Award winners

Four graduate students from two Kansas universities have been named winners of the lightning talk competition at the 2022 Kansas NSF EPSCoR Research Symposium. With just five-minutes to present, each of these students wowed the judges with engaging visuals and compelling discoveries related to Kansas ecosystems and microbiomes.

Kansas NSF EPSCoR recognizes and appreciates these award winners along with eight other superb student presenters at the spring symposium, as follows:

First Place Award

  • Hannah Dea, Kansas State University graduate student: “Precipitation, not land use, determines the composition of plant and leaf-associated fungal communities along the steep Kansas precipitation gradient,” mentored by Associate Professor Ari Jumpponen.

Second Place Award

  • Camden Hatley, Kansas State University graduate student: “Dynamic Streamflow Generation in a Merokarst Headwater Catchment,” mentored by Associate Professor Matthew Kirk.

Third Place Award 

  • Theo Michaels, University of Kansas graduate student: “On the Edge of Opportunity: Microbial Fronts and Their Consequences for Remnant Prairies in Human Modified Systems,” mentored by Associate Professor Ben Sikes.
  • Ligia Souza, University of Kansas graduate student: “The Role of Precipitation and Root Distributions in Governing SOC Depth Distributions” mentored by Dean’s Professor Sharon Billings.

Additional Student Presenters (alphabetical order)

  • Brandon Clark, Emporia State University undergraduate student: “How Does Precipitation and Host Species Affect Epiphyllous Fungi Communities?” mentored by Professor Ari Jumpponen, biology.
  • Rissa Garcia-Prudencio, Haskell Indian Nations University post-baccalaureate: “Bordering Disaster: Vegetation Disturbance Along the United States-Mexico Border Wall in the Chihuahuan Desert,” alumnus of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies program.
  • Zachary Nelson, Fort Hays State University undergraduate student: “An ITS & 16S Soil Metagenomic Analysis of Native and Old-World Bluestem Invaded Kansas Grasslands,” mentored by Assistant Professor Nicholas Stewart, biology.
  • Justin Oettle, Wichita State University undergraduate student: “Temporal Differences in How Drying-Rewetting Cycles & Vertebrates Alter Nutrient Dynamics,” mentored by Assistant Professor Tom Luhring, ecology.
  • Tiffany Poydras, Kansas State University graduate student: “Soil Biology Down Deep,” mentored by Distinguished Professor Chuck Rice, agronomy.
  • Abu Raihan, Kansas State University graduate student: “What Controls Discharge and Drying in Kings Creek, and How Does It Vary with Position in the Watershed?” mentored by Distinguished Professor Walter Dodds, biology.
  • Zane Rider, University of Kansas graduate student: “Land Use Impacts on the Development of Cyanotoxins and Taste-and-Odor Compounds in Benthic Algae Mats,” mentored by Professor Belinda Sturm, civil, environmental and architectural engineering, and Assistant Research Professor Ted Harris, Kansas Biological Survey.
  • Kynser Wahwahsuck, University of Kansas graduate student: “Nitrogen Concentrations and Denitrification in Six Streams Draining Contrasting Land Uses,” mentored by Associate Professor Amy Burgin, ecology and evolutionary biology.