Utah Tech University student highlighted by American Chemical Society for animal hair research

By Jake Harber

A Utah Tech University student and her groundbreaking research on the structure of animal hair was one of four researchers highlighted by the American Chemical Society in March.

Taylor Millett, a mechanical engineering student at Utah Tech, presented her findings among nearly 12,000 other presentations on various science topics and was one of just four presentations showcased afterward.

Millett’s research focuses on the structure of animal hair and how it changes during the seasons. After studying pronghorn antelope, mule deer, and Rocky Mountain elk hair using a scanning electron microscope at Utah Tech, Millett found that the summer hair of the animals had air pockets that measured, on average, 13 micrometers in diameter, while the winter hair air pockets had around double the diameter.

Millett’s research is continuing as she reaches out to zoos around the world for hair samples and to compare results.

“What started as a small project has now become something I never imagined,” Millett said. “I’m deeply grateful for the guidance and support from my professors, Dr. Wendy Schatzberg and Dr. Samuel Tobler. Their mentorship has been instrumental in my growth as a researcher.”

Millett will also be researching how to apply her findings, which could range from usage in new types of insulated clothing to benefitting housing insulation.

For more information about Utah Tech University’s College of Science, Engineering & Technology, please visit colleges.utahtech.edu/science/.