Science & Technology

Rapid Fire Research: Fledgling Investigators Share Discoveries, Challenges, Humor

In four minutes, four slides, student researchers from diverse disciplines build camaraderie

By Mary-Ann Muffoletto |

Video by Taylor Emerson, Digital Journalist, University Marketing & Communications

You have four minutes and four slides to share your big research idea. Is this brainstorm you’re banking your degree on incomplete? Still a bit fuzzy? No worries. You’re among your Aggie family, ready to cheer you on.

That’s the premise of Rapid Fire Research, a presentation format launched this academic year by the Science Council, student-led officers of Utah State University’s College of Science, whose aim was to get more Aggies, especially undergrads, involved in research. The council has hosted two of these campus events, one during Science Week in November 2021, and the most recent one, enlisting help from the Quinney College of Natural Resources Council, on March 28. Both were rousing successes.

“What made these events shine is due to people willing to put themselves out there, as well as to their fellow Aggies supporting them,” says undergraduate Manuel Santana, who serves as the Science Council’s vice president for undergraduate research involvement.

Science Senator Jonathan Mousley agrees.

“It’s electric to interact with individuals who not only share your excitement for research philosophically, but can also teach you a thing or two about a discipline you’re unfamiliar with,” Mousley says. “Technical language barriers are a real thing. My hope is events like Rapid Fire Research spark excitement in prospective researchers and encourage them to keep working towards comprehension, despite initial difficulties.”

Santana, a computational mathematics major and 2021 Goldwater Scholar, came up with the idea for a Rapid Fire Research gathering from participation in a similar virtual event hosted by Texas State University in 2021. His brainchild was further fueled by a national lecture series he attended on the importance of communicating science to the public, as part of his participation in National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates.

“Being able to communicate with the public, as a researcher, is very important, but it takes practice,” says Santana, the College of Science’s 2022 Undergraduate Researcher of the Year.

“As researchers, we ought to cater to our audiences and, better yet, cater to new learners, who may find getting involved in research intimidating,” Mousley says. “The common thread between all of us is curiosity, but being a researcher in a highly technical discipline can be isolating. To me, communicating with individuals who don’t share your background or interests can be very freeing.”

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education officially recognized USU with the R1 designation for "very high research activity" this year.

The USU community will have an another opportunity to hear about research from across all campuses at USU during Research Week 2022 April 11-15, including the Student Research Symposium April 12-13.

Spring 2022 Rapid Fire Research presenters, from left, Laura Adams, ADVS; Kaden Bunch, Biology; Noah Langenfeld, PSC; Tina Sullivan, PSC; Emily Bonebrake, WILD; Trevor Jex, CS; Gerald Jones, MathStats; Joonsun Park, Kinesiology and Health Sciences.


Mary-Ann Muffoletto
Public Relations Specialist
College of Science


Manuel Santana
Vice President for Undergraduate Research Involvement
USU Science Council


Research 814stories Undergraduate Research 147stories STEM 112stories Communication 40stories

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