Drake University’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences (CPHS) is pleased to announce that Ally Klein, third-year student pharmacist, and Kayla Olstinske, second-year student pharmacist, were selected as the inaugural recipients of the Nita Pandit Student Research Award. This award honors CPHS students who are involved in hands-on research with a CPHS faculty member. Dr. Nita Pandit was a pharmaceutical faculty member in the CPHS who was instrumental for many pharmacy and health sciences students pursuing careers in research.

Ally Klein (P3)

Ally Klein, originally from Geneseo, Illinois, began working on research during her first year in the PharmD program in 2019 with Dr. Craige Wrenn, Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences Department Chair and Professor of Pharmacology. Klein has presented their research “Performance of a 3xTg-AD mice in a social task: identification of confounds in the behavioral phenotype” at the 2021 Drake University Conference on Undergraduate Research in the Sciences (DUCURS), Neuroscience 2021, and the Phi Delta Chi 2021 Grand Council Meeting, the latter of which she won the award for Best Poster Presentation.

“Receiving this award feels like all the hard work and everything that Dr. Wrenn has taught me has really come together,” said Klein. “I have learned so much about being a strong scientific presenter and writer and grown a lot as a professional through my research. This award has really put that in perspective and really made me proud of myself and all that Dr. Wrenn and I have worked on.

Kayla Olstinske, originally from New Berlin, Wisconsin, began working on research during the summer before her first year in the PharmD program in 2020 with Dr. Shankar Munusamy, Associate Professor of Pharmacology. Olstinske has presented their research “Renoprotective effects of low-dose Metformin treatment in a mouse model of diabetic kidney disease” at the 2020 Iowa Physiological Society/Midlands Society of Physiological Sciences Meeting. As a result of her experience in Dr. Munusamy’s lab, Olstinske was accepted to the University of Iowa Biomedical Sciences Undergraduate Research Program in the summer of 2021.

Kayla Olstinske (P2)

“It was surprising and exciting to hear my name announced for the inaugural Nita Pandit Research Award at Health Professions Day,” said Olstinske. “This is an honor I was not expecting but am delighted to have been chosen for. I look forward to the opportunity to represent Drake at a conference presenting the research Dr. Munusamy and I have worked on and sharing the potential implications it can have on the future of diabetic kidney disease therapy.”

“We are delighted to present this award in Nita Pandit’s name, which recognizes excellence in student research,” said Renae Chesnut, dean and professor. “Our students have many opportunities to work with our faculty researchers and we look forward to their future achievements.”