Land & Environment

USU-Uintah Basin Student Receives URCO Grant to Study Local Air Quality

By Dana Rhoades |

Makenzie Breitenbach

Makenzie Breitenbach, an undergraduate student at Utah State University (USU) Uintah Basin, was awarded the Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunity (URCO) grant to perform research on local emissions and air quality. She is working with the team at the Bingham Research Center to carry out the research, partnering with scientists and experts to ensure she has all the resources she needs to complete the work. 
“The main goal of my research is to aid in producing useful data in updating emissions inventories used in our area and throughout the nation to better understand and predict air quality during winter inversions,” said Breitenbach. “I spent the summer learning how to operate the lab equipment, like the Gas Chromatography, the Flame Ionization Detector, and the Mass Spectrometer, and I’ll spend most of my time analyzing ambient air samples with these tools.” 
Breitenbach is one of many students who have earned the URCO grant to gain hands-on research experience during their undergraduate career at USU-Uintah Basin. The campus works regularly with students to provide a lot of research and internship opportunities in a variety of fields. Breitenbach’s research lines up with her degree in biology and human health emphasis. 
As students begin networking with their professors and university staff in their undergraduate courses, they can find more opportunities for research. Seth Lyman, research associate professor at USU-Uintah Basin and Bingham Research Center director, worked extensively with Breitenbach as her mentor, helping her prepare and apply for the URCO. “Dr. Lyman helped me throughout the entire application process. He challenged and allowed me to struggle a little bit, allowing me to learn and grow from the experience.” 
Through undergraduate research and internships, students are more prepared to enter the workforce and make an impact wherever they find a job. Breitenbach, a mother of two who manages two small businesses, helps at her father’s medical practice, and trains show horses, chose to attend USU-Uintah Basin because her husband’s job is close, as well as their extended family. Relocating to earn her degree would not have been possible, and USU-Uintah Basin provides the close convenience and flexible schedule she needs to graduate. 
Students interested in applying for the URCO and learning about local research opportunities are encouraged to visit for more information. 

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