In the News
Cache Valley Daily Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021
LOGAN – Last April Utah State University received over $17 million — through the CARES Act — and it came with a requirement that at least half of the funds go directly to students facing unanticipated hardship because of the coronavirus pandemic.
So, $8.7 million was allocated to students in need and more than $7.5 million was dispersed by the time the 2020 calendar year came to an end.
USU Vice President of Academic and Instructional Services Robert Wagner said in the Fall, with some funds still available, the university switched its approach.
“We went back to a more broader grant style where we used the federal application for financial need to determine those students who had the greatest need,” Wagner said. “And then we offered them funds if they experienced hardships related to COVID.”
Deseret News Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021
LOGAN — In another step to advance the research of sustainable electrified vehicles, Utah State University is asking state higher education officials to authorize the university to issue up to $9.2 million in revenue bonds to update and expand its Electric Vehicle and Roadway building.
Utah stands to become the “epicenter” of electrified transportation nationally, if not worldwide, according to USU trustee and former Utah Senate President Wayne Niederhauser.
“Utah is in a prime situation with the inland port and other initiatives as well as the Olympics because they’ve got to be zero emissions. This electrification of transportation is a huge deal and Utah can be the epicenter for that and USU is playing a big, big role in it,” Niederhauser said in a recent trustees meeting.
Cache Valley Daily Monday, Jan. 11, 2021
LOGAN – After 20 years at Utah State University’s Center for Persons With Disabilities — most recently as Policy Director — Sachin Pavithran will leave soon for Washington, D.C. to become Executive Director of the U.S. Access Board.
The Access Board is an independent federal agency devoted to accessibility issues for people with disabilities, similar to his work at USU.
”In spite of being a small agency, it has a large footprint, and is very unique in a sense because no other country has an agency like this,” said Pavithran. “So, it’s not the U.S. only that benefits from the work of the Access Board, it’s a global impact.”
Fox 13 News Sunday, Jan. 10, 2021
LOGAN, Utah — The Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University has been awarded a contract from NASA.
The SDL is tasked with investigating how large weather events on earth, like hurricanes or thunderstorms, create disturbances above the planet’s atmosphere.
“It takes a lot of effort to compete at that level and be awarded an entire mission like this,” said Burt Lamborn, the project manager. “It is a Logan, Utah centric mission that will revolutionize how scientists understand how earth weather affects that layer of space weather.”
The study will look at gravity waves caused by inclement weather and their impact on the ionosphere.
Deseret News Thursday, Dec. 03, 2020
Genetically engineered golden Syrian hamsters developed by Utah State University researchers played a key role in animal trials of a possible vaccine to protect against the virus that causes COVID-19. The Rega Institute in Leuven, Belgium, has used the hamsters produced by professor Zhongde Wang and his lab at USU in Logan to test the safety and effectiveness of a possible vaccine.
Construction Equipment Guide Tuesday, Dec. 01, 2020
USU's new academic facility in Moab is a combustion-free building that includes solar energy and highlights the beauty of southern Utah's natural landscape, according to the university's website Not only will the building help locals and non-traditional students in south-eastern Utah continue their education, but it fits the highly sustainable environment that many locals maintain in Moab.
Deseret News Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020
He had to wait as long as possible on Wednesday night, but Utah native Sam Merrill is an NBA draft pick.The former Bountiful High and Utah State star was taken with the 60th and final pick of the draft. The pick was made by the New Orleans Pelicans, but it will be sent to the Milwaukee Bucks, and thus Merrill will begin his NBA career alongside league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Forbes Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020
The reward is up there, in the sky, when the stars come out above Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The park, taking in national parks in Alberta and Montana, was the first designation in the history of the International Dark-Sky Association to span an international boundary back in 2017. The award has gone to Iree Wheeler, recognized as a Dark Sky Defender by the nonprofit association.
Wheeler, a Ph.D. student in the Institute for Outdoor Recreation and Tourism at Utah State University, is among a number of 2020 award recipients and was recently recognized for being “instrumental” in having the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park designated as the first (provisional) International Dark Sky Place to span an international border. The park encompasses Glacier National Park in Montana, United States, and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada.
Cache Valley Daily Sunday, Nov. 08, 2020
Utah State University was recently awarded two $5 million grants from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of Family Assistance. Both grants will be distributed over a five-year period and will fund fatherhood and relationship education programs. Brian Higginbotham, Utah State University Extension associate vice president and professor in the Human Development and Family Studies Department in the College of Education and Human Services, will direct the projects.
