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November-December 2020 Boise Newsletter

From the Desk of Chandra Zenner Ford

Hello, Boise colleagues and Southwest Idaho Vandal Family,

As we move through this unprecedented time, it is nice to communicate highlights that resemble a return to normalcy and are reason to celebrate. Last week, a team of students from the Colleges of Art and Architecture and Mechanical Engineering — led by Boise-based students Kelsey Ramsey and Lindsay Watkins — earned first place in the “Hacking for Homebuilders” competition as part of Boise Startup Week. They beat 15 teams from across Idaho. This is a very big deal! The team was awarded $10,000 for their efforts and it reflects well on the hard work of the students and support of their faculty mentors, Ken Baker, Dwaine Carver and George Tanner. You can learn more about this below.

Also, below, please read about College of Law student Danielle Strollo, who took the initiative and led a push for U of I faculty and students to be more involved with our community during the election. Her work supported the way for University of Idaho College of Law students to be role models in civic leadership.

You will soon notice a Vandal branded shuttle in the parking garage.  You can expect to see it in downtown traffic when we commission the vehicle in the spring to transport our law students, faculty and staff between our facilities downtown. We also hope to establish routes downtown for U of I employees and students to use to move around and allow for more creative solutions around parking and access to our facilities. We are studying the possibilities now.

COVID-19 continues to challenge us in many ways, not the least of which is our ability to gain access to in-person visits at the high schools this fall. If you know of a potential student who could use some extra information from us, please let me know. I will work with Peter Lien and his team to see what kind of outreach makes the most sense on an individual basis. Dean Kahler tells me his shop is working very hard to do a push for the Spring 2021 enrollment as well. It is up to all of us to recruit Vandals and encourage them to Go On!

In terms of looking toward the future, the University of Idaho will keep the spring semester calendar as originally planned. You may have seen that Boise State University has adjusted their calendar and Spring Break date, but after surveying faculty, the decision was made for U of I to stick with the current academic calendar for FY21. Fingers crossed we can have an in-person Commencement in May.

Thank you all for staying focused as we move through the many uncertainties of this fall. I will be taking the week of Thanksgiving as furlough. As challenging as this year has been, I still have a lot of reasons to be grateful — working with this team is one of them. Take good care and Keep Calm and Vandal On.


News and Announcements

U of I Boise Graduate and Professional Student Association Helps with Conference Fees

Over the Boise skyline, the text: "GPSA provides funding to graduate students to help support needs such as travel and fees for conferences or competitions related ot their education. This not only applies to in-person events but virtual events as well. For more information including how to apply, contact Donna Stolaroff at or Rebekah Cude at"

GPSA provides funding to graduate students to help support needs such as travel and fees for conferences or competitions related to their education. This applies to in-person and virtual events. Contact Donna Stolaroff at or Rebekah Cudé at for more information or to apply. In addition, watch for further communication regarding GPSA’s school supply drive and partnership with a local middle school.

Vandalizing Idaho

Grain bins in Parma Idaho that say "University of Idaho" and "Go Vandals."

If you are driving around Parma, make sure to drive by this new U of I-branded bin. Four grain bins have been Vandalized this year to help tell our story along the highways and byways throughout the Gem State. The first Vandal grain bin was Vandalized in July. Look out this spring for more Vandalization.

U of I IWC Holiday Hours Announced

The week of Thanksgiving, the University of Idaho will be closed on Thursday and Friday. The Idaho Water Center (IWC) operating hours that week will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday to accommodate other tenants located within the building.

U of I Boise College of Law Students Serve as Poll Workers

Five law students

Sixty percent of poll workers nationwide are over the age of 60, a demographic more susceptible to COVID-19 than others. Because these poll workers might choose to stay home this year to protect themselves, there was a possibility that in-person voting on Nov. 3 could have been more difficult. Earlier this year, Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane and U of I Boise Law student Danielle Strollo independently suggested that the law school could create a day of service, and excuse students from class, so that students could serve as poll workers.

Danielle reached out to county clerks and hosted a kick-off event for U of I students to learn how to participate and earn pro bono credit for volunteering.

Eighty students from the College of Law volunteered this year with elections, including 38 Boise students — 31 of those are working in Ada County, six in Canyon and one in Elmore. There was an entire U of I team working at precinct 1704 with Danielle in Ada County, as shown in the image.

