In the News

  • The Herald Journal Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020

    Utah State Student Events Continue on Social Media

    Over fast-paced rhymes and slower, thoughtful odes, USU students joined each other on Instagram for an avant-garde Slam Poet Night on Wednesday evening. Although USU student events were among the many activities canceled to slow the spread of COVID-19, student leaders devised new ways to engage with the USU student body. “After the announcement that all events were canceled, we just kind of felt that it was the end,” said USU Student Events Vice President Cooper Low. “After about a week of not knowing what to do, I sat down with some other students and our adviser and we knew we had to do something.” ... “It was such a cool experience,” said Ketzel Morales, a senior at USU who shared a poem during the online event. “I think it was so powerful for me because USU events have a way of offering safety and belonging to the students, and being able to still have a way to be together, even though it was over Instagram, I still felt that.” Morales said it was strange opening up like she did on camera but as she shared the poem about women empowerment that she has worked on for over a year, she was grateful there was a space for people to express themselves.

  • Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday, Mar. 24, 2020

    So You Have Your Groceries. Here's How to Make Them Safe

    Several times a day, ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, Teresa Hunsaker is asked the same question. “Can I get the coronavirus by touching the boxes, bottles and bags I buy at the grocery store?” It’s not the only food-safety query Hunsaker, a family and consumer science educator with Utah State University Extension, gets. She also hears things like: “How should I wash my fresh fruits and vegetables?” “What do I do if I can’t find bleach or sanitizing wipes at the grocery store?” "Is it safe to use reusable grocery bags?” By the time we actually get our groceries home, most items already have been handled by the employee who stocked the shelf, the cashier and the bagger, she said. And who knows if another customer touched it or, even worse, coughed or sneezed nearby?

  • Richfield Reaper Sunday, Mar. 22, 2020

    Staying Calm During Coronaviris Fright

    As the fears associated with the coronavirus swirl around us, it is easy to get swept up. Some of the most common fears are related to our health, the health of those we love, our personal finances, the economic impacts and ensuring we feel adequately prepared. Are you feeling some of these fears? That is ok. Try these three suggestions and see if you feel better: 1. An essential step in managing fear and anxiety is giving yourself permission to feel the fear and anxiety. Trying to make yourself not feel may cause more anxiety and fear. Instead, allow yourself to experience the fear and anxiety. Verbalize it. Write it down. Get it out. Talk to someone about it. Experiencing these emotions, especially with someone else, will be therapeutic and can help you move past the emotions so you can be more logical and rational.

  • Utah Public Radio Friday, Mar. 20, 2020

    USU Student Says This Is Second Time A Pandemic Has Affected Commencement

    Efforts to eliminate large gatherings continue across the state in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and on Wednesday all eight public universities in Utah announced their commencement ceremonies will be rescheduled or canceled. Students and families are of course, disappointed, but also recognize this is a life-saving measure. “I’ve had two of my three graduation ceremonies affected by a global pandemic, which is just kind of a bizarre experience,” said Utah State University student Deeann Evans. Evans was sick with the swine flu the day of her high school graduation in 2009 and could not attend the ceremony because of it. ... The country has been advised to avoid large gatherings and to practice social distancing to limit the spread of the illness. Evans said although she is disappointed in not being able to attend her commencement ceremony, she is glad the university is taking steps to protect the students, staff and the community. “Because several people that I love are high-risk individuals that may or may not survive getting coronavirus, and so I think it’s very important to recognize they are just trying to protect everybody,” Evans said.

  • Satellite Today Thursday, Mar. 19, 2020

    On Orbit Podcast Puts New Space Under the Microscope

    Agility was one aspect of New Space that On Orbit guests could agree on, as they put the hotly debated term under the microscope during a live podcast recording at SATELLITE 2020. Traditionally the space industry has worked with very long production cycles, explained Tanya Harrison, manager of science programs for Planet Labs, a company building a global network of earth observation satellites. “You build it, you test the hell out of it, because you want to make sure it will not fail,” she said. But that could mean working on a project on the ground for ten years before a decision was even made whether to launch it or not. In New Space, Harrison said, “We have a new mentality, where we’re a lot less worried. … We’ll launch something and then test it in orbit.” “That difference encapsulates what New Space is,” she said. “New Space is global,” observed podcast co-host Grace Graham, an aerospace student at Utah State University. Graham said that the shared dream of space unites people from all over the world — “It’s not just America, Russia, and China anymore.”
  • The Herald Journal Thursday, Mar. 19, 2020

