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Donor Recognition

Science Donors

Thank you for your support of our vibrant community of scientists and mathematicians

Last updated - May 2022

 

BENEFACTORS $1 MILLION+
Gary L. & Ann Crocker

PATRONS $500,000-$999,999
Kathleen K. Church
Ronald O.* & Eileen Ragsdale

ASSOCIATES $100,000-$499,999
Barbara Greenlee
LJBJ
John P. & Margaret A. Simons
Cagan Sekercioglu & Tanya Williams

FOUNDERS CLUB $50,000-$99,999
Willard L. Eccles Charitable Foundation
Thomas Kursar* & Phyllis Coley
Martin & Ragnhild Horvath
David & Lisa Kieda
Ryan & Jennifer Watts

DESERET CLUB $25,000-$49,999
Raymond B. Greer
Frances N. & Joel M. Harris
Hamit Batubay Ozkan
Kirk M. Ririe
George R. Riser
Joseph & Judy Smith
Travis & Carrie Wager
Sandra J. & Paul R. Weider

PRESIDENT'S CIRCLE $10,000-$24,999
Frederick Adler & Anne Collopy
Peter B. Armentrout & Mary White
Patrick Brennan & Carol Blair
David Blair
Rodney H.* & Carolyn H. Brady
Andrew & Mary Christensen
David Clemmer & Wendy R. Saffell Clemmer
Claude* & Beverly Dalley
Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation
Kirk Thomas & Judy Goddard
Gale A. & John L. Haslam
Michael & Sally S. Hunnicutt
R. Kent & Terri N. Jex
Mitchell & Diana Johnson
Stanton & Melanie McHardy
RJay Murray
Jerry Murry
A. Dale & Linda Otteson
Bob Palais & Micah Goodman
T. Benny* & Gail T. Rushing
Murat Cem Sertoglu
The Sorenson Legacy Foundation
Thomas & Kathy Thatcher
Thaddeus Eagar & Rebecca Uhlig
Anonymous
Jeffrey Marks & Nancy Yu

PRESIDENT'S CLUB $2,500-$9,999
Scott L. Anderson & Cynthia J. Burrows
ARUP Laboratories
Makbule Bilge Bahar
Carlos M. Bowman
R. Harold Burton Foundation
The Castle Foundation
Michael Wiley & Dana Cochran-Wiley
Carleton DeTar & Laurel Casjens
Lawrence T. & Janet T. Dee Foundation
Sue M. Durrant
George & Lissa Elliot
Kenneth M. Golden
Mark Hammond & Ming Hammond
Jim Hanson
Eric Harwood & Melissa Harwood
Garrett Hisatake & Phuong Bui
Darren Wayne Housel
Heber Jacobsen & Christine Lake
Noriene O. & Kenneth W. Jee
Alexandrea Jee
Dennis & Patricia Lombardi
Ryan & Meghan Looper
George H. Lowe III
Larry Marsh
Edward Meenen
Herbert I. & Elsa B. Michael Foundation
Frances & Richard* Muir
David & Marcia Nickell
Burak Over
C. Dale & Susan Poulter
Timothy Purcell & Jessica Purcell
Victor Cee & Holly Rausch
ReCor Medical, Inc.
Rocky Mountain Power Foundation
Bryant W. & Betty Rossiter
Victoria J. Rowntree & Jon Seger
Susan K. Rushing
Kenneth Savin & Lisa Wenzler
Matthew Sigman & Deborah Burney-Sigman
David & Kimberly Sorensen
Chris Tuttle & Marie Tuttle
Neil & Tanya Vickers
Xiaodong Jiang & Jia Wang
Henry S. White & Joyce Garcia
Christopher & Frances Wilcox
Doju Yoshikami
Da-Jiang Zheng

