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February 22, 2017

USU Sociologist Returns from Antarctica

Melissa Haeffner, a post-doctoral sociologist at Utah State University and iUTAH researcher, returned from an Antarctica science expedition in early January 2017. She was one of 76 women from 15 countries chosen to take part in the 'Homeward Bound' expedition - a new initiative aiming to boost the impact of female scientists.


The expedition’s purpose was to facilitate research collaboration and leadership development for women in science. Scientists came from a variety of backgrounds, including astronomers, engineers, physicists, and doctors. Haeffner’s goal was to study the human participants. She returned with interviews, pictures, and insight from her participation in the largest ever all-female expedition to Antarctica.


“As a social scientist who is more interested in the strange species of scientists than penguins, I relished the opportunity to study some of the top specimens in their fields" said Haeffner.


Since returning to Utah, she has been preparing reports and presenting her findings to students of all ages, scientists, and the community. Most recently, she presented to high school sophomores in Wisconsin via Skype, and to students and faculty at Utah State University.


When not traveling to far away places, Haeffner is part of iUTAH EPSCoR, a National Science Foundation funded interdisciplinary project where she uses a variety of social science methods to examine how people’s views shape what we know relating to water resources in Utah.


Press: KUSU Radio | The Herald Journal


Melissa Haeffner was one of 76 women taking part in the expedition to Antarctica. Credit Melissa Haeffner


Antarctica, as viewed from the deck of the largest-ever all female expedition. Credit Melissa Haeffner



February 15, 2017

iUTAH Project Administrator Selected as AAAS Fellow

USU and iUTAH Project Administrator Andreas Leidolf selected as an AAAS Fellow. He joins 19 inaugural Community Engagement Fellows from across the country focused on supporting the role of community engagement managers in the scientific community. Credit: Donna Barry/Utah State University


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has selected Andreas (Andy) Leidolf, iUTAH Assistant Director and Project Administrator, as one of 19 inaugural Community Engagement Fellows. The AAAS Community Engagement Fellows pilot program, aimed at improving collaboration and community building in science, provides orientation and support to professionalize and institutionalize the role of community engagement managers in the scientific community.


The initial cohort of fellows attended an orientation session in Washington D. C. for a week in January. At that session, they were introduced to AAAS leadership, content experts, and community managers using established engagement models to engage scientific communities. Among the tools that Andy brings back to Utah is a network of professionals and training in Trellis, a digital communication and collaboration platform developed by AAAS. He will return to AAAS for two additional trainings in 2017.


“USU was very pleased to have Andy Leidolf selected as an AAAS Community Engagement Fellow, and believes this prestigious honor underscores the value of Andy’s contributions to iUTAH, and the critical role that collaborative science can play in helping Utah plan for future growth and development,” said Jeff Broadbent, Associate Vice President for Research and Associate Dean, USU Office of Research and Graduate Studies.



Press: Utah State Today


AAAS Community Engagement Fellow Andreas Leidolf, iUTAH Project Administrator, pictured with iUTAH Directors Mark Brunson and Michelle Baker.



February 15, 2017

Sarah Null Receives Prestigious NSF CAREER Grant

NSF CAREER Award recipient Sarah Null, an assistant professor in the Department of Watershed Sciences and the USU Ecology Center. Credit: Mary-Ann Muffoletto/Utah State University

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has named Utah State University junior faculty member Sarah Null winner of an Early CAREER award. Sarah is one of four faculty members at USU to be chosen to receive the prestigious CAREER Award this year. Null’s award provides a five-year grant of $510,000.


An excerpt from a USU press release said “ ‘Most water resources models consider flow volume and timing, but I want to look further,’ says Null, who serves with the statewide iUTAH water project and USU’s newly formed Climate Adaptation Science graduate program. ‘My research aim is to explore water management effects on ecosystems and ways to improve aquatic ecosystem representation in water resources models.’


Using water resources systems analysis and physical geography, Null is developing mathematical models to explore processes and interactions of both built and natural water systems. Her research also includes field studies.


‘With undergraduates and graduate students, our team will collect data on multiple aquatic habitat parameters, including temperature, dissolved oxygen, gradients and stream flow on the Intermountain West’s Weber and Bear Rivers,’ she says. ‘We’ll develop mathematical models to estimate processes and interactions of human and environmental water resources objectives and test them with field data.’


