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Cache Valley Daily Wednesday, Jun. 20, 2018

USU Biochemist is on the Cutting Edge of Nitrogen Research

Utah State University biochemist Dr. Lance Seefeldt says that life-giving nitrogen holds the key to sustaining life beyond nonrenewable fossil fuel energy. He and 16 other experts in nitrogen research gathered in Washington, D.C. to discuss the current field of nitrogen activation chemistry. ... Scientists a hundred years ago pioneered a process to break nitrogen’s ultra-strong bonds to enable production of fertilizer which radically grew the global food supply. But that process consumes about two percent of the world’s fossil fuel supply. Dr. Seefeldt and his team have already pioneered efforts toward a clean and renewable light-driven process for converting nitrogen to ammonia, which is a primary component of fertilizer. ... Dr. Seefeldt says demonstrating how sunlight or artificial light can power nitrogen fixation is a potential game-changer.

The Utah Statesman Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2018

Utah Statesman Wins Best Newspaper in Statewide Journalism Competition

On Thursday, the Utah Headliners chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists announced its 2018 Utah Honors recipients for media organizations across the state of Utah. The SPJ awards has two divisions among newspapers within Utah, with The Utah Statesman competing in the B division against newspapers such as Utah Policy and the Daily Utah Chronicle. The Utah Statesman won 12 awards out of 78 possible, four of them being first place.  Utah State Journalism and Communications’ professor Matthew LaPlante, along with his co-writer Carolina Peña, also received the Quintus C. Wilson Ethics Award. Their reporting focused on a dangerous crisis in El Salvador, sharing the stories of families who send their children on a journey to the United States to seek refuge from the violence that currently plagues the country in Central America. Physically being in El Salvador and reporting stories on families that are potentially in danger raised ethical questions concerning the use of aliases, photographs, and taking the steps necessary to protect both themselves, and their sources from harm.

Journal of Ecology Sunday, Jun. 17, 2018

Ecologists Say Dispersal Ability Linked to Plants' Life Cycles

Though mostly rooted in the ground, plants have a number of innovative ways to disperse their seeds and get on with the business of propagation. ... "Seed dispersal is an essential, yet overlooked process of plant demography," says Utah State University ecologist Noelle Beckman. "But it's difficult to empirically observe, measure and assess its full influence." To that end, Beckman, with colleagues James Bullock of the United Kingdom's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and Rob Salguero-Gómez of the University of Oxford, used the massive COMPADRE Plant Matrix Database, an online repository containing demographic information about thousands of plant species throughout the world, to analyze hundreds of disparate datasets of plant life-history strategies. The team reports their findings in the June 18, 2018, issue of the Journal of Ecology. Their paper is part of a special British Ecological Society cross-journal feature that provides an overview of forces and mechanisms producing worldwide plant and animal diversity. Their research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the Australian Research Council and the U.K.'s Natural Environment Research Council. "Our analyses revealed plant life-history strategies are largely explained by growth, survival and reproduction, and by how far plants disperse their seeds," says Beckman, assistant professor in USU's Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center." The scientists found dispersal ability is related to fast life histories with maximum dispersal distances positively related to high reproductive rates, a long window of reproduction and a low likelihood of escaping senescence or growing old. ... Dispersal, she says, is a central process in ecology and evolution.

Deseret News Sunday, Jun. 17, 2018

USU Lab Snags Grant to Develop Spider Silk

Researchers at Utah State University in Logan received a grant of $420,000 from the U.S. Navy Division of Unconventional Warfare aimed at designing and developing synthetic spider silk material that could be used to fight enemy targets during military combat. ... Funded through the Utah Science Technology and Research initiative, the USU Synthetic Spider Silk Lab will also apply silk manufacturing technology to enable the commercial-scale production of other biomaterials, explained Randy Lewis, professor of biology and lab director. ... "Part of the project is to develop a material that will replace Kevlar for being able to enwrap the propeller," he said. ... The project has three major aims that will benefit the U.S. Navy and advance the lab's research, he said. ... "This is a great opportunity for USU because this project will allow us to continue to develop our knowledge of synthetic silk production and applications," he said. ... The grant is for one year, with opportunities for follow-up funding, he noted.

Deseret News Saturday, Jun. 16, 2018

Professor Hopes to Save Rare Walnut Tree on Development Site

A Utah State University professor is hoping to save a massive walnut tree in Ogden threatened by potential development. The Standard-Examiner reports the English walnut tree is 85 feet tall with a massive canopy spread of 100 feet. Its trunk is 18 feet and 7 inches in circumference. Utah State University Professor Mike Kuhns says its size surpasses the biggest English walnut tree in the state currently on record. ... The tree sits on a lot owned by the Ogden City Redevelopment Agency. Kuhns fears future development in the area may kill the tree. The city says it's aware of how rare the tree is, but can't make any promises about its future.

Herald Journal Saturday, Jun. 16, 2018

USU to Open its Own Chocolate Factory

A new chocolate factory is coming. Utah State University announced this week it will open such a facility, the first of its kind for any university in the Western United States. “I don’t see it so much as putting our university ahead of others, as much as we can be a resource for those within the chocolate community, within an academic setting,” Steve Shelton, manager of the USU Chocolate Factory. ... A soft opening for the factory, housed inside the student residence hall Blue Square, is expected in the middle of next month, and a grand opening is scheduled for the coming fall semester. ... The USU Chocolate Factory will be used for teaching, research and outreach. ... USU is also thinking about offering courses to members of the community to teach them about chocolate and the factory could be integral in that, according to Silvana Martini, associate professor in the department of nutrition, dietetics and food sciences. ... In addition, USU hopes to open a “Chocolate Cafe” that will make a variety of products, including drinks, bars and pastries — all from the chocolate made from the factory.