DEAN'S CIRCLE $1,000-$2,499
Abbvie, Inc.
Pete Ashdown
Ntsanderh Azenui
F. Reid & Margaret* Barton
Scott Carter
Xiaodong Chen
Andrej Cherkaev & Elena Cherkaev
Steven & Kimberley Condas
Ryan & Charlotte Conlon
Roy Corsi
John & Sally Crelly Jr.
Butch Adams & Amy Davis
Christoph Boehme & Kristie Durham
Berton & Tiraje Earnshaw
Larry & Wendy Evans
Donald Feener
L. Richard & Karen Feinauer Jr.
Cecelia H. Foxley
Joseph Gardella
Michael & Elizabeth Gibson
Brent Hawker
Ruth Lofgren*
Noel E. Marquis
James & Kate Marshall
Michael & Loretta McHugh
Mark & Jennifer McLaws
Todd Mendenhall
Frank & Sharon Meyer
Mission Math Utah
Eric & Lora Newman
Anita Orendt
Anandan Palani
Thomas Robbins & Kathleen Clark
Carl* & Kathryn Robinson
Peter & Susan Rogers
Shauna Roman
Gregg & Carolyn Rosann
Harold & Deborah Rust
Cynthia Sagers
George & Linda Seifert
Yifan Shi
W. Donald & Ginny Shields
Eric & Cassie Slattery
Gerald Smith & Catherine Badgley
Cameron Soelberg
Dean & Samantha Stoker
William & Vivien Terzaghi
Melanie Topham
Peter E. & Nicole Trapa
Jacob & Erin Umbriaco
Egbertus VanDerHeiden
David Bowling & Jacqueline Waring
Chris & Nico T. Waters
Dennie Welch
Jeremy Wilkerson
Xiao-rong Zhu & Ping Hou
Dean H. & Jane H.* Zobell

DEAN'S CLUB $500-$999
Mark Adamson & Nancy Tschiderer
David & C. Janie Ailion
Justin & Linda Alvey
Edward & Florence Aoyagi
Zlatko & Vesna Bacic
Jim Barton
Craig & Jana Blackett
Dennis & Jean Bramble
M. Kevin Branson
Glenn S. & Renée L. Buchanan
Liang-Yuan Chen
Daniel & Kara Cherney
Frederic & Dulce Civish
Dale Clayton & Sarah Bush
Cindy Cooper
Ruggiero Costanzo
Philippe David
Steven Dean & Erika Engberson
Thomas & Carol* Dietz
Richard & Linda Easton
Jaivime Evaristo
Douglas Fields & Anjali Fields
Karla Gilbert
Roger & Marlene Grua
Carlos Guerra Chan
James & Wendy Hsu
Minmin Lin & Hua Huang
Oscar Izaguirre
Richard Johnson
Dane & Susan Jones
Daniel Kinikini
Dan Little
Malcolm* & Carole MacLeod
David Marshall
Jeffrey & Allison Martin
Clifton & Terrie McIntosh
Melvin & Linda Miles
Robert Churchwell & Shelley Minteer
Kevin & Patty Moss
Hannah Nelson
Ruth L. & Phillip J.* Novak
Mikio & Masayo Obayashi
Gregory & Crystal Owens
Timothy T. Parker
Rolando Quintana
Don L. & Rebecca Reese
George & Sara Rhodes
Lee K. & Dawn L. Roberts
Andrew & Tiffany Roberts
Alex Wong & Miriam Romero
Carina Sanchez
Kyle Kaiser & Pearl Sandick
Mark Sherwood
Shane Smith
Shaoqing Song & Fuli Zhao
Dick & Elizabeth Streeper
Eric Peterson & Karen Thomas
Lawrence Thorne Sr.
Duc Tran & Hien Do
Anh Truong
Warner Wada
Lane & Rhonda Wallace
Jiang-Hua & Hanju Wang
Olivia Wang
Stephen & Elizabeth Warner
Eric Weeks
Kimberly Witham
Douglas & Kaye Wyler
Zheng Zheng

COLLEGIATE CLUB $250-$499
Thomas Alberts
Glenn & Lee Allinger
Alexander Balk
Phillip & Michelle Barry
Burton Markham* & Diane Bentley
Benjamin C. Bromley
Andrew Koppisch & Cindy Browder
James & Janice Carter
Michael Cavanagh
Shenlin Chen
Lane C. & Paula W. Childs
David T. Chuljian
James & Alice Clark
Stephen L. & Nicola G. Dahl
Ronald Day & Mava Jones Day
Ric & Janice DelMar
Elizabeth Dranow
Nicholas & Kadeshia Duclos
Arthur & Katherine Edison
Aaron Fogelson & Deborah Feder
Juan Gallegos-Orozco
Jordan Gerton & Brenda Mann
Bridget Gourley
Louis D. & Sue Heavenrich
Robert K. & Tina R. Herman
Richard & Ruth Hills
Timothy Ley & Patricia Hohn
Robert & Denna Hollinger
Richard & Aurora Jensen
Jon Johnson
Christopher Hacon
Aleksandra Jovanovic-Hacon
Edwin & Kathryn Kingsley
Sanghoon Kwak
Mary Levine
Hao-Chou & Yuemei Lin
Daniel Lundberg
Vance & Heidi Lyon
Yvonne Mack
Samantha Marshall
Christopher & Lori Merritt
Larry & Sharma Millward
Steven Mimnaugh
James & Leeann Moffett
William & Jane Moore
Neil Morrissette
David Suehsdorf & Janet Muir
Brian Narajowski
Marcus & Sara Nebeling
Richard Neville & Jane Torgerson
Allen & Anne Oshita
James L. & Bonnie D. Parkin
William & Shanna Parmley
Steven & Elizabeth Pattison
David & Gloria Pehrson
Robert & Susan Peterson
Carl & Barbara Popp
Yam Poudel
Jack B. & Itha W. Rampton
Peter E. Rose
Richard & Peggy Sacher
Vernon Sandberg & Carol A. Wilkinson
Clifton & Sandra* Sanders
Anil Seth
Joshua Southwick
Nathan Dalleska & Eileen Spain
Tom Vitelli & Michele Swaner
Fred Thoelke
Robert Van Kirk & Sheryl Hill
Bao Wang
Paul Watkins
Michael & Jan Weaver
Richard & Shelly Williams
Richard & Kristin Winterton

