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Science Top Stories

  • Ethan LakePhysics Student Ethan Lake Becomes 2nd Hertz Fellow For The U

    Ethan Lake, an undergraduate student in physics and math at the University of Utah, has received the prestigious and highly competitive Hertz Fellowship, a $250,000 grant for up to five years of graduate study in the STEM fields. Lake is one of only 12 students nationally to receive this award and the second Hertz Fellow for the U. The first Hertz fellow was in 1989, when Eric Kelson received the award. “Ethan’s receipt of the Hertz Fellowship has opened the door for other U students to follow in his footsteps,” said Ruth Watkins, senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the U. “We have no doubt Ethan will continue to make a significant contribution to research and be an excellent representative of our university and state.”

  • Matthew S. Sigman, Distinguished Professor Faculty Spotlight: Matthew S. Sigman

    Matthew S. Sigman, Distinguished Professor and Peter J. and Christine S. Stang Presidential Endowed Chair of Chemistry, is helping the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) develop highly efficient next-generation battery technologies for energy storage. Sigman and U of U colleague Shelley Minteer, along with University of Michigan chemists, are participating in the Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, to develop a better type of battery architecture for grid energy storage called redox flow batteries.

  • March Madness By The NumbersMarch Madness By The Numbers

    It’s probably in your inbox already – the invitation to join your teenage nephew’s March Madness bracket challenge. Favorite methods for picking winning teams abound – some people pick by uniform color, some by geography, some by which mascot could devour the other. If your preferred method is statistics, however, University of Utah senior Sean Sloan can help. Sloan is a mathematics major by day, but by night, or at least any night that the Utah Jazz play at home, he’s a basketball operations intern at Vivint Smart Home Arena. As a part of the Jazz’ analytics team, Sloan helps track players’ movements during games using a camera network above the arena, which helps calculate player statistics for each game. Front office and coaching staff then use the statistics to assess areas of weakness and strength, both for individual players and for the team as a whole.

  • William “Bill” Anderegg, Assistant Professor of BiologyFaculty Spotlight: William “Bill” Anderegg

    William “Bill” Anderegg, Assistant Professor of Biology, studies how drought and climate change affect forest ecosystems, including tree physiology, species interactions, carbon cycling, and biosphere-atmosphere feedback systems. “Our research focuses around a central question: What is the future of forests in a changing climate?” says Anderegg. Utah is well known for its pristine forests. In fact, Utah contains about 7.8 million acres of national forests and is home to the largest aspen tree grove in the world.

  • Math MedleyMathematic, Not Enigmatic

    Picture a mathematician. Is it a man with wild hair scribbling incomprehensible symbols on a blackboard? Is it someone like Charlie Eppes from “NUMB3RS,” prone to episodes of preternatural clairvoyance filled with floating equations and sudden flashes of critical insight? Whoever it is, does the thought of complex math fill you with dread? If so, six graduate students in mathematics would like to change your mind. On Saturday, March 11, the students will present a program titled “Math Medley: A Taste of Modern Research” at the Leonardo museum in Salt Lake City from 2-4 p.m. Admission to the event and the museum’s daylong Puzzles & Pi Jubilee, is included in regular museum admission. For 10 minutes each, the students will talk about their math research, followed by a Q&A session with the audience. The topics include guiding unmanned vehicles, the randomness in cell processes and imagining an alternate universe. (See complete list of speakers and topics below)

  • A chimpanzee walking on its heelsFlat Footed Fighters

    Walking on our heels, a feature that separates great apes, including humans, from other primates, confers advantages in fighting, according to a new University of Utah study published Feb. 15 in Biology Open. Although moving from the balls of the feet is important for quickness, standing with heels planted allows more swinging force, according to study lead author and biologist David Carrier, suggesting that aggression may have played a part in shaping our stance. “This story is one more piece in a broader picture, a suite of distinguishing characters that are consistent with idea that we’re specialized at some level for aggressive behavior,” Carrier says.

  • Wind Turbine FarmStabilizing Energy Storage

    Because the sun doesn’t always shine, solar utilities need a way to store extra charge for a rainy day. The same goes for wind power facilities, since the wind doesn’t always blow. To take full advantage of renewable energy, electrical grids need large batteries that can store the power coming from wind and solar installations until it is needed. Some of the current technologies that are potentially very appealing for the electrical grid are inefficient and short-lived. University of Utah and University of Michigan chemists, participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, predict a better future for a type of battery for grid storage called redox flow batteries. Using a predictive model of molecules and their properties, the team has developed a charge-storing molecule around 1,000 times more stable than current compounds. Their results are reported today in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

  • Rockport Milky WayConsortium for Dark Sky Studies

    The University of Utah has awarded formal recognition to the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies (CDSS), the first academic center in the world dedicated to discovering, developing, communicating and applying knowledge pertaining to the quality of the night skies. The CDSS is an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research group based in the College of Architecture and Planning at the U. The consortium of over 25 university, industry, community and governmental partners will research the global issue of light pollution, and the public health, economic and environmental impacts of the so-called “disappearing dark.”

  • Wave Ripples"Field Patterns" As A New Mathematical Object

    University of Utah mathematicians propose a theoretical framework to understand how waves and other disturbances move through materials in conditions that vary in both space and time. The theory, called “field patterns,” published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society A. Field patterns are characteristic patterns of how disturbances react to changing conditions. Because field patterns exhibit characteristics of both propagating waves and localized particles, field pattern theory may answer some of the questions posed by quantum mechanics, in which objects can be treated as both particles and waves. First author Graeme Milton further posits that field patterns could describe the natures of the fundamental components of matter in the universe.

  • Pearl SandickFaculty Spotlight: Pearl Sandick

    Pearl Sandick, Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is attempting to unravel the mystery of the dark matter in the Universe. “I work on theoretical particle physics – mainly models of new physics that can help explain dark matter, which is known to exist from its gravitational interactions but is otherwise a complete mystery,” says Sandick. Nearly 85% of the matter in the Universe is so-called dark matter, with the rest being normal matter, the stuff that makes up planets and stars.

Last Updated: 12/21/16