KU News: KU resecures $8M in federal funds for 4 Educational Opportunity Programs

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KU resecures $8M in federal funds for 4 Educational Opportunity Programs
LAWRENCE — The Center Educational Opportunity Programs has recently secured over $8 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the University of Kansas can continue to help first-generation and low-income students not only reach college but also be successful once they get there. The funding supports four TRIO programs: KU TRIO McNair Scholars Program and KU TRIO Veterans Upward Bound as well as two Upward Bound Math & Science grants, which will serve high school students in Douglas, Leavenworth, Shawnee and Wyandotte counties.

10 KU students named ExCEL Awards finalists
LAWRENCE — Ten students have been selected as finalists for the 32nd annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards at the University of Kansas, including students from Olathe, Overland Park, Prairie Village, Shawnee, Topeka and Wichita (67212) and from Kansas City, Missouri. Two winners will be announced at the conclusion of Homecoming week, which culminates in the KU football game against Iowa State at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 1 in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

Study will predict fate of Western Atlantic mollusks by scouring ancient fossil record
LAWRENCE — Generations from now, will people still jam into beachside food stands for clam rolls and splurge on trays of oysters at swanky restaurants — or will clams, oysters and many other mollusk species soon become victims of human-driven climate change? A paleontologist at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum believes an answer can be found in the 3-million-year-old fossil record of mollusks in the Western Atlantic, encompassing hundreds of species, both living and extinct.

Full stories below.

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Contact: Laura Kingston, Center for Educational Opportunity Programs, 785-864-3415, [email protected], @CEOPmedia
KU resecures $8M in federal funds for 4 Educational Opportunity Programs

LAWRENCE — The Center Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP) has recently secured over $8 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the University of Kansas can continue to help first-generation and low-income students not only reach college but also be successful once they get there.
Under the leadership of CEOP director Ngondi Kamaṱuka, the university received funding to continue four highly successful TRIO programs: KU TRIO McNair Scholars Program, KU TRIO Veterans Upward Bound and two Upward Bound Math & Science grants.
“TRIO programs provide the support systems that make positive differences and ultimately lead to success,” Kamaṱuka said. “At the University of Kansas, we have multiple college access and educational equity programs that allow for support across the spectrum of needs. This resecured funding allows CEOP to continue supporting high schoolers, veterans, student-parents and undergraduate researchers.”
KU TRIO McNair Scholars Program
Established at KU in 1992, the KU TRIO McNair Scholars Program provides low-income, first-generation and underrepresented minority students with the necessary skills, resources and support to prepare and earn placement in graduate programs to pursue doctorates.
For 30 years, the legacy of the McNair Scholars program has worked to diversify academic and research fields by preparing undergraduate students for graduate school through scholarly activities and research opportunities. Under the current leadership of Mulubrhan Lemma, the most recent five-year award of $1.6 million will continue supporting 31 Jayhawks annually.
“KU students who qualify for the TRIO McNair Scholars Program have a strong research potential. Their personal narrative greatly influences their academic interests and a commitment to create new legacies for their communities,” Lemma said. “Qualifying for McNair Scholars program indicates a strong academic potential and deep commitment to a rigorous and challenging academic track.”
CCAMPIS at KU
The Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program supports eligible student-parents with child care needs and provides student success programming. CCAMPIS, a federally funded program established at KU in 2018, will support eligible undergraduate and graduate students who have a child enrolled at Hilltop Child Development Center.
The new CCAMPIS director, Tonya Waller, brings 19 years of experience working for CEOP, most recently as director of a GEAR UP program serving students in Topeka.
“I am very excited to serve in this new capacity as CCAMPIS director,” Waller said. “This program will provide invaluable service and support for our student-parents in their degree attainment while mitigating the stress associated with finding and maintaining high-quality, affordable and accessible child care.”
The most recent four-year award of $1.8 million will continue the CCAMPIS partnership with Hilltop to provide financial support to 30 KU student-parents, allowing them to focus on education without having to worry about affording child care, thereby increasing the likelihood of degree completion.
KU TRIO Veterans Upward Bound
Established in 1999, the KU TRIO Veterans Upward Bound Program (VUB) has a long legacy of serving veterans in the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area, including Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties in Kansas, and Jackson, Cass and Clay counties in Missouri.
As an education and skills program designed specifically to serve the needs of today’s veterans, VUB annually supports 125 veterans by offering a range of valuable resources: advising, counseling and expertise to help discover personal paths to success.
The $1.5 million, five-year grant will continue VUB’s legacy of preparing veterans for success at any stage of their educational journey of beginning or returning to postsecondary education.
KU TRIO Upward Bound Math-Science
The university has received $3 million for two TRIO Upward Bound Math-Science grants designed to strengthen participating students’ math and science skills.
Known as the Math & Science Center, one grant will provide services to 66 high school students who are at Highland Park, Topeka, Lawrence, J.C. Harmon or Washington high schools. The other grant, known as KU Upward Bound Math & Science, serves 60 students at Leavenworth and Turner high schools.
Together, these grants will help students from five Kansas counties recognize and develop their potential to excel in math and science and encourage them to pursue postsecondary degrees in math and science with the goal of securing careers in those areas.
“I want to make sure Kansans have access to high-quality higher education but also find success,” Kamaṱuka said. “Access isn’t enough if students don’t also have support. We provide decades of evidence-based support that is personalized to the unique needs of today’s students. KU’s TRIO programs will help the university work toward that goal.”
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Contact: Paige Freeman, KU Alumni Association, 785-864-0953, [email protected], @kualumni
10 KU students named ExCEL Awards finalists
LAWRENCE — Ten students have been selected as finalists for the 32nd annual Excellence in Community, Education and Leadership Awards at the University of Kansas. This year’s ExCEL Awards are presented by Konica Minolta. Two winners will be announced at the conclusion of Homecoming week, which culminates in the KU football game against Iowa State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, in David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
Nominees were selected based on their leadership, communication skills, involvement at KU and in the Lawrence community, academic scholarship, and ability to work with a variety of students and organizations. The selection committee included representatives from the Center for Orientation and Transition Programs, KU Endowment, Student Union Activities/Kansas Memorial Unions and the Homecoming Steering Committee.
The ExCEL Award was first given in 1991. To be eligible, applicants must be full-time undergraduate students with an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher. Each finalist completed an application and participated in an interview. The finalists and their academic majors are listed below, along with highlights of their campus achievements.
Aylar Atadurdyyeva, a senior in global & international studies, microbiology, political science and Slavic studies with minors in German studies and psychology from Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, is executive director of The Big Event and the Homecoming Steering Committee. She also directs finance and partnerships for Student Union Activities.