CENTURY CLUB $100-$249
Roger & Diane Aamodt
Randy Adachi
Adobe Systems Inc.
Bruce & Maud Allen
Robert J. Hamilton & Michelle Amiot
Terrell & Virginia Andersen
Albert G. & Christine M. Anderson
Karen L. Anderson
Lesleigh Anderson
Kari Aoyagi
Jennifer Apple
Gameil Fouad & Gina Barberi
Lisa Barnes
William & Jean Barrett
Richard Barrett
Brett & Ruth Barrett
Ramon Barthélemy
Brent & Virginia Beall
Scott & Susan Bean
Jay Beckstead
Robert & Sylvia Berman
Aaron J. Bertram
Anna Bessesen
Jonathan & Catherine Black
Tarlton & Lorie* Blair
Gary M. & Shanna H. Blake
L. Beth Blattenberger
Michael & Nanci Bockelie
Philip & Barbara Bowman
Burdett Brent
Thomas Brunker & Cherie Brunker
William O. Wilson & Carmen Buhler
Ryan Bullett & Kelly Bullett
Harvey & Elizabeth Cahoon
Sandra Calman
Robert Stephen Cantrell
David Carrier & Colleen Farmer
Thure Cerling & Mahala Kephart
Pejman Chalezamini
Ralph Chamberlin
Yu-Hsing & Pea Chiu
Sung Chan Choi
Tony Chow
Rebecca Christman
Terry Chun & Kate Kwon
Michael Collard
Marshall & Kathie Coopersmith
Glenn & Enid Cox
Mathew Crawley
John & Laurie Dallon
Tommaso de Fernex
James & Monica DeGooyer
Matthew C. DeLong
Rico Delsesto
James & J. Linda Detling
Marcia Cook
Mohit Diwekar
Kevin Dockery & Kelly Reynolds
Roger Drickey
Richard Driggs
Jerry & Lynda* Driscoll
Michael Duch
Thomas Engar
Patrick & Kathleen English
Richard & Chariya Ernst
Christopher & Joanne* Erskine
Bradley & Elizabeth Esplin
Edward & Michal Esplin
Virgil & Jill Fairbanks
Briant & Glenna Farnsworth
Norman & Jerilyn Fawson
Melanie Feeney
William Feldman
Bryce & Hilary Ferguson
Robert & Claire Fish
Max & Josephine Forsberg
Karen Fouad
David Fox
Charles Lee Wilkins & Ingrid Fritsch
Denice Fujimoto
Grzegorz & Joanna Gajewiak
David & Morgan Gardiner
LeRoi & Sara Gardner Jr.
Garth & Sarah Garrison
Nicholas & Courtney Gibbs
Keith & Olena Gligorich
Stephen Godbe
Marc & Maureen Godbout
Linda Goetz
Rex Gold
Roy Goudy
Patricia Govednik
Marnie Grisley
Joel & Julianne Grose
Michael & Laura Gruenwald
William Heeschen & Judy Gunderson
Brian & Mary Haan
Heidi Hachtman
Robert & Carolyn Hargrove
Kenneth & Michele Hartner
Bret Heale & Rebecca Noonan-Heale
Harry Hecht
Henryk & Malgorzata Hecht
William C. Hewitson
Barton & Elizabeth Hoenes
Lloyd Holmes
Layne V. & Karen L. Hopkins
Christopher House
Douglas & Charlotte Howe
Sean Howe
Chen & Nancy Hsu
Hsiang-Ping Huang & Yuanping Lee
John Hughes
Paul & RosaMaria Hurst
Srikanth Iyengar
Jeffrey & Sherry Jasperson
Joseph & Karen Jensen
Georgia Jeppesen
Mark & Nanette Johansen
Ronald & Mary Sue Johnson
Leland & Margery Johnson
