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Students chosen to present research at Capitol 

Five Pittsburg State students will present their research in rotunda of the Capitol Building in Topeka on Wednesday, and five more will do so on Feb. 20.  

Among them: 

  • a student from Galena, Kansas, whose research in the Tar Creek Superfund site focuses on how the clean-up of the site has impacted animal and plant life.
  • a student from Vinita, Oklahoma, whose research in pregnancy may lead to better therapies to help treat women with infertility.
  • a student from Girard, Kansas, whose research in nanotechnology in the medical field focuses on finding a way to keep bacteria from sticking to polymers used in orthopedic implants and in medical devices.
  • a student from Carl Junction, Missouri, whose research may one day have an impact on the power of electric cars.

The undergraduate students who will present on Wednesday are among 40 from across the state chosen for the honor as part of Capitol Undergraduate Research Day; those who will present next week are among 60 from across the state chosen for Capitol Graduate Research Day. 

Pawan Kahol, dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies at Pittsburg State, said the events are an excellent opportunity for legislators and other guests visiting the Capitol to see first-hand how learning through research positively affects students across Kansas. 

Student research also might positively affect the future, their instructors note. 

Gibson, for example — the student from Vinita — is researching pregnancy with University Professor Virginia Rider. 

"How does a mother prepare for pregnancy? A special group of cells in the maternal uterus undergoes differentiation to prepare to receive an embryo," Rider said.

Surprisingly, the factors that stimulate these cells to become specialized or differentiated are not known. 

"Mallory's experiments are to stimulate these cells in culture to differentiate. She is using a rat model because the process is similar to what happens in humans. Identification of the steps involved in differentiation may lead to better therapies and help treat women with infertility," Rider said. 

Kelly Mallat — the student from Galena — is working with Assistant Professor Christine Brodsky to determine how the remediation process at Tar Creek Superfund Site has impacted birds and plants. She began last summer in cooperation with the Quapaw Tribe's environmental office. 

"She's looked at 21 sites throughout Pitcher, Oklahoma, all at a varying level of clean-up, and counted species," Brodsky explained. "She'll start sampling birds again in the Spring and analyze all of her data." 

John Hey — the student from Girard — is researching nanotechnology in the medical field with Assistant Professor Anu Ghosh, in hopes of finding a favorable mixture of polymers and nanoparticles that can kill superbugs inside a patient's body without causing damage to other internal tissues. 

"There are certain types of bacteria that can stick by forming biofilm to orthopedic biodegradable implants and to medical devices such as bronchoscopes," Ghosh said. "We are generating these unique nanomaterials by an electrospinning technique in our collaborative lab, led by Dr. R. K. Gupta in Polymer Chemistry, and testing these materials to get rid of various superbugs that cannot be readily killed by available antibiotics." 

Most importantly, Ghosh noted, it could result in saving patients from spending thousands of dollars in treating post-surgical complications. 

Tucker Morey — the student from Carl Junction — is focused on finding an efficient electro catalyst that reduces the energy needed to produce hydrogen gas from water.  

"The hydrogen gas is then stored in fuel cells," Morey said. "These fuel cells have many applications including being used to power electric cars." 

The full slate of students and their instructors are: 

  • Kelly Mallatt, Biology: Remediation of Tar Creek: Ecological Diversity and Potential Human Health Impacts(Instructor: Assistant Professor Christine Brodsky)
  • Mallory Gibson, Biology: The Role of Wingless 4 (WNT4) in Uterine Decidualization (Instructor: University Professor Virginia Rider) 
  • John Hey, Biology: Screening of polyacrylonitrile nanofibers infused with silver and other allied nanoparticles for antimicrobial applications(Instructor: Assistant Professor Anu Ghosh) 
  • Tucker Morey, Chemistry: Hydrogen Generation Using MoS2 Decorated Polymeric Nanofibers (Instructor: Assistant Professor Ram Krishna Gupta) 
  • Wesley Brantley, Chemistry: Magnetic Nanosensor Platform for the Fast and Accurate Detection of Bacterial Contaminants in Platelet Concentrates (Instructor: Assistant Professor Sanimukul Santra) 
  • Ahlam Alghamdi, Chemistry: Cobalt Oxide Decorated Polypyrrole: A Bi-Functional Material for Energy Storage and Production (Instructor: Professor Pawan Kahol and Gupta) 
  • Ren Bean, Chemistry: Personalized Drug-Cocktail Nanomedicine for the Treatment of Prostate Cancer (Instructor: Santra)
  • Sanket Bhoyate, Chemistry: Industrially Producible High-Performance Corn-Oil Based Flame Retardant Rigid Polyurethane Foams (Instructor: Kaholand Gupta)
  • Hannah Martin, Economics, Finance and Banking: The Impact of Housing and Commuters on Economic Growth in Pittsburg (Instructor: Assistant Professor Michael Davidsson)
  • Sreerupa Sanyal, Communication: An Analysis on News Reading and News Sharing Among Students and Staff of Pittsburg State University (Instructor: Professor Troy Comeau) 

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