A&S Students Stand Out in 2021 Oswald Research and Creativity Competition

By Jesi Jones-Bowman

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 23, 2021) — The University of Kentucky Office of Undergraduate Research recently announced 18 undergraduate winners of the 57th annual Oswald Research and Creativity Awards. Chad Risko, faculty director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, and several research ambassadors were on hand to congratulate the winners and distribute the awards.

Established in 1964 by then-UK 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 (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, Second Place: $200, and Honorable Mention, if applicable. 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: Shelby McCubbin, Honors neuroscience senior; Mentor: Robin Cooper; Pharmacological profiling of stretch activated channels in proprioceptive neurons.
  • Second Place: Maya Abul-Khoudoud, Honors biology junior; Mentor: Matthew Gentry; Establishing Personalized Diagnoses for Lafora's Disease.
  • Honorable Mention: Hannah Cleary, Honors agricultural and medical biotechnology senior; Mentor: Eve Schneider; Methods of Mechanotransduction in Corpuscles of Waterfowl.


  • First Place: Quincy Ipsaro, biology senior; Mentor: Carolina Segura-Bell; Unorthodox but Functional Tools used for the Ecological Design and Implementation of Pollinator Gardens .
  • Second Place: Anna Claire Littleton, landscape architecture senior; Mentor: Jayoung Koo; Echoes of the Past: Huntertown Revival of "The Bottoms."
  • Honorable Mention: Abby Phelps and Katie Davis, landscape architecture juniors; Mentor: Ned Crankshaw; Urban Oasis.

Fine Arts

  • First Place: Sydney Daniels, neuroscience and economics senior; Mentor: Luke Bradley, Timothy Moyers and Michael Baker; The Symphony of the Cell.
  • Second Place; Jayda Johnson, art studio junior; Mentor: n/a; Queen Mother/ Mitochondrial Eve.
  • Honorable Mention: Brittani Garland, history and digital media design senior; Mentor: n/a; Visions.

Humanities: Creative

  • First Place: Tejaswini Sudhakar, Honors psychology and gender and women’s studies senior; Mentor: Rebecca Gayle Howell; hold fire.
  • Second Place: Quinn Troia, Honors gender and women’s studies and information communication technology junior; Mentor: Tara Tuttle; A Femme-ifesto.

Humanities: Critical Research

  • First Place: Erin Inouye, English junior; Mentor: Miriam Kienle; Animating Plastics: Shinto and Environmentalism in Sayaka Ganz's Reclaimed Creations.
  • Second Place: Danica Moon, Honors political science senior; Mentor: Tara Tuttle; Gender in the Garden. 

Physical and Engineering Sciences

  • First Place: Shelby McCubbin, Honors neuroscience senior; Mentor: Robin Cooper; Pharmacological profiling of stretch activated channels in proprioceptive neurons.
  • Second Place: Tony Butera, mechanical engineering junior; Mentor: Martha Grady; Correlation Between Sample Preparation and SEM Imaging.

Social Sciences

  • First Place: Sydney Daniels, neuroscience and economics senior; Mentor: n/a; Rwanda's Coffee Industry: Colonialism and the Impact of Fair Trade Coffee.
  • Second Place: Colton Barton, Honors English junior; Mentor: Zada Komara; Are We Doing Enough?: A Look at Current Issues Affecting LGBTQ Students at the University of Kentucky.   
  • Honorable Mention: Haley Hintz, Honors psychology and political science senior; Mentor: Jonathan Golding; Juror Perceptions of Heterosexual and Same-Sex Spousal Rape in the Courtroom.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.