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Spring 2011 Volume 4, Issue 1

I n s i d e : Positive Hands-on Learning - Guest speaker Pat Silovsky, (pictured here) is one new dimension to the recently restructured Physiological Adaptations class taught by Ashley Rhodes. Page 4

Dr. Richard Consigli, Retired University Distinguished Professor passes His memory lives on through the outstanding influence he had on his students. Page 5


Understanding the Basics - Assistant professor, Jeroen Roelofs, provides insight into why basic research is important. Page 7

B u l l e t i n

Division of Biology Kansas State University

More than a Paycheck Lab Technician Positions Enhance Learning Experience for Two Biology Undergraduate Students


eall Culbertson and Graciela Orozco admit they took their jobs as undergraduate research technicians at Kansas State University for the paycheck, but they know now the handson experiences they’ve gained will pay off more in the future.   C u l b e r t s o n , Teall Culbertson in the lab senior in biology, Arkansas City, and Graciela Orozco, junior in animal sciences and industry and biology, Kanopolis, both work for Jesse Nippert, assistant professor of biology, in his research lab on campus.  “I didn’t know what to expect in terms of student workers when I started my lab at K-State,” Nippert said. “I had no idea just how much enthusiasm undergraduates would have for research, but they are critical to everything I do in the lab.”  While the paycheck first drew Culbertson and Orozco to Nippert’s lab, both have

developed a strong interest in conducting their own research in addition to assisting with Nippert’s research.  “Jesse suggested that doing some research would be good for me,” Culbertson said. “I wanted to do research that’s applicable and meant something; I wanted it to have an influence.”  Culbertson is investigating where bison drink the majority of their water on Konza Prairie Biological Station by measuring stable isotopes levels in fecal samples. Stable isotopes are variations of chemical elements, such as oxygen, carbon and hydrogen, and contain additional neutrons in their atomic nuclei, often used as biological tracers.  By measuring changes in the stable isotopic signature of the fecal samples, Culbertson can compare them to the levels

of the stable isotopes found in local water sources, identifying where the bison are drinking.  Nippert believes that Culbertson’s research experience with bison will be as valuable to her future career as anything she has learned through traditional classroom education. She has earned early admission to K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine and wants to study large animal medicine.  “Performing my own research project with guidance from a real scientist like Jesse is a unique experience; plus there’s the Graciela Orozco in the lab possibility that I could get a paper published before I’m even out of college,” Culbertson said.  Culbertson and Orozco have found that working in the lab increases their understanding of the scientific process, aiding retention of concepts discussed in their classes. . . . CONTINUED ON PAGE 7

Black-footed Ferret Research  Division of Biology’s, Jack Cully, associate professor and assistant unit leader of KS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and Samantha Wisely, associate professor and recently named one of Kansas’s top 150 scientists, have assisted the US Fish and Wildlife Service in assessing habitat quality at the reintroduction site and in monitoring the reintroduced population of black-footed ferrets.  Last fall 72 unique individuals were found during 2 weeks of monitoring. Of those, 29 were young of the year indicating that black-footed ferrets are surviving and reproducing in the wild. Photo Courtesy of Randy Matchett, USFWS

Dr. David Rintoul

by killing off all the prairie dogs.  That fight continues, along with the release of additional a strategy that seems to be ferrets on the property. I was privileged to assist with a release promising so far.  In 2007, 24 ferrets were effort in November 2010, when released at two locations in Logan 25 animals were turned loose County, a privately owned ranch into this precarious situation. and the Nature Conservancy’s  There should be room for Smoky Valley Ranch. Both of these prairie dogs, ferrets, and all sites have extensive prairie dog animals that depend on the prairie, even in a colonies, and world dominated the owners by humans and recognize the their enterprises. importance  The KSU motto, of the ferret Rule by Obeying in the shortNature’s Laws, grass prairie should guide us ecosystem. in our attempts  Indeed, to navigate the r e c e n t fine line between studies have coexistence and shown that A black-footed ferret pokes its head extinction. range quality out of the prairie dog burrow  Each thread is actually Photo Courtesy of Dave Rintoul that is pulled out improved of the fabric of when prairie life diminishes dog colonies are present. But the the integrity of the fabric Logan County Commissioners, itself, endangering the citing the Kansas statute that remaining threads, which allows them to poison any prairie dogs anywhere anytime, include all of us, ranchers and have been fighting in court and researchers, citizens and county elsewhere to stop this experiment commissioners.

