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K-State Today

November 13, 2015

K-State faculty, students present at 13th annual Ecological Genomics Institute international symposium

Submitted by Jennifer Rhodes

The Kansas State University Ecological Genomics Institute hosted its 13th annual symposium Nov. 6-8 in Manhattan.

Organized by a committee and led by co-directors Loretta Johnson and Michael Herman, professors from K-State's Division of Biology, the symposium highlighted six invited speakers and 12 poster invited abstract speakers. Attendees represented 38 institutions, 21 states and four countries. Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason kicked off the symposium Friday evening by welcoming the 122 attendees to Manhattan.

Among the speakers included Michi Tobler, assistant professor of biology at K-State, who gave the presentation "Finding mechanisms underlying life in extreme environments."

A select number of poster abstract submissions were chosen for presentation, including four by K-State attendees: Matthew Galliart, graduate student in biology, Hutchinson; Corin White, who recently earned her doctorate in biology from K-State, Santa Clara, California; Elizabeth Everman, graduate student in biology, Smithville, Missouri, and Edwina Dowle, postdoctoral fellow who works with Greg Ragland, assistant professor of entomology. Additionally, 28 posters were on display from K-State students, postdoctorates and faculty members.

Fourteen of the 24 posters were displayed by K-State undergraduates, including:

Jaden Anderson, senior in biology, Shawnee; Katherine Johnson, senior in biology, Wichita; Olivia Parrish, senior in biology, Wamego; Ella Popova, senior in biology, Overland Park.

From Manhattan: Alexandria McChesney, senior in biology; Mercedes Santiago, senior in biology; Jasmine Sharp, senior in biology; and Vaithish Velazhahan, sophomore in biology.

Matthew Ramos, senior in microbiology, Topeka; Christopher Reazin, junior in biology, Olathe; Adam Schieferecke, sophomore in microbiology, Bennington; and Anastasia Weston, sophomore in biology, Overland Park.

From out of state: Julie Cooper, sophomore in biochemistry, Flower Mound, Texas; and Halle Sparks, junior in biology, St. Louis, Missouri.

"The Ecological Genomics Symposium provided an excellent opportunity for me to communicate some of the research I have been involved in as an undergraduate student at Kansas State University to the ecological genomics community," Schieferecke said. "Networking with other scientists in the field gave me helpful insight to challenges I face in my research project. Listening to the talks of leading scientists in the field expanded my knowledge and interests by exposing me to a diverse sampling of cutting-edge research currently happening in ecological genomics. I am highly grateful for the opportunity to attend the Ecological Genomics Symposium and the educational benefits it provided."

Reazin added, "I thought the venue was great and the guest speakers were excellent, my favorite being Michael Lynch in the 5000 genome Daphnia pulex talk. Overall I thought this was a great experience, and was of the perfect size and level of content for undergraduates to present their research, to network, and to learn from others working in the field."

Based in Kansas State University's Division of Biology, the Ecological Genomics Institute was established in 2003. Approximately 20 faculty from five departments and three colleges collaboratively research challenges in ecological genomics and work together to achieve the goals of the institute. Institute scientists use funding from National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies in various research projects aimed at understanding the genomic basis of adaptive responses of organisms to their natural environment. This year's symposium was funded by Kansas State University and Arthropod Genomics.

For more information about the Ecological Genomics Institute contact the program coordinator, Jennifer Rhodes, at jenniferrhodes@k-state.edu.

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