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Notebook 2021

Notebook Magazine


If you wish to receive Notebook magazine directly, please contact development@science.utah.edu to be added to our print or electronic mailing lists.

MORE PUBLICATIONS


 

Our DNA 2021

Featured: Plant pandemics, birdsong, retiring faculty, and more.

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Discover 2020

Features Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics Research, Overcoming Covid, and Lab Safety.

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AfterMath 2020

Featured: 50 Years of Math, Sea Ice, and Faculty and Staff recognition.

Read More
Our DNA 2020

Featured: Stories on e-birders, retiring faculty, remote learning, and more.

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Spectrum 2020

Featured: 3D maps of the Universe, Perovskite Photovoltaics, and Dynamic Structure in HIV.

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Notebook 2020

Featured: Convocation, Alumni, Student Success, and Rapid Response Research.

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Our DNA 2020

Featured: Stories on Fruit Flies, Forest Futures and Student Success.

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Catalyst 2020

Featured: Transition to Virtual, 2020 Convocation, Graduate Spotlights, and Awards.

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Spectrum 2020

Featured: Nuclear Medicine, PER Programs, and NSF grant for Quantum Idea Incubator.

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Discover 2019

Features the Science Research Initiative, College Rankings, Commutative Algebra, and more.

Read More
Spectrum 2019

Featured: Nuclear Medicine, PER Programs, and NSF grant for Quantum Idea Incubator.

Read More
Notebook 2019

Featured: The New Faces of Utah Science, Churchill Scholars, and Convocation 2019.

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Catalyst 2019

Featured: Endowed Chairs of Chemistry, Curie Club, and alumnus: Victor Cee.

Read More
Our DNA 2019

Featured: Ants of the World, CRISPR Scissors, and Alumni Profile - Nikhil Bhayani.

Read More
Catalyst 2019

Featured: Methane- Eating Bacteria, Distinguished Alumni, Student and Alumni profiles.

Read More
Spectrum 2019

Featured: Molecular Motors, Churchill Scholar, Dark Matter, and Black Holes.

Read More
Our DNA 2019

Featured: The Startup Life, Monica Gandhi, Genomic Conflicts, and alumna Jeanne Novak.

Read More
AfterMath 2018

Featured: A Love for Puzzles, Math & Neuroscience, Number Theory, and AMS Fellows.

Read More
Discover 2018

The 2018 Research Report for the College of Science.

Read More
Spectrum 2018

Featured: Dark Matter, Spintronics, Gamma Rays and Improving Physics Teaching.

Read More
Catalyst 2018

Featured: Ming Hammond, Jack & Peg Simons Endowed Professors, Martha Hughes Cannon.

Read More

Birds of the Philippines

What factors put Philippine birds at risk of extinction?

The lush forests and more than 7,000 islands of the Philippines hold a rich diversity of life, with 258 bird species who live nowhere but the Philippine archipelago. A new study from University of Utah researchers suggests that, due to deforestation and habitat degradation, more bird species may be endangered than previously thought—including species that may not have been discovered yet. The study is published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.

“Our study provides a roadmap for not only which species may warrant heightened conservation attention,” says Kyle Kittelberger, a doctoral student in the University of Utah School of Biological Sciences. “But which traits a species may have that can help inform if it may likely be more at risk of extinction.”

Birds of the Philippines

Phillippine Frogmouth

Located in Southeast Asia, the Philippines is considered a global biodiversity hotspot and one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, hosting nearly 600 bird species. A high proportion of the wildlife is endemic to the country, meaning that it is found nowhere else. The Philippines also hosts some of the highest richness of species recently identified as distinct from other closely related species, showing that scientists still have much to learn about the Philippine ecosystems.

Within the last decade the number of endemic species has risen from 172 to 258. This increase of 86 endemic species is more than all the endemic bird species in China (67) or India (75) and more than any country in South America or Africa.

Çağan Şekercioğlu, an associate professor in the School of Biological Sciences who has done ornithological field work in over 90 countries on all continents cannot forget his first visit to the islands.

“When I first visited the Philippines in 2008, I was awestruck by the diversity and especially the endemism of its avifauna but also greatly depressed by the rapid loss of habitat,” he says. Excursions into the field took hours due to extensive deforestation. “While looking for rare forest birds in the lowlands of Mindanao, we were literally trying to keep ahead of the loggers that were cutting down century-old rainforest trees within a couple hundred meters of us,” he adds. Despite that, in 13 days he saw 161 bird species he had never seen before—and still has 163 bird species to go.

