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Biology Contact

Department Chair:

Dr. Dixie L. Smith

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Contact Person:
Kelly Borden

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Phone: 620-235-4732
Fax: 620-235-4194

Heckert-Wells Hall 223
Pittsburg State University
1701 S. Broadway
Pittsburg, KS 66762-7552

Biology Faculty and Student Mentions in the Grants and Research Review

Previous Grants and Research Revews

Faculty Research Lunches Inform Campus Neil Snow
December 2015
PSU Research & Grants (R & G) Administration sponsored two faculty Research Lunches during the fall of 2015. On September 28, 2015 Dr. Santimukul Santra, Chemistry presented Discovering Nanotheranostics for Targeted Delivery, Imaging and Treatment of Cancers. On October 28, 2015 Dr. Neil Snow, Biology presented The Critical Role of Natural History Museums in Modern Biodiversity Studies. R & G Administration provided pizza and drinks for the 20-30 participants at each event. Save the date for spring of 2016 Faculty Research lunches on February 18, 2016; March 24, 2016; and April 21, 2016. If you are interested in presenting at a Faculty Research Lunch please contact


PSU Research & Grants Administration Awards FundingMandy Peak
December 2015
PSU Research and Grants Administration awards funds to faculty each fall and spring to collaborate with students to conduct research. The type of awards are Independent Research Projects; Research Projects within a Course; and Academic Year Research Stipends for Students. All projects are required to involve at least one undergraduate student who is able to present at the PSU Research Colloquium in the spring.

The fall Independent Research Projects awardees are Dr. David Hurford, Psychology: Examining the psychometric properties of a web-based reading evaluation tool; Dr. Ram Gupta, Chemistry: Highly porous and nanostructured NiO for flexible electronics; Dr. Mandy Peak, Biology: Gut microbiome of human populations in Crawford County; Dr. Jamie McDaniel, English: Building a Digital Humanities Initiative at a Regional University; and Dr. Derek Crawford, HHPR: Effect of High- Intensity Functional Training on Body Composition, Fitness, and Muscle Damage: A Pilot Study.

The fall awardees for Research Projects Within a Course are Dr. David Miller, Engineering Technology: Hand-cycle development for therapeutic recreation and Dr. Jamie Oliver, Art: Practice-led research investigating large scale, client-based artwork production. Student Research Stipends were awarded to Dr. Derek Crawford, HHPR mentor / Josh Smeed, undergraduate student: The effect of highintensity functional training on body composition; Dr. Cheryl Giefer, Nursing / Heidi Villa undergraduate student: Gorillas stand up for working; Dr. Lauren Balasco, HPSS / Kathryn Potter, undergraduate student: “Learning “ to manage a refugee crisis: a comparative analysis of state policies toward Syrian refugees in the Middle East; and Dr. Bruce Warner, Psychology/graduate student, Katie Rennie: Effect of precues and perceptual grouping on flanker interference.


Students Present Projects at the PSU Research ColloquiumResearch Colloquium
May 2015
Over 100 undergraduate and graduate students participated in the PSU Research Colloquium on April 8, 2015 at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts. 34 oral presentations and 54 research posters were presented. There were projects from Engineering Technology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Biology, Technology and Workforce Learning, School of Construction, Communication, Economics, English, Nursing, Psychology, Business Administration, Art, and Graphics and Imaging Technology.

Awards were presented at the 2015 Graduate School and Research Awards Banquet held on April 15, 2015. An award was given for every five entries to graduate and undergraduate students for oral and poster presentation in the following categories: Category A: Science and Technology, Category B: Business, Education and Humanities, Category C: Creative Works and Category D: Literature Review Poster Presentations. Thank you to all the students who participated and faculty who mentored student research projects.

