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News of the University


One University of Utah professor hopes his new invention will eradicate lice, the scourge of schoolchildren everywhere.

by Randy Harward

When biology professor Dale Clayton joined the University of Utah in 1996, his studies focused on parasites in birds. But a key discovery altered the course of his research. “Birds in Utah and especially Arizona have fewer lice than the same species of bird in more humid regions of the country,” says Clayton. He explains that the arid climate in both states isn’t conducive to the parasites’ proliferation, an observation “that led to the idea that maybe one could treat head lice in humans by drying them out.”

Biology Professor Dale Clayton demonstrates the LouseBuster on his daughter, Miriam.

In 2001, Clayton and undergrads Joseph Atkin and Kevin Wilding invented a device based on this hyphothesis, which they named the LouseBuster. They tested two configurations of their creation along with other combinations of heat (bonnet dryers, wall-mounted hand dryers, handheld hair dryers) and combing techniques on school children. The LouseBuster produced the best results, killing 98 percent of eggs and 80 percent of hatched lice, leaving the remaining lice shell-shocked and unlikely to breed.

Resembling a canister vacuum, the LouseBuster flows low heat through a hose that leads to a hand-held segment with comb-like teeth. These teeth lift the hair and allow the hot air to get to the lice and eggs. “It’s sort of like raking long grass toward you while somebody blasts a leaf blower [in the opposite direction],” Clayton says.

Clayton helped form a University of Utah spinoff company, Larada Sciences, to develop the LouseBuster for use in schools and clinics. “There’s a big push to commercialize it,” he says. And no doubt schoolchildren and their parents will be clambering to get ahold of one.

Campus Notebook

Science Dean Stepping Down Peter J. Stang is stepping down as dean of the College of Science on June 30, 2007, remaining on the faculty as Distinguished Professor of Chemistry. Originally from Nuremberg, Germany, Stang joined the University of Utah in 1969 and became dean in 1997. During his tenure as dean, he established the John E. and Marva M. Warnock Endowed Chair in Mathematics, and oversaw construction and dedication of the new David M. Grant NMR Center in 2006, among other accomplishments. The search for a new dean is under way.

Pharmacy College Receives Major Gift The U’s College of Pharmacy has received a $20 million donation from The ALSAM Foundation to assist with the design and construction of a new research and education building. The new facility will be located adjacent—and connected—to the current pharmacy building, which opened in 1965. The college plans to raise an additional $50 million for its new building, with most of the funding coming from private donations.

New CEO Takes Helm at U of U Hospitals & Clinics David Entwistle has been named the new chief executive officer of University of Utah Hospitals & Clinics. Prior to coming to the U, Entwistle was senior vice president and chief operating officer of the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics. He is a graduate of Brigham Young University and received a master’s degree in health services administration from Arizona State University. Entwistle replaces Richard A. Fullmer, who died in February 2006.

Library Receives $5 Million Pledge for Renovation The Marriott Library recently received a $5 million pledge for its Renovation-Innovation capital campaign from the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation. This marks the second major pledge the Marriott family has granted to the library’s renovation project, which broke ground in June 2005. Pledges from the Marriott family total more than $12 million to date, and the Marriott gift brings total project funding to $69 million, with $8 million more to raise.

Gift of Adobe Stock Will Help EMCB Renovation John E. Warnock BS’61 MS’64 PhD’69 and Marva M. Warnock BS’66 have gifted 30,000 shares of Adobe stock to the University of Utah for the renovation of the 60,000-square-foot Engineering and Mines Classroom Building (EMCB). The Adobe stock, currently valued at over $1 million, is in addition to the Warnocks’ $6 million gift in 2003 toward the construction of a new engineering building. The 20-year-old EMCB serves as the foundation for the classroom portion of the new building, which opened in February. In recognition of their total support, the entire 160,000-square-foot structure encompassing both the new and existing buildings has been designated The John E. and Marva M. Warnock Engineering Building.

Lehtinen Leaves the U After nearly 30 years with the U, Toni Lehtinen BA’74, executive director of donor stewardship in the Development Office, is leaving the University in March, taking a position as director of Communications and Grants Management at the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. During her three decades at the U, Lehtinen was instrumental in guiding the University’s development efforts during the most explosive period of growth in the school’s history.

In Memoriam

Robert Walter Parry, 89, former U of U Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and professor emeritus since 1997.


Four of the seven winners of the 2006 Utah Governor’s Medal in Science and Technology are University of Utah faculty: Medicinal chemist Glenn Prestwich, materials scientist and engineer Anil Virkar, physicist Pierre Sokolsky, and metallurgical engineer Jan Miller. The award recognizes those individuals who have provided distinguished service to the State of Utah in the fields of science and technology.

Students and graduates from the University of Utah School of Computing dominated the competition at a computer programming contest organized by Berkeley Data Systems, Inc. Computer programmers throughout Utah competed for a $10,000 first prize and the title of “Utah’s Best Programmer.” Of the eight finalists, five were University of Utah School of Computing graduates or students, including Brian Palmer BS’06, Peter Jensen BS’95, a School of Computing instructor, and three members of the University’s Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute: McKay Davis (currently a senior), Michael Callahan BS’94, and Bryan Worthen BS’02 (with Honors). All eight programmers came up with equivalent solutions, so each earned bragging rights and a $1,250 share of the $10,000 prize.

University of Utah School of Architecture + Planning students Matthew T. Hintze and Michael Dolan won first and second place respectively in the Metal Construction Association’s ninth annual Student Competition. The pair snagged top honors among a field of 123 designs for a new beach house, waterfront amphitheater, observation tower, and restaurant to be located at Montrose Harbor, about six miles north of downtown Chicago.

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