College of Art and Architecture Student Accomplishments

The University of Idaho HAUS team: masters of Architecture students Lyndsay Watkins, Kelsey Ramsey and Reggie Mace (U of I Boise), and masters of Architecture student Sterling Jones and bachelor's Mechanical Engineering student Evan Allen (U of I Moscow).

The University of Idaho HAUS team won first place at the Hacking for Homebuilding competition. The team was composed of masters of Architecture students Lyndsay Watkins, Kelsey Ramsey and Reggie Mace (U of I Boise), and masters of Architecture student Sterling Jones and B.S Mechanical Engineering student Evan Allen (U of I Moscow).

Hosted by the Boise State Venture College with winners announced live at Boise Startup Week, the competition challenged student teams to come up with solutions to major issues faced in the construction trades — everything from finding more affordable housing to contending with construction site debris.

The three top teams, Affordable Idaho (AID) from Boise State, HAUS from the University of Idaho and BEAMING from Boise State, pitched their ideas on Oct. 29 to win cash prizes and the chance to connect with industry investors.

The U of I team won first place and $10,000 with a project that allows homeowners to make house repairs without the costly need to remove and replace drywall, via an access system that can easily reach the utilities in their homes. The concept paves the way for easy install of future home technologies and makes the installation of services on the job site simpler for the construction team.

IDL Projects

Lyndsay Watkins, the U of I Integrated Design Lab and grad students in the Architecture program wondered if we could “reset” the relationship between humans and the planet by encouraging urban food crop production. The U of I Boise student called their project BioTopia, and they’re focused on stimulating biosphere backyards in urban locations.

A person holds up IDL’s logo

Year two of the IDL’s HERC-IGEM grant to develop a prototype and process for printing construction panels from wood waste is underway. Their goals for this year include application for two patents: one for the print solution and one for the printer.

Career Services Hosted Fall Career Fair

Career Services hosted an in-person Fall Career Fair on Oct. 7, with 500 students attending to meet with 42 employers, and a Virtual Career Fair on Oct. 2, with over 200 students and 81 employers attending.

Students are encouraged to take advantage of Career Services’ virtual appointments and drop-ins. To schedule a virtual appointment, students can use VandalStar. Learn more about Career Services.

U of I, 4-H Youth Development Hosted National 4-H Association Virtual Conference in Boise

Kristin Armstrong on stage, with a computer screen in the foreground showing the digital stream

University of Idaho 4-H did not let COVID-19 get in the way of hosting their National Association of Extension 4-H Youth Development Professionals annual conference in Boise Oct. 20-22. The decision for the conference — which typically draws more than 1,000 participants — to go virtual was disappointing (at best) for the team of Idaho 4-H professionals who have been planning this conference for nearly four years. That said, we can be proud of the Idaho 4-H team which worked with the National Association Conference Planner to turn it into the first NAE4-HYDP virtual conference and drew over 1,400 registrants from across the world. A group of approximately 45 Idaho 4-H professionals donned their face coverings and gathered at the Boise Center to host the conference remotely and welcome keynote speaker Kristin Armstrong. Physical distancing of between 6 feet and a couple thousand miles was maintained and yet brought colleagues together for professional development and celebration of accomplishments.

College of Engineering Faculty Presented On Indoor Air Quality

On Sept. 9, Ralph Budwig presented at a virtual roundtable with the Idaho Food, Agriculture, Restaurant and Beverage Establishments (FARE) organization on the importance of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) with regard to COVID-19.

The roundtable was co-hosted by Colette DePhelps of the University of Idaho Extension and included participants from the hospitality business and restaurant and beverage establishment industry. Budwig, who has taught HVAC systems as a mechanical engineering technical elective for the last 10 years, presented on the topic of IAQ, especially as related to pathogen aerosol transmission (including COVID-19) in restaurants and beverage establishments. His conclusion was that in buildings with operable windows (typically residential buildings), opening windows and doors can be an effective approach to diluting the airborne pathogens in the rooms. In sealed commercial buildings, it is important that the HVAC system be routinely maintained including changing of filters as well as checking and adjusting air handling units so that appropriate fresh air levels are sustained.

College of Education Faculty to Present to Idaho School Boards Association

Rich Bauscher

The Idaho School Boards Association selected Rich Bauscher to be one of their virtual conference workshop presenters in an event Nov. 9-11. His topic is “A Hight Impact Environment Improves Student Learning.”

The Region 3 superintendents will be meeting at the U of I Boise center on Feb. 24, 2021 for their monthly meeting. Rich will be the host representing U of I and will introduce Chandra Zenner Ford, who will give the welcome to the 40 superintendents and their assistants.

