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April 5, 2017

What Climate Change Means for Leaf Litter

University of Utah and iUTAH researcher Jennifer J. Follstad Shah has been in the news for her contributions to research on leaf litter breakdown in streams and rivers, conducted in collaboration with a team of 15 scientists in the U.S. and Europe. The study “Global synthesis of the temperature sensitivity of leaf litter breakdown in streams and rivers” was published Feb. 28 in Global Change Biology.


An excerpt from the story said “carbon dioxide coming from some of Earth's tiniest residents may not be increasing as quickly as some believed in the face of global climate change. Streams and rivers are home to insects, bacteria and fungi that consume plant litter, including fallen leaves, and break it into smaller pieces. This type of litter is good for streams and rivers because it helps remove toxins. As leaf litter is consumed, insects and microbes get oxygen, convert nutrients into energy and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This process is what scientists call leaf litter decay.”


“The process is not as obvious as the melting of ice caps and impacts on a charismatic creature like the polar bear, but it is an important indicator of global climate change,“ Follstad Shah said, and one that has implications for values used in climate change models. “There is still a lot about the carbon cycle we don’t understand,” she said. “Understanding the temperature sensitivity of ecosystem processes that govern carbon cycling is imperative as global temperatures rise.”


Jennifer is currently working with data samples from seven iUTAH GAMUT sites along the Logan, Red Butte, and Provo rivers. While the data in this study does not come from the GAMUT sites, she says that it does relate since the results from both studies can be used towards developing indicators of stream health. Data and analysis from her GAMUT site studies will be available later this year.


Led by the Follstad Shah, the full study is available here.


Press: PHYS.ORG | Science Daily | UU News | Youth Health Magazine



Leaf skeleton with invertebrates, location unknown. Credit: Walter Dodds



April 5, 2017

iUTAH Graduate Student Wins ISS Poster Competition

Pratiti Tagore, a PhD student in the City and Metropolitan Planning at the University of Utah, won the 2017 Intermountain Sustainability Summit poster competition at Weber State University. Her poster discusses the link between environmental habits and context as applied to water saving behavior and urbanization levels in Salt Lake, Cache, and Heber Valleys, and is based on iUTAH research that she has conducted with faculty mentor Sarah Hinners.


Tagore’s project titled Can Urbanization Level of a Place Act as a Predictor of Water Saving Behavior? A Study of Salt Lake Valley, Cache Valley, and Heber Valley focuses on the high per capita water use in the state, limited policy planning, and water saving behavior connected to living in a more urban area, such as Salt Lake Valley. She also finds home ownership status and demographics influence water saving behavior, where Cache and Heber Valley households act similarly.


This year was the eight year for Intermountain Sustainability Summit at Weber State University, which has grown to 550 participants this year including over 25 student posters. The summit hosted its first Higher Ed Forum this year, which was a participant-driven event for higher education faculty, students and facilities management staff. Next year’s ISS will take place on March 1 -2, 2018. 


Graduate Student Pratiti Tagore and her winning poster at the 2017 ISS at WSU. Credit Pratiti Tagore.



April 5, 2017

Dan Bedford Named Outstanding Faculty Mentor at WSU

The 2017 recipient of the Weber State University’s Office of Undergraduate Research Outstanding Faculty Mentor for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is Dan Bedford, professor of Geography and WSU honors program director. The award was presented at WSU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium in recognition of excellence among undergraduate research mentors. An outstanding mentor is a good listener who is accessible and available to students, guides student researchers toward independence, encourages excellence, and demonstrates expertise in their own discipline. Dan has been an active participant in the iUTAH project since its start in 2012. He says he appreciates the chance ”to contribute to undergraduate research not just at WSU, but across the state,” adding that “I couldn't have done any of this if it were not for the opportunities afforded by iUTAH.”

“Dan has been instrumental in the success of our undergraduate research programs,” says Mark Brunson, iUTAH Education, Outreach and Diversity director. “He manages iUTAH's Research Catalyst Grant program, which supports research at Utah’s primarily undergraduate institutions by faculty members and their undergraduate research assistants.” In addition to his work mentoring other faculty members, “he has actively recruited Weber State students into the iFellows and the Summer Institute programs, and then championed their accomplishments by making sure their work is seen by upper administration at WSU,” says Brunson. “He sees talent in students who may not know they’d be good scientists, and helps them grow into confident researchers who are poised to make a difference.”

WSU student Cynthia Elliott, a 2016 iFellow, is one of the many students to benefit from Dan’s mentorship saying that it “inspired and encouraged me to do my very best work and test my limits. I will always acknowledge his support as critical in my success at Weber." iUTAH benefits from the students that Weber brings to our programs. Over four years, WSU has had 16 students participate in the iFellows undergraduate research experience, 11 students involved in faculty Research Catalyst Grants, and 7 students serve as Summer Institute peer mentors.



Dan Bedford receiving Outstanding Mentor Award at WSU’s 2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium. Credit WSU Office of Undergraduate Research.



March 22, 2017

SUU Professor Receives Award to Fund Water Research

iUTAH researcher Jacqualine Grant was featured in the news for water research funding. Credit Southern Utah University marketing communications

Southern Utah University and iUTAH researcher Jacqualine Grant was featured in the news for her iUTAH release time award. An excerpt from the news story said “Grant will use this break from campus duties to develop proposals with colleagues in the Intermountain West.”


