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K-State Today

May 14, 2018

Division of Biology undergraduates recognized for outstanding achievements

Submitted by Eve McCulloch

Each spring, the Division of Biology honors several of its students majoring in biology, microbiology, and fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology for outstanding achievement. This year's awardees and their guests were recognized at a luncheon on May 5.

The Most Promising Student Award is intended to encourage students who are early in their careers and have demonstrated enthusiasm, creativity and imagination in biologically-oriented courses and research. The award was created by biology faculty in 1975 and has been awarded for 44 consecutive years. It is entirely funded by faculty to support excellent students. Students are nominated by the faculty and award recipients are chosen by a committee within the Division of Biology. Selection is based on faculty letters of recommendation, quality and quantity of classroom work and extracurricular accomplishments, and an interview with the selection committee.

This year, six students received the Most Promising Student Award: Carolina Bueno, junior, Kansas City; Sarah Hansen, junior, Hutchison; Braden Johnson, junior, Concordia; Hallie Lucas, junior, Leavenworth; Fawwaz Naeem, junior, Manhattan; and Alexa Wilden, sophomore, Gardner.

Each of these students has an impressive record of academic excellence and extracurricular involvement, including one to three years experience in research laboratories, dual majors, leadership activities at K-State and beyond, and involvement in programs such as the Developing Scholars Program, Student Senate and more. Between them, they have won multiple scholarships and awards, including the Putnam Scholarship, June Hull Sherrid Scholarship, KS-LSAMP Scholarship, K-INBRE Research Scholarship, Johnson Cancer Research Award, and the Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry Award.

The H.H. Haymaker Award for Excellence, also now in its 43rd consecutive year, was named in honor of Herbert Henley Haymaker, a K-State alumnus and faculty member, and is given to a graduating senior who has both a high level of accomplishment as an undergraduate and the promise to continue such quality performance in a biological sciences-related career. Nomination and selection criteria are the same as for the Most Promising Student Award.

The 2018 recipient of the H.H. Haymaker Award for Excellence is Vaithish Velazhahan, senior in microbiology, medical biochemistry and pre-medicine, and University Honors Program member. Velazhahan has extensive research experience and has won numerous awards presenting at regional and national conferences. In addition, he has been heavily involved in leadership and service roles in organizations at Kansas State University and within the Manhattan community. He has received honors for academics, research, service and leadership, including being named a Goldwater scholar in 2017 and a Gates Cambridge scholar in 2018, the first student at K-State to do so. Postgraduation, Velazhahan plans to study at Cambridge University and then return to the U.S. to attend medical school.

We are very proud of these excellent students.