April 21, 2022 - The Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department is proud to announce that Chris Elniff is the recipient of our departmental Tom Steadman 2022 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. Elniff completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of Kansas in 2012. As an undergraduate, he worked in several lab positions including at Monarch Watch under Dr. Chip Taylor where he cataloged seed samples for the Monarch Waystation milkweed repository. While in his senior year at KU, Mr. Elniff was placed in a student teaching position with Kristin Ramshaw at Olathe South High School. While there, Mr. Elniff assisted in securing a grant from the Olathe Public Schools Foundation to fund the building of a Monarch Waystation at the school.
After graduating from KU in 2013, Mr. Elniff was hired to teach General and Honors Biology at Olathe North High School. In 2014, he attended the Modeling the Molecular World summer seminar at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, where he was introduced to the SMART and MAPS teams programs. Since then, Mr. Elniff has mentored teams of students annually to conduct protein structure research and connect with science professionals through these programs. Over the last 6 years, he has taken over 30 students to the National Experimental Biology Conference to present their research. Mr. Elniff was also the head coach of the Science Olympiad team from 2016 to 2021, winning multiple regional and state titles.
In 2016, Mr. Elniff wrote a grant to the Olathe Public Schools Foundation and was awarded $10,000 to purchase neurophysiology equipment from Backyard Brains for student independent research projects.
After completing his Masters in Biology from Clemson University in 2017, Mr. Elniff was hired as an assistant facilitator for the Medical Professions 21st Century Academy at Olathe North High School. During his time with the 21st Century Academy, he has developed a curriculum for both a full-year freshman introductory course and a full-year sophomore genetics course and has helped expand the academy from ~15 to ~40 students per grade. He has also worked to develop relationships with local and regional scientific resources for his students, including the University of Kansas Edwards campus, the University of Kansas Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, UMKC, Cerner, Ronawk, and the Stowers Research Institute.
Since 2019, Mr. Elniff has mentored students in the Battle of the Brains competition, and in 2022, a team of his seniors finished in the Top 20. Mr. Elniff has also entered teams in the Night At The Lab competition hosted by the University of Kansas School of Medicine, and his students won the state titles in both 2020 and 2021.
In addition to his work at Olathe North, Mr. Elniff has taught STEM summer camps for Middle School-aged children at Johnson County Community College and the University of Kansas since 2016. In his spare time, he enjoys cycling, gaming and spending time with his wife, Sophia, and son, Rasmus.
Olathe North Students Sweep Biotech Day FLASH Science Fair
Overland Park, Kansas, 8 February 2022 — KU Edwards Campus, home of the KU Biotechnology and Applied BioSciences Programs, held its annual Biotech Day on January 28th. Each year, hundreds of students from the greater Kansas City Region and beyond gather to engage in the science being done on campus. KU Biotechnology seniors present their capstone project proposals in order to recruit Research Apprentices to work with them in the laboratory throughout the Spring semester.
Two months before the event, a FLASH science fair project was presented to high schoolers. These projects include descriptions and data about a specific project which the students will analyze and then present posters demonstrating their understanding and engagement with the work. This year’s topic was Breast Cancer and was compromised of several patient cases, including genetic and medical data along with discussions about the mechanisms by which drugs used to fight cancer work. Students presented their findings and were judged on their accuracy, prescription of treatments, and presentation.
This year's winners both come to us from Olathe North High School where they are engaged in the Medical Professions Academy under Mrs. LB Fogt and Mr. Chris Elniff. The first-place winner is
Lanie Gardner, who will receive a $350 Biotech Day Scholarship to KU Edwards Campus Courses and her name engraved on the Biotech Day Plaque at KU Edwards Campus. The second-place winner is Ayokunmi Faseru, who won a $150 Biotech Day Scholarship to KU Edwards Campus Courses. We wish to congratulate these winners and all the students who participated in the project this year. We expect great things in the coming years from them all.