Campus Scene: Farewell to OSH

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Farewell to OSH

Orson Spencer Hall, affectionately known by nearly everyone throughout its 60-plus years on campus as “OSH,” is no more. The two-story, mid-century modern building was razed in late October. Named for the first chancellor of the university, OSH was one of the first post-WWII structures on campus designed exclusively for classrooms. Nearly every U student since then has had a class in OSH and can probably still remember the sound of the bell signaling five-minute class breaks and the ensuing swarms of students navigating the crowded halls. Those times will be missed. OSH will be replaced by the new Carolyn and Kem Gardner Building.

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Super Sleepers or Dangerously Drowsy?

Young woman sleeping in officeMost people could benefit from a few extra hours of sleep every night. But some people habitually sleep much less than the recommended amount, yet report feeling no ill effects. A new University of Utah study finds that patterns of neural connections in the brains of so-called “habitual short sleepers” suggest that some of these people may indeed be efficient sleepers, but they may also be more tired than they realize, leading to potential safety issues, such as during routine night driving.

“Most people feel terrible when they get less than six hours of sleep,” says psychology associate professor Paula Williams. “What’s different about these short sleepers who feel fine? Is there something different going on in terms of brain function? Although they report no daytime dysfunction from short sleep, what if their perceptions are inaccurate?”

To begin answering those questions, study co-authors Williams, neurologist Christopher Jones, associate professor and radiologist Jeff Anderson, and psychology graduate student Brian Curtis BS’08 MS’15 (first author on the new study, published in Brain and Behavior) looked into how people’s brains are wired. The team compared data from people who reported a normal amount of sleep in the past month with those who reported sleeping six hours or less a night. They further divided the short sleepers into two groups: Those who reported daytime dysfunction, such as feeling too drowsy to perform common tasks or keep up enthusiasm, and those who reported feeling fine.

Both groups of short sleepers exhibited connectivity patterns more typical of sleep than wakefulness while in an MRI scanner. Anderson says that although people are instructed to stay awake while in the scanner, some short sleepers may have briefly drifted off, even those who denied dysfunction. “People are notoriously poor at knowing whether they’ve fallen asleep for a minute or two,” he says. For the short sleepers who deny dysfunction, one hypothesis is that their wake-up brain systems are typically in overdrive. “This leaves open the possibility that in a boring MRI scanner they have nothing to do to keep them awake and thus fall asleep,” says Jones.

This hypothesis has public safety implications, according to Curtis. “Other boring situations, like driving an automobile at night without adequate visual or auditory stimulation, may also put short sleepers at risk of drowsiness or even falling asleep behind the wheel,” he says. The next phase of the team’s research will directly test whether short sleepers who deny dysfunction are actually doing fine. In addition to brain imaging, researchers will examine cognitive performance, including during driving simulator testing.

The full study can be found here.

Photo courtesy Vogelfreund/Wikimedia Commons

Photo courtesy Vogelfreund/Wikimedia Commons

Hippo Teeth Reveal Risks to African Grasslands

Grasslands are an important ecosystem in Africa, hosting many animals and serving as corridors for wildlife movement. A new U study published in Scientific Reports finds that loss of megaherbivores such as elephants and hippos can lead to rapid environmental and ecological change in grasslands, endangering the overall ecosystem.

Trees and non-grassy plants compete with grasses, but grazing by the large herbivores keeps the woody plants in check. Study first author and U postdoctoral scholar Kendra Chritz studied hippopotamus teeth to find a shift in the diet of hippos over the course of a decade in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park following widespread elephant poaching in the 1970s. “Within 10 years, we see a big change in what’s happening in this once diverse grassy area of the park,” says Chritz. “This is a window into the future of what could happen in East African savannas as elephants continue to be poached at the currently unprecedented rate.”

People can combat poaching by reducing the demand and financial incentive for harvesting the elephants’ tusks, Chritz says. “Not purchasing ivory and knowing which products you might use that are made from ivory is the best thing you can do to protect elephants.”

The full study can be found here.

Related update: A U study published in November 2016 found that more than 90 percent of ivory in large seized shipments came from elephants that died less than three years prior. Read the news release here.

Yost and Zimmerman. Photo courtesy U Health Sciences.

Yost and Zimmerman. Photo courtesy U Health Sciences

New Agent From Blood Could Fight Harmful Inflammation

A factor found in umbilical cord blood could become the basis for developing a new therapy to fight harmful inflammation, U School of Medicine researchers report. When given to mice, the newly discovered factor countered signs of inflammation and sepsis, such as fever, fluctuations in respiratory rate, and even death. The factor circulates in the blood of newborns for about two weeks after birth and is not found in older babies or adults, according to the study published in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

“We found something we weren’t expecting, and it has taken us to new strategies for therapy that didn’t exist before,” says Guy Zimmerman, professor of internal medicine and senior author who carried out the investigation in collaboration with lead author and associate professor of pediatrics Christian Con Yost BS’93 MD’97, along with colleagues at the U School of Medicine.

Anyone who has twisted an ankle or been stung by a bee is familiar with inflammation and its telltale redness, pain, and swelling, all positive signs that the body is mounting defenses against the insult. But under certain circumstances, inflammation can turn against us, causing damage to healthy tissue. An out-of-control inflammatory response is thought to be behind a diverse spectrum of conditions from rheumatoid arthritis to sepsis, an overreaction to infection and common cause of in-hospital deaths.

In the scientists’ blood factor study, only 20 percent of mice with sepsis survived longer than two to four days without treatment. Mice treated with the cord blood factor had triple the chance for survival, with 60 percent remaining after the same amount of time. The researchers will carry out additional studies to test the therapeutic properties of the blood factor.

The full study can be found here.

Slow Sea Snails May Lead to Speedy Insulin

Photo courtesy Baldomero Olivera

Photo courtesy Baldomero Olivera

Researchers at the U have found that the structure of an insulin molecule produced by predatory cone snails may be an improvement over the fast-acting therapeutic insulin currently used for diabetes. The finding suggests that the insulin produced by cone snails to stun their prey could begin working in as few as five minutes, compared with 15 minutes for the fastest-acting insulin currently available for human use.

The Conus geographus predatory cone snail and its relatives have developed complex brews of venoms to rapidly paralyze prey fish before they can swim away. The snails secrete insulin and other compounds into water near fish, causing their blood sugar to plummet, which sedates them for the snails to then easily consume.

Studying the structure of the cone snail insulin could help researchers modify human insulin to lose an inhibiting action called self-aggregation (sticking together and slowing down action), says biologist Helena Safavi, co-author on a paper describing the cone snail insulin published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. Safavi says that studying complex venom cocktails can open doors to new drug discoveries. “You can get new ideas from venoms. To have something that has already been evolved—that’s a huge advantage.”

Along with colleagues from Australia, U biochemists Danny Chou and Maria Disotuar as well as biologists Joanna Gajewiak and Baldomero Olivera contributed to the study. A Distinguished Professor, Olivera has long been a leader in researching cone snail toxins for neuroscience.