Ethan Christ, a senior in anthropology and biochemistry from Overland Park, is executive director of the Center for Community Outreach and president of the pre-med fraternity Phi Delta Epsilon.

Claire Dopp, a senior in chemistry with a minor in environmental studies from Olathe, is an undergraduate assistant at the Center for Undergraduate Research and previously served as coordinator of the Kansas Union Gallery.

Miracle Emenuga, a senior in chemical engineering with a minor in biomedical engineering from Lagos, Nigeria, is president of the KU chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers and was formerly vice president of LEAD UP.

Isobel Langham, a senior in psychology and dance from Topeka, is president of the Panhellenic Association and a member of the community and campus outreach board for the organization CARE Sisters.

Mikayla Leader, a senior in mathematics and STEMTeach from Wichita, is executive director of Student Union Activities and an adviser for The Big Event.

Reilly Moreland, a junior in strategic communications with a minor in business from Prairie Village, is a student ambassador for the KU Professional Selling Program and an account executive at the University Daily Kansan.

Thanh Tan Nguyen, a junior in business analytics and supply chain management from Phu Yen, Vietnam, directs marketing and engagement for Student Union Activities and is president of the KU Memorial Corp. board.

Marah Shulda, a senior in chemical engineering and global & international studies from Shawnee, is co-president of the KU Society of Women Engineers and rank leader and equipment manager for the Marching Jayhawks.

Ladazhia Taylor, a senior in strategic communications with a minor in leadership studies from Kansas City, Missouri, is president of the KU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and an Adidas campus ambassador.

The theme for KU’s 110th Homecoming is “Home on the Hill.” KU’s Homecoming is sponsored by Best Western Plus-West Lawrence, Central Bank of the Midwest, Konica Minolta, the KU Bookstore and Pepsi Zero Sugar. Jayhawks can purchase the official 2022 “Home on the Hill” Homecoming T-shirt online from the KU Bookstore.

For more information and to view the full schedule of Homecoming activities, go to kualumni.org/homecoming.