ABC4.com Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020
LOGAN, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah State University has been ranked one of the top 10 colleges in the nation for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The University was ranked number 6 overall for providing housing and meal refunds in spring 2020, giving instructional delivery options to students in fall 2020, adjusting its 2020-21 academic calendar, and identifying students in need of extra financial help, according to college magazine.
KSLtv.com Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020
Another space milestone took place Tuesday about 200 million miles away from Earth as a spacecraft with a three-camera suite from Utah State University extended an articulated arm and scooped up some debris, known as regolith, from the surface of asteroid Bennu. The cameras were built at USU’s Space Dynamics Lab. They are aboard NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer spacecraft, or OSIRIS-REx, according to a news release from SDL.
KSL.com Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020
Utah State University officials are taking a big step in their fight against COVID-19 after opening their own on-campus testing site. They’re getting federal CARES funding to make this happen, and the staff is all being sourced right here on campus. Nursing students are taking the samples and a veterinary science lab is getting the results. Just east of Maverik Stadium, students like Griffin Bolton are getting the kind of real-world experience they probably never expected. “It’s been cool. It’s been interesting to see kind of how the process is done,” Bolton said. “I think it’s definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. Maybe not super-practical, once we … you know … five, 10 years down the line, but good experience nonetheless.” But unusual times often call for some creative methods for fighting back. “Having our own resources will be a huge benefit, so we can just send people in, get them tested and get results much more quickly,” said Amanda DeRito, a spokeswoman for Utah State University.
KSL.com Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020
Researchers at Utah State University said they’ve figured out how to forecast droughts one to three years in advance. They can’t predict specific storms, but they can, with some degree of accuracy, say how much precipitation an area might get in the coming year. “These predictions can provide a more long-term perspective,” said Yoshi Chikamoto, assistant professor at USU. “So if we know we have a water shortage prediction, we need to work with policymakers on allocating those water resources.” Researchers believe it can become a major tool for agriculture, and maybe even wildfire management. It starts with analyzing up to 100 terabytes of data, all of which is crunched through a supercomputer. “One year is pretty high scale. Second-year is getting lower and lower after year by year,” Chikamoto said. Chikamoto said predictions a year out can be done fairly well, but when it’s two to three years out, they tend to lose some accuracy.
Utah Public Radio Thursday, Oct. 08, 2020
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the United States as a whole, not all areas face the same impact. A recent report from the Institue of Outdoor Recreation and Toursim at Utah State University entitled the "Rural West COVID Project" looks at the impact of the virus in places like Utah. “Rural communities are really particularly vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. You know, there's lower access to health care, there's higher poverty and many places have a higher portion of health compromised people, and the labor market, they're really pretty vulnerable. So what we're talking about right now, this first survey, is part of a larger project that's going to go on over the next year to try and quantify and qualify the impact of COVID-19 on the rural West," said Tom Mueller, an associate professor of sociology at Utah State University and is one of the authors of this recent report.
Cache Valley Daily Wednesday, Oct. 07, 2020
Research recently looked into the population of areas of Utah in contrast to representation in municipal governments and municipal leadership in general. One of the authors of the survey and study that was published by Utah State University, Dr. Susan Madsen, was on KVNU’s For the People program on Wednesday, and said this was research that was difficult to conduct. “It was. And we were actually surprised…this is our third in a series we’ve released. The first one was how we compare in terms of men and women in the state government. Then we did one on the county government, and then this one is on cities and towns,” she said. Dr. Madsen said what they found out when they did literature review was that the study was unique to Utah and they could not find one other state that has published information like that. USU’s Utah Women in Leadership project looked at data from 247 cities and towns in Utah and found that women hold just 29 percent of elected and non-elected positions in municipal government.
Utah Public Radio Tuesday, Oct. 06, 2020
The past few years have seen increases in drone use—from recreational flying, consumer deliveries, military transport and even agriculture. “The way we see a drone is more like a flying tractor. And tractors have several uses. And they're well known and you buy a tractor that can take care of what it needs to do in your farm,” said Cal Coopmans, who runs the AggieAir lab at Utah State University. Last week, the lab demonstrated it’s newest aircraft—GreatBlue. Coopman said although drones may be a large investment for a farm, the varitey applications they have make them a worthwhile investment. For example, GreatBlue can collect information by taking images of the land below while in the air. This images can be pieced together later. “When the drone lands, there would be information there that would help the farmer farm more efficiently in this case, save water or make sure the plants have a high health Index, this kind of thing,” said Coopmans.
