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Playing Both Ends: Amphibian Adapted to Varied Pressures says USU Biologist

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Caecilians are serpent-like creatures, but they’re not snakes or giant worms. The limbless amphibians, related to frogs and salamanders, favor tropical climates of Africa, Asia and the Americas. Most live in burrows of their own making; some are aquatic.

With colleagues from Brazil, Utah State University ecologist Edmund “Butch” Brodie, Jr. reports caecilians feature greatly enlarged poison glands at each end of their bodies, which appear to have evolved from different selective pressures – the ability to tunnel into the ground and to defend oneself from predators.

Brodie, along with Carlos Jared, Pedro Luiz Mailho-Fontana, Rafael Marques-Porto, Juliana Mozer Sciani, Daniel Carvalho Pimenta, and Marta Maria Antoniazzi of São Paulo’s Butantan Institute, published findings in the Feb. 23, 2018, issue of Scientific Reports.

The team’s research, supported by the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, focuses on Siphonops annulatus, a caecilian species found throughout Brazil.

“My Brazilian colleagues noticed the burrows made by this species were lined with a shiny, slick substance,” says Brodie, professor in USU’s Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center. “We didn’t think it was a secretion from the poison glands, so we decided to investigate.”

The Brazilian caecilian, grayish in color and measuring about 18 inches in length, is a surprisingly rapid burrower, he says.

“When caecilians burrow, they force their snouts into the ground and essentially dive into the soil,” Brodie says. 

As suspected, the team discovered all the skin glands in the serpentine creatures’ head region were greatly enlarged, tightly packed mucous glands – not poison ones. The slippery lubrication enables the caecilians’ rapid, subterranean escape from predators, especially coral snakes.

“We know of no other amphibian with this high concentration of mucous glands,” Brodie says. “In other terrestrial amphibians, mucous is mainly related to the uptake of oxygen. Here, in caecilians, it’s obviously used in locomotion.”

Examination of the caecilians revealed further information. The mucous glands extend throughout the amphibians’ body, in gradually reduced concentration, and give way to poison glands concentrated in the tail.

“The poison glands, resulting from a different selective pressure, provide another defense from predators,” Brodie says. “In addition to chemical defense, the tail acts as a ‘plug,’ blocking the tunnel and further deterring predators.”

The eccentric amphibian, Brodie and colleagues write, is “really a box of surprises.”

Related Links
“Lethal Headers: USU Biologist Aids Discovery of Venomous Frogs,” Utah State Today 
USU Department of Biology 
USU Ecology Center 
USU College of Science 

Contacts: Edmund “Butch” Brodie, Jr., e.brodie@usu.edu
Carlos Jared, jared@butantan.gov.br
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, maryann.muffoletto@usu.edu


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Applying Research to Policy

Fri, 23 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University recently received a visit from David Yokum, the director of “The Lab @ DC” research office, to discuss a number of topics, including the best way for researchers in the social sciences to have an impact on their communities. Presenting to a group of students and faculty, Yokum discussed two primary ways researchers can affect policy: presenting information to policy-makers in a way that is easily understood, and by working in research positions within government. The language of research, particularly in academia, is different than the language of most people, Yokum said, stressing that learning to communicate clearly is a critical skill to develop. The way information is expressed could be the difference between a researcher’s proposal being accepted or rejected. In mathematical terms, for example, 66.66 percent and two out of three are the same ratio. But it’s much easier for people to imagine the impact of two out of every three. Yokum addressed other common researcher tendencies that unnecessarily complicate what they’re trying to express. Written research tends to become bloated, he said, with needlessly complex sentences and undefined acronyms. Taking some time to consider who will be reading the research and writing in a way to help them understand will make it more likely that the research is utilized. As an example, Yokum shared a sentence from a methods section he encountered in a research paper he once read: “Participants read assertions whose veracity was either affirmed or denied by the subsequent presentation of an assessment word.” Regardless of the value of the research, a policy-maker or anyone else who might incorporate the research would get lost in such a complicated sentence. In common language, though, the paper could have simply stated that the research subjects were presented with a true or false question. “Researchers need to practice writing like normal humans,” Yokum joked. Job opportunities for researchers in the fields of behavioral and social sciences are rapidly expanding, Yokum said, and will continue to do so in coming years. A major driver of this trend is the desire of governments at all levels to bring in researchers to assist policy-makers. In his current role, Yokum and his staff are part of the office of the Executive Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia. The lab has pursued research projects as varied as understanding what causes kids to miss schools to how the city should handle requests to fix potholes. There is a feeling from many researchers, Yokum said, that research shouldn’t be mixed so closely with politics. “I know that, as scientists, we are often frustrated with having politics infused into the debate and there’s an impulse to say that if we can get all of the politics out of it, the data will sing for itself,” Yokum said. “But I think that is naive and it is also wrong. I don’t think it should happen that way, simply because so many of the scientific decisions involved in the project are value judgements.” During his time in the mayor’s office, and in his previous position as a founding member of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team under President Barack Obama, Yokum said he has seen the policy benefits of being so close to those who are making decisions. Yokum’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team once began researching an education campaign for doctors to curb the amounts of medication being prescribed. Past psychological research had shown that people have a tendency to adjust their behavior to align with the societal norm whenever possible. Utility companies, for example, found they could slightly reduce energy costs by sending a letter to customers informing them of their usage. But the change became significant when the customers were shown their usage in comparison to their neighbors. A similar[...]


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USU Student's Research Could End Negative Side Effects in Diabetes

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Ryker Hacking, a Vernal native and student at Utah State University, performed vital research in the USU-Uintah Basin summer internship program that could end the negative side effects in diabetes. Hacking presented his research at the twelfth annual Utah Conference of Undergraduate Research on Feb. 9.

In 2015, a Korean research group discovered a molecule known as MBT that is able to inhibit aldose reductase (AR), an enzyme responsible for causing kidney, retina, nervous system and red blood cell damage. However, MBT is only available in extremely small amounts in nature. Under the direction of Mike Christiansen, an associate professor at USU-Uintah Basin, Hacking developed a way to synthesize, or create, MBT in a lab.

“If MBT proves to be a successful and nontoxic means of inhibiting AR in clinical trials, it could serve as an eventual medicine to prevent the negative reactions of diabetes,” said Christiansen. “Once we optimize Ryker’s new method, we can scale up production and begin testing MBT’s viability.”

As an undergraduate student Hacking was able to get invaluable research experience thanks to USU-Uintah Basin’s summer internship program. Christiansen mentored Hacking, showing him how to use the lab equipment and perform experiments, specifically of synthesizing chemicals, which was paramount to Hacking’s research.

“This was an amazing experience that helped me learn things I couldn’t have learned just sitting in a classroom,” said Hacking. “I think the USU-Uintah Basin summer internship programs is one of the most important steps the university has taken to help students grow professionally.”

Christiansen’s research group will further develop and refine the process of making MBT, with the goal of making it available to the public to treat Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Contact: Dana Rhoades, 435-797-1788, dana.rhoades@usu.edu


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Angela Davis Visited USU

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Social activist Angela Davis visited Utah State University in February, addressing more than 3,000 audience members in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Davis, invited by the Center for Women and Gender, spoke about black history month and the intersection of arts and social justice.

She addressed music making an impact on history, especially black history, of musicians in social activism and their role in subversion of segregation policy of the south, a political rally in Grenada and the rise of jazz singers in the 1920s, raising their voices through music.

According to Davis, “…music has served as the art form that has tapped the lives, the desire, the struggle for black freedom and it’s generated new ideas, new possibilities, new hopes.”

Davis is internationally recognized as an educator, author and activist, with her activism covered nationally during the civil rights movement, when she was on the FBI’s most wanted list and incarcerated for 18 months on charges of which she was acquitted. She has been continuously involved in social justice activism in racial, justice and civil rights.

The Center for Women and Gender hosts a speaker each year to broaden conversations around gender, culture and bias. The center strives to be an advocate for social justice, exploring and addressing challenges in intersectionality.

Contact: Celestyn Hollingshead, 435-797-3677, celestryn.hollingshead@usu.edu


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The CHaSSie Film Festival: Recognizing Today's Writing Needs, Plus Popcorn

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

There’ll be popcorn, red carpet and flashing cameras. Winning cinematographers will show off their statuettes (the CHaSSies). The tuxedoed emcee will politely applaud.

Plan for all that and more at the first-ever CHaSSies Three-Minute Video Film Festival at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 1. CHaSSie winners will be announced at the ceremony, which is hosted by the English Department and sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. The premiere screening will be held at the Eccles Conference Center, room 205-207, with emcee Joseph Ward, CHaSS dean. It is free and open to all.

The CHaSSie awards, which organizers plan to make an annual event, comprise four categories: humor, documentary and hobbies, as well as an open category. Festival organizers are three English faculty colleagues, Lynne McNeill and Jared Colton, assistant professors of English, and John Engler, senior lecturer in English.

McNeill said it was the perception that “CHaSS students are often not  recognized for their digital and technological prowess” that inspired the three  to organize the festival.

In the end, however, more than 20 videos were submitted by students in disciplines throughout the university, from theater arts and marketing to biological engineering and dietetics.

English is well represented among CHaSSie competitors, though, and the judges came from English faculty and staff. In fact, says McNeill, the organizers’ first impulse was to call the awards the “Ray Bees,” thinking of the English Department’s location in Ray B. West Building. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

Video is merely an evolution in writing, says McNeill, and many English classes have abandoned what she describes as “old school forms of essay writing and reports.”

Today, adds Colton, “we conceptualize writing as much broader than the traditional. We think of writing in web design, document design and videos. We can see many of the things we learn about writing playing out in videos.”

Students who are pros at social media often don’t associate their thumb-racing with formal writing, said Colton, who reaches technical writing.  “They’re shocked” to learn they’ll be going beyond the five-paragraph essay, he adds. “But usually by the end of the class they’re like, ‘I love that this was part of English’. Or, ‘This is humanities? This is so cool.’”

McNeill points to the paradox now faced by faculty members who teach communication. “We’re at an interesting, in-between point societally, where there’s still enough people around who are old enough to see social media as a fringe thing. But now it’s a necessary part of every business, promotions, outreach, anything. It’s a skill set that students need to learn.”

Related links: https://english.usu.edu/film/fest

Contact and writer: Janelle Hyatt, Janelle.hyatt@usu.edu, 435-797-0289




USU Students Named Gilman Scholars for Spring Study Abroad

Thu, 22 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Utah State University students Harrison Cooper and Ashley Casperson were awarded Gilman Scholarships for spring semester study abroad. Cooper was awarded $5,000 and is currently studying a language immersion program in Mexico. Casperson was awarded $3,500 and is currently studying landscape architecture in Slovenia.  

Cooper and Casperson received assistance from academic and study abroad advisors in preparing for their essays and applications. Cooper said she was encouraged by a financial aid advisor to look into a Gilman scholarship which led her to a workshop led by Monika Galvydis, study abroad director in the Office of Global Engagement.

“Seven USU students have been awarded the prestigious national Gilman Scholarships in the 2017-2018 academic year,” said Galvydis. “We want more students to study abroad and have confidence that scholarships are attainable and available. Our office offers individualized support in workshops, advising sessions and essay reviews.”

Casperson went to study abroad fairs, met with her academic advisor and worked with study abroad peer advisor Mary Dowden. Dowden had previously studied landscape architecture in Slovenia. Casperson has also been appointed a Gilman scholar blogger for the Gilman scholar’s website. 

Gilman scholarships are awarded to Pell Grant recipients, for spring, summer, fall or academic terms. Students are required to submit a statement of purpose essay addressing the impact a study abroad program or internship will have on their academic, professional and personal goals.

The Office of Global Engagement is currently offering workshops for scholarship application tips. The next Gilman scholarship session is February 28 in the Military Science building, room 217, at 3 p.m. The Gilman scholarship deadline for summer, fall and academic year terms is March 6.

For more information on the Gilman Scholarship and other study abroad scholarships email studyabroad@usu.edu and visit the website for tips and deadlines.

