SUU’s Dr. Jacqualine Grant receives award to fund water conservation research
An SUU student works in a greenhouse, photo courtesy of Southern Utah University

Dr. Jacqualine Grant, an assistant professor of biology at Southern Utah University, received a first-of-its-kind release time award from Innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-sustainability. Much like a sabbatical, Grant will use this break from campus duties to develop proposals with colleagues in the intermountain west.

Grant is director of the Garth and Jerri Frehner Museum of Natural History and a conservation biologist. Her work focuses on green infrastructure and biology related to insects, mammals, and amphibians.

To foster research opportunities at primarily undergraduate institutions like SUU, Innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-sustainability developed a new program for faculty, designed to facilitate research programs throughout the state.

The course release time has facilitated proposal development with SUU’s Dr. Matt Ogburn, collaborators at the Society for Conservation Biology, and researchers at the University of Utah and Northern Arizona University.

“Our goal is to advance science related to water conservation and green infrastructure and to increase undergraduate participation in authentic research experiences,” said Grant.

Because of the release time award, one of Grant’s proposals has already received funding from the Bureau of Land Management’s Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program. This grant will fund the hiring of two SUU students to work on green infrastructure research and seed diversity projects alongside Grant and Ogburn.

In five years, Research Catalyst Grants have received more than $300,000 in funding from Innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-sustainability. Grant has previously received funding from the program to work on green infrastructure as a water-saving practice. The green roof exhibit demonstration, which was developed to insulate buildings and promote stormwater conservation, and associated outreach has reached over 1,800 faculty, undergraduates, and K-12 students since its installation in 2015.

“As a former faculty member myself, I understand the unique pressures and limitations that come with undergraduate research,” said Andy Leidolf, assistant director of Innovative Urban Transitions and Aridregion Hydro-sustainability. “It is tremendously rewarding to provide needed support to leverage the ample talent and enthusiasm for research that exists at these institutions on behalf of our statewide research enterprise.”

As Director of the Frehner Museum, Grant is involved in collections management. She also collaborates with the Southern Utah Museum of Art to bring educational programming in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math to thousands of K-12 students throughout southern Utah.

As an educator, museum professional, and conservation biologist, Grant aims to educate students at SUU and in the Iron County K-12 system and members of the general public. She also performs natural history research and enjoys helping undergraduate students develop their research skills.

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