Interim Director of the Division of Biology


  he Black-footed Ferret, Mustela nigripes, one of the rarest and most specialized predators in North America is now “roaming the range” in Kansas, thanks to a coalition of private landowners and wildlife researchers.  One would think that this would be cause for celebration, particularly since the predator feeds on prairie dogs, a species widely considered to be a pest. However, as I learned when I participated in a recent release of ferrets on a ranch in Logan County, lots of folks are upset by this for many reasons.  The species lives solely in prairie dog colonies, and depends on the existence of prairie dogs for both food and shelter, since it lives in prairie dog burrows.  As the settlement of the western plains began, prairie dogs,


despised as pests because they competed with cattle for food, became less common. Many western states, including Kansas, have laws allowing ranchers to exterminate the prairie dogs by shooting or poisoning them, even allowing local county governments to poison them on private land, without consent from land owners. Prairie dog populations dwindled (currently less than 1% of the numbers at the time of Lewis and Clark), and with them, the ferret population declined even more quickly. Ferrets were thought to be extinct by 1974.  But in 1981 a Wyoming farm dog found a ferret and brought it home. A search for the source population found about 130 ferrets in a nearby prairie dog town. Work began to protect and expand this population (KSU Biologist Samantha Wisely has contributed to that effort), and now includes captive breeding efforts at five different locations in the USA and Canada. Ferrets born and raised in captivity have been released at multiple sites,

KS IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Awards 2010-2011 KSU K-INBRE Scholarship Students • Kristina Bigelow mentor: Annelise Nguyen • Jeffrey Bryant mentor: Lynn Hancock • Gage Brummer mentor: Gary Conrad • Sterling Braun mentor: Sandy Beeser • Paula Kurtz mentor: Rollie Clem • Preston Stephens mentor: Kathrin Schrick • Clay Williams mentor: Subbarat Muthukrishnan • Alexander Noblet mentor: Duy Hua • Luke Wenger mentor: Lorena Passarelli

2010-2011 Summer Semester Scholars • Karsten Evans mentor: Chris Culbertson • Stacy Littlechild mentor: Gary Conrad • Madeline Miller mentor: Susan Brown • Rose Woolsey mentor: Kristin Michel

2010-2011 ARRA Scholars • Shawna Cikanek mentor: David Grieger • Jacob Hull mentor: Bruce Schultz • Cameron Hunter mentor: Richard Todd • Kara Jo Jones mentor: Kristin Michel • Taylor Kinney mentor: Tonia Von Ohlen • Amber Laudick mentor: Barry Bradford • Parker Rayl mentor: Susan Brown

