LAWRENCE — Kiana Magee, a 2023 University of Kansas graduate with a double major in molecular, cellular & developmental biology and psychology, is the winner of the James Blackiston Memorial Graduate Fellowship from the KU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. Magee, of Topeka, wins $1,500 and is the chapter’s nominee for a national Phi Kappa Phi fellowship.
She received multiple honors while at KU, making the dean’s list all semesters, receiving a Chancellor’s Merit Scholarship and being named a candidate for graduation with highest distinction.
Magee has been active in research in speech perception, cognition and hearing. She started as a volunteer and worked her way up to a graduate student researcher position with duties that included training new undergraduate students to collect accurate and reliable data. She was one of five founding members of the KU chapter of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
“Kiana is the most impressive undergraduate research assistant I have worked with in my research career. She quickly showed that she was as reliable as a graduate student in executing a detailed protocol for data collection and monitoring,” said Cynthia Hunter, assistant professor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing. “I am confident that Kiana's intelligence diligence and resourcefulness will lead her to excel in medical school, and to make excellent use of the skills, knowledge and experiences she acquires as a result.”
Magee also worked at Lawrence Memorial Hospital as a COVID-19 specimen collector and served as a supervisor with the Douglas County mass testing team, where she organized, oversaw and worked at COVID-19 testing sites for mass testing and school surveillance. She later served as a vaccine associate at the Stormont Vail mass vaccination clinic.
Magee — who was initiated in Phi Kappa Phi in February 2021 — plans to pursue a medical degree at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.
About the Blackiston Fellowship
The Blackiston Fellowship was created to honor the memory of James Blackiston, a graduate student in the Department of Linguistics and an instructor in the Intensive English Center, now the Applied English Center, at KU. He graduated from Michigan State University, where he was inducted into Phi Kappa Phi. In 1975, Blackiston played a key role in the formation and activation of the KU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi.
The Blackiston Fellowship recipient becomes the KU chapter’s nominee for one of nearly 60 fellowships from Phi Kappa Phi with values from $5,000 to $15,000. These national fellowships provide assistance to students during their first year of postgraduate study.
The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective honor society for all academic disciplines. More than 100,000 members maintain their active status in Phi Kappa Phi, which offers them numerous benefits as dues-paying members including access to $1.4 million in awards and grants each biennium.
Photo: Kiana Magee and her mother, center, are pictured with Stevin Gehrke, professor of chemical engineering (left) and Dave Darwin, Deane E. Ackers Distinguished Professor of Engineering (right), both with KU's Phi Kappa Phi chapter.