February 5, 2024

CHaSS Students Shine at Research on Capitol Hill

By Andrea DeHaan, CHaSS Communications Editor

Every year, students from the University of Utah and Utah State University, the state’s two research universities, come together as ambassadors for research at their respective institutions. Organized by USU’s Office of Research, the Research on Capitol Hill (ROCH) event is described as “an annual celebration of undergraduate research” and features students from each of USU’s colleges.

Three students from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences came prepared to engage with legislators and share the results of their research with attendees at this year’s ROCH in the Utah State Capitol rotunda on Jan.18, 2024.

According to the Office of Research, the event is an opportunity for students “to hone their research communication skills and prepare … to engage on a meaningful level with their audience as they showcase the quality of USU’s research and its dedication to the land-grant mission.”

Meet the CHaSS 2024 ROCH Presenters

B. Sky Jones

Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Hometown: Rigby, ID

Major(s): Sociology with minors in hunger and food security studies, chemistry, and biology

Project title: Weight Discrimination and Food Insecurity

Faculty mentor: Gabriele Ciciurkaite

“In 2020, the professor I work under distributed a survey in the Intermountain West region and asked a series of questions about their demographic. Then we took that dataset, and we inserted it into a code program to understand how it related to each other. … We found that any level of being food insecure or lacking consistent access to food increased your chance significantly of experiencing weight discrimination when you compare them to a person with full food security.”

“It helps me apply what I learn in classes in the real world and also it changes the way I think about different problems I face. For example, I've always cared about people who don't have access to food, but now I know more about this demographic.”

Basil Payne

Department of English

Hometown: West Jordan, UT

Major(s): English, creative writing emphasis with a minor in linguistics

Project title: Queering the Herbarium: Plants, Poetry, and Multimodal Expression

Faculty mentor: Christine Cooper-Rompato

“The first time I interacted with … poetry like this was in Dr. Ben Gunsberg's class. We were learning about multimodal poetry and that's when I first got acquainted with poetry that can be fun and interesting and more immersive.”

“I went to USU's herbarium and I went to the University of Utah’s … and Weber State University's herbarium[s]. I looked through plant specimens to see how they were put on the page, how they visually looked, what they were adhesed with, and how long they've lasted with the ways they were preserved. The original goal of my project was to look at 19th-century herbarium specifically, but I got more interested in the weird specimens.”

Beau Jenson

Department of History and Department of Political Science

Hometown: Amalga, UT

Major(s): History and Political Science

Project title: Mormonism and the Utah Sugar Economy

Faculty mentor: Susan Cogan

“The main thing … that was super interesting to me was how sugar was pushed … not just by the Sugar Beat industry … but because of the incentives that were provided in the social, economic, governmental, and religious sectors.”

“I have gotten the opportunity to talk to some really cool people today — a couple of different legislators, senators, and representatives who were interested in the idea, so I am just so grateful that I was able to have this experience.”


Related Stories


5 Questions for a CHaSS Grad

5 Questions for a CHaSS Grad highlights the awesome things our alumni go on to do. Meet Kat Webb, content director for the Aspire NSF Engineering Research Center on USU’s Innovation campus. When not working, Kat can be found playing soccer with her son, u...