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News stories about USU's College of Science

Logan city is participating in plans to potentially build a small modular nuclear reactor in Idaho.

Photo Credit: Nuclear Street

Waste Storage, Not Nuclear Disaster, Is The Real Risk of Nuclear Power, USU Lecturer Says

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Logan City officials are weighing project risks as they decide whether or not to continue participating in a plan to build a small modular nuclear reactor in Idaho, just North of Idaho Falls. An expert says concerns about nuclear power are valid, but people often need to shift the focus of their concern.

The project is being coordinated by the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. Logan City is the largest municipality participating in this project and will have to decide by March whether to drop out or continue with the project.

Scientists suspect several ancient snowball Earth episodes when the ice sheets covered the planet.

Photo Credit: John Sonnitag, NASA

Ancient Earth froze over in a geologic instant

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Earth’s ice is melting at a rapid clip today. But some scientists think that during several ancient episodes, the planet plunged into a deep freeze known as “Snowball Earth,” when ice sheets grew to cover almost the entire planet. However, the number of these episodes, their extent, and just how fast Earth turned into an ice cube have long been a mystery. Now, analysis of a newly discovered rock sequence in Ethiopia supports a Snowball Earth event some 717 million years ago and suggests it took place in mere thousands of years—the geologic equivalent of a cold snap.

USU USTAR Professor Randy Lewis at a spinning machine in his lab. With the Navy, Lewis is developing next-generation MVSOT with spider silk and sharing USU silk manufacturing technology to enable commercial-scale production of other biomaterials.

Photo Credit: Mary-Ann Muffoletto

Utah State University And The U.S. Navy Are Developing Tools For Non-Lethal Warfare

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The United States' Navy and Utah State University researchers are working together to develop tools for non-lethal warfare. A $420,000 grant from the Navy has been awarded to USU’s Synthetic Spider Silk Lab.

USU researchers are developing a device that would wrap around the propellers of watercraft used by smugglers, pirates or terrorists. Biology professor Randy Lewis said the device would be designed to stop boats laden with explosives like the one that attacked the USS Cole in 2000.

Michael Piep leads talks about plants during the Richard J. Shaw Memorial Wildflower Walk on Tuesday in Green Canyon.

Photo Credit: Eli Lucero, Herald Journal

Wildflower walk honors botanist's memory

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Botanist Michael Piep has been going on wildflower walks for a long time, first as an undergraduate learning from Richard Shaw, and now as a botanist himself leading walks in Shaw’s memory.

On Tuesday, he was joined by just over two dozen people in Green Canyon for the annual walk hosted by Utah State University’s Intermountain Herbarium and the Cache Chapter of the Utah Native Plant Society.

This dinosaur specimen from Wyoming is up for auction in Paris on Monday

Photo Credit: Science Magazine, AGUTTES

Allosaurus on the auction block

Friday, June 1, 2018

On 4 June, geological hammers will give way to an auctioneer’s gavel as the fossilized skeleton of a gigantic predatory dinosaur goes up for sale in the Eiffel Tower in Paris, to the dismay of one of the world’s largest international paleontological societies.

The 8.7-meter-long specimen is estimated to be about 70% complete and between 151 million years and 156 million years old. It’s said to have been unearthed legally in 2013 in Wyoming, although the paleontologists who unearthed it remain anonymous.

Diagram depicting a boat propeller disabled by a next-generation, environmentally friendly, nonlethal Maritime Vessel Stopping Occlusion Technologies or ‘MVSOT’ device crafted from synthetic slime and Utah State University-made synthetic spider silk.

Photo Credit: NAVSEA

Dead in the Water: Utah State Spider Silk Lab Awarded Navy Grant Aimed at Maritime Defense

Friday, June 1, 2018

Envisioning a device the U.S. Navy is developing with Utah State University synthetic spider silk conjures images you'd expect in a James Bond thriller. Think strong, stretchy fibers wrapping relentlessly around a boat propeller and effectively foiling nefarious efforts by smugglers, pirates or terrorists.

