April 4, 2023

Engineering | Business

USU Alum Establishes Scholarship Endowment to Provide Enhanced Student Research Opportunities

Rangesan (Rang) Narayanan and Judi Houston Rangesan

USU created such an impact on the Rangesan (Rang) Narayanan and Judi Houston Rangesan, that in late 2022, Rang funded an endowment in memory of Judi, who died in 2020.

Students at Utah State University are encouraged to take advantage of every opportunity to make the most of their college experience. Research, at both the undergraduate and graduate level, is at the core of USU’s land-grant mission and an important component of the Aggie identity.

Beginning at the undergraduate level, USU students are provided opportunities to take control of their research interests and dive head-first into discovering their own passions and strengths. Continuing on to one of the university’s graduate programs opens the door further with specialized research experiences and opportunities for students to develop a professional identity by connecting them to a network of faculty mentors and professional organizations in their chosen discipline.

For alumnus Rangesan (Rang) Narayanan, Utah State University offered him an education that allowed him to create his own unique focus while earning both a master’s and doctorate in two disciplines. The Tamil Nadu, India native began his college career at the University of Madras in Chennai, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Guindy Engineering College. After arriving in Logan in the early ’70s, Rang graduated from USU’s College of Engineering with a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1973.

During the last year of his master’s program, Rang enrolled in the economics doctoral program offered by the College of Business (Jon M. Huntsman School of Business). The dual-degree role provided him the opportunity to work as a research assistant in the Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL). Rang continued at the UWRL throughout his doctoral program and the research he conducted became the focus of his dissertation research. After earning his doctorate in 1976, he became a member of the faculty and taught graduate courses in econometrics and operations research and continued his water-related economics research at the UWRL. As part of his role, Rang enjoyed serving on dozens of graduate committees and provided guidance for many doctoral students.

While Rang dedicated himself to his research during his time at USU, the connections he made, both personally and professionally, would forever impact his life. In 1977, Rang married Judith (Judi) Carol Houston Rangesan, a USU alum and classmate from his doctoral program.

Judi, who graduated in 1971 from Tarleton State University in Texas with a bachelor’s degree in both mathematics and economics, came to USU in 1972. In 1977, she earned a doctorate in economics from the College of Business and had the unique distinction of being the first female student in the program. As a trailblazer, Judi also became the first female faculty member hired in the Agricultural Economics Department at Texas A&M University in College Station. When Judi and Rang got married, Judi moved back to Logan and took a position as an assistant professor at Weber State University and later worked for Merrill Lynch as an account executive in Ogden.

After spending several years in Utah, Rang and Judi moved to Nevada, where Rang took a position with the University of Nevada, Reno in the Agriculture and Resources Economics Department. Beginning as an associate professor, Rang moved up to professor and later, department head. In 2000, he was promoted to the position of associate dean for outreach for the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources. Judi devoted much of her time volunteering for organizations such as the Northern Nevada Hospice Program with St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, where she helped terminally ill patients, and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, helping place children in foster care – one of her toughest, but most rewarding life experiences.

The couple, who enjoyed life in Nevada, never kept USU far from their thoughts. The education, memories and connections were invaluable to both of them. They both give credit to the incredible faculty members who inspired them to discover and pursue their professional passions and interests. In fact, USU created such an impact on the couple, that in late 2022, Rang funded an endowment in memory of Judi, who died in 2020.

The Judi Houston Rangesan and Rangesan Narayanan Endowment will be used to support student research associated with USU’s Janet Quinney Lawson Institute of Land, Water and Air. To be considered for the financial assistance, students must be conducting research focused on the economics of, and policies related to, public and private lands, water resources and associated environmental and recreational aspects. The endowment will fund research assistantships that give students the opportunity to work with faculty mentors, as well as travel awards that allow students to attend and present research at professional meetings.

Rang felt it was important to honor Judi’s legacy, but he also wanted to honor and thank the many faculty mentors who worked with the couple over the years. The emeritus professors hail from both the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business and the College of Engineering and include Bruce Bishop, Basudeb Biswas, Herbert Fullerton, Delworth Gardner, Trevor Hughes, Bartell Jensen, John Keith, Kenneth Lyon and Mac McKee.

A Carnegie-recognized R1 institution, USU’s faculty researchers are recognized nationally and internationally for their expertise. Each year, more than 1,000 students engage in undergraduate research with institutional support and more than 500 share their research at USU events. On the graduate level, USU offers more than 130 master’s and doctoral degrees, with multiple programs ranked within the top 100 in the nation. Home to more than 50 research programs, centers and facilities, USU is constantly evolving to improve excellence for students.

The Judi Houston Rangesan and Rangesan Narayanan Endowment increases USU’s excellence by providing opportunities for student-led research not only at the main USU campus in Logan, but also at any of the statewide campus locations and on both national and international levels.

From research on land, water and air — the focus of the endowment — to space innovation and human services, USU is creating transformational impact and changing lives around the world. A gift toward research and innovation initiatives helps USU provide an unparalleled learning environment with the facilities, services and technology, programs and expertise that stimulate and support the growth of research and technology-based enterprises. Create Your Aggie Impact by supporting the area of research and innovation that most inspires you to make a difference through the power of philanthropy.


David Kunz
Engineering, Senior Development Director
(435) 797-8012

Tony Ahlstrom
Engineering, Development Officer
(435) 797-0769

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