To decrease the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on USU campuses, the university began planning updates for fall semester. Classrooms were surveyed and marked to ensure social distancing for in-person classes, and many professors created course content for both in-person and remote delivery. Members of the campus community were encouraged to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by masking up, practicing social distancing, and washing their hands.


USU prepared to monitor COVID-19 infection trends by analyzing sewage samples taken from on-campus student housing facilities. Biological engineering faculty and students had already confirmed coronavirus could be detected in sewage that enters wastewater treatment facilities. Wastewater samples were collected at strategic locations to help pinpoint potential outbreaks of COVID-19. Monitoring wastewater identified where targeted testing could potentially contain cases.

Summer of Service


USU Extension partnered with the Utah Farm Bureau and Miracle of Agriculture Foundation on a series of Farmers Feeding Utah miracle projects. Through grassroots and corporate donations, funds raised were used to purchase products from Utah farmers, which were then donated to more than 18,200 individuals and families in need and 30 pantries throughout the state. In Utah, over 82,000 individuals recently lost employment. With those numbers continuing to rise, the demand for food assistance is up 300%.

The Utah Conservation Corps, housed in USU’s Center for Community Engagement, continued to serve Utah’s parks and public lands after the COVID-19 pandemic began by adapting to social distancing and travel protocols.

USU Eastern alum Bud Frazier worked to create "NavajoStrong," a non-profit, grassroots effort to collect critical supplies and distribute them to families throughout the reservation.

comet in the sky

A comet, discovered by a space-based telescope built by Space Dynamics Laboratory, was on display for stargazers on Earth with a spectacular light show throughout the summer. Comet NEOWISE, discovered on March 27, traveled from the far reaches of the Solar System. In 2009, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, was launched into space. SDL manufactured the state-of-the-art telescope for NASA to map and catalog the sky with far better sensitivity and resolution than previous space-based infrared survey telescopes.

bus driving
USU’s College of Engineering received a five-year, $26 million grant, renewable to 10-year, $50.6 million, to develop an international research center dedicated to advancing sustainable, electrified transportation. Named ASPIRE (Advancing Sustainability through Powered Infrastructure for Roadway Electrification), researchers are tasked with establishing an Engineering Research Center focused on developing new infrastructure that facilitates widespread adoption of electric vehicles. The National Science Foundation-funded center is expected to raise more than $200 million over the next decade in government and industry support.
USU Professor Janice Brahney made international news for research showing that “microplastics” are accumulating not only in wastewater, rivers and the world’s oceans, but also in the atmosphere. High resilience and longevity make plastics particularly useful in everyday life, but these same properties lead to progressive fragmentation instead of degradation in the environment. The S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources researcher estimates that more than 1,000 tons of microplastics are deposited onto protected lands in the western U.S. each year, equivalent to more than 123 million plastic water bottles.
surprise box
USU’s Class of 2020 received a surprise box in the mail filled with Aggie swag and that ever important piece of paper, their diploma.
Susan Madsen speaking
Susan Madsen, a prolific advocate for strengthening opportunities for girls and women, joined USU’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, along with the Utah Women & Leadership Project. Madsen, one of Utah Business’s 2020 Women of the Year and founding director of the UWLP, is USU’s inaugural Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership and has a joint appointment with USU Extension.