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Vandal Science News - November 2019

Dear Friends of the College of Science,

The vibrantly colored leaves have fallen in Moscow, and we are in the final stretch of a busy fall semester. Each fall, the university hosts its annual Leadership Weekend. The College of Science Advisory board held its meeting in Moscow, along with several other university advisory boards. Leadership Weekend is an opportunity for us to welcome our supporters and alumni back to campus, learn more about our president’s agenda for the university, and celebrate the many great things happening at the University of Idaho. Enrollment is up, our students are thriving, and College of Science faculty are doing research that positively impacts our community, state, nation and world.

We also hosted our 15th Annual Student Research Expo to coincide with the time our alumni and supporters were visiting. College of Science students presented their research projects to guests and a panel of judges. We are so proud of the amazing research our students, both undergraduate and graduate, are doing with our faculty! Our students are training in their disciplines while they work on projects that focus on solving some of the most complex problems and questions our society faces — tackling microbial and vector-borne diseases, predicting and ameliorating the effects of climate change, and understanding the evolution of our solar system and life on earth, among others. Our judges faced tough decisions in choosing the winners from among the nearly 50 entries. Each participant also received a small gift from the college.

Student Research Expo Winners for 2019:

Undergraduate Category

  • Michael Camerino, Biological Engineering (Mentor: Peter Fuerst, Biological Sciences)
  • Romana Hyde, Biochemistry and Psychology (Mentor: Ben Richardson, Biological Engineering)

Graduate Category

  • Joseph A’Hearn, Physics (Mentor: Matthew Hedman, Physics)
  • Adam Valaydon-Pillay, Chemistry (Mentors: Sebastian Stoian and Thomas Bitterwolf, Chemistry)

Sigma Xi

  • Kylee Amos, undergraduate student, Psychology and Communication Studies (Mentor: Clarissa Richardson, Psychology and Communication Studies)
  • Salvador Castaneda Barba, graduate student, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (Mentor: Eva Top, Biological Sciences)

Congratulations to our talented students, and many thanks to the faculty who mentor them.

Go Vandals!

Ginger E. Carney
Dean, College of Science

College of Science Staff Appreciation

The College of Science will be featuring one of our amazing staff members each month because without them, nothing could be accomplished! This month, we are featuring our Admin Coordinator, Hayley Myrold:

  • Name: Hayley Myrold
  • Position at U of I:  Administrative Coordinator in the Dean’s Suite
  • How did you find the U of I? I moved to Idaho with my fiancé (Matt) to live and help out at his aunt’s lodge about 45 minutes away from Moscow. We would visit Moscow any chance we could, which is how I started learning more about the U of I. 
  • Why did you choose to work here? I wanted to work in an environment that encouraged learning and self-development and I can’t think of a better fit than here. 
  • What is your favorite part about working here? I love the variety of my job. My tasks change frequently depending on the time of year and the different events that are happening around campus. 
  • Tell us a little about yourself: Matt and I have a dog named Comet (aka Hayley’s Comet). He is a lab/golden mix and pretty much our whole world. I try to get outside as much as possible, so I like to go on walks with Comet, camp, hike, and cross-country ski in the winter. Otherwise I enjoy exploring the area and visiting the many restaurants and breweries around. Let me know if you have a favorite that I should check out! 
Hayley Myrold Administrative Coordinator

Science Field Day

On October 11, the College of Science hosted 165 science students from Moscow High School. They listened to faculty and students talk about their current research and learned about some of the amazing undergraduate research opportunities that exist in the College of Science. We are hoping to make this an annual event for local high schools. Thank you to faculty members Ray von Wandruszka, Barrie Robison, Jason Barnes, Paul Rowley and Renee Love and students Lilian Bodley, Sam Myers, Lance Fredericks and Jon Erdman for making the event a huge success! A special thanks to Admin Coordinator Hayley Myrold; the event could not have happened at all without all of your hard work! A short video featuring some highlights of the event can be found here.