Herald Journal Thursday, Jun. 14, 2018

USU Graduate Student Helps Produce Feature Film

Last fall, Utah State University student Matthew Havertz was studying hard and feeling the stress. But he got a chance to relieve that stress in a special way: with some bragging rights.Havertz went down to Kayesville and watched the premiere of a movie he helped produce, called “Before Your Time” — which is set to make its Cache Valley debut on Friday. ... “Before Your Time” was filmed entirely in Davis County, owing to the fact that the film’s director, Lucas McGraw, lives there. He made the film under the company Community Film Project with the intent to make movies within his community. McGraw said the initiative could eventually expand to other counties in Utah, including Cache and Rich. For Havertz, being involved with the making of the movie dovetails with his work as a graduate student, studying instructional technology and learning sciences. “My thesis is on whether inserting stories into instructional videos produces a more effective rate of learning … or helps people retain information better than if you didn’t have stories,” he said. Havertz has produced videos for Bridgerland Technical College and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and hopes to be a full-time video producer one day.

Herald Journal Wednesday, Jun. 13, 2018

USU Students Use VR to Develop Powder Mountain Resort Concept

A Utah State University professor and his students used drones and a virtual reality program to develop a new resort concept for Powder Mountain, a popular skiing destination that straddles Cache and Weber counties. Over the last year, Benjamin George, assistant professor of landscape architecture and environmental planning, plus three graduate students used products from Intel and Puget Systems to create the conceptual resort in a way many design firms might not risk. ... George said Powder Mountain approached USU last year with the idea to design a new resort after it was purchased by Summit Mountain Holding Group. ... Sam Arthur, director of design for Powder Mountain, said the goal is to “create a forward-thinking alpine town that helps people to be able to recreate more than just in the winter.” ... “Virtual reality gives you this sense of being somewhere; it immerses you, and you have this really good spacial awareness of everything,” George said. ... According to LAEP student Drew Hill, the high-resolution 3D terrain from the drone was then put into a virtual reality program for site analysis and concept design so the LAEP students could design right on top of the model in 3D. Several high-powered computers from Puget Systems also helped. ... Now that the Powder Mountain project is behind them, George and his LAEP students are turning their attention to other projects, like a charter school in Providence, using the same methods as before.

Deseret News Tuesday, Jun. 12, 2018

USU Professor Awarded Fulbright Grant

Shireen Keyl, assistant professor at Utah State University's campus in Ephraim, has been awarded a Fulbright grant to teach and perform research for one year at the University of Jordan in Amman. ... A major focus of her research will be to examine the educational experiences of students who take English as a foreign language classes in higher education. ... At USU, Keyl teaches undergraduate and graduate level education courses, training current and future teachers, especially those within Utah. ... Upon her return in June 2019, she will continue as a faculty member of USU’s School of Teacher and Education Leadership, where she is on track for tenure.

KSL Sunday, Jun. 10, 2018

'Hero' Students May Have Prevented Campus Tragedy, USU Police Say

Students at Utah State University may have averted a tragedy. When things weren’t adding up with a classmate, they did the right thing. It’s a case where students did everything right. Even though their classmate became angry, they still reported his suspicious behavior to police. ...  "He wanted them to buy gun parts, and he was willing to pay for them so that he could go undetected, which is very disconcerting as a restricted person himself," said USU Campus Police Chief Mike Keuhn. ... Campus police did some digging and found O’Connor was out on bail for vandalism and weapon charges in California. ... Because the USU students spoke up, Thursday a California judge revoked his bail. O’Connor is now back behind bars in San Jose. ... that’s what preventing violence is all about, is making sure we stand up when we see something we’re not comfortable with," said Amanda DeRito, with Utah State University. Police say what the students did was exemplary. ... USU has a campus-wide program beginning with incoming freshman where they teach students that if you see something, say something. In this case, they believe it may have saved lives.

Herald Journal Saturday, Jun. 09, 2018

USU Art Collection Owes A Lot to George Wanlass

George Wanlass’s family tree is an impressive one, connecting him to some historical Cache Valley figures and arts benefactors whose names can be seen on the buildings of today’s Utah State University campus. Wanless is the great-grandson of John T. Caine II, one of the “founding fathers” of Utah State University. He’s also the son of Kathryn Caine Wanlass, the late boundless arts donor, and the nephew of Nora Eccles Harrison. Speaking of Harrison, Wanlass has been the chief collector of artwork for the USU museum named after his aunt Nora, or “Aunt Nonie,” as he liked to call her. Museum professional Bolton Colburn said Wanlass’s approach to collecting comes with an understanding that “the significance of work is not tied to its monetary value.” ... The Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art opened in 1982 and has come to house works of all kinds from artists throughout the American West. ... Wanlass answered questions from The Herald Journal via email about his life and the USU museum.

Deseret News Friday, Jun. 08, 2018

Utah Farmers' Dreams Drying Up: 'We Will Run Out of Water'

Zack Jensen is an eighth-generation farmer and rancher who is learning how to grow optimism this year because the drought has left him with little other choice. ... Jensen says irrigation company records show it hasn't been this dry in Sanpete County in 41 years. ... Multiple counties across the state made an emergency disaster declaration because of the low water year and dry conditions. ... "The future is very dismal," said Norman Johnson, from the San Juan County Water Conservancy District. ... Across these most severely affected counties in Utah, the $332 million hay and alfalfa industry is taking a hit. "Alfalfa is the No. 1 crop of Utah," said Earl Creech, an agronomist with Utah State University's Extension Service. ... The drought has farmers making tough choices. ... Pastures are drying up as well. ... It's a different story for other parts of the state. Most northern Utah reservoirs are close to full. ... Creech said funding from the Utah Legislature is kick-starting new research from USU looking at alternative crops and ways to get water to crops more efficiently. "It's heartbreaking. There is really nothing you can do about it. It's the weather," he said. "You just sit there and watch your crops burn up."

Herald Journal Thursday, Jun. 07, 2018

Logan Celebrates Installation of New Environmental Observatory

During a sunny day with temperatures well into the 80s, people of all ages descended on the Logan Library plaza Thursday afternoon to watch the unveiling of a new environmental observatory. ... The instrument, developed by Utah State University, Apogee Instruments and Campbell Scientific, provides continuous real-time weather data for downtown Logan. USU Professor Bruce Bugbee, who is also a founder of Apogee, said the environmental observatory joins a network of others like it all over Cache Valley. ... A plaque explaining the components of the environmental observatory, how it is used and a brief history of weather measurement is included. ... Paul Campbell, former president of Campbell Scientific, said he hopes the environmental observatory is inspiring to library patrons and becomes a symbol for the importance of science, technology, engineering and math in the community. ... Logan Library Director Karen Clark praised USU and the companies involved for making the environmental observatory. ... In an interview, Bugbee said the idea for the environmental observatory came about a year and a half ago, during discussions with then-Logan Mayor Craig Petersen.

