Kevin Perry, Societal Impact Scholar


University of Utah President Taylor Randall has named five faculty members as 2024-25 Presidential Societal Impact Scholars for exemplary public engagement, including Atmopsheric Sciences Professor Kevin Perry.


The four include a range of faculty members whose impact varies from helping Utahns understand the danger posed by a shrinking Great Salt Lake to advocating for the rights and rehabilitation of incarcerated women and engaging college and high school students in projects that beautify public spaces with mural art.

Perry has studied the impacts of mineral dust for more than two decades, a research focus that took on major importance with the shrinking of the Great Salt Lake. Perry, riding a fat-tire bicycle, surveyed the 800-mile exposed lakebed and found dust from the lake contains high concentrations of toxic metals. To date, Perry has shared his research in three documentary films and more than 115 print, radio and TV interviews, including Popular Science, Discover Magazine, Outside Magazine, Newsweek, CNN, Le Monde and The Guardian. He has presented his findings to numerous policy-making organizations, such as the Utah Air Quality Board, Utah Clean Air Caucus, and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality. Perry has presented to many health care groups, including the Utah Public Health Association and the Central Utah Healthcare Coalition. He also serves as a member of the Great Salt Lake Strike Team and the Dust Alliance for North America. Perry also has participated in educational outreach activities, focused mostly on high school students.

Other awardees are V. Kim Martinez, professor, Department of Art & Art History; Emily Salisbury, director of the Utah Criminal Justice Center and associate professor, College of Social Work; Baodong Liu, professor, Department of Political Science and the Division of Ethnic Studies; and Amberly Johnson, director of the Utah Poison Control Center and assistant professor (clinical), College of Pharmacy.

“What is obvious in this award process is that we have many exceptional faculty who are having a broad impact,” said President Taylor Randall. “As a university, we aspire to improve the communities we serve by sharing our research and expertise in a variety of ways. Our award recipients have engaged in public activities that showcase their scholarship, influence their fields of study and contribute to the betterment of individuals and communities.”

Each scholar will receive a one-time cash award of $10,000 and support from University Marketing & Communications to promote their research, scholarship and initiatives.

Read the full press release, including details of all awardees here.