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2016 - 2017 NEWSLETTER

1 Future Doctor Named SUU Valedictorian

12 Equestrian Center Offers Year-round Riding

2 SUU Offers Medical Training for Triple Deuce and Others

10 New Scholarship Opportunities for SUU Nursing



SUU Provides Opportunities in the World of Cyber Security ALSO INSIDE


SUU is Utah’s First Purple Heart Campus

SUU Alumni and Faculty Recognized at State Awards

SUU to Everywhere


US Cyber Challenge Hacking Competition held at SUU Did you Know?


Departments Join Forces to Further

WMG COSE-Sponsored Robotics Teams Take the Competition by Storm

10 Big Cat Research by Student may Lead to Sciencific Breakthrough

COVER Students expole the sun and solar system at the SUU STEM Expo



ancer, counselor, tutor, leader, researcher, biology major/chemistry minor, valedictorian. These are only a few of the roles Alex Nielson has embraced during her time at Southern Utah University, valedictorian being her most recent academic triumph.

Biology major/chemistry minor Alex Nielson used her work ethic and self-motivation to become Valedictorian at SUU’s 2016 Commencement. “You have to be self-motivated in college,” says Nielson. “It was hard when friends would go out and I’d have homework due or tests on Monday, but it’s so worth it to look back and see how much I’ve achieved.” Nielson’s collegiate career didn’t begin at SUU; she started college at a much larger institution. “The professor was teaching 900 kids so there was no opportunity to go speak with him,” she said. “When I heard about SUU, smaller class sizes and the opportunity of working closely with my professors, I made my decision to switch. People actually know my name here and care about my future studies.”

“People actually know my name here and care about my future studies.”

After transferring to SUU, Nielson found her chemistry professor to be much more accessible and responsive. Professor Ty Redd, Nielson’s organic chemistry teacher and mentor, has high expectations for his students and does his best to make 8 a.m. classes funny and interactive. “Alex is an excellent student with great work ethic, stamina, drive and motivation,” says Redd. “She is meticulous with excellent study habits, intellectually independent and creative.” inspired by two trips she has taken to Nicaragua with SUU’s Rural Health Scholars Nielson stated she hopes to lead her own medical missions once she is a practicing medical professional. Whitney Johnson, program coordinator for the Utah Center for Rural Health, worked with Nielson on these two alternative spring breaks. “Alex has taken on a highly rigorous coursework in her preparation for medical school and kept exceptional grades throughout her academic career,” says Johnson. “She has balanced school,community service, and extracurricular work with the utmost precision and deserves to be recognized for that accomplishment.” Students can learn a simple yet powerful principle from Alex: Hard work pays off. Says Johnson, “Alex has not only reached her goals: she has crushed them. She has come one step closer to realizing her dreams.” Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering


SUU Offers Medical Training for Triple Deuce and Others iology professor MaryJo Tufte and alumni Gregory BBarnes and Lisa Moore worked together to provide

the 222nd and SUU students with an invaluable training.

Medics stationed with the 222nd National Guard partnered with the Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science and Engineering to offer unprecedented semesterly medical training for the medics and SUU students in pre-med, pre-nursing and nursing programs. Second Lt. Gregory Barnes and Lisa Moore of Classic Air, both SUU alumni, worked with Biology professor MaryJo Tufte to set up the training to provide the students and medics hands-on experience with cadavers that they likely would not have received for many years to


Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering

come. “I have been in the military for 30 years,” said 222nd Executive Officer Gerald Williams. “But this is the first time that I have actually been able to get hands on training.” “For us to be able to come in here and have this hands-on opportunity, to be able to put together everything that we have been reading in the books, it is phenomenal,” he said. “Actually being able to come and do this here in a non-stressful environment where people aren’t shooting at you, or if you make a mistake it is not going to cost him his life, I can’t even put together words to say thank you to SUU for this opportunity.”

The cadavers were purchased for anatomy courses at SUU, but the National Guard medics and SUU students were able to practice life saving procedures on them before use in those classes, essentially providing invaluable training for all in attendance at no cost, said Tufte. The procedures ranged from tracheotomies to removing air or fluid from lungs, and even more complicated procedures such as rehydrating a patient through bone when their vein cannot be found for an intravenous or IV. “You don’t get this kind of experience unless you pay a lot of money at a conference or are a student in practice,” Moore said. “ Jeremy Osborne, a specialist with the 222nd, echoed the sentiments of many of the National Guardsmen who were grateful for the

“I have been in the military for 30 years, but this is the first time that I have actually been able to get hands on training.” opportunity to better learn how to serve their community and their country. “I just want to highlight the collaboration. This is what makes a university successful,” he said. “Finding a need and then working together as a community, There are a lot of places that this could probably get more uses out of the cadavers, to give more experiences with these resources. This is an awesome change for the university and for us as medics.”

