In the News

  • Popular Science Friday, May. 24, 2024

    Chance or pattern? Stick insects show repeatable evolution in action

    Stick insects have more going on the surface of their skinny bodies than meets the eye. Some species of these bugs can blend in with plants to avoid predators. How they evolved this camouflage is part of an evolutionary mystery: do specific physical traits evolve by chance or if they follow a predictable pattern? After combing through 30 years of data, a team of scientists may have found evidence of repeatable evolution in stick insects. The findings are described in a study published May 24 in the journal Science Advances.

    An evolutionary do-over?

    There are still numerous unanswered questions in evolution, particularly how it unfolds. Does evolution happen in an easily observed sequence or does it depend on chance events? Late evolutionary scientist Stephen Jay Gould described this phenomenon as “replaying the tape of life.” This metaphor in his 1989 nonfiction book Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History asks a deep question: If given the chance to evolve again, would life on Earth look like something similar to what we know now, or would it look incredibly different?

    “If you frame it as an either/or question, it’s too simplistic,” study co-author and Utah State University evolutionary biologist Zachariah Gompert said in a statement. “The answer isn’t ‘completely random’ or ‘completely deterministic and predictable.’ And yet, examining short time scales, we can find predictable, repeatable evolutionary patterns.”

  • The Herald Journal Monday, May. 13, 2024

    USU Police Dept. makes great efforts to connect with students, community

    The Utah State University Police Department is a full-service department that also provides community engagement, education and more to USU students and campus. The department’s close connection to students makes it a very unique police department.

    The USU Police Department has 15 full-time officers working for the department as well as five part time. The department serves USU’s campus in Logan, which has between 3,500 and 4,000 students living on it during the school year.

    According to Lieutenant Shane Nebeker, on any given day there can be approximately 20,000 to 25,000 people on campus. That number can be even higher during events such as sports games.

  • Cache Valley Daily Monday, May. 13, 2024

    USU scientists share information about Avian flu in birds and cows

    LOGAN - Avian Influenza, or bird flu, is deadly in chickens and some other birds but according to the latest news from Utah State University, the same is not true in cows.

    Tom Baldwin, Director of USU’s Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, said the virus does not kill dairy cows and is not an infectious disease that would force the USDA to direct mandatory slaughter. Pasteurized milk and properly cooked meat are also safe.

    Cows that contract bird flu have a sharp drop in milk production. Dairies that suspect their cows have the virus should move the sick cows to a hospital pen, then call a veterinarian.

  • Cache Valley Daily Tuesday, May. 07, 2024

    USU recently hosted water research summit

    LOGAN - Utah State University has created a series of Research Summits as a way to promote interactions between researchers on topics of current interest, spanning multiple colleges.

    Each summit includes a panel discussion with experts from USU, and from outside USU, sharing ideas drawn from current research. Spring semester’s first summit dealt with energy, followed by a second summit on artificial intelligence.

    Most recently, USU’s Office of Research organized a water summit on April 23.

  • Deseret News Thursday, May. 02, 2024

    Gail Miller tells USU graduates to 'lead with love'

    Gail Miller related a recent back surgery to the importance of flexibility and moderation while moving through life during Utah State University’s graduation ceremony Thursday.

    "Be willing to bend, but be reasonable when you bend," Miller, the owner of the Larry H. Miller Company, told the 4,510 students receiving degrees at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum on the Logan campus.

    According to the university, 7,471 degrees will be conferred to 6,897 students in the system statewide. The youngest graduate in the class of 2024 is 17 years old, according to Provost Laurens H. Smith, and the oldest is 73.

  • KSL Saturday, Apr. 27, 2024

    NASA looking to researchers at USU to problem-solve farming on Mars

    LOGAN — A group of researchers at Utah State University has been experimenting with farming methods to help NASA learn how to survive on Mars.

    Professor Bruce Bugbee and doctoral candidate Noah Langenfeld are part of the group conducting this research in a greenhouse that allows each element to be controlled.

    "They can't waste anything," Bugbee said. "Every speck, every drop of water has to be recycled."