The full study can be found here.

Alum News

Five Alumni Recognized with Merit of Honor Awards

The Emeritus Alumni Board selected five outstanding alumni to receive 2016 Merit of Honor Awards. The annual awards recognize university of Utah alumni who graduated 40 or more years ago (or who have reached age 65 or better) whose careers have been marked by outstanding service to the university, their professions, and their communities. This year’s recipients are highlighted below.

To recognize them, the Emeritus Alumni Board hosted a banquet in their honor in November. Martha Bradley BFA’74 PhD’87, associate vice president for academic affairs at the U, served as the featured speaker, while Rex Thornton BS’72, a past president of the U Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, was the evening’s master of ceremonies.

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Jack Ashton


Jack Ashton BA’65 played the violin with the Utah Symphony for 48 years, 25 of those as the assistant principal chair. He has also instructed up to 40 private students at any time and taught public school for nearly four decades. Now retired, he still has 30 private students and teaches weekly at Snow College. Widely loved, he has been a great influence on thousands of students. He and his wife, Marie, are the parents of eight children.


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Karen Crompton


Karen Crompton BS’71 is director of the Salt Lake County Department of Human Services. Before that, she served 13 years as president of Voices for Utah Children. She is deeply committed to child welfare, a champion for women in the workplace, and actively involved in her community. Her prior recognition includes being named Utah’s 2014 Golden Spike Community Activist of the Year. She and her husband, David, have two sons.


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James R. Holbrook


James R. Holbrook JD’74, a clinical professor of law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, teaches negotiation, mediation, and arbitration. A recipient of many awards and author of numerous ADR publications, he served as the principal investigator on the law school’s $10 million U.S. State Department-funded project in Baghdad, which provided legal assistance to the government and judiciary of Iraq. He is married to Meghan Zanolli Holbrook.


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Stanley B. Parrish


Stanley B. Parrish ex’61 is president and CEO of the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce. He served as chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as associate deputy administrator at the U.S. Small Business Administration, served in Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter’s cabinet as an executive director, and was president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. He and his wife, Joyce, are the parents of six children.

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Judi Short


Judi Short MPA’92 was employed at the U for 38 years, working mostly in the Office of Graduate Medical Education, including as director. A recipient of many community awards, she chairs the Sugar House Community Council’s Land Use Committee, is a member of the League of Women Voters, and leads a team of Master Gardeners who maintain Gilgal Sculpture Garden. She and her husband, Wade C. Jones, have five children.

New Career Coach Hired for Alumni

GleasonThe Alumni Association welcomes a new Alumni Career Services program manager and career coach, Amy Gleason. In what she calls the “wandering map” of her career, Gleason got her start working as a child protection caseworker in California and Colorado, where she spent more than a decade teaching independent living skills to foster care teens, homeless youth, and teen parents. She eventually transitioned into a case management supervisory role with a large hospital system. After 11 years, the hospital faced budget cuts and Amy was laid off, “smack dab in mid-career, on top of my game” she says.

What followed was an unexpected but welcome career transition that would eventually lead her to higher-ed career coaching. After her layoff, she experienced firsthand the value of career coaching and learning new skills, which motivated her to start her own business. Gleason discovered a passion for teaching career prep and English language skills to professionals from all over the world, coaching them for interviews, presentations, and business communication.

Now, she is bringing her career training expertise to the U to help alumni gain the skills and confidence needed to explore new career options, transition jobs, or find a dream job. She says, “It’s never too late to find the job that is your match, regardless of your age or experience.” Gleason offers one-on-one coaching to all U alumni—in Utah, nationally, and even internationally. She invites all interested alumni to visit the university’s alumni career fairs, networking events, and workshops to assist in growing their skill set and career enthusiasm. For more information, visit

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Homecoming 2016 Highlights

We danced. We golfed. We decorated. We raced. We tailgated. We cheered. We won.

Alumni and friends celebrated Homecoming 2016 with all the longstanding University of Utah traditions. Highlights this year included the return of the Homecoming Golf Tournament, a new route for the scholarship 5K race (moved during the Alumni House remodel), and the second-half comeback of the football team for the win against Arizona 36–23.

Check out some of our favorite snapshots below to relive the Homecoming 2016 festivities.

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Alumni Association Scholarships: Made Possible by You

Each spring, the University of Utah Alumni Association is honored to award more than half a million dollars of scholarship money to students, ranging from incoming freshmen to graduate students. That amount usually surprises people, and we are often asked where the money comes from. The simple response is: From you, our alumni and friends.

Whether you’re driving with a U license plate or running in our annual Homecoming 5K race, you’re a contributor. Here, we break down the numbers, including the source of funds as well as scholarship recipient and eligibility information.

Amalfi Beach.web

Beaches on the Amalfi Coast

See the World with Fellow Alumni

Who wants to travel with complete strangers when you can hang out with fellow University of Utah alums? The Alumni Association is now booking travel for 2017, and you’ll not only get to enjoy some very attractive destinations but get to do so in the company of people you have something in common with. Below is a sampling of some of our spring and summer trips.

May 17-25: Springtime in Provence and Burgundy

May 23-June 1: Vineyards & Vignettes from Lisbon to London

May 27-June 4: Peru Escapade to the Andes

July 26-Aug. 7: Italy’s National Parks and Grottoes

July 28-Aug. 7: Glacial Adventures of Alaska

For more details, destinations, or to sign up for any of our trips, visit alumni.utah. edu/travel or call Nanette Richard at 801-581-3708.

Alumni Association Scholarships

Each spring, the University of Utah Alumni Association is honored to award more than half a million dollars of scholarship money to students, ranging from incoming freshmen to graduate students. That amount usually surprises people, and we are often asked where the money comes from. The simple response is: From you, our alumni and friends.

Whether you’re driving with a U license plate or running in our annual Homecoming 5K race, you’re a contributor. Above, we break down the numbers, including the source of funds as well as scholarship recipient and eligibility information.

Class Notes


Dryer.webParker.webRandy Dryer BS’73 JD’76 (L) and Kimball Parker BA’09 (R) have each been recognized with a Fastcase 50 Award, which honors those who have charted a new course for the delivery of legal services. Dryer is a Presidential Honors Professor at the U and a professor in the U’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. Parker is a former lawyer with Quinn Emanuel, one of the country’s top law firms. Dryer and Parker were honored for the work they did in creating a project where students “mapped” the law on a website created by Parker called CO/COUNSEL. Parker’s crowdsourcing platform utilizes topic maps (diagrammed by law students) that are then made public and are open to community editing. The combination of the wisdom of experts and the wisdom of crowds creates new avenues for exploring and understanding the law.

