National Science Foundation Awards UVU Grant for Utah Lake Project

Dr. Jonathan Westover, Chair of Organizational Leadership in the WSB provides important business discipline to the development

UVU professors Eddy Cadet (COS), Maria Blevins (CHSS), Hilary Hungerford (COS), Weihong Wang (COS), and Jonathan Westover (WSB) were recently awarded a $350,000 grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) for their project examining the impact of Utah Lake. Their proposed project involves multidisciplinary service-learning projects involving undergraduates, which will enhance professional skills, increase access to professional networks, and deepen knowledge of geoscience career pathways. Students will conduct service learning, primarily in the form of community-based research, aimed at informing policy makers in efforts to rejuvenate the lake at the heart of this community.

Utah Lake is a valuable ecological and recreational resource, compromised by invasive species and degraded water quality. A multidisciplinary approach is required to address its complex issues. Major activities of the project include implementing a service-learning project embedded in an 8-week summer ENVT 495R course for cohorts of 12 students annually, provide STEM workplace skill building and career-relevant experience, and deepen students' interest and knowledge of geoscience careers by activities with GLE such as career presentations, field trips, and job shadowing opportunities.

 Designed to maximize impact on student learning and career preparation, the proposed project leverages community-based research conducted by student-faculty teams over the past few years on Utah Lake and its watershed with funding from an NSF Utah EPSCoR project and in conjunction with local agency partners. To better address the complex issues that confront Utah Lake, a multidisciplinary team has been assembled including faculty with expertise in biogeochemistry, business management, environmental communication, geography, and environmental science, and a consulting hydrologist. Jon Westover, WSB associate professor and director of UVU's Center for Social Impact, will inform service-learning activities in the summer program and coordinate engaging service-learning activities during the academic year that will serve as a recruitment tool for the summer program. 

Jon Westover“I am a big believer in the power of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work in addressing the most pressing problems and challenges in our communities,” said Westover. “I am also a huge proponent of service-learning and undergraduate research as a means to enrich student learning outcomes and career preparation, and this project combines all of these elements in a way that will provide tremendous impact for UVU, our students, and the community.”

Students will conduct a literature review, analyze available secondary and archival data, and create survey and interview questions for businesses based on the main research question and sub-questions. They will implement surveys and interviews with local businesses, quantitatively and qualitatively analyze survey and interview data, and utilize statistics to analyze survey data.

“I love this kind of use of organizational skills and knowledge that impacts our world for good in multiple ways,” said Norm Wright, WSB dean. “The impact this will have both on our community and the students involved with the project will be significant and personally meaningful.”