Skip to main content

The College of Science at Utah State University is full of driven researchers, educators, and mentors. Each year the college recognizes several members who have gone above and beyond the norm to continue to make the college a place of increased merit and quality.

CoS Student Awards

As an Undergraduate Research Fellow, Jenna began working in Dr. Nicholas Dickenson’s research lab her freshman year, focusing on infection mechanisms of the bacterial pathogen Shigella flexneri. Her work has resulted in three competitive URCO awards, each allowing her to study a different aspect of Shigella infection. Jenna’s most recent work involves two independent projects studying the Shigella type three secretion system ATPase Spa47 and the IpaC/IpgC hetero-protein complex. In 2016, Jenna’s most recent URCO award supported her role in providing the first structure-function analysis of Spa47 and her first scientific publication in The Journal of Biological Chemistry. While her efforts to uncover the mechanisms driving Spa47 activation continue, she is now additionally working to better understand the role of the type three secretion system protein IpaC in Shigella infection, identifying it as a potential target for anti-infective drug therapies.

Jenna has presented her research on several occasions and was recently chosen to present her work at Research on Capitol Hill and at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. She will graduate this spring with a BS in chemistry and a music minor. She is excited to continue her studies at USU as she pursues a Master’s degree in biochemistry.

Jamie was raised in Vancouver, Washington where she completed her Associate of Arts degree at Clark Community College in 2013. She came to USU to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry, graduating in 2016 with Departmental Honors. During her time as an undergraduate student, she became involved with research in Dr. Nicholas Dickenson’s lab looking at the activation and regulation of the infection system of a bacterial pathogen, Shigella flexneri. After falling in love with her research, she decided to stay on as a Master’s student at USU to continue her work. Around the world, the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria is a critical health concern. Through her research, Jamie hopes to identify alternative therapeutic targets in Shigella and related bacterial pathogens. So far, her research has resulted in two first-author papers in Protein Science and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. In addition to her research, she has held teaching positions as an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow in Biochemistry, a Teaching Assistant in Genetics, and now as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for Organic Chemistry Labs. In her spare time, she loves cycling, reading, board games, and volunteering at the local hospital and library.

Allen Andersen is a fifth-year PhD candidate with the Physics Department’s Materials Physics Group. Prior to his matriculation at USU, Allen graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S. in Physics and a minor in Spanish from BYU-Idaho. He has always been fascinated by space exploration, math, science, and science fiction. He now enjoys living in beautiful Cache Valley with his wife and two children.

His graduate research focuses on how spacecraft materials accumulate electric charge and violently spark due to interactions with the space plasma environment. Modeling electron transport in highly disordered insulating materials necessitates an understanding of the distribution of atomic-scale defects and their interactions with charge carriers.

As a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow, he has participated in research at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Marshall Space Flight Center. He has given over two dozen presentations on his USU graduate research, including those at five international conferences on spacecraft charging or dielectric phenomena. He is senior author of five peer-reviewed journal articles and three conference proceedings and coauthored three additional papers.

Allen has mentored three undergraduate physics students’ senior research and URCO projects. His mentees have also participated in conference presentations, publications, and received their own research funding.


Ivan A. Popov was born in Sibay, Russia (1987), and obtained his B.S. (2009) and M.S. (2011) diplomas with honors in chemistry with an emphasis in physical chemistry from Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, Moscow. Ivan joined Prof. Boldyrev’s group at Utah State University in 2011.

Ivan’s scientific interests broadly span the area of computational chemistry focusing on the computational design of novel materials, analyses of their electronic structures, and development of useful chemical bonding models capable of predicting new compounds with tailored properties and desired geometric structures. Many of Ivan’s works have been frequently highlighted in various popular media outlets, including highly reputable Chemical & Engineering News magazine.

The list of Ivan’s publications is impressive for a graduate student. During the Ph.D. program, he has published as much as 28 peer-reviewed papers. Ivan’s total citation index is 477 and his Hirsh index is h=13 that is an absolute record among all Ph.D. students of Utah State University.

