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Idaho State University TRiO Services Receives New $1.25 Million Grant

To Better Serve Eighth- to 12th-Grade Students in Southern Idaho

POCATELLO – About 500 more eighth- through 12th-grade students in southern Idaho will be served “to go to and through post-secondary education” by Idaho State University’s new five-year, $1.25-million TRiO Grant for its Educational Talent Search program.

In all, the federal ISU Educational Talent Search program will now serve almost 1,600 students from Wendell to Idaho Falls in a 260-mile area of Idaho. The original ISU Educational Talent Search program has received continuous funding since 1972, including its most recent five-year, $2.25 million grant for its core program.

The new $1.25 million grant helps TRiO expand the program to more schools in Southcentral Idaho, now serving four new schools and students out of Wendell, Canyon Ridge (in Twin Falls), Twin Falls, Jerome, Burley and Minico high schools. Further east, TRiO will now be able to serve more students where it had already been active at American Falls, Aberdeen, Pocatello, Century, Highland, Sho-Bann, Blackfoot, Snake River, Skyline, Idaho Falls and Bonneville high schools.

The new grant also allows TRiO to offer different programming for students in Southcentral Idaho than what is offered to students in Southeast and East Idaho.

“As far as TRiO grants go, it is so critical to have the Educational Talent Search program in Idaho, serving our communities and our high schools to give students that spark for education and post-secondary education,” said Sari Byerly, director of ISU’s TRiO programs. “We’re pushing students to go on to what ever post-secondary education is best for them, exposing them to everything to certificate programs to graduate degrees.”

Annually, these two grants provide about $700,000 to the TRiO program. The Educational Talent Search program, besides Byerly, has an assistant director that also serves as a part-time advisor, five full-time advisors and administrative support.

TRiO advisors work out of high schools, working with the prep students there, and also heading out to junior high schools to help eighth graders make the transition to high schools.  Two-thirds of students served by ISU’s TRiO program come from families where both parents to not have a college bachelor’s degree and are living at or below 150 percent of the poverty level. A third of the ISU TRiO students meet just one of those criteria or have “other barriers in place,” primarily poor access to college preparatory programs such as dual-credit, high school and college, class options.

There are exacting requirements for the TRiO Educational Talent Search program. Ninety-percent of its participants must advance to the next grade level each year and students must graduate on time. They also must graduate with a rigorous class schedule that includes college-core classes and 65 percent must go on to post-secondary enrollment.

Educational Talent Search is one of five TRiO programs at ISU. Other TRiO programs are Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math and Science and Support Services. These five grants in total receive about $1.7 million annually. The Educational Talent Search program serves the most students of all the TRiO grants.

“Something cool for ISU is that in our TRiO region comprised of the states of Alaska, Idaho, Washington and Oregon, ISU’s new Educational Talent Search program was the only new Educational Talent Search grant funded,” Byerly said. “I think ISU is a great place in terms of reaching out to the community and offering access and opportunity.”

Byerly said. For more information on ISU TRiO programs, visit or call 282-3242.

ISU/Center for Advanced Energy Studies Researcher Haiming Wen Receives $500,000 Grant to Improve Materials for Nuclear Reactors


POCATELLO – Idaho State University and Center for Advanced Energy Studies researcher Haiming Wen, working with three collaborators at the Idaho National Laboratory, has received a $500,000 grant to improve  the  strength and irradiation resistance of metals used in nuclear reactors.

Wen, an assistant research professor at ISU and a staff scientist at the INL, and his INL collaborators will be working to improve the irradiation performance of metals used in nuclear facilities. The irradiation  performance of materials is critical to nuclear reactors.

“Basically, we are trying to help develop advanced nuclear reactors and to extend the life of currently used nuclear reactors,” Wen said.  “We are trying to develop materials with improved performance and irradiation  resistance and to assess the use of these materials in nuclear reactors.”

Wen will be working with an ISU graduate student and INL scientists James Cole, Isabella Van Rooeyn and Yongfeng Zhang on this project. They will be developing “nanostructures,” tiny structures between the size of microscopic and molecular structures, that could improve the performance of conventionally used materials used in building reactors.

“We will be producing this nanomaterial using advanced manufacturing techniques,” Wen said. “This work focuses on assessing the performance of these materials in a real nuclear irradiation environment. This has never been done before.”

Wen and the graduate student will be performing most of the experiments, receiving help from the INL scientists with computer simulations. Scientists and engineers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Science User Facilities will be helping with neutron irradiation testing.

“In the whole world there are only a few places you can perform neutron irradiation testing of materials, and the most important one is the Advanced Test Reactor at the INL,” Wen said. “It is very exciting to get this opportunity for neutron irradiation.”

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy provided the grant titled “Enhancing irradiation tolerance of steels via nanostructuring by innovative manufacturing techniques.” Wen and his colleagues received the grant this summer and will begin to work on it in October.

This project is comprised of two parts, $500,000 for research and development and around $2.4 million for facility access for neutron irradiation and the post-irradiation examination of the materials. The $2.4 million goes to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Science User Facilities.

Idaho State University psychology professor Erin Rasmussen secures $402,000 to study food insecurity and obesity in women


Dr. Erin Rasmussen, psychology professor, received the grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

Rasmussen and her team working on the grant titled “Food Insecurity, Obesity, and Impulsivity” will look at the special conditions that might lead or influence impulse food choice.

Rasmussen described food insecure individuals as those who are concerned or uncertain about where their next meal might come from, and impulsivity as a pattern of choosing immediately available outcomes without thought to long-term consequences. She has studied impulsivity in both rats and humans and has found that both obese rats and obese humans are impulsive when it comes to food, compared to leaner controls.

Rasmussen and her team point to literature that shows that women who are food insecure are more likely to be obese. When a person is food insecure, they are more likely to purchase cheaper foods that are often higher in refined carbohydrates, sugar and fat, instead of fruits, vegetables and high protein foods. This type of diet can blunt their sensitivity to food reward.

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