    In this greenhouse, they are meticulous about every drop of water while growing lettuce while wasting very little.

  • KSL Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2024

    Autism program at Utah State University is helping kids across the world

    LOGAN — An overseas supermodel-turned-philanthropist is getting help from Utah State University to teach children with autism.

    Natalia Vodianova said she knows the challenges of autism because her younger sister, Oksana Vodianova, has it.

    "(Oksana) is a nonverbal autistic person. She's 36 now, and she actually has also been benefiting from intervention. Not, unfortunately, when she was a child," Vodianova said.

    Vodianova is a known Russian supermodel who has appeared on several Vogue magazine covers, but she said her mission is with the Naked Heart Foundation, based in London. The foundation helps kids like Oksana Vodianova, who brought Natalie Vodianova to USU's Autism Support Services: Education, Research, and Training program.

  • Cache Valley Daily Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2024

    USU research shows ice endures at Yellowstone Lake

    LOGAN - Why is the amount of time Yellowstone Lake is covered by ice each winter holding steady while lakes around the world are experiencing shorter periods of ice cover?

    New research from Utah State University’s Quinney College of Natural Resources has found unexpected outcomes in a warming world.

    The Quinney College team, led by Watershed Sciences professor Scott Hotaling, found that even though the region around the lake has seen a warming climate for decades, increased snowfall at the lake has likely served as a buffer against warmer weather.

    At 7,733 feet above sea level, Yellowstone Lake is North America’s largest high-elevation lake and it freezes over completely in late December and usually thaws in late May or early June.

  • Fox 13 News Friday, Apr. 05, 2024

    Native-American Pow Wow returns to Utah State after long break

    LOGAN, Utah — When a Navajo student returned to Utah State University after a break of a few years, he asked about the Pow Wow he attended as child. The student did not like the answer, but that was the beginning, not the end of the tradition.

    Drums, dancing, and vendors. That was Pow Wow.

    "This is a time for us all to just get along, celebrate life and just reminisce on how great life was, could be, and will be," explained Kristofer Pfeiffer, secretary of the Utah State Native-American Student Council.

    However, the celebration stopped in 2018 and hadn't returned.

  • The Herald Journal Thursday, Apr. 04, 2024

    USU Drone Day highlights students flying various drone types on campus

    The Utah State University Aviation Department held its Drone Day event on Wednesday. The event showcased students flying various types and sizes of drones around the quad at USU and through obstacles.

    Drone Day was part of the aviation department’s Aviation Week, which showcases the different areas of the aviation program at USU and highlights the department.

    According to Duke Papworth, a lecturer in the USU Aviation Department, the Drone Day event was to promote both the drone program at USU as well as the DroneWorx Club.

  • ABC News Wednesday, Apr. 03, 2024

    What college students need to know about payment apps

    For college students, sending money to friends has never been easier thanks to peer-to-peer payment apps like Venmo, PayPal and Cash App. But that convenience poses risks, including vulnerability to errors, fraud and the tendency to overspend.

    As a result, payment apps can contribute to financial stress at a time when young people are learning how to manage their finances on their own. “Peer-to-peer payment apps are cash on steroids because they’re a straw stuck into your bank account,” says Anne Lester, author of “Your Best Financial Life.”

    Not only does that make spending easier and more “frictionless,” Lester explains, but it also means “if you trust the wrong person, then you’re in big trouble,” because it can be difficult or impossible to get the money back.

  • The New York Times Friday, Mar. 29, 2024

    Heat Waves Are Moving Slower and Staying Longer, Study Finds

    When heat waves swept across large parts of the planet last summer, in many places the oppressive temperatures loitered for days or weeks at a time. As climate change warms the planet, heat waves are increasingly moving sluggishly and lasting longer, according to a study published on Friday.

    Each decade between 1979 and 2020, the rate at which heat waves travel, pushed along by air circulation, slowed by about 5 miles per day, the study found. Heat waves also now last about four days longer on average.

    “This really has strong impacts on public health,” said Wei Zhang, a climate scientist at Utah State University and one of the authors of the study, which appeared in the journal Science Advances.