Ivan presented his research multiple times at both national and international conferences, and won numerous awards. Currently, he is co-organizing International Conference on Chemical Bonding together with Prof. Boldyrev, Prof. Alexandrova (University of California, Los Angeles), and Prof. Wang (Brown University).

Ian McGahan is a PhD student in the Department of Mathematics at Utah State University, studying Mathematical Biology with a focus in modeling population dynamics. After receiving a B.A. in Mathematics from Willamette University, he earned his M.S. in Applied and Computational Mathematics at the University of Minnesota, Duluth before joining the Department of Mathematics at USU in 2015.

Ian's background in mathematics is varied, with undergraduate research in Topology and a master's thesis in Graph Theory, but he wanted his work to have direct impact for people, which sparked his passion in the mathematics of diseases and populations. Another aspect of human impact he finds extremely important is education. While a graduate student, Ian has also been a TA at both UMD and USU for a variety of courses. At USU Ian has had the privilege of being both a TA and an instructor for Calculus 2. He hopes to teach and continue his work in population dynamics after earning his PhD.

When not in his office or the classroom, Ian enjoys playing board games and getting outside. He is a casual rock climber and cyclist and enjoys hiking and backpacking.

After earning an International Baccalaureate degree from high school in Prague, Czech Republic, Kendra Bunnell returned to her native Utah and entered USU on a Presidential Scholarship. With geology as her major, she indulged her love of national parks, visiting regional gems and getting involved in geology fieldwork. Beyond the classroom and field, Kendra is an enthusiastic volunteer, who served as community outreach officer for the USU Geology Club and coordinated multiple events, including providing learning activities for youngsters at Science Unwrapped.

A recipient of additional merit scholarships, Kendra served as an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow in geology and also pursued research. With Professor Dennis Newell, the URCO grant awardee investigates and interprets climate fluctuations using the chronology and isotope geochemistry of Tibetan hot spring travertine deposits. Following graduation, Kendra hopes to work with the National Park Service in Capitol Reef National Park and pursue graduate studies.

Southwestern Utah native Corey Kimzey currently resides in the West African nation of Benin, where he and his wife, Lisa Ott, also a USU student, are working to set up small export ventures to benefit Beninese craftspeople. Kimzey became acquainted with the French-speaking republic while serving an LDS mission and, later, while conducting spatial analysis of malaria diagnostic testing throughout the coastal nation.

Guided by USU faculty mentor Jürgen Symanzik, Kimzey praises the university’s dedication to undergrad research. The URCO grant recipient is currently weighing offers from several graduate programs, from which he plans to earn a doctoral degree in statistics. A 2011 graduate of Utah’s Pine View High School, Kimzey is the son of Kerry and Kim Kimzey of Washington, Utah.

CoS Faculty and Staff Awards

Zach Gompert in an evolutionary biologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and College of Science at USU. He earned his PhD from the University of Wyoming in 2012.

His research combines field studies, lab experiments, genomics, and computational methods to explore the ways in which populations adapt and new species evolve. He is well known for both his empirical work on plant-feeding insects, and for developing theory and methods for genomic data analysis.

During his relatively short career, Gompert has developed an internationally recognized research program. He has published 65 peer-reviewed articles which have been cited over 3000 times. Gompert's work has appeared in many top journals including Science, PNAS, Current Biology, Ecology Letters, PLoS Biology, and Nature Ecology & Evolution. His research has also been featured in the popular press, including the New York Times and Salt Lake Tribune.

Gompert is currently funded by the National Science Foundation's Dimensions of Biodiversity program. This project investigates the relationship between multiple components of biodiversity and the evolution of novel interactions among plants (alfalfa), insects, and microbes, and will answer the fundamental question: what role does biodiversity play in the evolution and maintenance of novel interactions?

Susannah French is an associate professor of biology at Utah State University. Dr. French received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in 2002 and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University in 2006. She was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Indiana University before she joined the Biology faculty at USU in 2009. Her research group currently includes four Ph.D. students and an army of undergraduates, who are invaluable to her work. Dr. French’s group is widely published in a variety of journals and has received funding from the National Science Foundation, United State Geological Survey, and National Geographic. Through the NSF Faculty Early Career “CAREER” Award, Dr. French has initiated a new undergraduate research training program for science teaching majors at USU.