SUU is Utah’s First Purple Heart Campus On June 24, 2016, Southern Utah University was designated as Utah’s first Purple Heart Campus. University President Scott L Wyatt is humbled and grateful that SUU is receiving this distinguished recognition. “SUU is situated in a very patriotic community whose people have a long history of service to our country,” Wyatt said. “Honoring and supporting veterans is part of the culture at Southern Utah University and in Cedar City. We are honored to be the first university in Utah to be designated as a Purple Heart Campus.”

Southern Utah University has 385 student veterans, including several Purple Heart recipients, and a robust Veteran Center that supports and aids veteran success at SUU. With this designation, SUU joins an elite group of colleges across the country that have also received the proclamation of being a Purple Heart Campus.

Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering


SUU Provides Opportunities in the World of Cyber Security


he Department of Computer Science and Information Systems has partnered with top cyber security professionals to provide students a 100% on-line Masters degree in Cyber Security and Information Assurance.

Southern Utah University is taking strides in the fast growing field of cyber security by teaming up with top cyber security professionals. Working with Nuix, a company that combines advanced technology with expert knowledge to solve real-world data challenges, SUU is gearing up students to work in one of the world’s largest growing tech industries. With the help of Nuix’s industry professionals, SUU is expanding its Master of Science in Cyber Security and Information Assurance curriculum and providing hands-on knowledge and


Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering

experience to better educate students. These new courses train the next generation cyber security experts in counter intelligence, defense, homeland security, law enforcement and computer forensics. Professionals currently working in cyber security help teach online courses, offering depth and insight to subjects they deal with daily. Some of these professionals include Senior Vice President of Cyber Threat Analysis Chris Pogue, Director of Advanced Threats and Countermea-

sures Ryan Linn, and Associate in the Government Contracts, Investigations & International Trade Practice Group, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP, Alexander Major. “We are excited to be partnering with these industry professionals,” stated Roger LaMarca, Director of Online Admissions. “We are certain that their industry experience will create a real world and relevant education for our students, allowing them to go into the industry and make a positive impact in the organizations that are fighting this global threat.” Dr. Rob Robertson, Director of the Master’s in Cyber Security and Information Assurance also notes, “It is critical to establish these partnerships with industry professionals in order to provide the necessary skills and knowledge to our students and graduates which will help them enter and succeed as contributing members of the cyber workforce.” The Master of Science in Cyber Security and Information Assurance program at SUU prepares its students to take on one of the greatest threats to industry and government today. The program helps to develop the skills and knowledge base necessary in organizing and managing an effective security strategy that successfully defends against immediate and future cyber threats and related enterprise challenges.

SUU works hard to make it possible for non-traditional students and working professionals to earn a Master’s degree. By offering its Master of Science in Cyber

Security and Information Assurance 100% online, SUU aims to advance all of its students in this fast growing career field.

US Cyber Challenge Hacking Competition Held at SUU The Department of Computer Science & Information Systems hosted the year’s final boot camp of the U.S. Cyber Challenge as qualified participants spent five days receiving instruction from leading cyber security experts. The camp culminated with a capture the flag competition to test the participants’ individual and team skills, and an awards ceremony July 30. U.S. Cyber Challenge is a program of the Center for Internet Security whose mission is to reduce the shortage of cyber workforce. It aims to identify, attract, recruit and place the next generation of cyber security professionals. Laurel Dodgion, Academic Enhancement Coordinator for SUU’s Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science and Engineering, said the program’s pairs perfectly with SUU’s masters degree in Cyber Security and Information Assurance . Dodgion said SUU’s master’s degree in cyber security is an online degree and that this event exposed a lot of people to the possibility pursuing the degree through SUU. Given the nature of the technology-dependent world and the number of jobs needed to protect information, Dodgion said the training received by participants in last week’s program is “incredibly valuable.” “There is a substantial deficit in (the number of ) people working in the cyber security industry and the need is only going to grow,” she said. “Training and degrees in this area are absolutely essential … As hackers get smarter we need qualified individuals to stop them.” For more information about U.S. Cyber Challenge, visit www. For more information about SUU’s master’s degree in Cyber Security and Information Assurance, visit html. Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering


Alumni and Professors Recognized at State Award Ceremony SUU professors and several alumni were honored by Tworkwo the Utah Science teachers Association for their on-going in science education for K12 and beyond.

