Two-thirds of undergraduate students at the University of Idaho participate in hands-on research, scholarly work or creative activities.

In the U of I College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), undergraduates are helping to prevent the spread of malaria and are determining trends in cattle feeding efficiency, among many other projects.

Reagan Haney, a senior from Jerome, Idaho, is researching whether altering mosquito diets can reduce the risk of malaria in areas where the disease continues to be a threat.

“Research has given me a great opportunity to get to know people and to find mentors within my field, Haney said. “If all goes according to plan, this method of treating mosquitoes could become a novel way of preventing malaria.”

Haney’s project focuses on how the supplementation of mosquitoes’ diets with abscisic acid, a plant hormone, may reduce the number of eggs they lay. Reducing the number of mosquitoes in malaria-prone areas generally reduces the rate at which the disease can spread.

Cheyanne Myers, a December 2018 graduate from Fruitland, Idaho, is working to identify links between efficient weight gain in cattle, where they graze, and the rate proteins are made and broken down. The purpose of the study is to find ways to make cattle more efficient while using less land, less grazing time and ultimately, less greenhouse gas.

“I didn’t think that I would ever fall in love with research,” Myers said. “This opportunity changed my life. I honestly think that if more people knew about research, they would want to do it, too.”

Myers began her work as an undergraduate and will continue on the project as a graduate student. She is monitoring cows from the U of I Nancy M. Cummings Research, Extension and Education Center that are pasture fed, along with those that are moved to rangeland at Rinker Rock Creek Ranch. She will look for links between the amount of mRNA in tissue samples, how efficiently the cows build and break down proteins and the cattle’s grazing location.

Learn more about undergraduate research conducted by CALS students at www.uidaho.edu/cals/student-life/research.

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