Utah Public Radio Friday, Sep. 25, 2020
With the help of a team of students from Utah State University, members of the Northwest Band of the Shoshone Nation are working to restore the sacred land at the sight of the Bear River Massacre. “It’s us being able to tell our story from our unique perspective," Darren Parry said. "And when you give people a voice, especially marginalized communities, a voice is really powerful.” Parry is the chair of the Northwest Band of the Shoshone Nation and is one of the people working to restore the land in Southern Idaho where the Bear River Massacre occurred. Boa Ogoi, the Shoshone name for the massacre site, is the location of the largest mass murder of indigenous people in the history of the United States. This site, where an estimated 270 to 400 men, women and children were murdered in 1863, is sacred to the Shoshone nation. In addition to the restoration, an interpretive center will also be built on this site to educate people about the Shoshone people.
National Geographic Tuesday, Sep. 22, 2020
The American West is ablaze with fires fueled by climate change and a century of misguided fire suppression. In California, wildfire has blackened more than three million acres; in Oregon, a once-in-a-generation crisis has forced half a million people to flee their homes. All the while, one of our most valuable firefighting allies has remained overlooked: The beaver. A new study concludes that, by building dams, forming ponds, and digging canals, beavers irrigate vast stream corridors and create fireproof refuges in which plants and animals can shelter. In some cases, the rodents’ engineering can even stop fire in its tracks. ... For decades, scientists have recognized that the North American beaver, Castor canadensis, provides a litany of ecological benefits throughout its range from northern Mexico to Alaska. Beaver ponds and wetlands have been shown to filter out water pollution, support salmon, sequester carbon, and attenuate floods. Researchers have long suspected that these paddle-tailed architects offer yet another crucial service: slowing the spread of wildfire. “It’s really not complicated: water doesn’t burn,” says Joe Wheaton, a geomorphologist at Utah State University. After the Sharps Fire charred 65,000 acres in Idaho in 2018, for instance, Wheaton stumbled upon a lush pocket of green glistening within the burn zone—a beaver wetland that had withstood the flames. Yet no scientist had ever rigorously studied the phenomenon. (See California’s record blazes through the eyes of frontline firefighters.)"
The Herald Journal Monday, Sep. 21, 2020
Whether people decide to comply with mask wearing or make a scene about it could hinge on some simple techniques. In a video shared this semester, USU Communications Studies Lecturer Clair Canfield, who is also a certified mediator, outlines the steps everyone can take to deescalate a potential conflict, including ones over facial coverings. The video comes as USU started enforcing a mask-wearing policy this fall semester and will re-evaluate it for spring. According to the school’s website, it “requires that everyone wear a face covering or disposable mask in all university buildings and vehicles, and outside anytime you cannot practice social distancing.” “Conflict is full of potential — I’ve seen it have the potential to lead to beautiful outcomes, to be the doorway that helps people get what they want and connect more,” Canfield says at the start of the video. “I’ve also seen the potential it has to lead to violent and destructive outcomes.” ... Just as some in CHaSS voiced concerns about potential conflict with mask wearing, Canfield states in his video that students might feel the same way. He says conflict stems from people’s values, which can bring up “strong emotions.” “When you understand more of what’s happening in conflict, it helps you develop a mindset — and when you pair that with a skill set, it can help you develop hope so you can deescalate a conflict,” Canfield said. “Hope starts with humanizing the other person.”
The Herald Journal Thursday, Sep. 17, 2020
Utah State University will provide alternatives to new students unable to take the ACT or SAT placement exams who are seeking academic merit scholarships for the spring, summer and fall 2021 semesters. The change follows an initial announcement in August that the university would transition to a test-optional admittance policy in 2021 following logistical test-preparation and administration disruptions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Those same students will also be considered for scholarships regardless of whether they have taken the ACT or SAT. “USU understands that many high school students have been limited in their ability to take standardized tests over the past several months,” said Katie Jo North, executive director of new student enrollment. “This has affected thousands of potential students who face an unfair hurdle in receiving scholarships they may otherwise deserve.” This year, students who apply for scholarships without a standardized test score will receive a comprehensive academic review. Among the benchmarks considered will be grade point average, high school course rigor, class rank and other criteria.
