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The Post U students display their work at the Utah State Capitol as research continues to drive economic growth and development for Utah

U students display their work at the Utah State Capitol as research continues to drive economic growth and development for Utah

By Xoel Cardenas, Sr. Communications Specialist, Office of the Vice President for Research

Research is arguably the heartbeat of the University of Utah. Recognized as an R1 Institution for very high research activity and as a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, the U is a top tier research institution dedicated to innovation and discovery.

Recently, some of U of U’s brightest students were able to display their research to some very influential people during the Utah Legislative session.

More than two dozen University of Utah undergraduate students showcased their research to lawmakers and the general public at the Research on Capitol Hill event on Jan. 18. at the Utah State Capitol. Undergraduate researchers from both the U and Utah State University. The event demonstrates the importance of undergraduate research and creative work from the top two research universities in the state.

Utah researchers tackle critical challenges our state faces, such as air quality, the future of the Great Salt Lake, helping our unsheltered communities, access to education, mental health, renewable energy, housing and development, and more.

2024 Research on Capitol Hill event

Annie Isabel Fukushima, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR), said this event provides students with an invaluable experience.

“Undergraduate research is a public good,” Fukushima told @theU. “Students who participate in research are prepared for the workforce, become tomorrow’s professors, and participate in meaningful experiences that are life-transforming.”

Speaking at the event, U President Taylor Randall said both the U and USU occupy a very special space in the economic ecosystem of the state of Utah.

“I know that we compete on athletic fields and in other areas, but this is the place where we have to work together,” said Randall. “Our universities have the resources to tackle the incredible challenges that our state faces.”

U research boosts the economy and helps businesses grow

Research not only helps bring discoveries closer to society, but also helps many Utahns personally and economically. Thanks to U research, over 8,300 employees are compensated by research dollars. Over the last three years, research has supported nearly $600 million in wages.

Businesses in Utah also benefit from our university’s research. In fiscal year 2023, U research spent $28 million in the state for research-related goods and services. U research generated $32 million in state and local taxes in fiscal year 2022.

“Research is helping pay bills, put food on tables, and giving families better lives,” said Dr. Erin Rothwell, Vice President for Research at the U. “The university’s commitment and dedication to research will continue to create more jobs and support more business throughout the state — both today and for years to come.”

Discovery starts with students

Undergraduate researchers are thriving at the U. OUR has funded 3,430 research projects and scholarships for our undergrad researchers.

Some quick facts about the U’s undergrad researchers:

  • 53% of undergraduate researchers identify as female
  • 31% of undergraduate researchers are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color
  • 25% are transfer students from Salt Lake Community College
  • 25% of undergraduate researchers go on to Graduate School at the U
  • 21% of undergraduate researchers identify as First Generation

For more information on Research on Capitol Hill, including a look at the U’s presenters’ posters, click here.

Click here for a copy of the Research Impacts U flyer.