The Friday Letter Archive

A collection of the president's weekly messages to the Vandal family


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Friday Letter 2015-04-10

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Dear Friends,
You’ll often hear me refer to the University of Idaho as our state’s “leading national research university.” It’s a way of describing our university as defined, at least in part, by the scale and influence of our research, scholarly activity and creative work. Across the state of Idaho and beyond, UI research delivers a transformative impact, addressing critical problems and discovering new knowledge.
“Inspired Discoveries,” our newest annual research report hot off the press, showcases some of the groundbreaking research at UI. You’ll read about important projects at the Aquaculture Research Institute in Moscow and Hagerman, where scientists are developing trout that thrive on plant-based diets and developing vaccines to ward against bacterial infections — major advancements for a crucial industry. In southeastern Idaho, the Idaho National Laboratory and UI psychology students at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies are using an immersive simulator to study efficiency, safety and communications on heavy-vehicle systems. Another exciting project looks at ways to design prostheses that work with the body’s neuromuscular system to minimize pain and enhance movement, a potential leap forward for millions in such need.
Research at UI supports — and is supported by — industry partners. Those relationships help foster economic development and opportunity. In order to facilitate better access to research, we’ve revamped our intellectual property policies. You’ll read about the immediate effects of those changes, including a new project with Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories that will help utility companies plan for and respond to disturbances on the power grid.
Other much-needed and appreciated industry connections include relationships with Potlatch Corporation to study modern forest practices, with J.R. Simplot Co. at the Parma Research and Extension Center, and with Micron at the UI Business Process Center, where student teams partner with companies to solve real-world problems. In addition, our emerging dairy initiative, the Western Initiative on the Dairy Environment (WIDE), will help dairies adapt and grow in a complex environment for producers and processers.
There are many other great projects, partnerships and developments highlighted in the report. I hope you’ll look through it and spread the word about stories that catch your interest. I also hope you’ll tune in next week when we’ll share with the world an exciting new research grant that will position us as leaders in complex system modeling. 
The nearly $100 million in annual research expenditures demonstrates the powerful breadth and depth of UI research. But research funding only tells part of the story — the scholarship and creative excellence found across colleges and programs is outstanding. I am proud of the hard work and passion of all our talented researchers, our motivated students and our invaluable staff members who are helping UI continue to grow as our state’s research leader. 

Chuck Staben portrait

Go Vandals!

Chuck Staben
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Here's the Latest News from the University of Idaho

Creating Opportunities through VSF Sponsorship
Through TitleOne’s sponsorship of Vandal Scholarship Fund events, owners Mark ’86 and Heidi Tidd create opportunities for the university’s student-athletes, much like the one Mark was given as a standout football player in the ’80s. “I have a strong loyalty and commitment to the university for the opportunity I was given,” said Mark. “College was a life-changing experience, and I don’t know if I would have received my education without my scholarship.” TitleOne’s VSF sponsorship also allows the company to establish a strong presence with Vandals statewide. Mark believes that VSF sponsorships are a good investment because Vandals have such a strong loyalty to their university and many Idaho alumni are in leadership positions within their companies. “Sponsoring VSF events is a great way to connect with these individuals and make an impact on something important to me,” Mark said. For more information about sponsoring VSF events, contact Ryan Gerulf at 208-364-4566 or
UI Grad Student Receives NSF Fellowship 
University of Idaho student Thomas M. Linscott has been selected as a recipient of a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Three more UI students received honorable mentions through the program. This year, the NSF is awarding fellowships to 2,000 individuals from among 16,500 applicants. Awardees represent a diverse group of scientific disciplines and come from all states, as well as the District of Columbia, and commonwealths and territories of the United States. Since 1952, NSF has provided fellowships to individuals selected early in their graduate careers based on their demonstrated potential for significant achievements in science and engineering. Linscott, from Tulsa, Oklahoma, received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Tulsa and is studying evolutionary biology at UI’s College of Science. The award will allow him to jump-start his research under biological sciences Professor Christine Parent. Linscott’s research focuses on the evolution of flightlessness in beetles on the Galapagos Islands. 
College of Law Becomes Member of IALS
The University of Idaho College of Law recently announced it has joined the International Association of Law Schools (IALS), a private, non-profit, volunteer service organization. The association represents more than 160 law schools and departments. Additionally, the IALS represents more than 5,000 law faculty members from over 55 countries. “We are committed to excellence through diversity, which directly aligns with the mission of the IALS,” said Mark L. Adams, dean of the College of Law. “We want to continue to extend our reach globally and prepare our students for global legal practice.” The IALS serves as a forum for law schools to engage each other in collaboration and scholarship worldwide. Together, members address the contemporary challenges that legal educators face. “We will be glad to contribute our insights to the IALS collective in an effort to improve legal education worldwide. This is definitely collaborative work,” Adams said.

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