Undergraduate Researchers to be Honored

Two University of Utah engineering students will receive the Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award from the U’s Office of Undergraduate Research Office.

Gemma Clark, a student in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, will receive the award for the Honors College while Jayden Plumb from the Department of Mechanical Engineering will receive the award for the College of Engineering.

The Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award honors a student from 17 of the university’s colleges. The awards are based on commitment to developing research skills and knowledge, evidence of independent and critical thinking, active participation in research-related activities on campus, and positive contributions to the research culture of the department, college, and university.


Clark, whose advisor is civil and environmental engineering associate professor Jennifer Weidhaas, conducted a project for the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program in which she looked at waterborne pathogens present in the runoff from various roofing materials.

In her nomination letter, Weidhaas wrote that Clark is “very detail oriented, capable of synthesizing published experimental protocols and adopting methods to our laboratory, and very inquisitive about interpretation of results. She is well beyond most undergraduate students in her mastery of interpreting experimental results, near a second-year master’s student level.”
Professor Spear of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah on Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

Meanwhile, Plumb has been mapping out the 3D grain structure of open-cell aluminum foam used in aerospace, defense, and biomedical applications. His advisor is mechanical engineering assistant professor Ashley Spear.

“Jayden has demonstrated a remarkable level of independent and critical thinking that far exceeds his peers,” Spear wrote in a nomination letter. “Jayden’s research experience at the University of Utah has positioned him to be a successful graduate student researcher in any top program.”

The awards will be given out April 3 during a luncheon at the A. Ray Olpin Student Union.

Student Wins Sustainability Poster Contest

A poster by Ph.D. student Rob Sowby won the Graduate Research category at the 2018 Intermountain Sustainability Summit held March 1st at Weber State University. With faculty advisor Dr. Steve Burian, Sowby is quantifying the energy requirements of public water systems and developing new techniques to analyze and manage their energy use.