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Senior Spotlight: CAS student researcher Ashcraft

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Media Contact: Elizabeth Gosney | CAS Marketing and Communications Manager | 405-744-7497 |

Oklahoma State University senior Kaitlin Ashcraft has worn many hats throughout her college career. This weekend, she’ll be wearing the most important one yet: her graduation cap.

A chemistry major and microbiology minor, Ashcraft will graduate with an honors degree on Saturday. As she crosses the stage in Gallagher-Iba Arena, she’ll reflect on her time as an OSU College of Arts and Sciences student and how her involvement has impacted her future — most notably her research in Dr. Spencer Pitre’s lab.

“At first, doing research was just something fancy I could put on my resume, but it has become one of my proudest college achievements,” Ashcraft said. “It has been very motivating to see the theory taught in my chemistry classes transfer over into my own research experiments. I have grown not only in knowledge, but also in confidence, problem solving and public speaking through this experience.”

Ashcraft and Pitre use intermittent illumination to study radical chain processes in light-mediated organic reactions.

“Over the last three years, Kaitlin has displayed tremendous growth in the lab in regard to not only her skills and lab techniques, but also in her understanding of the underlying chemistry in her project,” said Pitre, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry. “While Kaitlin has learned a variety of laboratory skills and techniques during her time in my lab, other important aspects research can teach a student are critical thinking and problem-solving skills. I am confident that these skills will serve her well as she continues into her future profession.”

In addition to her work in the lab, Ashcraft impacted the CAS research landscape through her involvement as a Research Leader. Research Leaders serve as peer ambassadors to guide students through the process of getting involved in research and creative activity.

“Both formal data and anecdotal information tell us that undergraduate research is hugely beneficial for a student’s personal development and career preparation,” said Dr. Rachael Eaton, program director for research engagement and advisor to CAS research leaders. “As a research leader, Kaitlin has advanced our mission with her thoughtful and creative ideas. Notably, Kaitlin established a relationship for leaders to present research opportunities to students in a physiology class. Thanks to her effort, we’ve been able to maintain this partnership and provide students with continued access to information.”

Ashcraft said her other involvement has been valuable to her personal development. That involvement was as a CAS Ambassador, Health Occupations Students of America member, Honors College Ambassador, RHA Board of Directors lead for Stout Hall, Christian Medical and Dental Association member, Pre-Health Professionals Club member and Freshman Research Scholar .

“CAS and undergraduate research have helped me become a more well-rounded person,” Ashcraft said. “At OSU, I have worked with a diverse group of amazing people and have been lucky to be surrounded by incredible faculty and friends who have encouraged and motivated me to pursue my dreams.”

Ashcraft has been accepted to the University of Oklahoma's Physician Assistant program, where she said she hopes to apply the skills she learned at OSU.

“The skills I’ve developed at OSU were heavily talked about in my applications to PA schools,” Ashcraft said. “The experience I’ve gained talking about my research has given me the ability to take abstract chemical processes and condense them into layman’s terms so anyone can understand what I’m talking about. I have no doubt I will be able to apply this to talking to my future patients about their diagnosis and treatments.”

Story By: Erin Weaver, CAS Communications Coordinator |

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