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The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology recognizes outstanding accomplishments of a predoctoral student with three awards:

Tom Steadman Teacher-Research Opportunity Award

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department is proud to announce that Eric Kessler is the recipient of our departmental Tom Steadman 2020 Teacher-Research Opportunity Award. This award recognizes a high school teacher, who teaches hands-on research techniques, by providing the opportunity to contribute to original research.     

This award is named after Tom Steadman, a farmer/rancher in Woodward County, OK. It was from observing Mr. Steadman's actions that Dr. Fenton first realized the value of service as an important way of giving back to the community. Graduating high school students can benefit from help in exploring available career options; therefore, there is a need for individuals in professional fields to create opportunities to supply that help. The ability to identify needs in the community, coupled with the willingness to fill that need exemplifies how Mr. Steadman has led his life. 

Mr. Kessler grew up in the Kansas City area and completed his initial BS in Zoology and BA in Psychology at the University of Texas in Austin in 1990. He returned to the Kansas City area and became interested in education while working for KU's Juniper Gardens Children's Project as a data collector in their long-term research on childhood learning. He subsequently earned a BA in Education from University of Missouri in Kansas City in the Spring of 1992, and he began his 28-year career, to date, with the Blue Valley School District in the Fall of that year. For the initial 18 years of his teaching career, he taught freshman biology and honors biology, as well as field biology, zoology, and advanced placement biology to sophomores through seniors at Blue Valley North High School. In the midst of his teaching, he also completed his Masters in Biology at Emporia State University in 1998, where he conducted research on the Retreat-site Selection of Woodland Snakes in Miami County, Kansas. He became Nationally Board Certified in 2003. He also, became an active member of the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers (KABT) and the Kansas Herpetological Society (KHS) during this time, serving as treasurer for 10 years and as President in 2016 for the later. Mr. Kessler became known for taking students outside the classroom to learn about the biology of the world around them. In the Fall of 1999, he took a van of a handful of his students to participate in its first KHS Field Trip which involves camping out and surveying for reptiles and amphibians over the course of an entire weekend. Since then, he has organized over 40 such trips, and at its height he facilitated the participation of 7 vans loaded with sixty plus high school students from across the Blue Valley School District. They have experienced every biogeographic region of the state. In the early 2000's he sought to balance his environmental knowledge and skill by seeking out professional development in the cellular and molecular biosciences, the most significant of which has been his long-term relationship with the Center for BioMolecular Modeling at the Milwaukee School of Engineering. In 2010, he transitioned to teaching at the Blue Valley School District's Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) where he designed and offers a course in Bioscience Research for students interested in exploring molecules, cells, organisms, and the environment. He promotes his students competing in the Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair, and has had one student compete at the Regeneron Science and Engineering Fair. During his time at CAPS, he has facilitated numerous student groups traveling and presenting poster presentations of their work on particular proteins at 7 of the annual meetings of the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). Mr. Kessler appreciates the numerous relationships and collaborations that his students have formed and developed with researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center with this year's number of participants in the KU Educational Experience (KEE) Program reaching 14 students. Over the years, Mr. Kessler has been awarded numerous grants, and has been recognized for his teaching by the Blue Valley School District (2001), RadioShack (2002), Milken Foundation (2007), Kansas Association of Biology Teachers (2009), Kansas Herpetological Society (2011), Kansas Wildlife Federation (2011), BioRad (2014), and the Environmental Protection Agency and White House Council on Environmental Quality (2014). He has recently returned to school online at Northeastern University where he is working on his Doctorate in Education and is considering studying the influence of mindset and scientific values on student approaches and responses to challenges/failures within authentic project-based STEM learning environments.
Official presentation of the award has been delayed due to current social distancing constraints. When possible, the award will be presented to Mr. Kessler by Dr. Christy Hagan, the chair of the award search committee.

Recipients of the Tom Steadman Award:

Zulma Perez-Estrella 2017
Giselle McDonald 2018
L. B. Fogt 2019

Kimmel Award

The Joe R. Kimmel Award was established in 1985 as a memorial to Joe R. Kimmel, M.D., Ph.D. by colleagues and students. Dr. Kimmel, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, was on the faculty from 1963 until his death in 1985.

It is awarded outstanding research presentation in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Student Research Forum.

Recipients of the Kimmel Award:

Robin Maser


Scott Falke


Subhaschandra Naik


Alex Machen


Larry Dobbs


Huimin Jiang


Mauricio Vargas Uribe


Carla Green


Alexsander Dajkovic


Dan Parente 


Michael Harding


Ryan Schulze


Rushi Trivedi


Bei Xie


Benjamin Weaver


Mary Ashley Rimmer


Stephen Parnell


Matthew Goering


 Zhen Zhang  2016

Shihyun You


Hiroo Katayama


 Jackie Thompson  2017

Susanna Harju


Troy Johnson


 Pierce O'Neil  2018

Grisolia Award

S_GrissoliaSantiago Grisolia Research Fellowship is awarded for Excellence in Biomedical Research by a Medical Student at the Student Research Forum.

Established in 1997 in commemoration of the esteemed career of Santiago Grisolia, M.D., Ph.D., by colleagues, associates, and students. Dr. Grisolia, Professor Emeritus at the University of Kansas Medical Center, was Director of the McIlvain Laboratories, 1954-62 and Professor and Chairman, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 1962-73.

Recipients of the Grisolia Award:

Stephen Clum


Bliss Hartnett


Nils R. Hoernle


Dan Parente


James Howard


Miranda Machacek


 Jacob Hodges







Last modified: Jan 05, 2021