    USU Alumni Publish Kids' Book on Bee Diversity

    There are over 4,000 species of bees living in North America, and Joseph Wilson, an associate biology professor at the USU Tooele campus, has written a book to help educate children about them. “Bees are the Best!” is a picture book geared toward children in preschool through fourth grade. It tells the story of “Honey,” the honey bee. “She, like most of us, assumes bees are like her, they all have stripes, live in a big hive, and make honey. As she goes out in the world to collect pollen and nectar for her hive, she meets a lot of other kinds of bees, bees that are not necessarily just like her,” Wilson wrote in an email to the Herald Journal. “At first she is confused by this new discovery, that not all bees are like her. But, through her experience, she comes to realize that bees are the best not because they are all like her, but because they are all different and they all do amazing things.” ... “Bees are the Best!” isn’t Wilson’s first book on bees. Wilson published "The Bees in Your Backyard," a field guide to diverse bee species, with fellow USU alumna Olivia Messinger Carril. After “The Bees in Your Backyard” was published, Wilson realized there was a lot of interest in bees from the younger audiences, but there were not really many resources for kids to learn about bees. “I toyed with the idea of writing a non-fiction book about bees for kids (still on my list of things to do) but I decided a story book might be more fun,” Wilson wrote. “With my friend Jonny Van Orman, who is a talented illustrator and storyteller, we decided a story about bees and acceptance was a story that everyone needed to hear.” You can purchase “Bees are the Best!” on Amazon, or on Wilson’s website,

  • Utah Public Radio Monday, Mar. 16, 2020

    USU Intensifies Efforts To Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    Administrators at Utah State University are increasing efforts to fight global climate change by finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sooner. In 2007, USU announced the campus would become carbon neutral by 2050. Members of the USU Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee recently announced plans are underway to make even more changes and to do it before the 2050 deadline. Dr. Patrick Belmont teaches watershed science at USU and is a member of the committee. He says USU made the 2050 commitment as part of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, an international effort. Since the initial agreemenmt was made Belmont says recent research from the International Panel on Climate Change has indicated that more immediate actions need to be taken. “So we’ve looked at literally hundreds of different options for ways to reduce our emissions," Belomont says. "One of the biggest things we can do, actually, is convert our lighting to LED lights. Facilities was planning to do that over the next eight years, and they found a way to accelerate that to the next two years. Those investments will pay for themselves, probably in the next three to four years.”

  • Science Codex Monday, Mar. 16, 2020

    USU Report Looks at How Noise and Pollution Impact Wildlife

    A new paper including research from a Utah State University scientist provides a framework for understanding how light and noise pollution affects wildlife. The framework is the product of an effort among worldwide experts in ecology and physiology and reveals the presence of "sensory danger zones," or areas where sensory pollutants influences animal activity. The study is published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution. The paper is a collaborative work with principal investigator Neil Carter, assistant professor at the School for Environment and Sustainability. "From a conservation biology point of view, we don't know how to mitigate the effects of sensory pollution if we don't know what the pathway of harm is," said Carter. "Although these results have consequences for imperiled species of conservation concern, they also suggest ways by which we may use light and sound for managing urban wildlife, mitigating wildlife-vehicle collisions, or preventing agricultural damage." said David Stoner, a research assistant professor in the Quinney College of Natural Resources at USU.
  • Monday, Mar. 16, 2020

    USU Students Encouraged To Return Home For Semester

    Students who live on-campus at Utah State University have been encouraged to go home. The request came just days after officials announced classes will move online, much like other colleges statewide. Not everyone plans to leave. University officials said they won’t force anyone to leave, but that was the recommendation, especially for students that live in on-campus housing. Some students already left after the announcement, just days earlier, that courses would soon move online for the rest of the semester. ... USU spokeswoman Amanda DeRito said this decision was about making sure students are where they and their parents will feel they will be the safest. “I think every decision we’re making is tough. We meet every single day, and talk through different strategies and different scenarios, and try to come up with the best possible answers,” said DeRito. “That is obviously changing every single day. We’re making new decisions, and so we just have to take the best available information and make the best decisions that we can.”

