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Hays native recognized for research

1/31/2014

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

By MATTHEW KENWRIGHT

mkenwright@dailynews.net

A Hays native has been recognized for her research poster presentation at the recent 12th annual Kansas Institutional Development Awards Network of Biomedical Research Excellence symposium.

Jennifer (Pfannenstiel) Klaus, a biology graduate student in her final year at Fort Hays State University, was awarded $100 for her project, "Dispersal of antibiotic-resistant bacteria near central plains feedlots."

The scientific community has explored antibiotic-resistant bacteria through soil and water, so there was an opportunity to explore wind's effect on distribution. Klaus spent all of 2013 working on her thesis.

"We looked specifically at wind-borne dispersal ... a prevalence study of what types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, how common they are, how easy is it to find them airborne," she said.

The subject of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has a crucial effect on health care. Penicillin and amoxicillin are proving to be less effective in treating certain cases compared to the past.

"If you're sick, you want to get treated with an antibiotic with something that's going to help you," she said. "The premise of this is just that antibiotics, ever since we've started using them, if they don't kill all the bugs that they're supposed to kill, some of them are going to survive -- and some are going to become resistant."

The surviving bacteria species can multiply and spread. There are more questions surrounding the topic that remain unanswered.

"It's just kind of a noteworthy thing that antibiotic-resistance is really becoming more and more common in the environment," she said. "Whether that's due to us using them a lot, whether bacteria just naturally have the ability to evolve ways around antibiotics -- I think those are all parts of the picture."

Klaus intends to continue her education in a doctorate program.

The symposium, led by the University of Kansas Medical Center, aims to recruit future biomedical researchers in Kansas, according to a press release from the center.

"With this program, we hope to keep the biosciences in Kansas growing and thriving," Doug Wright, professor of anatomy and cell biology at the center, said in the release.