    The longer heat waves stick around in one place, the longer people are exposed to life-threatening temperatures. As workers slow down during extreme heat, so does economic productivity. Heat waves also dry out soil and vegetation, harming crops and raising the risk of wildfires.

  • Cache Valley Daily Friday, Mar. 22, 2024

    USU thespians to debut play-reading of 'Tiny Beautiful Things' adaptation

    LOGAN – While rehearsals are underway for its mid-April main-stage production of The Tempest by William Shakespeare, the Theatre Arts Program at Utah State University will offer a play-reading of Tiny Beautiful Things for local audiences.

    Adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos, that play is based on the 2012 self-help book Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed.

    The adaptation will be read by USU Theatre Arts students at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Mar. 29 and Saturday, Mar. 30 in the intimate Black Box Theatre.

    The book Tiny Beautiful Things was a collection of essays from “Dear Sugar”, which was Strayed’s advice column on The Rumpus, an online literary magazine.

  • ABC4 News Monday, Mar. 18, 2024

    Polluted dust linked to troubling changes in mountain lakes, USU research

    SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Dust isn’t the same as it always was.

    Modern dust contains fertilizers, pesticides and tiny plastics, said Janice Brahney, an associate professor with Utah State University’s Department of Watershed Sciences.

    “What we would have thought of as what’s typically in dust is different now than it was 150 years ago,” she said, explaining that these complex compounds and materials come from agricultural sources, urban areas and industry.

    Brahney leads a team of researchers who’ve recently published a study about how atmospheric dust is affecting mountain headwaters across the world. This research was the product of 15 years of work.
  • Cache Valley Daily Monday, Mar. 18, 2024

    USU VP Jane Irungu strives for a campus where all can thrive

    LOGAN – Dr. Jane Irungu was born and raised in Kenya and became a teacher and principal there, before moving to the U.S. in 1997 for opportunities at the Universities of Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon and, now, Utah State.

    For almost three years she has served as vice president for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at USU.

    After learning of the power of education in her early years she said she made her life mission to advocate for those who need help so that all students can thrive and follow their passions.

  • Cache Valley Daily Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2024

    USU Math team ranks in top 17% of North American math meet

    LOGAN – As the USU men’s championship basketball team prepares for appearances in its conference tournament this week and next week’s national playoffs, another group of Aggies wound up a recent competition in the national top 20.

    A six-person team of Aggie mathematics scholars scored in the top 17 percent of the 471 institutions in the internationally-renowned William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. They completed two demanding three-hour sessions to achieve their ranking.

    USU team members are Carter Green, Hyrum Cooper, Jason Atwood, Bryan Armenta Valdez, Cole Neiderman and Emily Wessman.

    Ngheim Nguyen, the team’s faculty mentor, said the Putnam competition is the preeminent mathematics event for undergraduate college students in the United State and Canada.

  • Cache Valley Daily Monday, Mar. 11, 2024

    USU professor wins national award as he prepares for quakes

    LOGAN – Once a year the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) presents the Prakash Lecturer Award for outstanding research or professional practice contributions in the area of geotechnical engineering or soil dynamics.

    This year’s winner is Utah State University geotechnical engineering professor Brady Cox, a Utah native and USU grad who joined the USU faculty in 2020 after terms at the University of Arkansas and the University of Texas.

    He is one of the experts on seismic hazards who has said for years that there will some day be a major earthquake in Utah. In early-2023 he made a statement that apparently caught the attention of Utah lawmakers.

  • The Herald Journal Saturday, Mar. 09, 2024

    Utah Climate Center scientists study all facets of weather data

    The Utah Climate Center at Utah State University has been providing Utahns and people globally with accurate weather forecasts measuring the state’s precipitation for 134 years.

    Founded in the early 1890s, the Utah Climate Center has been devoted to accurately documenting and sharing climate information for businesses and the public alike. Since inception, it has expanded by adding more stations and hiring more specialists; to provide weather services to growers and researchers worldwide.

    Climate data is grouped into mission specific networks that primarily support Utah agriculture. Stations have research grade sensors that measure solar radiation, wind, relative humidity, air and soil temperature, precipitation and soil moisture.