Gary & Cynthia Kanner
Anne Hamner & Cheryl Keil
Michael & Jocelyn Kelleher
Walter & Kelly Keller
Ross Whitaker & Kerry Kelly
John & Inga Kenney III
Ed & Marsha Kilgore
Jerold* & Lucinda Kindred
Paul I. Kingsbury
Jaqueline Kiplinger
Zoe Koch
Jennifer Koh
Peter* & Carole Koren
Nicholas Korevaar
Sandor Kovacs & Timea Tihanyl
Lawrence R. & Sally Kursar Sr.
Roger & Sue Ladle
Michael & Cathy Larsen
Michael & Julie Larson
Kerry & Ann J. Lee
Michele Lefebvre
Yan Li
Jason & Linda Lillegraven
Xing Lin
Tracy Louie
William Love
Hamilton Lucas
Raquel Macarthur
Neil Manning
William Manwaring & Priscila Osovski
R. Spencer & Susan Martin
William & Shelley McClennen
James & Carolyn McElroy
Kevin McGowan
Walter & Carol McKnight
Thomas & Linda McMillan
Terry Merritt
Michael & Deanna Messina
Grayson Millard & Devan Millard
William E. Miller
Graeme Milton & John Patton
Diego Fernandez & Valeria Molinero
Hwa-Ping Feng & Diana Montgomery
Eric Montoya
Abigail Moore
Paul Mora
Maria Moreno
Marvin & Sharron Morris
Anwesha Mukhopadhyay
Patience Nelson
Kevin & Filinita Nemelka
William & Raquel Nikolai
William* & Ruth* Ohlsen
Keith & Patricia Olson
Morris & Jane* Page
Brandon & Kristin Park
Frederic Parke
Dennis L. & Anne J. Parker
Jordan & Aurelia Pederson
Octavio Pimentel
Roger & Kathleen Pugh
Jayson & Sarah Punwani
Owen & Adele B. Reese Jr.
David & Kim Remien
Robert Sclafani & Christine Roberts
John Roberts
S. Joshua & Amanda Romney
Mike & Susan Kay Root
Alan & Cheryl Rothenberg
Brian & LeeAnn Russell
Andrea Russell
Mayukh K. Sarkar
Holly Sebahar
Michael & Mary Shapiro
John G. Markowski & Patricia Sharkey
Richard & Harriet Sher
Michael Siler
Gregory* & Jenny* Skedros
Chelsie Smith
Scott Smith
Richard Smith & Lynda George
Claudius Smith
Richard & Diane Smookler
Timothy Snell
Darryl & Alycia Spencer
Philip & Maida Spjut
Robert & Shauna Springer
Josh Steffen
Edward & Mari Steffen
Richard & Sheila Steiner
Harold & Kay Stokes
Dorothy Strehl
Barry Stults & Connie Stults
Dean & Margaret Taylor
David & Heather Thomas
Domingo Toledo & Paula Schnitzer
Thomas & Susan Tomasi
Marcus & Sara Torgenson
Karen Trentelman
Christian & Laura J. Ulmer
Carol Underwood
John F Unguren
Chi Van
Adrian & Jamie Vande Merwe
E. Russell & Phyllis J. Vetter
Gregory von Arx
Rollie Wagstaff
Adrianne Walker
Reed & Catherine Walsh
Libo Wang
Qiuquan Wang
Anna Wernli
Larry & Sydney Whiting
Luisa Whittaker-Brooks
Paul Wiggins
Eliot & Susan Wilcox
Thomas & Linda Wilkinson
Jon & Heather Wilson
David & Olivia Worthen
Kevin Wortman
Heng Xie
York & Mary Ann Yates
Steven Yourstone
Jingyi Zhu