2010-2011 Star Trainee • Emily Archer Slone mentor: Sherry Fleming

Graduate Student, Russian Botanist Enhancing Biology Lessons at Junction City High School chain reaction) data to the class for further examination and to relate it back to the phylogeny studies.”  Steiger and Rolfsmeier are working together as part of an “Evidence-based Inquiry into the Distant, Remote or Past”, EIDRoP, from the NSF’s GK-12 program, one of two such graduate training programs at KSU. The program fosters collaboration between teachers Susan Rolfsmeier, a graduate student, and Svetlana at Junction City High Ovchinnikova, a Russian botanist hold samples of Lappula School and KSU graduate students.   esearch by Susan  “Graduate student fellows Rolfsmeier, a graduate student, like Susan bring their research and Svetlana Ovchinnikova, a into classrooms, and must Russian botanist, is finding its communicate what they do and way into Rebecca Steiger’s class why it is important in a way that a non-specialist can understand,” at Junction City High School.  Rolfsmeier and Steiger traveled said Carolyn Ferguson, director to Russia last summer to visit with of the EIDRoP GK-12 program Ovchinnikova about Lappula, a and associate professor. “It’s a group of plants found in North wonderful opportunity to enhance America and Eurasia. The trip the training of our graduate was funded by the NSF Graduate students while taking advantage Science, Technology, Engineering of excellence in the public and Mathematics Fellows in K-12 schools, providing professional development opportunities for Education program, GK-12.  Although Rolfsmeier and teachers, and benefiting high Ovchinnikova are studying how school students.” the species have evolved across  The Russia trip gave Rolfsmeier the two continents -- which may more experience as a scientist, lead to revisions of the group’s enhanced the research on phylogenetic tree -- it is Steiger’s Lappula, and helped Steiger clarify shadowing of Rolfsmeier during scientific definitions that are often their expedition to Russia that misrepresented in the classroom. provided a special twist for the  “Because of my experience in Russia, I have re-examined my classroom.  “My AP biology class is studying definition of a species,” Steiger green plants and the diversity said. “In the high school classroom across ecosystems,” Steiger said. we often present the concept “Susan and I plan to help students as something fixed and already see how collaboration is helping defined for eternity. However, her research sort out similarities I am aware that a species must and differences between species be defined, and it’s also in a here and in Siberia. We also hope state of flux, dependent upon to bring some PCR (polymerase the researchers’ conclusions and


collaboration.”  Rolfsmeier is trying to determine which of the North American species of Lappula are native to the continent and how they relate to the Eurasian species, a set of questions that have been unanswered since the late 19th century. She began corresponding with Ovchinnikova, the only other person actively investigating these species, in hopes each provide their own unique insights toward answering the questions.  “The trip seemed like an excellent opportunity to bring scientists from opposite sides of the world together, as well as to include a teacher who could shadow my research, consider cross-cultural science practices, and bring these experiences back into the classroom as a way to inspire students,” Rolfsmeier said.  Rolfsmeier and Steiger also brought back stories and artifacts from Russia to share in the classroom.  “I think our stories have piqued their interest about Susan’s research,” Steiger said. “It has also opened their eyes to the process of collaboration and some of the challenges and rewards that go along with that process. They especially liked the chocolate we brought back for them.”  The EIDRoP GK-12 program is a collaborative project between numerous academic units at K-State, including the Division of Biology, the Center for Science Education and the departments of physics, chemistry, entomology, geology and philosophy. It’s administered through the Division of Biology. More information about the program is online at gk12/.


Biology Instructor Turns Class into Positive Hands-on Learning for Variety of Students

Pat Silovsky, Ashley Rhodes, and Jerry Williams after the predator/prey discussion

Pat Silovsky presents Lurch, a turkey vulture, to students in Physiological Adaptations of Animals.


he Physiological Adaptations of Animals course recently received a face lift by one of the Division of Biology’s younger instructors, Ashley Rhodes. Two years ago, Rhodes made some major transformations for the course and since that time she has excelled as the instructor and created an atmosphere that is tailored to a variety of learning styles.  “We handed her the responsibility for a course which has traditionally been challenging for both students and instructors. She reorganized both the lecture and lab portions of the course, developed new assignments and field trips, and solicited input from the other faculty members whose students were in the curriculum where this is a required course. In other words, just as she has done in the other courses which she teaches, Ashley handled this assignment professionally and intelligently,” said Dave Rintoul, Interim Director of the Division of Biology.  Rhodes’s teaching philosophies are simple. She strives to be flexible, dynamic, transparent, and construct lessons on a shared level of knowledge in the classroom.  “I don’t really go in with a set list of what I want to accomplish in every class, because the mood of the students or yourself can dictate how


