Top Undergraduate Researchers Recognized at 2023 Research Day at the Capitol

Last fall Dr. Allison Garrett, chancellor of the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, invited the state’s university presidents to nominate their institutions’ top undergraduate student researchers to participate in the twenty-eighth annual Research Day at the Capitol. 

This week, those 21 students, representing 15 colleges and universities, gathered on the State Capitol’s second-floor rotunda to showcase the outstanding research being conducted on Oklahoma’s campuses. 

Members of the State Legislature and Capitol guests visited students’ poster displays to learn more about the research projects, which covered important topics including ecological damage, nutrition, and cancer research.  

Research posters and oral presentations were competitively judged by an independent panel. The panel selected the top seven researchers in three categories—one overall winner, three regional university winners, and three research-intensive institution winners. The students below received awards during a ceremony at the Capitol at the conclusion of the event.  

For more information on this or other EPSCoR-sponsored programs, visit or email Gina Miller, outreach coordinator, at Access a photo album of the event via our Flickr account.  




Overall Grand Prize  Uzziah Urquiza
Institution: Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Hometown: Guymon
Research Topic: Pancreatic Cancer

Pictured (L-R) Chancellor Allison Garrett and Uzziah Urquiza


First Place: Regional, Community, and Tribal College Category – J'Taelii N.E. Heath
Institution: Langston University
Hometown: Oklahoma City
Research Topic: Multiple Sclerosis Pathology

Pictured (L-R) Chancellor Allison Garrett and J'Taelii Heath


First Place: Research-Intensive Institution Category – Rabeca D. Richardson
Institution: Oklahoma State University
Hometown: Yukon
Research Topic: Invasive Species Management

Pictured (L-R) Chancellor Allison Garrett and Rabeca Richardson


Second Place: Regional, Community, and Tribal College Category – Bethany Bengs
Institution: East Central University
Hometown: Wister 
Research Topic: Native American COVID Analysis 

Pictured (L-R) Chancellor Allison Garrett and Bethany Bengs


Second Place: Research-Intensive Institution Category – Lane McCoy
Institution: University of Oklahoma
Hometown: Tulsa
Research Topic: Antibiotic Intolerance

Pictured (L-R) Chancellor Allison Garrett and Lane McCoy


Third Place: Regional, University & Community College Category – Victoria M. Fairchild
Institution:  Northeastern State University
Hometown: Tulsa
Research Topic: DNA Replication  

Pictured (L-R) Chancellor Allison Garrett  Victoria Fairchild


Third Place: Research-Intensive Institution Category – Kaylee Tatum
Institution: University of Oklahoma
Hometown: Broken Arrow 
Research Topic: Conservation Biology  

Pictured (L-R) Chancellor Allison Garrett and Kaylee Tatum