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Office for Research

The Office for Research at Idaho State University fosters and maintains mutually beneficial relationships with federal, state and corporate sponsors.
We provide high quality and timely service to our faculty and staff while maintaining balance between the interests of ISU, the State of Idaho, and the interests of industry for the public good.

Our scope encompasses several functional areas that handle different parts of the research process. We provide guidance, service and support for a variety of research areas including- energy and environmental applications, healthcare, biomedical, geosciences, data assurance.  We also provide access to research facilities through our Research Centers and Institutes.

Research Support, Business & Industry Partnerships

Research Funding - the Sponsored Programs and Support team assists faculty and staff as they develop proposals for external funding for sponsored research, scholarly and community service projects and post-award assistance.

Research Outreach and Compliance - We are Animal Use and IACUC, Human Subjects and IRB; Biosafety, Responsible Conduct of Research; Financial Conflict of Interest in Sponsored Projects; Export Control - from vendor clearance to travel "out of country".  We also coordinate STEM Diversity and Outreach, the CITI training program, the use of controlled substances in research and Undergraduate Research. The Research Outreach and Compliance team is available for assistance.

Innovation & Collaboration - ISU's talented researchers and students push the boundaries of innovation independently and collaboratively with private-sector partners.  To promote scientific developments and develop partnerships the Technology Commercialization office is available to support these endeavors.



Report on Incident #53011

Idaho State University acknowledges receiving a fine from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding an inventory discrepancy that occurred in 2003.

About 15 years ago, a small radioactive source was taken out of service at ISU with intentions of disposal due to questions with its integrity. University staff at that time only partially completed paperwork connected with the disposal action. During an inventory check last year, ISU staff identified a discrepancy between ISU records and federal records. This was immediately reported to the NRC, and procedures to prevent similar future occurrences were established. Unfortunately, because there was a lack of sufficient historical records to demonstrate the disposal pathway employed in 2003, the source in question had to be listed as missing.

Enhancements to ISU's inventory system and other administrative initiatives were immediately put into place to prevent this type of discrepancy in the future. University and regulatory officials have responded in an appropriate and responsible fashion. The radioactive source in question poses no direct health issue or risk to public safety.

The radioactive sources in question are known as Nuclear Accident Dosimeter (NAD) sources. In their original application, they would provide information about critical accidents if they occurred. When ISU received them, they were originally used in research to develop ways to investigate waste packages as part of the Idaho Cleanup Project. Later, after 9/11, they were used in research to develop methods to accomplish contraband detection that is important to border security. The sources contain very small trace quantities of radioactive material and have very limited applications.

Since this research is no longer being conducted at ISU, the group of sources previously used in the research is either being returned to the Department of Energy, or in some cases, ISU is collaborating with the DOE to dispose of them in an appropriate fashion.


NRC's May 4, 2018 News Release : NRC May 4, 2018 News Release

ISU Report to NRC, *Appendices with personal information have been removed: ISU Report to NRC, Incident 53011

NRC's Enforcement Action Letter: NRC Notice of Violation and Proposed Civil Penalty




One Minute With a Researcher

The Office for Research is proud to present our YouTube series  "One Minute with a Researcher" where researchers across campus provide insight into their areas of study.


Research in the News:

ISU civil and environmental students ranked in top 20 in Big Beam Competition


Idaho State University civil and environmental engineering students competed in the Precast/Prestressed Institute (PCI) Big Beam Competition in summer 2018 and were top-20 performers.

The results were recently announced and ISU’s Big Beam Team was awarded 44.75 points, with the highest being 57. ISU outranked all other teams from the PCI Mountain States region.

The PCI Big Beam team at ISU consisted of graduate students Maximilian Casanova, Christopher Clauson, Karma Gurung, undergraduate student Jared Cantrell and German exchange student Henrik Karstens. Their faculty advisor was Mustafa Mashal. “This was the first time we participated in the PCI Big Beam Competition,” Mashal said. “We would like to continue this competition and improve our performance.”

One of the team members, Henrik Karstens, came to ISU from Technische Universität Braunschweig in Germany to participate in the competition.

“Given the successful experience of having a student from overseas in the ISU team, we are working with colleagues from Technische Universität Braunschweig to have one or more German students coming to ISU and participating in the next big beam competition,” said Mashal. “We believe it would create collaboration opportunities for both institutions.”

“It was great experience for our team, and for the first time team in this competition, we did wonderful” said Bruce Savage, chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

The beam, which was made out of concrete, was tested as a simply supported 20-foot span, with the overall length limited to 22-feet. The beam was not allowed to crack below 20 kips of loading and was designed to fail within the range of 32 to 39 kips. Kips are equivalent to 1,000 pounds of force. 

The beam was judged on:

  • Design accuracy
  • Lowest cost
  • Lowest weight
  • Largest measured deflection at maximum total applied load
  • Most accurate prediction of:

o   Deflection

o   Cracking load

o   Failure load

  • Report quality
  • Practicality, innovation and conformance with code

 Forterra Structural Precast in Salt Lake City sponsored the ISU team for the 2017-2018 big beam competition.

 For more information on the PCI Big Beam Competition, visit For more information on ISU’s Big Beam team, contact Mustafa Mashal at


How thick is the skin of the earth? Idaho State University researchers discover a simple empirical model to predict soil thickness

POCATELLO –A team of Idaho State University researchers working at the Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory in partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service has discovered a simple method for predicting the spatial distribution of soil thickness across a landscape.

Until now, it has been a large unknown because there were no good, inexpensive ways to estimate soil thickness accurately and economically across a landscape. Other methods are computationally intensive, analytically expensive, or literally backbreaking so that they are limited in scope. This method allows prediction of soil thickness anywhere with just LiDAR data – fine resolution topographic data – and as few as one soil pit.

This team presents and validates a simple empirical model for predicting the spatial distribution of soil thickness in a variety of catchments based only on high-resolution elevation data and a few soil profiles in the article “Predicting soil thickness on soil mantled hillslopes” in the online-only journal Nature Communications, which was published on Aug. 20.

The paper can be viewed online at

The study was conducted at the Reynolds Creek Critical Zone Observatory located within the United States Department of Agricultural Research Service Experimental Watershed located in southwest Idaho.

Read more

ISU Museum of  Natural History Researchers Receive Grant to Digitally Collect 50 of the World’s Largest Animals

 POCATELLO  – Whales, elephants and bears, oh my! – A team of scientific Noahs at the Idaho Museum of Natural History at Idaho State University has been tasked to digitally collect the skeletons of 50 of the largest animals in the world.

The arc, in this analogy, is the National Science Foundation’s efforts to make 3D scans of all the major vertebrates, animals that have skeletons, available online to researchers and educators.

Technicians from the museum’s Idaho Virtualization Laboratory, which received a $175,000 grant from the NSF, will travel to the University of California, Berkeley, California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco and the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology in Boston over two years to make 3D scans of whales, hippos, elephants, rhinos and other large animals.

            “We are excited about getting out there and scanning these animals, a lot of which no one else in the world has ever scanned,” said Leif Tapanila, director of the Idaho Museum of Natural History. “It is totally fresh, brand-new stuff. Once you’ve created those digital files, the sky is the limit on how they are used for educators, researchers and others.”

The Idaho Museum of Natural History’s efforts will be led by Jesse Pruitt, Idaho Virtualization Laboratory manager and tech specialist, who will oversee teams of ISU students who will use laser scanners to make 3D digital models of all the bones of 50 different large animals. The ISU students working on this project in the field and in the Idaho Virtualization Laboratory include graduate students and undergraduate Career Path Interns.

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