February 2012

Campus All-Stars

Dana Carroll, Ph.D., a University of Utah professor of biochemistry, has been chosen for the 2012 Novitski Prize, an award from the Genetics Society of America (GSA) that recognizes “extraordinary creativity and intellectual ingenuity in solving significant problems.” He is being honored for developing a method that improves the efficiency of gene targeting, a technique pioneered at the University that revolutionized the study of mammalian biology and earned U geneticist Mario R. Capecchi, Ph.D., a share in the 2007 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine. Carroll served as chair of the U’s Department of Biochemistry for 24 years, stepping down in 2009.


Chemist Edward M. “Ted” Eyring was honored in the academia category of the 2011 Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology. Eyring, an award-winning professor of chemistry, is a world-renowned expert in physical and analytical chemistry. During his 50-year career at the U, he pioneered new experimental methods to study the rates of chemical reactions of metal ions in solution. He also was the first to develop a powerful new method to probe for chemical interactions occurring on solid surfaces. That work led to his current research in developing new catalytic materials that improve the speed and efficiency of chemical reactions. The Governor’s Medal award program was initiated in 1987 to recognize those who made career achievements and/or provided distinguished service that has benefited the State of Utah and the country in the areas of science and technology.  

KUED senior producer John Howe and his documentary Horses of the West have received the Cine Golden Eagle Award for excellence in nonfiction documentary production for 2011. (In the scene shown at right, Justin Ekker works at the state prison in Gunnison, Utah, to train wild horses, which will be offered for adoption.) Professionally judged by national television programmers and producers, the Golden Eagle is awarded to programs that represent “the industry’s highest standards of production quality and integrity.” Howe is a multiple Golden Eagle recipient, and his 2011 selection places him, KUED (the University of Utah’s public television network), and Horses of the West in the company of National Geographic Films, PBS NewsHour, and HBO documentaries. Horses of the West will be presented nationwide in March.

Sabine C. Klahr, director of the University of Utah’s International Center, has been elected to serve as president-elect for the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA): Leaders in International Higher Education. AIEA is a professional association for senior international education administrators who are responsible for internationalization of their institutions or those in senior positions in organizations or companies supporting internationalization at higher education institutions. Klahr begins her three-year term of the presidential stream this month during the annual AIEA conference in Washington, D.C.

Joyce Mitchell, who chairs the University of Utah’s Department of Biomedical Informatics, has been appointed to a select council that advises the National Institutes of Health regarding the agency’s strategic initiatives and research direction. Mitchell is among six experts named to the 27-member Council of Councils, which helps guide NIH’s Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI). Mitchell, who also serves the University as associate vice president for health-sciences information technology, is a member of the National Library of Medicine board, whose interests she will represent on the NIH council.

University of Utah Department of Pediatrics professors Nancy Murphy, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, and Victoria Wilkins, M.D., M.P.H., visiting instructor of pediatrics, have been selected to join the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Innovation Advisors Program. The two will work with the Innovation Advisors and CMS Innovation Center to drive improvements in patient care and reduce costs. Each receives a $20,000 stipend to support their activities in the program. As the immediate past chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Children with Disabilities, Murphy is founder and director of the Pediatric Special Care Program at Primary Children’s Medical Center, a unique service of subspecialty care for children with complex, chronic conditions who are dependent on technology for their ongoing care. As a young researcher, Wilkins is looking forward to acquiring new skills and refining existing ones as she embarks on a new research project to improve communication between physicians and parents of pediatric patients upon discharge from the hospital.

Nalini Nadkarni, a professor in the University of Utah’s Department of Biology and director of its Center for Science and Math Education, is being honored by the world’s largest general science society—the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) —with the group’s 2011 Public Engagement with Science Award. The award recognizes “her unique, persistent and innovative public engagement activities that have served to raise awareness of environmental and conservation issues with a broad and exceedingly diverse audience.” Nadkarni’s efforts include establishing the successful Sustainable Prisons Project, which brings science to incarcerated men and women in state prison; an initiative resulting in the creation of Tree-Top Barbie™ as a strategy for teaching girls about the possibilities of careers in science; and the acclaimed 2008 book Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections to Trees.

Jennifer Robinson has been appointed director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration (CPPA) in the University of Utah’s College of Social and Behavioral Science. Robinson has spent the last year as interim director of the center, which has offered research, education, and consultation services to government and nonprofit entities since 1946. She coauthored Native Vote: American Indians, the Voting Rights Act, and the Right to Vote, with Susan Olson and Dan McCool in 2007; and is co-editor with W. David Patton of The Rise of the West in Presidential Elections, published in 2010 by The University of Utah Press. As director, she will oversee the research, outreach, and evaluation units of the CPPA. 

Mathematician Hugo Rossi was honored in the education category of the 2011 Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology. Rossi is a professor emeritus of mathematics and senior associate director of the University of Utah’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education. His distinguished career in mathematics began more than 50 years ago, and he has had a significant impact in science and math education at the U. Rossi was instrumental in creating the master of science program for secondary school teachers; and he established the ACCESS Program for Women in Science and Mathematics, which helps to prepare high school girls for university science, math, and engineering programs. Rossi also developed innovative online courses that infuse technology into science and math classrooms across Utah. Rossi twice served as dean of the U’s College of Science (1987-1989 and 1990-1993).

Keith Sterling has been named communications director at the University of Utah. Sterling was formerly chief spokesman for the city of Burbank, Calif., where he oversaw a major revamp of the city’s website and other public relations tools while also guiding the city through a maze of major news events, including revelations that the FBI had launched a probe into misconduct at the Burbank Police Department. Before joining Burbank, Sterling held public information officer positions for Scottsdale (Ariz.) Unified School District and in a suburb of Tulsa, Okla. He has also worked as a television news anchor. His wife, a freelance television journalist, has accepted a position at the ABC affiliate in Salt Lake City.

Michele Straube, an attorney with more than 15 years of experience in mediation and facilitation in Utah, has been named the first director of the new Environmental Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program at the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law.  The program will focus on environmental, natural resources, and public land issues at the law school’s Wallace Stegner Center. Straube has a long history of working to resolve environmental and natural resources conflicts in the western United States.

Sylvia Torti PhD’98 has been named the new dean of the University of Utah’s Honors College. Torti comes from an eclectic background of biology, writing, engineering, and history, with goals to develop a community of students and integrate science into the honors curriculum. Torti first came to the U in 1993 to pursue a graduate degree in tropical biology. After working at Red Butte Garden for two years, she left in 2003 to finish her novel The Scorpion’s Tail. Recently, Torti worked with the Rio Mesa Center, the U’s field interdisciplinary education center northeast of Moab, where she says she loved seeing how different departments came together to complete research. Torti’s deanship will herald in the new Marriott Honors Residential Scholars Community, as the dorm begins its inaugural semester in the fall.


Find out more about University of Utah faculty, staff and student achievements here, a U webpage created to showcase their outstanding efforts and congratulate the honorees and recipients for their excellence.

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