- Assisting in culturing cells to be used for cloning
- Testing antiviral substances to be used in antiviral drugs
- Working to understand how genes are switched on and off and how this information is used for growth and development
- Assisting in a lab sorting different cells to be used to improve immune health
- Adapting farming practices (cultural adaptation) to produce crops in our harsh Intermountain climate
- Developing local food systems
- Learning to apply water intelligently (data-based water application)
- Study the origins and conservation of highly variable soils in the intermountain west
- Study the diversity of the soil flora and fauna
- Study the impact of production agriculture and food processing in the state and region
- Study the role of public lands as they contribute to the welfare of Utah citizens (the motorized vs. non-motorized debate)
- Participate in human nutrition research
- Test food products for acceptability by consumers
Steps to conducting undergraduate research in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences:
- Browse department websites. Read faculty profiles on websites representing the departments, programs and disciplines in which you’d like to conduct research. Your goal is to make a short list of faculty members whose work corresponds with your interests.
- Search the libraries. Search both the USU library catalog and the specialized databases covering your topic to find a recent article or book by each of the professors from your short list. Talk to a librarian for more in-depth help. From this initial exploration, formulate some questions and topics for discussion with the professor.
- Contact professors. Email or attend the office hours of a few professors from your short list. Discuss with them how your ever-evolving interests might intersect with their interests, as represented in the papers/website you’ve read. If you send an email to request a meeting, be as concise as possible. Be persistent. Follow up if the first email produces no response.
- Visit the main office of the departments where you’d like to do research. Ask about undergraduate research programs and potential funding.
Timeline for Research Planning
No two students follow an identical path to engaging in research. Many students begin thinking about research when they first arrive at Utah State University, whereas others may only start in their junior or even senior year. Nonetheless, key junctures and points of entry do exist. Students contemplating an eventual honors’ thesis will benefit from starting their research experiences relatively early, as will students interested in continuing research in a graduate program.
Faculty Research Advisors
Faculty mentorship is one of the greatest rewards of undergraduate research. Seek to play an active role in fostering a strong relationship with your eventual advisor. Approaching a faculty member to serve as your research advisor requires planning and preparation for best results. Once a faculty member agrees to be a research advisor, students should be very attentive to cultivating that relationship.
Presentation of Research Results
Fellows are often able to present their research findings at regional and national undergraduate conferences and publish in peer-reviewed journals with their faculty mentors and graduate students.