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College of Science Faculty and Staff Achievements

 Leading The Field 



Congratulations to Heather Root, botany associate professor for being recognized as the 2020 College of Science Endowed Scholar Awardee. She plans to compare soil lichens from habitats in Washington that are not burned or have been burned by wildfire. Because lichens can be difficult to tell apart, she will also develop a method that others could use to identify which lichens are growing using their genetic barcodes. Working with colleagues at BYU she plans to learn more about analyzing lichen genetics and genomics and gain new skills in genomics that she can incorporate in her classroom while also contributing to an understanding of some of the western United States challenges in managing habitats after wildfires. More information about the award.

Congratulations to Chris Hoagstrom, zoology professor for being named Weber State University’s 2020 Brady Presidential Distinguished Professor. The honor recognizes professors who have demonstrated the highest quality teaching, scholarship, research and community service. Read more...

Congratulations to Adam Johnston, physics professor for being awarded the 2020 John A. Lindquist Award for enhancing connections, so even in a time of social distancing, communities and individuals support each other and learn together. Read more...

Matthew Crook, microbiology assistant professor, collaboratively published "Isolation, Characterization, and Complete Genome Sequence of a Bradyrhizobium Strain Lb8 From Nodules of Peanut Utilizing Crack Entry Infection" in the February 7th, 2020 edition of Frontiers in Microbiology. Read more... 

Congratulations to Brandon Burnett, chemistry assistant professor and Brian Chung, zoology professor for being awarded the 2019 Presidential Teaching Excellence Award. This award recognizes Weber State University faculty members who are outstanding teachers.  Read more...




The recipient of the WSU Exemplary Collaboration Award is the WSU PREP Program. Members of this program include: Dana Dellinger, College of Engineering Applied Sciences and Technology, Yesenia Quintana, Center for Community Engaged Learning, and Jennifer Claesgens, College of Science.  Congratulations to this team who work together throughout the year to coordinate and host summer programs that motivate and prepare high-achieving jr. high students for future schooling and careers in STEM fields.

Adolph Yonkee, earth and environment sciences professor, was bestowed the honor of Society Fellowship by The Geological Society of America (GSA) in recognition of his distinguished contributions to the geosciences and the Geological Society of America -- especially his world-class-research program related to the origin and evolution fold-thrust mountain systems. GSA Fellowship (scroll to the bottom of the page for Adolph's citation). Standard-Examiner Article.

John Sohl, physics professor, received the Innovation Research Award for his work on WSU’s High Altitude Reconnaissance Balloon for Outreach and Research. He has also been involved in laser-development engineering projects with the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative and with the Utah Center for Aeronautical Innovation and Design. For more information, visit  Read publication...

Congratulations to botany assistant professor, Katharina Schramm, and botany student, Jeff Colbert for the valuable recognition of their efforts researching if hemp could be a viable cash crop for Utah. WSU Press Release. Salt Lake Tribune Article. KSL TV. KUTV Article.

Chemistry major Kaiwi Eisenhour has been recognized as one of Alaska's "movers and shakers" as he spends the summer of 2019 interning with senator Lisa Murkowski, assisting the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee with various projects focusing on energy innovation. Read publication...

Congratulations to earth and environmental sciences professor, Carie Frantz for being nominated by WSU students and selected by President Brad Mortensen as a recipient of the 2019 Presidential Teaching Excellence Award. 

Zoology professors, Christopher Hoagstrom, Lin Xiang, Nicole Lewis-Rogers, Patrice Connors, Ami Sessions-Robinson and Jon Mull collaboratively published "A Quantitative Simulation of Coevolution with Mutation Using Playing Cards" in the Vol. 81 No. 2, February 2019, edition of The American Biology TeacherRead publication...

Congratulations to earth and environmental sciences professor, Marek Matyjasik, the recipient of the federally funded Fulbright Award. Joining the ranks of distinguished participants, Matyjasik will be teaching hydrogeology (water environmental studies) and building mutual international understanding through research in Poland, Spring 2020. WSU Press Release. Deseret News Article.  Learn more...




