Student Award Recipients


Fall 2023


(Awarded $96,000 for students and research expenses)

Anatomy & Physiology

Caden Blake – Mentor: Masaaki Tamura
Study of the effect of water extract from Euglena gracilis on T cell activation in vitro.

Logan Glover – Mentor: Masaaki Tamura
Direct effect of a newly designed inhibitory peptide for CTLA-4 on the expression of CTLA-4 in lung carcinoma cells.

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

Michael Bartkoski – Mentor: Pankaj Baral
Understanding the role of neurotransmitter receptors in anti-Aspergillus fumigatus immunity: a translational potential to treat Aspergillosis in Cancer Patients

Dylan Feist – Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht
Cancer-related functions for secreted proteins in cell adhesion

Jaycee Stewart – Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht
Investigation of NUAK function in cancer using Drosophila melanogaster


Bryttan Adams – Mentor: Sonny Lee
Effects of Folate on Colorectal Adenocarcinoma Cells

Ayianna Bailey – Mentor: Kathrin Schrick
Transcriptional regulation of cell expansion relevant to cancer cell proliferation

Katherine Boston – Mentor: Bradley Olson
The role of cyclin D gene family expansion in the evolution of undifferentiated multicellularity in Gonium pectorale

Heather Crawshaw – Mentor: Anna Zinovyeva
Differential usage of miRNA strand selection rules by mir-34 and mir-54.

Cole Hayden – Mentor: Ruth Welti
The molecular basis for variation in levels of anti-cancer compounds in vegetables

Carson Ingold – Mentor: Sonny Lee
Investigating the role of Lachnospiraceae derived glutathione in amelioration of colitis-associated inflammation in Caco-2 DSS model

Kade Kaufman – Mentor: Katsura Asano
Mechanism of eIF3 suppression of uncontrolled mitosis through translational control important in cancer

Samira Laytimi – Mentor: Kathrin Schrick
Protein interactions involved in transcriptional control of cell division in cancer

Allie Sandoval – Mentor: Nicholas Wallace
Using DNA repair inhibitors to increase the efficacy of chemotherapy in cervical cancer

Grace Sakai – Mentor: Katsura Asano
Analysis of eIF3g interaction with HSP70 mRNA responsible for translational control important in cancer

Mia Thompson – Mentor: Sherry Fleming
B2-GPI Derived Peptide Changes Macrophage Differentiation to Fight Tumor Growth

Emily Tolbert – Mentor: Nicholas Wallace
Impact of viral genes on innate immunity and skin cancer

Lidia Lopez Vazquez – Mentor: Bradley Olson
Experimental evolution of cellular differentiation to understand the origins of tumor suppression

Chemical Engineering

Setareh Khanjani Kouyakhi – Mentor: Davood Pourkargar
Leveraging Machine Learning for Integrative Analysis of Liver Cancer Data


Riley Blitt – Mentor: Patricia Calvo
Polymer-drug conjugates for controlled delivery of anti-cancer drugs

Carson Cole – Mentor: Peter Sues
Ruthenium Phosphinimine Olefin Metathesis Catalysts: Exciting New Tools for Cancer Drug Discovery

Jane Eilers – Mentor: Christer Aakeroy
Altering bioavailability of selenium and sulfur containing anti-tumor compounds

Adyson Harm – Mentor: Ryan Rafferty
Investigations into the development of a general strategy for enhanced cancer drug delivery

Prabhleen Kaur – Mentor: Daniel Higgins
Towards Guided Drug Delivery with Nanostructured Lyotropic Liquid Crystal Gels: Single Molecule Spectroscopy Studies of Dye Diffusion in Hexagonal Mesophases

Veronica Knight – Mentor: Patricia Calvo
A new treatment for pediatric osteosarcoma - chelating polymers for internal radiation therapy

Marrissa Raynesford – Mentor: Christer Aakeroy
Optimizing molecular-recognition abilities of 1,2,4-triazole based anti-cancer compounds

Ryan Tucker – Mentor: Chris Culbertson
UPLC-MS/MS Development of a Pain and Inflammatory Evaluation Method for Cancer Patients via Prostaglandin Quantitation in Human Plasma

Kameron Wildeman – Mentor: Ryan Rafferty
Lagunamide C: Synthesis of the Potent Anticancer Natural Product