  • Utah Public Radio Monday, Mar. 16, 2020

    Utah Universities Change To Online-Only Classes

    Colleges and Universities in Utah, including the University of Utah, Utah State University, and Brigham Young University, announced Thursday they are no longer offering in-person classes for the time being. This in response to growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, a strain of Coronavirus. Amanda DeRito works in Marketing and Communications at Utah State University. She says the change to online-only classes has caught professors and administrators off-guard. “We’ve canceled classes tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday to give professors a chance to move what they don’t have online there," DeRito said. "Some classes are easier than others, so there may be a delay for some classes in getting up and running and we really ask that students just be patient with us.” ... Dr. Angela Diaz is a history professor. She and other professors participated in a department training meeting to help them navigate online training tools. Diaz has taught online courses before, but says this time is different.  “You know, suspending classes like this, I’m calling it ‘Make-do mode’.  My goal is to do as much as I can to make the remaining amount of content for each class as accessible- and easily accessible- as possible for the students, recognizing that the students will be under stress.” USU's Dr. Francis Titchner says she is also feeling the stress. “Forty years teaching, I’ve never been through anything like this," Titchner said. "I’ve neve been so much at a loss as to what is the best thing to do.  I honestly don’t know. It’s getting to me.”

  • Cache Valley Daily Friday, Mar. 13, 2020

    All USU Instruction Moving Online

    Utah State University President Noelle Cockett joined members of the Utah Coronavirus Task Force on Thursday to announce steps being taken by USU to slow the spread of the disease and safeguard higher education students. In a press conference at the Utah Emergency Operations Center at the State Capitol, Cockett emphasized that, as the state’s land grant university, USU has a special responsibility to maintain its statewide educational mission while still protecting its campus communities. In a brief statement, Cockett explained that USU has cancelled all university-sponsored events both on- and off-campus; cancelled all non-essential university-funded travel; and, will transfer all instruction to online formats in lieu of face-to-face classes. In a public statement released in Logan while Cockett was speaking in Salt Lake City, USU officials said the goal of the university’s proactive steps was to help public health officials “flatten the curve” of coronavirus infection.

  • The Herald Journal Thursday, Mar. 12, 2020

    USU Moves Classes Online in Response to Coronavirus

    Utah State University announced that classes for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester would be moved online to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The announcement was sent to students through the school's campus alert system Thursday. Classes from Friday through next Tuesday have been cancelled "to allow faculty members time to move their classes into the online learning environment." The announcement comes a day after Utah State University canceled and postponed all campus events and university travel, both domestic and international, through at least April 8. Classes went on as scheduled Thursday, though students coming back from last week were encouraged to stay home if they felt ill and to fill out a survey if they had traveled during the break. An increasing number of universities around the nation have already moved to online-only classes in an effort to slow the spread of the virus in an effort to limit its impact on health care and other infrastructure.

  • The Herald Journal Monday, Mar. 09, 2020

    Space Station Chief Scientist, USU Alum, to Speak at Commencement

    Julie A. Robinson, chief scientist of the International Space Station Division at NASA and a Utah State University alum, will serve as USU’s commencement speaker for its 133rd graduation ceremony. Robinson and two other prominent individuals will receive honorary doctorates Thursday, April 30, at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan. “We are honored that Julie has accepted our invitation to address our students this year,” said USU President Noelle Cockett. “She is a renowned scientist and researcher and has dedicated her professional career to solving problems both on Earth and in space.” Robinson will receive an honorary doctorate along with: Karen Morse, a former chemistry professor, college dean and provost at USU, and president emerita of Western Washington University; and Linda S. Daines, a USU graduate and one of the first women managing directors at Goldman Sachs. Cockett said honorary degrees are an important way the university can recognize people for the commitment and sacrifices they have made to make positive changes in the world. “We are delighted to honor these outstanding women who have contributed to the Utah State community in a number of ways,” she said. “They are innovative leaders in their fields whose leadership and vision should be commended.”

  • Cache Valley Daily Monday, Mar. 09, 2020

    USU Air Quality Expert is Clean Air Person of the Year

    Utah State University air quality expert Seth Lyman is Utah’s Clean Air Person of the Year, named recently by the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR). A faculty member at USU’s Vernal campus, he was recognized for his work in developing solutions to fight air pollution in the Uintah Basin, a much different challenge than northern Utah’s pollution. ”Pollution in Cache Valley and on the Wasatch Front is really driven by cars, agriculture, things like that,” said Dr. Lyman. “Whereas, out where I am there aren’t a lot of people. “There is some agriculture, but not as much — at least not as concentrated. But what we do have a lot of is oil and gas wells. The mix of pollution that comes out of the oil and gas industry is just right to make ozone in the wintertime.” He was recognized for his ability to explain the science to leaders of local government and those who run the 25 oil and gas companies in the Basin.