A large power plant currently powered by fossil fuels

Photo Credit: CCO Public Domain,

Top nitrogen researchers imagine world beyond fossil fuels

Friday, May 25, 2018

Freeways choked with traffic, supermarkets laden with fertilizer-grown stock from distance fields and virtually everything we touch derived from petroleum-based plastics. It's hard to imagine life beyond our fossil-fueled world. Black gold has brought us unprecedented prosperity, but it's also polluted our environment, perhaps irreparably, and it's in finite supply. Now what?

Students participate in Physics activities at lagoon on Friday, May 18th.

Photo Credit: Ravell Call, KSL

'Being a nerd is maybe not so bad' — 10K kids see physics in motion at Lagoon

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Eggs falling from the sky, fighting robots, myth-busting teens and thousands of kids riding roller coasters — sound like something straight out of a Pixar film?

That was the scene Friday during USU Physics Day at Lagoon, now in its 29th year.

l-r Alex Walker and Helena Sawvel from North Layton Junior High react to the poor performance of the duos Mouse Trap machine during competition at the 2018 29th Annual Utah State University Physics Day. Over 9,000 high school and middle school students from Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada compete in science projects, Friday, May 18, 2018 at Lagoon Amusement Park in Farmington.

Photo Credit: Leah Hogsten, Salt Lake Tribune

Kids compete at Lagoon’s science day for prizes and scholarships

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Some 9,000 high school and middle school students from Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nevada were at Lagoon Amusement Park on Friday for a day of “gut-churning science fun.” At stake were prizes and several scholarships to Utah State University.

High school students participate in Physics activities at Utah's Lagoon on Friday, May 18th.

Photo Credit: Max Roth, Fox 13

Utah high school students test roller coaster G-forces with tech they designed

Friday, May 18, 2018

Syracuse High School students took their physics class to Lagoon, and, instead of taking an exam, they put the amusement park itself to the test.

Physics teacher Doug Ball has taught his students about acceleration, gravity, G-forces and coding by having them design wearable G-force meters.

Utah students gather at Lagoon for a day of physics fun

Photo Credit: Simone Francis, Good 4 Utah

Utah State hosts physics day at Lagoon

Friday, May 18, 2018

More than 9,000 high school and middle school students from Utah and surrounding states gathered Friday at Lagoon Amusement Park.

They were there for a day of science, fun and competition.

Utah students gather at Lagoon for a day of physics fun

Photo Credit: Ravell Call, Deseret News

'Being a nerd is maybe not so bad' — 10,000 kids see physics in motion at Lagoon

Friday, May 18, 2018

Eggs falling from the sky, fighting robots, myth-busting teens and thousands of kids riding roller coasters — sound like something straight out of a Pixar film?

That was the scene Friday during USU Physics Day at Lagoon, now in its 29th year.

Biology Professor Joe Wilson in the Ogden Botanical Gardens

Photo Credit: Benjamin Zack, Ogden's Standard Examiner

Most Americans unaware of abundant bees buzzing in their backyards

Monday, May 15, 2018

Utah might be known as the “Beehive State,” but people tend to know very little about the bees that call our area home.

For example, honeybees aren’t native to North America. Most can...

Biochemist Rhesa Ledbetter in her lab

Photo Credit: Rhesa Ledbetter

Biochemistry doctoral candidate receives awards from the Society of Professional Journalists

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

USU Biochemistry doctoral candidate and Utah Public Radio science journalist Rhesa Ledbetter is the recipient and finalist of multiple "Mark of Excellence Awards" from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Milk from goats at USU's farm in Wellsville produces a special protein that can be turned into a material just as strong as a spider’s web.

Photo Credit: KSL TV

USU goats’ milk produces material as strong as spider webs

Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2018

There is something very different about the goats at Utah State University’s south farm in Wellsville. For starters, the nearly two dozen animals are called ‘spider goats’ and it is not because of their looks or personality. They earned that title because their milk produces a special protein that can be turned into a material just as strong as a spider’s web.

