Utah State University hit a new record in 2010 for the most students and alumni it’s had recognized by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in one year. This year alone has been eight USU students honored, with four receiving an honorable mention and four receiving an award. The four students who received an award are Melissa Jackson (geology), Nathan Carruth (physics), Joanna Hsu (ecology), and Jan Marie Andersen (physics).
Jackson has been studying Prehistoric Barrier Canyon Style (BCS) rock art using optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating to determine the age of the alluvial terraces. She plans to continues her study and usage of OSL and developing a protocol to expand the age range it’s capable of dating by using loess deposits. Jackson’s graduate study will take place at Wales’ Aberystwyth University. During her time at USU, her other honors included being named Spring’s 2010 Valedictorian for the College of Science, a USU Presidential Scholarship, and receiving fourth place as part of USU’s Soils Team during national competitions in 2009 and 2010.
“Primary production – how much green stuff plants are making – sets the amount of energy available for all organisms in an ecosystem,” Hsu says. “It’s also an important component of the global carbon cycle. Changes in precipitation patterns across the globe will impact primary production. The goal of my research is to find out just how large that impact will be.”
Carruth, a USU graduate student finishing his master’s degree at the time of the application, had previously received two Honorable Mentions before receiving the award this year. While at USU, Carruth studied time with his faculty mentor Charles Torre.
“Among the questions we’re asking is ‘Is it possible for time to be discrete; is it necessarily continuous?’” Carruth says.
. . . Carruth will soon choose between offers of continued graduate study at University of California-Santa Barbara, University of California-Berkeley and England’s Cambridge University.
Jan Marie Andersen
After graduating from USU with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics, Andersen went to the University of Copenhagen’s Niels Bohr Institute on a Fulbright Student Scholarship. Andersen is now studying low-mass stars called M-dwarfs at Boston University.
“Many astronomers filter out M-dwarfs as unwanted interference in their searches for larger, brighter celestial objects,” says Andersen, who was named 2007 College of Science Undergraduate Researcher of the Year. “But our studies of M-dwarfs could yield important clues about the early universe. One astronomer’s trash is another astronomer’s treasure.”