  • The New York Times Friday, Mar. 06, 2020

    Red Space Lettuce Might Feed Red Planet Voyagers

    When astronauts head for Mars, perhaps sometime in the 2030s, there is a good chance that they will be growing their own vegetables to eat along the way. In research published on Friday, researchers are reporting that lettuce grown in space is safe to eat and as nutritious as that grown on Earth. “This was really good,” said Gioia D. Massa, a plant scientist at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and an author of a paper that appeared in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science. “There wasn’t anything completely surprising or crazy or weird.” ... “It’s just a rigorous, careful study on the safety of crops grown in space,” said Bruce Bugbee, a professor of environmental plant physiology at Utah State University, who was not involved with the research. “This kind of research is really helpful for us to feed people away from the planet Earth. NASA selected five research projects last month to develop better plant-growing systems. One by Dr. Bugbee aims to use more sensors and controls to more precisely mete out water and nutrients. NASA will choose the two most promising prototypes, and researchers will then make more polished versions to be tested in space, Dr. Bugbee said.

  • Inside Science Wednesday, Mar. 04, 2020

    Change in Diet Sent Snakes Looking for New Defense Against Predators

    Keelback snakes are master chemists. These unusual snakes possess glands in their skin that contain heart-stopping toxic steroids to defend against predators. When an attacker tries to eat them, the glands rupture, releasing a mouthful of potentially fatal poison. But these snakes, native to China, Japan and Southeast Asia, don't have the biochemical machinery to produce these toxic chemicals themselves. Instead they gather them from their own prey -- poisonous toads -- and repackage them into their own chemical defense. About 15 million years ago, however, some species of keelback snakes in China changed their diet -- they switched from eating toads to eating earthworms. But somehow they retained their glands and kept them filled with poison. "When we investigated the worm-eating species and found they still posses the toxins but the worms they were eating did not, then the hunt was on for the source of the toxins," said Alan Savitzky, a herpetologist at Utah State University in Logan.

  • Cache Valley Daily Wednesday, Mar. 04, 2020

    USU Scientist Reports Evolutionary Shift in Snakes

    Utah State University herpetologist Dr. Alan Savitzky is part of a multi-national research group of scientists who have documented an example of adaptation in the animal kingdom. He said “keelback” snakes, found in southeast Asia, sport glands in their skin where they store a class of lethal steroids to protect them from predators. These snakes have derived the lethal poisons from eating toads. This is where an evolutionary example of adaptation has been observed. ”The surprise from this most recent study is that a group of these snakes that have stopped eating frogs and started eating earthworms still have that same type of toxin in their skin,” Dr. Savitzky explained, “But in this case they’re not eating frogs and toads, they’re eating firefly larvae. And the fireflies also produce the same type of toxin the toads have in their skin.”

  • Via Satellite Monday, Mar. 02, 2020

    Space Dynamics Laboratory-Built SmallSat Deploys from ISS

    The Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) at Utah State University announced Monday that a small satellite it built was deployed into orbit, and early telemetry indicates that the spacecraft health is nominal and the satellite is operating as designed. The SDL-built Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter CubeSat, known as HARP, was launched on Nov. 2, 2019, on a Northrop Grumman Antares rocket from Virginia Space’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility. Following a three-month stay on the International Space Station (ISS), HARP was deployed into its intended orbit on February 19. The HARP satellite was built to carry a payload built by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The satellite’s objective is to validate the in-flight capabilities of a highly accurate and precise wide field of view hyper-angular polarimeter for characterizing aerosol and cloud properties.

  • SB Nation Monday, Mar. 02, 2020

    The Ballad of Wild Bill: The Rise, Fall and Rise of USU's Iconic Superfan

    On a Sunday morning in the spring of 2011, the only decision Bill Sproat had left to make was where he was going to kill himself. Would it be easier for people to find him in his living room, he wondered, or the backyard? “I was worried people would find bone fragments and bloody matter all in the yard,” he says. “I don’t know why I thought about that but I did.” He sat at the kitchen table and weighed the options while putting the finishing touches on his suicide note. A gun rested on the table close by. He picked it up. At that time when he was considering ending his life, it’s difficult to overstate Sproat’s stature on and around the campus of Utah State University. He was more than a student. He was a full-blown celebrity in Logan, Utah. And when he stepped inside the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, he became something more: a demigod, with 10,000 people chanting his name. Nationally, he had become one of the most recognizable faces in all of sports, written about in Sports Illustrated, discussed on ESPN’s First Take, and even given the top spot in ESPN’s Top 10 plays. So why on earth did he want to die?

