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Aggie Scientists Present Research on Utah’s Capitol Hill – 2018

Eight undergraduate researchers from USU’s College of Science are among about 30 Aggies selected to present research posters to state legislators and visitors to Utah’s Capitol Hill in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018. The scholars serve as ambassadors for USU, present cutting-edge studies and highlight the importance of undergraduate research experiences for students, local communities and the state of Utah. Learn more about these exemplary scholars:

Increasing Student Interest in Research: A Study of Undergraduate Students in a USU-Brigham City Biology Course

Mikayla Austin

Hometown: Brigham City, Utah

High School: Box Elder High School

Major: Public Health/Industrial Hygiene emphasis

Scholarships/Awards: Perkins Scholarship

Post-Graduation Plans: A career in industrial hygiene and graduate study in epidemiology.

Researcher's Statement: “I want to find ways of getting students interested in undergraduate research. For this project, I’m investigating if having students participate in research in the classroom makes them more likely to want to pursue research in the future. So far, I’ve seen that some students just need a taste of research to want to do more.”

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jessica Habashi,
Department of Biology, USU
Brigham City

The Effect of Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Factors on Reporting of Concussions among NCAA Athletes

Josh Hansen

Josh Hansen

Hometown: Pocatello, Idaho

High School: Highland High School (2012)

Major: Biology/Human Biology emphasis

Scholarships/Awards: USU Honors, John R. Simmons Scholarship, Thomas L. Bahler Scholarship, URCO Grant

Post-Graduation Plans: Accepted to the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine at Uniformed Services University, Maryland to become a physician for the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

Researcher's Statement: “My research is focused on studying the effect that culture and socio-economic standing have on concussion reporting behavior among NCAA athletes. This information is important because athletic trainers and coaches can use it to identify their athletes that are most likely to hide potential concussion symptoms and protect them from repeated concussions, which can have long term implications. We are doing this by distributing carefully designed surveys to athletes at over 450 NCAA institutions.”

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Breanna Studentka,
Department of Kinesiology and Health Science, USU

Motor Affordance for Grasping a Safety Handle

Garrett Rydalch

Hometown: Bountiful, Utah

High School: Bountiful High School (2013)

Major: Biology/minors in Chemistry and Psychology

Scholarships/Awards: Dean’s Transfer Student Scholarship, URCO GrantDean’s Transfer Student Scholarship, URCO Grant

Post-Graduation Plans: Doctoral study in neuroscience

Researcher's Statement: “The research I’ve been a part of focuses on changes that occur in the brain after we view an object we can act on. Specifically, we looked at how vision of a wall-mounted handrail increases excitability in the brain networks involved in grasping that handrail.”

Faculty Mentor: Dr. David Bolton,
Department of Kinesiology and Health Science, USU

Altered Feeding Behavior and Viral Detection in Honey Bees Exposed to Organosilicone

Matthew Thompson

Hometown: Layton, Utah

High School: Davis High School (2013)

Major: Biology

Scholarships/Awards: USU Honors, Presidential Scholarship, Undergraduate Research Fellow.

Post-Graduation Plans: Graduate study

Researcher's Statement: “The performance of honey bees is critical to agriculture worldwide and their rapid decline has caused concern. To help discover what’s happening to the bees, I’m investigating the relationship between ingredients in pesticide applications and honey bee health—including how these extra ingredients could potentially increase viral infections.”

Faculty Mentors: Dr. Karen Kapheim,
Department of Biology, USU
Dr. Diana Cox-Foster,
USDA-ARS Pollinating Insects Systematics Research Laboratory

Transplanting a Bacterial Immune System: Design, Construction and Expression of a Multi-Subunit Type IV CRISPR System

Melena Garrett

Melena Garrett

Hometown: Eustis, Florida

High School: Rock Springs High School (2013)

Major: Biological Engineering

Scholarships/Awards: USU URCO (Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities) Grant

Post-Graduation Plans: Plans to pursue graduate studies in biomedical informatics.


Riannon Smith

Hometown: South Weber, Utah

High School: Northridge High School (2014)

Major: Biological Engineering

Scholarships/Awards: USU URCO (Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities) Grant

Post-Graduation Plans: Doctoral study in chemical engineering; accepted to University of Iowa

Researcher's Statement: “Our research is to combine the separate genes of the Type IV CRISPR system into a single cell line. We are working to discover the structure and function of these individual proteins and their potential complexes.”

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ryan Jackson,
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, USU

An Examination of the Prevalence of IPV Training in U.S. Medical School Curriculum by Rank and Type of Institution

Tyson Lumbreras

Tyson Lumbreras

Hometown: Preston, Idaho

High School: Preston High School (2013)

Major: Biology/Human Biology emphasis

Scholarships/Awards: Seely-Hinckley College of Science Scholarship, Weston R. and Jolayne Innes Department of Biology Scholarship, URCO Grant

Post-Graduation Plans: Medical school

Researcher's Statement: “The purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of Intimate Partner Violence education among U.S. medical school’s curriculum. Further, the proposed study will examine how institutional rank and type of school (M.D. versus D.O.) are connected to the likelihood of offering DV/IPV training. The data collected from this project will provide professional medical organizations, medical school administrators, Directors of Curriculum, medical school faculty, and domestic violence advocates with information regarding the current state of IPV training in medical school settings in the U.S. Ideally, these data will spark conversations regarding the need for increased curriculum content on IPV in medical schools.”

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jessica Lucero,
Department of Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology, USU

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Rearing and Nutrition

James Withers

James Withers

Hometown: Blackfoot, Idaho

High School: Snake River High School (2013)

Major: Biology

Researcher's Statement: “The brown marmorated stink bug is an invasive insect from Asia. It has caused millions of dollars in damage to fruit crops. We’re investigating the insect’s rearing and feeding habits.”

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Diane Alston,
Department of Biology, USU