Congratulations to the award winners: Category A: Undergraduate Poster 1st Place :Blaze Heckert; 2nd Place: Deaven Thompson,; 3rd Place: Mayuri Murali, Peyton Drouhard, Markel West, Mitchel Floyd and Kyle Lichtenauer. Kyle Ragan, Aaron Noack, Tyler Casteel, Nick Crain Brendan Herrera, Undergraduate Oral Presentation First Place: Kyle Ragen, Aaron Noack, Tyler Casteel, Nick Crain and Brendan Herrera. Graduate Poster 1st Place Jeremy McCLennan; 2nd Place: Samantha McNeely. Graduate Oral Presentation 1st Place: Jyothi Kallu, 2nd Place: Nelson Elbers. Category B: Undergraduate Poster 1st Place: Crystal Davis; Undergraduate Oral Presentation 1st Place: Elizabeth Spencer; Graduate Poster 1st Place: Justin Newman; Graduate Oral Presentation 1st Place: Valquiria Vita. Category C: Undergraduate Poster 1st Place: Catherine Jepson; Undergraduate Oral Presentation 1st Place: Laura Allgood; Graduate Oral Presentation 1st Place: Kacie Cooper. Category D: Undergraduate Poster 1st Place: Karsten Creech and Tayita Abudu; Graduate Poster 1st Place: Alheli Aranda Britez, John Thorpe, Kachisicho Ogbodo and Grace Anderson; Graduate Poster 2nd Place: Kuralay Kussainova.


PSU Faculty Research Summer Fellowships
February 2015
Congratulations to the faculty who received PSU Faculty Summer Research Fellowships. Recipients receive $5,000 fellowships to conduct research for two months during the summer of 2015. Recipients will use the preliminary data produced in the summer to apply for further funding from an external source. The Summer 2015 recipients are: Neil Snow, Biology: Descriptions for 40 New Species in the Myrtle Family From New Caledonia; Josie Mai, Art: Out of the Box: A PSU Community Art Initiative; Gloria Flynn, Teaching and Leadership: Understanding Our Strengths: Addressing Early Career Teacher Attrition by Identifying Key Elements of Culturally Responsive Teacher Preparation; and James Greene, English: “None But the Bravest Men”: Violence and Popular Sovereignty in Revolutionary War Veteran Narratives.


Students Present Research at K-INBREK-INBRE Presentations
February 2015 
Students from PSU participated in the 2015 Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Student Symposium in Topeka, Kansas on January 16-18, 2015. Students made presentations and accompanied posters along with students from Kansas University, Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas State University,
Washburn University, Emporia State University, Fort Hayes State University, Haskell Indian Nations University and Wichita State University.


Students Present Posters at the Capitol Research SummitCapitol Research Summit
February 2015
Eleven PSU students as well as approximately 100 students from other Kansas Regents Universities presented research posters at the Kansas State Capitol on February 11 -12, 2015. On February 11th, five PSU undergraduate research posters were accompanied by six undergraduate students. A $200 award was given to Kalee Woody, Biology for Best Undergraduate Poster titled PSMAreceptor targeting magnetic nanoprobes: novel nanotheranostics for the treatment of prostate carcinomas.

On February 12th, five PSU graduate students presented their research posters. Jyothi Kallu received a $500 award from Kansas BioScience, and a $500 award from the Capitol Research Summit for Best Graduate Poster titled Non-smallcell- lung-cancer treatment using Hsp90 inhibitor carrying magnetic nanotheranostics. The other graduate students selected to present their posters were Vadde Bharani, Generation of Electricity from phospherescent insects; Nelson Elbers, Green synthesis of aphellandrene and β-caryophyllene bio-based polyols and their application for polyurethane; Dinushi Jayatunga, Spin coating as a technique for optimizing the power conversion efficiency of dye sensitized solar cells; Samantha Meneely, Changes in estrogen receptor alpha (Erα) phosphorylation in human T cells. Congratulations to all the students who were selected to attend the Capitol Research Summit.


