Jul 18, 2024  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

141 Chalmers Hall
Fax: 785-532-7278

Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics is an interdepartmental graduate program with faculty participants from many academic departments of the University.

Department Head:

Michal Zolkiewski

Director of graduate studies:

Erika Geisbrecht

Graduate faculty:

*Katsura Asano, (Biology), Ph.D., University of Tokyo
*Lawrence C. Davis, Ph.D., Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Neal Dittmer, Ph.D., Michigan State University
*Timothy Durrett, Ph.D., University of Missouri
*Gregory Finnigan, Ph.D., University of Oregon
*Peying Fong, (Anatomy and Physiology), Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
*Roman Reddy Ganta, (Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology), Ph.D., All India Institute of Medical Science
*Brian Geisbrecht, Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
*Erika Geisbrecht, Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
*Maureen Gorman, Ph.D., Iowa State University
*Revathi Govind, (Biology), Ph.D., Texas Tech University
*Philip Hardwidge,(Diagnostic Medicine/ Pathobiology), Ph.D., Mayo Clinic Graduate School
*Michael R. Kanost, Ph.D., Purdue University
*Phillip E. Klebba, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
*Stella Lee, (Biology), Ph.D., Dalhousie University, Canada
*Ho Leung Ng, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
*Kristin Michel, (Biology),Ph.D., University of California, Riverside
Saurav Misra, The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Salete Newton, Ph.D., Universidade de Sao Paulo
*Annelise Nguyen,(Diagnostic Medicine/ Pathobiology), PhD, Texas A&M University
*Om Prakash, Ph.D., Central Drug Research Institute, India
*Ryan Rafferty, (Chemistry), Ph.D., Colorado State University
*Gerald R. Reeck, Ph.D., University of Washington
*Jeroen Roelofs, (Biology), Ph.D., University of Groningen, The Netherlands
*Jeremy Schmit, (Physics), Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara
*Kathrin Schrick, (Biology), Ph.D., University of Washington
*Bruce Schultz, (Anatomy and Physiology), Ph.D., Cornell University
*Paul E. Smith, (Chemistry), Ph.D., University of Liverpool, UK
*John M. Tomich, Ph.D., Guelph-Waterloo University, Canada
*Philine Wangemann, (Anatomy and Physiology), Ph.D., Freiburg, Germany
*Ruth Welti, (Biology), Ph.D., Washington University, St. Louis
*David Wetzel (Grain Science), Ph.D., Kansas State University
*Anna Zolkiewska, Ph.D., Nencki Institute of Exp. Biology, Poland
*Michal Zolkiewski, Ph.D., Institute of Physical Chemistry, Warsaw, Poland

*Denotes graduate faculty that are certified to serve as the major professor for doctoral students.


Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics explores the molecular basis of life processes. It examines structure, function, assembly, and dynamic changes of macromolecules and the chemistry and dynamics of small molecules. Through use of recombinant DNA technology and new instrumentation, a revolution is underway in our understanding of the ways that plants and animals regulate metabolic processes and express genetic information. Researchers at Kansas State University are in the forefront of that revolution. The study of biochemistry at Kansas State University is conducted under a versatile arrangement through which faculty of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and faculty in other departments cooperate in a graduate biochemistry program. Both fundamental questions about living processes and applications to living systems are supported in this interdisciplinary program.

Degree programs

The biochemistry and molecular biophysics program seeks excellence in teaching and research through a program tailored to the development of the individual student. The core curriculum is broad and students are expected to specialize through appropriate choice of advanced courses from the many offerings taught by faculty in their areas of research expertise. A strong seminar program involves presentations by eminent visiting scholars from around the world and by the faculty of many departments on campus. A graduate student seminar program provides further opportunity for acquiring insights into new developments in the field. 

The Graduate Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Group administers granting of M.S., B.S./M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in biochemistry whether the research is conducted within the Department of Biochemistry or in other cooperating departments. The program of study is flexible, accommodating students with a wide range of backgrounds, including genetics, microbiology, physics, and medicine as well as the traditional chemistry, biochemistry, and biology degrees. Students are admitted to either the M.S. or the Ph.D. program based on qualifications, which include undergraduate and graduate performance, letters of recommendation, and program of study deficiencies.

In biochemistry and molecular biophysics, both the Ph.D. and the M.S. degrees are considered research degrees. Thus, in addition to specific course requirements, there is a requirement for writing a thesis based on independent and original research conducted in the laboratory of one of the participating faculty members.

Students in either the M.S. or Ph.D. degree program take the two-semester, comprehensive, core biochemistry courses Biochemistry I and II and a one-semester course in molecular biophysics. All students are expected to attend the weekly graduate student seminar and individual research group meetings.

