Page 1

2 0 1 4




Son of Two USU Greats Craf ts the Artful Science of ‘Interstellar’ u Humans will press farther

Reaching New Heights

into space and devote even more resources to spread into the solar system, according to USU Honorary Doctorate recipient and esteemed astrophysicist Kip Thorne.

As we close the door on 2014, Utah State University has much to celebrate. Our faculty are involved in an increasing number of innovative research projects creating a catalyst of growth that we are more than proud to recognize. In fact, we celebrate our faculty. A total of more than $220 million in new sponsored awards funding was granted in fiscal year 2014 — the highest level of external support ever recorded.

Kip’s interest in the solar system began at the age of 8 and inspired him to work with his mother, USU professor Alison Cornish Thorne, to create calculations for his own model of the solar system. This early interest and influence from his father, USU Vice President for Research D. Wynne Thorne, would mold the trajectory for Kip’s future.

And while the record itself is an accolade, it means far more to the university than just impressive numbers, according to USU President Stan L. Albrecht.

That future would see him become the Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics Emeritus at Caltech, the close friend of Steven Hawking and the author of books including the bestselling Black Holes and Time Warps. Most recently, Kip served as executive producer and scientific consultant for the 2014 movie ‘Interstellar’ and author of the book The Science of Interstellar, that details how he shaped the science that powers the movie.

2014 Research Fast Facts:


percent increase in federal competitive awards


expansion of funding for graduate tuition

Created and Awarded 10 dissertation enhancement Awards


Established X-STEM assistantships

Established a new research assistantship program that provides a one-to-one funding match for:


Master of Science assistantships (2 years)


PhD assistantships (4 years)

“It’s an expansion of our ability to accomplish our statewide land-grant mission,” he said. As Utah’s land-grant university, we are able to extend a variety of research opportunities for our students not only at our main campus in Logan, but at locations across the state. And we are able to do so because of our outstanding faculty involved in research projects looking to improve the future, not only for Utah, but for the world. Whether our faculty are inventing technology that will change the way atmospheric models are used to predict the impact of space weather events (See: Innovation), or are creating one of the most innovative dam refurbishment designs in the world (See: Collaboration), they are conducting research on the forefront of innovation. Although we do, on occasion, look to the past (See: USU Scientists Shed New Light on the Age of Well-Known Rock Art), it is our constant movement forward (See: The Future of Transportation) that provides momentum for our increasing notoriety as a research university moving up in the ranks. So, as we open the door to 2015 and look to “The Year of Water,” we will continue to support our faculty in their research and scholarly pursuits. And we will continue our trajectory toward a better and brighter future.

The Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services is #7 in the nation among Colleges of Education for total research dollars received by a college (U.S. News and World Report, “America's Best Graduate Schools,” 2015 edition) The Rehabilitation Counseling Graduate Program in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education

and Human Services ranks #9 in the United States and the Special Education Graduate program ranks #18 in the United States (U.S. News and World Report, “America's Best Graduate Schools,” 2014 edition)


The Year of Water at USU Water Expertise at Its Source

Our annual edition of the Utah State University

Greats is never a “promise” list — the Greats are actual highlights, already lived, from the previous year. So why are we spending time previewing 2015 here?

First, our expertise in water could very well be the pioneer entry into a Hall of Fame of Greats at USU. From this university’s earliest moments our core mission directed us to predict, then research, then systematically and scientifically solve Utah’s water problems and address the state’s water needs. We were a quick study then, and now,127 years later, Utah State University engineers, hydrologists, agronomists, sociologists, climate scientists and other researchers across a range of disciplines are still the foremost voices on issues related to water in the state. USU’s water specialists today, in fact, are among the nation’s and even the world’s leading experts on many water-related issues, particularly in the areas of water management, ecosystems, climate, water education and society’s understanding of this precious resource. We have projects now in Egypt, Senegal, throughout Latin America, Central America and in other countries throughout the Middle East. People who received their graduate degrees in water resources from USU are the who’s who of water ministers, engineers and resource specialists in Jordan, Palestine, Israel, the Philippines, Thailand, the Dominican Republic and Iraq. Our folks are THE experts in their areas of research: from the rehabilitation of river ecosystems … to water quality for humans AND fish … to the capture and delivery of water to agricultural fields as well as the faucets in your home. We are the state’s source for water expertise — with a history to tell, and it is not an overstatement to say that Utah State University also has a future to lead. We have designated 2015 as USU’s Year of Water, a year in which we will highlight our university water expertise and leadership across disciplines. More to come that is Great.


The Future of Transportation USU Looks to Innovate the way Electric Vehicles are Charged t USU researcher Regan Zane is overseeing the creation of an electrified oval-shaped test track designed to demonstrate in-motion wireless power charging for electric vehicles. The firstof-its-kind facility will use wireless technology embedded in the roadway to allow electric vehicles to seamlessly charge while in motion.