Media contact and writer: Celestyn Hollingshead, Marketing Manager, Office of Global Engagement, Celestyn.hollingshead@usu.edu


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World Renowned Social Justice Activist Speaks to USU

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman for inclusion in Utah State Today. By Diego Mendiola, USU Statesman, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018  Angela Davis, an African American social justice icon, visited Utah State University Thursday. The event, organized by the USU Center for Women and Gender, drew an audience of more than eight times what was originally expected. The event was held in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in order to hold the hold the crowd of 3400 people, said Reni McBride, a staff assistant for the center. Originally intended for 400 attendees in the Eccles Conference Center, the unexpected volume forced the center to change venues to accommodate the surplus, McBride said. The extra numbers did not faze Davis who spoke about race, women in leadership, human unity and the role of art as a catalyst for social progress. She was officially welcomed to USU campus, which was historically Shoshone land, by two Native American students. “I would especially like to thank the two indigenous students for welcoming me,” Davis said in her opening remarks, “because we do live on colonized land; we live on stolen land.” Davis has, at times, been a divisive figure in American politics because of her intense work and life. She was a Black Panther, and was involved with the Communist Party in the 1970s. She eventually decided to distance herself from the party when it became more and more extreme. She was also in jail for a year because she was accused of murder. She was later acquitted and released from jail thanks to consistent social pressure. However, Davis isn’t really interested in how she will be perceived as an individual. “That’s not something that matters that much to me,” she said. “But it does matter that people understand that when we come together and join hands and work together across all the boundaries that are meant to divide us, then we can make an enormous difference in the world.” Upon ending her opening remarks, she shifted to talk about black history, relating it to Native American history as well. “This month, we celebrate the accomplishments of a people who unrelentingly refused to surrender as they moved from slavery in the direction of freedom. Over 150 years after the punitive abolition of slavery, black people are still dramatically involved in the quest for freedom,” Davis said. “Black history is the very core of the history of the United States, and when we talk about black history, we have to recognize the way in which it is interconnected with the histories of indigenous people. Colonization and slavery were very much interconnected.” She then took her speech to her main point: art’s role in social justice.  “The knowledge we acquire through art, through any art form, is special,” Davis said. “It is often bathed in a kind of exhilaration that allows us to incorporate that knowledge into our own experience in a way that does not generally happen when we confine ourselves to purely conceptual forms of knowledge.” She also discussed black musicians’ contributions to the civil rights movement. “We don’t often acknowledge that interracial groups of musicians traveled through the south long before the Montgomery bus boycott,” Davis said, “and engaged in subversions of segregational policies of the south.” Davis also referenced “Parable of the Sower” by black author Octavia E. Butler. Davis called the dystopian science fiction novel an example of when art has the ability to offer us an experience that illuminates our past, present and future. In the book, [...]



Utah State Men's Tennis Nationally Ranked at No. 37

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Utah State men's tennis (7-3, 1-0 MW) has earned a national ranking of No. 37, as released by the International Tennis Association (ITA) Tuesday, Feb. 20. The rank is the highest for the Aggies in program history, besting the previous high of No. 39 last season.

"It's tremendous for our program to be ranked 37th," head coach James Wilson said. "Our guys worked very hard in the fall to prepare for the beginning of the season, and it has paid off with our recent results. Although the team is very excited, they do realize it's just the beginning and we need to continue to improve."

The rankings come from the first round of computerized national team rankings by the ITA. Last season, Utah State appeared in the top-50 for nine consecutive weeks, with its highest ranking of No. 39 and finishing the year ranked No. 45.

The Aggies posted a perfect 3-0 mark last week with a 4-1 win at BYU, a 5-1 home win against UC Irvine and a 5-0 home win against Montana State. The win against the Cougars, ranked No. 38 in the poll, marked the fourth straight for Utah State against BYU.

Utah State returns to the courts after a two-week hiatus traveling to Denver, Colo., to take on Denver (3-3, 1-0 Summit League) on Monday, March 5, at 11 a.m. Utah State then travels to Tampa, Fla., to take on No. 46 Old Dominion (6-4, 0-0 Conference USA) on Friday, March 9, George Washington (0-11, 0-0 Atlantic 10) on Saturday, March 10, at 11 a.m. (MT), and South Florida (2-6, 0-1 American) on Sunday, March 11, at 8 a.m. 

Fans can follow USU's men's tennis team on Twitter @USUMensTennis, on Facebook at UtahStateMensTennis or on Instagram at USUTennis. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program on Twitter at @USUAthletics, on Facebook at Utah State University Athletics or on Instagram at @USUAthletics.




Raising a Stink: USU Undergrad Rears Invasive Crop Pests for Research

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, an invasive species from eastern Asia, is causing headaches for Utah growers and property owners. “These insects are polyphagous, meaning they eat many kinds of food and cause extensive crop damage,” says Utah State University scholar James Withers. “Fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants; they have a lot of ‘likes.’” With faculty mentor Diane Alston, professor in USU’s Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center, Withers is becoming something of an expert on the foods these critters prefer as he and fellow undergraduate researcher Loren Linford are learning how to raise colonies of the stink bugs for study by other researchers. Withers is among about 30 Aggie scholars selected to present research to state legislators at 2018 Undergraduate Research Day Feb. 28, on Utah’s Capitol Hill. The annual Salt Lake City event highlights the importance of research in undergraduate education. “The stink bugs’ broad food preferences create a special challenge for pest control, as no single approach can keep them in check,” says Alston, coordinator of USU Extension Integrated Pest Management. The insects’ hard, shield-shaped body further protects them, Withers says, as well as their feeding anatomy. The bug has a long, tube-like proboscis called a stylet, which allows the insect to feed on plants without coming in direct contact with pesticides. The USU researchers think a biological control approach may be the answer to reining in the voracious insects. The invasive Samurai wasp, also a new resident in the United States, along with native wasps, may offer a solution to keep stink bugs under control. The parasitoid wasps lay eggs inside the stink bugs’ eggs. The wasps’ young develop within the eggs, thereby killing the stink bugs in the process. The “Marmorated” portion of the brown bug’s name comes from its marbled coloration. Does it stink? “It has a pungent odor many say smells like cilantro,” Alston says. A busy student-athlete and aspiring physician, Withers balances his time in the research lab, while competing as a distance runner with the USU cross country and track teams throughout the academic year. “I chose to come to Utah State for three reasons, the first of which was its emphasis on undergraduate research,” says the Blackfoot, Idaho native. “The second was its reputation for providing good preparation for medical school admission. Finally, it was a school, where I could participate in a running program.” Encouragement from his grandparents, USU alums Russell and Carol Thompson Withers, likely played a role as well, he admits. “My grandfather still sings ‘The Scotsman,’” says Withers, who is a 2013 graduate of Idaho’s Snake River High School and a recipient of a USU Alumni Legacy Scholarship. “I’m grateful for the research opportunities USU provides for its undergraduates,” he says. “I thought working with Dr. Alston would be good preparation for medical school, but I never anticipated how fulfilling it would be. Being out in the field and talking with farmers helped me see how the work we do can benefit people. It gives me a true sense of purpose.” Related Links Aggie Scientists Present Research on Utah’s Capitol Hill – 2018  USU Department of Biology  USU Ecology Center  USU Extension Integrated Pest Management  USU College of Science  Contacts: Diane Alston, 435-797-2516, diane.alston@usu.edu; James Withers, james.withers.au@gmail.com Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, maryann.muffoletto@usu.edu[...]


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USU Undergrad Probes Why Athletes Report, or Don't Report, Concussions

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

More than 460,000 student-athletes compete in 24 different sports at National Collegiate Athletic Association member institutions each year. Many of these athletes will suffer concussions, which can be particularly worrisome because of possible long-term effects. Concussions can also spell the end of an athletic career, so, how likely are these student-athletes to hide their symptoms following a head injury? Utah State University Honors student Josh Hansen, a lifelong athletics enthusiast, is investigating factors that influence a collegiate athlete’s decision to report, or conceal, concussive symptoms. “I was drawn to this project because of my own experiences as a high school wrestler,” says Hansen, a human biology major and aspiring physician. The Pocatello, Idaho native is among about 30 Aggie scholars selected to present research to state legislators at 2018 Undergraduate Research Day Feb. 28, on Utah’s Capitol Hill. The annual Salt Lake City event highlights the importance of research in undergraduate education. Working with faculty mentor Breanna Studenka, assistant professor in USU’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Science, Hansen secured a USU Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) grant to study the influence of culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and gender on concussion reporting behavior among NCAA athletes. The pair crafted a carefully designed survey they distributed to more than 450 NCAA institutions. Hansen plans to publish the results in a peer-reviewed journal. “We surmised socioeconomic status might have a significant effect, because scholarships are on the line,” Hansen says. “Yet our survey results revealed little effect.” Neither did ethnicity, nor whether or not the athlete was part of a Division I, II or III program. Gender, however, played a significant role in reporting behavior. “We found women were more likely to report a concussion or concussive symptoms than men,” Hansen says. Another finding? Football players are the least likely of any athletes to report concussions. Why? “I think it’s the culture and the bravado of football,” Hansen says. “There are expectations among men, and football players in particular, to ‘tough it out.’” Such findings are helpful to athletic trainers and coaches, he says, who can use the information to identify athletes most likely to hide potential concussion symptoms and protect those students from repeated concussions. Hansen, who graduates from Utah State this spring, has been accepted to the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, where he’ll train to become a physician in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. “In first grade, I vowed I’d either become a WWE wrestler or a doctor,” he says. “I’m an empathizer and a person who likes to support others. I’m excited to pursue a profession that allows me to be a healer and to serve those who put their lives on the line.” Research, says Hansen, is a vital component of undergraduate education. “You can learn from books, but until you get involved in real-world learning experiences, your education isn’t really complete,” he says. Related Links Aggie Scientists Present Research on Utah’s Capitol Hill – 2018  USU Department of Biology  USU College of Science  USU Department of Kinesiology and Health Science  Contacts: Breanna Studenka, 435-797-0109, breanna.studenka@usu.edu; Josh Hansen, joshhansen5@gmail.com Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, maryann.muffoletto@usu.edu[...]


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USU Undergrads to Present at Research on Capitol Hill Feb. 28

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Undergraduate students from Utah State University and the University of Utah will present their research to Utah legislators at Research on Capitol Hill. This event is held every year to celebrate the best of undergraduate research from the state's two premier research institutions.

The event will take place Wednesday, Feb. 28, in the Rotunda of the State Capitol in Salt Lake City. Research on Capitol Hill demonstrates to legislators the importance of research to an undergraduate education and the contributions students' work make in informing policy and understanding questions across disciplines. The event features only 25 students from each university, making in the event competitive.

The event, co-organized by USU and the U of U, is in its 17th year.

The presenters this year include:

College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Micah Kwallek and Rissely Parra, Languages, Philosophy and Communication Studies Department
Morgan Sanford and Elise Maddox, English Department
Erin Searle, English Department

College of Science
Mikayla Austin, Biology Department
Joshua Hansen, Biology Department
Tyson Lumbreras, Biology Department
Garrett Rydalch, Biology Department
Riannon Smith and Melena Garrett, Chemistry and Biochemistry Department
Matthew Thompson, Biology Department
James Withers and Loren Linford, Biology Department

College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences
Tess Armbrust and Canyon Neal, Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences Department
Boston Swan, Plants, Soils, and Climate Department

Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services
Colten Brown, Psychology Department
Alyssa Collins, School of Teacher Education and Leadership
Audrianna Dehlin, Psychology Department
R.J. Risueño, Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education Department
Isabella Stuart, Psychology Department

S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources
Anders Hart, Wildland Resources Department
Andrea Johnson, Wildland Resources Department

College of Engineering
Kyle Hillman, Biological Engineering Department
Jack Kiefer and Paden Thompson, Computer Science Department
Andrew Walters, Biological Engineering Department

Jon M. Huntsman School of Business

Hayden Hubbard, Christopher Cottle and Mcklayne Marshall, Economics and Finance Department
Jacklyn Sullivan, Economics and Finance Department

Caine College of the Arts
Ethan Seegmiller, Music Department


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Author D. Michael Quinn Presents Friends of Merrill-Cazier Library Lecture

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The Friends of Merrill-Cazier Library Spring Lecture will feature D. Michael Quinn discussing his book The Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth and Corporate Power. The lecture will be presented Thursday, March 1, at 7 p.m., in Merrill-Cazier Library Room 101.

Early in the 20th century, Latter-day Saints could have lifelong associations with businesses managed by their leaders or owned by the church itself. One could purchase engagement rings from Daynes Jewelry, honeymoon at the Hotel Utah, and venture off on the Union Pacific Railroad, all partially owned and run by church apostles. The apostles had a long history of community involvement in financial enterprises to the benefit of the general membership and themselves.

In The Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth and Corporate Power, author Quinn relates years of research into LDS financial dominance from 1830 to 2010.   

A California-native, Quinn served in U.S. military Intelligence for three years, then joined the research writing staff of Church Historian Leonard J. Arrington before attending Yale University for his Ph.D. After 12 years of professorship at BYU, he became an independent scholar, whose last academic position was in Yale's Department of History.

His works include Elder Statesman: A Biography of J. Reuben Clark, Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, Same-Sex Dynamics Among Nineteenth Century Americans: A Mormon Example, and The Mormon Hierarchy series. His books have received awards from the American Historical Association, the John Whitmer Historical Association and the Mormon History Association.

The Friends of Merrill-Cazier Library is an organization whose goal is to create awareness of library resources, facilities and personnel; enrich library resources; and sponsor outreach activities. More information about the Friends organization and the Merrill-Cazier Library are available at https://library.usu.edu/.

Contact: Trina Shelton, trina.shelton@usu.edu
 


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Evolution of Everyday Objects Topic at USU's Science Unwrapped Feb. 23

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Objects, tools and machines we use every day emerged from a fusion of technology and artistic design. But how does this process take place and how does it influence our lives? 

Utah State University ceramicist John Neely explores these questions at USU’s Science Unwrapped public outreach program Friday, Feb. 23. Neely, a professor in USU’s Department of Art + Design, presents “The Evolution of Technology,” at 7 p.m. in the Emert Auditorium, Room 130, of the Eccles Science Learning Center on USU’s Logan campus.

