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Doctoral students named Frostic fellows

Nov. 11, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Two Western Michigan University doctoral candidates, Petra Kohler and John Panos, are the fall 2009 recipients of the Gwen Frostic Doctoral Fellowships.

Petra Kohler, a biological sciences student, was awarded $3,000 for her dissertation "Role of the Inositol and Rhizopine Catabolic Pathways During the Competition for Establishment and Maintenance in the Sinorhizobium meliloti--Alfalfa Nitrogen Fixing Symbiosis."

Kohler's project focuses on rhizopines as inositol compounds that act as nutritional mediators in the nitrogen-fixing symbiosis between bacteria and legume plants. Because nitrogen is frequently a limiting resource for plant growth, this subject is of interest for agriculture worldwide. Inositol compounds and rhizopines have the potential to play a role in the construction of so-called "biased rhizospheres," which allow the enrichment of beneficial soil bacteria. Kohler is also a recipient of a 2009-10 Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Her dissertation chair is Dr. Silvia Rossbach.

John Panos, a psychology student, was awarded $3,000 for his dissertation "Neurochemical Effects of Amyloid-beta Oligomers in Rats." Panos's project is a collaborative effort involving contributions from several leading neuroscience researchers from around the world, in which he hopes to contribute to the understanding of possible causes of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.

The research will investigate the neurochemical changes and effects on memory induced by amyloid oligomer infusions into the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in rats. With the results of this research, Panos hopes to contribute to the development of targeted pharmacotherapeutic medications for treatment of this devastating disease. Panos is also a 2009 recipient of the George and Beatrice Fisher Dissertation Prize in Gerontology. His dissertation chair is Dr. Lisa Baker.

Frostic Doctoral Fellowships are given annually by WMU's Graduate College. They are made possible by an endowment from the estate of the late poet, artist and naturalist Gwen Frostic, a 1929 WMU alumna. The competitive fellowships assist doctoral students in all fields with dissertation expenses, including tuition and fees, materials and travel.

For more information, contact Dr. Julie Nemire, WMU Graduate College, at julie.nemire@wmich.edu or (269) 387-8208.

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Media contact: Deanne Puca, (269) 387-8400, deanne.puca@wmich.edu

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