The College of Science at Utah State University is full of driven researchers, educators, and mentors. Each year the college recognizes several members who have gone above and beyond the norm to continue to make the college a place of increased merit and quality.
CoS Student Awards
Tooele, Utah native Jesse Steadman, a Human Biology major with minors in chemistry and sociology, is the College of Science’s 2019 Valedictorian. His faculty escort at commencement ceremonies will be Biology faculty member, Dr. Andy Anderson.
A 2015 graduate of Tooele High School, Steadman is the recipient of a USU Presidential Scholarship, the USUSA President’s Award, a College of Science Undergraduate Research Mini-grant, an A-Pin award and the Thomas M. Farley Chemistry Award. He also served as a College of Science Ambassador.
With Biology faculty mentor Randy Lewis, Steadman conducted research with synthetic spider silk, manufactured in the Lewis Lab, and investigated the potential of using spider silk fibers as graft material for human arm ligaments.
Steadman lists Lewis, as well as faculty members Andy Anderson and Clair Canfield, and advisor Scott Olson as his most influential mentors. His favorite courses were Anderson’s Human Anatomy and Human Dissection Labs.
“I believe Aggies are so lucky to have the resources to receive high-quality, hands-on education pertaining to the human body,” Steadman says. “Having the opportunity to work with, dissect and learn from cadavers is an experience I will never forget.”
Following graduation, Steadman will attend the University of Utah School of Medicine. He plans to pursue a career as an orthopedic surgeon.
“I am beyond grateful for the contagiously positive environment that USU radiates each and every day,” Steadman says. “Utah State University will forever hold a special place in my heart and, even though I’ll attend other universities in the future, my blood will always bleed blue with Aggie spirit.”
While juggling a full-time job, competing with the USU Track and Field Team and volunteering in a campus research lab, Hannah Demler distinguished herself as a conscientious student and active participant in her general biochemistry class.
Her faculty mentor, Nick Dickenson, says Demler’s level of effort and interest stood out and prompted him to invite her to serve as an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow for the course. In that role, he says, Demler took an active leadership role, developing online quizzes, tutoring students and assisting with exam evaluations and corrections.
Beyond her academic, teaching and athletics responsibilities, Demler earned two USU Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) grants, completed a research manuscript and was named the 2019 Chemistry and Biochemistry Scholar of the Year.
Demler describes her duties as a UTF as “enlightening and fulfilling.”
“These experiences provided me with a broader understanding of the roles associated with leading a course and gave me the unique opportunity as an undergraduate to interact with the professor and be involved in the course not just as a student, but as a teaching fellow,” she says. “It was a valuable learning experience from which I gained a new perspective and appreciation for the course.”
Demler says she gained teaching and leadership skills that have prepared her well for the pursuit of graduate studies and beyond following USU graduation.
A native of Layton, Utah, Sarah Ellis is a Mathematics and Statistics Composite Teaching major with a minor in Family and Human Development.
Since graduating as Valedictorian from Northridge High School in 2014, Ellis has continued to garner impressive academic awards. She’s on the Dean’s List and is the Department of Mathematics and Statistics Scholar of the Year. She is the recipient of the Sharon Lee Gardner Ellis Memorial Scholarship, the Arthur Van Vliet Memorial Scholarship, as well as the Joe and Carletta Elich Scholarship.
Ellis lists Discrete Mathematics (MATH 3310) and Foundations of Analysis (MATH 4200) among her favorite classes. She says Mathematics and Statistics faculty members Jim Cangelosi, Brynja Kohler and Kady Schneiter were her most influential mentors.
Following graduation, Ellis plans to pursue a math teaching career in Utah.
Aspiring physician Devin Froerer is the recipient of a number of academic scholarships and accolades, including Biology Department Scholar of the Year, Lillywhite Scholar, A-Pin Recipient, Greaves Scholarship and the College of Science Scholarship.
A native of South Jordan, Utah, Froerer completed an undergraduate research internship with Associated Regional and University Pathologists. He investigated company-wide automation of pH testing of urine samples.
The Biology, Human emphasis major lists Advanced Human Physiology (BIOL 4600) and Interpersonal Communications (COM 2110) as his favorite classes. Froerer says his most influential USU mentors were faculty members Greg Podgorski, John Seiter and Andy Anderson, as well as advisor Yvonne Kobe.
Beyond classes and labs, Froerer served as team manager for USU’s Track and Field Team and at USU Football games.
Following graduation, Froerer will attend medical school.
When asked about her favorite class at Utah State, Gretchen Knight has a hard time choosing.
“I think my all-time favorite was Technology for Teaching Mathematics (MATH 5010), but I also loved Probability and Statistics for Teachers (STAT 4010) and Intro to Algebraic Structures (MATH 4310),” says the American Fork, Utah native. “Among my most influential mentors were Jim Cangelosi and Brynja Kohler.”