The Lab Report

The College of Science has launched a new series featuring undergraduate research called The Lab Report. Each undergraduate uses a GoPro to film their research from their point of view. College of Science Marketing and Communications Manager Christi Stone takes the footage and turns it into a video that is featured on the College of Science web page, on Facebook, and on Instagram. We have featured four students so far: Physics and Mathematics major Sam Myers, Geology major Danny King, Chemistry major Lilian Bodley and Microbiology major Lance Fredericks. We will be featuring two more students this fall and five more during spring semester, so if you aren’t following the College of Science on Facebook or Instagram, sign up now as this is a great way to see what current undergraduate research looks like from the student perspective!


  • Felix Liao, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, published an article entitled, “A land-based and spatial assessment of local food capacity in Northern Idaho, USA” in Land. The work showcases a successful collaboration between the Department of Geography and the U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
  • Jason Barnes, Professor, Department of Physics, is featured on the latest University of Idaho podcast, “The Vandal Theory,” discussing Project Dragonfly.
  • Larry Forney, University Distinguished Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, published an article entitled, “Vaginal biomarkers that predict cervical length and dominant bacteria in the vaginal microbiomes of pregnant women” in mBio. The work was featured in a commentary in MEAWW.
  • Craig R. Miller, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences, published a perspective, "The Treacheries of Adaptation" in Science.
  • Eli Smith, undergraduate student, Mathematics, was awarded $3,000 from the Waldemar J. Trjitzinsky Memorial Fund of the American Mathematical Society (AMS). He is one of only eight students from across the nation to receive the award.
  • The University of Idaho has been identified as having one of the top ranked Geography B.S. programs in the country for academic excellence and affordability according to Great Value Colleges. The University of Idaho was ranked #3.
  • Jill Johnson, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, was awarded a $1 million R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health. The four-year award, entitled “Determinants of the Hsp90-client interaction,” will allow Dr. Johnson and her collaborators at the University of Alberta and the Technical University of Munich to better understand Hsp90 function. Drugs that target Hsp90 block the function of cancer-causing proteins and stop tumor growth but are too toxic for general use. This work will pave the way toward development of more selective inhibitors of Hsp90 function with fewer toxic effects.
  • The U of I team of undergraduates Annika Esau, Teja Sunku, and Tony Clay took second place at the Montana Mathematical Modeling Challenge in October at Carroll College in Helena, Montana. The U of I team finished second for the written paper portion.
  • Laura Robison, STEM Lead Advisor, was one of six recipients nationwide of the Outstanding Advising Award (Primary Advising Role Category) given at the recent National NACADA Conference.


Two squares rest on a flat surface overlapping one another. The larger square has a side length that is five inches less than twice the side length of the smaller square. The area of the portion of the larger square not overlapping the smaller square is 32 square inches greater than the area of the portion of the smaller square not overlapping the larger square. What is the area of the larger square?

Solution for October 2019:

The height of the building is 156.25 feet.
Let's let the variable B represent the building's height. The dropped rock's height t seconds after the instant it is dropped is 
B - 16t2
(since it has initial height B and initial velocity zero). 
On the other hand, the rock thrown upward from ground level has height 
50t - 16t2
(since it has initial velocity 50 ft/sec and initial height zero).
Now we can easily find out how long it takes the rocks to hit the ground (remember that they land at the same instant) by setting this second expression equal to zero and solving for t. 
50t - 16t2 = 0 
t(50 - 16t) = 0 
t = 0 or 50/16 
Now t=0 is the instant the rock was thrown -- the other time (t = 50/16 = 25/8) must be the time that it lands. 
So, we know the rocks take 25/8 seconds to hit the ground. But our equation for the dropped rock then tells us that 
B - 16(25/8)2 = 0 
B = 625/4 = 156.25

Correct Solvers:

  • Alex Blumenfeld (NMR Lab Manager, U of I Chemistry Department)
  • Nick Guerra (Stationary Engineer Operator, U of I Facilities)
  • Jay Hunter (Chemistry, 1973)
  • Marianne Milander (Student, Animal and Vet Science)
  • Greg Stenback (Geological Engineering, 1985; MS Statistics, 1987)


College of Science

Physical Address:
Mines 321

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3025
Moscow, ID 83844-3025

Phone: 208-885-6195

Fax: 208-885-6904


Web: College of Science