Quinn.webD. Michael Quinn MA’73 won the 2016 Leonard J. Arrington Award, presented annually by the Mormon History Association to a scholar for distinguished and outstanding service to Mormon history. Quinn’s 1987 book Early Mormonism and the Magic World View was described by the selection committee chair as “a prize-winning, imaginative, and pathbreaking study of the relationship between traditional folk magic and early Mormonism.” Quinn’s two biographies of LDS Church President J. Reuben Clark were also praised, and three of his books on the Mormon hierarchy were noted. And although a controversy surrounded his Same Sex Dynamics among 19th Century Americans: A Mormon Example, the book was cited for breaking new ground in Mormon studies.


Lakhtakia.webAkhlesh Lakhtakia MS’81 PhD’83, Charles Godfrey Binder Professor in Engineering Science and Mechanics at the Pennsylvania State University, has been admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, a professional society based in the United Kingdom with more than 50,000 members worldwide. Lakhtakia’s admittance was based on his extensive and fundamental contributions to the optical response characteristics of isotropic chiral materials and to homogenization formalisms for composite materials and metamaterials. His research focuses on electromagnetic fields in complex materials, such as sculptured thin films, chiral materials, and bianisotropy. Since joining Penn State in 1983, Lakhtakia has been honored with numerous awards for his teaching and research.

Nolan.webC. Dane Nolan JD’86 was named 2016 Judge of the Year by the Utah State Bar. Appointed to the Third District Juvenile Court in May 2003 by Gov. Michael O. Leavitt, Nolan serves in Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele counties. Before his appointment, he spent 12 years with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, where he handled child sexual and physical abuse cases and adult sexual assault prosecutions. He was a founding member of the Utah Minority Bar Association and served as chair of the Judicial Conduct Commission. His service has also included five years with the Juvenile Court Board of Judges, with one term as chair. In 2015, he was recognized as the Utah Board of Juvenile Justice Youth Advocate of the Year. Nolan has presided over Utah’s first Juvenile Mental Health Court since 2006.


Pohlman.webJill M. Pohlman BS’93 JD’96 was appointed to the Utah Court of Appeals by Gov. Gary Herbert, and her appointment was confirmed by the Utah State Senate. While attending law school at the U, Pohlman served on the Utah Law Review before graduating Order of the Coif. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable David K. Winder of the United States District Court for the District of Utah. Prior to her current appointment, Pohlman was a partner at the law firm of Stoel Rives LLP in Salt Lake City. She practiced there for 19 years, during which time she maintained a complex civil litigation practice. She was a member of the Utah Supreme Court’s Ethics and Discipline Committee, including serving as panel chair. She also served on the Utah Supreme Court’s Diversion Committee. She currently sits on the Utah Courts Committee on Judicial Outreach.


Conyers.webKate Conyers BA’03 JD’08 MPA’08 has received the distinguished American Inns of Court Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service. The award recognizes excellence in public interest or pro bono activities. Conyers is a felony attorney with the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association, where she has represented hundreds of indigent defendants in all aspects of their criminal cases. She also worked there as a clerk before two stints in private practice, at Snell & Wilmer, LLP, and Lokken and Associates. She has served on the executive committee of Emerging Legal Leaders for the “And Justice for All” program, providing resources to Utah’s nonprofit civil legal aid agencies. She has also volunteered in bar-related programs including Wills for Heroes and Serving Our Seniors.

To submit alumni news for consideration, email

One More

Operation Teapot, 1955. Photo courtesy the National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Test Site Office.

Operation Teapot, 1955. Photo courtesy the National Nuclear Security Administration/Nevada Test Site Office


The 1950s marked the beginning of the U. S. government’s nuclear weapons testing in a remote desert area known as the Nevada Test Site. The explosions created mushroom clouds that could be seen for almost 100 miles. The fallout and radiation traveled far beyond that, with devastating effects to those living downwind. Now, a new Downwinders of Utah Archive, housed at the University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library, depicts the stories of Utah communities adversely affected by the nuclear tests. The interactive collection—which includes audio and video recordings, oral history interviews, maps, and other documents—is available at

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The Dalai Lama Visits the U

Photo by August Miller

Photo by August Miller

The spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, the Dalai Lama spoke to a sold-out crowd at the Huntsman Center at the end of June. President David W. Pershing had the privilege of introducing His Holiness and honored him with a presidential medal and a visor with a U logo, which the Dalai Lama wore through most of his speech.

Addressing more than 8,000 people, the Buddhist leader spoke with enthusiasm, seriousness, and even humor as he shared his message of peace, compassion, and universal responsibility. The 80-year-old Nobel Prize winner explained that man creates violence and destroys peace and that prayer is not the answer, but action is. “Not God, but you have the responsibility to solve problems,” he said. He urged the audience to create a happier, more compassionate world. A peaceful world starts with one person, then families, then whole communities. “That’s the way to change society,” he said. “I feel it in my heart.”

The Dalai Lama explained that his friends who are scientists promise him that the basic human nature is compassion. “This gives me real hope,” he said. “If our basic nature is anger, then no hope.” When asked about climate change, he laughed and said to ask an expert, but offered this comment: “This blue planet is our only home. If it is damaged beyond repair, then we have no other choice but to be responsible for it.”

His main message, the answer to the meaning of life, was simple. “Serving others. Helping others.” Putting his teachings into action, the morning before his speech, the Dalia Lama visited with and blessed patients at the U’s Huntsman Cancer Institute.

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Renowed Ecologist Wins Rosenblatt Prize

_DSC2937James Ehleringer has received the most prestigious faculty award on campus—the Rosenblatt Prize for Excellence. A Distinguished Professor of biology, he was chosen for the $40,000 gift based on his outstanding teaching, research, and administrative efforts.

One of the most influential scientists in the world in plant ecology, Ehleringer was instrumental in developing the use of stable isotopes for ecological, geographical, geological, and anthropological studies. He created the Stable Isotope Ratio Facility for Environmental Research at the U and has been its director since 1984. During nearly 40 years at the U, he has produced more than 470 publications.

Ehleringer has a doctorate in biology from Stanford University and started teaching at the U in 1977. He served as biology department chair from 1993-96, and was made a Distinguished Professor in 2000. From 2009-15, he served as the founding director for the U’s Global Change and Sustainability Center, and he is currently a member of the Office of Sustainability leadership team.

Photo courtesy Kory Mortensen/U Athletic.

Photo courtesy Kory Mortensen/U Athletics

Leader of the Pac

To many college baseball pundits, the Utes did the unthinkable. They won the 2016 Pac-12 championship—in a conference that has produced 28 national champions (including two in the past four years). But what makes this feat truly impressive is the fact that just one year ago, the Utes finished dead last in the conference. It’s the first time a U men’s athletics team has won a Pac-12 championship since joining the conference in 2011 (Utah Gymnastics has won it twice). The title also clinched a berth in the NCAA postseason tournament, only Utah’s second appearance since 1960.