Deforestation, habitat degradation and wildlife exploitation, however, threaten that biodiversity. Southeast Asia, the authors write, is forecast to lose over a third of its biodiversity over the next century. The Philippines in particular ranks eighth in the world for the number of globally threatened bird species.

“There is a pressing need to assess what traits make some species more at risk of extinction than others and to use this understanding to help inform conservation efforts,” Kittelberger says.

Traits of threatened birds

To understand the status of Philippine birds, the researchers first determined the bird traits most predictive of extinction risk by correlating bird species’ ecological and life-history traits, including body mass, diet, elevation range, and clutch size (the number of eggs laid in a nesting season) with their conservation status. A species endemic to the Philippines was significantly more likely to face an extinction risk, they found. Narrow elevation ranges, dependence on forests and high body mass also put birds at risk for extinction.

Philippine Serpent-eagle

Then the researchers turned around and evaluated Philippine birds’ expected conservation status using those traits, comparing predicted conservation status with the IUCN Red List conservation designations. They found that 84 species were predicted to be in worse shape than their Red List designation, with 14 species predicted to be globally threatened (i.e. vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered) that aren’t currently classified as such.

“We predicted that the Philippine Serpent-eagle and Writhed Hornbill, two species that are not currently recognized as being globally threatened, are respectively endangered and critically endangered,” Kittelberger says. “We also predicted that the Palawan Peacock-pheasant, Calayan Rail and Philippine Eagle-owl, three species currently recognized internationally as being vulnerable, are likely endangered species. All these birds, therefore, warrant heightened conservation attention as they may be more threatened than currently believed.”

Lost before they’re found

Among the 84 species predicted to be more threatened, 12 were recently recognized as separate species, and three of those were predicted to be “vulnerable.”

Palawan Peacock-pheasant

“The Philippines have a very high level of endemism and it is currently estimated that there are twice as many bird species in the Philippines that have not yet been split and officially recognized, so there is a real risk of losing species before they are described,” Kittelberger says.

Kittelberger says that their research can be applied broadly to assess the conservation status of birds throughout the region.

“The most important thing that the Philippines can do to protect birds,” Kittelberger says, “is to address the high levels of deforestation, habitat degradation, and wildlife exploitation, and to increase land protection for wildlife and increase funding for conservation efforts.”

Find the full study at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fevo.2021.664764/full 

Co-authors also include Montague H. C. Neate-Clegg, J. David Blount and Çağan Şekercioğlu of the U’s School of Biological Sciences, Mary Rose C. Posa of the California Botanic Garden and John McLaughlin of the University of California, Santa Barbara. The study was supported by the Christensen Fund.

 

By Paul Gabrielsen, first published in @theU

Getting Started

Internship Resources & Recognition


Internships are a great way to gain skills and experience, learn about a possible future career, and network. While internships can be great experiences on their own, we have created some ways to make the experience even better.

 

Earn an Internship Badge!

Earn a College of Science Internship Completion Badge!

Digital badges are a way to show verified skills and accomplishments. They can be shared on most digital platforms including webpages, digital portfolios, online resumes, LinkedIn, and other social media sites. Connections and potential employers can then view not only the badge image, but the credentials it takes to earn the badge through the Acclaim open badge system. To earn a badge, you need to do the following:

  • Successfully complete an internship under a designated supervisor. The internship can be part of the COS facilitated internship program, from the jobs & opportunities board, or from anywhere else. It simply needs to be a career-building experience and a minimum of 100 total hours spent on internship activities.
  • Attend a College of Science Internship Program Orientation
  • Present at a College of Science Internship Symposium

Badging Process Steps:

  1.  Complete the Start the Badging Process form
  2. The internship coordinator will contact you to schedule your orientation. (All Fall 2020 orientations will be conducted virtually.)
  3. Present at a College of Science Internship Program Symposium. These are held at the end of each semester and the internship coordinator will work with you to determine which symposium will work best for you.
  4. The internship coordinator will verify your experience with your host supervisor
  5. Your badge will be issued!

The College of Science Internship Orientation covers internship and university resources, internship safety, professionalism, how to get the most out of your internship experience, and next steps in your career journey. Orientations are scheduled at the beginning of each semester. Students can also schedule an orientation session with the internship coordinator later in the semester if the main orientation times do not work with their schedules. When possible, students are encouraged to attend an orientation before the start of their internship or near the beginning of their experience. This will allow them to get the most out of the orientation itself and their internship experience as a whole. Orientation must be completed at least one month before the student’s scheduled symposium date.

