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Vandal Science News - April 2018

Dean's Message 

It is always a busy time as an academic year comes to a close. Many of our students are preparing for graduation and a new chapter in their lives. It’s a time to reflect on how the experiences of studying at the University of Idaho will impact those future chapters. We’re very proud of the opportunities we offer to our students both in the classroom and in the laboratory and field. We like to say that at Idaho you don’t just study science, you do science. Our emphasis on undergraduate research opportunities is as strong as ever, as is our faculty’s commitment to mentoring their graduate students through the groundbreaking work they do. A few current examples are worth noting:

  • Because of the generosity of Brian and Gayle Hill, we were able to award more Hill Undergraduate Research Fellowships than ever this year – eight new Hill Fellows were named.
  • As the semester winds down, we’ll have students showing off their work in many forums, including the Innovation Showcase sponsored by our College of Graduate Studies, and the UI Undergraduate Research Symposium sponsored by the Office of Undergraduate Research.
  • We also have students engaging in our first-ever Data Science Competition, sponsored jointly by the College of Science, Department of Mathematics, and the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies (IBEST).

We’re looking forward to commencement and the opportunity to see our first graduates from the brand new Medical Sciences bachelor’s degree offered by the Department of Biological Sciences. We’ll also, as usual, take time to honor some of our most outstanding students. I invite you to look at our college awards webpage to see profiles of some of these students.
It’s been an exciting year in the College of Science.  I hope that you enjoy reading in this newsletter about some the highlights of what is happening on campus. As always, thank you for your support.

– Dean Ginger E. Carney

Alumni Award Recipients for 2017 - 2018

View Award Winners

Alyssa Baugh

Recipient of the 2018 John B. George Award

Learn More

Michael Elder-Waters

Winner of the 2018 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award

Learn More

Vandal Science News Puzzler

With each issue of the Vandal Science News we'll include a challenging puzzle. Send solutions by email to – we'll post the names of those who submit correct solutions in the next issue.

April 2018 Puzzler:

The puzzler this time is very simple to state. There are many ways to solve it, but there’s one particularly short and clever way.

How many positive integers less than one million include at least one digit 4?

To clarify, all 100,000 numbers between 400,000 and 499,999 are in the list. So, of course, is 539,344 and 539,349. But 539,350 is not. Can you count them all?


Here is a very simple way to find the answer: to find how many numbers less than one million do include a digit 4, first find the number which do not include a digit 4. There are six digits to determine, and each can be any of nine different possibilities (any digit except 4). (Note that this accounts for all numbers up to 999,999 because numbers like 3,357 which are less than six digits long would show up as 003,357.) So, there are

(9)(9)(9)(9)(9)(9) = 531,441

such numbers. There are 1,000,000 numbers total (000,000 through 999,999), so the count of those which include a digit 4 must be

1,000,000 - 531,441 = 468,559.

Correct Solvers:

  • Alex Blumenfeld (NMR Lab Manager, UI Chemistry Department)
  • Jason Evans (BS Computer Science, 1996; PhD Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, 2009)
  • Tim Householder (Mathematics, 2002)
  • Jay Hunter (Chemistry, 1973)
  • Chris Marx (UI Biological Sciences Department)
  • Lee Ogren (Chemistry, 1974)
  • Greg Stenback (Geological Engineering, 1985; MS Statistics, 1987)


College of Science

Physical Address:
Mines 321

Mailing Address:
875 Perimeter Drive MS 3025
Moscow, ID 83844-3025

Phone: 208-885-6195

Fax: 208-885-6904


Web: College of Science