Hosted by USU’s College of Science, admission is free and all ages are welcome. Refreshments and hands-on learning activities conducted by USU students and faculty members, along with community groups, follow Neely’s talk.

The Feb. 23 presentation is the second of four events in Science Unwrapped’s Spring 2018 “Science of Art” Series, celebrating USU’s “Year of the Arts.” Additional presentations are scheduled for March 23 and April 20.

For more information, call 435-797-3517, visit the Science Unwrapped website or view the ‘Science Unwrapped at USU’ Facebook page

Related Links:
“USU’s Science Unwrapped Announces Spring 2018 ‘Science of Art’ Series,” Utah State Today 
USU Year of the Arts 
USU College of Science 

Contact: Nancy Huntly, 435-797-2555, nancy.huntly@usu.edu
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, maryann.muffoletto@usu.edu


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Geology Rocks at USU's 'Rock-n-Fossil Day' Saturday, Feb. 24

Tue, 20 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Calling all rockhounds! Utah State University’s Department of Geology invites inquiring minds of all ages to 2018 USU Rock-n-Fossil Day Saturday, Feb. 24, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Geology Building on the USU Quad. Admission is free.

“We welcome the community to join us for a day of science learning,” says Dave Liddell, geology professor and event coordinator. “We’re offering a variety of engaging activities.”

The day’s activities include tours of the USU Geology Museum, demonstrations of how rocks break and how streams flow, as well as opportunities to view sections of rock under microscopes. Guests are also invited to bring a rock, mineral or fossil for identification by USU geologists.

‘Fossil dig’ activities, along with dinosaur cookies, are provided for young children.

The event takes place in the USU Geology Building, located at the northeast corner of the university Quad. Free parking is available in the surface lot south of Old Main. To access the lot, turn north from 400 North onto Champ Drive at the Huntsman School of Business, proceed west toward Old Main and turn left into the parking lot. Parking is also available in the university parking terraces at 700 E. 600 North and 850 E. 700 North.

Guests can also ride Cache Valley Transit District buses on Routes 1, 4 and 15 to USU’s Veterinary Science Building on 700 North, and walk a block and a half south, toward the Quad, to the Geology Building.

For more information, contact the Department of Geology at 435-797-1273.

Related Links
USU Department of Geology 
USU Geology Museum 
USU College of Science 

Contact: Dave Liddell, 435-797-1261, dave.liddell@usu.edu
Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, maryann.muffoletto@usu.edu


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President Cockett Initiates Independent Review of Music Department Concerns

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Utah State University President Noelle Cockett today (Feb. 16) told students, staff and faculty in the Music Department that the university is taking immediate action following social media posts raising serious concerns.

On Feb. 13, a former student disclosed on Facebook she was sexually assaulted in 2009 by an instructor in the piano program. Another former student also disclosed she and her husband had experienced harassment, discrimination and abuse while studying piano at USU. Both have said university administrators were not responsive to their concerns and did nothing to stop them from being harmed.

President Cockett started by saying she appreciated these former students coming forward, and was heartened by the outpouring of support the former students were receiving on social media.

She said the university has contracted an outside attorney, Alan Sullivan at Snell & Wilmer in Salt Lake City, to conduct an independent review of the disclosures.

“This will not just be a review of those specific concerns, but a review of how USU responded,” President Cockett said.

In order to protect the independence of the investigation, President Cockett has directed that the final report go directly to the chair of the USU Board of Trustees, Jody Burnett. She has also directed that the review be done thoroughly and quickly so USU can make needed changes.

“Our heart goes out to people who have had these unsafe and disturbing experiences. That’s a responsibility that I am taking on myself: to investigate, to understand and to create a better environment.”

If anyone has information they want to contribute to the investigation, USU asks them to file a report at titleix.usu.edu or contact USU’s Title IX Coordinator directly:

Stacy Sturgeon
stacy.sturgeon@usu.edu
435-797-1266

Those who are uncomfortable going to USU’s Title IX office can provide their name and contact information in the feedback form at usu.edu/sexual-assault, and it will be directed to the independent investigator.


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Comes Naturally? USU Geneticist Explores Predictability of Evolution

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Is evolution predictable? Are changes in a species random or do they happen because of natural selection? “Evolution often appears random, even when driven by the deterministic process of natural selection, because we just aren’t aware of all the environmental fluctuations and other factors taking place that drive change,” says Utah State University geneticist Zach Gompert. “If we had a better understanding of the mechanisms at play, we might have a better picture of evolutionary change and its predictability.” Gompert, with colleagues Patrick Nosil, Romain Villoutreix, Clarissa de Carvalho and Victor Soria-Carracso of England’s University of Sheffield, along with Timothy Farkas of the University of Connecticut, Jeffrey Feder of the University of Notre Dame and Bernard Crespi of Canada’s Simon Fraser University, explored these questions and report findings in the Feb. 16, 2018, issue of the journal Science. The research was supported by a European Research Council grant and a Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council grant, along with computational resources from the University of Utah Center for High-Performance Computing. Gompert and colleagues used data from the past to test their ideas of evolutionary predictability. “We used a rare and unique data set of 25 years of field data documenting the evolution of cryptic body coloration in terms of frequencies of three ‘morphs’ – flavors, if you will – of stick insects,” says Gompert, assistant professor in USU’s Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center. “Using the first 10-15 years of the data, we tried predicting, or forecasting, the changes that would occur in the subsequent years of the data.” The three morphs are green, green with a white stripe and ‘melanistic’ or dark brown. “These insects are cryptic, meaning they visually blend into their surroundings to hide from hungry predators,” Gompert says. Both types of the green stick insects live on green foliage, while the brown insects live on brown stems. How close did the team’s predictions match up to the collected data? Really close for the green versus green-striped morphs, but rather poorly for the melanistic morph, he says. Using genomic analysis, the scientists were able to show, in both cases, the deterministic process of selection was the likely cause of evolutionary change. “With the green versus green-striped morphs, the cause of selection was simple and well understood facilitation of predictability,” Gompert says. “In contrast, with the melanistic morph, natural selection was more complex and tied to variation in weather and climate, making it harder to predict from past patterns of change." The scientists compared their results to better known studies, including Darwin’s finches and the scarlet tiger moth, both of which were also not very predictable. “Our findings support previous discoveries and suggest evolution of morph frequencies in these stick insects is indeed a result of selection,” Gompert says. “They also suggest poor predictability of environmental variation and how it affects selection, rather than random evolutionary processes, might be the main limits on predicting evolution.” While we can use the past to predict change, he says, we’re constrained by our lack of knowledge of the future and complex ecological processes that contribute to change. Related Links “One-of-a-Kind? Or Not. USU Geneticist Studies Formation of New Species,&rd[...]


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Viral-Video Creator Travis Chambers, JCOM Grad, Named in Forbes 30 Under 30

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

If you’ve laughed at the viral video of Kobe Bryant and soccer star Lionel Messi competing in an epic battle of selfies, you were one of, oh, only 146 million people. The creative genius behind that video is Travis Chambers, a 2011 graduate of Journalism and Communication in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Chambers, who left 20th Century Fox where he oversaw social media to found his own video and advertising company, has been recognized as one of Forbes 30 Under 30, an annual list that highlights what the magazine calls “the impressive, the inspiring and the (genuinely) enviable.” The awards, released in the magazine’s December issue, identify 30 “young stars” in 20 different industries. Chambers was included in the marketing and advertising category. Other industries range from law and policy to healthcare. Forbes magazine cited  Chambers’ company, chamber.media, with reported revenue of $2 million in the last year, as well as the “super-viral” video ad for Turkish Airlines featuring Bryant and Mess, for which Chambers oversaw content strategy and distribution while at Crispin Porter + Bogus, an international advertising company. In an interview from his home in American Fork, 29-year-old Chambers describes the recognition as “pretty cool.” “My wife was way more excited than I was,” he laughs. “She said, ’So, I didn’t marry a loser after all.’” Chambers said he knew at an early age that he was headed for a career in advertising and by age 12 was carrying a video camera around making “funny home videos.” He was drawn to advertising rather than, say, independent film making, he said, because he liked its mix of creativity and business. He grew up in Oregon and Washington, enrolling at USU at the urging of his parents, both Aggies. His father David Chambers now lives in Smithfield. At the time, Chambers said, social media was beginning to be recognized as an advertising medium. As a student in JCOM’s public relations track, Chambers created his own “catered program.” “I decided I was going to take advantage of all the resources that were available to me,” he said. “I combined my education with internships and clubs and fraternity — trying to get all the experience I could.” Among those experiences was a year as a USU Ambassador. He was in Los Angeles with 20th Century Fox, his disenchantment with the Hollywood culture growing, when his daughter was born. That changed pretty much everything, he says now. He took the “terrifying” leap of leaving a regular paycheck and founded his own company. He describes his decision in an essay,  Chamber.media now employees about 20 people and a constraint stream of contract writers and actors at its American Fork-based studio. He specializes in what he calls “scalable” videos. Scalable social videos, he says, are the next evolution in an industry that gave us virality and a generation of consumers who love to share videos. You may have seen other chamber.media videos, such as a gym floor of 50 exercisers frolicking on Nordic Track units or “brand awareness” ads like the “live birth of Tito.” Chambers’ job title is Chief Media Hacker, which describes his multiple roles as writer, producer and what turns out to be the most important job: distributing the video on social media channels to reach as receptive an audience as possible. “I do all of this in a way[...]


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Van Cliburn International Bronze Medalist Performs at Wassermann Festival

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The first performer of the 2018 Wassermann Festival is Daniel Hsu, winner of the bronze medal at the fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. The concert is Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m. in the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall on the Utah State University campus.

A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Hsu began his studies at age 6 and made his concert debut with the Fremont Symphony Orchestra at age 8. At age 9, Hsu made his recital debut at the Steinway Society of the Bay Area. He is currently the Richard A. Doran Fellow at the Curtis Institute of Music.

“Hsu is remarkably youthful to have achieved this level of recognition,” Dennis Hirst, festival director, said. “It’s amazing to see someone this young be so successful and have such a command of what he does.”


The first piece Hsu will perform as part of his program for the Wassermann Festival is Toccata on L’homme armé by Marc-André Hamelin, commissioned by the Van Cliburn Foundation for the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. Every competitor was required to perform the piece in the preliminary stages of the competition.

Hsu will also play crowd favorite, Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky. Audience members will recognize segments of the piece from popular movies and television. Other pieces performed include Chaconne in D Minor by Bach/Busoni, Polonaise No. 6 in A-flat major, Op. 53 and Fantasie, Op. 49, both by Chopin.          


“From the first notes of the Beethoven sonata I heard him play at the Van Cliburn competition, I realized Hsu was a musician of remarkable intellect and extraordinary musicianship,” Hirst said, “I hoped he would be recognized as a prizewinner and thus presented at the Wassermann Festival.”


In addition to Wednesday night’s concert, Hsu will host a masterclass Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall where he will coach students performing works from Beethoven, as well as a question and answer session. The masterclass is free and open to the public.

In the 2017-18 season, Hsu will release his first solo album and continue recital and concerto tours across the United States.


Tickets for the concert are $24 for adults, $20 for USU faculty and staff and $10 for students ages 8 and older. Tickets are available through the Caine College of the Arts Box Office located in room L101 in the Chase Fine Arts center or online via a link on the Wassermann website.

Writer and contact: Whitney Schulte, whitney.schulte@usu.edu, 435-797-9203


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There's a Monster in the Daines Concert Hall!

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The Utah State University Youth Conservatory (YC) presents the Monster Concert in the newly renovated Daines Concert Hall for the first time ever! The concert is February 24 at 6 p.m.


“We are so excited to honor the 50th anniversary of the Chase Fine Arts Center with this year’s performance,” Emily Ezola, director of the Youth Conservatory, said. “We can’t think of a better way to do so than with 10 pianos, one monster and more than 200 students and teachers making music and memories together.”

For 40 years, the YC has helped parents provide the best for their children by fostering the standards of musical excellence in a learning environment filled with enthusiasm and enjoyment. Founded in 1978, the YC occupies a central role among Cache Valley’s cultural programs for young people. Each week, more than 200 pianists—age 6 months to 18 years—of varying abilities and backgrounds, come to the Chase Fine Arts Center for piano lessons and musicianship classes.


All ages are welcome to this family-friendly event. Tickets are $5 or free for USU students with ID. Tickets are available through the Caine College of the Arts Box Office located in room L101 in the Chase Fine Arts center or online at www.cca.usu.edu. All proceeds and donations go towards the USU Youth Conservatory.


