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News stories about USU's College of Science

Dr. Kevin Folta

Photo Credit: Kevin Folta, University of Florida

Rethinking Science Communication to Engage the Concerned Consumer

Monday, February 11, 2019

Kevin Folta, a professor of horticultural sciences at the University of Florida and internationally recognized science communicator will present at Utah State University about how one can communicate that science may help farmers, industrialized world consumers, the environment and the developing world. The presentation, open to all USU researchers, students and the public, is Monday, Feb. 25, at 3:30 p.m., in room 133 of the Life Sciences building on the Logan campus.

Science Unwrapped Powers of 10 logo

Photo Credit: Mary-Ann Muffoletto

Going from big to small with Science Unwrapped

Monday, February 4, 2018

Science Unwrapped is an opportunity for the public to get hands-on experience with some of the latest science research at Utah State University. They are commemorating their 10th year with a year-long celebration entitled ‘The Powers of Ten’. Maryann Muffaletto, public relations specialist who has been with the science-based program since its beginning, was a guest Monday on KVNU’s For the People program and talked about this school year’s theme.

“The powers of 10 is a system that all kinds of scientists, mathematicians and engineers use to understand very, very big things and very, very tiny things,” she explained.

Volunteer and participant at USU's Science Unwrapped Event in January 2019

Photo Credit: Erick L. Graham Wood, Herald Journal

Microbe history: 'Science Unwrapped' examines ways germs affect course of humanity

Friday, January 25, 2018

The USU Department of Geology creates educational videos explaining geological highlights of Cache Valley.

Dr. Bonnie Waring

Photo Credit: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, USU

'Can Microbes Change History?' Find out at Science Unwrapped on Friday

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Utah State University biologist Bonnie Waring will be the featured speaker for Science Unwrapped on Friday. The gathering begins at 7 p.m. in the Emert Auditorium in the Eccles Science Learning Center.

“Microscopic organisms have influenced major historical events,” Waring, said in a statement. “They also influence the health of our environment and even processes occurring within our own bodies.”

A still of a reaction shot from Meet Joe Black

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Marco Ugarte

UnDisciplined: The Evolutionary Biologist And The Movie Psychologist

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Stargazers will be treated to what promises to be a spectacular total lunar eclipse this Sunday evening – weather pending, of course.

Some are calling this weekend’s astronomical event a Super Blood Wolf Moon Total Lunar Eclipse.

Super Moon because the moon is a bit closer to Earth and looks bigger; Wolf Moon is the first full moon of the year; Blood Moon may be regarded as a bad omen by some, but in reality the reddish-orange color is caused by the Sun’s rays bending around the edge of our planet and landing on the lunar surface.

Student Speaks at CUWiP in January 2019

Photo Credit: Irma Mora, Herald Journal

USU hosts conference for women physics undergrads

Friday, January 18, 2018

Utah State University was one of the 12 campuses chosen to host the American Physics Society 2019 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics this weekend.

USU welcomed 154 undergraduates from six different states, including Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and New Mexico, to attend the conference held concurrently across the U.S.

The APS, the largest association of physicists in the country, noted a lack of women in the physics field and decided to sponsor this conference to help women in the field, USU Physics Assistant Professor and CUWiP Organizer Oscar Varela said.

South face of the USU Life Science Building

Photo Credit: Eli Lucero, Herald Journal

New Video Explores The Highlights Of Cache Valley Geology

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

This week, as spring semester begins at Utah State University, classes are officially being conducted in the new Life Sciences Building on campus.

Mandy Coulam, a sophomore studying accounting at USU, worked on her laptop in the atrium of the new building Tuesday morning while waiting to attend her first class there.

“I like the easy layout,” Coulam said. “Some buildings don’t have tags or anything showing where the room numbers are. But you can see, right as you walk in, you see everything right there.”

Rob Davies at an event in 2017

Photo Credit: Andrew McAllister

This Green Earth - January 8, 2019 Dr. Rob Davies

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

KPCW hosts speak with Dr. Rob Davies with the Physics Department at Utah State University. Among other things, Dr. Davies covers the physics underlying climate change and why, as he puts it, it’s real, it’s us, it’s bad, we’re sure. He also previews a talk he is giving on this subject on January 14th at the Park City Hospital.

A rendition of a Ice-covered snow

Photo Credit: Chris Butler via Science Source and Utah Public Radio

Early Earth Was Encased In Ice, According To The Snowball Hypothesis

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

This winter, maybe you’re enjoying some snow or maybe you’ve decided to travel somewhere warmer. According to scientists who study early Earth, if conditions were that of hundreds of millions of years ago we would all be experiencing ice and snow, and lots of it.

