Rocky Mountain Foundation Grant for College of Science Undergrad Researchers

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On July 20th, 2022, Rocky Mountain Power Foundation presented Brandon Burnett, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Chair, a $2K grant. The grant will allow several undergraduate students to work closely with faculty members from three different departments (Earth and Environmental Sciences, Physics & Astronomy and Chemistry & Biochemistry) to work with some of the oldest rocks on Earth, known as zircons. 

These unique rocks are used to date the age of the planet as well as identify potential locations of rare earth elements used in electronics, lighting, and batteries. Synthetic zircons can be used as testbeds to understand the more complex geology. Student researchers will work with natural zircon as well as chemically generate synthetic zircon. They will expose the samples to natural radiation from Utah rocks to investigate how zircon structure changes over time and use a scanning electron microscope (SEM) to observe these changes. Chemical synthesis, working with radioactive material, and using sophisticated equipment such as the SEM are skills that will increase students’ job opportunities in the local market. 

Below are images are of Burnett receiving the award and providing a tour of his lab and the scanning electron microscope (SEM) lab.

The College of Science is thrilled to join forces with the Rocky Mountain Foundation in offering more "students of all identities and backgrounds" these "transformative educational experiences ... through meaningful personal connections with faculty and staff in and out of the classroom.” 

Burnett receives award

Burnett in chemistry labBurnett in SEM lab

Contact Information

Brandon Burnett
Chemistry and Biochemistry