Regan Zane

Space Dynamics Lab and Inventor Issued Patent for New Space Weather Sensor SDL research scientist Erik Syrstad invented the Imaging Dispersive Energy Analyzer (IDEA) to help predict the impact of space weather events causing degraded GPS and radio signals, spacecraft damage and increased atmospheric drag that can alter a satellite’s orbit.

High Spending on Child Athletes Doesn’t Necessarily Equal High Enjoyment A group of researchers from USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services set out to discover more about the impact of family spending on childhood sport experiences. They discovered good things — parental support was a significant, positive factor in a child’s enjoyment and motivation to continue. But they also found that the more a family spends on a child’s athletic pursuits, the less enjoyment there is for the child athlete.

USU Ecologist Receives Prestigious NSF ‘CAREER’ Award Susannah French is the recipient of a 2014 Faculty Early Career Development ‘CAREER’ Award from the National Science Foundation. The award provides French, a biology professor from the College of Science, with five years of funding to support her ecological and physiological research exploring the environmental effects on the sideblotched lizard.

Zane, a USTAR-endowed professor of electrical and computer engineering, said the technology, if adopted at a U.S. market penetration rate of only 20 percent by 2035, could result in $180 billion in annual cost savings and a 20 percent reduction in air pollution in the United States.

University Best 7 Aggies Receive NSF’s Most Prestigious Graduate Award It was a banner year for USU as seven Aggies were named National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellows: graduate students Lisa Green (environment and society), Sara Kelly (watershed sciences) and 2014 graduate Bryan Stringham (mechanical and aerospace engineering), along with USU alums Rachel R. Brown ’13 (family, consumer and human development, USU Uintah Basin), Chris Martin ’11, MS’13 (political science and economics), Ben Morris ’12 (biology) and Benjamin K. Shurtz ’13, MS’13 (mechanical and aerospace engineering). Recipients receive a three-year annual stipend of $32,000, and a $12,000 cost-ofeducation allowance is paid to the graduate institution.

t Rare Find by USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum A 1,000-year-old intact Fremont pot was discovered and removed from Nine-Mile Canyon outside of Price under direction of USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum archaeologist Tim Riley. The rare vessel sheds new light on an early culture of Eastern Utah and is now on permanent display at the museum.


Two USU Greats Earn National Recognition for Mentoring

Leonard Rosenband and Chuck Salzberg Honored for Dedication to Students t Leonard Rosenband, professor of history

in USU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, was the recipient of the 2014 Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award. The award honors history teachers who teach, guide and inspire their students and is presented by the American Historical Association on a three-year cycle. Rosenband is humble about his ability to connect with students and make the long ago lives of historical figures become real and immediate to 21st century students.

Leonard Rosenband

Chuck Salzberg has spent his career building the field of special education, influencing policy and serving on national boards. But his greatest love is mentoring graduate students.

u On to Greatness Anna Maria Guadarrama (2013 Valedictorian for the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences) spent the 2013-2014 as a Fulbright Scholar in Mexico. She then landed a prestigious internship with the Hispanic Congressional Congress in Washington, D.C., where she currently serves.

Anna Maria Guadarrama

Huntsman Teacher Recognized for Longest Winning Streak in Nation Huntsman School of Business students have been given the “Gold Level Award of Excellence” for 19 years in a row by the Association of Accountant and Financial Professionals in Business (IMA) thanks to professor Frank Shuman, who serves as the team’s faculty advisor.

USU Professor Receives National Teaching Award Lindsey Shirley, a professor in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, has been named the Family and Consumer Sciences Education

Association’s (FCSEA) Educator of the Year because of her outstanding leadership in the field and her willingness to work with individuals and organizations outside the classroom.

USU Department of Art and Design Receives National Accreditation The National Association of Schools of Art and Design has accredited USU's Department of Art and Design in the Caine College of the Arts. Accreditation attests to the department’s commitment to provide the best possible education for current and future USU students.

It’s fitting, then, that he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children for his leadership in special education, where he serves in USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

Chuck Salzberg

Outstanding Graduation Success Rate for Student Athletes USU Ranks #1 Among the Six Division-1 Schools in Utah The NCAA announced that USU student athletes have a graduation success rate that stands at 87 percent. The men’s basketball team and men’s tennis team can both boast a 100 percent graduation success rate — a metric achieved for seven straight years. Among the six Division-1 schools in the state of Utah, USU ranks #1.


USU Scientists Shed New Light on the Age of Well-Known Rock Art Ancient Paintings are Younger than Estimated

t In a remote section of southern Utah’s Canyonlands National Park, the enigmatic Barrier Canyon-style rock art images have sparked endless questions, and USU scientists say the ancient paintings are younger than previously thought. Researchers Joel Pederson, a professor in USU’s Department of Geology, and Steven Simms, professor in the Department of Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology, report findings from studies using cutting-edge luminescence dating techniques that narrow the time frame for the rock art. The results disprove proposed hypotheses of the age of the prehistoric drawings, thought by some to be among the oldest artifacts of the American Southwest.