you teach that day,” Rhodes said. “I differences between prey and responsible for measuring heart rate, try to be transparent with everything predators, one of biggest, is the respiratory rate and understanding from grading and objectives, to what I position of their eyes. In horses, their the physiological functions and expect of them.” eyes are on the sides of their heads, so features that go into that animal, it  Some of Rhodes’s they can see brings the whole experience of the improvements include almost all class together,” Rhodes said. incorporating speakers into the way  Rhodes expects a lot out of the the class who use animal a r o u n d students in her class and she admits physiology in their careers them for that she does not give away A’s. Yet and arranging two field approaching from the teaching evaluations she predators.” trips for the course, one to receives, students seem to respond   S i n c e positively to her leadership. Sunset Zoo and the other to most of the  “I think as a young teacher you the necropsy lab at K-State’s s t u d e n t s want to push them, but you don’t College of Veterinary enrolled in want to push them too hard because Medicine.  “I bring in career you think, it might professionals not only cause disinterest in the to broaden these kids’ subject and they will horizons about jobs they tune you out,” Rhodes can get after school, but said. “However, I’ve because they also need to learned, that turns Students were asked to study the realize that what I’m talking difference between the gait of out not to be the case about in class, really is small and large dogs at all. You can push important and these people way harder than you use it in their jobs every think. You just have the class may day,” Rhodes said. to be supportive and  One of the labs focuses on the be handling encouraging. These in adaptation and behavioral differences animals kids are capable of between predator and prey animals. their future way more than I ever A student measures a dog’s heartbeat during the dog lab. To illustrate the differences, Rhodes professions, thought; if you push felt asked Jerry Williams, equine behavior Rhodes them in the right they specialist, to serve as a prey species that way. That was a huge expert and Pat Silovsky, director of the also needed the opportunity to have learning experience for me.” Milford Nature Center, to serve as a some hands-on exploration with living predator species expert, during a class animals; therefore she created the dog The Physiological Adaptations of Animals lecture and lab, BIOL 513 lab. discussion. and BIOL 514, is the integration of  “Prey animals always seem to be  “It is one thing to dissect an animal physiological mechanisms as the basis for adaptive response of animals to thinking and acting defensively,” but when you have a living breathing different environments. Williams said. “As far as the physical animal in front of you that you are

Alum Attributes Success to Consigli’s Influence


  person’s success is often and then accepted a tenure-track attributed to the individual’s own position in the Department of hard work and determination Microbiology at Oregon State however as Janine Trempy, University in 1989. professor of microbiology  While at OSU, Trempy has and associate dean for experienced success in both She undergraduate affairs, faculty research and teaching. development and outreach in has maintained a continuously the College of Science at Oregon funded and highly publicized State University, will tell you, her success is also due to the caring nature of departed K-State University Distinguished Professor, Dr. Richard Consigli.  “Dr. Consigli was a man with a very strong presence,” Trempy Joe Bolen, former postdoc, Dr. Consigli and Trempy at Dr. Consigli’s retirement party said. “He commanded your attention with his presence, but then he had this research program using fish most gentle way of conversing pigment cells as biosensors to with you. Except when the detect toxic bacterial and chemical conversation was about viruses, contamination in food and water. and then his zeal for the subject She has received numerous awards for her teaching, including OSU’s was obvious.”  The two met while Trempy Carter Award for inspirational was an undergraduate student teaching, awarded by students, in Consigli’s virology class at K-State. Despite her passion for learning about bacteria and viruses, she was experiencing some difficulties in class. One   ichard “Dick” Consigli, 79, day after class, Consigli pulled of Manhattan, KS died Friday, Dec. Trempy aside to discuss how to 10, 2010, at the Good Shepherd improve her grades, and in an Hospice House in Manhattan. effort to give her some hands He was born on March 2, on experience that could help 1931, in Brooklyn, NY, the son of her, recruited her as his lab Beniamino and Maria (Corchia) technician. Consigli. He graduated from  “If it had not been for Dr. Brooklyn College in 1954 with a Consigli, I would not have BS degree; and from KU with a embarked on the right career MA degree in 1956 and a PhD in path, a career I love and am 1960; followed by a postdoctoral so grateful to be engaged in,” fellowship in medical Trempy said. “Thirty years later, I microbiology at the University of am still very thankful Dr. Consigli Pennsylvania (1960-62). took a chance on me.”  Dr. Consigli joined the K-State  Trempy’s experiences in the lab faculty as an assistant professor increased her love for learning, in 1962, and rapidly rose through particularly about bacteria and the ranks receiving the title of full viruses. She graduated from professor in 1969 in the Division K-State in 1980, and received of Biology. He was designated her Ph.D. in Microbiology at as University Distinguished the University of Texas Health Professor in 1985. Sciences Center. She completed  Dr. Consigli served as a KS a post-doctoral position at the Agricultural Experiment Station National Cancer Institute at the virologist throughout his career National Institutes of Health,