Deseret News Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2020
Robert “Robbie” Petersen and Rusten Thornley had never met before, yet they shook hands like old friends. The handshake and unique meeting between the 36-year-old Petersen, sporting a black Western Seeds Utah hat, and the 16-year-old Eagle Scout, dressed in his tan uniform with green merit badge sash, took place a few feet from a new 8-foot granite monument, located a few miles north of Tremonton and just off the eastbound side of Interstate 84. What brought the unlikely pair together was 15 years in the making, beginning with a tragic accident and culminating with a fitting tribute. “This site will always have significance for me,” Petersen said. “Every time I come past here I’m reminded of that day.” ... On the sunny fall afternoon of Sept. 26, 2005, a 1994 Dodge passenger van with 10 Utah State University agriculture students was returning from a field trip to see farm equipment in Box Elder County. Evan Parker, a USU Ag instructor, was the driver. The students were underclassmen, mostly freshmen, including Petersen, who recalled conversations on various topics as they rode along. “Guys were talking about the combine we had just looked at,” he said. “As part of the field trip there was a worksheet to fill out, so guys were asking each other questions. Being a bunch of farmers and ranchers, there was talk about Ag stuff. We also talked about the college of Ag activities on campus to celebrate Ag week.” Just before 4 p.m., Parker lost control of the van when the left rear tire blew out, causing the van to roll and ejecting all 11 occupants. The Utah Highway Patrol estimated the van traveled from the interstate over about 300 yards of sagebrush before coming to rest on the edge of a deep ravine.
Deseret News Monday, Sep. 14, 2020
In the middle of a historically active wildfire season — where large amounts of carbon dioxide, brown and black carbon and ozone are pouring into the atmosphere — the Utah Clean Cities Coalition wants to remind people that there is something they can do to help keep the air clean. And it only takes a few seconds. Turning off the ignition of an idle car is a simple act with potentially large benefits, said Tammie Bostick, the executive director of the coalition. It is a message she hopes to share, particularly in the month of September, which marks the 13th anniversary of the Idle Free Declaration issued by the Utah governor. ... The real-time speed limit displays — the ones that tell people how fast they’re going — are effective, according to researchers, but probably not for the reasons most think. “One of the major reasons is they show you that you’re speeding in a way that others can see you’re being shown that you’re speeding, so it’s a violation of what’s called social norm,” Kelly said. “In my terms, it is maybe a little bit of peer pressure to make good choices.” The signs started Kelly thinking, along with her fellow researcher Gregory Madden, a USU professor in the psychology department. What if they were to do something similar for idling?
New York Times Sunday, Sep. 06, 2020
Days after he crossed the country to start college, Ryan Schmutz received a text message from Utah State University: COVID-19 had been detected at his dorm. Within 10 minutes, he dropped the crepes he was making and was whisked away by bus to a testing site. “We didn’t even know they were testing,” said Schmutz, who is 18 and from Omaha, Nebraska. “It all really happened fast.” Schmutz was one of about 300 students quarantined to their rooms last week, but not because of sickness reports or positive tests. Instead, the warning bells came from the sewage.Colleges across the nation — from New Mexico to Tennessee, Michigan to New York — are turning tests of waste into a public health tool. The work comes as institutions hunt for ways to keep campuses open despite vulnerabilities like students' close living arrangements and drive to socialize. The virus has already left its mark with outbreaks that have forced changes to remote learning at colleges around the country. The tests work by detecting genetic material from the virus, which can be recovered from the stools of about half of people with COVID-19, studies indicate. The concept has also been used to look for outbreaks of the polio virus. ... And this week, Utah State's positive wastewater test could be narrowed only as far as four residence halls that share the same sewer system. The test came back positive late Aug. 29, and the quarantine started the next day. Students were required to stay in their rooms, eating meals delivered by a “COVID care” team and barred from walking more than a few steps outside the residence hall. The buildings are laid out in apartment-style suites, and students were released from quarantine in small groups if every roommate in a suite tested negative. The tests had turned up four coronavirus cases as of Thursday.
The Herald Journal Friday, Aug. 28, 2020
Fall sports were one of the first COVID-19 casualties for the 2020-2021 school year at Utah State University. The fate of many other Aggie events hangs in the balance of how well USU handles students’ return to campus, but several key “Connections” events for freshmen have survived. The Connections, or USU 1010, class is meant to introduce students to both the school and community, and several events, such as Explore Downtown, welcomed new students to the area — though with modifications to mitigate risk of spreading the virus. “I feel like students are excited to have the opportunity to progress,” said Spencer Bitner, director of Student Involvement at USU. “I think a lot of seniors from high school are discouraged, you know, about not having their graduations in some instances, and having to go home and not really experiencing that. So I think they’re ready to experience life.” Students explored several highlights along Main Street, Center Street and Federal Avenue with others from their classes and residences. Though the former Taste of Logan was originally held just one night, it was spread over Wednesday, Thursday and Friday due to the pandemic. Some businesses chose not to participate, and others, like Locker 42 — which used to invite students to try their hand at mechanical bull riding — scaled back their offerings. Others upped the ante and gave students extra swag to welcome them to the community. Even through the masks — a requirement for both USU’s campus and in the city of Logan, until Aug. 30 — nearly every student who participated found the event fun.