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Media's Effect on Popular Culture Among Topics at JCOM Research Colloquium

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Students and faculty in Utah State University’s Journalism and Communication often perform their work behind a camera or keyboard. Now the department is turning a spotlight on itself to showcase its own scholarly research in the first-ever Journalism and Communication Research Colloquium Wednesday, Feb. 22, beginning at 2 p.m.  “We are doing this in particular because Journalism and Communication is kind of an oddball department,” says the event’s organizer, Candi Carter Olson, an assistant professor of media and society. Whether print journalism, broadcasting or public relations is their focus, JCOM students learn to ask the hard questions and maintain integrity in an industry that is tilting more and more toward entertainment. While the department is busy producing and disseminating the very same thing it studies — news reporting and presentation — it is often overlooked that its students and faculty are producing consistent and serious research, she said. “We are very professional and academic, and we mix the two,” she said. “We want to bring people in and show them that JCOM are people you want to work with, that these are projects you’d want to do. Basically, come and play with us.” Carter Olson said the research colloquium is an opportunity “to show off our students’ fascinating research projects that have an impact on real-world thinking.” One JCOM senior, for instance, has documented the “white-washing” of her fellow Hawaiians in film and other media. Pono Suganuma will present her research on the many stereotypes of Hawaiians, said Carter Olson. “When we look at people in  films about Hawaii, we see the ‘hula girl’ or the ‘dumb Hawaiian.’ Pono is saying, ‘Our culture is richer and deeper than that,’” said Carter Olson. Presenters include undergraduate students and JCOM faculty. An exhibit of posters describing each project will open at 2 p.m. in the first-floor atrium of AG RS Building. The open house exhibit continues to 4 p.m., when researchers will present brief summaries of their work in AG RS 101.  Professor Cathy Bullock and a team of eight students will present their analyses on the depiction of sexual assault in the news media. The students have documented thousands of news articles to make a database of public reactions and portrayals of this especially timely issue. “The potential impact is incredible,” said Carter Olson. Other presentations include Carter Olson herself, whose award-winning research examines “the rise of the 20th-century newswoman,” and assistant professor Debra Jensen, whose students are learning all they can about the Special Olympics to prepare for their roles as public relations representatives this summer at the 2018 USA Games in Seattle. Event-goers will be able to tour Aggies TV studios, learn about how reporters produce original programming for Utah Public Radio and watch 2-minute documentaries of students in the new documentary course taught by broadcast specialist Brian Champagne. Other faculty-student teams include those advised by Professor Tom Terry and Ellada Gamreklidze, a post-doctoral fellow; Matthew LaPlante, assistant professor, adventurer and science writer; Christopher Garff, videographer and adviser to ATV News; assistant professor of public relations Steve Reiher; and Professor Kim Hixon, who “crunched” more than 4,000 tweets to t[...]


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In Memoriam: Gordon Richins

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Gordon Richins, a dear colleague, advocate and friend at Utah State University’s Center for Persons with Disabilities, passed away on February 11. He leaves a hole at the CPD, and in many other places where his influence was felt. He served on multiple boards and committees at the local, state and national level, always lending his voice to the support people with disabilities. Richins was a farmer until one day in 1987, when a heavy bale of hay hit him in the back of the neck. He was instantly paralyzed and spent months in rehabilitation before he was able to sit in a wheelchair. “The Social Security Administration sent a vocational rehabilitation counselor to meet with me,” he later wrote, “and this began my process of rehabilitation and earning a college degree. All through college I never really thought I would get a job with my disability.” Still, Richins had a desire to give back to the community that supported him and his family following his accident, and when a chance came to work for OPTIONS for Independence as an outreach specialist and VISTA volunteer, he took it. “It was a time of personal growth as my outlook on life changed dramatically.” In the beginning he was pretty opinionated, said Cheryl Atwood, the OPTIONS executive director. Over time she witnessed his transformation into a strong disability advocate. “He learned to speak up for himself, which is wonderful, but he grew into speaking for people with disabilities on a higher level.” In 1996, he came to the CPD as its consumer liaison. “I will remember Gordon as a rare individual whose experiences in life touched and taught many others,” said Sarah Rule, a former CPD director. “He said that after his accident and a long period of coming to terms with the resulting disability, he chose to live actively, and set out to do just that. On his way, he guided others to find ways to do the same.” He served on the boards of many organizations, and he often took his advocacy to the public at large. He granted numerous interviews to local media on disability issues, from snow removal to housing to transportation to employment of people with disabilities. His leadership continued on the national level. He served two terms as co-chair of the Council on Community Advocacy at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, stepping into the role at a time when strong leadership was needed. “His strength was knowing the issues and staying on point. His style served him very well,” said Mark A. Smith, a past co-chair of the COCA. “This is a sad and substantial loss to the community of disability advocates nationally. Gordon personally embodied the principles of servant leadership, and we as a community stand on his shoulders, along with so many others.” Gordon also served the disability community in a personal way. Kim Datwyler, the executive director of Neighborhood Housing Solutions, remembers when Gordon showed up at a hearing on a controversial housing development—one that would impact people with disabilities. He brought several other wheelchair users in with him. He was aware of the opposition, Datwyler said, but it didn’t stop him. “Gordon took it in stride. He didn’t become bitter, he just said, ‘They need to be educated.’” Gordon was an executive member of the Consumer Advisory Council at the CPD—a body that advises and guides the[...]


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USU Celebrates 130th Birthday with Founders Day March 2

Fri, 16 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Utah State University will celebrate its 130th birthday at the annual Founders Day Friday, March 2, with a reception and dinner. The evening begins with a reception in the Merrill-Cazier Library Atrium where guests may congratulate this year’s honorees.  The library will be presenting an exhibit celebrating USU’s rich architectural history from the first master plan in 1912 to the present.  The dinner will be held in the Evan N. Stevenson Ballroom of the Taggart Student Center and will celebrate the Year of the Arts, featuring performances by both faculty and students.  Michael K. Christiansen will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award.  Chuck and Louise Gay and Michael J. and Suzanne Stones will be presented Distinguished Service Awards. For complete information or to purchase seats, visit www.usu.edu/foundersday

Contact: Scott Olson, scott.olson@usu.edu, 435-797-0931


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Targeting Disease: USU Undergrads Explore Emerging 'CRISPR' Technology

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Mention emerging CRISPR (pronounced “crisper”) technology and many people think of “designer babies.” “When people hear ‘CRISPR,’ they think of a tool for editing DNA,” says Utah State University biochemist Ryan Jackson. “It’s actually an immune system found in bacteria.” And, yes, certain CRISPR-based immune systems, such as “CRISPR-Cas9,” which stands for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats/CRISPR associated protein 9,” are simple, yet powerful genome editors. Bacteria use CRISPR systems as a defense to chop up the DNA of invading, bacteria-killing viruses. USU undergrads Melena Garrett and Riannon Smith, both biological engineering majors, are exploring a little-known type of CRISPR in Jackson’s lab. The pair are among about 30 Aggie scholars selected to present research to state legislators at 2018 Undergraduate Research Day Feb. 28, on Utah’s Capitol Hill. The annual Salt Lake City event highlights the importance of research in undergraduate education. Garrett and Smith received a USU Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities “URCO” grant to pursue their research, which involves designing, constructing and expressing a multi-subunit Type IV CRISPR system.  “Our research is to combine the separate genes of the Type IV CRISPR system into a single cell line,” says Garrett, who graduated from USU in Dec. 2017. “We’re working to discover the structure and function of these individual proteins and their potential complexes,” says Smith, who graduates from USU this spring and plans to pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering. An aim of CRISPR research, the USU researchers say, is to harness its ability to target specific genes, including those that cause genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis, as well as viruses like HIV. “CRISPR holds a lot of promise for curing and preventing many diseases,” Smith says. Garrett, who plans to pursue graduate study in biomedical informatics, says participation in undergraduate research “opened a lot of doors” for her. “Working in Dr. Jackson’s lab is helping me compete for graduate school admission and has prepared me for rigorous studies,” says the Florida native. Smith, who hails from South Weber, Utah, says she’s always dreamed of working in a research lab. “Being involved in undergrad research solidified my interest in pursuing research as a career,” she says. “It helped me see and explore a whole world of possibilities.” Related Links Aggie Scientists Present Research on Utah’s Capitol Hill – 2018  USU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry  USU College of Science  Contacts: Ryan Jackson, 435-797-1635, ryan.jackson@usu.edu; Melena Garrett, melena.garrett@aggiemail.usu.edu; Riannon Smith, riannon.j.smith@aggiemail.usu.edu Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, maryann.muffoletto@usu.edu[...]


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Amanda Bodily Awarded December Employee of the Month for Dining Services

Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Amanda Bodily, the student supervisor over Artist Block Café and Bakery at Utah State University, was selected to be Dining Services Employee of the Month for December. The selection was based on Dining Service’s core value of empowerment. To Dining Services employees, empowerment means  that everyone within the organization is empowered to make decisions within policies. The question they always ask in making decision is whether or not this leads to an excellent college experience. All Dining Services employees are accountable for their decisions and actions and take ownership in everything they do.

The management team at ABCB nominated Bodily saying, “Amanda has gone above and beyond the call of duty in the position. She has changed many processes to make the operation run more efficiently while maintaining the high level of customer service.

“Amanda often takes on projects that are not expected or required of her and does them with a great deal of care and detail,” the nomination said.

The staff at ABCB said they are so grateful for Amanda and her leadership.

“Amanda empowers those around her by giving them the proper tools to succeed and then pushes/teaches us how to be successful all while enjoying their job,” the nomination continued.

USU Dining Services is proud to have Bodily as an example of empowerment for all employees throughout Dining Services.

Bodily was awarded a $50 Aggie Express Card as well as a plaque.

Contact: Brittanie Carter, brittanie.carter@usu.edu
 


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USU Brigham City Scholar Fosters Undergraduate Research on Regional Campus

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Utah State University scholar Mikayla Austin remembers how it felt to return to college after a few years absence.  “I felt a bit intimidated,” says the self-described non-traditional student, who resumed studies at USU’s Brigham City campus, after her employer ‘downsized’ her position. “I wasn’t sure I could measure up.” But the Box Elder High School alum quickly found support from faculty mentors, who welcomed her ‘real-world’ expertise and enthusiasm. Austin began a research collaboration with Biology faculty mentor Jessica Habashi, for whom the undergrad was working as a tutor. Habashi was seeking ways to encourage other undergrads to get involved in research. Austin presents the results of this project to state legislators at 2018 Undergraduate Research Day Wednesday, Feb. 28, on Utah’s Capitol Hill. The Public Health, Industrial Hygiene emphasis major and recipient of the Charles and Rae Perkins Scholarship, is among about 30 Aggies participating in the annual event, which showcases the importance of research in undergraduate education. “Undergraduate research has plenty of documented benefits, including confidence-building, increasing technical skills, as well as fostering personal development and critical thinking,” Austin says. “But how do you motivate students to take advantage of research opportunities?” Austin and Habashi noted previous studies cited use of advertising, word-of-mouth and other campus programs as ways to attract students to undergrad research. But the pair surmised many students, without previous research experience, might be reluctant to pursue such opportunities. “Just as I initially lacked confidence as a new student, I felt others might assume they didn’t have enough experience or they weren’t far enough along in their studies to be considered for research participation,” Austin says. “Dr. Habashi and I came up with a different approach.” Their pair chose to expose undergrads to research right in the classroom by implementing a semester-long research project in a general biology class for majors. And they had the perfect project in mind. “Professor Kim Sullivan at USU’s Logan campus has been studying bird-window collisions and involves students in regularly surveying campus building for evidence of these collisions,” Habashi says. “A number of USU staff members at our Brigham City campus had reported seeing dead birds on the walkways near our new Classroom and Student Services Building, so adapting Dr. Sullivan’s project to our campus seemed like an easy fit into our lecture course and a way to provide real research experience for our students.” Habashi guided Austin in creating a student survey to evaluate the undergrad participants’ perceptions of their research experiences, seeking Institutional Review Board approval for the survey and in learning how to conduct analysis of collected data. Austin was further tasked with supervising the project’s undergraduate volunteers. “So far, students’ reaction to participating in research seem very positive,” Austin says. “It appears that many people just need a taste of research to want to do more.” Habashi says research participation fosters a deeper understanding o[...]


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"Utah Air Quality" is the theme of NEHMA's February 17 "Family Art Day"

Fri, 09 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

 “Utah Air Quality” is the theme of the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art’s (NEHMA) next “Family Art Day,” Saturday, Feb. 17, from 11 a.m-.2 p.m. in Utah State University’s Merrill-Cazier Library room 101. ?NEHMA has partnered with the Merrill-Cazier Library while the museum is closed for construction. 

NEHMA and USU Libraries are excited to feature the winning designs of the 2018 Utah High School Clean Air Poster Contest with an awards ceremony for the Grand Prize Winners and a clean air-themed art activity. 

Museum educational staff will assist participants in creating unique rear-view mirror hang tags and posters to remind drivers about the hazardous effects of idling. The goal is to spread awareness about Utah air quality.  

In addition to making their own hang tags and posters, participants will get to see the top clean air poster entry finalists for the Utah High School Clean Air Poster Contest created by students representing seven high schools in Cache and Grand County. Local businesses and organizations have generously donated prizes for the winners and Caffe Ibis is donating refreshments.  