and Oregon Professor of the Year by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). She shares this honor with Consigli who was awarded the CASE Kansas Professor of the Year.  The passion Trempy has for both her research and student engagement is clear. However, she continues to attribute a great deal of her success to lessons learned throughout her friendship with Consigli.  “Dr. Consigli had an intense and infectious love for creating new knowledge, and the smile he would express when he pondered the outcome of an experiment was priceless,” Trempy said. “He taught me to be compassionate and patient with students, and thoughtful to colleagues. He also demonstrated to me that life was about providing opportunities for others.”

 In an effort to provide students with the same kind of influence Trempy experienced at K-State, she values her work as an associate dean on a personal level. Her focus on student engagement issues, developing instructional opportunities that gauge student learning, and ways to increase student opportunities for success is not just an administrative agenda to increase retention or graduation rates but rather because she genuinely cares, she said. She has modeled her actions after what she witnessed from Consigli and other professors at K-State.  “I fondly remember the biology professors at K-State, and the engaging learning communities they built in their research programs for students such as myself,” Trempy said. “This is an aspect that I emulate in my career. In my case, an experience at K-State dramatically changed my career path, for which I am forever grateful.”

Dr. Richard Consigli Passes On


and as interim director of the Division of Biology in 1976-77. Among the numerous honors and awards that he received during his career were the KSU Distinguished Graduate Faculty Member Award, the Higuchi Olin Petefish Award in the Basic Sciences from KU, the National Council for the Advancement and Support of Education Professor of the Year silver medal (1985 & 1986) and a National Cancer Institute Research Career Development Award and selection as a fellow of the American Academy for Microbiology.  Funding throughout his career by the NIH, USDA, the Agricultural Experimental Station and NASA supported his research on the molecular biology of viruses and the training of 61 masters, doctoral, postdoctoral students and research technicians; as well as numerous undergraduate

students.  Dr. Consigli was very proud and very close to his students and he attributed research accomplishments to the high quality of his students. He was very active in both teaching and research in the Division of Biology for 38 years.  He married Barbara J. (Seel) Consigli on June 2, 1960, in Lawrence, KS and she preceded him in death on Feb. 25, 1989.  Survivors include three daughters: Linda ConsigliWege and her husband Brad of Manhattan, Joanne Mitchell and her husband Greg of Topeka, KS and Maria Black and her husband Aaron of Mt. Joy, PA. He is also survived by three grandchildren: Brett Wege, Jacob and Justin Black.


Research and Mentoring in Eco Gen Division of Biology receives nearly $750,000 from NSF to promote undergraduate research


 The program will help the   he Division of Biology is scholars develop an appreciation offering a new undergraduate for an integrative scientific research program in ecological approach to hypothesis-based research, critical thinking skills, genomics.  The program begins in June and and a desire to continue their provides students with a $15,000 education in graduate level studies, stipend and research experience Jumpponen said. Like many for one year. Applications are undergraduate students in biology, the scholars may even have the now being accepted.  Samantha Wisely and Ari Jumpponen, both associate professors, have been awarded nearly $750,000 for the next five years from the NSF to administer the undergraduate research and mentoring in ecological genomics program.  “This grant is a major component that will aid u n d e r re p re s e nte d students at K-State in their education, Gene Towne, Biology research associate, discusses ecology furthering their career with a group of undergraduates at Konza Prairie. possibilities. It also Photo Courtesy of Brett Sandercock provides fresh new minds and extra sets of hands in the research labs at opportunity to be coauthors on research papers published by their K-State,” Wisely said.  Each scholar participating in mentor. the program will be paired with a  “Having an excellent research faculty member from the K-State experience is great for developing Ecological Genomics Institute, the major set of skills that an interdisciplinary research employers look for when hiring group that seeks to understand new employees,” Jumpponen the genetic mechanisms said. underlying the short- and long-  The program includes a term responses of organisms to summer field course, research the natural environment. The mentored directly by faculty attendance at students will be able to develop members, meetings, and supplemental research projects professional that tie in with their mentor’s various enhancement activities that foster and build skills needed research goals.  “There seems to be a for networking, communication, misconception that if you are ethics and career development. Developing Scholars really smart, you have to become  “The a medical doctor,” Wisely said. Program at K-State will be one of “However, ecological genomics the major sources for recruitment uses the latest biomedical to the program,” Jumpponen said. techniques to explore ecology and “Anita Cortez, the administrative evolution, creating a great way to director for the Developing Scholars sell evolutionary biology to very Program, does a wonderful job talented students who otherwise mentoring students and preparing may not think about a them for work in a research lab.” Developing Scholars career in ecological or  The Program at K-State offers evolutionary research.”


