners of the University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awards presented their research and received recognition by the University Distinguished Professors at the group meeting on Sept. 19.

The three winners are Stuart Miller, doctoral student in psychological sciences, Bettendorf, Iowa, who receives $4,000; Weldensie Embaye, doctoral student in agricultural economics, Eritrea, East Africa, who receives $3,000; and Bhupinder Sandhu, doctoral student in chemistry, Punjab, India, who receives $3,000.

The awards recognize graduate students who have shown exceptional achievement in their graduate studies and demonstrate excellence in scholarship through publications and other accomplishments appropriate for their academic fields. The University Distinguished Professors Group has established guidelines and criteria for the evaluation of candidates, and Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School, coordinates the selection process.

Miller's dissertation is "Promoting Positive Interracial Contact Through Focusing on the Structural Rather Than the Individual Components of Racism." His research examines how interracial interactions between black individuals and white individuals can be structured to reduce the anxiety often experienced. When interracial anxiety is reduced, intergroup contact can improve interracial attitudes. Miller's goal is to improve interracial interactions while fostering motivations to address issues of social justice and the racial disparities that stratify our society. His advisor is Donald Saucier, professor of psychological sciences.

Embaye's dissertation is "Farm Technical Efficiency and Economic Development." His research looks at identifying the most appropriate methods for evaluation of agricultural development programs. Embaye will evaluate the influence of agricultural extension programs on farm productivity and development, and study how these methods could be used on other related agricultural development programs. His advisor is Jason Bergtold, professor and graduate program director of agricultural economics.

Sandhu's dissertation is "Crystal Engineering From Fundamentals to Applications." Her research seeks to develop reliable and transferable guidelines for how molecules recognize each other, and how they subsequently aggregate and form crystalline materials. A large number of potentially beneficial cancer drugs and other pharmaceutically active ingredients fail simply because of their poor solubility in water. Sandhu is developing a technology base on co-crystals that may allow physical properties to be "dialed-in," thereby providing opportunities for more drugs to reach clinical trials. Her advisor is Christer Aakeröy, university distinguished professor of chemistry.

"We are pleased to partner with the Office of the Vice President for Research to recognize and encourage outstanding graduate students," said Gary Pierzynski, president of the University Distinguished Professors Group. "Graduate Students are essential to the research and creative activities at K-State."

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.

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