Last year, Utah Baseball won seven conference games. This year, they won eight series versus Pac-12 foes. Utah entered conference play with a 3-11 record. But as the weather warmed up, so did the Utes, starting the season on a 7-2 run and finishing with a program-best 18-11 Pac-12 record. For such a turnaround, Bill Kinneberg was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year, four players were named to the All-Pac-12 Conference team, and three others were honorable mention picks.

The team played in the first round of the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament, where they upset the host school and number one seed Ole Miss, then lost in double elimination to Boston College and Tulane.

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Watch the best plays from the Pac-12 champion baseball team:

Moran Team Treats Patients in Micronesia

Moran sunglassesIn Micronesia, an island nation in the western Pacific, the population is more than 110,000 and the number of people with curable blindness is staggering. In addition to expensive or nonexistent health insurance and a cultural tendency to avoid wearing UV protective sunglasses, Micronesia had no ophthalmologists—until now. Dr. Padwick Gallen, who works at Pohnpei State Hospital, is the country’s only practicing ophthalmologist, thanks, in part, to his training with doctors from the University of Utah’s Moran Eye Center.

In late June, a team from Moran’s Global Outreach Division, led by glaucoma specialist Dr. Craig Chaya, volunteered their time in Pohnpei. Former Moran International Fellow and oculoplastics specialist Dr. Anya Gushchin trained Gallen in dacryocystorhinostomy (DCR) surgery to relieve a chronic condition that causes blocked tear ducts and is prevalent in Micronesia.

Working with Gallen, Moran’s team treated patients with nasolacrimal duct obstruction, cataracts, and pterygium (a growth on the surface of the eye strongly associated with chronic UV light exposure). By the end of their 12-day mission, they had completed 182 eye surgeries, and the smiling patients were wearing—with pride—UV protective sunglasses given to them by the outreach team.

Chemistry Professor Turns Ninja Warrior

IMG_1007-4In May, in front of national television cameras, 44-year-old U chemistry professor Janis Louie, with two degrees and three children behind her, stared down the toughest obstacle course she’d faced yet: American Ninja Warrior. Louie’s journey to the Ninja Warrior stage was a unique combination of athletic discipline, academic dedication, and maternal devotion.

A former gymnast, Louie has always loved to push herself physically and academically. At UCLA, she was a chemistry major and a cheerleader. In grad school at Yale, she delved deeper into chemistry, taught aerobics classes, and picked up bodybuilding.

Fast forward to five years ago, when she started her family while teaching chemistry at the U. “I had triplets, which does a number on your body,” she says. But she was determined to get back in shape, good enough shape that Ninja Warrior actually looked “fun” to her.

You can imagine what the producers thought when they saw on her application that she is a chemistry professor, mother of triplets, and fierce competitor. She was selected, and the intense training began.

“How many times as adults do we get the opportunity to put ourselves in a really uncomfortable situation where you can grow from it?” she says. At the competition, she cleared the first obstacle, but the second one took her out of the running. Her own takeaway from the experience, which she says she’d happily do again: “You’re never too old to try.”

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Watch Janis Louie’s American Ninja Warrior audition tape:


Stadium Gets New Sound System and Scoreboard

Football season just got even more exciting. Ute fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium this fall get to experience a new and greatly improved sound system and video scoreboard. The upgrades take the live game-watching experience up a notch while also reducing the noise disturbance to the surrounding community.

The stadium now has inward-facing speakers along its perimeter, directing sound toward the center of the bowl rather than sending it across the stadium. Previously, all speakers were mounted on the old scoreboard structure. Now there are 130 throughout the stadium, even in the bathrooms.

The freestanding LED scoreboard is 122 feet wide and 64 feet tall, and has 2.6 million pixels, making it one of the bigger boards in the country. It replaced a board that was more than 10 years old and was difficult and expensive to maintain. The screen is placed about 50 feet behind the south end zone to accommodate the possibility of any future changes to that area of the stadium. The $13.5 million for the upgrades was funded by Utah Athletics and Auxiliary Services, not from tuition or state funds.

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Watch a time-lapse of the construction of the new scoreboard:

Recent Appointments

Andrew Weyrich has been named the U’s new vice president for research. Weyrich has been a major contributor to medical research at the U since becoming a faculty member in 1995. Most recently, he was associate dean for research at the School of Medicine, where he helped develop and implement a strategic research plan and oversaw core facilities, recruitment and retention efforts, and graduate programs. He holds an H.A. and Edna Benning Presidential Endowed Chair, a recognition honoring the university’s top medical researchers.

Sherrie Hayashi BS’88 JD’91 is the new director of the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (OEO/AA). In this role, Hayashi also serves as the university’s Title IX and ADA/Section 504 coordinator. Hayashi is deeply committed to the principles of equal opportunity and nondiscrimination. Hayashi came to the U from the State of Utah, where she had served as the Utah labor commissioner since 2006.

H. David Burton BS’67 was unanimously voted in July to lead the University of Utah board of trustees. Burton is an emeritus general authority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and also served as the church’s presiding bishop for 16 years. He has been on the U’s board of trustees since 2013. He has a degree in economics from the U and a master of business administration from the University of Michigan.

Doctoral Student Competes in Paralympics

ParaolympianChristopher Hammer, graduate teaching assistant and doctoral candidate in Exercise and Sport Science at the U, headed to his second Paralympics in September, in Rio. There, he joined the first triathlon event in Paralympic history—as a newbie to the sport.

Born with one hand, Hammer started as a runner. A four-time NCAA academic and track All-American (2006-09), he competed in the 2012 Paralympic Games (1,500 meter and marathon). Since then, he added biking and swimming to his athletic endeavors and dialed back on the running.

Hammer’s motto is: “Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.” It was on a poster above his bed as a kid, he says, and he has internalized its message as an adult.

Also a husband and father, Hammer says he’s gotten good at balancing things in thirds—three events in his sport and three ways his personal life is being pulled. The U has offered him the unique opportunity to perfect that balance. “I’m fortunate to be a student and working toward a degree that will result in a career long after my athletic days are done,” he says. “I’ve also been able to combine my academic and athletic interests in my research, and that has been a rewarding experience.”

Hammer noted that he was looking forward to his second Paralympics and representing Team USA in Brazil. “No matter where we race, it is always a huge honor to wear the red, white, and blue,” he says.

Campus Scene

Breaking Down the Groove

After teaching hip-hop dance at the U for a few years, Sara Pickett MFA’09 realized her students were curious about the backstory and impact of the music and moves. So she started History of Hip-Hop, a unique class that explores hip-hop’s cultural origins and evolution, its sociopolitical underpinnings, and its ties to other art forms. In the two semesters Pickett has taught the class, which is open to all majors, discussions have covered topics from the nature of race to misogyny to white privilege. The course is also infused with movement days featuring guest instructors who teach breaking, West Coast locking and popping, and other hip-hop dance styles.