Herald Journal Thursday, Jun. 07, 2018

UofU President Watkins Visits USU, Touts Collaborations

Students might not care for getting up early, but when you’re a university president, it comes with the territory.  That was certainly true on Thursday for University of Utah President Ruth Watkins, who visited Utah State University as part of her “Ruth 66 University for Utah Tour.” Watkins, along with a group of UofU officials, met with USU President Noelle Cockett and officials from her school to share ideas. ...  “Certainly Utah State, as our research university partner, is a very valued colleague in the effort to raise higher education in the state and also to generate and disseminate knowledge,” Watkins said.  She believes the partnership between the two schools is good for the state and “raises us all.” ... Another way the UofU and USU can work together is securing funding, Watkins said. ... Neil Abercrombie, vice president of government relations at USU, attended the meeting with Watkins on Thursday and was impressed. ... “I think over the next few years we will … collaborate in areas that will improve student wellness, enhance critical research, and lead economic development opportunities for the state of Utah.” ... The purpose of Watkin’s trip was twofold, she said. One was for UofU officials to talk to higher education colleagues so they can find “what we can do together.” Another goal of the trip was to visit some of the major employers of the region who have hired UofU graduates and get some feedback from them.

Utah Public Radio Thursday, Jun. 07, 2018

Waste Storage is the Real Risk of Nuclear Power, USU Lecturer Says

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. ... 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. ... Tonya Triplett is a principal lecturer of physics at Utah State University. Before coming to USU, she taught at the United States Navy’s nuclear power school. ... When it comes to nuclear power, Triplett said people often focus on the risk of a nuclear disaster, rather than the logistics of processing the waste. ... “The real risk from this nuclear power plant is not that it might one day blow up,” Triplett said. “What is real is that we have a refusal to deal with the waste. ... “We know that failing to reprocess results in large amounts of material that need long term care, instead of small amounts of material,” Triplett said. “We can talk about the consequence of any of our other forms of energy and ask ourselves if we are willing to bear that consequence into the future.”

Herald Journal Wednesday, Jun. 06, 2018

USU Research Vice President, Dean Leaving for Portland State

In 2011, Mark McLellan was a stranger to Utah when he was hired on as Utah State University’s vice president for research and dean of the School of Graduate Studies, ... At the time, USU had restructured to house its research and graduate student efforts under one roof, and McLellan, hailing from big-name schools like University of Florida, remembers then-President Stan Albrecht telling him he wanted to “try to make some magic happen here” with that new integrated approach. ... Those were reflective words from the outgoing USU administrator, who was announced Tuesday as Portland State University’s next vice president of research. ... All in all, PSU seemed attractive to McLellan. ... PSU President Rahmat Shoueshi told colleagues in a letter that he looked forward to having McLellan as part of the university’s team and that the USU administrator would “enable us to actualize our vision for PSU becoming a global urban research university.” As for USU, McLellan likes to think he took the university from being a “well-kept secret” into something more. “Since then, we have really tried to push awareness of our programs,” he said. ... On the research front, McLellan said not only has the university seen record back-to-back years of funding, but it has bolstered its apparatus to help make research possible. “We’ve had a spectacular run with research; it’s been great fun,” McLellan said.

Herald Journal Wednesday, Jun. 06, 2018

USU Restructures Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Office

Utah State University has decided to break up the roles of a senior Title IX official who quietly resigned last month, as well as hire a new employee who will spearhead student engagement programs to help prevent sexual misconduct on campus. ... One of those changes to USU’s affirmative action/equal opportunity office is the appointment of Dale Andersen, an attorney in USU’s general counsel office, who will fill in the director position of that office until a permanent employee is found. Andersen is serving alongside Scott Bodily, interim Title IX coordinator. ... “The Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity office oversees many important functions. The implementation of Title IX is complex, and splitting out Title IX oversight under one position will facilitate improved coordination across campus,” DeRito wrote. “The new director of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity will also offer additional oversight and support for the Title IX Coordinator.” ... DeRito told the newspaper that USU will conduct searches for AA/EO director, Title IX coordinator and a prevention specialist — a new position.

Herald Journal Monday, Jun. 04, 2018

High Schoolers Descend on USU for Engineering State

More than 200 high school students from all over the country are spending the week at Utah State University for a summer camp called Engineering State, where they’ll get a taste of the life of an engineering student. ... Utah State’s College of Engineering teaches seven different disciplines of engineering, ranging from biological engineering to mechanical and aerospace engineering. ... “The whole point of Engineering State is to introduce engineering to these young people,” said Matt Jensen, public relations officer at the College of Engineering at USU. ... The camp is designed for students who will be seniors in the fall. Throughout the four-day experience, they learn about college life along with engineering. ... Students stay in the dorms together and get a window into how college students in Logan live, from eating at campus dining halls to kayaking at First Dam. ... Engineering State is designed to give high school students the chance to experience engineering hands-on through activities called “challenge sessions.” ... There are a total of 20 challenge sessions offered at Engineering State. ... “As far as we can tell, we’re the only school in Utah, and perhaps the region, that offers a summer camp like this,” Jensen said.

PhysOrg Friday, Jun. 01, 2018

Utah State Spider Silk Lab Awarded Navy Grant Aimed at Maritime Defense

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. That's what nonlethal Maritime Vessel Stopping Occlusion Technologies or 'MVSOT,' the official name for these types of devices, are intended to do. USU's Utah Science, Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative-funded Synthetic Spider Silk Lab is the recipient of a $420,000 grant from the U.S. Navy Division of Unconventional Warfare aimed at designing and developing these devices, as well as applying USU silk manufacturing technology to enable commercial-scale production of other biomaterials. ... "This project has three major aims that will benefit the Navy and advance our research," says Randy Lewis, professor in USU's Department of Biology and lab director. ... "This is a great opportunity for USU, because this project will allow us to continue to develop our knowledge of synthetic silk production and applications," Lewis says. ... The grant is for one year, with opportunities for follow-on funding. ... The scientist, who joined USU in 2011, adds he's grateful to USTAR – the state-funded Utah Science and Technology and Research economic development initiative – for providing funding for his research.

