April 30, 2021
Division of Biology names most promising students
Fourteen sophomores and juniors in biology, microbiology, and fisheries, wildlife, conservation and environmental biology will receive the Division of Biology's 2020-2021 Most Promising Student Awards.
Faculty nominated students for the award. Grades, rigor of academic program, extracurricular activities, recommendations by faculty and performance in an interview were factors used to determine the award winners. Division of Biology faculty sponsor the Most Promising Student Award and consider it to be one of the greatest honors bestowed on biology students at K-State. The winners are an accomplished group of students, representing the breadth of biology in their interests.
The following students are recipients of the 2021 Division of Biology Most Promising Student Award:
Evelyn Ary is a junior in microbiology with a minor in animal sciences and industry from Wichita. She is conducting research on plant-associated microbiomes with Ari Jumpponen. Ary is curious, technically meticulous and an outstanding collaborator, who often volunteers for labor-intensive laboratory tasks. She is a member of the Smurthwaite Scholarship and Leadership House, where she manages the kitchen. Ary plans to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.
Mayece Barnaby is a junior in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology — conservation and biodiversity and wildlife ecology and management options — with a secondary major in natural resources and environmental science, from Wichita. She works as a research technician with the Konza Prairie Long-term Ecological Research program. Barnaby is a biology ambassador, current chair of the ambassadors' mentorship program, and will be the ambassadors' president in the coming academic year. Barnaby is reliable and has demonstrated her initiative and excellent leadership abilities. She is planning a career in conservation research.
Taylor Bugbee is a sophomore in biology — human health biology option — from Wichita. She is a member of the university honors program. She works in Nicholas Wallace's lab, where she studies DNA repair. She has already co-authored a published scientific paper. She is a tenacious learner with a strong intellect and a positive attitude. Bugbee volunteers at blood drives and is active in a campus ministry. Her plan is to become a physician.
Louie Cabrera is a junior in microbiology — medical microbiology option — from the Los Angeles area . He served as a squad leader and specialist in the U.S. Army before coming to K-State. Cabrera is a McNair scholar who does drug discovery research with Ho Ng in the biochemistry and molecular biophysics department, where he has synthesized two potential inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2. Cabrera has impressed his professors with his curiosity, drive, determination and ability to see connections between what he is learning and wider issues in society. He is a future class of 2021-2022 biology ambassador, a member of the Division of Biology diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility committee, and he has worked and volunteered as a phlebotomist. Cabrera is considering a career as a physician-scientist.
Davante' Hammer is a junior in microbiology with a minor in business from Scandia. He participates in research testing cancer therapies with Sherry Fleming. Hammer created a business to license the therapeutic drugs used in his research. Hammer's advisor describes him as brilliant and pro-active. Hammer is a member of the K-State fishing team and serves as a peer minister with Lutheran Campus Ministries. He plans to pursue a career in medicine.
Quinlyn LaFon is a junior in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology from Stilwell. LaFon is doing research with Michi Tobler, determining how maternal effects and adaptation shape fish offspring performance. LaFon has a strong interest in animals and has worked as a horse and pet caretaker and as a horse trainer. She also rides horseback and raises chickens. She enjoys filming and hopes to incorporate film into her career in biology. LaFon's professors say that her inquisitiveness and broad interest in science and the humanities make it a joy to interact with her.
Thomas Leihsing is a sophomore majoring in fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology — wildlife ecology and management option — with a secondary major in global food systems, from Emporia. He is doing research with Allison Louthan in terrestrial ecology. Leihsing is a member of the university honors program. He has a strong interest in environmental policy and had the opportunity, as a Borlaug scholar, to study issues surrounding loss of water supplies in Yemen. He worked with Manhattan Parks and Recreation Department to help identify locations for pollinator pockets in parks around town. Leihsing founded a water advocacy group that works at the interface of conservation and ranching. His ability to effectively lead and communicate conservation concerns is exceptional. Leihsing hopes to become a professor in the area of conservation policy.