historically underrepresented students a network of peer and professional individuals who can provide them with academic, social and financial support during the students’ experiences in research labs across the university.  “The Undergraduate Research Mentoring Program through Drs. Wisely and Jumpponen is a great opportunity and advantage for some of our Developing Scholars, because it has a good financial reward for a lot of hard work and interesting handson experiences for a year,” Cortez said.  Students in the program may be asked to serve as a peer recruiter for future applicants, and will be strongly encouraged to participate in Girls Researching Our World, a K-State women in engineering and science program that encourages girls in the sixth through eighth grades to pursue futures in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Both activities will further communication about science to individuals with limited scientific backgrounds, Wisely said.  “Although talking to somebody who has absolutely no background in science about what you are researching is probably one of the more difficult things to do, learning how to teach and how to communicate it is sometimes the best way to learn,” Wisely said. “This adds yet another positive dimension to our undergraduate research and mentoring program.”  For more information about the undergraduate research and mentoring in ecological genomics program, contact Wisely at 785532-0978 or; or Jumpponen at 785-532-6751 or

Researching Southern House Mosquitoes

Photo Courtesy of James Gathany, CDC


  n the search for a cure to pathogens carried by mosquitoes, Kristin Michel, assistant professor, Rollie Clem, associate professor, and recent Ph.D graduate, Bart Bryant, were coauthors of “Pathogenomics of Culex quinquefasciatus (southern house mosquito) and MetaAnalysis of Infection Response to Diverse Pathogens,” published in the October 1 issue of Science.  This article is a companion paper to the publication of the full genome sequence of the southern house mosquito, available in the same issue of Science. Michel, also a coauthor on this paper, contributed to the annotation of the genome. The third mosquito species to have its genome sequenced, C. quinquefasciatus, is a major vector for a variety of diseases, such as West Nile virus, common in the United States.  Nearly 10 years in the making, the overall goal of this project was to understand how this mosquito responds genetically to infection by viruses or other pathogens. The researchers compared their research results on the southern house mosquito with 25 other research projects on vector-pathogen interactions in mosquitoes, which revealed common responses to a variety of different pathogens across three different species of mosquitoes.  “Ultimately, this may give clues on how to prevent infection or how to stop the spread of these pathogens by mosquitoes,” Michel said.

Understanding the Basics of How Our World Works


  hile some biological research may not directly provide cures for major diseases, it can provide the scientific basis for research that might.  Work by Division of Biology’s Jeroen Roelofs, assistant professor, is one such example.  Roelofs studies a cellular structure called the proteasome, a large complex that degrades damaged or misfolded proteins, critical for normal cellular functions.  The 26S proteasome has been shown to control various essential biochemical processes, including DNA synthesis and repair, transcription, translation and cell signal transduction. Several human diseases can be traced to its malfunction, Roelofs said.  “We’re interested in that complex because it is the garbage machine of the cell. For the cell to perform well it needs to get

rid of proteins that are either not needed anymore or damaged because they could become toxic,” he said.  Roelofs was invited to write a research review about his work, which was published in the July issue of Trends in Cell Biology. The article, “Assembly, Structure, and Function of the 26S Proteasome,” is his first publication as a principal investigator since he joined the faculty in Nov. 2009. The research was supported by a $40,000 grant from K-INBRE.  Roelofs said he is not necessarily looking to find the cure for disease; instead he is trying to uncover details of normal cellular functions. His investigation is the type that often creates unexpected pathways for further scientific discoveries, techniques or cures for diseases.  “I’m not trying to fix something that’s broken; I’m just trying to understand how it works,” he said. “It could be that it doesn’t directly

translate into a drug, but even then the added knowledge is still very valuable and could lead directly or indirectly to something else.”  Roelofs was recently awarded a three-year grant from NIH, Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence. The grant, which is for a maximum of $214,600 a year, will be used to hire a lab technician or

