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Utah Legislators Provide Science Research Funding

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Utah State University
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The Utah State Legislative Session wrapped up earlier this month with lawmakers funding Utah State University’s science exploration. Researchers will focus on air quality and water conservation. Lawmakers also provided money to help build a new Life Sciences building and for improvements to an assistive technology lab with resources going to help fund graduate students.

$38 million will help pay for the new Life Sciences Building on the Logan campus. The building will be a learning space for a wide variety of programs and departments that study life in general, including cell biology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology and ecology. The building is expected to be finished by 2019.

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Installing meteorological equipment in Wonsits Valley, Utah

Maura Hagan, the dean of the College of Sciences, said the building will feature a set of 21st century state-of-the-art classrooms and teaching labs. The new building will address the shortage of undergraduate science teaching space and allow the college to better meet the needs of the growing population of more than 1,600 students each year.

“We currently have two biology teaching labs operating well over-capacity,” she said.

$250,000 will go toward air quality research during the next seven years. Seth Lyman, the director of the Uintah Basin Bingham Research Center air quality research team, said the money will allow researchers to conduct projects measuring organic compounds concentrations and to improve computer models that simulate air quality.

$100,000 will help equip an assistive technology lab. The equipment will help people with disabilities function in their day-to-day lives, said Derrik Tollefson, the interim dean and executive director of the Uintah Basin campus. The lab offers low cost services to rural residents who need assistance.

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Tollefson said it is really exciting to bring something like this for the community for the first time.

“[Vernal] is a long way from metropolitan location and we don't have this service available, but we still have a lot of people with disabilities and we can provide them with the resources,” he said.

$950,000 will provide continued support for water conservation efforts across the state. USU distance education will is partnering with the Center for Water Efficient Landscaping to search for efficient water usage by assisting with water checks, water maps and landscaping issues.

Additionally, $1.2 million will go toward meeting graduate level market demands.