Research Matters Publications

Research is a cornerstone of university learning, but scientific discovery and technology development is demanding of time, money, and resources. It requires substantial support, from both private industry and state allocations. Citizens are sometimes skeptical about how efficiently their tax dollars are spent when it is put towards research. Some students even feel that research dominates the time of their professors. When the benefits of research are not always readily apparent, it can be difficult to know whether the resources expended on it provide a positive return on investment.
Research Matters addresses these issues. We seek to bridge the gap between those that conduct research at USU and those who’s money and resources support it. Research Matters provides a new method of accountability to show that supporting research is a smart move for contributors of all levels. By fostering a better public understanding of the benefits of research, this report documents that USU research has positive impacts on students and faculty, Cache Valley, the State of Utah, and the world.

Research History


Utah’s Land-Grant College is approved for placement in Cache County.


Classes begin at the Agricultural College with 139 students (coed) with a curriculum that emphasized practical education as well as the classics and literature


The Agricultural College of Utah wins a bronze medal for its exhibits on field research at the Columbian Exposition, Chicago’s World Fair.


Cazier Act passed to fund Agriculture Experiment Station to hold an Extension Service begins.


State authorizes establishment of six branch arid farms throughout the state to perfect dry-farm agriculture.

President Kerr advocates awarding of graduate research degrees.


“Lecture train” featured whistle-stop teaching in Utah and Idaho with exhibits from the Experiment Station.

The Agricultural College wins a gold medal for its research exhibits at the World’s Fair in St. Louis.


Extension department established.


First scientific studies to measure the application of water to crops and vegetables at Greenville Farm in North Logan.


Ground-breaking research on spread of plant disease by insects.


Dry Farming, by John A. Widstoe, an agricultural classic, published.


First County Agent in Utah and in the West-Luther M. Winsor-placed in Vernal.


Branch agricultural college established at Cedar City Normal School.


First master’s degree graduate.


Farmers and homemakers encampment -“Tent City”-on the Quad every summer.


First winter snow surveys used to predict irrigation water supplies.


National Summer School established, featuring distinguished scholars.


Department of Rural Sociology founded to study community life and rural home conditions.


Agricultural College of Utah becomes Utah State Agricultural College.


First new plant variety developed specifically for Utah farmers: “Relief” winter wheat.


Intermountain Herbarium established.

May Swenson, noted poet, graduates from USAC.


Forestry Camp established in Logan Canyon to serve as off-campus laboratory.


Natural History Field Expedition to conduct studies in southern Utah.


Utah State faculty advise Iran on water, soils, and crop management.


Research Foundation established; Graduate School founded.


Utah State faculty increases international involvement, administering President Truman’s Point IV programs in Iran and participating in Greece, Turkey, and Lebanon.


First Ph.D. candidate graduates.


Branch agricultural college established at Snow College in Ephraim (until 1966).


Utah Botanical Center established to demonstrate and practice sustainable principles to reduce impact on the land and its valuable resources.


Division of Research is created; headed by D. Wynne Thorne, also Director of the Agriculture Experiment Station.


The Utah State Agricultural College granted university status.


Electro-Dynamics Lab established.


Development of Trackmaster Snowcats and spin-off of Logan Manufacturing Company; commercialization of Wescor for soil sciences applications and medical devices for blood serum testing.


President Glen L. Taggart establishes office of Vice President for Research, filled by D. Wynne Thorne.

Utah Water Research Lab established-one of the largest hydraulic research laboratories of its kind in the U.S.


Continuing Education Center established at Uintah Basin.

Ecology Center established; studies include brine shrimp, Antarctic ozone hole effect on plant DNA, mountain lion and Grizzly Bear populations and habitat.

Influential Economics of Range Improvements published.


Space Science laboratory and Center for Research in Aeronomy established, now called The Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences (CASS).


Space Measurements Laboratory established.


Center for Persons with Disabilities established.


SKI*HI Institute established to help children with sensory impairments.


USU begins work on NASA Get-Away Special (GAS) and becomes the #1 University with GAS payloads.


Rick Bass, noted nature writer, graduates from USU.


First student-generated space project from USU and the world orbited on the Space Shuttle.

Early Intervention Research Institute established in College of Education.

Space Dynamics Laboratory evolves from earlier aeronautical labs founded in 1959; more than 400 research payloads in a 40-year history; a world leader in sensor systems.


USU alumna Dr. Mary Cleave, a Shuttle crew member, carries onboard a USU Centennial Banner


Research and Technology Park established.

Biotechnology Center established.

USU hosts its first annual Small Satellite Conference, which continues in 2000.


Utah State University ranks first on a per-capita basis for its work in international development.


Western Dairy Center-a consortium of researchers and universities dedicated to understanding the complexities of milk and to developing new technologies and products from milk-established.


The Huntsman Environmental Research Center established to engage in research in the key areas of recycling, degradability, improvement of air and water quality and conservation of trees.


U.S. Department of Defense lists USU as 6th largest university contractor; National Science Foundation ranks USU 61st among all universities for grants.

Engineering Education journal lists USU as #1 in the nation for research funds generated per faculty member.

Great and Peculiar Beauty: A Utah Reader, centennial anthology by editor Tom Lyon and Terry Tempest Williams.


Remote Sensing and GIS Laboratory established for application development and research.


National Institute of Health study on environmental and genetic determinants of dementia, especially Alzheimer’s disease.


Oxford History of the American West, edited by Clyde Milner, II and Carol O’Connor, wins the Western Heritage Award from the Cowboy Hall of Fame.