“Shall I reveal the story?” asked Carol Dehler, associate professor of geology at Utah State University. When we met, she was happy to discuss the theory of Earth’s early history.

Bee in a yellow flower

Photo Credit: Olivia Messinger Carril

660 species of bees live in newly shrunk national monument

Monday, December 17, 2018

At first glance, it might not seem as if life thrives in the dry, otherworldly expanses of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The high, rugged patch in southern Utah is mostly known for its jagged cliffs, steep canyons, and vast, arid deserts. But bee biologist Olivia Messinger Carril knows better.

For four years, she and a team of volunteers spent nearly every summer day combing the Delaware-sized area, bit by bit, in search of bees the untrained eye might miss. The main result: An awful lot of bees live there.

Bumblebee in Grand Escalante Park

Photo Credit: Dr. Joseph Wilson

Shrinking of Utah National Monument May Threaten Bee Biodiversity

Monday, December 17, 2018

In December of last year, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation announcing his plans to shrink Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to nearly half of its original size. Comprising a remote and beautiful stretch of canyons, cliffs and desert, the monument is home to a huge range of biodiversity, including hundreds of bee species. And some of those buzzing critters could be imperilled by the planned modifications, according to a new study.

ASU's Mark Pomilio

Photo Credit: Arizona State University Now

ASU professor draws on scientific themes for artwork at new Life Sciences Building in Utah

Friday, December 7, 2018

When a new building dedicated to teaching life sciences opens in January at Utah State University, it will feature a soaring, vibrantly colored artwork by an Arizona State University professor who used the principles of biology to create it.

Mark Pomilio, an associate professor in the School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, spent the past year working on “Symbols and Symmetries,” which was recently installed in the third-floor atrium of the building.

“There was a specific context for the piece from the get-go — the type of research, like biology and genetics, that is going to be happening in this space,” he said.

Examples of some of the bee genera found in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Photo Credit: Dr. Joseph Wilson

Shrinking National Monuments Can Affect Biodiversity

Friday, December 7, 2018

A new study says when the Trump administration shrank Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah late last year, it may have endangered scores of native bee species.

The study reports there are almost as many species of native bees living in Grand Staircase as in the entire eastern United States -- 660 in total. Most native bees don’t live in colonies or make honey, but they are important pollinators.

Grosvenor Arch in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Photo Credit: Courthouse News

Shrinking Utah Monument May Harm Area Bees

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

A year after President Trump signed a proclamation reducing the size of Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by nearly a million acres, scientists warn the reduction could have a serious impact on the area’s bee population.

Utah, known as the Beehive State, is home to one of every four bee species in the United States and 660 species of bees have been identified within the old boundaries of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. But the smaller national monument area no longer includes territory of 84 bee species including some new, undescribed species, as well as ‘morphospecies’ which are unique individuals that don’t match known species.

Bumblebee in Grand Escalante Park

Photo Credit: Dr. Joseph Wilson

Think about bees, say researchers, as Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument Shrinks

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The state of Utah's nickname is "The Beehive State," and the moniker couldn't be more apt, say Utah State University scientists. One out of every four bee species in the United States is found In Utah and the arid, western state is home to more bee species than most states in the nation. About half of those species dwell within the original boundaries of the newly reduced Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

"The monument is a hotspot of bee diversity," says USU-Tooele entomologist Joseph Wilson, associate professor in USU's Department of Biology, who, with scientist and USU alum Olivia Messinger Carril, USDA entomologist Terry Griswold and USU emeritus professor James Haefner, reported 660 species identified in the protected region in the November 7, 2018 issue of PeerJ.

Panel of Climate Change Experts in Utah

Photo Credit: Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Panel discusses effects of climate change on Utah

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Is there time to change course and reverse climate change?

A panel of experts at the Orem Public Library addressed the topic Wednesday night, saying that while climate change already affects Utah, steps need to be taken at both a local and global level to address it.

The panel, sponsored by the Utah Valley Earth Forum, was held less than a week after the release of the fourth National Climate Assessment, a report produced by the U.S. government that says climate change is outpacing former projections and is human-caused.

Solar system representation

Photo Credit: National Geographic via Utah Public Radio

San Andreas Fault: Next Big Earthquake Location Identified by Geologists

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Geologists have identified a new section of California’s famous San Andreas Fault (SAF), which could be the site of the region’s next major earthquake, according to a study published in the journal Lithospere.

The seismically active, 15.5-mile-long stretch is buried in silt at the bottom of the Salton Sea—a shallow, salty lake that sits directly on top of the SAF’s southern tip. It has been named the “Durmid Ladder” by the researchers from Utah State University (USU), because it consists of two master faults and hundreds of smaller rung-like faults that run perpendicular to these.

