Main Navigation

Undergraduate researchers share their work on Capitol Hill

More than two dozen University of Utah undergraduate students showcased their research at the Utah State Capitol on Jan. 18. 

The 24th Annual Research Day on the Hill brought together student researchers from the U and Utah State University in the rotunda of the State Capitol. Undergraduate students from Utah’s two Carnegie-designated R1 institutions shared their research with lawmakers and other community members. 

Zoe Exelbert, a junior in data science at the U, shares her research with University of Utah President Taylor Randall during Research Day on the Hill.

Zoe Exelbert, a junior in data science at the U, was selected to present her research on bird migrations and the Great Salt Lake. 

“I feel very grateful to have been chosen to come here, considering that more bills are passed on the Great Salt Lake and ecosystem protection every year,” Exelbert said. “Coming here and presenting what I found about birds is hopefully inspiring for lawmakers to try and incorporate into the work they are doing.”

According to Exelbert, sharing her research at the Capitol helped her learn more about effective ways to communicate her findings. “It’s motivating for me to see how people react to my research in person,” she said. 

Combined, the U and USU execute 95% of the federally funded research that occurs in Utah. 

Utah State is home to one of the nation’s oldest undergraduate research programs and in 2021 the Council for Undergraduate Research named the school a national leader in undergraduate research.

Sixty percent of the undergraduates in the U’s College of Science participate in cohort-based scientific research through the Science Research Initiative program. Of students who are funded to do research at the U, nearly a quarter continue on to graduate school at the U. Additionally, 62% of these students graduate in four years and 91% graduate within six years. 

U President Taylor Randall speaks on the Capitol rotunda during Research Day on the Hill.

“The University of Utah and Utah State University occupy a very special space in the economic ecosystem of the state of Utah,” said U President Taylor Randall. “I know that we compete on athletic fields and in other areas, but this is the place where we have to work together. Our universities have the resources to tackle the incredible challenges that our state faces.”

Annie Isabel Fukushima, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, said this event provides students with an invaluable experience. 

“Undergraduate research is a public good,” Fukushima said. “Students who participate in research are prepared for the workforce, become tomorrow’s professors, and participate in meaningful experiences that are life-transforming.”

Click here to see past projects and learn more about future applications.

Here is a full list of 2024 presenters: 

Aksel Anderson, Three-Dimensional Construction of Coronary Vasculature Geometries

Noah Armstrong, Identifying the source of Utah’s invasive fox squirrel (S. niger) through population genetics

Sanjana Aujla, Implementation and Testing of a Hydrogel Micro Electrode Array

Dua Azhar, Physics Investigating Neuronal Networks of Learning in Drosophila melanogaster

Danny Barrera, Chemistry Fetal Macrophages Produce Interleukin-7 in the Developing Hematopoietic Niche

Abbey Blair & Kiersten Gardner, Human Development and Family Studies Safeguarding Against Infections: Transdermal Antiseptics in combination with Surgical Prep  

Pierce Chrisoffersen & Kalista Leggitt, The Intersection of Pediatric Autonomy, Conscientious Objection, and Civil Disobedience in Healthcare Rethinking Resilience: Testing Resilience in Drosophila Species

Sarah Crago, Rethinking Resilience: Testing Resilience in Drosophila Species

Ben Creer, Self-control of Adults with Type 1 Diabetes and Their Perceptions of Partner Support

Cameron Davis, Probing the role of Nup50 in the DNA Damage Response

Zoe Exelbert, Hydroclimate Variability Assessment of Migratory Birds at the Great Salt Lake 

Anna Gilstrap, Rapid Isolation of Protein Complexes from Cellular Lysates 

Josh Gubler, EMG Data Compression for Low-Power Wireless Communication

Addison Hedges, Behavioral Effects of Trauma Recruit Separate Populations of Ventral Hippocampal Neurons

Logan Lancaster, Using OpenSim to Model, Simulate, and Improve Gait Symmetry in Stroke Survivors

Alexander Lott, Acoustic guitar as hands-on pedagogical demonstration of wave mechanics 

Sam Makin, Advancing Breast Cancer Screening: A Proposal for Microwave Imaging with SSTDR Technology

Ty Mellor, One Step Protein Purification via the Type 3 Secretion System in Salmonella

Delaney Miller, Electrocatalytic Production of 2,5-Furandicarboxylic Acid from 2,5-Bis(Hydroxymethyl)Furan over Graphite Rod Electrodes

Ritika Nayan, Flu-induced immune responses prevent malarial pulmonary injury

Nate Patchen, Visualizing DNA Double-Strand Break Repair Pathway Choice at High Resolution

Brenda Payan Medina, Art Beyond the Bars: The Value of Arts Programming in Correctional Settings

Catherine Peterson, Understanding the Relationship Between Environmental Exposures and the Risk of Pediatric Obesity using Unsupervised Machine Learning

Alex Romano, Murine Model of Hepatitis Delta Virus-Associated Salivary Gland Impairment

Lorelei Sole, Investigating the Role of Concurrent NF1 and BRAF Mutations in Melanoma