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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 30, 2023) — The University of Kentucky Office of Undergraduate Research recently announced the 15 undergraduate winners of the 59th annual Oswald Research and Creativity awards. Chad Risko, faculty director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, and Research Ambassadors were on hand to congratulate the winners and distribute the awards.

Established in 1964 by then-President John Oswald, the Oswald Research and Creativity Competition encourages undergraduate research and creative activities across all fields of study.

Categories include Biological Sciences, Design (architecture, landscape architecture and interior design), Fine Arts (film, music, photography, painting and sculpture), Humanities (from creative and critical-research approaches), Physical and Engineering Sciences, and Social Sciences. All submissions are sent anonymously to faculty reviewers in related fields and are judged based on a rubric.

Awards in each category are: First Place $350 and Second Place $200. Entries are judged on originality, clarity of expression, scholarly or artistic contribution, and the validity, scope and depth of the project or investigation. Organizers expressed special thanks to the judges for their support of undergraduate research.

This year's Oswald student award winners are:

Biological Sciences

  • First Place: Hena Kachroo, junior, Lewis Honors chemistry major; Mentor: Anne-Frances Miller, Ph.D., chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences; "Determining the Conformation of AfeETF for Further Biochemical Experimentation."

  • Second Place: Megan Johnston, senior, Lewis Honors agricultural and medical biotechnology major; Mentor: Klaas van Wijk, Ph.D., Cornell University; "UVR2 and UVR3: Candidate Regulators of the Chaperone-Protease System in Chloroplasts."


  • First Place: Gabriel Portugal, sophomore, Lewis Honors product design major; Mentor: Pooya Mohaghegh, Ph.D., product design, College of Design; "Design of a fully functioning travel trailer." Group members: Anna Quarles, sophomore, product design major; Jackson Deye, senior, product design major; Clay Allison, junior, product design major.

  • Second Place: Kate Wisnionski, junior, interior design major; Mentor: Aanya Chugh, Ph.D., interior design, College of Design; "Shoot for the Stars."

Fine Arts

  • First Place: Gabriella Hunter, junior, art studio major; Mentor: Jeremy Colbert, Ph.D., art and visual studies, College of Fine Arts; "With love, from me to you."

  • Second Place: Danica Hak, senior, interior design major; Mentor: Ingrid Schmidt, Ph.D., interior design, College of Design; "Proscenium."

Humanities: Creative

  • First Place: Beaux Hardin, sophomore, Lewis Honors English major; "Mulatto Magic."

  • Second Place: Caroline Youdes, senior, Lewis Honors biology major; Mentor: Anthony Bardo, Ph.D., sociology, College of Arts and Sciences; "The Fall of Enicidem."

Humanities: Critical Research

  • First Place: Jessica Miller, senior, English and environmental studies major; Mentor: Pearl James, Ph.D., English, College of Arts and Sciences and Lewis Honors College; "‘The Great Gatsby’ as the thought experiment of Turner’s Frontier Thesis."

  • Second Place: Riley Droppleman, senior, Lewis Honors biology and English major; Mentor: Michelle Sizemore, Ph.D., English, College of Arts and Sciences; "‘Terror had exterminated all the sentiments of nature’: Disease and Disruption in Charles Brockden Brown’s Arthur Mervyn."

Physical and Engineering Sciences

  • First Place: McKenna Clinch, senior, chemical engineering major; Mentor: Christina Li, Ph.D., Purdue University; "Investigation of Periodic Trends Between Platinum Alloyed Neoparticles as Catalysts of Ethane Dehydrogenation."

  • Second Place: Megan Johnston, senior, Lewis Honors agriculture biomedical technology major; Mentor: David Gonthier, Ph.D., entomology, Martin-Gatton College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences; "Brewing Sustainability: Innovative Practices for Repurposing Spent Coffee Grounds."

Social Sciences

  • First Place: Kokomo Yokokura, senior, Lewis Honors social work major; Mentor: Natalie Pope, Ph.D., College of Social Work; "Experiences of Diet Culture and Fatphobia on a College Campus."

  • Second Place (tie): Mallory Sparks, sophomore, Lewis Honors Spanish and environmental and sustainability studies; Mentor: Juan Canedo, Ph.D., Markey Cancer Center, College of Medicine; "Hispanic Community Perceptions of Need and Opportunities for Cancer Prevention and Screening in Kentucky."

  • Second Place (tie): Rachel Hwang, junior, psychology, sociology and philosophy major; Mentor: Emily Ritter, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University; "Global Criminal Justice Practices and Public Safety."

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