 

*Indicates deceased

 

This list represents gifts of at least $100 made to any area in the College of Science including Departments Centers and Programs between 01/01 2021 and 05/01/2022. Standard University group designations are used. We are extremely grateful for these and all of our generous supporters.

Cottam’s Gulch

Cottam's Gulch


One of the most tranquil spots at the University is Cottam's Gulch, the small gully that runs behind the Crocker Science Center to University Street. The grassy, tree-lined area, with its meandering stone pathway and lone bench, is a perfect place to read, meditate, picnic, or enjoy exuberant birdsong.

It's a place rich in history, too. Miriam Taylor Meads BS'36 and J. Walter "Walt" Woodbury BS'43 MS'47 PhD'50, both children of University professors, grew up in the homes opposite the gully in the 1920s. They remember it as an idyllic playground due, in part, to the abundance of neighbor children from other prominent University families—the Ericksens, Ballifs, Strongs, and Cowleses. With his friends, Woodbury played touch football in the gulch and rode bikes down one steep side and up the other. "We just had a blast," the retired University physiology professor says.

Meads attended the University from kindergarten through her college training and graduation in elementary education. "In the winter, Cottam's Gulch was a wonderful sleighing hill — beginning up by the Stewart School and going down to Dean Ericksen's driveway. The big hill had nice big bumps in it," she says.

In the 1930s the University proposed filling in the gully. Walter P. "Doc" Cottam, a University botany professor, early ecologist, and founder of Red Butte Garden, thought the gorge should remain a natural area. He prevailed and subsequently planted native and experimental trees, including a zelkova, a pagoda, a large cottonwood, and a giant sequoia. Clearly, Cottam's most important contributions are the oaks he hybridized and planted throughout campus. They stand as statues of his research work, and the gulch retains his name.

"Cottam crossed Utah live oaks, found in southern Utah, with our local Gambel oaks to produce hardy oaks that would hold their leaves through the winter," explains University arborist Ann Williams. "Each fall a man comes to the University to collect acorns from Cottam's hybridized oaks. He and his family grow them and sell them as 'Cottam's oaks.'

"For the last 70 years, the gulch has been used for a variety of purposes, ranging from sorority and fraternity parties to a backdrop for the theatre department's plays. However, it is its historical use as a campus kissing spot that best symbolizes the passion and peace of the place.

—Ann Jardine Bardsley BA'84

>> back <<

 

Campus Impact

Campus Impact


Transforming the Science Campus.

• Remodeled space: 40,729 square feet
• New space: 100,000 square feet
• Instruction and research space: 91%
• Faculty and staff offices : 9%
• Increase in undergraduate labs: 56%

Currently the departments of Physics and Astronomy and Atmospheric Sciences occupy space in five locations on campus: the South Physics Building; the James Fletcher Building; the Intermountain Network Scientific Computation Center; and the Center for Cell and Genome Science in the Crocker Science Center. The Department of Atmospheric Sciences is located in the Frederick Albert Sutton Building.

The South Physics Building and the Fletcher Building house the majority of the Physical Science programs. These buildings are inadequate for modern research and require ongoing and increased operational and maintenance costs, which will continue to escalate. The South Physics Building will likely be used for administrative offices, while portions of the Fletcher Building will likely be demolished.

The approved site is located south of the Crocker Science Center (completed in 2018) and includes a renovation of the 40,729 square-foot Stewart building and 100,000 square feet of new construction. Instruction and research space will consume 91% of the building, with the remaining 9% dedicated to faculty and staff offices.

Southwest view.

Overhead view.

Northwest view.


Cottam’s Gulch

One of the most tranquil spots at the University of Utah.

Read More

>> back <<

The Stewart School

The Stewart School


The William M. Stewart School was established as a training school for school teachers (Normal School) at the University of Utah in 1891 and continued under the State College of Education and the Graduate School of Education.

The Stewart School was attended by children from kindergarten to high school age. The Stewart School closed in 1965. The building was named after William M. Stewart, the founder of the school.

Primex Analog Clock

1999 School Reunion

Stewart School graduates gather for old times' sake and stir 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.

Original tile floors.

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.

>> back <<

 

Darwin’s Pigeon “Enigma”

Darwin’s short-beak enigma


Charles Darwin was obsessed with domestic pigeons. He thought they held the secrets of selection in their beaks. Free from the bonds of natural selection, the 350-plus breeds of domestic pigeons have beaks of all shapes and sizes within a single species (Columba livia). The most striking are beaks so short that they sometimes prevent parents from feeding their own young. Centuries of interbreeding taught early pigeon fanciers that beak length was likely regulated by just a few heritable factors. Yet modern geneticists have failed to solve Darwin’s mystery by pinpointing the molecular machinery controlling short beaks—until now.

In a new study, biologists from the University of Utah discovered that a mutation in the ROR2 gene is linked to beak size reduction in numerous breeds of domestic pigeons. Surprisingly, mutations in ROR2 also underlie a human disorder called Robinow syndrome.

