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Alex Arreola (center) with Chancellor Garrett, chief executive officer for the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education (left) and Dr. Kenneth Sewell, OSU Vice President for Research at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

OSU student wins 2022 Research Day at the Capitol award

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Media Contact: Harrison Hill | Research Communications Specialist | 405-744-5827 |

During the 2022 Research Day at the Capitol event, Alex Arreola won third place in the research-intensive institution category.

Arreola was one of four students from Oklahoma State University presenting their work. Competing against 22 other students from across the state, Arreola’s poster focused on his research — discovering and characterizing new fungi found in horses' digestive systems.

"I am very happy that I was able to bring recognition to the excellent research being conducted at our institution," Arrola said. "Once I began to have discussions with legislators and the public, I found a great deal of importance in this event.

"I feel that in the scientific community, we struggle to get our messages across to the public through literature alone. Presenting at the Capitol allowed us to communicate our messages more effectively and I am very thankful to have had that opportunity."

Arreola, from Coweta, Oklahoma, conducted his research under faculty advisor Dr. Mostafa Elshahed in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Arreola is both an Oklahoma Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (OK-LSAMP) Scholar and a McNair Scholar.

In the future, Arreola wants to look into cancer research.

"I plan to switch gears a little and focus my efforts into biomedical research," Arreola said. "Specifically, I hope to apply my knowledge and skills in the field of cancer. Starting in the fall, I will be participating in the GPiBS program at OUHSC and begin working towards a Ph.D."

Research Day at the Capitol is a 27-year-old tradition sponsored by the Oklahoma National Science Foundation Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the NSF. 

After last year's competition was held via Zoom, this year marked the return of the competition to the Oklahoma Capitol.

The 2022 Research Day at the Capitol event encompasses multiple activities. On Monday, students’ posters and oral presentations were individually judged at the Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. Students then met with legislators at the State Capitol Building and shared their research during a poster exhibit the next day.

“Our students are capable of anything, and enabling them to engage in research gives them the necessary tools for discovery,” said Latasha Tasci, coordinator of undergraduate research at OSU. “Students learn a tremendous amount through research, not only about the subject they are researching, but many other skill sets that are useful in many areas of life. It is the ultimate learning experience.”

The research being done by these undergraduates — and others — across OSU campuses is vital.

“As a land-grant institution, research is an integral part of OSU's mission,” Tasci said. “Including undergraduates in research demonstrates how seriously OSU takes that mission.”

The Research Day at the Capitol is a unique chance to highlight the important work being done at OSU.

“Events like Research Day at the Capitol reinforce to our state leaders — and to the public — that research elevates our entire state. And our great students achieve at levels on par with anything the Ivy League would have to offer,” said Dr. Kenneth Sewell, vice president for research. “These are the leaders who can support research in higher education, both through funding and by helping Oklahomans understand how our state's research community elevates our economy and our standard of living.”

For Tasci, seeing OSU students present their work at the event is inspiring.

“It makes me so proud! The skills they have garnered in a few short years are incredible, and I am so glad they are able to share their hard work,” Tasci said. “You never know the impact this work could have on someone else, or the connections that can be made, especially at the State Capitol. 

“It's inspiring to see undergraduates in the research realm, and exciting to think about what is next for these scholars.”

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