Food, Nutrition, Dietetics & Health

Hilary Tallman – Mentor: Mark Haub
Nutritional Strategies to Improve Quality of Life during Chemotherapy


Sarah (Sam) Galliardt – Mentor: Karin Goldberg
Water quality and the high cancer incident in Russell and Lincoln Counties


Paige Anderson – Mentor: Chalres Pickens
Reinforcement and punishment during withdrawal from the cancer-associated drug nicotine

Jihyeon Kim – Mentor: Chalres Pickens
Effects of exposure to cues associated with the cancer-related drug nicotine on brain activity


Spring 2023



(Requested - $135,000 Awarded - $135,000)


Bingun Habarakadage – Mentor Jun Li ($7,500)

Development of Nanomaterials-based Electrochemical Biosensors

Chao An – Mentor: Ping Li ($7,500)

Developing chemical probes to interrogate the biology of N-terminal methylation

Jordan Gipper - Mentor: Peter Sues ($7,500)

Using Ligand Design to Develop Next Generation Olefin Metathesis Catalysts and Enable the Discovery of New Anti-Cancer Treatments

Abigail Kreznor – Mentor: Chris Culbertson ($7,500)

The Development of a 3D-printed Microfluidic Device for the Analysis of Glioblastoma Migration in Stable Chemical Gradients

Vidya Nadar– Mentor: Ryan Rafferty ($7,500)

Targeting Cancers of the Brain: A new delivery strategy for CNS penetration and drug delivery

Aloka Amarasooria Prins – Mentor: Christer Aakeroy ($7500)

A Trojan horse approach to delivery of small-molecule anti-cancer drugs

Chemical Engineering

Suna Jo -Mentor: Won Min Park ($7,500)

Biosensor development for the detection of hypercalcemia-related cancers at early stages


Olivia Kunkel – Mentor: Brad Behnke ($7,500)

Radiation resistance in breast cancer: potential therapeutic implications of heat therapy

Britton Schueremann – Mentor: Carl Ade ($7,500)

Chemotherapy-related cardiovascular toxicity and its role in cognitive impairment throughout cancer treatment and survivorship.


Emily Burghardt - Mentor: Jocelyn McDonald ($7,500)

The role of the integrated stress response in a model of tumor invasion.

Tanner Richie – Mentor: Sonny Lee ($7,500)

Utilization of host nutrients and immune response products by Enterobacteriaceae leads to gut inflammation and colon cancer

Peter Hodoameda – Mentor: Rollie Clem ($7,500)

Investigating the genetic stability of an oncolytic virus that is under development as a cancer therapy

Cathryn Haas – Mentor: Michael Veeman ($7,500)

'Insights into Development and Cancer from Evaluating Gene Regulation in a Quantitative Dose/Response Framework'

Chinemerem Onah – Mentor: Pankaj Baral ($7,500)

Neuronal regulation of Aspergillus fumigatus lung infection and fungal pneumonia

Grant Brooke– Mentor: Nick Wallace ($7,500)

"Beta human papillomavirus infections may promote skin cancer"

Zoong Lwe – Mentor: Ruth Welti ($7,500)

Integration of omics data to understand the role of a potentially cancer-protective enzyme


Fidelis Onwuagba– Mentor: Karin Goldberg ($7,500)

Uranium Concentration in Groundwater and its Potential as a Natural Contaminant in Bourbon County, Cherokee Basin, Southeastern Kansas


(Awarded: $3,984 Requested: $7,073)

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

Yungui Guo – Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht

64th annual Drosophila Research Conference Chicago, IL

Ziwei Zhao – Mentor: Erika Geisbrecht

64th annual Drosophila Research Conference Chicago, IL


Peter Hodoameda – Mentor: Rollie Clem

Annual meeting of the American Society for Virology June 24-28, 2023 Athens, GA


Olivia Kunkel – Mentor: Brad Behnke

American Physiological Society 04/20/2023-04/23/2023

Long Beach, CA

Britton Schueremann – Mentor: Carl Ade

American Physiological Society 04/20/2023-04/23/2023

Long Beach, CA

Shannon Parr – Mentor: Carl Ade

American Physiological Society 04/20/2023-04/23/2023

Long Beach, CA

Vanessa Turpin – Mentor: Carl Ade

American Physiological Society 04/20/2023-04/23/2023

Long Beach, CA

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Anna Bottiglieri – Mentor: Punit Prakash

Society for Thermal Medicine, 38th Annual Scientific Meeting

04/23/23- 04/28/23

San Diego, CA

Fall 2022

Anatomy and Physiology

Tyler McCoach, SR, Anatomy and Physiology, David Poole Lab, Lenexa, KS

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

Lauren Apprill, SO, Biochemistry, Kathrin Schrick Lab, Des Moine, IA

“This award provides me with opportunities to grow in my research skills so I will be better prepared for future research endeavors.

