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Student earns research grant

Special to The Hays Daily News

Biology major Keri Caudle, Burkburnett, Texas, sophomore at Fort Hays State University, has been awarded an $36,796 Environmental Protection Agency research grant.

The grant covers a two-year period and includes an internship at an EPA facility in the summer of 2013.

"Learning is my inspiration. I enjoy learning about science, but specifically plant biology," Caudle said. "Research provides me the opportunity to challenge my mind while accumulating valuable knowledge and skills. Not only am I able to apply what I learned from research on a small scale through research projects, but I am able to think and analyze the environment on a broader scale."

The grant will pay for Caudle's next two years of research in the FHSU Department of Biological Sciences, a three-month paid internship, partial tuition assistance and additional research expenses such as travel and equipment.

Caudle's research centers on how environmental stresses such as floods, droughts and oil spills affect plant physiological processes such as photosynthesis, respiration and water potential. Her main focus is how oil spills affect coastal marsh plant life. In the research she has already done, Caudle has concluded that low marsh species are able to withstand more oil damage than high marsh species.

Her goals are a graduate degree in botany and a career in research and teaching. Her research will influence growing crops, managing property and understanding how life is supported.

Caudle hopes her research will expand knowledge of stresses on plant life. She also hopes to present her findings at various national meetings such as the American Society of Plant Biologists 2013 conference in Providence, R.I., and the Botanical Society of America's 2013 conference in New Orleans.

"Without a doubt, the faculty and staff of the Biology Department at FHSU have been the highlight of my time here as a student," Caudle said. "The professors are incredibly supportive of students and provide an outstanding environment for us to learn "

Caudle has presented work at four off-campus professional meetings including two national meetings, won a prize for student presentations at one of the meetings, written 13 presentations, 11 by herself and two as a coauthor. She has also received funding from the Botanical Society of America, the Society of Wetland Scientists, the Weed Science Society of America, the American Society of Plant Biologists and the Kansas Academy of Science.

Caudle has learned through her undergraduate research that "the most important goal in pursuing a higher education is the ability to find a discipline you love."

"Keri has been a hard worker and a self motivator during her time at FHSU. She has compiled an impressive record for an undergraduate student," said Dr. Brian Maricle, associate professor of biological sciences. "Undoubtedly these awards and recognitions will be the first of many in Keri's career."