College of Science alum Devin White

Photo Credit: Devin White

Utah State Recognizes 218 Student-Athletes at Annual Whitesides Luncheon

Tuesday, Apr. 24, 2018

Utah State’s athletics department recognized 218 student-athletes at the 25th annual Joe E. and Elma Whitesides Scholar-Athlete Luncheon Tuesday. To be eligible for the honor, student-athletes must have a cumulative 3.2 grade point average or have posted a 3.2 GPA during the last two semesters.

Dr. Randy Lewis at CalTech

Photo Credit: Randy Lewis

Utah State University Biology Professor Named To CalTech's Athletics Hall Of Honor

Thursday, Apr. 19, 2018

One Utah State University researcher who is used to being recognized for his pioneering as a scientist is now being recognized for his success as an athlete. Utah’s “spider-silk man” will travel from Logan to California for the honors.

Randy Lewis is among five athletes who will be inducted into the fifth Caltech Athletics Hall of Honor Class at the institute’s annual scholar-athlete’s awards banquet in Pasadena, California.

Dr. Randy Lewis in his lab at USU

Photo Credit: Kevin Opsahl, Herald Journal News

USU professor's 'spider silk' research spurs potential new product to market

Thursday, Apr. 12, 2018

After years of research to produce mass quantities of spider silk — among the strongest materials in the world — a Utah State University professor and his team say they’re ready to get it out to the marketplace with a product people can use.

USU biology professor Randy Lewis, his lab technicians and the limited liability corporation Spidey Tek announced in a news release this week that an adhesive would be the first product to market, thanks to an exclusive licensing agreement signed between the LLC and USU.

Biology Professor Dr. Joseph Wilson

Photo Credit: Lindsey Wilson

Professor wants public to ‘Bee informed’ about pollinators

Tuesday, Apr. 10, 2018

Spring is here and Dr. Joseph Wilson is ready to talk about the bees.

Wilson, an expert on North American bee species, assistant professor of biology at Utah State University Tooele Campus, TEDx Utah State University presenter and author of "The Bees in Your Backyard," will present Bee Informed: Pollinator Diversity and Conservation on Thursday, April 12, at the Swaner EcoCenter.

Justin Tolman in his final stages of creating his Utahraptor sculpture

Photo Credit: Justin Tolman

University Student Sculpts Utahraptor For USU Geology Museum

Tuesday, Apr. 3, 2018

Justin Tolman. He’s a sculptor and dinosaur connoisseur, with a particular interest in dromaeosaurids, more commonly known as raptors.

“Dinosaurs have been a lifelong passion of mine, since I was a little kid. And I discovered sculpture and I was like, 'Wow, I can make money, I can incorporate a childhood passion into a potential money making opportunity...

From the left: Kenneth Kehoe, USU Geology Department, Justin Tolman, USU student artist, and Rachel Tolman

Photo Credit: Orbital ATK via KSL News Radio

Artists, Engineers And Scientists Collaborate To Build Colorful Sculpture of The Utah Raptor

Tuesday, Apr. 3, 2018

When art student, Justin Tolman, pitched his idea to Utah State University’s Geology department he had envisioned a sculpture 1/6th the size of the actual dinosaur.

“With those dimensions I could cut it in half and cook it at home with the oven in my department,” Tolman said. But the Geology department told Tolman- we want it bigger...

Instrument site implemented by the National Ecological Observatory Network at a station in New Mexico

Photo Credit: Jennifer Perez via Utah Public Radio and Jornada Rangeland Research Programs

Local Efforts To Improve Public Ecological Observatory Network

Tuesday, Apr. 3, 2018

A group of researchers at Utah State University are leading a project called ARGON or Augmenting Research Grounded On NEON. The program has already collected over 18 million data points related to species and community traits.

“The aim of ARGON is to augment research grounded on NEON by filling in some of the historical information about what’s happened nearby the NEON sites, but then also to...