Rangeland Center Feature Story on Interdisciplinary Research and New Fact Sheet Publication

Eric Winford established a U of I team of experts to find out what was contaminating the watershed in Mink Creek, near Pocatello, with E. coli. Was it the cattle, humans or something else? Check out this feature story, written by U of I Boise’s Maria Ortega, and find out “who did it.”

The Rangeland Center produced a fact sheet on how climate change is impacting Idaho’s rangelands, “Science and Solutions for the Range.” Read the fact sheet.

iDrone Program Goes Virtual

Over the past few years, the U of I iDrone Program, led by Jae Ryu, hosted a series of hands-on drone camps at major cities, including Moscow, Boise and Pocatello, to promote STEM pipelines across Idaho. During the camp, Idaho Youth in grades six through 12 learn basic do’s and don’ts of drone flying, how to build a drone, program with code and practice the basics of flying a drone. Unlike the previous years, the iDrone program had to make a difficult decision to host the 2020 iDrone CAMP virtually due to the pandemic. Fortunately, the iDrone online camp was successfully held Oct. 10, and President Green gave a congratulatory remark for future Vandals.

ECHO Updates

ECHO Welcomes Two New Staff Members

Karley Kline and Samuel Steffen joined ECHO Nov. 3. Look for their bios in the next Boise newsletter and learn more about them and their roles with ECHO.

ECHO Featured in Here We Have Idaho

ECHO Idaho’s rapid response to COVID-19 is the feature story in the fall issue of Here We Have Idaho. Read the fall features.

New Attendance Record Set for ECHO’s Medication for Addiction Treatment Waiver Training

In September, ECHO set a new attendance record for Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) Waiver Training, which has been offered twice a year since ECHO started in 2018.

MAT helps people reduce or quit their use of heroin or other opiates. Qualified physicians, advanced nurse practitioners and physician assistants are required to acquire a waiver and maintain certifications to legally dispense or prescribe opioid use disorder medications. Providers with a MAT waiver can help prevent overdose, significantly decrease the risk of relapse and even reduce the spread of infectious diseases (like HIV).

A record-breaking 75 people attended ECHO’s most recent MAT-waiver training; participants represented 59 organizations in 25 communities across all seven health districts in Idaho.

ECHO Idaho’s First Research Paper Is Published

Data collected in their Behavioral Health in Primary Care series (BH) was used to publish an article in October’s Journal of Rural Mental Health.

Attendees who participated in the BH series indicated that calling in helped improve their clinical practice, that the series enhanced their knowledge, and that attendance would help improve their patient care. The Journal of Rural Mental Health is the official journal of the National Association for Rural Mental Health and is published by the American Psychological Association. Read the article.

New Series on Nursing Home COVID-19 Safety Launched

Part of a national program (supported by the Federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and in collaboration with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), the University of New Mexico ECHO Institute and the Idaho Health Care Association), ECHO Idaho’s newest tele-mentoring program, Nursing Home COVID-19 Safety, launched in early November and is helping support about 70 nursing homes across the Gem State navigate COVID-19 preparedness, safety and infection control by providing access to national and regional experts alongside a peer-learning network that is rich with useful resources.

Updates from the McClure Center

Megan Foster, McClure Center postdoctoral fellow, presented at the University Network on Collaborative Governance (UNCG) Annual Conference, held Oct. 23. The title of her presentation was “Utilizing a Convening Role and Adopting New Practices to Assess Economic Impacts Connected to Idaho's Changing Climate.”

In October, the Idaho Law Review and McClure Center for Public Policy Research co-presented “Democracy Evolved: The Future of American Elections,” an election law symposium. Four panels of nationally recognized experts covered four topics: American democracy in 2020, emerging technologies and electoral innovation, Native American voting rights and new visions of American democracy. Learn more.

The Idaho Science and Technology Policy Fellowship (ISTPF), a partnership among Boise State University, Idaho State University and the University of Idaho, with the McClure Center serving as the lead institution, presented the first three professional development seminars in October and November. The seminars are open to ISTP fellows and faculty, staff, postdoctoral fellows, advanced graduate and professional students at the three research universities, as well as CAES affiliates. Learn more.

U of I Boise in the News

See our faculty, staff and programs mentioned and quoted in the Treasure Valley media this summer and learn about their new projects and research:

See our faculty, staff and programs mentioned and quoted in the Treasure Valley media this fall and learn about their new projects and research:

September - October

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