Louis Cabrera, SR, Medical Microbiology, Heather McCrea Lab,

Dylan Feist, JR, Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology, Erika Geisbrecht Lab, Lenexa, KS

Annabelle Hall, FR, Biochemistry and Psychology, Masaaki Tamura, Monument, CO

"This scholarship gives me the opportunity to help people and hopefully find a better cure for cancer."

Cole Hayden, SO, Medical biochemistry, Ruth Welti Lab, Manhattan, KS

"I am thrilled to receive the CRA! I feel like I can put more effort into pursuing meaningful research and helping make scientific advances because of the support and funding it has offered me."

Samira Laytimi, JR, Biochemistry/Medical Biochemistry, Kathrin Schrick Lab, Lawrence, KS

"This cancer research award means the world to me. Like many people, I have family members who have been affected by cancer, and the chance to conduct research to help the scientific world come closer to finding a cure is so important to me."

Ruth Mekuria, SR, Medical Biochemistry/ Pre-Medicine, Erika Geisbrecht Lab, Junction City, KS

"This award is a wonderful honor for me and allows me to contribute useful knowledge to the growing field of cancer research. This support that allows me to be a part of the scientific community at K-State and contribute helpful cancer research is one of the best experiences of my undergraduate years."

"This CRA award means a lot to me as it allows me to pursue research and accelerates my ability to go to PA."

Kinsley Ochsner, SR, Medical Biochemistry, Katsura Asano Lab, Wichita, KS

"I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to lean into my curiosity and scientific knowledge in my research. I have a passion for studying the mechanism of disease and its translation to medicine. This award allows me to pursue this mission within the laboratory."

Mia Thompson, SO, Medical Biochemistry, Sherry Fleming Lab, Manhattan, KS

"Being a CRA awardee means that I get to share my research not only with other researchers, but to community members and my peers. I love research because it gives me hands-on experience with topic learned in class. It also gives me a great support system and could not be more grateful!"

Emily Tolbert, SO, Microbiology, Nicholas Wallace Lab, Newton, KS

Olivia Waren, SO, Medical Biochemistry and Psychology, Charles Pickens Lab, Lenexa, KS

Biological Systems Engineering

Avanelle Stoltz, JR, Biological Systems Engineering, Nicholas Wallace and Sebastian Wendel Lab, Leawood, KS


Summer Adamson, FR, Biology, Ruth Welti Lab, Wichita, KS

"The CRA award means that I am surrounded by a community that encourages and supports my interest in cancer research."

Michael Bartkoski, JR, Biology, Pankaj Baral Lab, Lenexa, KS

"I am very honored to be selected as a recipient of the CRA award. This award allows me to further my undergraduate cancer research as I work to find novel therapeutic drug targets for cancer chemotherapy patients fighting fungal lung pneumonia."

Mikaela Garcia-Escamilla, SR, Biology, Thomas Mueller Lab, Garden City, KS

Maddison File, SO, Biology, Sherry Fleming Lab, Beloit, KS

"Cancer research allows me to learn new information hands on while giving me the opportunity to potentially benefit the research community with my findings."

Katie Janzen, SO, Biology Environmental Science, Christopher Culbertson Lab, Olathe, KS

Caleb Kutz. SR, Biology, McDonald, Jocelyn Lab, Overland Park, KS

"What the JCRCA has meant to me is that I get to learn how to apply what I have learned into real world scenarios, as well as do research that could help people in the future struggling with cancer."

Kathleen McDaniel, SR, Biology and Integrative Health Studies, Charles Pickens Lab, Overland Park, KS

"This cancer research award means so much to me because it is allowing me to continue my passion in research, as well as providing a steppingstone to a planned career in medicine. I am so grateful to Kansas State and the Johnson Cancer Research Center for providing these amazing undergraduate opportunities."