Herald Journal Wednesday, May. 30, 2018

Spin Cancels Pilot for Scooters at USU

Spin, the California-based company known for the orange rental bikes recently introduced to Logan, has abruptly concluded a pilot program for electric scooter sharing it was conducting at Utah State University. Fifteen scooters had been on campus since last Friday, but after university officials told them that school policy prohibits the use of motorized scooters on any walkway, Spin put the brakes on the program. “These issues were brought to our attention today, and because we are always sensitive to the concerns of our university and city partners, we took immediate action to end the scooter pilot,” stated Ted Sweeney, Spin’s campus partnership lead, in a prepared release. ... Spin’s decision came the same day representatives were on campus to get members of the community interested in the scooters, capable of speeds up to 15.5 miles per hour. ... Sweeney said the pilot program was intended to be “a short-term, small experiment to understand demand for scooter-share in a campus setting.”

Utah Public Radio Wednesday, May. 30, 2018

Utah State University Extension Fighting Hunger Among Senior Citizens

According to the United States census, almost 15 percent of Utah senior citizens are facing hunger. With seniors making up 10 percent of Salt Lake County’s population, one program is providing fresh produce to fight hunger with over 3,800 pounds of fresh produce were distributed in 2017. All that fresh produce was enough to feed over 1,500 senior citizens. Katie Wagner is part of the horticulture faculty at Utah State University Extension and helps run the farmer’s market program. She said working together with multiple organizations like Adult and Aging Services and Wheeler Historic Farm, seniors are able to save money and improve their health. ... Wagner said the program is targeting senior centers in areas with a poor socioeconomic status. ... Since all the produce is free, the gardens and farmer’s market for seniors is run by volunteers. ... While a lot of the produce for the seniors comes from land on the Wheeler Historic Farm and the USU Botanical Center, the volunteers even grow fruits and vegetables in their own gardens.

Utah Public Radio Tuesday, May. 29, 2018

Children's Program Teaches Healthy Eating Through Reading and Activities

The Food Fun and Reading course is designed to help children from preschool through second grade learn more about eating well through reading and activities. “It’s a really fun program. I think children and parents are really going to enjoy it," said Darlene Christensen, an associate extension professor at Utah State University. “It promotes My Plate and nutrition. So each activity they read a book that’s related to one of the food groups. Then they make a snack that’s related to that food group and do some sort of fun, little physical activity.” Part of the process of organizing the program was selecting the children’s books used for each food group. ... After each class, children are given a take-home activity, along with nutrition information for their parents. “Our goal is not only for the children to enjoy it, but also for them to take it home and have the parents to have some information," Christensen said.

Utah Public Radio Tuesday, May. 29, 2018

Scooters Added to Ride-Share Program in Cache Valley

Spin scooters are now available to rent in Cache Valley. The ride-share company partnered with Aggie Blue Bikes to launch the pilot program lasting through mid- July. This gives the company an opportunity to gauge the level of interest in the community and potentially make the program permanent in Cache Valley. “It’s going to be a fun thing to watch,” said Carter Moore, a mechanic at Aggie Blue Bikes. ... They work the same way as the bikes do. You download the Spin app, locate a nearby scooter with the app’s GPS system, and scan the QR code on the scooter to start your ride. Once you’re done, you lock the scooter and you are automatically charged based on the length of your ride. Unlike the spin bikes around town, the scooters are slightly more expensive to rent and are powered electrically. “They have to stay on campus, so they won’t be commuting tools," Moore said. ... Cache Valley’s push to alternative transportation highlights issues for bike and scooter commuters.

Herald Journal Tuesday, May. 29, 2018

Summer Citizens Program Sees Increase in Participants

During a welcoming orientation on Tuesday, Jill and Dave Windahl were among the few who stood up in the packed Taggart Student Center Ballroom indicating they were newcomers to Utah State University’s Summer Citizens program. ... Summer Citizens, founded in 1976, is a program for seniors that allows them to take courses from Utah State University professors and explore what Cache Valley and Utah have to offer. Though the concept never changed over the last 42 years, USU officials are touting good news and some of the program’s new offerings. Linda D’Addabbo, program coordinator for Summer Citizens, said the program has 783 registered participants this year. That’s more than a 100-person jump from the year before, she said. ... While recruitment for Summer Citizens is holding steady, she said, the program is retaining elements that work well and adding new things, too.

Herald Journal Tuesday, May. 29, 2018

USU's Former Title IX Director Resigned Earlier this Month

Utah State University’s former Title IX director, who was removed from the position amid the results of an investigation into the school’s music program, has resigned from employment at the school. Stacy Sturgeon stepped down as of May 18, Tim Vitale, USU’s director of public relations and marketing, told The Herald Journal on Tuesday. Sturgeon was recently listed on the school’s website as an affirmitive action/equal opportunity specialist, but her name there and in the USU directory was later removed. ... But after an outside investigation released last month concluded that USU’s Title IX office “did little” to address claims from multiple former students — who said they experienced sexual assault, gender discrimination, harassment and verbal abuse while studying piano at the university — there were signs that Sturgeon could be on her way out. ... Sturgeon is the latest USU employee to leave after the piano program scandal that also saw the retirement of its director, Gary Amano, a calling for sanctions on USU Professor Dennis Hirst and that an unamed faculty member should not rejoin Youth Conservatory or the Piano Clinic.

