Rondy Malik with notebook checking seedlings in lab

Rising star

Postdoc Rondy Malik was a named a “Rising Star” on a list of “1,000 inspiring Black scientists in America” compiled by online resource Cell Mentor.

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Our scientists, including students, are routinely recognized for outstanding work. The list below covers selected awards received in calendar year 2021.

  • Sharon Billings and Kelly Kindscher each received a 2021 Higuchi-KU Endowment Research Achievement Award, the state higher education system’s most prestigious recognition for scholarly excellence. They were two of four recipients, which meant that researchers from our center represented half the awards. Each received $10,000 for their ongoing research. Billings is a senior scientist and Dean's Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Kindscher is a senior scientist and a professor in the Environmental Studies Program.
  • Amy Burgin, associate scientist and associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, was selected in 2021 for a KU Keeler Family Intra-University Professorship for spring 2022. This faculty development program for tenured faculty at mid-career provides one semester free of departmental responsibilities for interaction with faculty members in another discipline to result in development or expansion of ongoing interdisciplinary research and teaching collaboration. Amy planned to develop ideas around water research and training.
  • Christopher Rogers, assistant research professor, was recognized for work done more than 10 years ago. He was part of a team that worked on the Whetstone Savanna Restoration Project in Oregon for the Oregon State Department of Transportation (ODOT), specifically, one of many restoration biologists involved and worked on the needs of the federally endangered fairy shrimp species. In addition to conducting surveys and monitoring species, as well as design, restoration and monitoring of their seasonal wetland habitat, he trained U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff, ODOT staff and consulting biologists. The Whetstone Savanna was recognized by the Oregon State Land Board with this year’s Wetland Project Award. The project is the largest vernal pool grassland in the state and took more than a decade to reach its current status. 
  • Rondy Malik, NSF postdoctoral fellow, was named a “Rising Star” on a list of “1,000 inspiring Black scientists in America” compiled by Cell Mentor, an online resource maintained by Cell Press, a publisher of open-access research journals on cellular biology. Rondy’s research addresses global change, specifically how enriched atmospheric CO2 impacts monarchs, milkweed and soil microbial dynamics.

Several students also received awards for previously conducted or planned research.

  • Camille Delavaux, doctoral student the Bever/Schultz Lab who graduated in 2021, was awarded the Argersinger Dissertation Award, which is given for the best dissertation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the best dissertation in social science, education, humanities and the arts. Her dissertation was titled “Biogeographic plant-microbe patterns and process: natural and anthropogenic impacts across three spatial scales.” After graduating, she took a position at ETH Zürich in the Dept. of Environmental Systems Science. (Rachel Bowes, doctoral student in the Thorp/Aquatic Ecology Lab, received the Argersinger Award in 2017.)
  • Ceyda Kural, doctoral student in the lab of Maggie Wagner, assistant scientist and assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, won a KU Richard H. Himes Graduate Teaching Award for her work as a GTA in the Biology of Fungi class taught by Ben Sikes during the spring 2021 semester. Ben is an associate scientist and associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
  • Laura Phillips, also mentored by Maggie Wagner, was one of 41 students selected for a 2021 KU Undergraduate Research Award. Each recipient receives a $1,000 scholarship. Laura’s research proposal was titled: “Drought Tolerance on B73 Maize in Response to Microbiome Inoculations.” 
  • Two students were named as recipients of the KU Field Station Student Research Awards, which are presented annually by the Kansas Biological Survey & Center for Ecological Research: Atefeh Hosseini, doctoral student in engineering, for her project, “Impact of climate change on harmful algal bloom,” and Ligia Souza, doctoral student in ecology and evolutionary biology, for her project, “Changes in future nutrient availability may depend on the temperature sensitivity of soil extracelluar enzymes.” Hosseini’s advisor was Joshua Roundy, assistant professor in the Dept. of Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering. Souza’s advisor is Sharon Billings senior scientist and Dean's Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Each recipient presents their research during one of the research center’s Friday Ecology Seminars in the coming academic year. The awards are funded through KU Endowment.