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Heber Valley, Utah

Heber Valley, Utah

How Climate Change Impacts
Water in the West

We all know that here in the West, we rely on mountain snow for our water supply. We see the white on the peaks diminish in the spring while the streams flood and our reservoirs fill. But many want to know how climate change could interrupt this process.

In a new study published in Environmental Research Letters, a team of hydrologists that includes University of Utah professor Paul Brooks answered that question by simulating isolated climate change effects on Rocky Mountain stream systems on both sides of the continental divide, varying the type of precipitation (rain vs. snow) and the amount of energy (temperature) in the system. The answer, they found, depends less on how water enters the stream watershed, and more on how it leaves.

Climate change can affect mountain streams in two major ways: By raising the overall temperature—increasing evapotranspiration (water lost from both soil and plants)—and by shifting the precipitation from snow to rain. Both impacts could significantly alter the amount of water in a stream watershed and the amount that reaches cities downstream.

So why try to separate the influence of the two factors? “As the climate becomes increasingly more variable, we need to provide water resource managers with specific guidance on how individual warm or wet years, which may not coincide, will influence water supply,” says Brooks. Hydrologists often construct water budgets to account for all the ways water enters and leaves a system. In the case of a mountain stream, water enters as precipitation, but only a portion of this water leaves as streamflow.

In the simulations, when precipitation was changed from snow to rain, the water that would have been stored as snow ran off into the stream faster, decreasing overall streamflow. But warming the systems by 4 degrees Celsius resulted in more evapotranspiration, enough that groundwater had to support streamflow an entire season earlier—beginning in summer rather than in fall—suggesting that warmer temperatures may have more impact on streams.

The effects of these two climate change effects may vary with location, and the results need to be confirmed in real-life environments, but the research helps scientists gain a clearer picture of the future of water, especially in the mountainous west.

The full study can be found here. See the researchers further explain the study here.

Should Pregnant Women get Flu Shots?

SyringeFlu season is approaching, and many pregnant women may be wondering if they should get a flu shot. A new U study shows that getting the flu vaccination while pregnant can significantly reduce the risk of infants getting influenza during their first six months of life. The authors of the study declare that the need for getting more pregnant women immunized is a public health priority.

“Babies cannot be immunized during their first six months, so they must rely on others for protection from the flu during that time,” says the study’s lead author, Julie H. Shakib, University of Utah School of Medicine assistant professor of pediatrics. Influenza results in thousands of deaths each year in the U.S, and pregnant women and young infants are among those at highest risk for dying from flu.

In the study published in Pediatrics online last May, Shakib and colleagues reported that infants age 6 months and younger whose mothers were vaccinated when pregnant had a 70 percent reduction in laboratory-confirmed flu cases and an 80 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations compared with babies whose moms weren’t immunized. Health records showed that 97 percent of laboratory-confirmed flu cases occurred in infants whose moms were not immunized against the disease while pregnant.

See the full news story here.

Repairing Quake-Damaged Bridges Faster

Chris Pantelides. (Photo by Dan Hixson/U College of Engineering).

Chris Pantelides (Photo by Dan Hixson/U College of Engineering)

In just 30 seconds, a devastating earthquake can render a city helpless. With roadways split and bridges severely damaged, residents and emergency personnel can be prevented from moving around to rebuild.

Normally, it takes weeks to repair the cracking or spalling of columns on just one bridge damaged in an earthquake. But a team of researchers led by University of Utah civil and environmental engineering professor Chris Pantelides has developed a new process of fixing columns that takes as little as a few days.

“With this design and process, it is much easier and faster for engineers and crews to rebuild a city ravaged by an earthquake so that critical roadways remain open for emergency vehicles,” Pantelides says. The process is outlined in a recent paper published in the ACI Structural Journal.

See the full news story here.

Survive Extinction: Live Fast, Die Young

survive extintionSome 252 million years ago, a series of Siberian volcanoes erupted and sent the Earth into the greatest mass extinction of all time. As a result of this, billions of tons of carbon entered the atmosphere, radically altering the Earth’s climate. Yet some animals thrived in the aftermath, and scientists now know how.

In a new study published in Scientific Reports, a team of international paleontologists, including postdoctoral scholar Adam Huttenlocker of the U’s Natural History Museum of Utah, demonstrate that ancient mammal relatives known as therapsids adjusted to the drastic climate change by becoming smaller, breeding at younger ages, and having shorter lifespans than their predecessors.

In this study, special attention was paid to the genus Lystrosaurus because of its success in surviving the Permo-Triassic Mass Extinction; it dominated ecosystems across the globe for millions of years during the post-extinction recovery period. “Therapsid fossils like Lystrosaurus are important because they teach us about the resilience of our own extinct relatives in the face of extinction, and provide clues to which traits conferred success on lineages during this turbulent time,” says Huttenlocker.

This change in breeding behavior and species size is not isolated to ancient animals. For example, in the past century, the Atlantic cod has undergone a similar change as industrial fishing has removed most large individuals from the population, shifting the average size of cod significantly downward. Likewise, the remaining individuals are forced to breed as early in their lives as possible.

See the full news story here.

A New Way to Nip HIV in the Bud?

HIV-virusU scientists have found a way to make HIV turn on itself, promising the potential, in about a decade, for new kinds of AIDS drugs with fewer side effects.

When new HIV particles bud from an infected cell, an enzyme named protease activates to help the viruses mature and infect more cells. That’s why modern AIDS drugs control the disease by inhibiting protease. But: “We could use the power of the protease itself to destroy the virus,” says virologist Saveez Saffarian, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at the U and an investigator with the USTAR economic development initiative, and senior author of the study published in PLOS Pathogens.

So-called cocktails or mixtures of protease inhibitors emerged in the 1990s and turned acquired immune deficiency syndrome into a chronic, manageable disease for people who can afford the medicines. But side effects include diarrhea, nausea, rash, stomach pain, liver toxicity, and diabetes. “And the virus becomes resistant to the inhibitors,” says Mourad Bendjennat, a U research assistant professor of physics and astronomy and the study’s first author. “That’s why they use cocktails.”

See the full news story here.

Alum News


At 101, an Alum Recalls Campus Life in the 1930s

By Ann Floor

Life was not easy for American women coming of age in the 1930s. Just as the impacts of World War I were fading, the Great Depression began to take hold. “During those years, there were very few opportunities for women,” says U alumna Leslee Anderson Bond BA’39, known as Elma Anderson when she was a U student. “It was a bleak world with no promising future ahead.”

Leslee’s parents were educated and thoughtful—her mother was a teacher, and her father attended college—but, like so many other Americans, they had hit hard times. The family moved often—from Elsinore, Utah, where Leslee was born in 1915, to the Uinta Basin; Soda Springs, Idaho; and Salt Lake City, where she attended West High. “There wasn’t government help for people who were swept under the rug,” she says. “There were no jobs, unless you were rich and had connections, so my folks moved back to Elsinore.”

Yearbook photo.Web

Leslee “Elma” Anderson Bond in the U’s 1939 Utonian yearbook.

