student looking through a miccrscope at the Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake Student Research

female student with solar panel out at the Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake remains largely unexplored and offers new territory for novel undergraduate research projects. We have the lake and Westminster's laboratories where students can be involved with everything from gathering and analyzing samples to writing comprehensive research papers.

Current Research

Topic Faculty/Staff Mentor
Microbialite and Microbe Resiliency Dr. Bonnie Baxter
Soil Halophile-Halophyte Interactions Dr. David Parrot
Entombed Biota in Gypsum Dr. Bonnie Baxter
Predators on Gunnison Island Carly Biedul
Brine Fly Population Health Carly Biedul

Past Research

  • Mercury Loading and Methylation in the Great Salt Lake Watershed, Kate Amadio
  • Molecular Identification of Cestode Parasites of the Brine Shrimp, Artemia, from Great Salt Lake, Utah, Nicole Baily
  • Cartenoids and DNA Damage in a Great Salt Lake Halophilic Archaea, Lindsy Brickell
  • Avian Populations in City Creek Canyon, Utah, John Buchannan
  • The Importance of Arachnids in Biomagnification on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, Jim Goodman (faculty mentor–Dr. Frank Black)
  • Estimating the Wintering Grounds of Migratory Shorebirds Using Stable Isotopes, Sarah Carver: (faculty mentor–Dr. Christy Clay, Westminster University)

PeliCAM Project

The Great Salt Lake PELI Project (Partnership for Education and Longitudinal Investigation of American White Pelicans) aims to understand the effects of water diversion and climate change on the migration patterns, breeding behavior, and survival rates of the pelicans on Gunnison Island. Great Salt Lake Institute undergraduate students work in partnership with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and their robust pelican research program.

The first phase of the PELI project was installing 15 PELIcams on Gunnison Island, the protected breeding grounds of the pelicans to monitor the pelican colonies, taking a picture every three minutes.

Hear more about the PELIcam on NPR's Science Friday

Utah Lake

Utah Lake

Spider egg

Can you make out the tiny white ball near the center of this photo? It's a spider egg mass!

black widow spider

Black Widow Spider

sample gathering

Materials used to gather samples from the lake

burrowed spider

These spiders like to burrow into the ground

Jeff Collins in lake

Jeff Collins dropping cinder blocks in the lake. Hopefully these will be colonized by brine fly larva.

 students studying fly larva in fish tank

Fly larva in tank