The College of Science Internship Symposium allows students to present and reflect on their internship experience while improving their communication and presentation skills. The format may change from semester to semester based on the current safety guidelines and types of internship experiences, but will typically include a 5-minute presentation on the internship experience in front of an audience.


>> INTERNSHIPS HOME <<

 

 

Project Overview

Project Overview


Designed by the firm of Young & Hansen, construction was begun in early 1918.

While the building was under construction, it was used as temporary housing for soldiers during WWI as there was a cooperative agreement between the Army and the University to house military personnel during the war.

Although its original use was as temporary housing, it was intended to be used as the Stewart Training School after WWI. This building housed the Stewart Training School from 1919 until 1966. It was officially named the William M. Stewart Building in 1968.

1999 Reunion

The class of 1933 returns to campus.

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History of the Stewart Building

The history of the William Stewart building.

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Architectural Details

The University of Utah Science Corridor.

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Architectural Details

Architectural Details


Designed by the firm of Young & Hansen, construction was begun in early 1918.

While the building was under construction, it was used as temporary housing for soldiers during WWI as there was a cooperative agreement between the Army and the University to house military personnel during the war.

Although its original use was as temporary housing, it was intended to be used as the Stewart Training School after WWI. This building housed the Stewart Training School from 1919 until 1966. It was officially named the William M. Stewart Building in 1968.

>> back <<

 

History of the Stewart Building

Stewart Building


Designed by the firm of Young & Hansen, construction was begun in early 1918.

While the building was under construction, it was used as temporary housing for soldiers during WWI as there was a cooperative agreement between the Army and the University to house military personnel during the war.

Although its original use was as temporary housing, it was intended to be used as the Stewart Training School after WWI. This building housed the Stewart Training School from 1919 until 1966. It was officially named the William M. Stewart Building in 1968.

>> back <<

 

Staff: Cyri Dixon

physics advisor cyri dixon wins outstanding new advisor Award


 

The College of Science is pleased to announce that Cyri Dixon received the New Outstanding Advisor Award for 2021. Cyri is an advisor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy.

Comments from students and faculty:

Cyri is an incredible advocate for students. She is kind and thoughtful and makes you feel comfortable expressing your feelings about things. She is the best physics advisor I have had. ~student comment

Thanks for everything you do. People like you make the world turn.~Dr. Rich Ingebretsen, faculty

Whenever I am worried about a student, Cyri knows what is going on or knows what to do to address the problem. Thank you Cyri for your help, patience and for caring about all our students. ~Dr. Tugdual Stephan Lebohec, faculty

Cyri has been a terrific advisor for me. She has always been available for chats or emails and been quick to respond to all of my questions, even unusual or specific ones that are only tangentially related to completing a physics degree. After every meeting I’ve had with her I tell my wife, “she’s a great advisor.” I think Cyri absolutely deserves this award. ~student comment

Cyri is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She is very quick to respond to any questions, she’s always willing to help out no matter what. She has always been able to help me out with whatever I have needed. She’s very easy to talk to and she makes you feel like you can do just about anything. ~student comment

The College of Science and the Department of Physics & Astronomy appreciate the exceptional performance Cyri Dixon brings to her role every day. Her impact is felt through the College and across the University. Congrats, Cyri!

 

Todd B. Alder

Todd Alder


Todd B. Alder contracted COVID-19 early on in the pandemic and today still suffers from residual effects. But being just a “long hauler” as opposed to the alternative is what he calls being “lucky.” Says Alder, “Like many of us (I am guessing), this virus has disrupted my life with family and friends, my law practice, and my ability to travel. But on the plus side, I am really enjoying the Zoom calls where I am wearing a dress shirt and tie on top and something very questionable on the bottom.”

It's a scenario of late that many of us find ourselves experiencing (working on Zoom, not necessarily being pant-less), but the light touch that this biologist-turned-patent-attorney has towards not only the pandemic but work and life itself is evident. And so is his generosity. In April Alder was a featured alum in the School of Biological Sciences’ BioLuminaries speaker series (on Zoom, of course). As a registered patent attorney and partner at Thorpe North and Western (TNW) in Sandy, Alder illuminated the circuitous path one can take as a biology student toward fulfillment and job security… not to mention the love of chihuahuas.

More on that later.

The Road Less Traveled

Alder points to his PhD advisor, SBS’s Gary Rose, as the mentor who gave him “great direction over the years, particularly when I was stuck.” At the time Rose’s lab primarily focused on the neurophysiology of electrosensory systems in electric fish. Alder took an alternate path to study neuronal mechanisms underlying temporal processing in the auditory midbrain, a subject related to Rose’s PhD dissertation from a decade earlier. It was Rose’s broad way of thinking about science, research and the labyrinth that is life and career that still benefits Alder today.