NEHMA’s Family Art Days are free and open to the public. These family-friendly events on the third Saturday of each month offer hands-on art activities for all ages. Upcoming Family Art Days include Saturday, March 17 and Saturday, April 21.  

“The Utah High School Clean Air Poster Contest is a?perfect example of what we like to do at Family Art Day,” said Alyson Decker, education coordinator for the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art.?“We connect the visual world?to important issues and give the community a chance to explore?different art making?materials.” 

NEHMA is located on the USU Logan Campus. While the museum is closed for construction, it will continue to host events such as Family Art Days and Museum + Music at other venues like the Merrill-Cazier Library. See the museum’s website (artmuseum.usu.edu) to stay updated on museum events. 

Contact: Andrea DeHaan, NEHMA Administrative and Events Coordinator, andrea.dehaan@usu.edu or 435-797-7239


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CEHS Online Graduate Education Programs Ranked 5th in the Nation

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Thanks in part to its Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences (ITLS) master’s degree, the online graduate education programs offered by the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at Utah State University were ranked in the top five programs in the nation by the “2018 U.S. News and World Report.” What sets the ITLS online master’s program apart is the opportunity it provides students around the state, the country, and the world to earn a prestigious graduate degree in a rapidly-expanding field. The program has risen to national prominence primarily because of the strength of its courses. “The ITLS faculty have incredible online classes because that’s what their expertise is in,” said Matthew Havertz, the department’s webmaster. “They teach classes on instructional design, they do research on how people learn best, and they know how to use technology to create a well-structured online class.” That sentiment is echoed by the students in the program. “The professors are experts at making a remote education experience feel personal, involved and thorough,” said David Moore, a student in the program. “It may be the best learning experience I’ve had in my life. An ITLS professor’s area of expertise is teaching. Having a professor who is an expert at facilitating learning is refreshingly effective.” Founded in the mid-60’s, the instructional design program at Utah State is one of the oldest in the country. Beginning in 1998 the department became the first at USU to offer a distance-based graduate program. The department has embraced changes in technology in the two decades since, eventually transitioning to an online-only system. Mimi Recker, former ITLS department head and one of those responsible for launching the distance program, views the number of students who are already in their careers to be one of the program’s strengths. “It sets up a very different educational paradigm because students are coming to the table with a lot of skills and experience,” Dr. Recker said. “As a teacher, it makes for a much more interesting class.” The nature of instructional design, along with the project-oriented classes, allows students to make the material relevant to their professional situation. “The degree is essentially about learning how to break complex information into digestible pieces,” Moore said. “If I want to have skills that are valuable beyond the next few years, I need to be able to make complex subjects simple. That’s why this degree is so appealing.” The online-based instructional technology and learning sciences program is just one of the many nationally-recognized graduate degrees offered by the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services at USU. The college also offers ITLS graduate degrees for students at the Logan campus. While many online-only programs suffer from a lack of face-to-face interaction between students, the ITLS program has found ways to work around that deficiency. At the beginning of the school year, students in the program are invited to the university’s main campus in Logan for a three-day session that develops a feeling of togetherness. “It [...]


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A Place for Everyone in Theta Nu Xi and Psi Sigma Phi

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman for inclusion in Utah State Today. By Kortni Wells, USU Statesman, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018  Theta Nu Xi (pronounced Z-i) is just one of the many multicultural organizations on USU’s campus and USU’s only diversity sorority. Theta Nu Xi’s goal is to provide a place for women who think alike. The sorority’s values are the pillars of sisterhood, scholarship, leadership, service and multiculturalism. Throughout the school year members of Theta Nu Xi focus on putting on events, volunteering throughout the community, supporting other organizations and increasing their memberships. Karina Hernandez currently serves as president of Theta Nu Xi at Utah State and said the multicultural component is what sets their sorority apart from other sororities and fraternities on campus. “We integrate our identities, our cultural heritage and our backgrounds with our sorority,” Hernandez said. “It plays a huge part in how we run our organization.” As a multicultural organization, Theta Nu Xi isn’t just a place for women of color. It is heavily involved with social justice and equality for everyone.   A major piece of multiculturalism is the idea of intersectional identity, Hernandez said. Theta Nu Xi women believe that there are many different parts of their lives that help them navigate and move throughout the world. “I think sometimes the ‘multicultural’ word can scare people if they don’t understand what we mean by multiculturalism,” Hernandez said. “Theta Nu Xi helps you bring those components together and helps you discover your best self with those different parts of your identity.” One of the biggest events hosted by Theta Nu Xi and Psi Sigma Phi is called Step Show. Step Show is a place for all of the fraternities and sororities to come together and perform routines, competing against each other for the title of “Best Steppers.” But the competition isn’t just for USU fraternity and sorority members. The competition is open to student organizations and clubs as well. This year, Psi Sigma Phi and Theta Nu Xi have extended their invitation to all of the fraternities and sororities at Idaho State University, University of Utah and Weber State University. Dianna Palma currently serves as the Step Show chair for Theta Nu Xi. She enjoys being able to put the event together. “I like being able to reach out to multiple organizations at this university and others, and getting to know them,” Palma said. “Not only do we get to know that organization for the given year, but we build relationships with organizations from all around in the long run.” Each year has a different theme attached and Palma said it’s fascinating to see how each organization presents themselves. This year’s theme is all about the circus, inspired by the movie “The Greatest Showman.” “Aside from the evening being exciting in itself, I love seeing the creativity all of the organizations pull together each year,&rdq[...]



Utah State Football Announces 2018 Signing Class

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Utah State head football coach Matt Wells announced his sixth signing class Wednesday, Feb. 7, as part of the National Signing Day. The class, which includes 22 total players, is comprised of 17 high school athletes, three junior college transfers and a pair of four-year transfers who joined the team last fall.

Of those 22 players, 10 signed with Utah State in December and 10 more signed in February, while the other two sat out the 2017 season after transferring from four-year institutions.

Overall, six of the players are currently enrolled at Utah State for the spring 2018 semester, while four others will serve two-year LDS Church Missions before beginning their collegiate careers.

Furthermore, 17 of the 22 signees played at least two sports in high school.

The state of Utah produced the most signees with 11, followed by three players from California, and one player each from Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

"We are really excited about this signing class and the young men who will represent Utah State University both on and off the football field," said Wells. "The skilled kids in this class have a chance to make an immediate impact, while the future of this program is with the offensive linemen."

The greatest emphasis in Wells' sixth recruiting class was on the offensive line with five signees, to go along with four players at both defensive line and linebacker. Rounding out the class are three defensive backs, two quarterbacks, two wide receivers and one running back. Furthermore, one player is currently listed as an athlete.

"We met many needs with this group, especially along the offensive line," Wells said. "We also were able to identify several skill position players who should come in and compete for immediate playing time."

In all, Utah State's 2018 class includes 11 recruits on defense and 10 recruits on offense, to go along with one athlete who could play on both sides of the ball. 

"A lot of this class resembles our recruiting plan through the years with in-state players, mission program kids and our Polynesian connections being our top priorities," added Wells.

This national letter-of-intent signing period for football began on Wednesday, Feb. 7, and concludes on Friday, March 30.

For more information, visit the USU Football website




Two Generations of Piano Superstars Appear at 2018 Wassermann Festival

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The Wassermann Festival returns to Logan this spring with an exciting and diverse bill of performers. With four concerts from February through April 2018, the festival is sure to appeal to a wide array of music lovers. Guest artists include acclaimed pianists Daniel Hsu (February 21), Yekwon Sunwoo (March 17), Kevin Kenner (April 11) and Brad Mehldau (April 17). The musicians presented this year display a juxtaposition of styles and experience. “An intriguing contrast exists between the Brad Mehldau jazz trio and the classical pianists that make up the rest of the season,” Dennis Hirst, festival director and associate professor in the Caine College of the Arts, said. “Mehldau is considered by many the most influential living jazz pianist.” At this year’s Wassermann Festival, Mehldau appears with his trio: Jeff Ballard on drums and Larry Grenadier on bass, two of the most respected jazz musicians in the world in their own right.  Like Mehldau, Kevin Kenner has a distinguished reputation as a pianist. In 1990 Kenner was recognized internationally with three prestigious awards including top prize at the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, the Terrance Judd Award in London and third prize at the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow. It is easy to see a bright future and similar trajectory for the two younger artists performing at this year’s festival. In June 2017, Daniel Hsu was awarded the bronze medal at the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.  Hsu also received first prize at the 2015 Hamamatsu International Piano Competition, as well as first prize at the 2015 Victor Elmaleh Competition. Hsu released his first solo album in 2017 and is currently touring worldwide. The gold medal winner of the Fifteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, Yekwon Sunwoo, also performs at the Wassermann Festival this spring. Sunwoo has also received first prize at the 2015 International German Piano Award in Frankfurt, the 2014 Vendome Prize, the 2013 Sendai International Music Competition and the 2012 William Kapell International Piano Competition. “I am thrilled with the level of talent on display at this year’s festival,” Hirst said. “Concerts will provide something valuable for everyone involved, regardless of musical background.” Hirst noted that at this year’s festival there are two pianists that have defined their performances as among the very best in their respective fields and two pianists that have recently been recognized as new superstars in the field of classical piano performance. The Brad Mehldau trio will perform in the newly renovated Daines Concert Hall in the Chase Fine Arts Center. All other Wassermann Festival concerts are in the Russell/Wanlass Performance Hall. All performances start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $24 for adults, $20 for USU faculty and staff and $10 for students ages 8 and older. Tickets are available through the Caine College of the Arts Box Office located in room L101 in the Chase Fine Arts center or online via a link on the Wassermann website. Writer: Drew Rogers, (479) 426-3707, dhrogers@aggiemail.usu.edu Contact: Dennis Hirst, (435) 797-3257, dennis.hirst@usu.edu[...]


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USU Students in National Outdoor Competition Need Your Votes

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

  Seven students from Utah State University’s Outdoor Product Design and Development program are competing in a national event that provides an opportunity for students to turn their unique product ideas into an actual business and walk away with $30,000. The Outdoor Weber competition is sponsored by Camping World and headquartered at Weber State University’s Hall Global Entrepreneurship Center. The decision about which projects move on to the final round of judging depends on public, online voting that is open through Thursday, February 15. USU students Andy Thunell, Matt Stevens, Jake Van Wagoner, Kyle Moore, Haley Bennion, Chris Tibbets and Jayson Boren submitted brief video pitches describing their product or service and why it would be beneficial in the outdoor recreation industry. Ideas range from snowboarding and climbing equipment to youth outdoor camps. Four USU student projects are currently ranked in the top 25 entries (two in the top four as of Feb 8). Sean Michael, director of USU’s OPDD program, said this isn’t surprising. “The Outdoor Weber idea pitch is a perfect reflection of why Utah is at the forefront of today’s outdoor product markets,” Michael said. “Our state’s colleges are full of creative, entrepreneurial thinkers, and we’re not surprised that OPDD students are once again in the thick of the competition.” Stevens decided to compete in the contest to jumpstart his business and said this program is a great motivator for future entrepreneurs. “Far too many people have great ideas, but lack the motivation to make them a reality and a $30K purse works as great motivation,” Stevens said. “If I won, it would mean the world to me and the prize is more than enough to monetize my company. More than winning, I’m just happy to be a part of this competition and progress my company further along.” While the cash prize will certainly be beneficial to starting a new business, Michael explained that the benefits to the students extend well beyond the $30,000. “Aggie student designers have already been developing products and these competitions give them a chance to gain experience, as well as invaluable connections and financial backing,” he said. The top 25 video submissions will proceed to the semi-finals. Ten participants will be selected to compete in the final event from March 22–24 in Ogden. During the 3-day event, students will improve their ideas by consulting with some of the top companies and professionals in the outdoor product industry. A panel of judges will then select the top idea and award the grand prize. The public can help USU students advance to the semi-final round by voting for their favorite videos once a day per device until Thursday, Feb. 15. Watch student videos and vote for your favorites at https://www.weber.edu/entrepreneurship/Outdoor_Weber.html. USU students’ product pitches are at the following links. Jake Van Wagoner- Wake Life Jackets Andy Thunell – Mountain Movement Adventure Camps Kyle Moore – LIMID Chris Tibbitts – K-9000 Haley Bennion – Jeanius Chalk Bags Jayson Boren &n[...]


