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USU Announces the Evan Millsap Memorial URCO Award

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019

Evan Millsap

The Evan Millsap Memorial URCO Grant has been created to memorialize Millsap a USU graduate who earned a bachelor's in geology in 2018. His involvement in the undergraduate research program at USU set him apart as a talented and passionate student.

Utah State University’s Office of Research and the Geosciences Department have created the first named Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunity (URCO) grant award to honor the memory of a talented young researcher, Evan Dallas Millsap, who unexpectedly passed away earlier this year. Any geoscience URCO proposal that meet the standard that Millsap set in his own research will be awarded an Evan Millsap Memorial URCO Grant. 

Millsap graduated magna cum laude from USU with a bachelor’s in geology in 2018. His involvement in the undergraduate research program at USU set him apart as a talented and passionate student. He was an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow for Carol Dehler, an URCO grant recipient for a research project on quaternary paleontology with Tammy Rittenour in summer 2018, and an inspiring student both in and out of the classroom. 

His many accomplishments as an undergraduate led him to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, where he began a doctoral program in 2018. Millsap was also an accomplished mountaineer and in summer of 2019, he served as a field camp teaching assistant in Denali National Park. It was during this assistantship that Millsap tragically died in a rock-climbing accident. 

Millsap’s passing has deeply impacted both students and faculty at Utah State University. He was more than a student; he was a respected colleague and friend. His URCO mentor, Rittenour, wrote in her letter of support for Millsap’s URCO proposal, “[He] is one of the top 2% of undergraduates that I have worked with. [Millsap] is intelligent, mature, inquisitive, and friendly.” 

The Geosciences Department has commemorated Millsap in the Geology Centennial Rock Garden, an exhibit of rock specimens which Millsap himself helped collect. Joel Pederson, the department head of Geosciences, said that they wanted to honor “the remarkable brightness of Evan’s spirit and intellect.” 

Pat Druckenmiller, a geology professor and director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North, said Millsap was “one of the brightest students I’ve had the opportunity to mentor. He was a real gem. The one year he was here at UAF, he became a real vibrant member of our community.” 

It is this legacy of passion, commitment and brightness of both intellect and spirit that the Evan Millsap Memorial URCO Award will work to preserve. Millsap’s own proposal, “Age control for the Buck Tank Draw mammoth site, Big Water, Utah,” was among the top 30% of submissions in his application cycle. He worked to date sediments at Buck Tank Draw in order to identify the age of mammoth in that region, effectively identifying the oldest dated mammoth in the region. 

While the effect of Millsap’s loss lingers, the vibrancy of his life can be best remembered through Millsap’s own words: “This decade has been gut wrenching, beautiful, fantastic, rewarding, sad and bittersweet, but never boring. I’m so grateful for the journey.” 


  • - Amelia Ashby, Undergraduate Research Student Assistant, Office of Research

Media Contact:

  • - Amelia Ashby, Undergraduate Research Student Assistant, Office of Research

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