“Some of the most striking characteristics of Robinow syndrome are the facial features, which include a broad, prominent forehead and a short, wide nose and mouth, and are reminiscent of the short-beak phenotype in pigeons,” said Elena Boer, lead author of the paper who completed the research as a postdoctoral fellow at the U and is now a clinical variant scientist at ARUP Laboratories. “It makes sense from a developmental standpoint, because we know that the ROR2 signaling pathway plays an important role in vertebrate craniofacial development.”

The paper published in the journal Current Biology on Sept. 21, 2021.

Mapping genes and skulls

Two domestic pigeon breeds photos facing each other, the left one has a very short beak, big black eye, white feathers on the head with a crest sticking up. The right pigeon has gray brown feathers on the head with a red eye ball, and a beak that's about twice as long as the other birds.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sydney Stringham

Old German Owl (left) and Racing Homer (right) domestic pigeon breeds.

The researchers bred two pigeons with short and medium beaks—the medium-beaked male was a Racing Homer, a bird bred for speed with a beak length similar to the ancestral rock pigeon. The small-beaked female was an Old German Owl, a fancy pigeon breed that has a little, squat beak.

“Breeders selected this beak purely for aesthetics to the point that it’s detrimental—it would never appear in nature. So, domestic pigeons are a huge advantage for finding genes responsible for size differences,” said Michael Shapiro, the James E. Talmage Presidential Endowed Chair in Biology at the U and senior author of the paper. “One of Darwin’s big arguments was that natural selection and artificial selection are variations of the same process. Pigeon beak sizes were instrumental in figuring out how that works.”

The short- and medium-beaked parents produced an initial F1 brood of children with intermediate-length beaks. When the biologists mated the F1 birds to one another, the resulting F2 grandchildren had beaks ranging from big to little, and all sizes in between. To quantify the variation, Boer measured beak size and shape in the 145 F2 individuals using micro-CT scans generated at the University of Utah Preclinical Imaging Core Facility. 

“The cool thing about this method is that it allows us to look at size and shape of the entire skull, and it turns out that it’s not just beak length that differs—the braincase changes shape at the same time,” Boer said. “These analyses demonstrated that beak variation within the F2 population was due to actual differences in beak length and not variation in overall skull or body size.”

An animation of the skulls of birds showing the variety of beak lengths from short to long.

PHOTO CREDIT: Elena Boer

High-resolution scans of the grandchildren of the Racing Homer and German Owl cross. The animation shows the variety of beak lengths from shortest to longest.

Next, the researchers compared the pigeons’ genomes. First, using a technique called quantitative trait loci (QTL) mapping, they identified DNA sequence variants scattered throughout the genome, and then looked to see if those mutations appeared in the F2 grandkids’ chromosomes.

“The grandkids with small beaks had the same piece of chromosome as their grandparent with the small beak, which told us that piece of chromosome has something to do with small beaks,” said Shapiro. “And it was on the sex chromosome, which classical genetic experiments had suggested, so we got excited.”

The team then compared the entire genome sequences of many different pigeon breeds; 56 pigeons from 31 short-beaked breeds and 121 pigeons from 58 medium- or long-beaked breeds. The analysis showed that all individuals with small beaks had the same DNA sequence in an area of the genome that contains the ROR2 gene.

“The fact that we got the same strong signal from two independent approaches was really exciting and provided an additional level of evidence that the ROR2 locus is involved,” said Boer.

The authors speculate that the short-beak mutation causes the ROR2 protein to fold in a new way, but the team plans to do functional experiments to figure out how the mutation impacts craniofacial development.

Headshots of domestic pigeon breeds. The left four have short beaks, the right four have medium or long beaks.

PHOTO CREDIT: Thomas Hellmann, adapted from Boer et al. (2021) Current Biology

Representative images of individuals representing short beak (left four birds) and medium or long beak (right four birds) pigeon breeds (image credit: Thomas Hellmann). Short beak pigeons, from left to right: English Short Face Tumbler, African Owl, Oriental Frill, Budapest Tumbler. (B) Medium/long beak pigeons, from left to right: West of England, Cauchois, Scandaroon, Show King. The short-beak birds all had the same ROR2 mutation.

Pigeon enthusiasts

The lure of the domestic pigeon that mesmerized Darwin is still captivating the curious to this day. Many of the blood samples that the research team used for genome sequencing were donated from members of the Utah Pigeon Club and National Pigeon Association, groups of pigeon enthusiasts who continue to breed pigeons and participate in competitions to show off the striking variation among breeds.

“Every paper our lab has published in the last 10 years has relied on their samples in some way,” said Shapiro. “We couldn’t have done this without the pigeon breeding community."