Grant said in the SUU news story “ ’I am very grateful to have received this award from iUTAH’…. The course release time has facilitated proposal development with SUU colleague Dr. Matt Ogburn, collaborators at the Society for Conservation Biology, and researchers at the University of Utah and Northern Arizona University. ‘Our goal is to advance science related to water conservation and green infrastructure; and to increase undergraduate participation in authentic research experiences.’


Because of the release time award from iUTAH, one of Grant's proposals has already received funding from the Bureau of Land Management’s Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program. This grant will fund the hiring of two SUU students to work on green infrastructure research and seed diversity projects alongside Grant and Ogburn.”


Press: SUU University News




March 8, 2017

Achieving Broader Impacts in Research - A Symposium on March 31

What are Broader Impacts and why should scientists care? Have you ever submitted a great research proposal that promises high value to society but it has been rejected? One possible reason might be that it doesn’t provide enough information about how society will benefit from your research, specifically underserved and diverse communities. This is where broader impacts enter.


The National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal research agencies are increasingly emphasizing the need to justify not only the “intellectual merit” of proposed research, but also its “broader impacts.” The latter refers to the potential of the proposed project to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.


The “Reflecting and Expanding on Our Broader Impact” forum was developed as a collaboration between iUTAH EPSCoR and the University of Utah’s Office of the Vice President for Research to address this topic. The event takes place on Friday, Mar. 31, and is free and open to faculty, students other research and education practitioners from across the state. The morning session, including keynotes and panel discussion, starts at 8:30 a.m. at the University of Utah, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Education Buildings, Salt Lake City UT.


The forum is fortunate to have the National Alliance for Broader Impacts (NABI) chair, Susan Renoe, an adjunct professor of Anthropology and director of the Broader Impacts Network at the University of Missouri, as a keynote speaker presenting on Broader Impacts For Engaged Scholarship. NABI is a national network of universities, professional societies and informal science organizations, which offers an excellent overview of broader impacts. In a second keynote, Chinweike Eseonu, assistant professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at Oregon State University, will share lessons learned from Implementing A Community-Engaged Research Program.


We invite students, faculty, and researchers to attend and promise that you will walk away with a better understanding of broader impacts and how they affect your funding.


More Information...



Left: Forum will include Susan Renoe presenting a keynote on Broader Impacts For Engaged Scholarship. Credit Susan Renoe.
Right: Chinweike Eseonu will share lessons learned from Implementing A Community-Engaged Research Program.
Credit Chinweike Eseonu.



March 8, 2017

iUTAH Students Present At Undergraduate Research Conference

Undergraduate students from across the state, including 16 students working on iUTAH research, were selected to present posters/presentations at the 2017 Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research (UCUR) on Friday, February 17, at Utah Valley University in Orem UT.


Students from Southern Utah University, University of Utah, Utah Valley University, and Westminster College presented iUTAH research, in collaboration with faculty Research Catalyst Grants and the iUTAH iFellows undergraduate research experience. For many students, like SUU senior, Hailey Wallace, this was their first UCUR conference. Wallace worked with mentors from SUU and UU, and other students testing the ability of green roofs to contribute to urban invertebrate biodiversity. 


“It has been an amazing experience to be a part of undergraduate research," said Wallace. “I am very grateful have been involved in this project since the beginning, and been able to have multiple projects of my own stemming from the main work, as well as present the research at multiple venues.”


Wallace plans to use what she learned and continue her education as a graduate student in the Environmental Science and Management program at Portland State University in the fall. Below are topics and students presenting at UCUR:


Effect Of Phragmites Australis Control On Utah Lake Water Quality
Student(s): Arthur Evensen, Joshua Jackson, Jake Wood, Paul Morris, Ibrihim Alhassan, Kyle Fordham, and Victor Sanjinez (UVU)
Mentor(s): Eddy L Cadet       


A Comparative Analysis On Attitudes Toward Drinking Water Quality Between Utah And The Nation
Student(s): Adam James Whalen (2016 iUTAH iFellow), and Meaghan McKasy (UU)
Mentor(s):  Sara Yeo


Quantifying Nutrient And Trace Metal Input To Utah Lake From Orem Wastewater Treatment Effluent
Student(s): Sydney Hoopes and Serena Smith (UVU)
Mentor(s):  Weihong Wang, and Eddy Cadet


Use Of Green Infrastructure to Increase Invertebrate Biodiversity In The Built Environment
Student(s): Hailey Wallace and Andrew Carlson (SUU)
Mentor(s):  Jacqualine Grant, Matthew Weeg, Youcan Feng, and Steven Burian    


Effect Of The Disappearance Of The Deep Brine Layer On Trace Element Uptake Into Great Salt Lake Food Webs
Student(s): Madelene Trentman, Abby Scott, and Alexandria Martin (Westminster College)
Mentor(s): Frank Black


Methylmercury In The Great Salt Lake
Student(s): Alexandria Martin (Westminster College)
Mentor(s): Frank Black


UCUR was created to showcase the best undergraduate work from students across the state of Utah. Undergraduates from all disciplines are invited to apply for the conference. Submissions to UCUR 2018, which held at SUU, will be due in the fall. For more information, visit


Press: UVU Press Release



Hailey Wallace, SUU senior, presenting her research on testing the ability of green roofs to contribute to urban invertebrate biodiversity at 2017 UCUR at UVU. Credit Hailey Wallace.