Biology students take top awards

April 11, 2013

One weekend, two states and three graduate students taking top honors for their presentations is spreading excitement through Emporia State University’s Department of Biological Sciences.

Nathan Holoubek of River Falls won the Wilks Award at the 60th annual meeting of the Southwestern Association of Naturalists. The Wilks Award is given for the best paper presentation by a student at the conference, which was held April 4 through 7 at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La.

Holoubek presented “Bird Occupancy in Relation to Habitat Structure in the Oak Savanna Cross Timbers of Kansas, USA,” which was co-written with his thesis advisor, Dr. Bill Jensen.

For the Wilks Award, students are required to submit expanded abstracts to a committee that reviews them and selects the best for presentation.

“Usually only three or four students are chosen to present,” said Dr. R. Brent Thomas, professor and chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. “Historically, the vast majority of students selected to compete for the Wilks Award are Ph.D. students.

“This year, Nathan was the only master’s student selected to compete from among a field of Ph.D. students from larger research institutions.”

Holoubek received a cash award of $1,250 and a copy of all available back issues of “The Southwestern Naturalist,” the professional society’s scientific journal.

More than a dozen faculty and students from Emporia State attended the conference in Louisiana with a number presenting papers and posters:

Skyler Delmott, Emporia graduate student, presented “Zebra mussel maturation and seasonal gametogenesis in Marion Reservoir, Kan.,” which was written with Dr. David Edds;

Benjamin Smith, DeSoto graduate student, presented “Zebra mussels in the Neosho River Basin, Kan. — Ecology and economics,” which was written with Edds and Jason Goeckler of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism;

Holoubek, Goeckler, Smith and Edds presented the poster, “Comparison of zebra mussel veliger sampling techniques;

Pamela McClain of Quenemo presented the poster “Leukocyte ratio variation in response to captivity stress in five common non-venomous snakes in the Flint Hills ecoregion, Kan.,” which was written with Dr. Lynnette Sievert.

McClain also moderated a technical session on “Amphibian and reptile ecology.” Other students who attended were undergraduates Andrew Rutter, Chris Schwinghamer, Marcus Portofee, Aaron Haflich and Mason Vanderford; and graduate students Zack Stark and Judith Bilyea.

Kansas Academy of Science

A delegation from Emporia State made a clean sweep of the top awards for master’s level presentations at the 145th annual meeting of the Kansas Academy of Science on April 5 and 6 at Johnson County Community College.

Chen Yang of Shenyang, China, earned first place for best master’s level oral presentation for “Oleanolic acid induces apoptosis and autophagy in human malignant melanoma cells,” which was written with Christian Smith and Dr. Yixin “Eric” Yang. Chen Yang also presented a poster based on this research, and won one of two student grant awards for master’s level students.

Brittany Miller of Overbrook earned first place for best master’s level poster presentation for “Exposure to luteolin exacerbates cyclophosphamide teratogenesis in CD-mice,” which was prepared with Hanna Kim, Betty J. Herring, Lu Jiang, Kyle K. Wells, Do-Kyong Kim, Jennifer A. Brady, Xuan T. Lam, Justin E. Axman, Alexandra R. Crowe and Dr. Melissa Bailey.

Yiting Ni also presented a poster, “In vivo and in vitro study of inhibitory effects of zerumbone on human malignant melanoma,” which was created by Chen Yang, Chang Liu and Eric Yang.

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