With Kohler, Knight worked on a research project funded by a national grant to refine a mathematical modeling curriculum for pre-service secondary mathematics teachers.
During her USU years, the Mathematics and Statistics Composite Education major received USU’s Presidential Scholarship, the Utah Regents’ Scholarship, the college’s Theodore M. Burton Scholarship and the College of Ed and Human Services’ STEM Scholarship.
Knight says “Utah State has been a place where I feel like I belong and am a valuable part of campus. USU has helped shape me into a woman, who can dream big and set goals to accomplish those dreams.”
The son of USU alumni and brother of three USU students, Vernal, Utah native Christian Peterson considers himself a “true-blooded Aggie.”
“Having three of my siblings here on campus with me as been an indispensable source of joy and support for me,” says the Biology, Human emphasis major, who is an Undergraduate Research Fellow, a College of Science Research Mini-grant recipient, a Sterling Scholar and the recipient of an Undergraduate Research Scholar transcript designation.
During his undergrad career, Peterson has pursued several research endeavors, including investigation of the effect of bacterial biofilm development on the production of tetrodotoxin and optimization of the extraction of phycocyanobilin from algae. He praises mentors Jon Takemoto, Becky Williams and John Stark for encouraging his success and challenging him to reach beyond technical skills to become a critical scientific investigator and effective communicator.
Aside from academic pursuits, Peterson practices yoga (a favorite class of his freshman year that he repeated three times) and service with USU’s Grandfriends Club. Experience with the latter, which involved volunteering with senior citizens, has inspired Peterson to attend medical school and pursue a career in either geriatrics or psychiatry.
Aspiring physician Calvin Luu admits he was very shy, when he arrived at Utah State. Yet, the Providence, Utah native eventually leapt into the social whirl and since then, he’s committed himself to helping other Aggies also feel at home on campus.
Luu has served at the university level as a Connections Peer Mentor, as well as a Peer Advisor in USU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. With entering freshmen, he works to allay student fears and help newcomers successfully adjust to college life. With fellow chemistry and biochemistry majors, Luu shares time management and scheduling skills, to help peers stay on top of deadlines and take full advantage of academic opportunities.
Beyond campus, Luu actively participates in fraternity service activities and volunteers in a local emergency room. He also recently completed training as a certified nursing assistant. Luu dreams of becoming a pediatrician, he says, “so I can help kids get better.”
Compassionate and upbeat, Luu says “the best skills and strengths I have to influence others are that I’m an optimistic and supportive person, who understands each person is stressed in their own ways. I’m empathetic and hope I can reach out to ‘de-stress’ others.”
A native of upstate New York, David Maughan is, nevertheless, a place-where-the-sagebrush-grows-loving Aggie, who excels in academics, research, presenting, teaching and outreach.
“Where else, but Utah State, would I have all these opportunities?” asks the Honors student, who earned honorable mention from the prestigious Goldwater Foundation in 2018.
The physics and mathematics major, who explores the ideas of physicists Einstein and Noether, was among just 40 undergraduates worldwide selected to participate in the 2018 Jürgen Ehlers Spring School at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam Germany. While exploring general relativity and cosmological symmetries and conservation laws, Maughan has tackled computer software to perform formidable analytical calculations in differential geometry – calculations that took physicists of a century ago months or years to accomplish by hand.
Beyond heady hypotheses, Maughan readily lends a hand to community science outreach efforts, sharing his love of learning with children and teens.
“USU’s faculty is dedicated to the education and professional advancement of their students,” he says. “I’m proud to part of the Aggie tradition.”
Tanner is a Master’s student in the Department of Biology. He is from the distant land of Logan, Utah and attended USU for his bachelor’s degree as well. His research interests are broad, but generally focus on plant biology. His current research focuses on how some plants can more efficiently capture atmospheric carbon dioxide, resulting in greater photosynthetic efficiency. Tanner’s previous work has largely focused on the genomics and evolutionary biology of ferns and can be found published in the journals Applications in Plant Sciences, Genome Biology and Evolution, and Nature Plants. Tanner plans to pursue a PhD where he hopes to investigate how some plants cooperate with bacteria to acquire atmospheric Nitrogen. When he isn’t doing research, Tanner likes to drink espresso, read, ride bicycles and play his banjo.