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New Army ROTC Leader Salutes Cadets who Join up Knowing World's Dangers

Thu, 08 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

When Klint Kuhlman joined the U.S. Army in 1997 as a high school senior, the world was fairly tranquil. Russia had shed its Soviet Union-era restrictions. Desert Storm was already history, and the shattering attacks of 9/11 were still years away. Now that he’s in a position to shape the next generation of Army leaders, Major Kuhlman considers our more dangerous and cynical world of 2018. “Students who enlist now understand there is a higher probability they will be deployed and be called upon by the nation to go to war,” said Kuhlman, the new department head of Military Science and officer in charge for the U.S. Army ROTC at Utah State University. “They understand they’re joining an army at war doing its part to support the security of the United States against active enemies,” he said. “They understand that we’re currently fighting in two different conflicts and that we are winding down a global war on terrorism. There’s something to be said for that. ” Kuhlman replaces Major Jonathan Kenworthy in the three-year posting as the Army ROTC’s commanding officer. The Army ROTC is one of two such programs on the Logan campus. It shares the World War II-era Military Science building with the U.S. Air Force ROTC. Both Military Science and Aerospace Studies are in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Kuhlman says that we, as a nation, ask more of today’s soldiers than when Kuhlman was a new recruit. Not only are soldiers trained to be warriors, he said, they must also act as ambassadors. “One minute you may be fighting an enemy or insurgent force, and the next one you may be caring for a local population through medical support or security.” In fact, that’s why Kuhlman says he’s pleased that his program of training Army officers is part of a college focused on the humanities. At first glance, CHaSS “may not be the best fit for military aspects,” he said. “But if you at it look through the lens of leadership, I’m in the business of producing leaders, and that’s a very people-focused profession.” Kuhlman is a native of the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The high-school-aged Kuhlman chose the Army infantry, he says now, because “it’s the world’s premier fighting force.” “My thing was, ‘Everything supports the infantry,’” he says. As for the dangers of battlefields, “That wasn’t a concern of anyone, certainly not me.” World events soon intervened. Kuhlman was a cadet at West Point Military Academy when terrorists attacked the World Trade Centers in 2001. As a brand-new officer — a 2nd lieutenant — his first assignment was to command a National Guard infantry battalion from Fort Lewis, Wash., as it deployed to Iraq. Kuhlman and his troops arrived just three months after the December 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein. In Iraq, Kuhlman patrolled Baghdad’s Green Zone, performing “patrols, raids and operations to support security there.” During the country’s first free election, he adds, “I remember patrolling just to ensure th[...]


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Harry Potter's World Exhibition comes to USU's Merrill-Cazier Library

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

“Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic and Medicine comes to Utah State University February 12-March 24. The six-panel exhibition will be on display in the lower level of the Merrill-Cazier Library. It was developed and produced by the exhibition program at the National Library of Medicine.

The exhibition, using materials from the National Library of Medicine, explores Harry Potter’s world, its roots in Renaissance science and the ethical questions that affected not only the wizards of Harry Potter, but also the historical thinkers featured in the series.
  
In 1997, British author J. K. Rowling introduced the world to Harry Potter and a literary phenomenon was born. Millions of readers have followed Harry to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he discovers his heritage, encounters new plants and animals and perfects his magical abilities. Although a fantasy story, the magic in the Harry Potter books is partially based on Renaissance traditions that played an important role in the development of Western science, including alchemy, astrology and natural philosophy. Incorporating the work of several 15th- and 16th-century thinkers, the seven-part series examines important ethical topics such as the desire for knowledge, the effects of prejudice and the responsibility that comes with power.

The exhibition is brought to the public by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. It was curated by Elizabeth J. Bland and its visit to Logan is hosted by USU Libraries. In conjunction with the National Library of Medicine panels, University Libraries' Special Collections & Archives will also have a number of Harry Potter themed items on display in the library's Hatch Room. For more information about the exhibition, please visit: www.nlm.nih.gov/exhibition/harrypottersworld

Contact Name: Gaby LeBeau, gaby.lebeau@usu.edu
 


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Falling for Science: USU Undergrad Researcher Explores Neuroscience

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The split-second into a stumble and fall is filled with shocking terror, with a blink of time to react. The instant dread is warranted, as accidental tumbles send millions of Americans to emergency rooms each year. The problem is especially serious for the elderly, who are more likely to suffer debilitating injury or death. Utah State University undergrad researcher Garrett Rydalch is exploring what happens in the brain, when a person falls and sees an object he or she can act on, such as a safety handrail. It’s a millisecond-by-millisecond investigation, as Rydalch observes how our onboard cranial computer tries to do the right thing at the right time. “We’re looking at the idea of ‘affordances,’ which suggests each of us put viewed objects into motor terms automatically,” says the Bountiful, Utah native, who entered USU on a Dean’s Transfer Scholarship after attending Salt Lake Community College. “A potential application of this affordance effect includes encouraging rapid balance reactions needed to avoid a fall.” Rydalch is among about 30 USU undergraduates, who’ll present their work to state legislators and visitors in Utah’s Capitol Rotunda in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The annual Undergraduate Research Day, initiated by USU in 2000, is designed to showcase the importance of research in undergraduate education. With funding from a USU Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities “URCO” grant, Rydalch conducts research with faculty mentor David Bolton, assistant professor, and master’s student Doug McDannald, of USU’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Science. Also on the team are undergrads Hunter Bell, a human biology major and Mahmoud Mansour, an electrical engineering major. Mansour constructed an innovative booth with a safety harness, goggles to obscure or allow sight and a wall-mounted safety handle that can be instantly visible or covered, to mimic different fall scenarios. With a human subject in the harness and wearing the goggles, Rydalch and the rest of the team can simulate actual falls and record neurological and motor response to varied situations. “We’re finding vision of a wall-mounted handrail increases excitability in the brain networks involved in grasping that handrail,” says Rydalch, who plans to pursue doctoral studies in neuroscience following USU graduation. “We think objects such as a handrail could spark balance reactions, even before the person is aware of the imminent fall. This could advance research into ways to prevent injury.” Bolton, who oversees Rydalch and other students’ projects in USU’s Perception-Action Lab, says research provides undergrads valuable experience in learning all the different components of conducting a successful project. “Students learn the time, thought and effort required to plan and fund a project, physically set up experiments, analyze data and disseminate the outcome,” he says. “This experience is invaluable in considering a potential career in academia in a[...]


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Sticky Problem: USU Undergrad Researcher Investigates Honey Bee Decline

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Modern chemical ingredients known as “adjuvants” make cosmetics, cleaning solutions and paints, as well as pesticides, glide on with ease in cost-effective application. But one type of these, potent organosilicone surfactants, may spell trouble for bees. With mentors from the USDA-ARS Pollinating Insects and Systematics Laboratory at Utah State University and USU’s Department of Biology, Aggie undergraduate researcher Matthew Thompson is investigating the effects of these widely used adjuvants on honey bees. “Scientists suspect these organosilicones, used to boost the performance of pesticides, play a role in loss of honey bee colonies and overall pollinator decline,” says Thompson, a biology major, USU Presidential Scholarship recipient and Undergraduate Research Fellow, who hails from Layton, Utah. “We’re trying to understand more.” Thompson is among about 30 USU scholars poised to present their research to state legislators and the public Feb. 28, 2018, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in Utah’s Capitol Rotunda during 2018 Undergraduate Research Day in Salt Lake City. “We suspect organosilicones and pathogens, especially viruses, interact, when pesticides are applied to crops,” says Diana Cox-Foster, USDA Bee Lab research leader and mentor to Thompson. “We’ve found these chemicals make honey bee larvae significantly more susceptible to deadly viruses, including the Black Queen Cell Virus.” Thompson, who is also mentored by Karen Kapheim, USU Department of Biology and USU Ecology Center faculty member, is exploring the possible effects of organosilicones on adult bees. “It’s an interesting project and I love being involved in hands-on research,” he says. “The uncertainty and complexity of exploring scientific questions is exciting to me.” Prior to joining the bee lab project in May 2017, Thompson says he had no idea of the vast variety of bee species and how important lesser known native species are to overall food pollination. “Declines in bee populations are a critical environmental concern,” says the 2013 graduate of Utah’s Davis High School, who plans to pursue graduate study following USU graduation. “Finding out what’s happening to bees is critical to agriculture worldwide.” Related Links USU Scientists Present Research on Utah’s Capitol Hill – 2018  USU Department of Biology  USDA-ARS Pollinating Insects Research Unit  USU Ecology Center  USU College of Science  Contact: Diana Cox-Foster, 435-797-0530, Diana.Cox-Foster@ars.usda.gov Writer: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, 435-797-3517, maryann.muffoletto@usu.edu[...]


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USU Professor Patents New Heart Rate Estimation Technology

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Researchers at Utah State University don’t need an Apple Watch or stethoscope to measure your heartbeat. They only need a video camera. Professor of electrical engineering Jake Gunther and his former student Nate Ruben are the inventors of a USU-patented technology that estimates heart rate using a video camera and specialized software. “When your heart circulates blood through your arteries and veins, the light absorbed by your skin changes by measurable amounts,” says Gunther. “You can’t see it with the naked eye, but when our system processes the images from a camera, the changes are obvious.” Video cameras record images in values of red, green and blue. The green channel provides information that makes heart rate estimation possible. “Hemoglobin in the blood has an absorption peak for green light,” said Gunther. “So when the heart pushes blood into arteries near the skin, more green light is absorbed and less is reflected. This means we see fewer green values in the images from the camera.” The system processes the color data and computes an average over regions of the image where skin is visible on the face, neck or arms. This contact-less monitoring system could revolutionize medical equipment and consumer products including baby monitors and exercise gear. A future version of the inventors’ design could even replace hospital tools that monitor blood pressure or blood oxygen levels. “The operation of our system is similar to a pulse oximeter,” said co-inventor and USU alumnus Nate Ruben. “But instead of looking at the light transmitted through skin tissue, we’re looking at the light being reflected from it.” The idea for the heart rate estimation technology came when Ruben and his wife had their first child in 2012. Like most new mothers, Ruben’s wife constantly checked on the child as he slept. All those trips to the crib gave Ruben an idea: make a better baby monitor. At the time, he was experimenting with a similar concept that used webcams to estimate heartbeat. But the technology faced a hurdle: sleeping infants don’t hold still, meaning the camera captured competing signals due to motion. Ruben and Gunther, however, say they’ve developed a way to extract the signals they need. “We have a technique that allows us to separate those fine details,” said Gunther. “We’ve done this, we’ve pulled it off.” The inventors are expanding their patented technology with the creation of a new company called Photorithm Inc. Gunther and Ruben are also developing a new baby monitor system called Smartbeat that uses similar software to detect breathing in a sleeping infant. They say the technology will be a game changer. Direct Contacts: Dr. Jake Gunther | jake.gunther@usu.edu | +1-435-797-7229 Nate Ruben | nate.ruben@photorithm.com | +1-801-903-9370 Media Contact: Matt Jensen – USU College of Engineering | matthew.jensen@usu.edu office: 435-797-8170 | cell: 801-362-0830 | engineering.usu.edu | @engin[...]


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Utah Student Selected Out of Hundreds for National 4-H Award\Scholarship

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The National 4-H Council recently announced that Cassandra Ivie, 17, of West Jordan is the winner of the 2018 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Award for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Ivie will be recognized nationally for her work as youth advocate and organizer for STEM education. Ivie, a Utah State University Extension 4-H State Ambassador, is the founder and creator of Incredible Machine, a curriculum and supply kit used to teach civil, software, chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering to 4-H students in her community. “It has been a privilege to lead these activities with local students to show them that STEM is accessible for everyone and that it is also a lot of fun,” said Ivie. She will receive a $5,000 scholarship for higher education and will serve as an advocate and spokesperson for 4-H STEM programming. She will be officially recognized as the 2018 4-H Youth in Action Pillar Winner for STEM, sponsored by HughesNet, at the 4-H Legacy Awards in Washington, D.C. on March 20, 2018. The high school senior joined 4-H in kindergarten as a Clover Bud. As the third of seven children, she joined with an interest in photography and soon developed a love for robotics. Her family saw the benefit of 4-H and started a community club with more than 60 students the first year.  “4-H is family – a family filled with people who are passionate and determined to make a significant difference in society,” she said.  That family atmosphere boosted Ivie’s confidence and developed her leadership skills in STEM. “STEM teaches critical thinking, and I’m excited when I see girls in STEM because both genders in the field helps to produce more creativity,” she said. Not only is Ivie a former 4-H State Ambassador, she works as an afterschool club leader and serves as a County Teen Council president.   “Cassie has made a large impact on local and state 4-H programs,” said Vernon Parent, USU Extension 4-H associate professor in Salt Lake County. “She is an amazing youth leader who has learned how to balance creativity, hard work and leadership.” Ivie is joined by three other 2018 Youth in Action Pillar Winners, Serena Woodard of Oklahoma (Agriculture Pillar Winner); Sophia Rodriguez of Georgia (Healthy Living Pillar Winner); and Kyra-Lee Harry of New York (Citizenship Pillar Winner).   The 4-H Youth in Action Awards, sponsored in part by HughesNet, began in 2010 to recognize 4-H members who have overcome challenges and used the knowledge they gained in 4-H to create a lasting impact in their community. “Cassandra’s creativity, innovative spirit and dedication to serving others have inspired an entire community and helped spark student’s interest in STEM,” said Peter Gulla, senior vice president at Hughes Network. “We look forward to seeing how she continues to inspire the next generation of leaders across the country as this year’s&nbs[...]


