State legislators and visitors returning to Utah’s newly renovated state capitol building for the 2008 legislative session can receive a thorough explanation of the structure’s innovative seismic safety improvements from Utah State University student researcher Kaitlin Neville.
A civil engineering major who studies base isolation systems, Neville is among 35 USU undergraduate researchers ascending Salt Lake’s Capitol Hill Thursday, Jan. 24, to present at the eighth annual Undergraduate Research Day. The students will display posters and discuss their research with legislators and other visitors from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in the capitol rotunda. The public is welcome.
“Participating in research is invaluable for a student’s intellectual growth and development,” says Brent Miller, vice president for research at USU. “Undergraduate research provides a unique hands-on experience that enhances learning, helps students gain entry in competitive professional and graduate school programs and prepares them to be key participants in the knowledge economy.”
Aggie research projects range from methods of diagnosing autism to the impact of race on crime and punishment in 19th century Virginia. Student participants include:
Biology major Sherry Baker, who is studying cancer cell metastatis with faculty mentor Daryll DeWald, a researcher in USU’s USTAR-funded Center for Advanced Nutrition.
Environmental engineering major Justin Berger, who is developing tools to provide online environmental observations of Utah’s watersheds with faculty mentor Jeff Horsburgh of USU’s Utah Water Research Laboratory.
Geology majors Lynsie Daley and Intel Scholar Shannon Babb, who are conducting petrographic mapping of sandstones in the Uintah Mountains as part of a USU ADVANCE grant-funded project with faculty mentor Carol Dehler.
Governor’s Scholar Katie Brown, a nutrition and food sciences major, who is investigating eating habits of college freshmen with faculty mentor Heidi Wengreen.
Theatre major Elicia Lord, who is adapting traditional Japanese costume to the stage with faculty mentor Amanda Profaizer.
Chemistry/Biochemistry major Sara Huefner, whose research with faculty mentor Alvan Hengge could illuminate cell processes that occur with diabetes, cancer and bubonic plague.
Joyce Kinkead, associate vice president for research at USU, reports that nearly 100 current USU students are Undergraduate Research Fellows and the university’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunities program typically awards 60 grants annually to fund student projects. Many more undergrads are also involved in research projects with faculty members. The number of undergrads employed in campus research positions jumped from 702 in the 2005-06 academic year to 1,060 in 2006-07.
Starting this year, eligible students will receive the title of Undergraduate Research Scholar on their transcripts.
“USU’s research office invests $160,000 each year in undergraduate research and this is in addition to funds provided by colleges, departments and other units on campus,” she says.
“Research programs provide unparalleled educational opportunities for Utah’s deserving students,” says USU President Stan L. Albrecht. “They create technologies, jobs and skilled professionals for the statewide economy.”