The National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management is established at USU to oversee universal testing of newborns.

Social scientists Susan Dawson and Gary Madsen publish groundbreaking work on the effects of uranium mining on Navajo families in the Four Corners Area.

Pathway to the Arts, an outdoor sculpture program, established.


Affiliated Research Center established with eight other universities in the United States to perform state-of-the-art work in Remote Sensing, GIS and GPS area.


Region VIII Head Start Disability Services Quality Improvement Center established.

National Institutes of Health grant allows USU to conduct statewide study of genetic and nutrition factors affecting hip fractures.

Applications of geographic information systems (GIS) flourish in natural resources management and farming.


Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Center established.


Spider lamb syndrome on the road to elimination, due to research by Noelle Cockett.

NASA names its first extension specialist, Phil Rasmussen, to help farmers and ranchers use satellite images to minimize environmental impacts while maximizing production


USU’s Space Dynamics Lab maps global weather patterns, improving forecasts and tracking potentially deadly storms, through its new satellite-born sensor.


The tradition of research at Utah State University continues: monitoring global climate change, developing interactive software for on-line courses, developing turf grasses that require 50% less water, making marginal saline land productive, using waste water from electrical engineering plants to irrigate alfalfa, developing antiviral research to combat West Nile Virus, educating the public about food safety, storing milk for a shelf life of a year or more to combat hunger in third-world countries, developing a Manual of Grasses for North America North of Mexico.

USU Research and Technology Park becomes “Innovation Campus.”

Jeanne Thomas and her students in the Folklore Program requested by the Library of Congress to collect and make sound recordings of Americans’ accounts of and reactions to the terrorist attacks of September 11.


A team of Utah State University undergraduates unveil their re-creation of the original Wright flyer made with modern materials.

Utah State’s new Biotechnology and Genomic Research Center is established, bolstering Utah State’s worldwide reputation in agricultural biotechnology, natural populations, and microbial genomics.

In November 2002, President Hall deliveres a charge to create a multidisciplinary water initiative that will address water concerns in Utah and create a world-renowned graduate program in this field.


A Utah State University-University of Idaho research team is first in the world to clone a member of the horse family, a mule, which was named “Idaho Gem.” After Idaho Gem’s May 4 birth, the team also clones Utah Pioneer, born June 9, and Idaho Star, born on July 27. The project may provide new understanding of genetically-related problems for humans.

The Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory conducts all veterinary-related testing for West Nile virus and detects the first Utah occurrences in both birds and horses.

Researchers at USU’s Institue for Antiviral Research search for drugs to control severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).


Gary Merkley’s team provides irrigation management for the Dominican Republic.

Jim McMahon is part of NEON, a team that received $6 million to address issues of bioiversity, climate change, and others.

Maria Norton and JoAnn Tschanz study the epidemiology of Alzheimer’s disease in a Cache Valley family-based cohort.

Christine Hailey’s team receive more than $10 million to improve technology education in Utah’s K-12 schools.


The USU Computer Science Assistive Technology Laboratory (CSATL) researched and developed assisted navigation systems that enable visually impaired individuals to navigate dynamic and complex indoor and outdoor environments with comfort and ease—a robotic guide dog.


The Utah legislature passed the USTAR initiative, a $220 million investment in university research-based economic development. USTAR funds research teams and facilities at Utah State University and the Universtiy of Utah who implement scientific research and technological advancement.

The UWRL celebrated its 40th birthday. The UWRL has nearly 250 water- related projects a year, and has projects in all of Utah’s 29 counties and more than 40 countries.

Officials from USU traveled to the People’s Republic of China to sign two agreements fostering collaborative research and exchange in biotechnology.


USU’s Center for Persons with Disabilities celebrated its 35th birthday. The CPD administers more than 60 projects and programs on local, national, and international levels, all focused on improving life for people of all ages with disabilities and their families.

The Undergraduate Research Program received the Achievement of the Year Award at the 49th Annual Robins Awards.


The Undergraduate Research Program is commended by the Commission on Colleges and Universities in its ten-year accreditation.

All four of USU’s nominations to the Goldwater Scholarship Program receive a scholarship or honorable mention.

The first two of USU’s Undergraduate Research Fellow graduated–both with honors–after just three years of study.

The position of director of international programs was adopted as an associate vice president position in the Research Office. USU economics professor DeeVon Bailey assumed that role in May.


Two USU students were named Goldwater Scholars by the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, and one student is awarded an honorable mention.

USU received research grants from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, including one to convert 700 acres of wastewater lagoons and wetlands into growing algae for biofuel.

USU’s Energy Dynamics Laboratory was established to focus on applied research, development, design and implementation of green, renewable energy and environmental solutions.


USU reports a record $187 million in research funding during the 2010 fiscal year, a 29 percent increase over 2009.

Centennial of Dry Farming, which established USU as a leader in arid land agriculture.

Undergraduate Research celebrated 35 years at Utah State University.

Center for Persons with Disabilities launched an undergraduate research program.

Two new major research facilities were dedicated: the USTAR BioInnovations Building on the Innovation Campus and the Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center in Vernal, Utah.

Student Showcase celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Utah’s Research celebrated its 10th anniversary on Capitol Hill.

Three Goldwater Scholars and one Honorable Mention awarded to USU’s four candidates.

USU’s Research Office merges with the School of Graduate Studies. Dr. Mark McLellan named USU’s sixth Vice President for Research, as well as Dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

Dr. Scott Bates appointed to new position of associate vice president for graduate and undergraduate research.

Summer Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunity pilot program launched to unprecedented response.