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Aggie Scientists Present Research on Utah’s Capitol Hill | 2021

Four undergraduate researchers from USU’s College of Science are among nine Aggies selected to present their work to state legislators in group Zoom calls Tuesday, Feb. 2, as part of Utah’s 2021 Undergraduate Research Day on Utah’s Capitol Hill. Pandemic restrictions this year preclude the usual in-person gathering in the Capitol rotunda, where three times as many student presenters set up research posters and mingle with lawmakers and visitors. Yet, organizers hope this year’s smaller format will afford student participants increased face time to share the importance of undergraduate research with the state’s decision makers. Learn more about these exemplary scholars:

Autocart: Spatially-Aware Regression Trees for Ecological and Spatial Modeling

Ethan Ancell

Hometown:South Jordan, Utah

High School:Herriman High School (2018)

Majors:Statistics and Computational Mathematics

Achievements:

  • USU Goldwater Scholar Nominee (2021)
  • Peak Summer Research Fellow (2020)
  • USU Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) Grant (2020)
  • Outstanding Statistics Student Award (2019-20)
  • Outstanding Recitation Leader Award (2019-20)
  • Robert and Christi Heal Scholarship (2020-21)
  • Dean's Scholarship (2018-20)

Researcher's Statement:“I research novel machine-learning models intended for spatial data analysis. I created a model called ‘autocart’ (autocorrelation regression trees) that leverages coordinate information in datasets for more accurate and physically realistic predications of various climate variables in complicated geographic spaces.”

Faculty Mentor: Brennan Bean, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics and Statistics, USU

Antibiotic Misuse Portends Future Utah Health Crisis; Public-Private Cooperation Needed

Kade Roberts

Hometown:Holladay, Utah

High School:Olympus High School (2017)

Majors:Biochemistry and Cellular Biology, minors in Chemistry and Anticipatory Intelligence

Achievements:

  • Dean's Scholarship
  • USU Center for Anticipatory Intelligence
  • Teacher, USU MCAT Prep Course
  • Undergraduate Teaching Fellow, Advanced Human Physiology
  • Lab Technician, USU's Institute for Antiviral Research

Researcher's Statement:“My research explores impending impacts of antibiotic resistance and steps that could be taken to mitigate the threat. I investigated the level in which society is reliant on antibiotics, and the effect of losing them through misuse would have on society. Through this research, I developed an interorganizational plan between research organizations, security enterprises, the private sector and lawmakers to help hold onto our antibiotic capabilities as long as possible.”

Faculty Mentor:Briana Bowen, Associate Director, Center for Anticipatory Intelligence, Department of Political Science, USU

 

Antimicrobial Assay of Artemisia tridentata (Big Sagebrush)

David Suisse

Hometown:North Ogden, Utah

High School:Weber High School (2016)

Major:Global Communication; minors in Biology and Chemistry

Achievements:

  • USU Presidential Scholarship
  • Presenter, Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research (2020)
  • USU Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities (URCO) Grant (2020)
  • Lifetime Learning Institute Senior-to-Senior Fellowship
  • USU Honors Program
  • USU Center for Anticipatory Intelligence

Researcher's Statement:“Our research seeks to understand the antimicrobial capabilities of Artemisia tridentata, or Big Sagebrush. We've found that extracts from sagebrush leaves, flowers, and branches are able to stop the growth of a variety of bacteria. This is significant because antibiotics that come from native Utah plants would be very cheap to produce and would highlight the beauty and diversity of Utah ecosystems. As we proceed with our research, we will continue to test sagebrush extracts against more bacteria and fungi and will be completing a chemical analysis to determine the identity of the active chemicals in the plant.”

Faculty Mentor:Amita Kaundal, Assistant Professor, Department of Plants, Soils and Climate, USU

Antimicrobial Assay of Artemisia tridentata (Big Sagebrush)

Kayla Wasden Suisse

Hometown:Twin Falls, Idaho

High School:Twin Falls High School (2016)

Major:Biology

Achievements:

  • USU Presidential Scholarship
  • Presenter, Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research (2020)
  • USU Honors Program
  • USU Center for Anticipatory Intelligence

Researcher's Statement: “Many plants secrete substances to create a more favorable environment, including chemicals that kill pathogenic microbes or competing plants. Artemisia tridentata, also known as “Big Sagebrush,” is prevalent in the Rocky Mountain region of the United States and is known to have antimicrobial capabilities. We are studying the antimicrobial activity of Artemisia tridentata.”

Faculty Mentor:Amita Kaundal, Assistant Professor, Department of Plants, Soils and Climate, USU