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K-State Today

April 22, 2013

Two students earn honors from the National Science Foundation

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Two Kansas State University students have received awards and recognition from the National Science Foundation.

Derrek Wilson, doctoral student in the James R. Macdonald Laboratory of the physics department, Liberal, Mo., received a 2013 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Elizabeth Everman, doctoral student in biology, Smithville, Mo., received an honorable mention from the foundation.

The Graduate Research Fellowship award recognizes outstanding students who are pursing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"It's thrilling to see our students recognized on such a prestigious national level for their hard work and dedication to their research," said Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz. "We look forward to seeing Derrek and Elizabeth continue to succeed in their graduate studies and beyond. Student-produced research of this caliber will be to our advantage as Kansas State University moves forward to being named a Top 50 public research university by 2025."

Wilson will receive more than $120,000 across three years, which includes a yearly $30,000 stipend and $12,000 in lieu of tuition and fees.

"The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship is a major investment in future leaders in the scientific, engineering and mathematical fields," said James Hohenbary, Kansas State University's assistant dean for nationally competitive scholarships. "Because only 2,000 students were selected from more than 13,000 applicants, Derrek and Elizabeth are great examples of those future leaders."

Wilson is conducting his research in Macdonald Lab with ultrafast, intense lasers. Such lasers generate very short bursts of light, which can be used to control electron dynamics on sub-femtosecond time scales. He is looking for new methods to control the laser pulses on these time scales as a way to optimize the response of gases and nanostructures.

"I aspire to follow in my parents' footsteps and become an entrepreneur," Wilson said. "They started with little and now own a farm. In my case, I want to build a company that uses the ultrafast technology my adviser Dr. Carlos Trallero and I develop to create marketable scientific products, and eventually expand to a larger audience of investors."

Wilson is a Timothy R. Donoghue Graduate Scholarship recipient, and is a member of the Optical Society of America, the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma, the honorary physics society. He also is the president of the Optical Society of America student chapter at Kansas State University. He graduated from Liberal High School in 2007, and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Arkansas in 2012. Wilson is the son of Dennis and Joan Wilson, Liberal, Mo.

Everman's research looks at how well fruit flies tolerate and adjust to the physical stress caused by temperature changes as the flies age. Her research may help scientists understand how well other organisms handle stress caused by seasonal temperature changes and climate change throughout their life.

Everman is a Timothy R. Donoghue Graduate Scholarship recipient and is the travel grant committee chair in the Biology Graduate Student Association. She graduated from Smithville High School in 2008 and graduated summa cum laude from William Jewell College in 2012. She plans to pursue postdoctoral research after earning her doctorate. Everman is the daughter of Mike and Sheila Everman, Smithville, Mo.