PhysOrg Friday, May. 25, 2018

Top Nitrogen Researchers Imagine World Beyond Fossil Fuels

Life-giving nitrogen flows all around us and, according to Utah State University biochemist Lance Seefeldt and other top scientists, it holds the key to sustainability beyond nonrenewable energy. The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences gathered Seefeldt and 16 other experts in nitrogen research in Washington, D.C. for an October 2016 summit to discuss the current field of nitrogen activation chemistry and its future directions. The team reports their conclusions in a review article in the May 25, 2018, issue of the journal Science. "This gathering was a 'Who's Who' of nitrogen research," says Seefeldt, professor in USU's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, an American Academy for the Advancement of Science Fellow and a co-chair of the gathering. "Our group included Nobel Laureate Robert Schrock and the culmination of our efforts is truly a tour de force. No one of us, individually, could have written this report." ... Seefeldt and his USU team, whose research is supported by the DOE, have already pioneered efforts toward a clean and renewable light-driven process for converting nitrogen to ammonia, a primary component of fertilizer. "Our research on this process, which uses nanomaterials to capture light energy, demonstrates how sunlight or artificial light can power nitrogen fixation," Seefeldt says. "It a potential game-changer."

Cache Valley Daily Thursday, May. 24, 2018

Bike-Share Program Proving Popular

It’s hard to miss the hundreds of orange-colored bicycles on Utah State’s campus, in downtown Logan and scattered throughout the city, but many still don’t know why they are here or how to use them.They are part of a new bike-share program called Spin. The company is based out of San Francisco, but Joyride Bicycles is helping to manage it locally. Chuck Jenkins, a mechanic at Joyride, helps monitor and maintain the 280 or so bicycles. He said the program is catching on and people are realizing how easy it is to use. He said to use one, you just have to download the Spin app and save your payment information into your phone. From there, whenever you want to use a bike, you just point your phone and scan the code. “It just unlocks the bike and off you go,” Jenkins said.

UB Media Tuesday, May. 22, 2018

USU-Uintah Basin Holds First Earth Observation and GIS Event

Utah State University-Uintah Basin (USU) hosted an Earth Observation and GIS (geographic information system) day for local high school students. Students had the opportunity to learn about the earth through a variety of mediums and sources. The all-day event held Tuesday, May 8 featured three breakout sessions from the Utah Geographic Information Council (UGIC). “We appreciate the Quinney College of Natural Resources and the Utah Geographic Information Council for supporting youth outreach in our community,” stated James Y. Taylor, USU-Uintah Basin’s executive director. “This was a great opportunity for high school students to start exploring career pathways aligned with their interests that provide value to our local community.” Chris McGinty of USU led the Remote Sensing and Earth Observation breakout. ... David Henrie of Utah County led the GIS and Online Mapping breakout. ... Phoebe McNeally of the University of Utah led the GPS and Data Collection breakout.

Utah Public Radio Monday, May. 21, 2018

Weather Perceptions Linked to Belief in Climate Change, Study Shows

According to new research out of Utah State University, perceiving local weather as warmer or colder than normal is strongly connected to our pre-existing beliefs in climate change. Through collaborations with the University of Bergen and the Norwegian Citizen Panel, Howe collected survey data from a representative group of Norway citizens to understand the relationship between belief in climate change, and perceptions of whether the temperature and precipitation patterns deviated from normal. "We also found a pretty strong relationship between what people thought about global climate change more broadly and what they said they had experienced in terms of the weather at the local level," said Peter Howe, an assistant professor of geography at Utah State University. ... A larger implication of Howe’s research is that people’s opinions about climate change can be a barrier to them responding and adapting to direct climate change impacts. ... Howe’s continuing research focuses on how people think about and respond to extreme weather events that are related to climate change.

Deseret News Friday, May. 18, 2018

10,000 Kids See Physics in Motion at Lagoon

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. “One of the best things, I think, for these kids is that they come down and see 10,000 other geeks, and they think, ‘Being a nerd is maybe not so bad,’” said J.R. Dennison, a professor in Utah State University's physics department and one of the event's coordinators. For one day every year, middle and high school students from around Utah and neighboring states converge on the theme park to put skills they've learned in the classroom to the test and to see physics in motion during what may be the most fun day in science class. Several activities took place Friday, including an egg drop contest, accelerometer contest, physics demonstration design contest, futuristic ride design contest, physics quiz bowl and robotics contests. ... For Dennison, the physics professor who helped organize the event almost 30 years ago, seeing so many kids have fun and learn physics at the same time is "a lot of fun." ... He said many teachers use the day at Lagoon as a reward to help motivate their students to sign up for physics classes and remain interested in the subject.

Herald Journal Friday, May. 18, 2018

Regents Approve New 'President Emeritus' Policy

The Board of Regents appointed Noelle Cockett Utah State University president, but even after she steps down, she could have a new title thanks to the board. The Regents approved a new policy Friday allowing them to give former college and university leaders who meet certain criteria “president emeritus” status. The board then named David Pershing, the recently departed president of the University of Utah, its first president emeritus.Dave Buhler, Utah’s commissioner of higher education, told members of the board during its meeting at Salt Lake Community College that the new policy would provide a “system approach … on occasion, when appropriate,” a way to honor presidents who have done good work for their institutions. Melanie Heath, communications director for the Utah System of Higher Education, told The Herald Journal that the president emeritus recognition "will be designated from the Board of Regents moving forward." ... According to the policy, the title can last for a lifetime for a former president, but the board has “sole discretion” to rescind it.

Cache Valley Daily Thursday, May. 17, 2018

USU Athletic Director Discusses the Future of the Spectrum

The USU basketball team played its first game in the Spectrum on Dec. 1, 1970. In the almost 48 years since, the 10,270-seat arena has hosted men’s and women’s basketball, gymnastics meets, volleyball matches, concerts, commencement exercises, religious meetings and more. But there are challenges that come with the age of the venue that need to be solved, USU Athletic Director John Hartwell said, and it will likely happen through major renovations or by building a new arena. ... The issues include limited concourse space for restroom and concessions areas, uncomfortable seating, tight legroom and seat accessibility. He said that USU’s fan base, like many others, is aging. The lack of mid-level portals makes it difficult for those with limited mobility. “We are kind of with a blank canvas looking at a whole lot of opportunities,” he said. “We’ve gotten some preliminary estimates, and quite frankly, there is not a huge cost difference between a renovation of the Spectrum and a whole new facility.” ... Changes likely won’t happen soon. The topic is being discussed, Hartwell said, but nothing is in the works, yet.