“My dissertation was very broad over some fairly diverse scientific disciplines. This would not have been possible without Gary's early influence in teaching that young graduate student to not only see the world in a different way, but to approach problems and question them in a different way as well. I will always be grateful to Gary for helping me to see that there are no isolated questions or problems in science, but that everything has a much broader context and, as Robert Frost wrote, ‘that has made all the difference.’"

That difference played out while Alder was at the U in a remarkably refreshing and surprising way. “I was recording from a neuron in the midbrain of an anuran amphibian,” he explains, “and I thought of a test to further understand how these particular neurons worked.” Normally, neurons are not held in a stable state long enough for the kind of procedure Alder was planning. “But I stopped the program that was making the frog calls and quickly wrote a section of code so the program could do the test.”

It was that recompiling of the code—and a few crossed fingers—that led to a startling discovery. Once he turned the equipment back on the neuron in question was still there. From that test Alder showed that the generally accepted theory explaining how a neuron differentiates between high and low pulse rates was wrong. It turns out that neurons do not accomplish this differentiation though energy integration. Instead, Alder found that neurons were actually counting the number of pulses that occur within the range of pulse rates to which the neuron is tuned.

“That was one of the most exciting days of my life,” Alder says, “and I have always been amazed that those very complex questions were answered with [a] test performed on one neuron (it was repeated of course).” Alder graduated from SBS with his PhD in 2000.

Tripping the Patent Fantastic

Over the course of seven years, the mixture of biology, neurophysiology, molecular biology, etc. actually led to a degree in law which in turn opened up many opportunities for Alder to work with some very diverse and fascinating technologies. Enter his work in patent law following a clerkship at TNW beginning in 2002.

A Utah native, Alder hasn’t moved far geographically (he still lives in Utah and received all three of his degrees, including his law degree, from the U). But career-wise and developmentally it has been a galactic trip. For this reason he is quick to remind up-and-coming biologists at the U that education is not, and should never have been, about getting a job. “If you really contemplate the principles you are learning and integrate them into your life, it will change you and the way you think. To me, that is worth so much more than what type of job your degree can get you.”

About dogs … and a bear

Perhaps because of his wide-ranging academic, research and now patent career, Alder’s interests, like his dissertation, are broad and diverse. He loves to rock hound, watch horror movies, study theoretical physics and philosophy, collect old books, and “seriously mess with door-to-door sales people.” (Hopefully, while masked.) “Oh, and I once goosed a black bear in the wild, which made him terribly grumpy. But that is a story for a different day... .”

Which brings us to another enduring interest of Todd Alder’s and that is his love of chihuahuas. One advantage of working from home non-stop, quarantined from everyone else, is that your pets become a fixture, a pain and, if cuddly enough, a kind of accessory for that dress shirt above that questionable garment immediately below.

You can watch a recording of the BioLuminaries lecture by Todd Alder and co-presenter Heng Xie (PhD’04) on SBS’s YouTube Channel here.

 

By David Pace

Are you a Science Alumni? Connect with us today!

1999 Reunion

1999 Reunion


7 Stewart School graduates gather for old times' sake. Visit to U. campus stirs fond memories of '30s.

A group of graduates returned Friday to the University of Utah campus, but it looked a lot different than when they completed classes there in 1933.

But the women, all in their late 70s or early 80s, found one structure, the William M. Stewart Building, looking much the same.Except for missing playground equipment that was outside the building many years ago and some structural changes inside, the ivy-laden building, built in the early 1900s, looked much the same. It is located south of the Utah Museum of Natural History.

The Stewart Training School, a laboratory school for University of Utah students preparing for a teaching career, was where the women either attended kindergarten or first through the ninth grades.

The building housed the school from 1919 to 1966, according to a plaque on the building. It currently houses the university's anthropology program. Many of the Stewart School students, including three of the women in the group Friday, were children of university faculty members.

"Everyone has heard of five-year, 10-year, 20- or even up to 50-year class reunions. But our gathering Friday was to celebrate 66 years. It's unusual for a group to get together after all that time," said Etta Lou Cowles Rose, 81, Walnut Creek, Calif.

A California resident for 54 years, Rose was the "catalyst" for the group getting together for lunch and a brief visit to the school.

The women say many of those who graduated with them in 1933 have moved away or died. They don't know the whereabouts of the rest. But the seven women, most of whom were childhood friends and who grew up in the same neighborhood near the university campus, say they like to keep in touch and to gather together as often as they can.

