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K-State Today

April 4, 2013

Three Kansas State University doctoral candidates awarded 2013 Sarachek fellowship, travel awards

Submitted by Carol Shanklin

Three Kansas State University doctoral candidates are being rewarded for their exceptional research accomplishments.

Ismael Badillo-Vargas, doctoral candidate in plant pathology, is receiving the $15,000 Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek Predoctoral Honors Fellowship in Molecular Biology. Alina M. DeLa Mota-Peynado, doctoral candidate in biology, and Emily Archer Slone, doctoral candidate in microbiology, are receiving $1,000 Sarachek scientific travel awards.

Alvin and RosaLee Sarachek established the fellowship and travel awards to recognize exceptional achievements in scholastics and research by resident graduate students enrolled in a doctoral program at Kansas State University. An interdisciplinary faculty selection committee determines the fellowship and award recipients.

Badillo-Vargas' research focuses on controlling the transmission of the tomato spotted wilt virus. His program adviser is Anna Whitfied, associate professor of plant pathology. Badillo-Vargas received his bachelor's degree in agricultural sciences from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, and his master's degree in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He plans to complete his doctorate in August.

Badillo-Vargas will use the fellowship to support future postdoctoral research and professional development. He plans to attend a proteomics workshop in Cold Springs Harbor Laboratories, N.Y., and the X International Symposium on Thysanoptera and Tospovirus in Brazil. The fellowship will also help Badillo-Vargas relocate to Europe to begin postdoctoral research.

DeLa Mota-Peynado's research focuses on determining how proteasomes are assembled and the roles "helper" proteins play in this process. The goal is to identify new drugs that affect proteasome assembly that could be used in the treatment of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer's. Her program adviser is Jeroen Roelofs, assistant professor of biology.

She received a bachelor’s degree in industrial microbiology and a master’s degree in biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaquez. She is a National Science Foundation graduate STEM fellow in K-12 Education.

Archer Slone's research focuses on over-reactions of the immune system. The goal of her research is to understand the molecular mechanism and cellular responses contributing to the excessive immune response. Her program adviser is Sherry Fleming, associate professor of biology.

Archer Slone completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Minnesota and was an early admit to K-State's doctor of veterinary medicine program. She completed her undergraduate degree at K-State while enrolled in the first two years of the doctor of veterinary medicine program. She plans to complete her doctor of philosophy degree in August and continue in the doctor of veterinary medicine program.

The selection committee had a challenging task in selecting the above winners from a very competitive pool of doctoral candidates. 

Alvin Sarachek received his doctorate in genetics from K-State in 1957. He and his wife created the fellowship and travel awards because he said he values the university's tradition of offering a broad array of quality programs in the life sciences, many with outstanding national reputations. They also wanted to contribute to that tradition of excellence by recognizing students whose research on a variety of biological problems involves molecular approaches. More information on the Sarachek awards is available on the Sarachek website.