Utah Tech University


We interview students and faculty about their research.
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Spring 2019

Student Highlight:  DSU Stanford Interns Challenge Cancer through their Research

Each summer DSU sends some of its top students to Stanford University to conduct research.  Austin Montgomery, Jace Buxton and Kennedy Roché were last years selected interns and spent the summer of 2018 in Palo Alto, California working with Stanford University faculty on cutting edge cancer research projects.  They will each present the results of their research at 12pm (noon) on Tuesday, March 5, 2019 in the Dunford Auditorium in the Browning Learning Center on DSU Campus.  The event is free and open to the public.

Austin Montgomery

Bioinformatics Major

Austin Montgomery is currently a senior at DSU.  When Austin graduates this May he will have the distinction of being the first graduate from DSU with a B.S. in Bioinformatics.  While at Stanford University, Austin worked in the Ji lab on a project to create ways to analyze the composition and effect of the microbiome on cancer and its treatments.  After graduation, Austin plans for work in research for two to three years before applying to MD/PhD programs.

Jace Buxton

Biology Major

Jace Buxton is a senior at DSU majoring in Biology with a Biomedical Science emphasis.  During his Stanford University Internship, Jace worked on a project analyzing the gut microbiome of patients with colorectal cancer and examined trends in bacterial composition of tumor tissue.  Since returning from his internship, Jace has been accepted to four top medical schools and is waiting to hear from others before making a decision.  He hopes to pursue a career in academic medicine, research and clinical care.

Kennedy Roché

Biology Major

Kennedy Roché is a recent DSU graduate with a BS in Biology with a Biological Science emphasis and a minor in Chemistry.  During her Stanford Summer Research internship Kennedy worked on a research project monitoring the effectiveness of a variety of gastric cancer treatment drugs.  Kennedy is preparing to apply to Ph.D. programs in the biomedical research field.


Erin O'Brien

Biology Department Chair

Health Science Professor Steve Bui and Biology Department Chair Erin O’Brien are co-chairs of a new university-wide task force the purpose of which is to examine what future changes might need to be made at DSU to allow a greater focus on faculty and student research. “Even though DSU is primarily an undergraduate institution, research and scholarly activity is and should be an important part of the educational experience for our students, “said O’Brien.


Steve Bui

Assistant Professor
of Exercise Science

“This committee is looking at what it would take to increase and enhance those activities during the next five years,” she added. Three subcommittees have been tasked with examining the areas of Policy, Infrastructure, and Financing and will present recommendations at the end of this semester. The committee is reaching out to all interested parties via email; if faculty have suggestions for the committee to consider, they should contact Steve Bui at steve.bui@utahtech.edu or Erin O’Brian at obrien@utahtech.edu.

Student Highlight:  DSU Students Win Awards for their Research

From left to right:  Dr. Vinodh Chellamuthu, Abel Reed, Jake Skinner, Noelle West, Craig Peterson

Students conducted their research as part of DSU Mathematics Professor Vinodh Kumar Chellamuthu’s independent research course (Math 499) in which student’s apply their mathematical modeling skills to real-world problem under the guidance of Professor Chellamuthu. “This course helps students see that math can be used to solve real problems, help people, and make the world better,” says Professor Chellamuthu.  “Students select their own problems to address and I encourage them to choose something they have a real passion for.  Those students who wish to go on to graduate school or stand out in a job interview have a real advantage if they can show they have been involved in research,” adds Chellamuthu.

Craig Peterson, Abel Reed, Jake Skinner and Noelle West presented posters summarizing their research at the Mathematical Association of American’s Joint Mathematics Meeting held in Baltimore, Maryland on January 18.  MMA is the largest mathematics conference in the world.  The four students presented their research in the undergraduate poster sessions of the conference along with students from most of the top tier universities around the country.  Three of the students received the “Outstanding Poster Award” in their category.

The titles of the papers are:  Forecasting Performance Through Analytics by Craig Peterson, Assessing the Role of Prescribed Painkillers and its Impact on the Opioid Epidemic by Abel Reed, Wildfire: A Mathematical Model Analyzing the Effects of Fire Damage by Jake Skinner and A Mathematical Model of West Nile Virus: The Effect of Interaction Between Humans, Mosquitoes, and Birds by Noelle West.  Craig Peterson has also submitted a write-up of his research to the Journal of Emerging Sports Studies.


Student Highlight:  Business Administration Student already has One Patent and Two More in the Works

Wyatt Anderson

Wyatt Anderson grew up on a ranch in Richfield, Utah and had a knack for inventing easier ways to get things done.  “It may have been my inherent laziness,” he quips, “but I was always trying to invent ways to make our work easier.”  One constant problem was frozen water in hoses and sprinklers.  Once he came to DSU, he heard about DSU’s Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIE) whose mission is to assist students and community members develop ideas into patents and businesses. Working with Dr. Wayne Provost and the TIE Center, Wyatt now has registered his first patent for a Water Line Blower that clears water out of lines before the water has a chance to freeze.

Wyatt currently has two other inventions in various stages of the patent approval process and is approaching various tool-making companies about selling his patents to them. Wyatt received help from mentors that he met through the TIE Center’s Dixie Innovation, Guidance and Solutions (DIGS).