In 1988, a reunion of many of the former students of the school attracted about 600 to the campus, said Sarah Anne Nelson Jones, who took reservations for that gathering.

Besides Jones and Rose, those who graduated in 1933 and who gathered Friday for lunch or for a visit to the school, are: Gwen Colton Anderson, Betty Jean Neil Anderson, Jacqueline Allen Jeremy and Marsha Ballif Midgley.

Mary Ellen Taylor Jackson, who graduated from the school in 1936 and a close friend of the other women, joined the group.

Several of the women (six live in Salt Lake City) went on after attending Stewart School to attend East High School, the U. or other colleges or universities. Five are graduates of East High and the U.

A visit to the campus brought back many pleasant memories, but some in the group said getting around the campus and finding a parking spot wasn't easy.

"I don't know the university anymore. I get lost up here," said Rose, who toured the campus earlier in the week with a faculty member.

Midgley, 80, who serves on a number of organizations at the U., is a resident of Salt Lake City and more acquainted with how to find her way around on the large campus.

The Cowles Building is named after Rose's father, LeRoy E. Cowles, who was U. president from 1941 to 1945.

Ballif Hall, a men's residence hall, is named after Marsha Ballif Midgley's father, Dean John L. Ballif. He was dean of men at the university.

Mary Ellen Taylor Jackson's father, A. LeRoy Taylor, was dean of the School of Mines and Engineering.

Jackson said she gets together three or four times a year for lunch with quite a large of number of those with whom she graduated in 1936.

"One thing I remember about Stewart School is that the teachers really spent a lot of time getting acquainted with the students. We felt we were really important to them."

Originally published by Douglas D. Palmer in the Desert News.

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Our DNA 2021

OUR DNA Magazine


OUR DNA, the School of Biological Sciences magazine, is published twice a year. If you do not currently receive our newsletter, please contact development@biology.utah.edu to be added to our mailing list.

MORE PUBLICATIONS


 

Notebook 2021

Featured: Student awards, distinguished alumni, convocation, and more.

Read More
Discover 2020

Features Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics Research, Overcoming Covid, and Lab Safety.

Read More
AfterMath 2020

Featured: 50 Years of Math, Sea Ice, and Faculty and Staff recognition.

Read More
Our DNA 2020

Featured: Stories on e-birders, retiring faculty, remote learning, and more.

Read More
Spectrum 2020

Featured: 3D maps of the Universe, Perovskite Photovoltaics, and Dynamic Structure in HIV.

Read More
Notebook 2020

Featured: Convocation, Alumni, Student Success, and Rapid Response Research.

Read More
Our DNA 2020

Featured: Stories on Fruit Flies, Forest Futures and Student Success.

Read More
Catalyst 2020

Featured: Transition to Virtual, 2020 Convocation, Graduate Spotlights, and Awards.

Read More
Spectrum 2020

Featured: Nuclear Medicine, PER Programs, and NSF grant for Quantum Idea Incubator.

Read More
Discover 2019

Features the Science Research Initiative, College Rankings, Commutative Algebra, and more.

Read More
Spectrum 2019

Featured: Nuclear Medicine, PER Programs, and NSF grant for Quantum Idea Incubator.

Read More
Notebook 2019

Featured: The New Faces of Utah Science, Churchill Scholars, and Convocation 2019.

Read More
Catalyst 2019

Featured: Endowed Chairs of Chemistry, Curie Club, and alumnus: Victor Cee.

Read More
Our DNA 2019

Featured: Ants of the World, CRISPR Scissors, and Alumni Profile - Nikhil Bhayani.

Read More
Catalyst 2019

Featured: Methane- Eating Bacteria, Distinguished Alumni, Student and Alumni profiles.

Read More
Spectrum 2019

Featured: Molecular Motors, Churchill Scholar, Dark Matter, and Black Holes.

Read More
Our DNA 2019

Featured: The Startup Life, Monica Gandhi, Genomic Conflicts, and alumna Jeanne Novak.

Read More
AfterMath 2018

Featured: A Love for Puzzles, Math & Neuroscience, Number Theory, and AMS Fellows.

Read More
Discover 2018

The 2018 Research Report for the College of Science.

Read More
Spectrum 2018

Featured: Dark Matter, Spintronics, Gamma Rays and Improving Physics Teaching.

Read More
Catalyst 2018

Featured: Ming Hammond, Jack & Peg Simons Endowed Professors, Martha Hughes Cannon.

Read More