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Professor Justen Smith Exemplifies Service at Its Finest, Abroad and at Home

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

With a passion for academics as well as a desire to work directly with livestock and farmers, Justen Smith views his work with Extension as the best of both worlds. “Extension is the envy of the world,” he told colleagues and friends gathered to hear his Inaugural Lecture as a new full professor. “When I work in other countries, they know about our Extension system better than we do, and they wish they had the same.” As the Utah State University Extension Northern Region Director, Smith provides leadership for 11 counties in the northern part of Utah. Since graduating from USU with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and a master’s degree in international agriculture, his career has been focused on improving people’s lives through agriculture. Smith is a big believer in a global society, and that reflects in his international Extension work. His very first project after finishing graduate school was a project in Ecuador, working with natives living in the Andes to improve their livestock production. His next international project took him to Armenia, where he lived for three years. In that time, Smith developed and implemented the first milk collection centers and cheese factories for goats and sheep, created the first 4-H youth livestock show and sale, and met his wife. Other countries that Smith has had an impact on include Iraq, where he developed their first beef and sheep feedlots, and South Sudan, where he created a document outlining how the new country could create a successful agricultural industry. Throughout his career, Smith has worked in over 35 countries. “As faculty and experts in our field, we have special talents and skills,” Smith said. “And we should share those talents with people in need.” For nearly two decades, Smith worked overseas while maintaining successful programs back in Utah. He often lived in war-torn countries, working all day out in the field and spending nights writing journal articles or attending meetings via Skype. “It’s difficult circumstances to be working in, but the results are very rewarding,” Smith said. “You’re working with people who are starving, and when you teach them something that can save their families, that’s as rewarding as it gets.” After returning to Utah in 2004, Smith had a realization: he was helping people in other countries, but was he helping the people right here in Utah? He learned that one in five Utah children go hungry. This lead to the creation of the USU Extension 4-H Meat Donation Program in 2005. Corporate donors raised money to purchase 4-H livestock sold at county and state fair auctions. The money went to the 4-H members and the meat went to the food bank and to those in need. “I will never forget that first year, and seeing tears in the kids’ eyes as they handed out meat to people in need out of the back of pickup trucks,” Smith said. “And the families that were receiving the food were so grate[...]


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Recent USU Grad Awarded Oppenheimer Fellowship at Los Alamos National Lab

Fri, 02 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Utah State University alum Ivan Popov (PhD’17, Chemistry) is the recipient of the J. Robert Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship at Las Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Popov, who was named the USU College of Science’s 2017 Graduate Student (PhD) Researcher of the Year, was selected from a field of nearly 400 candidates from top universities worldwide. “The Oppenheimer Fellowship is the most prestigious and competitive postdoctoral award at Los Alamos Lab,” says Alex Boldyrev, professor in USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Popov’s USU mentor. “Ivan is the first USU alum to receive this award, which is a very significant achievement.” USU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry head Alvan Hengge says Popov is “a highly productive and brilliant scholar.” “Ivan excelled under Professor Boldyrev’s excellent mentorship here at Utah State,” Hengge says. “We are proud to have him as an alum and look forward to seeing his career develop.” A Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at LANL, Popov performs accurate quantum mechanical calculations of electronic properties, chemical bonding interactions and spectroscopic signatures of actinide and transition metal-containing molecules. “I’m currently involved in the computational design of state-of-the-art redox flow-cell batteries for the large-scale storage of electrical energy,” he says. “Such technology holds value for electricity grids.” Popov says he works in close collaboration with experimentalists at LANL, predicting novel chemical compounds, analyzing the electrochemical properties of the predicted molecules and aiding in the interpretation of experimental results. During his USU career, Popov published some 28 peer-reviewed papers. His total citation index reached 477 and his Hirsch Index was h=13; a record for USU doctoral students. “I am very grateful to my advisor, Dr. Boldyrev, who helped me reach the level where I can compete with postdocs from top universities around the world,” he says. A native of Sibay, Russia, Popov earned bachelor’s and master’s diplomas with honors in chemistry, with an emphasis in physical science, from People’s Friendship University of Russia, Moscow. He started doctoral studies at USU in 2011. The Oppenheimer Fellowship, named for the famed Manhattan Project scientist and first director of LANL, recognizes outstanding scientific research and leadership ability. Recipients receive $100,000 per year for three years. Related Links “Up, Up and Away: USU Chemists say ‘Yes,’ Helium Can Form Compounds,” Utah State Today  “A Wild, New Helium Compound Could Rewrite Chemistry Textbooks,” Gizmodo  “USU Chemists Observe Molecular ‘Drum’ that Beats Coordination Record,” Utah State Today  USU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry  USU [...]


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Virtual Reality Improves Students' Learning Experience

Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Utah State University Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Benjamin George has taken Virtual Reality to a new level, helping his students gain a better understanding of large scale projects. George will present at the Classroom Innovation Lab Speaker Series Wednesday, Feb. 7, from noon to 2 p.m., in Distance Education room 003. All USU faculty are encouraged to attend.

“VR is such a powerful tool to teach landscape architecture and is going to become a necessary skill professionally,” said George. “Being able to work with landscapes in 3D not only improves the user’s understanding of the subject, but also enhances their creativity during the design process.”

George uses drone-captured imagery to create a 3D model of a landscape, which students can then interact with in VR. Students are then able to design on top of the virtual 3D model, taking into consideration the physical and spatial context of the site in ways that they would normally be unable to.

“It’s great to see Benjamin take advantage of this technology available at USU, and see the benefits it has on students,” said Robby Sproul, classroom innovation engineer. “We’re excited to have him come to the lab so faculty can see in person how VR is being used on campus.”

After George’s half hour presentation, faculty will have the opportunity to experience hands-on all of the classroom technology available in the Classroom Innovation Lab, such as virtual and augmented reality, 360-degree video, write-on walls, the Microsoft Surface, and more. Students are the greatest benefactors of this technology by being able to learn complicated material through different, powerful perspectives.

Contact: Robby Sproul, 435-757-0520


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Book Explores How the South was Built on 'Wreckage' of European Delusions

Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

A new book of scholarly essays, European Empires in the American South, is actually a tale of three might-have-beens. In the 16th and 17th centuries — parallel with the more famous colonization taking place northward in New England — France, Great Britain and Spain looked at what’s now the American South and saw before them a banquet spread of meaty opportunities, goblets of goods and sweet power and wealth for dessert. And they imagined they could eat it all. The meddling and misdeeds of these imperialist profiteers transformed the southern region of North American and its history in unfathomable ways, says the volume’s editor Joseph Ward, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. In the end, all three empires failed to remake the land “in their own image.” The South we know now, he says, is “built upon the wreckage of imperial collapse.” Actors and headlines change, but history offers one constant thread: human nature. To use a phrase that itself originated in the 16th century, their eyes were bigger than their bellies. The Europeans drawn to the South’s unexploited, fertile land foolishly believed “they had the skill and ability to remake the distant lands in their own image,” Ward said, let alone stockpile piles of money. European Empires in the American South (University Press of Mississippi) contributes to an expanding and maturing scholarly body of work on what is now known as the Atlantic World, said Ward. The phrase encompasses the cat’s cradle of conquest, settlement, slavery and commerce among the continents that border the Atlantic Ocean — Africa, Western Europe and North and South America — from the day of Christopher Columbus to the French Revolution. The book, subtitled “Colonial and Environmental Encounters,” brings together scholars from across the country who specialize in each of the three large European powers who competed for dominance in the South. Topics center on the efforts by Europeans to manage the residents — including, among others, warring tribes, enslaved Africans and the occasional pirate — as well as the complex environment. Altogether, said Ward, the essays “bring to light new evidence of the ways in which the modern South — like so many other parts of the post-colonial world — is built upon the wreckage of imperial collapse.” Ward’s work as editor began when he was professor of history at the University of Mississippi. “I developed a curiosity, especially about European interactions with the native Americans of the Southeast,” he said. “I had certain preconceptions, but I learned to appreciate its complexity.” “As long ago as the 17th century,” he adds, “the Southeast was a place where you had several different European empires; you had native Americans who were in a variety of political tribal orga[...]


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USU Faculty Recognized as Mentors

Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Approximately 40 Utah State University faculty attended a panel held to discuss their experiences as mentors to students.

The panel included Don Busenbark, lecturer, USU-UB/math; Jennifer Grewe, lecturer, psychology; David Law, professor, USU-UB/FCHD; Crescencio Lopez Gonzales, assistant professor, languages, philosophy and communication studies; and Derrik Tollefson, professor and department head, sociology, social work and anthropology.

A variety of issues were discussed during the panel. USU faculty from the Uintah Basin have worked to create a Faculty Mentor Guide designed to assist faculty in putting into practice mentoring concepts and behaviors. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences is using data analytics to identify students who are at risk. They are then reaching out to those students to have meaningful, and at times difficult, conversations to assist the students in finding a successful path at USU. Lopez Gonzales spoke of his work in mentoring LatinX students while Grewe discussed her strategies for mentoring students in large classes. The discussion focused on helping students to rise to the expectations and rigor of USU and helping them find success while at USU.

Additionally, two awards were announced at the event. The Student Success Advisor of the Year was awarded to Shelly Kotynek from the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources and the Student Success Teacher of the Year was presented to Kerry Rood from the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. Both recipients will each receive a $500 award in recognition of their commitment to and work towards helping students be successful at USU.

This event represents a partnership between Empowering Teaching Excellence series and the Office of Student Retention & Completion. The event was recorded and will be available at Thrive.usu.edu under the resources for Faculty and Staff tab.

Contact: Heidi Kesler, 435-797-8087, Heidi.kesler@usu.edu


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USU Eastern Chancellor Announces Retirement June 30

Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Utah State University-Eastern Chancellor Joe Peterson announced today that he will retire as of June 30. Peterson has served eight years after he was named Eastern’s first chancellor on July 1, 2010, following the merger of Utah State University and the College of Eastern Utah. USU President Noelle Cockett praised Peterson for his role in expanding educational opportunities for students at Eastern and Blanding, and for his leadership role during the USU-College of Eastern Utah transition. “Dr. Peterson worked tirelessly to lead that transition and help us navigate the many complexities of the merger,” Cockett said. “Joe has strong ties to the community, and his love for the campus and the Eastern family have always been clear. He has been a powerful voice for a strong university presence in Price and Blanding.” Cockett named senior administrator Gary Straquadine as interim chancellor. Straquadine currently is vice chancellor for academic advancement at USU Eastern, and he is a vice provost at USU. Cockett also announced that she plans a series of stakeholder meetings in which she hopes to receive feedback from constituents about the future needs and directions of the Eastern campuses. Stakeholder meetings will be held with community members, faculty, staff and students both in Price and Blanding Peterson extended his personal thanks to fellow administrators, faculty, staff, students, donors, community members and all the many people with whom he has been honored to work. “I have cherished my associations with colleagues and friends within the University and within the communities of Southeast Utah,” he said.  “Serving as Chancellor has been the highlight of my career.” “I am thankful for my time at Eastern and fully understand that none of our achievements would have been possible without the truly remarkable group of people with whom I have been privileged to work and serve,” he added. During Peterson’s tenure at USU Eastern, the Price and Blanding Campuses experienced significant improvements in facilities and academic programs. In Price, Peterson oversaw the development and construction of a large classroom building and the remodeling of the Geary Event Center. Peterson also contributed significantly to the expansion of student housing on the Blanding Campus.  Under Peterson’s leadership, academic programs have also flourished, with significant increases in numbers of degree-completers in four-year and master’s programs, as well as in high-demand technical degrees. Straquadine will begin his interim role June 30, and he knows the campuses well. He has been responsible for program design and development for USU in southeast Utah. He also assisted Chancellor Peterson with advancing the academic programs at Eastern, with added responsibilities for economic [...]


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USU Doctoral Student Receives Competitive China Scholarship Council Award

Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Utah State University doctoral student Nan Jiang is a recipient of the prestigious Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad. A member of faculty mentor Yujie Sun’s lab in USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Jiang is one of 500 award recipients selected from a field of more than half a million Chinese undergraduate and graduate students studying varied disciplines in 29 countries. “This is a highly competitive award and Nan is a deserving recipient,” says Sun, assistant professor in USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “Nan has continuously demonstrated excellent research performance with an extremely productive track record.” Jiang’s recognition demonstrates USU graduate students can compete with the best students anywhere, says Alvan Hengge, head of USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “Her accomplishments are also a testament to our outstanding faculty, including Yujie Sun, who is a highly productive researcher and dedicated teacher.” A native of northeastern China, Jiang says she’s always been interested in science, but began to focus seriously on biology, chemistry and physics in high school. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry and biotechnology in China, Jiang began her doctoral studies at USU in 2013. In the Sun Lab, Jiang, who was named a Governor’s Energy Leadership Scholar, is investigating earth-abundant, bifunctional electrocatalysts for overall water splitting. The emerging technology, recently lauded in the global scientific report “Research Fronts 2017,” is a possible pathway to widespread, affordable energy production from clean, sustainable energy sources, including solar and wind. Jiang was lead author on a highly cited paper published in the German journal Angewandte Chemie, which details the USU team’s findings. “It’s quite an interesting area of study,” says Jiang, who is the USU’s College of Science’s 2018 Graduate (PhD) Researcher of the Year. “Electrochemistry can play a big role in the future.” Jiang, who is completing her doctoral studies this spring, plans to pursue postdoctoral research opportunities. As a recipient of the Chinese governmental award, she receives a $6,000 prize. Jiang says she loves the beauty of Cache Valley and its “small town,” friendly atmosphere. “On my very first day on campus, several people stopped to ask if I needed directions,” she says. “I was surprised by everyone’s friendliness. I really like life here.” Established by the China Scholarship Council in 2003, the Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-Financed Students Abroad honors Chinese overseas students, who demonstrate outstanding academic accomplis[...]