Utah Public Radio Wednesday, May. 16, 2018

Professor Responds to Staff Cuts at Tribune and Ogden Standard-Examiner

Major cuts in news room jobs at both the Ogden Standard-Examiner last week and Salt Lake Tribune on Monday have prompted many conversations about the future of Utah journalism. UPR’s Matilyn Mortensen visited with Matthew LaPlante, an assistant professor of journalism at Utah State University and former Tribune reporter, to ask him about the impacts these cuts may have on local reporting moving forward and how he hopes the public reacts to the situation.

Cache Valley Daily Wednesday, May. 16, 2018

Research at USU Underway to Design New Military Aircraft

Utah State University faculty member Dr. Doug Hunsaker is starting a three year study in aerodynamics research aimed at developing the next generation of military aircraft. He said tomorrow’s combat aircraft will be more efficient and quieter and will likely have no tails. ... The plan for the first two years of research is set.”We will be doing a lot of computer simulations, a lot of the analytical development of these relationships between controllability and geometry of the aircraft. "Then the final year we actually hope to build a demonstrator, so this will be a small drone-sized aircraft, maybe eight or ten-foot wingspan that will demonstrate this technology. ... Hunsaker’s research is supported by a $510,000 grantfrom the Office of Naval Research.

Deseret News Tuesday, May. 15, 2018

USU Names New Engineering Dean

Longtime Utah State University professor and administrator Jagath Kaluarachchi has been selected as the new dean of the College of Engineering.Kaluarachchi, who has served as the college’s interim dean since July 2016, will officially step into a permanent role on July 1. Kaluarachchi initially joined the engineering faculty at USU in 1991. He served as an associate dean from 2007-12, as senior associate dean from 2012-16 and head of the biological engineering department from 2014-16. ... Kaluarachchi was an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at USU from 1991-95, an associate professor from 1995-2001 and has served as a professor since 2001.

Herald Journal Monday, May. 14, 2018

USU, Rocky Mountain Power Celebrate Partnership on Electric Vehicles

USU’s electric vehicle test track is getting a little boost from the power company. ... “We’re not just an island of ourselves,” Mark McLellan, USU’s vice president for research and dean of the school of Graduate Studies, said in remarks during an event on Monday. “We really are connected in bringing people together.” That was certainly true when USU officials and executives from Rocky Mountain Power cut the ribbon for three new electric vehicle chargers at the USU Electric Vehicle and Roadway Research Facility & Test Track. The EVR facility houses another USU initiative, Sustainable Electrified Transportation Center, also known as SELECT, which brings industry and academia together to study electric vehicles. “We’re focused on reducing emissions, improving air quality, doing this cost-effectively and looking at a variety of technologies to accomplish these goals,” Regan Zane, a USU professor and founder of SELECT, said in remarks. ... USU has also been provided funds for a number of initiatives associated with Rocky Mountain Power, including Live Electric, according to Zane. “The Live Electric relationship we have with USU is tied to a Department of Energy contract,” he said in remarks. ... “Traditionally, utilities don’t do research,” said James Campbell, legislative policy adviser for Rocky Mountain Power. ... Campbell said the “expertise at Utah State really aligned perfectly” for what Rocky Mountain Power wanted to study.

Deseret News Thursday, May. 10, 2018

Great Salt Lake: A Lake No More?

There are two things the waters of the Great Salt Lake and agricultural lands have in common: they are both in steady, rapid decline. A three-day forum hosted by Friends of the Great Salt Lake at the University of Utah Officers Club is providing an in-depth look at the many challenges and unique attributes of a lake that delivers $1.3 billion in economic output — including the industry and recreation it supports. ... A report from Utah State University shows the waters of the Great Salt Lake have been reduced 48 percent since the arrival of pioneers. ... "We really think there is an urgent need to protect agricultural lands in the face of rapid land use change," said Karin Kettenring from USU's Quinney College of Natural Resources. Kettenring and Joanna Endter-Wada, also from the university's natural resources college, spoke Thursday about the nexus between agricultural land and healthy wetlands — which depend on return flows from agricultural operations. ... Don Leonard, chairman of the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council and chairman and CEO of the Great Salt Lake Brine Shrimp Cooperative, said of nine research projects identified in 2012 related to the lake, eight of those are either complete or underway. The research has taught the scientific community and advocates that there is an abundance of knowledge left to be acquired, but few dollars to carry out those studies. ... The Great Salt Lake Advisory Council solicited ideas to help the Great Salt Lake and stem its decline. ... Many of the top strategies focus on financial compensation for farmers to cut down production during late harvest, expanding the ability to acquire water rights for in- stream flows and a study of dry lake impacts.

Cache Valley Family Magazine Thursday, May. 10, 2018

Stephanie Podgorski: USU Academic Advisor Shapes Students' Lives

Stephanie Podgorski has guided hundreds of Utah State University (USU) students in their quest to become teachers, and on May 31 she’ll retire from her post, leaving a legacy of exemplary service. For nine years, Stephanie has worked as an academic adviser for The School of Teacher Education and Leadership (TEAL) in the College of Education and Human Services at USU. During that time, she has helped and encouraged countless students in their efforts to pursue their goals and overcome obstacles to graduation. ... Denise Taylor, The School of TEAL’s director of advising, has worked with Stephanie over the past nine years and says Stephanie exemplifies the best. “She is someone who goes above and beyond to help all students succeed,” Denise said. ... Prior to her work as an adviser, Stephanie earned her master’s degree in special education at USU and worked for eight years as a special education teacher in Logan. ... As Stephanie reflects on her professional work, she said it makes her most happy to realize that several of her special education students went on to graduate from college and that many of her USU students overcame challenges to reach their goals. ... “I’m going to miss this position,” she said. “I have met some wonderful, wonderful students, and I work with a great team, and meeting people across campus has been fun. It’s been very rewarding.”