Students Present Projects at the PSU Research Colloquium Research ColloquiumResearch Colloquium
May 2014

More than seventy undergraduate students participated in the PSU Research Colloquium on April 16, 2014 in the Overman Student Center Crimson and Gold Ballroom and Balkans Room. Twenty-five oral presentations and forty-two research posters were presented. There were projects from Economics, History, Writing Center, Communication, Sustainability, Society and Resource Management, Art, Mathematics, Physics, Nursing, Construction Management, Biology, Business Administration, Chemistry, Engineering Technology, Graphics & Imaging Technology, and Psychology. Congratulations to our award winner in biology! Samantha Young: Sand Fly Trapping in Southeast Kansas at the 61st Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America on November 11-13, 2013 in Austin Texas. 


PSU Graduate and Continuing Studies Awards Faculty Summer Research Fellowships
May 2014
Congratulations to the faculty who received PSU Faculty Summer Research Fellowships. Recipients receive $5,000 fellowships to conduct research for two months during the summer of 2014. Recipients will use the preliminary data produced in the summer to apply for further funding from an external source. Hermann Nonnenmacher, Biology, A Study of the Pro-methea Moth in Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas. Virginia Rider, Biology, Estrogen and Gender Biased Autoimmunity.


Faculty and Students Receive K-INBRE Research Funding Awards
May 2013 
Congratulations to Dr. Jody Neef, Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Dr. Neal Snow, Assistant Professor, Biology. Both have received $25,000 awards from the NIH Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research administered by Kansas University Medical Center. Dr. Neef’s award is titled Biosensors Derived from Ferrocene Containing Polymers and Dr. Snow’s award will provide start up supplies and instruments for his lab in the fall of 2014. Four Biology undergraduate students also received K-INBRE Scholar awards of $4,000 to conduct biomedical research: Samantha Young, Trevor Harris, Boya Abudu, and Austin Price. Biology student Chris Ward received the K-INBRE Star Trainee award of $10,000. The objectives of KINBRE are to:

  The objectives of KINBRE are to:
  • Bring together institutions within a state to establish a network;
  • Provide competitive funding to the state-based network;
  • Support institutional alterations and renovations;
  • Provide funding for modern laboratory equipment;
  • Assist in the recruitment of new faculty.
K-Inbre logo

K-INBRE funding is also intended to strengthen the basic science departments of the undergraduate institutions in the network by involving students in research. The undergraduate institutions also serve an important "feeder" role to the science departments of graduate schools within the IDeA-eligible areas.


Dr. Dan Zurek Receives Research Grant From The Kansas Soybean Commission

February 2013
Dr. Dan Zurek, PSU Biology Professor, has received a research grant from the Kansas Soybean Commission for $26,676 for the project, Developing Charcoal Rot Resistant Soybeans. According to the grant abstract, the initial objective of the project is to create soybeans partially or completely resistant to Charcoal Rot fungus, with the ultimate goal of producing a transgenic soybean strain able to thrive in Kansas and other locations where Charcoal Rot is endemic and unavoidable. This disease costs Kansas farmers 50-60 million dollars each year. Dr. Zurek’s laboratory has planted nine separate strains of transgenic plants, transformed using genetic construct created in his lab that he hopes will be charcoal rot resistant. The objectives of the research project are: 1. analyze the current set of plants to see that they in fact have the glucanase genetic construct, and are producing protein from it throughout the plant; 2. Determine whether this protein retains antibiotic/antifungal activity in these plants; and 3. Analyze the transgenic plants for charcoal rot resistance.


PSU K-INBRE Scholars attend K-INBRE Symposium
February 2013
Students from Pittsburg State University participated in the 2013 Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence Student Symposium at Kansas State University on January 19-20, 2013 making presentations and exhibiting posters about biomedical research being conducted by students in the departments of Biology and Chemistry. The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR) in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) to foster research within states that traditionally have not received significant levels of competitive funding from the NIH. One of the approaches of the IDeA Program and the source of support on this campus was the Biomedical Research Infrastructure Networks (BRIN) now referred to as the Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (KINBRE).


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