Once he graduates from DSU, Wyatt plans to return to Richfield and run the family business.  Students and community members who have ideas or want help with patents are encouraged to contact Dr. Wayne Provost at wayne.provost@utahtech.edu.

Faculty Highlight:  Connecting Faculty with Global Research and Teaching Opportunities

Luis Arevalo

Luis Arevalo came to Dixie State University five years ago and during his time here has worked tirelessly on the formation of the Global Engagement Partnerships.

The partnership now includes seven universities:  Meijo and Fukui universities in Japan, Daegu Hanny University in South Korea, Guilin University in China, University of Baja California in Mexico, Universidad Hispanoamericana in Costa Rica, and La Universidad Católica Los Ángeles in Chimbote, Peru. All of these universities are interested in collaborative teaching, exchange and research projects with DSU faculty.

Some travel funds are available. DSU faculty who are interested in teaching abroad or considering collaborative research projects are encouraged to contact professor Arevalo at arevalo@utahtech.edu.

Faculty Highlight:  Water Quality Research Partnership

Kelly Bringhurst

Environmental Science professor Kelly Bringhurst is one of the first DSU faculty to take advantage of the university’s Global Engagement Partnership by collaborating on a research project with La Universidad Católica Los Ángeles (ULADECH) near Chimbote, Peru.

Last year, with funding paid from the program, Bringhurst conducted research on water quality in Chimbote which resulted in a proposal for a community water monitoring system for the rivers in the area . The system will be implemented by ULADECH with technical assistance from DSU. A related research project in Costa Rica resulted in publication of a paper entitled, “The Impact on Nutrient Cycles from Tropical Forest to Pasture Conversion in Costa Rica” published in Sustainable Water Resources Management.  For more information on Bringhurst’s research contact him at kbringhurst@utahtech.edu.

Faculty Highlight:  Professor’s Research Course Results in Student Presentations at the Utah Dental Hygienist's Association

Brenda Armstrong

Brenda Armstrong’s research methodology course consistently results in a number of students being invited to present informative posters at the Utah Dental Hygienist’s Association research poster competition each February in Salt Lake City.

This year, eighteen DSU students will present their informative research posters along with students from other Utah Universities. The course and posters expose students to the scientific method, research designs and research process used in medical research. This active-learning experience is to better prepare oral health providers to make evidence based decisions. Last year, two DSU students won the state-wide competition.  For more information, contact Brenda Armstrong at barmstrong@utahtech.edu.

Program Highlight:  Associate General Counsel, Intellectual Property and Patents

Robert Mitchell

In his role as Associate General Counsel for Intellectual Property and Patents, Robert Mitchell, JD, MBA advises faculty, staff and members of the DSU community who engage in the recognition of ideas and creation of inventions and intellectual property.  His office supports the innovation programs of Dr. Wayne Provost.

Their goal is to encourage an environment that fosters discovery, creation, entrepreneurship, and innovation and to help faculty, staff and students protect the intellectual property that they create, both for their benefit as well as the benefit of the university.  Mitchell wants to raise awareness among the DSU community that much of what they do in their ordinary activity may have value beyond the classroom and may have the potential to be monetized and protected through copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property agreements. Substantively, this may include courseware, dramatic, musical, literary or other artistic works or inventions.

Mitchell points to the large amount of intellectual property generated at DSU. During the past two years, DSU has generated over 90 patent applications, assisted in starting a dozen companies, evaluated nearly 500 ideas, and mentored countless students, faculty members and members of the general public in pursuit, protection and development of intellectual property.  Several ideas have advanced on to the commercialization stage.

Mitchell’s office door is pretty much always open, and he welcomes discussion of innovative ideas with anyone who would like to come by.  Robert Mitchell can be contacted at Robert.Mitchell@utahtech.edu.

Program Highlight: Undergraduate Research Office

Olga Pilkington

Olga Pilkington, professor of English, has been appointed Assistant Director of the Undergraduate Research Office effective January 1, 2019.

Pilkington’s vision for the URO is to reach out to even more students and encourage them to consider the value that independent research adds to their resume and career opportunities.  “Any student can be involved with a faculty member and do research,” she says, “but most students are not aware of the rewards and benefits.”  Pilkington also wants students to be more aware of research opportunities in the humanities and across disciplines.

Student Highlight: Published in Respiratory Care on Perceived Health Risks of Recreational Marijuana

Holly Payne

Holly Payne is a senior majoring in Respiratory Therapy.  With the growing number of states legalizing recreational use of marijuana, Payne wanted to find out if any difference in perceived health risks of recreational marijuana existed between students majoring in the Health Sciences and students from the general campus.  Working with Respiratory Therapy professor Debbie Forbush, Payne conducted a survey of nearly 300 students and found that there was no difference between the two groups in how they perceived the health risks of recreational marijuana.

Students in both groups were unaware of many facts related to marijuana use and its effects on cardiopulmonary health.  In December 2018, Payne presented her findings at the annual conference of the American Association for Respiratory Care in Las Vegas.  An abstract of her study was later published in AARC’s journal Respiratory Care.  Holly plans to work as a Registered Respiratory Therapist in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit once she graduates from DSU.  For more information about Holly Payne’s research contact Professor Debbie Forbush at forbush@utahtech.edu.


Research office

Email: research@utahtech.edu

Phone: 435-879-4488

Office: HCC 488