Bo Hu is a senior PhD candidate in Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Prior to his study at Utah State University beginning in 2016, he obtained his B.S. in Applied Chemistry (2011) from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and M.S. in Inorganic Chemistry (2015) from Harbin Institute of Technology, China. At USU, Bo primarily conducts research in the areas of redox flow battery (RFB) and electrocatalysis. Specifically, Bo’s RFB research focuses on designing high-performance redox active organic materials for both aqueous and nonaqueous redox flow battery applications. His research interest in electrolysis is mainly about CO2 and N2 heterogeneous catalytic fixation by enzymatic or inorganic catalysts. As a PhD student in Chemistry, Bo is an author on 14 peer-reviewed papers, 1 book chapter, 1 patent, and 5 conference presentations. His publications have been highlighted by many top journals (including Science magazine) and media outlets. One of the designed materials for RFB application was licensed by TCI Chemicals. Bo is the recipient of several scholarships and awards including the Seely-Hinckley Scholarship and the Utah State Energy Research Triangle student award.
Brandon Ashley is a Mathematical Sciences PhD student within the College of Science at Utah State University. Currently, Brandon is working with Professor Ian Anderson in studying various aspects of the geometry of differential equations, a subject essential to many areas of science including computer vision, string theory, and control optimization. Prior to coming to Utah State, he received a BS in Applied and Pure Mathematics from the University of Central Arkansas where he then returned to complete a MS in Applied Mathematics with a focus in mathematical biology and nonlinear differential equations. It was during this time that he began teaching university-level mathematics courses and gained an interest in developing professionally as an educator. Since coming to Utah, Brandon has had the privilege of serving as both an instructor and recitation leader for a number of courses and regularly shares his experiences and reflects on teaching effectiveness with his peers via the Mathematics and Statistics Department’s weekly Teaching Assistant Professional Development seminars for which he also serves as a committee member. After graduating, Brandon hopes to pursue a career in academia. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time outdoors, socializing with friends, and has recently taken up yoga.
Bryce Frederickson is a mathematics major in his junior year. As an Undergraduate Research Fellow and honors student, Bryce began research in mathematics his freshman year under the mentorship of Dr. David Brown. Though he didn’t work in a fully structured project, Bryce enjoyed exploring challenging combinatorial problems related to Dr. Brown’s research and presented some results on Boolean algebra in 2014. After returning from a church mission in Mexico in 2017, he continued to research with Dr. Brown. He proved several theorems related to tournament entropy, which he presented at two conferences. These have now been submitted for publication.
During the summer of 2018, Bryce participated in the REU program at Boise State University, where his group proved some interesting results concerning the combinatorial notion of set splitting. He presented this work at three poster sessions, including at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore, MD. This project resulted in another paper that will soon be submitted to an academic journal. Bryce currently works as a teaching assistant for the Complex Variables class and as the honors math tutor. After he graduates in the spring of 2020, he will hopefully enter a PhD program where he can study algebraic combinatorics.
Biology undergraduate Levi Wilkes is the College of Science’s nominee for the USU Student Employee of the Year Award from USU Career Services.
An administrative office student assistant in the Department of Biology, Wilkes assists with a diverse range of office activities with courtesy and dispatch. He greets students and visitors to the department and provides helpful, welcoming information.
To help with the Biology-Natural Resources Building preparation for renovation, Wilkes undertook EH&S Lab Safety Techniques training, including being fitted with a respirator mask, to tackle clean-up of “scary” spaces. He bravely stepped up to clear out a former dermestid beetle colony used to clean vertebrate skulls, basement labs with mold and mildew build-up, as well as storage rooms stuffed to the ceiling with biological specimen samples.
Friendly and hard-working, Wilkes is a major asset in keeping the departmental operations running smoothly.
CoS Faculty and Staff Awards
Lance Seefeldt grew up in Southern California where he received a B.S. degree in chemistry from the University of Redlands. He then became a graduate student in the biochemistry program at the University of California at Riverside, where he earned a Ph.D.He was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Center for Metalloenzymes Studies at the University of Georgia. In 1993, he joined the faculty in the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department at Utah State University, where he moved through the faculty ranks becomingProfessor in 2002. He currently holds ajoint appointment as Laboratory Fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In his 26 years at USU, he has had continuous federal funding, including grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and NASA. He was awarded the D. Wynne Thorne Award for Research at USU in 2012. He has been a mentor for many undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students with former students going on to positions in science including Professors at the University of Georgia, University of Minnesota, California State University at Fullerton, and Pacific University and Researcher at Idaho National Laboratory.
Innovative and energetic, Biology lecturer and lab coordinator Lauren Lucas eschews the “canned” approach to scientific learning and, instead, propels students into authentic, challenging research experiences. Offering unique learning projects with live organisms, she encourages aspiring scientists to develop their own questions, ideas and experimental designs from their first day in the classroom.
Students describe Lucas as an optimistic, determined mentor, who inspires timid scholars to reach high, work hard and seize opportunities. From undergraduates to doctoral candidates, she counsels students on making the most of their research endeavors, providing helpful, constructive instruction and instilling confidence in the pursuit of daring and provocative pursuits. Lucas’ goal is for each of her students to not only master new material, but to achieve meaningful personal growth.