Steven Simms (left) and Joel Pederson

SDL Delivers James Webb Space Telescope Subsystem to NASA USU’s Space Dynamics Lab delivered the final series of 35 thermal link and composite support structure assemblies to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for integration onto the James Webb Space Telescope. The Webb Telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

USU Awarded National Endowment for the Arts Grant to Integrate Art and Science Faculty members Mark Lee Koven, assistant professor of art, and Nancy Huntly, biology professor, are initiating

Noelle Cockett

ARTsySTEM, an interdisciplinary project aimed at incorporating art and design toward scientific data collection, analysis, interpretation and design.

Radish Experiment Gives Middle Schoolers a Taste of Space Research Middle school students from Gunnison, Utah, are growing radishes from seeds that have flown in space to determine how they flourish after being exposed to space radiation thanks to a partnership between the Space Dynamics Lab and USU’s STARS! GEAR UP program, housed in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

Changing How Utah (and the world) Moves Water Labyrinth Weir a Viable Option for Handling Larger Volumes of Water

t USU Scientists Part of International Sheep Genome Sequencing Team

p From above it looks like an accordion,

An international team of researchers has sequenced the sheep genome for the first time providing a valuable resource in advancing research in human and veterinary medicine. Noelle Cockett, USU executive vice president and provost and professor in the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences, and Chunhua Wu, a postdoctoral fellow in Cockett’s lab, are two of more than 70 co-authors whose research was published in the journal Science.

Blake Tullis, USU professor of civil and environmental engineering, and his team of graduate students have expanded on initial labyrinth weir research done by his father a generation ago. A viable option for dam modification that can handle larger volumes of water, Tullis is working with engineers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to implement the weir design at the Isabella dam in Kern County, California.

but, in actuality, the labyrinth weir is one of the most innovative dam refurbishment designs in the world.


USU Among Nation’s Elite

t USU can add a few more bragging rights to its continually rising na-

tional reputation. The university was ranked as the 17th best public national university in the nation, number 23 overall in Washington Monthly’s 2014 College Rankings. Washington Monthly rates schools based on their contributions to the public good in three broad categories: social mobility, research and service. The university has also garnered attention on several other national lists during the past year, including: •• #2 highest-ranked public university in the West and #4 in the nation for lowest tuition in “America’s Top Colleges” (Forbes, “Top Colleges,” Aug. 2014) •• Ranked 8th in the nation’s best public national universities for graduates with the least debt (U.S. News & World Report, “Least Debt, Best Colleges 2015,” Sep. 2014)

u Three USU Undergraduates are 2014 Goldwater Honorees

Forging New Ground

USU undergraduate Rachel Nydegger is a 2014 Goldwater Scholar and students David Griffin and Austin Spence received honorable mentions in a prestigious national competition that recognizes outstanding achievements in science and mathematics.

Big Move for USUBrigham City USU-Brigham City began construction on its $15 million, 50,000-square foot facility that will anchor the 48-acre campus. The new facility will contain broadcast-enabled classrooms, a lecture hall, multi-purpose room and offices for faculty, advisors and staff.

With the 2014 honorees, USU boasts 23 Goldwater Scholars and 11 honorable mention recipients since 1998. USU’s 2014 honorees, who represent the university’s College of Science, are members of the USU Honors Program and are active in undergraduate research.

From left: Austin Spence, Rachel Nydegger and David Griffin

Utah State Wins School Record ThirdStraight Bowl Game

Professor Leads Uganda Service Learning Project

Caine Legacy Carries on Through New Scholars Program

Aggie Football took home a 21-6 victory against UTEP in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl. With the win, USU achieved a school record three-straight bowl game appearances, and finished the season with a 10-4 record for the second-most wins in a single season in school history.

USU College of Engineering faculty member Sonia ManuelDupont and a travel team of 12 students, teachers and engineers spent a month in Uganda on a humanitarian trip to several orphanages as part of USU’s Service Learning Scholars program.

The Caine College of the Arts announced the Caine Scholars for Excellence, a new scholarship program made available with the support of Dan C. and Manon Caine Russell as part of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation Russell Family.

New Gateway to USU Eastern Campus A new gateway to the USU Eastern campus in Price will greet students beginning fall 2015 after 15 years in the planning. Construction of the new $20 million, multi-purpose teaching facility commenced in June 2014.

Wheels in Motion for New Student Recreation and Wellness Center Ground was broken in March 2014 for the new building on the Logan campus marking an important step for the student-spurred idea. Students have been involved with the design of the building set to open in fall 2015.

The Utah State University Greats 2014 is published by the USU Public Relations and Marketing Office, 0500 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah, 84322-0500, Phone: (435)797-1351. Copyright 2015.

USU Greats 2014  

You know what's GREAT about ideas? Anyone can have one. They can come anytime, from anywhere, right out of the blue, in ways we least expect...