Herald Journal Wednesday, May. 09, 2018

USU Professor of Mormon History and Culture to Retire

A Utah State University professor who was the first to hold an endowed chair in Mormon studies is retiring, the school has announced. Phil Barlow, the Leonard J. Arrington Endowed Chair of Mormon History and Culture, will retire Dec. 31. He has been at USU ever since the chair was created in 2007. In an interview, Barlow said he made the decision to officially step down from working at USU after Brigham Young University — where he has been since going on leave from USU last year — offered him a position at its Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. “I wouldn’t have left USU casually,” Barlow said. “But I have it in me to want a little more time to write some books that I haven’t had time to get at, and this new position is fundamentally a writing and research one instead of a teaching one.” ... “The team has been able to turn … the academic study of religion just from an idea into a flourishing reality,” Barlow said. ... Janelle Hyatt, a public relations and communications coordinator for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said a national search will be conducted to find a replacement for Barlow. Barlow’s successor could be announced by September and join USU by January, she said. ... A reception for Barlow is scheduled for June 9 at the Mormon History Association conference in Boise. On Nov. 1, he will present a public lecture at USU, time and exact place to be determined.

Deseret News Wednesday, May. 09, 2018

USU-Brigham City Gets New Executive Director

Dan Black, a chemistry professor and former science and mathematics division dean at Snow College, has been selected as the new executive director at Utah State University-Brigham City. Black, who received his master’s and doctorate degrees from USU, will oversee the Brigham City, Kaysville and Tremonton regional campuses and centers. He takes over for Tom Lee, who will serve as director of academic programs for USU Regional Campuses and USU Eastern. Black will begin working as executive director June 1. As a part of USU’s first distance cohort in the educational doctoral program, Black experienced firsthand earning a degree in the regional campus system. During his 22-year teaching career, he spent much of his time teaching via internet videoconferencing classes.

PhysOrg Tuesday, May. 08, 2018

Inequality is Normal: Dominance of the Big Trees

The top 1% of the forest has been sharing some vital information with researchers. Ninety-eight scientists and thousands of field staff have concluded the largest study undertaken to date with the Smithsonian Forest Global Earth Observatory (ForestGEO), and what they have found will have profound implications toward ecological theories and carbon storage in forests. Rather than examining tree species diversity in temperate and tropical ecosystems, this global study emphasized forest structure over a vast scale. ... Lead author Jim Lutz, Assistant Professor at Utah State University said, "Big trees provide functions that cannot be duplicated by small or medium-sized trees. They provide unique habitat, strongly influence the forest around them, and store large amounts of carbon." This study has shown that the structure of the forest is as important to consider as species diversity - the largest trees follow their own set of rules. ... Co-author Dan Johnson, Research Associate at Utah State University said, "Having a worldwide group of scientists following the same methods offers us unique opportunities to explore forests at a global scale. This is a really wonderful group of scientists united by a passion for deepening our understanding of forests." ... Co-lead author Tucker Furniss, PhD student at Utah State University said, "The distribution of big trees has not been well explained by theory. Our results emphasize the importance of considering these rare, but disproportionately important ecosystem elements. We clearly need more applied and theoretical research on these important big trees." The researchers also found that the largest trees are representatives of the more common tree species.

Utah Public Radio Tuesday, May. 08, 2018

USU Receives Funding to Expand Campus-Wide Composting

Utah State University is one of 19 universities being awarded the 2017-2018 PepsiCo Recycling Zero Impact Fund. The fund recognizes projects with green initiatives. Alexi Lamm is the sustainability coordinator at USU. She worked with the school's landscaping group and others to write the grant to expand USU’s composting capacity. “So the university has a composter that’s been operating for a few years and it’s been really successful," Lamm said. ... The food waste and wood chips are sourced from USU’s campus to create a rich and organic mulch, used as top-dressing in the university’s garden beds. ... "If we can grind our wood chips up and make them smaller then we can actually create an organic fertilizer that we can spread on the grass,” said Shane Richards, the landscape operations and maintenance manager for USU. With the recent funding, he says the new wood grinder will be added in the next couple weeks. ... The organic soil will replace chemical fertilizer use on campus and is also expected to have added benefits for the soil. ... USU’s sustainability office is also piloting a pre-consumer compost bin on campus in hopes of getting more individuals involved with green efforts.

Cache Valley Daily Tuesday, May. 08, 2018

USU Students Donate Food to Local Pantry

Last week, thousands of students at Utah State University finished their finals and left Cache Valley. Many of them helped hundreds of local families on their way out.Organized by Logan City, bins were placed at five apartment complexes in and around campus. Students were asked to donate any food they didn't want to take home with them. ... "It’s quite a bit," exclaims Cache Community Food Pantry Director Matt Whittaker. ... Whittaker says the food drive has been a great resource for the food pantry and appreciates the efforts by Logan City to facilitate the donations, something they have been doing for about a decade. This year, approximately 1,000 pounds of food were donated. ... With Cache Valley at virtually full employment, the food pantry still provides needed food and services to families. ... He says the food pantry annually receives about 44,000 pounds of food from the Letter Carriers' Stamp Out Hunger food drive.

Utah Public Radio Monday, May. 07, 2018

USU Expert Stresses Origins of Special Collections from Hobby Lobby Purchase

Hobby Lobby, an arts and crafts store, bought more than 5,000 ancient artifacts for $1.6 million. The artifacts were imported against federal law. Hobby Lobby has returned the artifacts to Iraq and paid a fine of $3 million. One expert has advice for collectors on how to stay inside the law. “That’s been an issue with archives and rare books for a long time,” said Daniel Davis, the special collections coordinator at Merrill Cazier Library at Utah State University. ... Hobby Lobby worked with dealers from The United Arab Emirates and Israel. The artifacts were shipped in a series of packages, some of which were eventually intercepted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Hobby Lobby president Steve Green said in a statement that the company “should have exercised more oversight and carefully questioned how the acquisitions were handled.” “Yeah I would say that definitely that he might not have known,” Davis said. ... Davis said collectors need to demand a purchase history of the items. ... The artifacts at Utah State have a clear origin to avoid any problems. ... So we bought them not necessarily in order to create a collection of these, but to use these as a teaching tool.”