Continued from front page . . .

stable isotopic signature from tail hair to the signature of vegetation on Konza Prairie. Like a tree ring, hair records Culbertson and Orozco watch an experiment to ensure that it has enough pressure to run. the diet of the consumer over time, allowing for diet  “I think working in the lab has reconstruction using stable helped me in my classes,” Orozco isotopes, Nippert said. said. “I’ll recognize things in class because we talked about it in the  “I’m using tail hairs from bison lab. I have a better understanding to do an isotopic analysis so that I of the research process, and can can look at their diet variation over even apply it to my personal time,” Orozco said. “I want to see how they change over the seasons, decisions.”  Orozco’s research is similar what they consume more of, and to Culbertson’s, since it also if there’s a difference in what the uses stable isotope analysis of females consume versus what the samples gathered from bison. males consume.” However, Orozco is focusing on  Orozco collected the tail hairs a bison’s diet by comparing the last fall and hopes to analyze

postdoctoral fellow to help with experiments, buy materials and generate preliminary data that should help him get a larger NIH grant in the future.  Roelofs earned his doctorate from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He did postdoctoral research at Harvard Medical School.

More than a Paycheck

her data this spring. She’s been selected for K-State’s McNair Scholars program, which prepares undergraduates for successful careers as graduate students, professors and professional researchers. The program gives her the opportunity and funding to continue with her current research project or to develop a new project in an area of her choice. The McNair program also supports her in preparing for the Graduate Record Examination and applying to graduate schools.  “I think it’s been a good experience to see everything that goes into research, and I think it’s been a motivating factor for both of them to continue on to professional school,” Nippert said.  Working in the lab together has given both Culbertson and Orozco more than just an educational

experience; the two have developed a close friendship.  “Since we had to work closely together in the lab, we found out that even though Teall and I may be similar people in some ways, we’re also different, but those differences complement each other,” Orozco said. “Teall is not always that outgoing, but I can get her to do things that she wouldn’t normally do. In that sense, I’m kind of a risk taker, and she’s my voice of reason.”  “Their best qualities as research technicians are that they’re really independent and are great at problem solving. I don’t have to check in on them, which is good because I don’t like to micromanage,” Nippert said. “They’re also pretty funny and a fantastic asset to my lab.”


Upcoming Events 37th Annual Graduate Student Research Forum Date: March 5, 2011, 8:00am Location: Big 12 Room, K-State Student Union, Manhattan, KS Undergraduate Research and Mentoring in Ecological Genomics Application Deadline Date: March 28, 2011 Location: K-State, Manhattan, KS Contact: Ari Jumpponen,, 785-532-6751 or Sam Wisely,, 785-532-0978 Konza Prairie Long Term Ecological Research 21st Annual All-Investigators Workshop Date: April 16, 2011 Location: Konza Prairie Biological Station Meeting Hall, Manhattan, KS Contact: Carol Gadbury, or 785-532-6729 Graduate Student Awards Ceremony & Dr. Larry Takemoto Retirement Celebration Date: April 22, 2011 Location: 324 Ackert Hall, K-State Campus, Manhattan, KS Contact: Division of Biology Office, 785-532-6615, 5th Annual Functional Genomics Consortium Symposium Date: September 9-10, 2011 Location: Big 12 Room, K-State Student Union, Manhattan, KS Contact: Grasslands in a Global Context Anniversary Symposium Date: September 12-14, 2011 Location: Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS Contact: Swallowtail butterfly perched on a flowering butterfly bush

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The Bulletin  

A semi-annual publication from the Division of Biology