Professors and alumni of Southern Utah University were recognized and honored in this year’s Midwinter Conference for the Utah Science Teachers Association (USTA). The annual conference, held in early February in Provo, Utah, showcases teachers around the state who are exceptional at what they do. More than 700 teachers and educators were in attendance for the conference, the biggest turnout since the beginning of the association 18 years ago. John Taylor of SUU, also the president-elect of USTA, says, “It is heartening to be


Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering

surrounded by so many quality science teachers. This huge networking event brings together Utah’s best and brightest when it comes to science education.” The USTA states its purpose as the “advancement, stimulation, extension, improvement and coordination of science teaching in all fields of science at all educational levels.” An annual conference is held to recognize educators at every level and to award special honors for lifetime achievements. Among those recognized were two of SUU’s current faculty: Peggy Wittwer, assistant professor of teacher education and director of SUU Ce-

dar Mountain Science Center, and Dr. William Heyborne, assistant professor of biology and director of the SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning.

sity of Northern Colorado. After a few years of work in Iowa, Heyborne was welcomed back to SUU in 2011 by former professors who are now colleagues and peers.

Wittwer was awarded The Marvin J. Tolman Science Award (for lifetime achievement and commitment to science education). A professor of 14 years in the Beverley Taylor Sorenson College of Education, Wittwer is heavily involved with educating future teachers. She is currently on the board of the Iron County School District and SUU Partnership STEAM School and teaches Elementary STEM Endorsement courses for teachers from Jordan, Canyons, and Iron School Districts.

Other award recipients from SUU include recent graduate Madison Clark, now a local science teacher at Cedar Middle School, Nate Blackner, an alumnus currently educating the students at Richfield High School, Stephen Ellet, teacher by chance who utilized SUU’s summer semesters to instruct at Wayne Middle School, and Lance Atkinson, fourth grade teacher in Delta and faculty member of the Cedar Mountain Science Camps.

The Outstanding Higher Education Science Educator award was presented to Heyborne. An alumnus of SUU himself, he earned a master’s degree in entomology from Oregon State University and a Ph.D. in biology from the Univer-

“We hope events like these will spread awareness of science education,” says Taylor. “Science teachers are hard to come by in general, so when one excels at their work, we do our best to praise and foster their creativity and dedication.”

SUU to Everywhere

Sidney Vowles James Wilcken SUU Scholar of the Year WMG COSE Valedictorian Though her studies consumed the majority of her time, Vowles worked hard during the week so she could rock climb with friends during the weekend. On top of studies and climbing, Vowles served as the president of the Chemistry Club and helped teach science to elementary school children.

Inspired by her time instructing elementary children, Vowles plans to work with Teach For America, a nonprofit organization focused on providing quality educators right out of college to teach in low-income communities.

As a math major with an emphasis in actuarial science, James Wilcken has a love of numbers and solving problems. “I have a sincere interest in how things work,” says Wilcken. “That’s probably why I like math as much as I do. I love understanding how things fit together and how different subjects connect. “ Wilcken plans to work for an insurance company, helping to set rates by using probabilities and statistics in the effort to maximize profit.

Myles Killebrew NFL Player

Ngim C. Sherpa World Record Holder

The Detroit Lions added a new face to the franchise. CAD CAM Engineering Technology Major, WMG COSE Senator and SUU football safety Myles Killebrew made history as the University’s highest drafted player ever when he was drafted by the Detroit Lions.

Among the 36 students from Nepal SUU welcomed this year was 19-year-old freshman, Ngim Chhamji Sherpa.

“SUU provided me with so much,” Killebrew said. “When I first arrived at SUU, I felt the support, direction and encouragement from day one. I knew that at SUU I could become the person I wanted to be.”

Sherpa, a freshman biology major, is currently in the Guinness World Book of Records for being the youngest female (16 years-old) to ascend Mount Qomolangma, as well as being part of the first father-daughter team to climb Mount Everest and reach the summit from the Nepali side.

Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering


WMG COSE-Sponsored Robotics Teams Take Competition by Storm


he Department of Engineering and Technology and the SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning sponsored and mentored seven rookie high school age robotics teams during the 2015-16 academic year. The teams went on to blow the competition away.