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Contact: Brendan Lynch, KU News Service, 785-864-8855, [email protected], @BrendanMLynch
Study will predict fate of Western Atlantic mollusks by scouring ancient fossil record
LAWRENCE — Generations from now, will people still jam into beachside food stands for clam rolls and splurge on trays of oysters at swanky restaurants — or will clams, oysters and many other mollusk species soon become victims of human-driven climate change?
A paleontologist at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute and Natural History Museum believes an answer can be found in the 3-million-year-old fossil record of mollusks in the Western Atlantic, encompassing hundreds of species, both living and extinct.
“A key thing about looking back 3 million years ago is we have really good knowledge of the climate then, and it was quite a bit warmer — and in fact those are the conditions that we expect to reach due to human-induced climate change,” said Bruce Lieberman, professor of ecology & evolutionary biology and senior curator at the Biodiversity Institute. “We can use the 3-million-year-old interval as a model for what climate will be like 200 years from now. And we’re asking the question, ‘What’s distinctive about the species that survived, and those that didn’t?’ That’s going to allow us to predict what’s going to happen, who’s going to survive, and who’s going to go extinct over the next two centuries.”
Lieberman will lead the $2.4 million project, with about $880,000 coming to KU. Other key researchers include KU Biodiversity Institute research affiliates Erin Saupe of Oxford University and Luke Strotz.
Beyond improving scientific understanding of the health of marine ecosystems and food chains, the project could help estimate the economic future of Western Atlantic fisheries.
“There are about 300 mollusk species, and some of these species are really commercially important — things like oysters, or other things that are the source of fried clams,” Lieberman said. “We might not eat clams that much if we’re in Kansas, but if you’re on the Eastern Seaboard, people consume a lot of them, and they contribute to the economy. Further, they’re kind of the base of the food chain, so they have a more outsized impact than we tend to think. They’re important food resources. We care about them for conservation purposes, too.”
Lieberman and his collogues hope to tease out which biological and behavioral traits gave some mollusk species evolutionary success, and which traits doomed species.
“If it works the way we hope it does, we think it could allow people to take other modern groups of species and apply similar approaches — groups that might not even have a great fossil record — to try and also look into the future,” Lieberman said. “We think they could be a good model system to better try and understand effects that certain traits might have on extinction, partly because it’ll help us understand the fundamental evolutionary role of physiology. We hope it will extend to other groups and other times in the past, but also for the present.”
Results from Lieberman’s previous scholarship show a mollusk species’ metabolic rate is a “highly significant predictor of extinction probability” over the past 3 million years. But what other traits give a mollusk evolutionary fitness? The researchers will analyze the fossil record using ‘ecological niche modeling’ — a method of mapping and predicting species’ habitats — as well as statistical analysis to see which traits are tied to species’ staying power.
“One approach will involve the use of ecological niche modeling, something that KU and especially the Biodiversity Institute has pioneered,” Lieberman said. “We’ll take the distributions of those mollusks, look at the places where they’ve occurred in the past and relate that to places they occur today — then project out to 200 years to see, ‘Hey, will there still be available niches for these species?’ We’ll also use various statistical tests to see which traits correlate with survival, either singly or in combination.”
In the meantime, colleagues Rowan Lockwood of the College of William and Mary and Emily Rivest of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science will run experiments to observe physiological responses in existing mollusk species to environmental conditions expected in the coming centuries. The researchers will use data from the statistical analyses along with physiological experiments to assess traits that best forecast survival and extinction.
Lieberman said the hard shells of mollusks tend to preserve as fossils better than other species, providing such a detailed record it might help forecast how other groups of animals could fare in coming centuries.
“We also think mollusks could be a good model system to better understand the impacts or the effects certain traits might have on extinction,” he said. “This is a group that has an incredibly dense fossil record, so it gives us the opportunity to develop this predictive framework.”
At least three postdoctoral scholars, two graduate students and 16 undergraduate students will receive support for training under the award. At KU, researchers will coordinate with the TRIO SES & STEM program to extend education and training opportunities to students at KU and beyond who are first-generation, low-income or have a disability or condition for which they have accommodations.
“This is a really good way of reaching out to first-generation students and others to give them an appreciation for STEM opportunities and why and how it can be a good and beneficial career for people,” Lieberman said. “We’ll be working with people starting out in college, but also younger people who are middle school students from the Kansas City, Kansas, school district, providing some outreach with them to talk about the effects of climate change, and why it matters for everybody.”
Lieberman said the team also would work with other organizations around Kansas City to provide K-12 outreach and education on climate change, including Bridging the Gap.

Plans also include a physical and online exhibition on mollusks at the Paleontological Research Institution’s “Museum of the Earth” as well as citizen-science and outreach programs in Virginia. Images from the work will be contributed to the online Neogene Atlas of Ancient Life.

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