The History of Undergraduate Research at USU


Utah State University announced as the recipient of the 2020 Award for Undergraduate Research Accomplishments (AURA), recognizing USU as a national leader in undergraduate programs for research and creative inquiry. The award was presented by the Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) on April 22, 2021.

“In addition to engaging a large number of students, faculty participation across all colleges is impressive, as is active participation in CUR, receipt of undergraduate education awards and opportunities for student and faculty recognition. The institutional research effort also bolsters an impressive number of student-authored publications.”
- Lindsay Currie, CUR executive officer. 


The Office of Research announces the 2021 URCO Impact Initiative, a program to supplement the Summer 2021 cycle of Undergraduate Research & Creative Opportunities (URCO) grants. Undergraduate students at any level and in any degree program at ALL USU campuses (and in remote-learning programs) are encouraged to apply for an additional $500 unqualified scholarship per student for Impact Initiative qualified projects. The $500 will be added to the base URCO scholarship award of $1,000 individual or $500 per group member. It does not require additional matching funds, and it does not affect the amount of research expenses allocated.


The Office of Research and the Geosciences Department created the first named URCO grant award to honor the memory of a talented young researcher, bright student, and compassionate and devoted person. We will award Evan Millsap Memorial URCO grants to proposals in the Geosciences that meet the standard that Evan set in his own research as a recipient of a Summer 2018 grant.


The Office of Research separates from the School of Graduate Studies, as more students at Utah State become involved in undergraduate research.


Research and Graduate Studies are combined by Mark McClellan into the Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

“The new integrated office will put a focus on research enhancement combined with top-quality graduate education and recruitment.”
- Mark McLellan, Former VP for Research and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies


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



A pilot for the University Undergraduate Research Fellows (URFs) is developed. It was fully implemented the following year. URFs are high achiving undergraduate students who are fully involved in research their entire undergraduate career. They receive a scholarship, and first access to many research opportunities.



A group of USU undergraduate students make a recreation of the original Wright flyer made with modern materials. This made national news and also became the spotlight for a History Channel docuseries called “The Wright Stuff”. More information about the Wright Flyer research project.



Utah holds the first Research on Capitol Hill. This event is held in Utah’s State Capitol Building. Students present their research findings to the state senators.



USU hosts the very first Student Showcase. This annual event highlights both graduate and undergraduate student’s research.



The Undergraduate Research and Creative Opportunties (URCO) Grant is established campus wide, marking the first undergraduate research initiative and the creation of formalized campus-wide support of undergraduate research.

"When you have discovered it yourself, you have really learned it."
- Dr. Keith R. Kelson, Former Director of the Division of Education NSF



The Division of Research is created, headed by D. Wynne Thorne. He would later become the Vice President for Research in 1965. D. Wynne Thorne is still honored today through the D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award, an award given to faculty for outstanding careers in research.



The College’s Research Foundation is established. This foundation worked to support and highlight faculty research, and by extension, support undergraduate involvement in faculty research. Undergraduates at this time were involved in research on a professor-by-professor basis.



The College’s first library was completed, offering students a place to study the latest research available. This was also the major library in Logan at the time, offering all citizens a place to learn.



The students’ Agricultural Club is first mentioned in the yearbook of the time, The Buzzer. This popular club was a student led research group, focused on the research begin done in agriculture at the time. Lectures by prominent researchers were held, as well as group study sessions and discussions.



The college’s Extension was created, with the purpose of spreading research and applicable knowledge to individuals across Utah. Students all over the state began to participate in research.



The Agricultural College of Utah wins a gold medal for its research exhibits at the World’s fair in St. Louis. Both undergraduates and faculty contributed to the award. This set the College apart as one of the leading institutions for research.



The Agricultural College of Utah wins a bronze medal for its exhibits on field research at the Columbian Exposition, Chicago’s World Fair. Faculty and undergraduates alike attending this fair to showcase research being done at USU.



The Agricultural College of Utah was founded. The college sought to provide hands on learning of a range of subjects. Undergraduates did guided research in the course of learning, with a large focus on agricultural innovation. Classes begin in 1889—with 139 students.