As a child, Leslee was imaginative and loved telling stories. “My family and friends predicted I was going to be a writer. That became my inner wish, my mantra,” she says. “But how was I going to go to a university when my family couldn’t help pay for it?” Fortunately, she was able to earn about $46 cleaning motel rooms in Elsinore during the summer before she started at the U. “My mother made me a skirt from a pair of my dad’s old trousers, a cousin gave me a blouse she was discarding, and a friend gave me a free ride back to Salt Lake,” she recalls. “That and a small scholarship from West High and my family’s prayers gave me the courage to try for a college education and a job as a teacher.”

Once in Salt Lake, she procured a place to work for room and board and got a job on campus, earning enough to cover her tuition, books, and other expenses. “Thank God for our wonderful President Roosevelt,” she says. Leslee credits his programs, supervised at the U by Myrtle Austin, dean of women, with making it possible for thousands of students to work on campus and pay for school.

As a freshman in 1934, Leslee took a geology class from Frederick J. Pack, a well-known geologist. He became her favorite professor. She vividly remembers her first exam in his class. “I was an avid reader of the textbook, and by my standards, I prepared myself very well for that first big test,” she says. “When he gave the exam, I knew all the answers, and wrote and wrote. I was sure it was an A paper.” It came back as a D paper. “Most of us in the class did poorly,” she recalls. “He explained how we didn’t properly evaluate how to read the questions and so we didn’t know how to properly answer them.” Pack’s explanation helped Leslee in all her classes throughout college. “He taught me how to read and take a test,” she says, “I loved his class.”

The following year, Leslee found part-time work at the U’s newly completed library in the George Thomas Building on Presidents Circle (then called the Horseshoe). At the time, Thomas was president of the U. “The first year, I dusted and shelved the books. The second year, I worked in the circulation department. The third year, my duties expanded to include working in the reserves,” she says. “I felt like I was running the library.”

During the time Leslee was a student at the U, from 1934 to 1939, in addition to the George Thomas library building, 61 acres were added to campus from Fort Douglas Reservation (1934); the Graduate School of Social Work was organized (1937); and Carlson Hall (1938) and the Mines Building (1939) were erected. Of the buildings, just the George Thomas remains (and it is currently undergoing a major renovation to house the new Crocker Science Center) .

Leslee graduated in 1939 with a bachelor’s degree in English and got a job organizing a high school library in Salina, Utah. When World War II broke out, she moved to Santa Monica, California, to work for the war effort. Later, she returned to being a librarian and worked at public libraries in Santa Monica, including at a technical library for RCA. She married twice, and has four daughters, four granddaughters, and eight great-grandchildren. Today, Leslee lives in an assisted living community for seniors north of San Francisco.

“Those years I spent at the U were my growing years. The friendships with professors and instructors gave me new depth and understanding,” says Leslee. “It’s where I learned about the possibilities of life and formed a positive philosophy that still carries me forward, even at age 101.”

Alumni Board Welcomes Four New Directors

The Alumni Association has added four new members to its board of directors, as well as electing new presidents for three of the board’s five affiliates. The new directors are Pam Clawson BS’91 MPA’96, Dave Gessel BS’83, Alise Orlandi BS’89, and Ross Romero BS’93.


Pam Clawson

Clawson received both her bachelor’s degree and master’s of public administration from the U. She works as an executive recruiter for Recruiting Connection and serves on the board of the University Hospital Foundation.

Dave G. 5.Web

Dave Gessel

Gessel graduated from the U with a degree in political science and went on to get his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1991. A former member of the Beehive Honor Society board, he is an attorney with the Utah Hospital Association.

Alise Orlandi.Web

Alise Orlandi

Orlandi received a bachelor’s degree in finance from the U. A former member of the association’s L.A. Chapter board, she is currently a homemaker and volunteer with PTA boards and the Junior League of Salt Lake City.

Ross Romero.Web

Ross Romero

Romero received a bachelor’s degree from the U in political science and a law degree from the University of Michigan. A former member of the association’s Young Alumni and Beehive boards, he is a banker at Zions Bank.

The new presidents of the affiliated boards are Shauna Young BS’64, Emeritus Alumni Board; Brian Rosander BS’01 JD’05, Young Alumni Board; and Daniel Folsom, Student Alumni Board. While the Beehive Honor Society is now a committee rather than an affiliated board, its new chair Sammy Fan BS’02 MAcc’05 will also serve on the association’s board of directors.

Friendly Faces to Greet Visiting Football Fans

alumni_ambassadorsA group of Ute fans were so impressed with Notre Dame’s warm welcome to their football stadium in 2010, they initiated efforts to create a U Alumni Ambassador football program to do the same for visiting fans at Rice- Eccles Stadium. The program is taking off this fall, thanks to Alumni Emeritus Board members Mary Thornton BS’71 and Jim Cannon BA’68 (board president) and the director of guest services for Rice-Eccles, Dave Wakefield BA’05. Identifiable by their bright green vests, 80 Alumni Ambassadors are expected to greet and assist visitors at this season’s home games. To find out more, visit

A New Place for Alumni to Call Home

16.05.06 Alumni House [opt 2]_Color Correction.Web
Parker Ence HBS’11 was only 9 years old, but he still remembers his first experience at the University of Utah’s Alumni House. “My cousins and I were playing hide-and-seek when we should have been listening to speeches and toasts at my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration.” Parker didn’t realize the significance of his grandfather choosing to have the party at the Alumni House until he was much older. “I learned that after serving in World War II, my grandfather didn’t have the financial resources to finish his undergraduate degree at the U,” Parker explains. “He returned to school later, and ended up earning his degree at age 40. In fact, he and his oldest daughter, my Aunt Karen, walked at Commencement together.”

Since that night, Parker has added many more memories of his own associated with the Alumni House. “As president of the Student Alumni Board, I schemed ways to beat BYU in our annual food drive competition, helped grow the prestige of The MUSS, and planned Homecoming and many other events,” he recalls. Since 1980, the Alumni House—located at 155 S. Central Campus Drive—has been the on-campus home for alumni such as Parker and his family as well as students and the community. It is also the headquarters for the U’s Alumni Association, which connects the U with more than 265,000 alumni worldwide through a variety of services:

• Engages 17 national alumni chapters and 12 international alumni clubs.

• Raises more than $550,000 each year in student scholarships.

• Runs The MUSS, the U’s famed 6,000-member student athletics fan club.

• Organizes one of the largest annual food drives in the state for the Utah Food Bank.

• Produces and distributes some 270,000 issues annually of Continuum magazine as well as a monthly e-newsletter and various email updates.

• Provides career coaching and professional development opportunities.

Spencer F. Eccles (far left) led the successful campaign to raise funds for the original Alumni House, which opened with this ribbon-cutting ceremony in 1980. Also pictured, from left to right: Afton B. Bradshaw, R.J. Snow, Howard A. Jorgensen, U President David P. Gardner, Anne Decker, and D. Brent Scott.