Such analysis, she says, will enable her team to quantify water supply, hydropower and aquatic habitat trade-offs to support water resource decision-making. ‘Further, we can use models to predict climate change effects on hydrology, water quality and aquatic habitat,’ Null says. ‘Such information helps us identify promising adaptation and management strategies that are robust to change.’ “


Press: EurekAlert! | Utah State Today


Sarah Null, iUTAH researcher and USU faculty member, working on water management effects on ecosystems and ways to improve aquatic ecosystem. Credit: Mary-Ann Muffoletto/Utah State University



February 6, 2017

iUTAH Students Present Research on Capitol Hill

Undergraduate students from the University of Utah and Utah State University presented their research for Utah lawmakers in the rotunda of the state Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017. Due to weather-related issues, USU did not make it down for the event, and will showcase their work at a later date. Two iUTAH students were selected to present research:


Hyrum Tennant, USU student & iUTAH trainee, (mentor Beth Neilson)
Project title: Groundwater Influences on the Logan River Watershed


Adam Whalen, UU student & 2016 iUTAH iFellow (mentor Sara Yeo)
Project title: A Comparative Analysis of Attitudes Toward Drinking Water Between Utah and the Nation


The iUTAH project involves students in a wide range of academic disciplines all related to water research in the state. While participating in research, students learn valuable skills on poster development and engaging in one-on-one and group presentations. As a double major in Communication and Political Science, Adam Whalen said he was especially “excited about how involvement with research can have real world implications in government, and by extension, society,” adding that “this presentation was a wonderful hybrid of my academic interests."

“Capitol Hill also proved to be a fantastic venue, it had an aura of importance and historicity that made me feel like I was a part of something greater for the state of Utah,” said Whalen. “It one of the best experiences in my undergraduate career. It sparked the same creative drive I had during my time as an iFellow, and reminded me of why I got started in research in the first place.”

More information on the event and participants is available in the articles listed below.


Press: UU News | Utah State Today | Deseret News | Daily Utah Chronicle


Adam Whalen with his research poster at the 2017 Research on Capitol Hill event.
Credit: UU Office of Undergraduate Research


Students from the University of Utah discuss their research projects with legislators and visitors during Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan., 24, 2017. Credit: UU Office of Undergraduate Research



January 12, 2017

iUTAH Making a Difference Brochure

Our state faces water issues that have economic, ecological, and human consequences. To sustain Utah’s water resources, we must be prepared to address a highly complex array of environmental processes and social concerns. Since 2012, the researchers, educators, and resource managers in iUTAH have been working together to understand the water issues that have economic, ecological, and human consequences. Our research is contributing to predicting the effects of natural events and human choices on water systems, creating better understanding of threats and measurements of Utah’s water systems, and informing citizens and policy makers about water and the ways we can sustain it for future generations.


With the help of the iUTAH Leadership Team, we have recently put together a 16-page brochure on “Utah’s Water Future.” The brochure features the efforts and successes of the iUTAH project while outlining “how iUTAH is making a difference” in the state. Features in the piece include the concerns, consequences, and contributions that are being made through your research, training, and educational efforts. While printed copies of the brochure are available for distribution, a digital version is available online in the brochures sections of the website, here.


Creating the piece is just the first step in raising awareness of these efforts. We ask that you review this piece, use it in your presentations, and let us know new ways that it should be used to reach key stakeholders in the state. The knowledge we’re gaining and the tools we’re developing will help water professionals and other decision makers make informed choices and take appropriate action to secure Utah's water future.


More information…





January 12, 2017

Utah Climate Scientists Anxious Over Threatened NASA Cuts...

iUTAH researcher McKenzie Skiles discusses funding threats for climate research with the Salt Lake Tribune

Utah Valley University and iUTAH researcher McKenzie Skiles was featured in the news. The Salt Lake Tribune recently reported on potential funding threats to NASA’s climate research.


An excerpt from the news story said that Skiles “is worried about her ability to find future funding under Trump's administration. Her current funding doesn't come through NASA, Skiles said, but prior to accepting a position at UVU, she worked as a postdoctoral scholar in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. ‘NASA is a place I would look to in the future" for funding, she said. "And if that funding is no longer available, that limits the opportunities.’ Funding from NASA is especially important for young scholars.”


Skiles is a recent recipient of an iUTAH 2017 Research Catalyst Grant which will fund her research looking at the constraining physical controls on snow hydrology along the Wasatch Front. The grant brings together collaborators from each of Utah’s research institutions, including Janice Brahney, Utah State University, Greg Carling, Brigham Young University, and Jim Steenburgh, University of Utah.


Press: Salt Lake Tribune