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Hansen Life Sciences Retreat 2020 Logo

Above: 2020 Hansen Retreat Logo.

Hansen Life Sciences Retreat - 2020

The 10th annual Hansen Life Sciences Re-treat, held Sept. 18-19, was a tremendous success. It was unique this year, not only because it was held 100% virtually but because a Friday evening seminar was incorporated, making it a 2-day event.

The mission of the retreat is to bring together faculty and students from diverse departments at USU who are working toward understanding biological processes at the molecular level. It gives students a forum to learn about other research on campus, as well as to network and learn.

Dana Carroll. Courtesy College of Science.Above: Dana Carroll. Courtesy College of Science.

Planning the event was an effort in thinking creatively and creating a vision for unknown territory – how to create a virtual environ-ment where participants could engage with each other in a collaborative yet structured way.

The committee rose to the challenge, noth-ing new for our scientists and decided to use a combination of a private, open to partici-pants only, USU Canvas course and Zoom. The Canvas course served as a landing place for participants to view important information including the agenda, recordings, and abstracts. Zoom was used as the virtual meeting room.

One participant, Biochemistry graduate stu-dent Koleton Hardy said of the event, “I’m glad we found a way to make it happen during the pandemic. As far as a virtual versus in-person retreat, I enjoyed being able to see all of the presentations and not having to fight a crowd or strain to hear presenters.”

Highlights were many. One was the Friday evening keynote. Dr. Dana Carroll, Distin-guished Professor of Biochemistry, University of Utah, School of Medicine spoke on his research, “Genome Editing: A view from the edge.”

Matthew Yim, Biochemistry Grad Student. Courtesy College of Science.Above: Matthew Yim, Biochemistry Grad Student. Courtesy Col-lege of Science.

On Saturday, the research presentations by students were certainly a highlight. Biology master’s student Sage Frehner says ques-tions posed during the discussion were “chal-lenging,” but “that just made it all the more rewarding.” She went on, “It was a wonderful experience to learn how to present and discuss our research.”

The event was attended by 65 faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students. One huge benefit was distance offered no limitation. Guests from Germany, Idaho, and around Utah were able to join and participate in a meaningful way.

This gathering honors the memory of renowned biochemist R. Gaurth Hansen (1920-2002), a gifted scientist, teacher and administrator, who spent much of his career enriching Utah State. A Cache Valley, Utah native, Hansen joined USU’s faculty as an academic vice president in 1968, and was soon promoted to provost. His efforts contributed to a twenty-fold increase in the university’s research budget. He was named USU Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 1985 and retired from Utah State in 1994.

The Hansen Retreat is supported by R. Gaurth Hansen’s son and daughter-in-law, Lars Peter Hansen and Grace Tsiang.

Writers: Mary-Ann Muffoletto, Public Relations Specialist, College of Science and Erin Russell, Staff Assistant