Spencer F. Eccles (far left) led the successful campaign to raise funds for the original Alumni House, which opened with this ribbon-cutting ceremony in 1980. Also pictured, from left to right: Afton B. Bradshaw, R.J. Snow, Howard A. Jorgensen, U President David P. Gardner, Anne Decker, and D. Brent Scott.

The Alumni House has also served as a meeting and gathering place, hosting more than 500 alumni, campus, and community events every year. It is the venue for awards ceremonies, conferences, campus orientations, service projects, MUSS ticket distribution, and wedding receptions.

With a nearly 40 percent increase in the student population since 1980, entry into the Pac-12, and the U’s growing national and international reputation, the Alumni House can no longer keep up with internal and external demands. A major expansion and renovation is currently under way, thanks to a $4 million lead gift from the Spencer F. and Cleone Peterson Eccles family, and the generosity of other supporters including the O.C. Tanner Charitable Trust, Kem (BA’67 JD’70) and Carolyn Gardner, the Zeke and Kay Dumke family, the Sorenson Legacy Foundation, and Jeff (BS’80) and Helen Cardon.

The new facility will be named in honor of Cleone Peterson Eccles BS’57, an active U alumna and benefactor, former vice president of the Alumni Association, and a 10-year member of the U’s Board of Trustees. In the 1970s, her husband Spencer F. Eccles BS’56 led the successful campaign to raise funds for the original Alumni House. “This gift brings the ongoing, generous involvement of the Spence and Cleone Eccles family ‘full circle’ with our Alumni Association,” says Alumni Association Executive Director M. John Ashton BS’66 JD’69.

The new Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni House belongs to all graduates and friends of the U. It will serve as a new home for generations of Utah alumni. “My closest and most lasting college relationships were forged because of connections I made at the Alumni House,” Parker continues, “including meeting my wife, Laci, and getting my first real job. Although my career has taken our family to Dallas, Texas, the bonds created through the Alumni Association remain strong.”

All alumni and friends are invited to participate in this exciting building transformation as we seek to reach our $10 million fundraising goal. This is a unique moment in the history of the U and the Alumni Association, and a unique opportunity to make your mark or pay tribute to a loved one or mentor. For more information or to make your gift, visit or call 801-585-9021.

Class Notes


HR_july_edwards_crop.WebJohn S. Edwards BS’63 has been inducted into the National Army ROTC Hall of Fame. He is a distinguished alumnus of the U’s Army ROTC program and a longtime journalist. After taking command of an Armored Cavalry Reconnaissance Platoon in the 1960s, Edwards led surveillance and security missions along the east-west German border in the strategic Fulda Gap. After being honorably released from active duty, he commanded a tank company of the 81st Tank Battalion at Fort Douglas, Utah. His 30-year career in broadcast journalism began in Salt Lake City at KUTV. He spent 15 years as news director at KTVX and six years with the U’s Health Sciences Development Office as a director of major gifts and communications. Edwards received a bachelor’s degree in communication and journalism from the U. He is serving his 14th year as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Utah and his 13th year as a member of the U’s Veterans Day Committee.


gloor_2_crop.WebMike Gloor MS’76, Nebraska state senator, has received the Chancellor Robert D. Sparks, M.D. Award in Public Health and Preventive Medicine, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health. The award recognizes outstanding innovation, collaboration, and impact on health promotion, disease prevention, and public health. Gloor is a champion of public health practices and policies that help decrease and prevent smoking. Prior to joining the legislature, Gloor was president and chief executive officer of St. Francis Medical Center and chairman of the Nebraska Hospital Association. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1972 from Hastings College, a master’s degree in human resource management from the U, and a second master’s degree in 1987 from the University of Minnesota.


Fall_tty_baileyserres.WebJulia Bailey-Serres BS’81, a professor of genetics at the University of California, Riverside, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Bailey- Serres was recognized for her excellence in original scientific research, and specifically for her role in the discovery and characterization of a gene that allows rice to survive under water. That gene has subsequently been introduced through breeding by the International Rice Research Institute and others, creating flood-tolerant rice varieties that are grown by more than five million farmers in flood-prone areas of Asia. Bailey- Serres received a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of Science at the University of Utah, and a doctorate from Edinburgh University. She has been a member of the faculty at UC Riverside since 1990.

Carter_Jill.WebJill E. Carter HBA’80 MPA’82 received the Ted Herbert Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Administration from the Utah Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration. The award recognizes Carter’s significant contributions to public administration that have helped make Utah a better state. As one of the principal creators of the Certified Public Manager Program in Utah, Carter was on the team that developed the original curriculum and taught it for many years. She has been a stand-out leader for strengthening the human resource management functions in city, county, and state government, and has taught numerous courses in human resource management for the U. Carter currently is director of human resources for Questar Corporation and continues to teach human resource courses in the U’s master’s in public administration program and Continuing Education department.


HR_june_robinson_crop.WebJennifer Robinson BS’98 MPA’01 PhD’10 was honored with the David Eccles Award for Leadership. Robinson serves as associate director in the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute at the U. She also holds community leadership roles with groups including the Utah Commission on Women and the Economy (a gubernatorial appointment), the U’s Veterans Day Committee, and the Salt Lake Chamber Capitol Club. She is a frequent advisor to legislators, local elected officials, and senior public employees. In her role at the Gardner Institute, she has worked for the past three years to build critical relationships with stakeholders across campus, locally, and statewide. Robinson received a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree in public administration, and a doctorate in political science, all from the U’s College of Social and Behavioral Science.


TTY_fall_Cody_crop.WebCody Broderick MS’15, co-founder and CEO of the translation services company “inwhatlanguage,” has been named Emerging Executive of the Year by the Utah Technology Council, a professional association for high-tech industries. Using their proprietary cloud-based translation management system Unify, Broderick and his team provide businesses with opportunities to reach their target audience in more than 160 languages, across virtually any platform and any file format. As an industry leader for the past 10 years, Broderick has shown a strong understanding of quality translations and software development. He received his master’s degree in information technology from the U.

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From left to right (foreground), Dr. Jewel Samadder; Vice President Joe Biden; Jon Huntsman, Jr.; Senator Orrin Hatch; and Dr. Mary Beckerle. Photo courtesy AJF Photography.

From left to right (foreground), Dr. Jewel Samadder; Vice President Joe Biden; Jon Huntsman, Jr.; Senator Orrin Hatch; and Dr. Mary Beckerle. Photo courtesy AJF Photography.

Vice President Joe Biden Seeks Input
at Huntsman Cancer Institute

The Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) hosted Vice President Joe Biden in February, taking him on a facilities tour and giving him a chance to discuss eradicating cancer with other local leaders.

During his visit, the vice president got an inside look at the Utah Population Database and participated in a roundtable discussion with Huntsman Cancer Foundation board chairman Jon Huntsman, Jr.; CEO and director of HCI Dr. Mary Beckerle; Senator Orrin Hatch; and local cancer survivors and physicians.

