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K-State professor combines love of teaching, research to examine eye development

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- Gary Conrad never knows when or where an idea for a research project might strike him -- in the middle of the night, in the kitchen, in the shower, while driving, while hiking.

To ensure that he is never without pen and paper whenever an idea comes to him, Conrad, a university distinguished professor of biology at Kansas State University, always keeps paper and writing utensils all around his house, office, car, etc. These ideas have proven to be quite beneficial to eye research, as Conrad has obtained seven, five-year research grants over a 33-year period.

Conrad enjoys doing both research and teaching. To him, the two activities complement one another.

"I don't think you can effectively teach without doing research," Conrad said. "Undergraduate students often ask questions which may initially sound simple, but often go to the core of a challenging research problem and generate new ideas for us to test at the bench. Conversely, research provides us ample opportunities to demonstrate in our teaching that the body of knowledge in a specific field is constantly changing. The most effective ways to present it also change, as do the students and their degrees of preparation and interest.

"Teaching is like being in a great rock band always on the road -- you have to be ready to put out good, new stuff every night before constantly-changing crowds. It is always stimulating."

In April, a 31-year continuing research project of Conrad's was renewed for another five-year period for $1.825 million. The research is funded by the National Eye Institute of the National Institutes of Health -- "Fibroblast Differentiation During Eye Development."

Conrad serves as principal investigator, assisted by a group of senior scientists, including Drs. Abigail Conrad, research associate professor, Division of Biology; Elena Tasheva, research assistant professor; and Ke An, Lolita Corpuz and Yuntao Zhang, postdoctoral resea
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Contact: Gary Conrad
gwconrad@ksu.edu
785-532-6662
Kansas State University
23-Jul-2004


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