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Oklahoma State University

Annual Niblack Visit

In an annual tradition, Dr. John Niblack and his wife, Heidi, returned to OSU September 22 to hear presentations from the 2016-2017 Niblack Research Scholars. Niblack funds the scholarship program to give undergraduate students a research experience supervised by faculty and graduate students. The couple has funded the Niblack Research Scholars program at OSU for 14 years and during the presentation day, Niblack commended the students for their scientific interests in a time when “disillusionment with science is growing.”

The 2016-17 scholars presented their research and answered questions from Niblack and the numerous faculty in attendance.

The 2016-17 presenting scholars were: Alicia Aguilar, Garret Boren, Woong Hee Cho, Charith DeSilva, Kaitlyn Dudley, Zachary Helms, Madison Krehbiel, Beata Mackenroth, Indah Merkel, Nicholas Nelsen, William Starr, Karley Washburn, and Field Watts.

“It takes years of dedication and perseverance to be a scientist, and it’s not easy,” Niblack said. “It’s fun for Heidi and me to come to campus and watch the scholars in action. We love watching another generation of scientists move up to the front line.”

Niblack graduated from OSU in 1960 and earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Illinois before becoming vice chairman of Pfizer Inc. As a scientist for the international pharmaceutical giant, he was responsible for the company’s research and development of drugs, including for viral illnesses, cancer and autoimmune disorders. Niblack retired in 2002 and founded the Niblack Research Scholars program in 2004.

Top OSU undergraduates are selected each year as Niblack Research Scholars and receive $8,000 scholarships. This year the Division of the Vice President for Research selected 13 recipients (see below). The 2017-18 undergraduate Niblack Research Scholars cover a wide variety of research fields and came to OSU from across the United States.


The 2017-18 scholars, areas of research and hometowns:


Sage Becker, animal science
Keota, Iowa


Kassidy Ford, microbiology
Oklahoma City


Emily Gietzen, microbiology
Pryor, Okla.


Caroline Graham, microbiology
Midwest City, Okla.


Kylie Hagerdon, chemistry
Choctaw, Okla.


Matthew Hart, nutritional sciences
Edmond, Okla.


Erin Heilman, geology
Oak Park, Ill.


Jeffrey Krall, integrative biology
Mission Viejo, Calif.


Savannah Morris, biochemistry
Stillwater, Okla.


Grace Ogden, plant and soil sciences
Muskogee, Okla.


Victoria Pickens, entomology and plant pathology
Sand Springs, Okla.


Rendi Rogers, microbiology
Adair, Okla.


Taylor Walton, integrative biology
Hot Springs, Ark

Niblack Group Photo 2017-2018

Pictured are the 2017-18 Niblack Research Scholars. (front row, L to R) Dr. John Niblack, Victoria Pickens, Jeffrey Krall, Taylor Walton, Caroline Graham. (second row, L to R) Kassidy Ford, Emily Gietzen, Rendi Rogers, Savannah Morris, Grace Ogden. (back row, L to R) Erin Heilman, Matthew Hart, Kylie Hagerdon, Heidi Niblack, Sage Becker, OSU V. P. for Research Dr. Kenneth Sewell.

More information about the Niblack Research Scholars program is available at