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Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Students from the University of Utah and Utah State University present their research to state lawmakers Thursday with displays at the Capitol.

SALT LAKE CITY — Students from Utah State University and the University of Utah gathered in the rotunda of the state Capitol to present their research to legislators Thursday as part of USU's annual Research on Capitol Hill day.

"Around 2000, there was this misinterpretation that research universities weren't into teaching and learning," said Joyce Kinkead, associate vice president for research at USU. "That's why we started this. So our students could explain how a research university lets them discover new knowledge and apply it."

Sixty two students came to make presentations on everything from the American pika to mesospheric gravity waves. All students chosen to present were Utah residents, and each legislator was invited to go visit students from his or her district.

Katelyn Conrad of Brigham City and Haylee Toland of Altamont spoke with Rep. Ben Ferry, R-Corinne, about their research on the Intermountain Indian School. Conrad and Toland researched the school's old buildings and collected stories and accounts of those who attended the school and later military hospital. Ferry also spoke with Conrad and Toland about possible preservation ideas and how to fund them.

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"I think there was some interest," Toland said. "Even if we can't keep all our long-term goals, he said he would at least like us to compile of the history we've collected."

Not all students have projects directly applicable to legislators' districts. One student, Jared Roberts, used lab rats to study the effect of interneurons and granule cells on memory. In such cases, Kinkead and Roberts said, the goal is to remind legislators of the value of research institutions and universities.

"We're doing stuff you can't just find on Wikipedia," Roberts said.

e-mail: ashaha@desnews.com