Aiden Ozga, JR, Biology/Pre-medicine, Anna Zinovyeva Lab, Naperville, IL

Brandon Rider, SR, Biology, Katsura Asano, Shawnee, KS


Kaden Creamer, SR, Chemistry, Ping Li Lab, Olathe, KS

Jane Eilers, JR, Chemistry, Christer Aakeroy Lab, St. Charles, MO

"The cancer research award means an amazing opportunity to participate in important research. I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the chance to gain experience in cancer research that could help someone in my community or out in the world. This is my second year participating and I am just as excited to continue my research!"

Karrin Larson, SR, Chemistry, Tendai Gadzikwa Lab, Clay Center, KS

Rachel Pang, SR, Chemistry, Ping Li Lab, Overland Park, KS

"The CRA award is like a point of light in the dark, representing a better future."

Marrissa Raynesford, SO, Chemistry/Spanish, Christer Aakeroy Lab, Hays, KS

Kameron Wildeman, SR, Chemistry, Ryan Rafferty Lab, Garden City, KS

"This research award will provide me with more invaluable time in the laboratory that will be devoted to answering questions related to drug delivery optimization and therapeutic repurposing of existing drugs."


Samantha Weber, SR, Psychology, Spanish & Integrated Health Studies, Thomas Mueller Lab, Crete, NE

Spring 2022


(Awarded: $135,000 | Requested: $142,500)

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

Hannah Miller – Mentor: Om Prakash
Understanding the molecular recognition basis of EGFR inhibitors for cancer treatment


Anuja Paudyal - Mentor: Govind Vediyappan
Role of gymnemic acids in Candida albicans morphology and virulence

Emily Burghardt - Mentor: Jocelyn McDonald
Analysis of the Drosophila border cell gene expression profile reveals stage-specific changes during migration

Debolina Dasgupta - Mentor: Kalyani Pyaram
Role of KEAP1-NRF2 pathway in T helper cell differentiation

Bibek Subedi - Mentor: Kathrin Schrick
Post-translational regulation of GLABRA2 transcription factor in Arabidopsis

Chinemerem Onah - Mentor: Pankaj Baral
Neuronal regulation of Aspergillus fumigatus lung infection and fungal pneumonia

Tanner Richie - Mentor: Sonny Lee
Specific microbial community interactions with host and applications to disease outcome of inflammatory bowel disease

Tshegofatso Ngwaga - Mentor: Stephanie Shames
Characterizing the role of the Legionella pneumophila effector LegC4 and proteasome activator (PA)28ab in antimicrobial host defense and macrophage homeostasis

Peter Hodoameda - Mentor: Rollie Clem
Mechanisms leading to extreme variation in virus titer between individual Aedes aegypti mosquitoes after oral infection by Sindbis virus


Viraj De Silva - Mentor: Christer Aakeroy
From molecular recognition to new materials and pharmaceutical applications

Abigail Kreznor - Mentor: Chris Culbertson
Development of 3D-printed microfluidic device for the analysis of glioblastoma migration in stable chemical gradients

Bingun Habarakadage - Mentor: Jun Li
Development of nanomaterials-based electrochemical biosensors

Chao An - Mentor: Ping Li
Developing chemical probes to interrogate the biology of N-terminal methylation

Shashika Perera - Mentor: Ryan Rafferty
Total synthesis of lagunamide C and biological evaluation, synthesis of the proposed natural product lagunamide E, and construction and evaluation of chemical screening libraries based on the uvaretin total synthesis


Olivia Kunkel - Mentor: Brad Behnke
Breast cancer and heat therapy

Stephen Hammond - Mentor: Carl Ade
5-Fluorouracil cardiotoxicity: Mechanisms and modalities for improved cancer outcomes

Mechanical & Nuclear Engineering

Kuan-Lun Ho - Mentor: Shih-Kang Fan
dDMF: Digital assay on digital microfluidics with electric emulsification for single exosome analysis

Plant Pathology

Joel Steyer - Mentor: Richard Todd
Regulation of branched chain amino acid metabolic genes in Aspergillus nidulans


(Awarded: $2,800 | Requested: $2,800)