After months of preparation in their high schools and at sponsored Build Days, and following a competition at SUU, seven southern Utah robotics teams advanced to the Utah FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics Competition held in Ogden and took the competition by storm. Top honors went to the Washington County 4H PrestidigiTaters and Hurricane High Black Ops, who both earned entrance into the FTC West Super Regionals Competition in Oakland, California. The five additional Southern Utah teams represented the area well, coming away from the 35 team competition with awards and high rankings. Both the SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning (SCTL) and the Department of Engineering and Technology (E&T) believe it is important to support the efforts of these teens. “Robotics is a great way to raise awareness of the importance of SUU’s STEM offerings,” stated E&T Department Chair Scott Hansen. SCTL Director Bill Heyborne added, “There are two reasons why we should support high school robotics teams. First, the cool factor of

“...Robotics serves as a draw for students to programming and technology.” 8

Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering

robotics serves as a draw for students to programming and technology, which we know is a rapidly growing sector of our economy, and one which consistently has many unfilled jobs. Second, robotics teams provide a place for kids who may not fit the typical mold associated with sports, music, theater or other traditional high school activities.” In speaking of the teams and their performance at the state competition, WMG COSE Academic Enhancement Coordinator Laurel Dodgion said, “The seven southern Utah teams are all considered rookie teams within FTC – teams that have zero to three years of FTC experience. They went to Ogden to compete against teams from Northern Utah, Montana and Idaho with years of experience. They truly went into the competition as underdogs and came out as champions.” The PrestidigiTaters earned the coveted Inspire Award. According FTC, the Inspire award is given to the team that “is a top contender for many other judged awards and is a gracious competitor. The Inspire Award Winner is an inspiration to other teams, acting with Gracious Professionalism™ both on and off the playing field.” Black Ops and their chosen Final Alliance partners won the Robot Game. This win came following hours of qualifying rounds. After Black Ops was named as finalist, they selected Atomic Randomizers and Randomonium (both from Iron County 4H) to assist them in the elim-

ination rounds. The alliance worked together to complete the most complex challenges and ultimately came out on top; all three teams received Winning Alliance trophies. Randomonium also earned the Rockwell Collins Innovate Award. This award celebrates a team that not only thinks outside the box, but also has the ingenuity and inventiveness to make their designs come to life. The Security Administration (Canyon View High School) robotics team received the PTC Design Award, which recognizes design elements of the robot that are functional and aesthetic and incorporate industrial design.

Rounding out the rookie force from southern Utah were Dixie SUCCESS and Cedar High Robo-Reds. SUCCESS was selected as an alliance team in the elimination rounds. Robo-Reds placed firmly in the mid-range of the competition. “We are so proud of all our southern Utah teams,” commented Dodgion. “They represented themselves, the college

and southern Utah well. I cannot wait to see what they accomplish in the future.” The Department of Engineering and Technology and SUU Center for STEM Teaching and Learning plan to continue to support these future robotics engineers and their teams in the seasons to come.

Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering


Big Cat Research by Student May Lead to Scientific Breakthrough


ne biology major and one biology professor took on a yearlong project that could change the world of genetic sampling and research.

Biology major Damaris Perez has been conducting research in the mountains surrounding Cedar City that could lead to a breakthrough in safe genetic sampling. Perez has worked with Dr. Jacqueline Grant in this yearlong project to collect hair samples through noninvasive techniques, trekking up the mountain twice a month to collect samples in a way that has yet to be done in Utah for shrews, large cats and black bears. Perez stated that collecting the hair samples will allow for an accurate genetic analysis from the hair samples alone. “Before you’d need to trap and kill the animal to retrieve genetic samples but now we can get all sorts of information from just the hair samples while still trying to protect the animal,” explains Perez.


Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering

The safe collection of genetic samples is an emerging field. Perez’s research could be a breakthrough in genetic science. Perez and Grant left food around the traps to attract animals. In an attempt to reach the food, the animals had to shuffle under fencing. Tape attached to the fencing collected loose hair from the animal as it passed. The tape was then collected by Grant and Perez to conduct genetic analysis. Perez’s research project is funded by the Walter Maxwell Gibson Research Fellowship and the L.S. and Aline W. Skaggs Scholarship. The Gibson Research Fellowship pays Perez for her commitment to research while the Skaggs scholarship pays for her supplies required to conduct the research.


BY THE NUMBERS The Southern Utah Area Health Education Center’s (AHEC) Rural Health Scholars program continues to successfully prepare WMG COSE students for graduate healthcare programs by providing academic and non-academic experiences. These experiences include seminars, advising, practicums, test prepartation courses, internships, leadership opprtunities, mentoring, community service, cultural immersion experiences, workshops and mock interviews.


