OSU student wins 2023 Research Day at the Capitol award
Friday, March 31, 2023
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Oklahoma State University student Rabeca Richardson won first place in the research-intensive institution category at the Research Day at the Capitol event in Oklahoma City.
Competing against 21 students, Richardson was one of four undergraduate students who represented OSU at the event. Richardson’s research focused on projecting mechanical treatment outcomes on invasive grass to improve control efficiency.
“For this project, I focused on how increased drought impacted the efficiency of our current tactic at managing invasive grasses, specifically Johnsongrass,” Richardson said. “We developed a mathematical model based on a spatial-logistic equation that would allow us to run simulations and make predictions of plant responses and we backed this model up with our data from a greenhouse experiment we conducted last fall. This can help us better understand how we can control the spread of these invasive species under changing climate conditions.”
A Yukon, Oklahoma, native, Richardson completed her research under Dr. Bo Zhang in the Department of Integrative Biology in the College of Arts and Sciences. Richardson is also a Niblack Scholar looking forward to a career as a medical lab scientist.
“I felt honored to represent OSU in this event. It’s not every day that you’re given the opportunity to represent an entire university,” Richardson said. “I enjoyed getting to share my research with other people who had different backgrounds and experiences to bring into the discussion. It sparked a lot of interesting conversations that changed my way of thinking. I feel even more passionate about what I was sharing after this event.”
The event is sponsored by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, Oklahoma Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (OK EPSCoR) and the National Science Foundation.
“Oklahoma State University has a strong commitment to undergraduate research. Our faculty believe that preparing the next generation of scientists is an integral component of their teaching and mentoring,” said Dr. Kenneth Sewell, OSU vice president for research. “All four of our participating students did an outstanding job of representing the university and their disciplines.”
The event's objective is to showcase the outstanding undergraduate research being conducted at Oklahoma’s colleges and universities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“This annual event is an excellent opportunity to showcase how colleges and universities across Oklahoma engage undergraduate students in research,” Sewell said. “The students enjoy interacting with the state legislators that represent their hometowns. This year’s event boasted the largest number of external guests, including student participants’ family members. It was truly an opportunity to showcase the accomplishments of students who have conducted research studies as part of their undergraduate educational experience.”
Students’ posters and oral presentations were individually judged in Oklahoma City. The next morning, students shared their research during a poster exhibit at the State Capitol Building and met with legislators and Capitol guests.
“It was important for me and all the other students to represent the science community in this event because it showed the public what kind of work young people have been doing,” Richardson said. “The research being done by undergraduate students from all these different universities is important, and this event allows us to get it out there.”