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

Tom Steadman High School Biotech Teacher Award

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department is proud to announce that Dr. Kenneth Lee is the recipient of our departmental Tom Steadman 2021 High School Biotech Teacher 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. Dr. Lee grew up in the Catskill mountains in upstate New York. He obtained his B.S. in Biology with honors and a minor in history from Union College. He then moved to New York City to become the Lab Manager in the lab of Dr. Mary Ann Osley at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute. During his time there studying the regulation of histones in yeast, his interest shifted from a career in medicine to a career in research. After two years in the Osley lab, Dr. Lee moved to Baltimore, Maryland to continue his education at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the BCMB, where he studied the mechanism of Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy using the model genetic organism, Caenorhabditis elegans. Dr. Lee completed his Ph.D. in Cell Biology. Upon completing his Ph.D., Dr. Lee received a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Award to study gene regulation and the control of transcription in the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae in the laboratory of Dr. Jerry Workman at Pennsylvania State University.  While there, the Workman Lab moved to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City and Dr. Lee continued his work in gene expression and the identification of protein complexes that regulate transcription. Dr. Lee spent nine years at the Stowers Institute, seven of which were in the Workman lab, first as a post-doctoral fellow and then as a senior research associate. Dr. Lee then moved to the lab of Jennifer Gerton, also at the Stowers Institute, to continue his training by studying the role of ribosomal RNA in chromosomal cohesion. During this time, he became interested in careers outside of academic research, and began working at a company testing the role of single nucleotide polymorphism in the metabolism of various antidepressant drugs. Dr. Lee has published over 30 peer reviewed journal articles and has a Molecular Biology Certification from the American Society of Clinical Pathologists (ASCP). During his time in the Gerton laboratory, Dr. Lee realized he wanted to switch from research scientist to an educator, began an online Post-baccalaureate program through Western Governors University. He then completed student teaching with Brenda Bott in the Shawnee Mission School District Biotechnology Signature Program. Dr. Lee first teaching positions was at Shawnee Mission East. He then became the Director of the Biotechnology Signature program.  Dr. Lee sponsors students in the Greater Kansas City Science Fair, International Science and Engineering Fair, the BioGENEius competition, and Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. 

Official presentation of the award has been delayed due to current social distancing constraints. When possible, the award will be presented to Dr. Lee 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
Eric Kessler 2020


Randy Dix 2021 Junior High Science Teacher Award

Mr. Dix is a retired biology educator. During his 38 years of teaching, he was instrumental in developing advanced biotechnology curriculum in the Olathe School District, including the Olathe 21st Century Program for Life Sciences.  He served as a resource for other KC area wide schools as they developed their own biotechnology programs. Mr. Dix's lifelong teaching goal was to connect students to the world of scientific research by developing classroom methods and skills for scientific inquiry learning, with the aid of mentorship from many professional scientists.

The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department is proud to announce that Dr. Jill Bergerhofer and Mrs. Amy Radaker Hillman are recipients of the Randy Dix 2021 Junior High Science Teacher Award. 

Dr. Bergerhofer is a lifelong resident of greater Kansas City. She completed her BS in Elementary Education at the University of Kansas. Her commitment to experimental education was derived from a range of training experiences early in her career, including internship in Environmental Education at Glen Helen Outdoor Education Antioch College and the Assistant-Director of Outdoor School with Wildwood Outdoor Education Center and as a member of an ad-hoc committee designing an Environmental Science Magnet School. Although she has taught elementary classes, much of Dr. Bergerhofer's teaching career has been in the Blue Valley School District, teaching science classes in middle schools. While teaching, she earned first her Master of Science in Education Degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Mid-America Nazarene University and then EdD in Educational Leadership from Baker University. She has also been an active member of a wide array of teaching organizations: Missouri Experiential Education Association; Kansas Association of Science Teachers; National Middle School Association; Learning Forward and Learning Forward Kansas; and she remains active in the Kansas National Education Association and the Blue Valley National Education Association. She continues to sponsor several after school clubs: Science Olympiad; National Science Bowl; BioClub; Chess Club; and Rubik's Cube Club. Dr. Bergerhofer is an adjunct Professor at Mid-America Nazarene University teaching an on-line STEAM Methods and Practicum course, teaches and facilitates asynchronous professional learning and Master's level courses for PLS 3rd Learning, and volunteers in the Teachers as Learning Leaders (TALL) program for Kansas National Education Association.

Mrs. Amy Radaker Hillman grew up in Western New York. After graduating from State University of New York at Fredonia with a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education she headed to Augusta, Georgia to teach at several elementary schools. She then transitioned to Olathe, KS, teaching 5th and 6th grade science. While in the Olathe school system, she earned her Master of Science Degree at Emporia State University. Currently she teaches science courses at 6-8th grade levels, including the 8th grade AIM (Achieving through Individual Motivation) to first generation college students. Mrs. Hillman has continuously sought out opportunities to bring new topics to her classroom, including: Exxon Mobile/Michelson Educator, Educator International Space Camp, Sally Ride Science Moon/Earth Kam, WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) leadership, PBL (Project Based Learning), AVID and traveling with her local Olathe North High School Geoscience Academy (including Yellowstone and Port Aransas, TX). Mrs. Hillman is a teacher for the International Academy of Science, reaching thousands of students via video courses. She currently leads the Olathe District Science Night, AIM and the Saturday Scholars STEAM program. During this past year Amy was on the 2020 KDOE Continuous Learning COVID response teacher team, PBS Learning Across Kansas video series, and The AY Battery Tour #Outlet Teacher team for the UN's Global Goals.  Mrs. Hillman has been recognized for a range of Teacher of the Year throughout all stages of her career, the Olathe Public School Foundation E3, International Space Camp "The Right Stuff" Leadership award, PAEMST Teacher Nominations and most recently 2020 Region 3 KTOY Finalist.    

Joe R. 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


No Award provided due to pandemic


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


Santiago Grisolia Research Fellowship

Santiago Grisolia Research Fellowship is awarded for Excellence in Biomedical Research by a medical student or a graduate student at the annual 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: Mar 24, 2021