 

by Lisa Potter - originally published in @theU

Internship Events

Internship and Career Events


Next Event


Career Trek WITH The Natural History Museum of Utah
Friday, April 8, 2022
12:30 pm-2:00 pm

Event Flyer:

NHMU Career Trek flyer

Join NHMU Entomology  & Mycology staff to learn more about the museum, museum careers, available jobs & internships and the collections themselves.

Attendees will meet at the Museum at 12:30 pm. Dress requirements are casual. Refreshments will be provided.

Due to current COVID conditions, the number of attendees will be limited. Registrations are on a first-come-first-serve basis, but we will also maintain a waitlist in case of cancelations. Register here.  The registration deadline is 12:00 pm on Thursday, April 7 2022. No registrations will be accepted past that date and time.

*If you have any questions about the event, please contact Jacqueline Broida at jacqueline.broida@utah.edu.

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Huntsman Cancer Institute

Community Outreach and Prevention Education
Program Internship


Community Outreach and Prevention Education Program Internship

Huntsman Cancer Institute is seeking applicants for the Community Outreach and Prevention Education Program Internship.

Selected interns will join an established team devoted to creating long-term solutions to prevent cancer and improve the health of individuals, families, and communities—especially those disproportionately affected by cancer. Interns assist with planning, organizing, implementing, and evaluating projects in collaboration with community partners across Utah. Projects focus on cancer risk factors, prevention and screening, vaccination, and lifestyle behaviors. Interns also represent Huntsman Cancer Institute at community health and screening events; engage in statewide coalition work; provide in-person and virtual health education; and collaborate with researchers and clinicians.

Eligibility:

Undergraduate and graduate students with a degree in public health, health promotion and education, health sciences, community outreach/engagement, or other relevant field is preferred.

New interns are accepted 3 times per year:

• Spring: January-April (deadline to submit October 31)

• Summer: May-August (deadline to submit March 31)

• Fall/Winter: September-December (deadline to submit July 15)

Application:

Interested students should email their application to Nathaniel Ferre at nathaniel.ferre@hci.utah.edu.

Applications must include:

• Resume

• Cover letter (include internship requirements and expectations)

• Two letters of recommendation

• Availability

Jim Hanson

Jim Hanson


Jim Hanson’s (BS Physics ’85) path to the University of Utah and college was different from most students. When he graduated from high school, Hanson had little interest in attending college and no clear goal as to what he wanted to do with his life. He worked odd jobs until he got tired of living out of his car.

Finally, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and trained as a jet engine mechanic. He was stationed in New Mexico for nearly three years. Although he was doing well, he still had no real direction until he was offered an opportunity to train as a flight engineer.

Flying meant a lot of training: physiological demands, understanding performance metrics, learning aircraft systems, and attending survival schools, but once he made the decision his life changed. He was assigned to a weather reconnaissance squadron whose primary duty was to monitor compliance with the nuclear test ban treaty. These missions took his squadron to all corners of the world. His squadron was nicknamed the “Pole Vaulters” because of the many Arctic missions that took them over 90 degrees north latitude. “Military flying was exciting enough by itself and being in the company of highly educated professionals opened my mind to so many new possibilities and opportunities that I had never considered,” said Hanson.

Although Hanson loved what he was doing, he realized that a university degree would open many more doors. He had family in Salt Lake City and was a Utah resident, so the U was the logical choice for his education when he left the Air Force. “Initially, I thought I could schedule my classes early or late enough and still manage a full day of skiing, but I quickly realized that if I wanted to get through college, I had to commit to studying and forget about skiing for a while,” he said.

Experiences at the U

His experiences at the U made all the difference. “When I look back, I realize my time at the U not only changed the direction of my life professionally, it fundamentally changed the person I would become later in life,” he said. “To see the doors that education opened for me and the opportunities that resulted from it has been remarkable. I’m eternally grateful for having received not only a valuable education but also for having developed an intense desire for learning that has sustained me and enriched my life.”

One of his favorite professors was the late Dr. Lynn Higgs, a physics professor, who also served as the Physics Department advisor. Hanson isn’t sure he would have graduated without Higgs’s mentoring. He particularly enjoyed the Introduction to Modern Physics course taught by Christopher Stone, who was a graduate assistant at the time. Dr. Stone is still with the department, serving as associate professor (lecturer). Hanson remembers that Stone had a gift for teaching matched only by his enthusiasm for the subject. Another favorite was the late Dr. Fritz Luty, who taught an optics course.