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USU Aviation Structure Benefits Students, Attracts Companies to Cache Valley

Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:00:00 -0700

A jet engine at takeoff can be as loud as 150 decibels, enough to rupture eardrums. One would think it would be very disruptive, not to mention dangerous, for aviation students at Utah State University to test and study jet engines in the middle of campus. But thanks to a unique, decades-old, refurbished, hand-me-down structure, students run jet engines and perform loud experiments without bothering anyone nearby. The USU jet engine test cell is a multilayer, fully-enclosed steel structure engineered with noise reduction technology and four explosion-proof windows. Located in the heart of campus in the technology building, the test cell allows students and faculty opportunities to test-run both reciprocating engines and turbine engines in a safe environment and without disturbing nearby classes. Students learn about and complete overhauls on various engines, and then use the test cell to examine their work and gather data about the engines. Others at USU, such as the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Space Dynamics Laboratory, also use the test cell to conduct experiments without the danger of exposing students and faculty to explosions or fiery discharges. Faculty and students trust the safety of the test cell that was previously owned and operated by the U.S. Air Force. In 1993, Randy Chesley led a team of USU aviation maintenance faculty to Williams Air Force Base (now known as the Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport). The base was in its shutdown phase, and the team was retrieving military motion simulators for their department. While there, the executive in charge of asset disposal was so impressed with the work of the USU aviation maintenance faculty that he offered them the jet engine test cell as well. After arrangements for transportation were made, the test cell was relocated and became a permanent part of USU’s Logan campus. Recently, the jet engine test cell received some major upgrades. A jointly funded grant from USTAR and Electric Power Systems (EP Systems) modernized the cell with an HD camera and display units, as well as an infrared camera to see thermal images of the tests. By far, the biggest upgrade from the grant was the installation of a state-of-the-art air filtration system. The new filtration system removes smoke and damaging particulates from the air in the test cell, enabling the facility to be used for testing lithium batteries. This new opportunity to test lithium batteries as complete propulsion systems for aircraft has caught the attention of NASA. EP Systems, NASA and USU’s Space Dynamic Laboratory (SDL), are creating an all-electric airplane powered by lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are very powerful but can overheat, as seen in some cell phone explosions in recent years. NASA, EP Systems and SDL have started running experiments to see if a lithium battery ca[...]


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USU Club Seeks to Raise Awareness About Mental Illness

Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The Student Life section of Utah State Today highlights work written by the talented student journalists at Utah State University. Each week, the editor selects a story that has been published in The Utah Statesman for inclusion in Utah State Today.

By Ayanna LikensUSU Statesman, Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 

With mental health as a rising crisis, Utah State University student Bremen Accord decided he wanted to do something about it.

In March of 2017, Accord created a USU club called NAMI, which stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Accord said he started the club to provide an additional resource for students who might have some experience with mental illness to receive help and support from their peers, as well as an opportunity for involvement on campus to help advocate, educate and help the student body.

A few years ago, NAMI had a small presence on campus, lack enough interest and membership.

“One of my biggest goals from the start was to get some support groups going on campus,” he said.

NAMI has four members that have received professional training in Salt Lake City and are now beginning regular support groups that will meet every Friday for the rest of the semester.

International student Mahdi Talaki said he is thankful there are clubs like this offered here.

“Moving to a new country was one of biggest challenges of my life and it really took a toll on my mental health,” Talaki said, “but it is nice to know that there is someone there if I need some help.”

The club is growing rapidly and 400 people have signed up to become members. With that large of a team, Accord said they have been able to accomplish a lot within the short amount of time the club has been around.

NAMI has planned a stigma-free campaign, mental health week, stress reduction week, suicide awareness week and is holding a charity event next month.

The event will be held on Feb. 9 with a formal dance at the Lundstrom Student Center. Admission is $10 with all proceeds going to support mental health at Utah State and in the community. 




Keith Patterson Named Defensive Coordinator at Utah State

Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:00:00 -0700

Keith Patterson, who has 15 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 11 seasons as defensive coordinator, has been named Utah State’s defensive coordinator, it was announced Jan. 30 by Aggie head coach Matt Wells. Along with his defensive coordinator duties at Utah State, Patterson will coach the safeties. With the hiring of Patterson, assistant head coach and co-defensive coordinator Frank Maile will continue to coach the defensive line, while assistant coach Julius Brown will work with the cornerbacks and assistant coach Stacy Collins will once again coach the inside linebackers. “We are very excited to announce Keith Patterson as a member of our defensive staff,” said Wells. “Keith’s experience as a defensive coordinator and aggressive style will mesh very well with coach Maile and our current staff. Keith and I have spent several years coaching together previously and I know his work ethic, passion and energy will fit perfect into our Utah State football culture. We are excited to have Keith and Melissa as part of our Aggie football family.” During his collegiate career, Patterson has coached in 11 bowl games. “I am excited to become a member of the Utah State family,” said Patterson. “I have tremendous respect for Coach Wells, the staff and players in this program. I look forward to helping build upon the success and foundation that has already been established.” Prior to his appointment at Utah State, Patterson spent the past four seasons at Arizona State serving as the Sun Devils’ defensive coordinator for three of those years, and working with the linebackers all four seasons.  With his focus on the inside linebackers at Arizona State in 2017, Patterson oversaw the evolution of D.J. Calhoun and Christian Sam as both earned all-Pac-12 honors. Sam finished the season ranked seventh nationally and first in the conference, averaging 10.6 tackles per game, while Calhoun ranked seventh in the conference with an average of 7.6 tackles per game. Furthermore, ASU ranked 22nd in the nation with an average of 2.77 sacks per game. Arizona State was especially efficient on third down in conference games in 2017, allowing just a 34.82 opponent conversion percentage to rank 32nd nationally and second in the conference. ASU was also first in the league and 13th nationally in allowing just 37.50 percent of opponent fourth-down conversion attempts to be successful. In 2016, Patterson’s guidance was instrumental in the standout performances turned in by linebackers Koron Crump and Calhoun. Crump led the Sun Devils with nine sacks, while recording three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an interception. Calhoun was the team leader with 77 tackl[...]



Inaugural USU Guitar, Bass and Drum Festival Feb. 8-9

Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The Caine College of the Arts at Utah State University announces the 2018 USU Guitar, Bass and Drum Festival February 8 and 9 at 7 p.m. in the Caine Performance Hall on the USU campus. Featured artists of the festival include guitarists Gilad Hekselman, Steve Kovalcheck, Fareed Haque, Justin Cash, Austin Weyand and Corey Christiansen; bassists Marco Panascia and Braun Kahn; drummers Jim White and Steve Lyman.

Master classes daily at 11 a.m. and panel discussions at 1:30 p.m. are open to the public on both days of the festival.

Israeli-born, NYC based Gilad Hekselman, one of the prominent voices of modern jazz guitar, will share the stage with Marco Panascia and Steve Lyman on February 8. He’ll be hosting master classes during the day. French journalist Ludovic Florin says Hekselman is rhythmically the most gifted guitarist of this century.

“Gilad is one of the major voices in the new generation of guitar,” Corey Christiansen, festival director, said. “He has an original sound that is anchored in the tradition of jazz guitar but is representative of today’s sound in NYC.”

Steve Kovalcheck, an artist with a vast background in various styles who currently teaches at the University of Northern Colorado, will also perform on February 8 with Corey Christiansen and Braun Kahn.

February 9 features master of the jazz and classical traditions, Fareed Haque.

“Fareed is the consummate guitarist,” Christiansen said. “He is an expert at multiple genres in the way that most artists are experts at one genre. We are delighted to showcase such an incredible artist here at USU. Our audience members are in for a real treat getting to hear someone of this level perform.”

The Chicago Tribune writes “a finely honed classical technique and a deep well of experience in pop music makes Haque a singular figure in music.”

He will be joined onstage by Jim White and Marco Panascia.

Tickets are $10 general admission, $8 seniors and youth, $5 USU faculty and staff and free for USU students with ID. A separate ticket must be purchased for each night. For more information and tickets, visit the CCA Box Office located in room L-101 of the Chase Fine Arts Center on USU’s campus, call 435-797-8022 or go online at cca.usu.edu.

Writer and contact: Whitney Schulte, whitney.schulte@usu.edu, 435-797-9203




Edgy, Contemporary Studio Show "The Great God Pan" Comes to USU Campus

Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:00:00 -0700

The Great God Pan by American playwright and Pulitzer Prize finalist Amy Herzog opens Friday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m., in the Black Box Theatre of the Chase Fine Arts Center on the Utah State University campus. There will be additional 7:30 p.m. showings February 3 and 7-10. There is also a 2 p.m. matinee February 3. Jamie currently has the perfect life in Brooklyn—a beautiful girlfriend, a flourishing journalism career and parents who live just far enough away. His seemingly perfect life implodes when childhood trauma is brought to light and throws him into a tailspin. The unraveling begins when Jamie goes to coffee with Jamie’s childhood friend, Frank, who tells them that he’s bringing charges of sexual abuse against his father. This leads Jamie on a journey of trying to remember his own past, and part of this includes a blurry memory of family issues that forced him to live with Frank’s family temporarily. “From the beginning of the play to the end, you see Jamie’s memory start to sharpen bit by bit as he’s remembering events from the past,” Jason Spelbring, director of the show and assistant professor in the Caine College of the Arts, said. “There’s quick and contemporary language from Amy Herzog and audiences will really connect with the tempo of the play. It will feel like you’re eavesdropping on the cast’s lives.” Spelbring said the alley seating for The Great God Pan will help audiences feel like they’re a part of the show. There will be cast members on either side of you while still allowing audience members to have a soft focus on the reactions of other audience members across the aisle. “Every cast member is on stage for the entire performance,” Spelbring said. “This allows challenges for the actors to focus on active listening and being still.” Spelbring said preparing for this show feels like one of his acting classes with a play at the end of it. The actors will be wearing their own clothes and pushing around Black Box furniture as they change positions for each scene. “This really takes our class outside the walls of the classroom and allows our students to utilize their skills in a professional setting, which I love,” Spelbring said. The play tackles how individuals deal with memory and challenges the actors to think about how they themselves deal with memory. You’ll find out just how much Jamie remembers when you see the show for yourself. The Great God Pan contains adult content, language and themes. Children under 6 years of age, including babes in arms, will not be admitted. Children 6 and older should attend at parent’s discretion. Tickets for The Great God Pan [...]


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USU Researcher Develops Technology for Dream Chaser® Spacecraft

Thu, 25 Jan 2018 12:00:00 -0700

A Utah State University researcher was among those celebrating a recent successful test flight of the Dream Chaser spacecraft. Tony Whitmore, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at USU, teamed up with the ship’s creators at Sierra Nevada Corporation to develop a new technology that provides Dream Chaser with crucial air speed information. On Nov. 11, engineers tested the new Flush Air Data System, known as FADS, by hoisting Dream Chaser 12,000 feet into the air and then cutting it loose, letting it free fall at 330 mph. Seconds later, the spacecraft was safely gliding toward Edwards Air Force Base where it gently touched down on runway 22-left. The successful free-flight test confirmed Dream Chaser’s FADS system worked correctly. “The FADS systems represents one of the most complex non-linear, real-time estimation schemes ever flight tested,” said Whitmore, who patented an algorithm that makes the FADS technology possible. Dream Chaser is a multi-use spacecraft designed to glide back to Earth after re-entry, similar to the unpowered landings of the now-retired space shuttle. Accurate air speed information is critical for Dream Chaser to glide through the atmosphere on its approach to the runway. FADS generates air speed data using multiple flush-mounted sensors located on the nose of the spacecraft. By comparing air pressure values at multiple points, the autonomous Dream Chaser can calculate its air speed and adjust its flight path. FADS represents an important milestone in reusable spacecraft design. The system eliminates the need for conventional air-data probes that extend from the side of a spacecraft. The probes used on the space shuttle, for example, were susceptible to the extreme temperatures of re-entry and were deployed only after the hottest phases of flight. “Conventional air-data probes would simply burn up on re-entry,” said Whitmore. “FADS uses non-intrusive sensors that are integrated into the body of the spacecraft. They provide critical measurements over the entire flight envelope including the high-heating phase of flight seen just after re-entry.” Dream Chaser is being developed with a primary mission to provide cargo delivery, return and disposal services for the International Space Station. With its precise, soft landings, the company says Dream Chaser is ideal for returning delicate science experiments or astronauts from the space station. USU's role has been focused on algorithm development, sensor configuration optimization, sensor communication, aerodynamic calibration, redundancy management, systems verification & validation and flight test data analysis. Members of the USU team rece[...]


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