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Four students displaying certificates.
Oral research presentation winners (left to right): Cole Reesman (third-place graduate), Morgan Denzer (second-place graduate), Caitlin Karolenko (first-place graduate), and Jade Wilkinson (first-place undergraduate) at the annual FAPC research symposium on March 8. (Photo by Kirsten Hollansworth)

Rising in Research: FAPC hosts annual research symposium

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Media Contact: Kirsten Hollansworth | Communications Graduate Student | 405-744-0442 |

Natural light shined through the windows on students gathered at the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center for the annual research symposium. The sound of voices filled the space as undergraduate and graduate students stood ready in front of their detailed research displayed on posters.

The annual research symposium was under way as judges scribbled on clipboards to evaluate the research presentations.

The March 8 symposium at FAPC included oral and poster presentations. Sponsors included the Institute of Food Technologists-Oklahoma section and the Oklahoma Association for Food Protection and Sensory Spectrum Inc.

“The research symposium is intended as a means of allowing students, staff and visiting scientists to practice presenting their research via formal and direct communication,” said Peter Muriana, FAPC food microbiologist and symposium chair.

This allows research to be readily visible to others in the Oklahoma State University community, as well as industry stakeholders throughout the state.

“It was nice to see that although two years of Covid-19 pandemic has been a bit stifling, it did not diminish our efforts in conducting research as represented by all the various presentations,” he said.

Susan Hooge, director of Managed Service and Research Partnerships with Sensory Spectrum Inc., served as the keynote speaker for the symposium. She highlighted her experiences developing effective sensory programs around the world by mentoring team members to deliver world-class business support.

Rodney Holcomb, FAPC agribusiness economist, said students, faculty and staff at FAPC appreciated the opportunity to have Hooge, an industry leader in the area of sensory analysis, as the keynote speaker for the research symposium.

“Susan’s years of industry experience and work in experimental design provided a valuable perspective that linked food science to the tastes and preferences of consumers,” Holcomb said.

Jessie Payne, food science graduate student, was presented with the Stanley E. Gilliland Memorial Fellowship in Food Science award and a $1,000 scholarship during the Gilliland Awards Luncheon.

Andrea Graves — FAPC business planning and marketing specialist and symposium oral presentation judge — said the memorial fellowship helps encourage future generations of research.

“Encouraging students to conduct research at OSU is more important than ever before and honing the skills to clearly communicate this work through an oral presentation takes practice and work,” Graves said. “These are all key skills that will help them after they graduate and have a career.”

For both the oral and poster presentation categories, prizes were awarded during the symposium. First-, second- and third-place winners received $500, $250 and $125, respectively.

Caitlin Karolenko placed first in the graduate oral presentation.

“The research symposium is an event I look forward to every year because it’s a great opportunity to learn about the diverse food science research that is ongoing here at OSU,” Karolenko said. “While the symposium had fewer participants compared to previous years, it allowed for more in-depth discussion between students, faculty and staff regarding each participant’s research, and you could really appreciate all the hard work that had gone into each project."

Morgan Denzer placed second and Cole Reesman placed third in graduate oral presentations.

Jade Wilkinson received the first-place undergraduate oral presentation award.

“My experience working with Karolenko and Muriana to conduct research has been amazing,” said Wilkinson, a sophomore animal science major. “They have taught me a lot and pushed me to succeed. I see myself pursuing future research because of this experience and plan on attending the Oklahoma State University College of Veterinary Medicine.”

Frank Kiyimba took the top honor in the graduate poster presentation category.

“I am always grateful for the opportunity to share my work with others,” Kiyimba said. “The most rewarding part of the FAPC research symposium is the ability to get a platform to share my research work and network with other researchers in the food and agricultural field. I believe this can potentially lead to future research collaborations.”

Sitong He received the second-place award and Zelong Miao received the third-place award for the graduate poster presentations.

Brianna Iorga placed first in the undergraduate poster presentation.

“I believe research can make a difference in many ways and it is important to share that with others,” said Iorga, a food science senior. “This allows others to possibly get involved or even build off your ideas, or they could also help make suggestions. I would encourage undergraduate students to become involved, especially if that is something they want to pursue in a career, and even if not, there are valuable experiences that could help later in life.”

Kaylee Rumbaugh placed second in the undergraduate poster presentation.

FAPC, a part of OSU’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, helps to discover, develop and deliver technical and business information that will stimulate and support the growth of value-added food and agricultural products and processing in Oklahoma.

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