Dr. French studies reptiles in Utah, The Bahamas, and the Galapagos Islands, to better understand how animals interact with their environments to allocate energy among physiological systems vital to health, survival, and reproduction. Environmental disturbances, including those caused by humans, can alter energy balance and result in significant health and survival consequences. By using a variety of methods in the laboratory and the field, she is working to understand how species respond and hopefully adapt to environmental changes.

During his nearly 30‐year career with Utah State, Ted Evans has established himself as a calm, gracious contributor to a myriad of assignments in the service of students, colleagues and the community. A professor in the Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center, Ted also serves an Extension specialist in entomology. A highly valued graduate mentor and teacher, students praise his legendary field ecology class, which serves many students in science, natural resources and agriculture.

In addition to service on 90 graduate student committees and 28 tenure and promotion advisory committees, Ted has chaired three faculty search committees. Beyond his college and department, he chaired the USU Faculty Senate Budget Committee and the Faculty Welfare Committee. At a point when most reach service fatigue and plead for relief, Ted enthusiastically lends a hand and always has a kind word for students, staff and fellow faculty members. For the past six years, Ted has served as the Biology Department representative to Science Unwrapped, the College of Science’s public outreach program. In this capacity, he works with an advisory group to plan speakers and events for people of all ages to spark their interest in science. Unbeknownst to most, Ted is always one of the last committee members to leave each Friday night event, typically attended by 400 people, and cheerfully cleans up the leavings of rambunctious learning activities.

An assistant professor at USU Uintah Basin in Vernal, Ben Burger has taught distance education classes in geology since 2011. Prior to joining USU, he worked in the oil and gas fields of northeastern Utah, organized fossil collections at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and conducted paleontology fieldwork across the American West. He earned a doctoral degree in geology from the University of Colorado and a master’s degree in anatomy from Stony Brook University.

Ben teaches courses ranging from paleontology, dinosaurs, the history of Earth and sedimentology to petroleum geology and physical science. He’s developed hundreds of science videos to help his students. His innovative teaching styles, designed to accommodate learning both on and off campus, are praised by his students, who describe Ben as enthusiastic, accessible and genuinely interested in his students’ success. In addition to students from small communities throughout Utah, Ben has welcomed students from overseas, including Romania and Korea.

Karalee Ransom is the recipient of the 2017 College of Science Staff Excellence Award in the exempt category. Since 2004, she has been the academic advisor for the Department of Physics for both undergraduate and graduate students. It is noteworthy that, prior to Karalee’s arrival, the department was graduating 5-6 undergraduate majors per year. Now, it’s regularly 20-25, many of whom are female (an unusual situation nationally for the physics field.) Since 2004, undergraduate students from the Department of Physics have received nearly 40 national scholarship and fellowships, and are regularly admitted to excellent graduate programs or secure competitive career placements in research and development. As noted by Department Head Jan Sojka and Professor David Peak, Karalee’s contributions to these students’ educational experiences at USU have been central to their success. Exit interviews with seniors and graduate students consistently cite Karalee’s advisement as the best resource the Department offers for its students.

Monica Schruhl is the recipient of the 2017 College of Science Staff Excellence Award in the non-exempt category. Working in the Department of Biology, Monica is part of the Business Services team in the College of Science. Her responsibilities include purchasing, student employment processing, and payroll. Monica’s work is characterized by exceptional efficiency and problem-solving skills. For example, in her role in purchasing for the Department of Biology, she excels at identifying and negotiating the best purchase price, which results in significant savings for both individual faculty and the department. Monica steps in to help whenever needed and is a tremendous team player. Her supervisors and coworkers note her cheerful, engaging, and helpful approach, as well as her willingness to share her insights and energy for the advancement of USU.

Past Award Winners

Please refer to this page for award winners from the past 35+ years of acheivement ain the College of Science at Utah State University.

Past Awards

Nominate a Candidate

The nomination process for the upcoming round of CoS awards will open up in the fall of 2017.