Cache Valley Daily Monday, May. 07, 2018

USU-Brigham City Hosting Panel Discussion about Suicide Prevention

If you or someone you know has had suicidal thoughts recently, or if you would like information and training how to help those who have had those thoughts, attend "Teach 2 Reach" Monday evening at the Utah State University-Brigham City Campus. Organized by the Brigham Suicide Prevention Coalition, the event will be held in the Multi-purpose Room from 6-8 p.m. ... Speakers Timothy Curran, Ph.D., Kaitlin Phillips, Ph.D. and Terry Boharsik will be on hand to discuss topics like the importance of communication in your family, how to recognize when a family member may be struggling, where to get help when things are beyond our ability, how to appropriately engage in difficult conversations with family members, and more.

Herald Journal Saturday, May. 05, 2018

USU Student with Cerebral Palsy Graduates with Degree

On Saturday afternoon outside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, Utah State University student Kristen Hone, who has cerebral palsy, sat strapped in her wheelchair as members of her family helped put on her cap and gown for commencement. ... Hone looked happy as she was pushed by a USU accessibility consultant during the march into the Spectrum to be part of graduation from the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services. The occasion was a long-time coming for Hone, who took more than two decades to complete her degree in general studies. ... “Ever since I was a little girl I have wanted to earn a college degree, since my parents earned their degrees,” Hone wrote in an email, which she composed from her wheelchair that has a computer attached to it. ... Hone’s CP is so severe her speech can barely be understood. She must be strapped to a wheelchair or she will fall out, and she needs help daily with many activities people take for granted. ... Hone earned an associate’s degree from Salt Lake Community College, which took her 13 years to complete. Then, after failing to get a waiver into Brigham Young University, Hone enrolled at USU. Studying at the Logan school took her almost ten years. ... “I am very excited to graduate because it has been a lot of hard work over the past twenty-two years,” Hone wrote in an email. “If I can get my BS degree anybody can get their degree.”

Herald Journal Saturday, May. 05, 2018

USU Students Gauge Local Perceptions on Homelessness

Social work students at Utah State University spent the better part of a year looking closely at perceptions of homelessness in Cache Valley in a project that provided real-life experience to students and valuable data to the community. “It started last year with all of the news in Salt Lake City, with Rio Grande." ... said Dr. Jess Lucero, a social work professor and director of the Transforming Communities Initiative. ... “Our mission as an Initiative (TCI) is to bridge the divide between the university and the community and to say, we know there are research needs in the community, we have the capacity to do this on campus, we have students that we are trying to teach to do this and we want to make an impact in the community,” Lucero said. The group works with a stakeholder board made up of local organizations that are dealing directly with homelessness in the valley, like the Bear RIver Association of Governments, Neighborhood Housing Solutions, the Utah Division of Workforce Services and others. According to Lucero, the board partners with social work students to identify the unknowns and the data desired. Then, students work to create a survey, collect the data and analyze the results before taking it all back to the stakeholders. ... people seem to agree that the top two needs in the valley are some kind of emergency shelter and affordable housing. And, there appears to be a willingness to see a shelter somewhere in the valley.

Deseret News Friday, May. 04, 2018

77 Years Later, John Welch Still Aggie Strong

In what may well qualify as some sort of world record, John Welch will sit on the stage in a position of honor Saturday at Utah State University’s graduation exercises — 77 years since he found himself in the very same place.Welch was valedictorian of the USU Class of 1941 and gave the commencement address. In 2018, he is one of four people the university has chosen to receive honorary doctorates. ... “It was Utah State,” says Welch in tribute, “that prepared me for everything that came next.” ... Over the years, the USU bond has never wavered. ... “It was a college education that created the life that I’ve lived.” ... In the valedictory graduation speech he gave on May 31, 1941, he talked about the world war that seemed imminent and the importance of being prepared.The four years of ROTC at Utah State made him a second lieutenant upon graduation. ... A good life? You’ll get no argument from John Welch. To never forget where he came from, he’s hung onto a relic from his past: a long curved knife he once used to harvest sugar beets to help pay for his college tuition. ... All through the years, he’s put it where he could see it. It was in his room during his Utah State undergraduate days. ... “I always kept it as a reminder of why I went to school,” John Welch says.

Herald Journal Friday, May. 04, 2018

USU Students Want to Start Food Waste Project

Some Utah State University students want to start a program to turn food waste into meals for people in Cache Valley. Those students, including Kara Bachman, a freshman majoring in nutrition, dietetics and food sciences, are working on securing funds from an organization called Campus Kitchens that would help them transport the food they make or prepare at USU and send it to the Cache Community Food Pantry. ... The Campus Kitchens Project is a Washington, D.C.-based organization that supports schools nationwide taking food waste from restaurants, groceries stores and elsewhere to turn those into meals and give them to community members in need. USU students say they are able to start a Campus Kitchens Project because their school is willing to lend them kitchen space. ... the USU students could win big in a contest with two other schools — College of Saint Elizabeth and University of Southern Maine — for a grant to help establish the Campus Kitchens Project in Logan. Each school in the competition will receive a $5,000 grant, but the winner will get $1,000 more for Beyond the Meals programming to help address root causes for hunger. ... Bachman hopes to start a Campus Kitchens Project at USU by fall semester.

City of Pocatello News Thursday, May. 03, 2018

"The City of Pocatello and the Portneuf River" Report Released

An award-winning report on what the future may hold for the Portneuf River is available to the public. Recently, students with Utah State University’s Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning program completed their report, The City of Pocatello and the Portneuf River. The 179-page document builds on the 2016 Portneuf River Vision Study with more concepts that combine river restoration and community development. “This report takes our community’s vision for the Portneuf and expands upon that with hundreds of additional drawings and concepts for revitalization efforts along the Portneuf,” said Hannah Sanger, Science and Environment Administrator. ... “It’s already allowing City staff and stakeholders to not only look at the Portneuf with fresh eyes, but also to do a better job tying together our varied economic development, community engagement and river restoration efforts.” The report comes after receiving feedback from the public at an open house in November and comments from a booth at the Portneuf Valley Farmer’s Market in September. ... Last month, students who worked on the paper were awarded an Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects in recognition of outstanding academic achievement for this project. ... “All together, these concepts will provide a masterplan and visuals that will help secure funding for the projects,” Sanger said. The document was developed through a collaboration with the Utah State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture, Idaho State University faculty, local organizations, and City of Pocatello officials.


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