Utah State University’s 13th annual Research Week concluded Saturday with students and faculty being recognized for their research efforts at the Robins Awards.

Five researchers were honored, including Margaret Hallerud, Salif Mahamane, Sherena Huntsman, Jaqueline Keating and Silvana Martini.

USU Ignite speaker and undergraduate in the S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources, Margaret Hallerud received the Peak Prize for undergraduate research.

Hallerud is a member of the Utah State Women’s Track and Field team. She is a native from Lombard, Illinois and on the weekends she tracks cougars.

“As a kid growing up near Chicago, my parents always told me that I could be anything I wanted,” Hallerud said. “Somewhere around the age of 13, I decided that I wanted to research carnivores. Why carnivores? Because they represent the wildest, most untamed places remaining on the planet.”

Hallerud’s research tracks the movement of cougars throughout the Bear River Range, as well as how cougars interact with other species.

“The more I study these animals, the more I behave like them,” Hallerud said. “I follow tree lines instead of sidewalks. I’m constantly keeping my eyes out for any sign of wildlife- and I tend to unconsciously follow tracks and animal trails when encountered.”

Salif Mahamane, also a former USU Ignite and TEDxUSU speaker, received honors for his research as a doctoral student in the Psychology Department.

Mahamane researches neurophysiology in connection with natural environments.

Describing what he enjoys most about research, Mahamane said, “I love the feeling of discovery.”

A Ph.D. student in the Department of English, Sherena Huntsman was recognized for her work as a Graduate Student Instructor.

Huntsman has taught composition courses at Utah State University since 2012 and also assists with composition pedagogy courses. She has worked to make course work available to her students online and she studies the rhetoric surrounding disability within academic settings.

Describing how her teaching experience has changed her, Huntsman said, “I now have hundreds of friends all over the world because at one point they sat in my classroom and we learned from each other.”

Another student from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jacqueline Keating, received the Master Student Researcher of the Year Award.

Jacqueline studies human attitudes toward wildlife, specifically bears.

Having completed her undergraduate degree in New York, Keating said she grew tired of having to try and combine the social and physical worlds of scientific research.

“This frustration paved a clear path to Utah State University where my professors and mentors have spent their entire careers building meaningful bridges between these two areas of study.”

Speaking of her time at USU, Keating said, “I am incredibly thankful for the research and networking opportunities that I have had at Utah State University and look forward to building on that foundation when my degree is complete.”

At the Robins Awards, Professor Silvana Martini was also recognized as the Faculty Researcher of the Year.

Dr. Martini researches physicochemical and sensorial characterization of food materials, specifically lipids. She studies how the quality of food materials is affected by their nano-, micro- and macroscopic characteristics. She has published more than 70 papers in peer-reviewed journals and participated in more than 120 academic conferences.

Martini’s main goal is to design healthy products that also taste good.

For a complete list of researchers who received awards from the Office of Research and Graduate Studies, please visit rgsawards.usu.edu.

Writer: Katie Feinauer, katie.feinauer@usu.edu