“This definitely helps me focus on purely just the research and dedicate more of my time to it,” says Perez explaining that getting paid will allow her to work on her project more thoroughly. “Any undergraduate student can apply for this scholarships as long as they apply with a faculty advisor and present a research project that is centered on science,” explains Jackie Grant.



The Gibson and Skaggs scholarship is a great opportunity for students within Southern Utah University’s Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science and Engineering that qualify. For Perez it could lead to a scientific breakthrough in genetic research.

Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering


Equestrian Center Offers Year-round Riding Southern Utah University, it is said, has closer ties with the horse than any institution in the nation. The Department of Agriculture and Nutrition Science (AGNS) offers an applied associate degree in Equine Studies, and since the degree’s approval by the Utah Board of Regents in 2008, demand for the program has grown each year. To accommodate the program’s expansion, the University in 2010 began a fund-raising campaign to build an indoor equestrian teaching facility. With contributions from the Cedar City community and other donors, the Kenneth L. Cannon Equestrian Center was built, opening its doors officially on March 19, 2015, during the SUU Founders’ Celebration. SUU is grateful to the many generous donors to this facility, including: Connie C. Holbrook, Garth & Jerri Frehner, SUU Valley Farm, Energy Solutions, Shannon Family Foundation, and Edward & Shirley Stokes.

“The SUU Equestrian program has continued to grow and flourish. In fact, all of our classes are full nearly every semester and there is great demand for instruction.” 12

Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering

“The SUU Equestrian program has continued to grow and flourish,” said Associate Professor and Chair of AGNS Lee Wood. “In fact, all of our classes are full nearly every semester and there is great demand for instruction.” Wood said he thinks that working with horses gives students a more well-rounded perspective and has helped him be a better father and person. “We have to adjust to the horse, the same applies to our human relationships,” Wood said. For many prior years, students and faculty held classes on horsemanship outdoors in inclement weather. The new indoor arena now provides protection and comfort for the students, faculty, and staff.

New Scholarship Opportunities for SUU Nursing Program The Department of Nursing will soon offer more student scholarships thanks to a partnership and a $100,000 donation from Intermountain Healthcare. As a result of this contribution, SUU will create a new scholarship program focused on cultural diversity in nursing and diversity in the healthcare workforce. “Intermountain has been very generous,” said Donna Lister, Associate Professor of Nursing and Department Chair. “This donation is all about our students. If you don’t have to worry about how to pay for tuition it’s a huge load off your shoulders. We are so grateful for the additional opportunities this partnership offers our nurses.” The department has recently increased enrollment numbers by 50 percent to accommodate the numerous applications received each year. The department strives to maintain high standards of classroom education, clinical experience and faculty/student interactions. “As a not-for-profit healthcare system, Intermountain Healthcare’s priority is to improve health in the communities we serve,” said Mikelle Moore, Vice President of Community Benefit for Intermountain Healthcare. “We are grateful to SUU for the efforts put forth in educating incoming nurses to the healthcare field. This new opportunity will help increase diversity among nurses and will be a huge benefit to nursing students at SUU.” The success of SUU’s nursing program is seen through the graduates. The December 2015 graduating class marked the seventh group of nurses to achieve a 100 percent NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate.

Walter Maxwell Gibson College of Science & Engineering


AGRICULTURAL & NUTRITION SCIENCE BIS in Agricultural Science & Industry with Emphases in Animal Science, Plant Science, General Agriculture, Natural Resources/Range Management, Environmental Studies BS is Human Nutrition with Emphases in Allied Health and Pre-Dietetics BIOLOGY BA/BS in Biology with Emphases in General Biology and Biology Education COMPUTER SCIENCE & INFORMATION SYSTEMS BS in Computer Science Composite BS in Information Systems Composite MS in Cyber Security & Information Assurance ENGINEERING & TECHNOLGY BS in Engineering BA/BS in Engineering Technology Composite with Emphases in CAD/CAM, CAD/CAM Architecture, CAD/GIS, & Electronics BA/BS in Construction Management Composite MATHEMATICS BS in Mathematics with Emphases in Actuarial Science, Pure Mathematics & Education NURSING BS in Nursing with Emphases in Pre-Licensure & RN to BSN PHYSICAL SCIENCE BS in Chemistry Composite with Emphases in Professional, Health Care, Forensics and BS in Chemistry with Emphasis in Teacher Education BS in Geology Composite with Emphasis in Professional Study

COSE Newsletter - Summer 2016  

Summer 2016 Newsletter for the College of Science and Engineering at Southern Utah University