Lisa M. Berreau is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Her research is focused onusing small molecule chemistry to address important challenges in biomedicine and to advance mechanistic understanding of chemical reactions involving O2. In a collaborative project with Professor Abby Benninghoff (Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences, USU) funded by the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Berreau’s laboratory is developing novel flavonol-based carbon monoxide-releasing molecules for applications as molecular tools to explore the beneficial effects of CO in biological systems.
In a second project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), her laboratory is elucidating mechanistic details of how inexpensive first-row transition metals and O2 can be used to break carbon-carbon bonds in chemical reactions of importance to catalysis. The current research team advancing these projects is comprised of graduate and undergraduate students, including a PDRF/American Heart Association pre-doctoral fellow and undergraduate URCO recipients. Dr. Berreau is the principal investigator on two recent NSF Major Research Instrumentation awards that have brought a 500 MHz NMR spectrometer and a bench-top X-ray crystallography system to the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. In 2016 Dr. Berreau was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dr. von Dohlen is Professor of Biology. She holds an A.B in Biology from Dartmouth College and M.S. and Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Maryland. She is an evolutionary biologist whose research program focuses on systematics and evolution of insects and their bacterial symbionts. Current studies are investigating the impacts of symbiont genome evolution in the evolution of host-plant relationships and life cycles in their insect hosts. Her research is funded by the National Science Foundation's Evolutionary Processes Cluster. She is currently major advisor of three Ph.D. and one Master’s students. She teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate level in insect systematics, evolution, biogeography, behavior, and phylogenetics. Dr. von Dohlen currently serves as Co-Director of Biology Graduate Programs, Assistant Department Head, and Director of the USU Insect Museum. She has served on numerous tenure and promotion committees, promotion committees, faculty and staff search committees, and other departmental and college committees. She has served as a faculty mentor for the Native American STEM Mentorship Program every year since its inception. Dr. von Dohlen regularly reviews manuscripts and grant proposals in her field, and currently serves as Associate Editor for Insect Systematics and Diversity journal.
Dr. Nick Dickenson graduated with bachelor's degrees in Chemistry and Human biology in 2003. As a junior, he participated in an NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program that solidified his interest in scientific research and graduate studies. Nick joined the graduate program at the Univeristy of Kansas in 2003 and earned his Ph.D. in Bio-Analytical Chemistry in 2008. He then moved to Oklahoma State University as a postdoctoral research assistant before taking a faculty position in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at USU in 2013. Since joining USU, Dr. Dickenson’s research lab has received several federal grants and published numerous articles uncovering bacterial regulatory mechanisms required to cause infection.
Dr. Dickenson’s research lab relies heavily on undergraduate student participation, training a total of 17 undergraduate researchers. Nick is known for having high expectations of his students and for specifically asking undergraduates to take "ownership" of their research by investing significant time and effort into the lab. This committment has paid off well for many of his students who have presented their research at local and national scientific meetings, published their results in top tier journals, and received highly-competitive academic awards and research grants in recognition of their accomplishments.
Director of Undergraduate Students for USU’s Department of Biology since 2003, Professor Dennis Welker was named the National Academic Advising Association’s Outstanding New Faculty Advisor in 2005 and recognized as the USU Outstanding New Faculty Advisor for the 2004-2005 academic year.
Calm and compassionate, Welker guides students through degree planning with sound advice and candor. He counsels scholars not only on class requirements, but advises them of opportunities, events and activities to enrich their academic experiences and position them for competitive admission to professional and graduate programs. Welker encourages students to work hard, become better scholars and to cultivate a mature balance of responsibilities that will propel them toward success.
Department of Biology employees and students describe Katriel Cloward, staff assistant III, as one who “goes above and beyond.” Not one to shy away from challenging tasks, Cloward, instead, applies leadership, organization and enthusiasm to numerous daunting projects.
Among her added responsibilities of the past year have been leading cleaning and preparation of spaces within the Biology-Natural Resources Building ahead of its renovation, along with departmental moves into the Life Sciences Building. Cloward has tackled these challenges, her supervisors say, with tact, courtesy, efficiency and creativity.
Cloward’s added responsibilities were accomplished to top of daily tasks, including event coordination, scheduling, keys, seminars and dealing with frequent building issues and requests of the aging BNR. She is a team-player, a strong support to students and a highly valued member of USU’s Department of Biology.
Past Award Winners
Please refer to this page for award winners from the past 35+ years of acheivement ain the College of Science at Utah State University.Past Awards
Nominate a Candidate
The nomination process is currently closed for the 2018-2019 academic year. Please contact your department if you have any questions.