November Demo Show 2018 Logo (with a photo of Isaac Newton)

Photo Credit: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, USU

USU demonstrating the physics of Sir Isaac Newton

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Friday, Nov. 16 the Utah State University physics department hosts its 11th annual family-friendly November Demo Show with the theme “A Night With Newton.”

James Coburn, the Physics Teaching Laboratory Supervisor, coordinates this event.

“Demonstrations in physics are a lot of fun,” Coburn explains. “We have fun doing them in classes so I wanted to start an event for the public. About 10 years ago we decided to do this.

A newton's cradle

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock via Deseret News

USU Physics Department’s November Demo Show is Friday

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Inquiring minds of all ages are invited to Utah State University Physics Department's 11th annual November Demo Show on Friday, Nov. 16.

The theme of the event is "A Night With Newton," and it will begin at 7 p.m. in the Emert Auditorium, Room 130, of the Eccles Science Learning Center. Admission is free and open to all.

"It's time again to kick off Thanksgiving week with our popular annual tradition," James Coburn, Physics Teaching Laboratory supervisor and show coordinator, said in a statement. "This year, we're celebrating 17th century physics pioneer, Sir Isaac Newton. It will be a blast."

A 'close-up' of a bee on a orange flower

Photo Credit: Dr. Joseph Wilson

Utah houses one quarter of the country’s bee species

Monday, November 12, 2018

Utah really deserves its nickname of the Beehive state, scientists from the Utah State University (USU) report. According to a new paper they published, the state is home to one-quarter of all bee species in the nation. Roughly half of these species live and buzz in the original boundaries of the (now reduced) Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Using opportunistic collecting and a series of standardized plots, the team collected bees throughout the six-month flowering season (for four consecutive years). Led by USU alum and researcher Olivia Messinger Carril, they identified a stunning 660 different bee species in the area. That’s “almost as many species as are known in the entire eastern United States,” she explains.

Farmer showing normal wheat

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock via Deseret News

In our opinion: Global hunger is no match for USU researchers

Monday, November 12, 2018

Hunger isn’t just a small annoyance felt between meals; it’s the chronic daily reality for an estimated 815 million people around the globe. Giving these people the nourishment they need will require a combination of ending government corruption, combating climate trends and finding more stable food sources.

Fortunately, research by two Utah State University scientists is showing immense promise in the category of stable food sources.

A map of cells reacting to carbon monoxide releasing molecules

Photo Credit: USU Berreau Laboratory

UnDisciplined: The Inorganic Chemist And The Wildland Ecologist

Friday, November 9, 2018

Paul Rogers is racing to save a one-tree forest. Lisa Berreau is trying to prove that carbon monoxide can be good for us. Like we do every week, we'll try to draw connections between these two very different areas of work...

A 'close-up' of a bee on a orange flower

Photo Credit: Dr. Joseph Wilson

Survey reveals 49 new bee species in Utah

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Utah is home to 660 bee species, according to a new study. One out of every four bee species endemic to the United States can be found in the aptly named Beehive State.

Thanks to a four-year survey conducted by entomologists at Utah State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, scientists have an improved understanding of Utah's remarkable apian diversity.

PhysX logo based on lunar eclipse photo

Photo Credit: Utah State University Physics Department

PhysX to encourage a career in science for girls

Thursday, November 8, 2018

An event will be held at Utah State University Friday evening and Saturday – the title is ‘Phys-X for Girls Grades 9 through 12’. In Utah, and around the nation ,there has been a push of STEM education and funding for special programs in K-12 and higher education with the goal of getting more women involved in sciences. On KVNU’s For the People program on Thursday, our guest was graduate student in the College of Science Lori Caldwell who explained how the event was started.

“It started when (she and a colleague) a couple years ago went to a conference for undergraduate women in physics in Boulder, Colorado. One of the things they really stressed there was how difficult a degree in STEM can be for women who experience micro-aggressions. And these aren’t intentional…they’re just things that happen sometimes,” she explained.

Honeybee on a flower

Photo Credit: Hannah Leavitt,

Turns out, the Beehive State has the most diverse bee population in North America

Thursday, November 8, 2018

After it was founded, Utah was nicknamed “The Beehive State” because Utahns related the industry and perseverance of the early pioneer settlers to a beehive, according to the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts. But a recent study shows that Utah is also home to many species of bees, making the name even more appropriate.

