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K-State Today

April 6, 2012

Leading the way: Wichita student is university's 68th Goldwater Scholar; K-State remains leader among public universities in earning prestigious scholarship

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Cancer research is a common factor for both Kansas State University students recognized by the 2012 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship competition.

Angela Grommet, junior in chemistry, Wichita, is the university's 68th Goldwater scholar, and Sterling Braun, junior in premedicine and microbiology, Fort Scott, is an honorable mention in the scholarship competition.

Kansas State University ranks first in the nation among all public schools in total Goldwater scholarships since the program began in 1989. Overall, Kansas State University is tied with Duke University for third place behind Princeton and Harvard in total Goldwater scholars.

Established by Congress in 1986 to honor Sen. Barry M. Goldwater from Arizona, the scholarship is a national competition that provides up to $15,000 for two years of undergraduate study in mathematics, science or engineering. More than 1,100 students from across the nation were nominated, and 282 students were awarded the scholarship.

"The Goldwater recognition is a testament to Angela and Sterling's dedication and hard work to further their education and cancer research," said Kirk Schulz, university president. "We're very proud of their accomplishments and excited that they received this nationally competitive honor. The university's commitment to providing undergraduate students with meaningful research opportunities, like those taken by Angela and Sterling, will help advance K-State in becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025."

Grommet is working with Christer Aakeroy, professor of chemistry, to research the binding patterns of a group of chemical compounds called 2-aminopyrimidines, which are commonly found in pharmaceuticals and agriculture chemicals. Understanding how the molecules bind together could lead to improving the effectiveness of anti-cancer drugs and make them less taxing on other parts of the human body. Grommet and Aakeroy recently published research results involving diclofenac -- a painkiller used to relieve rheumatoid arthritis -- in Pharmaceutics, an international peer-reviewed journal published by the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute.

Since August 2011, Grommet has worked as a laboratory-teaching assistant for organic chemistry. She is a member of the university chapter of Alpha Chi Sigma professional chemical fraternity and Phi Eta Sigma national honor society. She has received a Putnam Scholarship and a Johnson Cancer Research Center research award. In spring 2011 Grommet presented a poster at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif., and in fall 2011 she gave a talk at the regional meeting of the American Chemical Society in St. Louis. A graduate of Andover High School, she is the daughter of Gary and Anne Grommet, Wichita.

Braun is researching cancer biology with Alexander Beeser, assistant professor of biology. Specifically, Braun is studying the DUSP12 enzyme and its role in the cellular processes and pathogenesis of liposarcoma. In summer 2011 he participated under Jeffrey Rosen in the Summer Medical and Research Training Program at Baylor College of Medicine, where he studied the Wnt signaling in mammary glands and its role in breast cancer.

Braun is the recipient of several awards and honors, including a Putnam Scholarship; the June Hull Sherrid Division of Biology Scholarship; Division of Biology University Distinguished Professor Scholarship; the Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, or K-INBRE, scholarship; the Phi Kappa Phi honor society sophomore scholar award; and a Johnson Cancer Research Center research award. In 2010 he placed second for his platform presentation at the eighth annual K-INBRE conference and gave a poster presentation at the 50th annual American Society for Cell Biology symposium. He has volunteered for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Texas Children's Hospital. Braun is also a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. A graduate of Fort Scott High School, he is the son of Elizabeth and Edward Braun, Fort Scott.