Being at the U felt like a new lease on life for Hanson after experiencing some difficult years. In retrospect, Hanson believes he had to learn things the hard way. “I appreciated my college experience a lot more when I was older than if I had started at the U right out of high school,” said Hanson. “Physics wasn’t an easy major, but I was much more focused on my studies having been out in the world and having seen the value of a formal education and, especially, the limitations for not having one.”

Navy Career

Following graduation from the U in June 1985, Hanson was offered a chance to become a naval officer. He was advised that it might be a year or more before he could attend Naval Officer Candidate School (OCS) so he continued taking classes at the U and even started a master’s program in electrical engineering before leaving for OCS in June 1986. He received his naval commission in September 1986 and spent the next four years at sea. He found being a naval officer, especially a junior one, was as challenging as anything he had ever done up to that point. “Whenever we were confronted with adversity or a crisis, which was fairly often, we told ourselves that it was just another chance to excel.” said Hanson. “Funny as the expression seemed at the time, I’ve realized that often I’ve learned the most when faced with adversity or failure.” He elected to transfer to the Naval Reserve at the end of his first tour at sea, primarily so he could complete the master’s degree he had started four years earlier.

After he completed the degree in 1993, Hanson accepted a civilian engineering position with the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in Coronado, California. He was happy to be back in San Diego since he had spent much of his time there in the Navy. The Naval Air Station at North Island also had a great flying club, and Hanson gave countless airplane rides in the T-34B trainers to friends and co-workers. Later, he accepted a senior engineering position with the U.S. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (now known as the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) in Japan. He had traveled to Japan many times during his military career, but actually living there was an unforgettable experience, and Japan remains one of his favorite places.

Sept. 11, 2001 and Retirement

September 11, 2001 became a defining moment for all Americans. For Hanson it meant returning to active naval service, where he served in various operational and senior staff positions, mostly overseas, for the next 13 years until he retired from the Navy after 28 years of commissioned service in 2014. During this period, Hanson received a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

Following his retirement, Hanson returned to full-time civilian employment in San Diego. As the propulsion and power team lead for the NAVAIR, he managed a large team of engineers, technicians, and contractors tasked with supporting naval aircraft.

Life as a Navy civilian was very different than being on active duty. “At times it seemed like managing civilians was a lot like herding a bunch of feral cats; it required a whole new set of management skills,” said Hanson. “Yet, I was truly fortunate to be associated with such highly motivated and gifted individuals and still maintain contact with many of them following my retirement.” His organization actively supported STEM (Science, Technical, Engineering and Mathematics) initiatives in the local San Diego area, and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers was one of the more rewarding aspects of his work.

Advice for Students

Hanson recently moved from San Diego back to Utah after a 30-year absence. As much as he loves the beaches and weather in Southern California, he is a skier at heart. He’s delighted to live within 15 minutes of Snowbasin.

Hanson believes there has never been a more exciting time to be a scientist, mathematician, or engineer. “A degree in physics gave me a solid foundation for every endeavor I pursued,” he said. “It also instilled in me the ability to think critically and reason effectively in all facets of my life.”

“Everyone hears that life is a journey and it’s true,” said Hanson. “At the end, it really is the journey you’ll remember. Enjoy the ride and make the most of it, maintain a sense of humor, and try not to take anything personally. Believe in yourself and never stop learning.”

Hanson spends time skiing, climbing, and trekking in far-flung parts of the globe. He has traveled to nearly 40 foreign countries and lived in several during the course of his military or civilian duties. One of his favorite places is Norway, where his grandparents immigrated from. Except for 2020, he tries to spend a couple months in Norway each year. He reads, mostly non-fiction. “What I read is not as important as why I read,” he said. “I think my studies at the U left me with an insatiable curiosity to explore and dig deeper, regardless of the subject.”

by Michelle Swaner first published at physics.utah.edu

A Gateway to Knowledge

A Gateway to Knowledge


The U of U is Utah’s number one educator of science students. Every engineer, every nurse and doctor, every scientist and chemist, every bio lab technician and statistician created in this university must first pass through the College of Science in preparation for a STEM-based career. In 2017, 49% of STEM degrees awarded by Utah System of Higher Education institutions were from the University of Utah. The Atmospheric Sciences Graduate Program is the only one in the state.

We are creating rare, valuable job skills at the College of Science, and we need to expand this cross-disciplinary science and math education. In short, this new Science Center will revitalize the University of Utah campus, and is vital if Utah is to build its national potential as a leader in science.

Programs such as the new Science Research Initiative provide our students with the real-world research experience that is so valuable in today’s economy. SRI participants graduate with a huge advantage over their counterparts in other programs.

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