Congratulations to geoscience professor, Adolph Yonkee, the recipient of the 2018 John S. Hinkley Award. The criteria for this award include excellence in teaching, research, and service.

Chemistry professor, Tracy Covey along with a team of others were awarded close to $650K in grant monies from the National Science Foundation that will provide scholarships to 30 low-income, high-achieving students through the WEST (WEber STate) Scholars Program. Over five years of grant funding, the scholarships will benefit students with a demonstrated financial need studying the physical sciences, which spans departments in both WSU’s College of Science and the College of Engineering, Applied Science & Technology. Read more...

Mathematics professors Sandra Fital-Akelbek and Mahmud Akelbek spoke at the Mathematical Association of America national conference, MAA Math Fest 2018, in August. Presentations on cross-disciplinary courses that combine mathematics with humanities entitled "Writing With Numbers" and "Explore Transformation through Anamorphisis and 3D Art."

Geoscience professors Elizabeth Balgord, Carie M. Frantz and Marek Matyjasik were awarded a 320K National Science Foundation grant for the project entitled "GP EXTRA: GETUP - Geoscience Education Targeting Underrepresented Populations." This project will assess the effectiveness of multifaceted pathways to increase recruitment, engagement, and ultimately graduation rates and career placement of Earth Science majors, focusing on underrepresented Latin and female groups at Weber State University.  Read more...

Zoology professor John F. Cavitt collaboratively published "Using remote cameras to validate estimates of nest fate in shorebirds" in the July 2018 Ibis: International Journal of Avian Science. Read more...

Microbiology professor Matthew B. Crook collaboratively published "Phylogenomics reveals multiple losses of nitrogen-fixing root nodule symbiosis" in the May 24th, 2018 edition of Science via First Release Journal. Read more... 

Physics professor Adam Johnston was elected Utah Science Teachers Association's Higher Education Representative for the 2018-2019 year. The purpose of the Utah Science Teachers Association is to advance, stimulate, extend, improve, and coordinate science teaching in all fields of science at all education levels. Learn more...




Assistant chemistry professor Brandon Burnett, assistant physics professor Kristin Rabosky and physics chair Colin Inglefield worked with students who announced at the end of the first semester in Tracy Hall Science Center the success of a cutting-edge, solar-cell project. The project has acted as a catalyst for additional collaboration across various fields of study.

Zoology professor Jonathan Clark and microbiology professor Mo Sondossi published "Genetic Identification of Wolbachia from Great Salt Lake Brine Flies" in the November issue of the international journal, Symbiosis. Former zoology student, who is currently completing a combined M.D./Ph.D. at the University of Utah, co-authored the paper.

USTAR awarded physics professor John Sohl $200,000 to develop AtmoSniffer into a marketable product. Sohl and his High Altitude Reconnaissance Balloon for Outreach and Research (HARBOR) students created AtmoSniffer to measure air pollution up to 120,000 feet. NASA funded the HARBOR team to capture video images from the stratosphere and to measure the atmosphere during the Aug. 21 eclipse.  Read more...

Director of the Ott Planetarium and physics professor Stacy Palen was named as one of the 2017 Presidential Distinguished Professors.  Her work has enabled thousands of school children and other audiences to experience the universe through their visits to the planetarium. Read more...

Zoology professor John Cavitt collaborated to write "Parental cooperation in a changing climate: fluctuating environments predict shifts in care division" for the March edition of the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Zoology assistant professor, Lin Xiang collaborated with two elementary schools in Ogden to develop a computer-enhanced modeling science unit teaching change and stability in ecosystems. She presented the lesson unit in the Utah Science Teachers Association (USTA) 2017 conference.

Geoscience administrative specialist, Marianne Bischoff, is the recipient of the 2017-2018 Presidential Outstanding Staff Award. Marianne was selected by University President Wight for this award in recognition of her creative and dedicated service to students and faculty.