HCI manages the largest genetics database in the world, with more than 22 million records linked to genealogies, health records, and vital statistics. Biden expressed a desire to figure out how this and other models of excellence created here could be reproduced. “If this could be a model that would be replicated throughout the country and the world, I honest to God believe that we would make exponential progress,” he said.

The vice president’s visit was part of a national “listening tour” of the nation’s top cancer institutes. Biden heads up the White House‘s “Moonshot” initiative to double the rate of progress toward curing cancer. In April, Beckerle was invited to participate in the Moonshot initiative as a member of a new Blue Ribbon Panel tasked with advising the National Cancer Advisory Board.

The fight against cancer is both a public and personal quest for Biden, who lost his son Beau to brain cancer last year.

NBA-Bound Jakob Poeltl Named Pac-12 Player of the Year

Jakob Poeltl in action against Cal in the Pac-12 Tournament on March 11. Photo courtesy Utah Athletics Communications.

Jakob Poeltl in action against Cal in the Pac-12 Tournament on March 11. Photo courtesy Utah Athletics Communications.

The decision last year to put off the NBA draft to play another season paid off for both Jakob Poeltl and the Runnin’ Utes basketball team. In March, Poeltl was named Pac-12 Player of the Year. Teammate Brandon Taylor also received recognition as Pac-12 Scholar-Athlete of Year. Both players helped lead Utah to a 24–7 overall record and 13–5 league mark that earned the Utes second place in the Pac-12 standings for the second straight season.

Poeltl, a sophomore from Austria, averaged 17.5 points and 9.1 rebounds, and shot 66 percent from the field during the regular season. Standing seven feet tall, Poeltl is the ninth Ute to win a conference player of the year award in men’s basketball, and the first in the Pac-12 era. He ended the regular season as the league’s No. 2 scorer, No. 3 rebounder, and No. 5 shot-blocker.

Poeltl is also the recipient of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award for being the best center in men’s college basketball. He was selected as the Pete Newell Big Man of the Year, and named as an All-American by the AP, CBS Sports, ESPN, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NBC Sports, and USA Today.

In April, Poeltl announced that he’s entering the NBA draft. “Staying a second year made me a better player,” he says. “But I know now that declaring for the draft is the best thing for my career at this point.” In a gesture to say both goodbye and thank you, the U framed his jersey (No. 42) as a keepsake and presented it to Poeltl at the press conference where he made the announcement.

U Forms First Regional School of Dance

Dance image 2nd optionIn July, the departments of Ballet and Modern Dance will unite to form the first School of Dance in the Intermountain region and one of only a handful across the nation. Housed under this new administrative structure, the individual disciplines of ballet and modern dance will continue their esteemed legacies, with expanded opportunities for collaboration.

“Our two dance disciplines have a long tradition of excellence and prominence here in the state and across the world,” says College of Fine Arts Dean Raymond Tymas-Jones. “The world of dance has evolved dramatically since the departments’ founding 60 years ago… this structural shift is necessary for the next iteration of our legacy of success.”

The most significant change will be seen on the administrative side. The new structure preserves the individuality of each discipline and facilitates greater interdisciplinary education and research opportunities across multiple dance genres. The School of Dance will continue to award degrees, certificates, and minors in the specialized disciplines of ballet and modern dance.

This change comes after several years of thoughtful discussion and with support of the faculties of the two disciplines. It will be the second school in the College of Fine Arts, joining the School of Music alongside the departments of Art & Art History, Film & Media Arts, and Theatre.

New Dean Takes the Reins at School of Dentistry

DentistryThe University of Utah welcomes Wyatt Rory Hume as the new dean of the School of Dentistry. Hume has led dental schools and served in top posts at universities in Australia, the Middle East, and the University of California school system for more than 30 years.

“Dr. Hume brings a depth and breadth of international experience as a leader that is both rare and impressive,” says Vivian S. Lee, Utah’s senior vice president for health sciences and CEO of University Health Care. “I look forward to seeing him lead us to become a top-10 program in the next decade.”

Hume received his dental and doctoral degrees from the University of Adelaide in South Australia and then went to the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Medicine as a postdoctoral fellow in pharmacology. “This is a unique and very appealing opportunity to continue the process of building a great school of dentistry within the vibrant and successful academic and health care environment that exists at the University of Utah,” says Hume.

The School of Dentistry welcomed its first class in August 2013 and moved into its new facility, the Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences Building, in April 2015. The school’s first class graduates in 2017.

Guggenheim Fellowships Awarded to Two Humanities Professors

Nadja Durbach

Nadja Durbach

Melanie Rae Thon

Melanie Rae Thon

Two University of Utah professors received 2016 fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Nadja Durbach, professor of history, received an award for European and Latin American history, and Melanie Rae Thon, professor of English, was recognized in the field of fiction writing.

Created in 1925, the Guggenheim Fellowships are awarded to those who have made impressive accomplishments in their respective fields and exhibit exceptional promise for the future. For 2016, the foundation received nearly 3,000 applications. “The Guggenheim Fellowship is among the most prestigious forms of recognition available to scholars,” says Dianne Harris, dean of the College of Humanities.

Durbach is a historian of modern Britain who specializes in the history of the body. Educated at the University of British Columbia and Johns Hopkins University, she joined the U in 2000. During her Guggenheim Fellowship, Durbach will be working on a monograph titled “Many Mouths: State-Feeding in Britain from the Workhouse to the Welfare State.”

As a teacher and writer, Thon is devoted to the celebration of diversity from a multitude of perspectives by interrogating the repercussions of exile, slavery, habitat loss, genocide, and extirpation. Her most recent books are Silence & Song and The 7th Man. She is also the author of the novels The Voice of the River, Sweet Hearts, Meteors in August, and Iona Moon.

Law Dean Runs 100-Mile Race for New Initiative

Robert Adler Law School RunningKudos to Dean Bob Adler for completing a 100-mile race in April to raise scholarship funds and awareness for the College of Law’s 100/100 initiative. The initiative sets an ambitious goal of attaining 100 percent bar passage for first-time takers and 100 percent full-time professional employment for new graduates. Adler blogged about his training for months, challenging the community to get involved in the initiative. Several students accompanied Adler during the last eight miles of the race, which took place just outside of Zion National Park.

Photo courtesy Sanford Meek.

Photo courtesy Sanford Meek.

U Sponsors Raging Robotics War

In March, the Maverik Center in West Valley City was turned into a giant robotics battlefield with blockades, catapults, and cardboard castles. The U’s College of Engineering sponsored the 2016 Utah Regional FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition, which attracted more than 40 high school teams from 12 states and Canada. The teams had two months to design and create robots to specific standards and then two days to battle it out. The event, which saw more than 5,000 people in attendance this year, is designed to get kids interested in engineering, programming, and science.