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K-State Today

March 2, 2016

Kansas State University nominates four students for Goldwater Scholarship

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Kansas State University has nominated four students for the 2016 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. The nominees are Adam Schieferecke from Bennington, Muriel Eaton from Leawood, Aaron Messerla from Riley and Raquel Ortega from Wichita.

Established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater from Arizona, the scholarship is awarded to nearly 300 college students across the country every year. Awardees receive up to $7,500 annually for college-related expenses. With 72 Goldwater scholars to date, Kansas State University ranks first among the nation's 500 state-supported universities.

All four of this year's nominees have active research projects and intend to pursue careers in mathematics, science or engineering — a requirement of the scholarship. Scholars will be selected in mid-March.

Schieferecke, a junior in microbiology and biochemistry, is working in the lab of Stefan Rothenburg in the Division of Biology. He is working to generate and characterize improved oncolytic poxviruses, which have the potential to selectively kill some human cancers while leaving normal body tissues unharmed.

Schieferecke is the president of the K-State Microbiology Club; the science writer for the K-State Cancer Fighters Club; a member of the Virology Journal Club, National Society of Collegiate Scholars and K-State Parachute Club; and a former member in Silver Key Sophomore Honorary. He presented his research at the Undergraduate Research Day at the Kansas Capitol, won Top Poster Presentation Awards at the 2015 and 2016 K-INBRE Symposia and received an Undergraduate Research and Mentoring Ecological Genomics Travel Fellowship. He also is a K-INBRE Scholar, a Dane G. Hansen Leaders of Tomorrow Scholar, and the recipient of three Johnson Cancer Research Awards, a College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Award, the Division of Biology's Most Promising Student Award, and Gamma Sigma Delta Honor Society of Agriculture's First Year Academic Performance Award. In addition, he's received a SCTE Undergraduate Research Fellowship; a June Hull Sherrid Cancer Biology Scholarship, the KSU Foundation Plus Award and the Alumni Legacy Award. A graduate of Bennington High School, he is the son of Larry and Janet Schieferecke.

Eaton, a senior in biochemistry, is working in the Jeroen Roelofs' lab, which focuses on basic mechanisms concerning the formation and regulation of the proteasome by studying processes in yeast. Eaton is researching the effects of over-expressing different proteasome subunits in yeast mutants that are missing one or more chaperones — assembly helper proteins.

Eaton is an outreach coordinator for Alpha Chi Sigma, a professional chemistry fraternity, and for the American Chemical Society. She participates in Pershing Rifles Company G-7, the University Honors Program and Games CLUB. She received the Women in STEMM Student Achiever Award through the Central Exchange Kansas City, a Johnson Cancer Center grant, the K-State Putnam Scholarship, K-State College of Arts & Sciences Scholarship, the Spaatz Award — the highest achievement in Civil Air Patrol, a volunteer auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force — and was the first Girl Scout to earn the Veterans of Foreign Wars' Kansas Scout of the Year. A graduate of Blue Valley North High School in Overland Park, she is the daughter of Roger and Marcia Eaton.

Messerla, a junior in mathematics and music, is working with David Auckly, professor of mathematics, on a dance program that depicts a specific class of geometric shapes using ropes.

Messerla is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon math honor society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. He also is a mathematics department I-Center Scholar and a member of the university's Concert Band and Cat Band. He has received a College of Arts & Sciences Undergraduate Research Scholarship, Putnam Scholarship, Fort Riley Combined Scholarship, James R. Foster Jr. Memorial Arts and Sciences Scholarship, Thomas L. and Elouise J. Miller Scholarship for Excellence in Mathematics, Riley County 4-H Foundation Scholarship and the Mary Lou Gibbs State 4-H Scholarship. He was recognized as an honorable mention for the 2015 Goldwater Scholarship. A graduate of Riley County High School, he is the son of Dave and Dawn Messerla, Riley. 

Ortega, a junior in chemistry, is working in the lab of Stefan Bossmann, professor of chemistry. Ortega is collaborating to synthesize and characterize a nanoparticle that could potentially encapsulate lytic peptides that could be used as anti-cancer drugs and provide a more efficacious release of drugs at a tumor site.

Ortega is the vice president of the American Red Cross Club and is a member of the Pre-Medicine Club, the Developing Scholars Program and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. She is an organic chemistry grader. She received the Jerry and Judy Reed Chemistry Scholarship, the Undergraduate Cancer Research Award, the Developing Scholars Program Promise Award, the Kansas State University Fairchild Scholarship and the Phi Lambda Upsilon Chemistry Scholarship. She gave oral presentations at the American Chemical Society Midwest Regional Conference in 2014 and 2015, was a co-presenter at Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in 2014 and was a presenter at the Developing Scholars Symposium in 2014 and 2015. A graduate of Goddard High School, she is the daughter of Bernardo and Teresa Ortega.

To learn more about competing for the Goldwater Scholarship in the future or to explore other nationally competitive awards while a student at Kansas State University, contact Jim Hohenbary at jimlth@k-state.edu.