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Utah State University
Utah State University faculty member Bruce Bugbee is the recipient of the 2016 D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award, the most prestigious research accolade given at USU.

LOGAN — Utah State University has flown more experiments to space than most universities around the world, due in large part to the work of Bruce Bugbee.

For his continued demonstration of creative achievement and excellence in research, the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences researcher is the 2016 D. Wynne Thorne Career Research Award recipient, the most prestigious research accolade given at USU.

For 30 years, Bugbee and his students have worked with scientists on a range of NASA-funded projects to develop a life-support system for people traveling to space and investigating how to best grow plants in artificial mediums. Central to Bugbee’s research is the application of the principles of physics to plant biology, to find ways to develop biological life support systems on Earth and in reduced gravity environments.

Bugbee’s work drew national attention late last year with the release of the award-winning film “The Martian.” The film is a fictional portrayal of NASA astronaut Mark Watney’s struggle to survive when stranded alone on Mars. National publications reached out to Bugbee to validate the science of the storyline.

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“Bruce has proved time and time again to be an invaluable asset to Utah State University, through his work as a researcher, faculty member and mentor to many graduate and undergraduate students,” USU President Stan Albrecht said in the statement. “His dedication to sharing the broader impacts of his research has expanded the university’s research portfolio to worldwide prominence.”

Following a master’s degree from the University of California, Davis, Bugbee completed his doctorate at Penn State University. Having decided to one day return the West, Bugbee came to USU in 1981, where he remains as a researcher and faculty member.