Financial support of graduate students

Within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, support for graduate teaching assistants is through the College of Arts and Sciences. Graduate research assistants are supported through the Agricultural Experiment Station and by research grants. Usually a student is admitted to the graduate program in biochemistry and molecular biophysics only if university funds are available for salary support or if the student has another source of support such as a government (U.S. or other) fellowship. U.S. citizens with a strong undergraduate record can apply for NSF predoctoral fellowships. Some supplements to teaching and research support are available on a competitive basis from the Graduate School for outstanding U.S. students.

Incoming students receive half of their support in the form of teaching assistantships (requiring six contact hours per week) and half in the form of a research assistantship. After the first year, the teaching assistantship may be replaced by extramural support. This is expected for Ph.D. candidates beyond their third year of study.

Graduate students in the B.S./M.S. dual degree program will not be expected to teach and will not be supported by departmental teaching or research assistantships. They are eligible for support as research assistants in laboratoies of individual faculty members.

Student fees

For graduate teaching assistants and graduate research assistants, student fees are assessed at the instate level. Students receiving such support are required to enroll in 6 credit hours each semester. A waiver of half the tuition costs is provided to those supported as combined graduate teaching/research assistants.

Research environment and facilities

More than two dozen faculty members are formally associated with the Graduate Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics Group. Many others with interests in biochemistry and molecular biology are collaborative investigators and participants on graduate student supervisory committees. The research environment in biochemistry is exciting and vigorous because of these diverse but interacting programs. Our graduates compete favorably with those from the world’s best programs because they are well trained in biochemical literature and research techniques. Members of the group currently receive more than $3 million per year in outside research funds. These funds support technicians, postdoctoral fellows, and some graduate research assistants at later stages of their career. They also allow purchase of up-to-date research equipment and supplies.

The Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics has 14 large research suites. Ten are located in Chalmers Hall. That building also houses the department’s teaching laboratories. The other research suites are located in Burt Hall. The department is well equipped for advanced research in a wide range of areas. NMR studies are conducted within the NMR Facility using Varian 500 MHz Unity Plus NMR with triple channel detection, pulsefield gradient, and high stability temperature control and waveform generation. Other biophysical studies are conducted with conventional and magnetic circular dichroism, fluorescence spectroscopy with fluorescence polarization capability and UV-Visible differential scanning spectroscopy. A new analytical ultracentrifuge (Beckman XL-I), micro calorimeters (MicroCal VP-DSC and isothermal titration calorimeter), and a surface plasmon resonance instrument (Biacore 3000) enhance studies of macromolecule interactions and folding properties.

The department has equipment and technical capability for gene cloning (supported by polymerase chain reaction capabilities) and all varieties of electrophoresis experiments. For preparative procedures the department has multiple ultracentrifuges, high performance liquid chromatographs, and facilities for both anaerobic enzyme preparations and large scale preparations of subcellular organelles. The department has several cold rooms, animal cell culture facilities, instrument rooms, and dark rooms. Facilities are available for housing animals and growing plants year-round. Analytical instruments include scintillation counters, gamma counters and scanning spectrophotometers.

The university Biotechnology Core Facility is housed within the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and provides both instruments and expertise for mass spectometry of biopolymers, oligonucleotide synthesis, peptide synthesis and gas-phase peptide sequencing. High resolution purification of peptides and synthesis of peptides containing non-natural amino acids are areas of special interest. The mass spec capabilities include high throughput screening of peptides.

Additional facilities are also available on campus: DNA sequencing, fluorescence-activated cell sorting, electron microscopy (transmission and scanning), quasi-elastic light scattering, GLC-mass spectrometry, emission spectrometry, Fourier-transform infrared spectrometry, atomic absorption and stopped flow kinetics. High resolution GLC- mass spec is used for lipidomics studies. Parallel computing, mini super-computers, and ethernet and internet networks are available throughout the campus.

Job opportunities

Biochemistry and molecular biology are growth areas in the economy of the 21st century. Graduate training in biochemistry and molecular biophysics provides a strong base for varied academic and technological careers. Our Ph. D. and postdoctoral graduates find positions not only in departments of biochemistry, biophysics, and molecular biology, but also in biology, chemistry, pharmacology, nutrition and medicine. Doctoral graduates find positions requiring independent work in a wide range of industries including biotechnology, chemistry, pharmacology, medicine, and food technology. M.S. graduates occupy skilled technical positions in industry, government and academic research laboratories. Many also continue for the Ph.D. at this or other institutions.


Doctor of Philosophy

Master of Science

Dual Degree