Mathematics professor George Kvernadze published "Determination of the singularity curves of a piecewise constant function of two variables by its Fourier-Jacobi coefficients" in the Proceedings of I. Vekua Institute of Applied Mathematics.

Chemistry professor J. Andreas Lippert recently completed a sabbatical in Maryland where he was a guest researcher in the Advanced Chemical Sciences Laboratory of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). 

Assistant professor of botany, Katharina Schramm, presented on biochemical adaptations in woodrats feeding on toxic juniper and chaired a session on priming and induces responses in plants at the Gordon Research Conference on Plant-Herbivore Interactions in California.

Physics professors Ron Galli and emeritus physics professor Bradley Carroll published "The Four-Ball Gyro and Motorcycle Countersteering" in the April 2017 edition of The Physics Teacher. Read more...

Zoology professor John Cavitt and former student Kristen Ellis were awarded The Waterbird Society’s Publication Award for Outstanding Contribution to Conservation for research and writing on the conservation of at-risk species or populations of waterbirds. Read more...

Jennifer Claesgens, director of the Center for Science and Mathematics Education, was awarded the 2017 YMCA Ogden Service Award for her collaboration with YMCA to bring summer science and math camps to Weber State.

Botany Professor Heather Root collaboratively published "Canopy distribution and survey detectability of a rare old-growth forest lichen" in the May 2017 issue of Forest Ecology and Management 

Microbiology professor Craig Oberg was awarded the International Dairy Foods Association Research Award in Dairy Foods Processing at the  American Dairy Science Association Awards meeting in Pittsburgh in June.

Zoology professor Ron Meyers collaborated to publish "Is sexual dimorphism in singing behavior related to syringeal muscle composition?" in the journal The Auk. Linsey Christensen and Lisa Allred worked with Meyers for a number of years on the research. Read more...

Zoology professor Jonathan Clark presented "Genetic Studies of Invertebrate Diversity in the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem" with zoology students and coauthors Oscar Bedolla and Sabrina Haney, at the 13th International Conference on Salt Lake Research held in Ulan-Ude, Russia. The meeting is the world's premier conference on the biology, chemistry and geology of saline lakes and was attended by scientists from 15 countries.

Microbiology professor Craig Oberg and adjunct instructor Evan Call had the article "Off loading wheelchair cushion provides best case reduction in tissue deformation as indicated by MRI" published in the Journal of Tissue Viability.

Botany Professor Heather Root collaboratively published "Recovery of biological soil crust richness and cover 12-16 years after wildfires in Idaho, USA" in the September 2017 issue of Biogeosciences. 

Geoscience professor Carie M. Frantz established the geomicrobiology lab as a center for Great Salt Lake geomicrobiology work and resource for the international geomicrobiology community. She is working towards providing a geomicrobiology/geochemistry observatory in the Great Salt Lake.

Developmental mathematics professor and director, Kathryn Van Wagoner and education assistant professor, Sheryl Rushton collaborated to present “Higher Ground: Factors that Optimize Learning of Mathematics” at the 47th Annual Conference of the International Society for Exploring Teaching and Learning (ISETL) in Orlando, FL.

Microbiology professors Michele Culumber, Lauren Monteirth and Craig J. Oberg collaborated with other colleagues from Moseley Laboratories Inc., Vivolac Cultures Corp. and Utah State University to publish “Hot topic: Geographical distribution and strain diversity of Lactobacillus wasatchensis isolated from cheese with unwanted gas formation” in the November 2017 (Volume 100, Issue 11, Pages 8764-8767) Journal of Dairy Science. Read more...

Botany professor Bridget Hilbig was awarded the Research Catalyst Grant from iUTAH, an NSF-funded project aimed at building water sustainability in the state. 

Emeritus physics professors Ron Galli and Bradley Carroll published "An Effective Photon Momentum in a Dielectric Medium: A Relativistic Approach" on arXiv an eprint service owned and operated by Cornell University.Read more...



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