Carson Gido, Brian Geisbrecht Lab, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Alexis Carpenter, Rollie Clem Lab, Biology
Peter Hodoameda, Rollie Clem Lab, Biology
Yungui Guo, Erika Geisbrecht Lab, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Ziwei Zhao, Erika Geisbrecht Lab, Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics
Olivia Kunkel, Brad Behnke Lab, Kinesiology


Fall 2021


(Awarded $65,000 for students and research expenses)

Anatomy & Physiology

Grace Calo – Mentor: Masaaki Tamura
Oral administration of euglena water extract increases IgA cell number in MALT which may help attenuating lung tumor growth

Morgan Phillips – Mentor: Masaaki Tamura
Study of the effect of a newly designed inhibitory peptide for CTLA-4 on NK cell activation and function and its effect on lung carcinoma cell growth

Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics

Hannah Miller – Mentor: Om Prakash
Understanding the molecular recognition basis of EGFR inhibitors for cancer treatment

Taryn Lubbers – Mentor: John Tomich
Peptide nanocarrier delivery of mRNA vaccines for treating melanomas

Carson Gido – Mentor: Brian Geisbrecht
Inhibition of neutrophil serine proteases by EAP domain proteins


Mae Cook – Mentor: Duy Hua
Quantitative detection and profiling of selected overexpressed proteases for monitoring of metastatic triple-negative breast cancer

Qiling Zeng – Mentor: Ping Li
Development of inhibitors to carcinogenic NTMT1

Kaden Creamer – Mentor: Ping Li
Continued efforts of PhaC crystallization for cancer drug delivery using PHA

Jane Eilers – Mentor: Christer Aakeroy
Improving bioavailability of selenium-based anti-tumor mimics


Ashley Panagakis – Mentor: Kathrin Schrick
Bio-layer interferometry analysis of cancer driver mutations in oncogene 5MP1

Hailey Casey – Mentor: Katsura Asano
Mechanism of transcriptional regulation with relevance to gene expression in cancer cells

Taylor Bugbee – Mentor: Nick Wallace
Effects of p300 inhibition on chemotherapeutic cytotoxicity in pancreatic cancers

Ashlyn Bugbee – Mentor: Kalyani Payaram
Role of antioxidant protein Nrf2 in metabolism and anti-tumor activities of CD8+ T-cells

Lucy Fischer – Mentor: Govind Veddiyappan
Efflux pump inhibitors for multidrug-resistant bacterial infections in cancer patients

Mikaela Garcia-Escamilla – Mentor: Thomas Mueller
The role of tumor-suppressor gene Lhx6 during cellular migration of GABAergic interneurons in the zebrafish forebrain

Emily Cranwell – Mentor: Thomas Mueller
Analyzing cFos expression patterns in zebrafish models of cancer using deep machine learning

Abigail Parker – Mentor: Ruth Welti
Subcellular localization of putative transacylase

Claire Richardson– Mentor: Jocelyn McDonald
Role of nuclear shape during collective cell migration and invasion

Caleb Kutz – Mentor: Jocelyn McDonald
Genetic screen to identify protein kinases conserved in tumor invasion and metastasis

Davanté Hammer – Mentor: Sherry Fleming
Effect of novel peptides on tumor associated macrophage phenotype

Mia Thompson – Mentor: Sherry Fleming
Macrophage Phenotypes in Mouse Melanoma

Kennedy Ayre – Mentor: Ruth Welti
Characterization of a mutation in a gene potentially affecting tissue senescence

Hieu Nguyen – Mentor: Kathrin Schrick
A novel transcriptional activation domain relevant to cancer cell regulation


Louie Cabrera – Mentor: Heather McCrea
Meeting at the margins: Approaches to cancer in Navajo communities


Indera Coffel – Mentor: Shay Logan
Investigating the impacts of correlation in iterated treatment decisions

Plant Pathology

Daniel Tran – Mentor: Richard Todd
Identification of functional domains in a mediator complex component with a human counterpart involved in breast and prostate cancers


(Awarded: $9,652 – Requested: 9,652)

Olivia Kunkel – Mentor: Brad Behnke
Protective effects of heat therapy against breast cancer-induced cardiac dysfunction

Stephen Hammond – Mentor: Carl Ade
The intersection of cancer and thromboembolism: A role for eNOS?


2020-2021, 2019-2020, 2018-19, 2017-18, 2016-17, 2015-16, 2014-15, 2013-14, 2012-13, Spring 2012