  • Cache Valley Daily Wednesday, Mar. 06, 2024

    24-year veteran named CFO at USU's Space Dynamics Lab

    LOGAN – Jennifer Bettencourt, a 24-year veteran of service at Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory, Tuesday was named SDL’s chief financial officer.

    Bettencourt joined SDL in 2000 as a cost analyst. She becomes the organization’s first female officer and a corporate officer of the SDL Board of Directors.

    She will serve not only as director of SDL’s recently merged Business and Finance Division, but as CFO overseeing all aspects of financial management and strategy.

    The appointments were effective March 1.

  • ABC4 News Wednesday, Mar. 06, 2024

    Utah State Researcher Conducts New Study for Early Dementia Detection

    LOGAN, Utah (Good Things Utah) – Alzheimer’s is the 4th leading cause of death in Utah. Because of this, Utah State University recently became home to a state-funded Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Research Center aimed at increasing research across the state to find ways to better understand Alzheimer’s and dementia, and better understand how to best support people living with these diseases. The ADRC opened in 2022, funded by a bill from the State Legislature.

    Dr. Beth Fauth, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Research Center at Utah State University has partnered with Sydney Schaefer, associate professor in the School of Biological Health Systems at Arizona State University, and Jill Love, a geriatric care manager and co-owner of Neurosessments, to improve early dementia detection with a simple, non-invasive motor test. The test has already been shown to detect neuropathology and neurodegeneration in older adults who exhibit little to no symptoms of dementia.

  • Cache Valley Daily Monday, Feb. 26, 2024

    USU students spending a week helping middle school students unplug

    LOGAN – Last October, a group of five Utah State University Health and Wellness students began work on a program designed to help Mount Logan Middle School (MLMS) students put down their technology and strive to do something else with their time.

    This week MLMS students, with support from Principal Spencer Holmgren, will learn about the “Break the Screen Routine” to help the kids swap out their phones for other activities.

    The program starts Monday and ends Saturday, March 2, on “Global Day of Unplugging.” Saturday will also include an event at USU’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art for the community to spend time putting their phones down to tour the museum, and to enjoy free family-centered activities including a scavenger hunt and refreshments.

  • Cache Valley Daily Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024

    USU Extension celebrates new cohort of Latino community health workers

    Utah State University Extension recently hosted the first all-Spanish-speaking community health workers cohort. Twenty Latino students learned public health skills over five months to receive the state certification to become community health workers. As part of the certification, participants received training on “Mejore su salud,” a Create Better Health (CBH) curriculum that has been culturally adapted and taught in Spanish for Latino Extension audiences. Participants also worked on a final project addressing public health issues affecting the Hispanic community or relating to their respective workplaces. A graduation ceremony was held to celebrate the participants and their efforts.

  • The Herald Journal Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024

    USU Engineering celebrates Engineers Week with student and community events

    This week is Engineers Week at Utah State University. The week features events for USU students as well as the public to enjoy and learn about the engineering program.

    Maddie Witte, the president of the USU Engineering Student Council, said that Engineers Week is a national event that USU is taking part in.

    “Engineers Week is actually a nationwide thing,” Witte said. “There’s a national Engineers Week, which is also this week, so we match ours up with that, and it’s just a celebration of all of the hard work that the students put into the college and into their studies and everything.”

    Engineers Week starts on Tuesday, Feb. 20. The first big event for the week will be a pinewood derby for USU students at 2:30 p.m. in the Taggart Student Center Ballroom. The pinewood derby race will have two car classes; one for cars that are only powered by gravity and one for cars that use a propellent such as a motor or fan.

  • Salt Lake Tribune Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024

    Higher education makes for happier, healthier Utahns, analysts say

    The benefits of higher education in Utah are “relatively overwhelming,” the president of the state’s flagship university said Wednesday.

    “What I’ve always loved about higher education is it has this remarkable transformational power in individuals,” University of Utah President Taylor Randall said during an event at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

    Randall and presidents of three other public, postsecondary institutions spoke about the value of a degree or certificate for people and the broader community following a quick presentation of the Gardner Institute’s new policy brief.


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