Jared Long is a junior majoring in microbiology from Stilwell. He is doing immunology research in the laboratory of Pankaj Baral and is highly motivated and capable in the lab. Long is an accomplished viola and violin player, who is a member of K-State's Symphony Orchestra and a string quartet. He has worked with middle school music students as a team leader in K-State's Spring Fling. He enjoys soccer and hiking. Long plans a career in medicine.
Hieu Nguyen is a sophomore majoring in biology — human health biology option — with a minor in psychology from Wichita. Nguyen is a member of the university honors program and enjoys playing cello, cycling, baking, gardening and taekwondo. He is currently carrying out research in plant biology in the laboratory of Kathrin Schrick. Nguyen previously was an intern at the USDA ARS Hard Red Winter Wheat Genetics Research Unit with Mary Guttieri. He serves as a WellCAT Ambassador and volunteers with the Kansas Food Bank. Ngugen is an excellent student, who works hard and grasps complex concepts quickly. He also is a compassionate person, who plans to become a physician.
Madison Nobrega is a junior majoring in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology — wildlife ecology and management option — and Spanish from Overland Park. Nobrega is enthusiastically pursuing research and a concurrent Master of Science in Michi Tobler's lab, where she is investigating how hybridization of locally adapted fish populations impacts their metabolic physiology. She is a member of the university honors program and did a Research Experiences for Undergraduates project sponsored by the National Science Foundation. She is a member of the Pride of Wildcat Land Marching Band and an animal shelter volunteer and has served in leadership roles at Smurthwaite Scholarship and Leadership House. Nobrega's strengths are in her curiosity, diligence in the lab, sense of humor, enthusiasm and exceptional ability to communicate science.
Loren Reed is a sophomore in microbiology — medical microbiology option — and medical biochemistry from Overland Park. She is a member of the university honors program. She works in the research lab of Ho Ng in the department of biochemistry and molecular biophysics. Reed is also passionate about social work and volunteers with CASA and with programs focusing on homelessness and suicide prevention. She is an Arts and Sciences Ambassador and a KAWSE Ambassador. Her hobbies include golf, guitar and rescuing feral cats. Reed is an incisive thinker and hard worker. She plans to pursue a master's degree in social work before becoming a physician.
Gabriela Shipman is a sophomore majoring in microbiology with a minor in philosophy from Lenexa. She is a member of the university honors program and also participated in K-State's Swing and Salsa Club. She works in the research laboratory of Brad Olson, studying the origins of multicellularity. She is described as a "lab rat," a student who loves to be in the lab. Shipman is an inquisitive and dedicated researcher with a very strong intellect and aptitude for thinking scientifically. She is planning to pursue a career as a research scientist.
John Tumberger is a sophomore in biology — human health biology option — with a minor in leadership from Overland Park. Tumberger works in the research lab of Brad Olson. He has pursued two projects, one related to the evolution of multicellularity and one to develop a SARS-CoV-2 drug. Through these projects, he consistently demonstrates a strong work ethic and an excellent ability to use scientific literature, and he is making great progress in his research. Tumberger is philanthropy chair of the K-State Pre-Med Club and future chair of mentorship for the biology ambassador class of 2021-2022. He has volunteered with the American Red Cross and the Riley County Health Department. Tumberger is planning a career in medicine.
Lydia Waner is a junior in biology — ecology and evolutionary biology option — fisheries, wildlife, and conservation biology — conservation and biodiversity option — and Spanish from Wichita. She is a member of the university honors program. Waner has served as an officer and committee chair for the K-State student chapter of the Wildlife Society for three years. She does research on the developmental neurobiology of zebrafish with Thomas Mueller. She serves as an Arts and Sciences Ambassador and volunteers in the hospital emergency room and as a coordinator and Spanish translator for Mutual Aid MHK. Waner is mature, motivated, persistent and well-organized and is planning to pursue a career in research.
The faculty of the Division of Biology are delighted to award these outstanding students the Most Promising Student Award and look forward to their continued success in their respective fields.