College of Science student researchers ascended Salt Lake City's Capitol Hill Wednesday, Jan. 26 to share their efforts and discoveries with Utah legislators and visitors. Stationed with their posters in the Capitol rotunda, the Aggies honed their presentation skills and served as ambassadors for the college and the university. 

Students who represented the College of Science were:


Ka Yee (Isabella) Chan

Antibacterial Mode of Action Studies for Novel Class of Cationic Anthraquinone Analogs

Major: Biochemistry

Faculty Mentor: Cheng-Wei (Tom) Chang

We're investigating the relationship between chemical structures and mode of actions toward bacteria."

A native of Hong Kong, Ka Yee plans to pursue a doctorate in biochemistry and continue her research on active sites of antibacterial drugs and the influence to cell functions.



Amy Crandall

Structure and Function Characterization of the N-Terminus of the RNA Helicase Ski2

Major: Biochemistry

Faculty Mentor: Sean Johnson

Proteins work like machines: they perform work and provide support; thus, it is important to have properly made proteins in the correct amounts to have a fully functioning cell. Ski2 is a protein that is involved in regulating RNA, which is a precursor to proteins. My project is focusing on gaining a better understanding of Ski2, by determining the structure using x-ray crystallography."
A 2008 graduate of South Jordan, Utah's Paradigm High School, Amy plans to enter graduate school and pursue medical-related research.

David Ingram

Selection of RNA Aptamers that Bind Asymmetic Dimethylated Arginine ADMA

Major: Biochemistry

Faculty Mentor: Joanie Hevel

Graduate Student Mentor: Laurel Gui

"My research is focused on a cardiovascular disease risk molecule called 'ADMA' or Asymmetric Dimethylated Arginine. Using a technique called SELEX Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment, we are creating a strand of RNA capable of binding to ADMA. Once this portion of the project has been completed, we hope to create a bioassay capable of detecting ADMA. Using this assay, our lab will study the pathway of methylation in an organism's proteome. Another application for this assay is in the medical field, where it can be used to determine the amount of ADMA in a patient's bloodstream; helping the patient's health care provider to determine the patient's cardiovascular health.”
A native of Salt Lake City, David is a 2005 graduate of East High School. He plans to graduate from USU this spring, with a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and a minor in Mandarin Chinese.  Following graduation from USU, he plans to pursue medical school and become a physician.


Morgan E. Summers

Critical Issues in Middle and Secondary Mathematics Placement: A Case Study

Major: Composite Mathematics and Statistics Education

Faculty Mentors: Brynja Kohler, Jim Cangelosi

“My study is an in-depth look at how middle and secondary students are placed into mathematics courses as they transition from elementary school to secondary schools. With Utah's recent adoption of the Common Core Standards, a discussion is also included on the impact these standards will have on placement, and if this method will solve any of the critical issues identified in the case study."

A native of North Ogden, Utah, Morgan is a 2007 graduate of Weber High School. She graduates from USU this spring with a bachelor's degree in mathematics education and a minor in speech communications education. Morgan has been accepted to the master's program in Organizational and Professional Communications program at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, with a full assistantship. Her lifetime career goal is to narrow the gap between research-based pedagogical practices and current pedagogical practices in secondary mathematics classrooms. "In order to do this, I plan to teach high school mathematics following graduate school, be a fierce advocate for mathematics education research and look for opportunities to be involved in school administration, while staying true to my passion of teaching mathematics," she says.


Lynsey Talbot

In Vivo Biodiesel Production Using Modified Enzymes in Marinobacter aquaeolei VT8

Majors: Biochemistry, Secondary Education

Faculty Mentor: Lance Seefeldt

“My research is based on the current need for alternative transportation fuel. We know that certain bacterium produce wax esters; when grown in the right conditions, these wax esters are similar to diesel fuel. By cutting the gene out of these bacterium and inserting it into photosynthetic bacterium, we believe it will be possible to grow the photosynthetic bacterium and have it directly produce bio-diesel. This would be a way to produce bio-diesel without the need for complex chemical processes that are needed to create bio-diesel from crops like corn.”

Lynsey is a 2008 graduate of Alta High School in Sandy, Utah. She is a USU Undergraduate Research Fellow and enjoys cycling. Lynsey plans to graduate from USU in 2012 and become a high school physics and chemistry teacher.

Heather Tarbet

"Understanding Molecular Recognition of PRMT Using Truncation Mutants"

Major: Biochemistry

Faculty Mentor: Joan Hevel

Graduate Student Mentor: Brenda Suh-Lailam

I study the mechanism and function of a human enzyme called 'Protein Arginine Methyltransferase' or PRMT that has several highly conserved isoforms that differ at one end. By modifying this end of the enzyme's structure, we have observed several differences in PRMT-substrate interactions. These varied interactions are aimed at providing novel insights into how PRMTs differentiate between their many substrates."
A native of Highland, Utah, Heather attended American Fork High School and completed her secondary education through home-schooling. She plans to pursue a doctorate and continue in research that impacts the medical field.


Additional Students Who Represented USU at Undergraduate Research Day Who are Mentored by College of Science Faculty Members:



Jason Reed

Anthropogenic Nutrients Increase Oxygen Consumption in Large Rivers of the Intermountain West

Major: Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Faculty Mentor: Michelle Baker, Biology

We've been measuring biochemical oxygen demand or 'BOD',' an important water quality parameter, in various large rivers in Idaho and Wyoming. BOD describes the amount of oxygen used in biological and chemical reactions. High levels of BOD can indicate impaired water."

A native of Cache Valley, Utah, Jason was employed as a sommelier prior to entering USU.



Andrew Fassmann and Troy Munro

Effects of Heat Flux on Thin Wire Nucleate Boiling in Microgravity Environment

Major: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Faculty Mentor: J.R. Dennison, Physics

Members of USU's Get Away Special "GAS" Team, Andrew and Troy attended the 2010 NASA Microgravity University and flew their experiment aboard NASA's ''Vomit Comet' microgravity aircraft. 


Vardan Semerjyan

Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) Temperature Control and Data Acquisition System for Faraday Filter-Based Sodium Spectrometer

Major: Engineering

Faculty Mentor: Titus Yuan, Physics



Nhean Chea and Kalie McCulloch

Daphnia-Algae Modeling of the Logan Wastewater Lagoons

Major: Biological Engineering

Faculty Mentor: James Powell, Mathematics & Statistics