5-Minute Fast Track Competition Winners Announced

photo of Oscar Istas
photo of Courtney Martin
photo of Halle Shannon

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 16, 2020) — Ten University of Kentucky undergraduate student finalists recently competed in the final round of the third annual 5-Minute Fast Track Research Oral Competition.

The competition included two virtual preliminary rounds, with the top 10 students advancing to the final championship competition. This year’s final round was hosted in the UK's Worsham Cinema and livestreamed to a virtual audience.

Cultivating students’ presentation and research communication skills, competitors were challenged to present their research in five minutes, using only one static slide, in front of a panel of three judges and a virtual audience.

The top three winners are:

  • First place: Oscar Istas — biology major, senior | Research area: Physiology | Faculty mentor: Robin Cooper (College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Biology)
  • Second place: Courtney Martin — biology major, senior | Research area: Toxicology and Cancer Biology | Faculty mentor: Nathan Vanderford (College of Medicine)
  • Third place: Halle Shannon — chemical engineering major, junior | Research area: Chemical Engineering | Faculty mentor: Isabelle Escobar (College of Engineering's Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering)

Other finalists included: 

  • Maya Abul-Khoudoud — biology major, sophomore | Research area: Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry | Faculty mentor: Matthew Gentry (College of Medicine)
  • Kayli Bolton — biology major, sophomore | Research area: Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry | Mentor: Matthew Gentry (College of Medicine)
  • Olivia Huffman — psychology major, senior | Research area: Sports Psychology | Faculty mentor: Ellen Usher (College of Education's Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology)
  • Emily Keaton — sociology, philosophy, and English major, senior | Research area: Sociology and Appalachian Studies | Mentor: Edward Hall (College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Sociology)
  • Amy Keith — health, society, and populations major, senior | Research area: Qualitative Research on Cultural Competency and Humility | Faculty mentor: Randa Remer-Eskridge (College of Health Sciences)
  • Miranda Kunes — equine science and management major, junior | Research area: Equine Nutrition | Faculty mentor: Laurie Lawrence (College of Agriculture, Food and Environment's Department of Animal Sciences)
  • Katie Land — biology major, senior | Research area: Reproductive Endocrinology and Toxicology | Faculty mentor: Patrick Hannon (College of Medicine)

The 2020 5-Minute Fast Track Oral Research Competition was sponsored by the UK Office of Undergraduate Research. For more information on the competition, visit

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