SDSU Honors Prestigious Scholars

Ellen Nelson

Ellen Nelson

SDSU continues to be a home of brilliant scholars and students, and recently awarded grants and prestigious scholarships make this known. Three SDSU individuals have received nationally known accreditation to their academic efforts.

Trevor Layh, a senior mechanical engineering major from Winner, S.D., has been awarded the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation scholarship on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense.

I wasn’t expecting to get it because of the other prestigious schools that are closely associated and related to the Department of Defense,” Layh said. “I’m very excited about this and my family is as well.”

The SMART scholarship will reimburse Layh all of his tuition with the agreement that Layh will work for one year for the Department of Defense in Virginia following graduation this spring. Never having lived outside South Dakota, Layh and his bride-to-be of Sioux Falls will move to an apartment near Fredericksburg, Va., in May 2011.

He applied for the scholarship online last December, and after a phone interview, Layh was awarded the scholarship. He spent this past summer conducting an internship with the Department of Defense’s Test Engineering Branch at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Va., where he was able to get a good idea of what working there full-time will be like.

Layh described the scholarship as a program that the Department of Defense composed in 2005 as an effort to fill the void created by people retiring from the Department of Defense.

Another member of SDSU who has received recognition for his academic pursuits is Assistant Professor Hemachand Tummala of the pharmaceutical sciences department. He has received a $96,926 research grant through South Dakota’s 2010 Competitive Research Grant Program, accompanied by a matched amount of research funds of $98,978 from SDSU. Tummala is one of seven individuals across the nation who was selected to receive the grant.

Having applied for the grant last March, Tummala is thankful for the assistance and ability to continue his scientific research.

“It’s a pretty big deal these days to receive grant,” said Tummala.” I’m pleasantly surprised that I received the grant.”

Tummala will use the grant throughout the timespan of one year, working side-by-side with a graduate pharmacy student who is looking to pursue his doctoral degree. Tummala will use the grant to continue his research of Alzheimer’s disease, hoping to learn more about a possible drug treatment for it. As research work continues for Tummala, he may look into hiring an undergraduate pharmacy student to assist with the work.

New to SDSU, Assistant Professor Adam Hoppe won the National Science Foundation Career Award, a $785,000 science research grant.

“It’s a very nice award and takes a lot of the pressure off an assistant professor,” Hoppe said.

Hoppe described the award as well known within the scientific research field and a hallmark of success. The award is typically given to young investigators and provides three chances to receive the award. He is using the grant to build a microscope to study protein molecules in living cells, specifically the communication between cells and how they interact.

The microscope Hoppe and his research team of graduate and undergraduate students are developing is a broad project. His research lab, on the other hand, is more specific. In the lab, the research team is studying white blood cells and cells within immune systems and how they interact while clearing pathogens. Hoppe said he hopes to incorporate the microscope into the lab eventually.

Hoppe will be instructing biochemistry and biophysics labs this school year and hopes to integrate some of his research into his teaching.