“(Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument) was established partly because of the biological diversity,” USU biology professor Joseph Wilson said. “They knew that the area had a lot of different flowering plants, for example. They knew it was a diverse area, and they wanted to know more about the bee populations down there because there were no studies about that yet.”

Dr. Joe Wilson following his Sunrise Session Presentation in October '18

Photo Credit: Louise Shaw via the Davis Clipper

Bee diversity a positive for Utah, says biologist

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY—There can be drama, intrigue and comedy in your own backyard, according to Joe Wilson, and you’ll find it just by watching bees.

Wilson, an assistant professor of biology at Utah State University, said he has more fun watching bees in his backyard than watching television – and there are no commercials.

The Tooele-based researcher addressed a morning workshop in Salt Lake City to share his enthusiasm for wild bees and their significance to the state...

A depiction of a World War I battlefield

Photo Credit: Cache Valley Daily

Three USU professors explain mathematic’s role in war

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Three Utah State University mathematicians are featured this week in USU’s campus-wide commemoration of the end of World War I a hundred years ago.

Talks by Bryna Kohler, Jim Cangelosi and David Brown will range from biological warfare and cryptography to the global arms race.

Dr. Cangelosi said he will explain the relatively crude codes used in World War I to keep and break secrets...

Diagram detailing green battery chemistry

Photo Credit: USU's Dr. Tianbiao Liu

Simple change, big impact: Chemists advance sustainable battery technology

Thursday, Octover 25, 2018

Solar and wind energy are widely regarded as sustainable, environmentally friendly alternatives to fossil fuels, but each is only intermittently available. Both solutions need affordable, high performance energy storage technologies to be considered for widespread, reliable use.

Aqueous organic redox flow batteries, known as "AORFBs," offer a promising large-scale energy storage solution, but still have limitations. In a molecular engineering study published online October 25, 2018, in Joule, Utah State University chemists report advances to address these limitations...

Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR)

Photo Credit:

Unlocking new solutions to global food production challenges

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

With more than 200 million tons produced globally each year, wheat is an essential, high protein, and nutrient-dense food source.

With the recent announcement that scientists have unlocked the wheat genome sequence, research being conducted by Utah State University (USU) Professor Jon Takemoto, Ph.D.—and funded in part by the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative (USTAR)—holds promising new potential for addressing food production challenges across the globe...

Medical caretaker and patient

Photo Credit: via Utah Public Radio

Higher Education Institutions Offer Opportunities For Medical Personnel To Learn Spanish

Monday, October 15, 2018

In an effort to better serve minority populations, higher education institutions in Cache Valley offer opportunities for medical personnel to learn Spanish. Some ways this is happening is through a Spanish club and a Spanish class.

“I want to be able to build trust with the patients I work with one day,” said Marielle Larsen, a pre-med student studying Spanish and chemistry at Utah State University and president of the school’s medical Spanish club...

IR and NMR spectral data can be used to distinguish between a tetrel bond and a hydrogen bond

Photo Credit: American Chemical Society via

Rules to distinguish between tetrel and hydrogen bonds

Monday, October 15, 2018

A US scientist has shown how scientists can interpret spectral data to differentiate tetrel bonds from trifurcated hydrogen bonds.

Steve Scheiner at Utah State University wanted to provide guidelines for researchers to differentiate between the interactions. Using quantum calculations to investigate the vibrational and NMR spectral features of a range of methyl-containing systems, he detected key differences between the two types of bonding. Tetrel interactions, Scheiner found, had a blue-shifted methyl stretching frequency and a red-shifted bending mode, with the opposite true for hydrogen bonds. Tetrel bonds also appeared to have large 13C deshielding and small 1H deshielding compared to hydrogen bonds...

Dr. Yan Sun of USU Math and Stats Department

Photo Credit: USU Department of Math and Stats

USU Professors Create New Tool To Estimate Snow Loads

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Two Utah State University professors working with the Structural Engineers Association of Utah have created a state-of-the-art spatial mapping technology that estimates snow load requirements for new construction of homes and buildings.

Marc Maguire, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said he and his co-investigator Yan Sun, from the Department of Math and Statistics, spent two years creating the technology...

New Zeland Plant Specimen

Photo Credit: USU Intermountain Herbarium via Utah Public Radio

Revamped Biodiversity Software Opens The Door For Biologists

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

If you’re a scientist studying any kind of plant or animal species, you’ve probably come across Symbiota. But, if you’re like me and that’s not your cup of tea, you may have never heard of it.

“So Symbiota is biodiversity software, and so it’s for managing collections of information," said Curtis Dyreson, associate department head and associate professor in computer science at Utah State University. "And these collections are natural history museums, herbaria, other organizations that collect specimens...”