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College of Health and Human Sciences

Kinesiology doctoral student earns 2016 University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awards

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

By Kelsey PetStephanie Kurtierson

MANHATTAN — Outstanding achievements in their academic work and scholarship has earned three Kansas State University doctoral students awards from the university's highest-ranking professors.

The winners of the University Distinguished Professors Graduate Student Awardswill be recognized a ceremony Sept. 20. Recipients are Stephanie Kurti, doctoral student in kinesiology, Naperville, Illinois, who receives $5,000; and Ana Claudia Sant'Anna, doctoral student in agricultural economics, Brazil, who receives $2,500; and Kirsten Grond, doctoral student in biology, Netherlands, who receives $2,500.

The awards recognize graduate students who have shown exceptional achievement in graduate studies and demonstrate excellence in scholarship through publications and other accomplishments appropriate for their academic field. The University Distinguished Professors Group at the university has established a set of guidelines and criteria for the evaluation of candidates and Carol Shanklin, dean of the Graduate School, coordinates the selection process.

Kurti's dissertation is "The impact of lifestyle factors on systematics and airway inflammation and oxidative stress across the lifespan." Her research is focused on determining the impact of lifestyle — both physical activity and nutrition — and age on systemic and airway inflammation and oxidative stress. Her adviser is Craig Harms, professor of kinesiology.

"I am truly honored to be selected as a University Distinguished Professor award recipient," Kurti said. "The award gave me the amazing opportunity to learn laboratory techniques from well-known exercise immunologists in the Laboratory of Integrated Physiology at the University of Houston. In addition, I will be able to include a project that I completed at University of Houston into my dissertation research that I am currently conducting in the kinesiology department at K-State."

Sant'Anna's dissertation is "Land Change in Brazil's Cerrado: Ethanol and Sugar Cane Expansion at the Farm and Industry Scale.” Her work is focused on sugarcane expansion in Brazil in the Cerrado Region at the macro and micro levels. Her research provides different aspects relating to sugarcane suppliers, ethanol producers and the ethanol market in Brazil. Her adviser is Jason Bergtold, associate professor in agricultural economics.

"Winning the University Distinguished Professor award means that my work is appreciated and this motivates me to keep working harder each day," Sant'Anna said. "I will be able to expand my experiences in academia and give back to the scientific community. I feel honored to be chosen among other bright doctoral students. I am thankful to the award committee and sponsors."

Grond's dissertation is "Linking gut microbiota composition to development and life-history traits in migratory shorebirds." Her research focuses on investigating which environmental and genetic factors affect the microbial communities in the digestive tracts of migratory shorebird species. Her adviser is Brett Sandercock, professor of biology.

"Winning this award confirms that my research is applicable and important to a broader audience," Grond said. "The funding will provide me with the opportunity to explore postdoctorate positions and strengthen my application as I start my career in academia."

The awards are made possible through a combination of donations from individual university distinguished professors and support from the university's vice president for research

This article was posted on Tuesday, September 20, 2016, and is filed under College News, Kinesiology.