  • Friday, Feb. 28, 2020

    Not Falling Far from Tree: Ecologists Study Seed-to-Seedling Transitions

    Why are there so many species of plants? Why do some plants thrive, while others don't? Utah State University ecologist Noelle Beckman and colleagues Philippe Marchand of the University of Quebec, Liza Comita of Yale University, Joseph Wright of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, Richard Condit of Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History and internationally renowned ecologist Stephen P. Hubbell of the University of California, Los Angeles, explore these questions and recently published findings about seed-to-seedling transitions in the journal Ecology. The researchers studied spatial characteristics of 24 tree species from data collected at the STRI's Forest Dynamics Plot on Barro Colorado Island, located in the man-made Gatun Lake in the Panama Canal. "Patterns of seed dispersal and seed mortality influence the spatial structure of plant populations and the local coexistence of competing species," says Beckman, assistant professor in USU's Department of Biology and the USU Ecology Center. "Most seeds are dispersed close to the parent tree, where mortality is also expected to be the highest, due to competition with siblings or the attraction of natural enemies."

  • The Herald Journal Friday, Feb. 28, 2020

    Women Judges Cite Mentors, Opportunities, Group Efforts at USU event

    As part of a new speaker series on campus, four Utah Court of Appeals judges visited USU on Friday morning to discuss their experiences navigating a predominantly male career path as women. The judges sat on a panel as part of the first installment of the Women in the Judiciary series moderated by Christy Glass, a USU professor and head of the Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research. In 2017 when Judge Diana Hagen was appointed, the Utah Court of Appeals became one of very few female-majority benches nationwide. Addressing the audience, Judge Michele Christiansen Forster said that moment when she realized four out of the seven judges were female was a “remarkable moment.” ... Judge Mary Kate Appleby was told that she was the “wrong everything” and that she wouldn’t make it as a judge in Utah, but after assuming office in 2014, she has proved that and other preconceptions wrong. After going to graduate school starting a career, Appleby decided to go to law school as a nontraditional student. She encouraged students to keep an open mind and be receptive to new opportunities and said that if she hadn’t been, she wouldn’t have made it to where she is today. This concept resonated with some students who have been wrestling with what their next step looks like. “I think it is so awesome to see all of these women,” said Rana Abulbasal, a USU Ph.D. student studying social inequality. “They make it sound like beyond what you see in the movies. It is a real thing and anyone can do this. It was validating to hear about how they have gone through difficult obstacles to get where they are now just like many of us. They managed to push through and keep fighting.”

  • Cache Valley Daily Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020

    USU Helping to Launch Outdoor Industry Certificates

    Utah State University, working with both Colorado and Western Colorado Universities, is launching three outdoor industry business certificates, offered online, each with a different emphasis. Rene Eborn is a special assistant to the vice president over USU Online. She said USU’s Outdoor Product and Design program qualifies Utah State to be part of this new offering. ”We feel we are very uniquely positioned to provide these opportunities for practical education and for people who are already working in this industry,” she explained, “for them to earn a certificate and then maybe potentially move on to extending their educational opportunities.”

  • Utah Public Radio Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020

    Talk At USU Looks At How Bees Enrich Human Life

    The Science Unwrapped talk at Utah State University this month focused on bees and how they impact our lives through the foods we eat. “I love bees! I just think they are so beautiful. I didn’t know that males didn’t sting you. That was entirely new to me,” said Cathy Clements, who attended the Science Unwrapped talk at USU this weekend. She said she looks at bees all summer and is excited to try and find them in her garden. She was one of the many people who attended the event to learn more about the many varieties of bees, beyond just the yellow and black, fuzzy, flying, honey-making kind with a painful sting.

  • The Conversation Monday, Feb. 24, 2020

    Goldman Sachs' Push for Board Diversity Doesn't Go Far Enough

    Several European countries – including Norway, Germany, Finland, France and Spain – have introduced quotas for women on company boards. Other countries have introduced voluntary targets and imposed penalties for failing to appoint women directors. And this year, public companies in California will face a US$100,000 penalty if their boards don’t include women. Recently, Goldman Sachs announced that it will not take a company public unless the business has at least one woman on the board of directors. This signals a growing consensus among large investors that companies with all male boards are less profitable and less competitive than other companies. This push is important, particularly as women directors remain significantly underrepresented on corporate boards and the U.S. falls behind a number of other countries in women’s presence on boards. But it’s not enough. We are a sociologist and a management professor, and for more than a decade, we have analyzed the impact of board diversity. Our research shows that companies with diverse boards are more innovative, enjoy stronger community relations, have better equity and diversity policies and outcomes, pursue more environmentally sustainable practices and are better governed.


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