George Elliott, PhD’81

“My graduate career began in 1973,” says George Elliott (PhD’81), who with his wife Lissa resides in Virginia. “I was one of only two students accepted into the molecular/cellular/genetics part of the Biology Department that had been newly constructed by K. Gordon Lark. Gordon had hired a dozen or more new professors, mostly young and engaged in a potpourri of cutting edge, exciting research.”

Elliott retired from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2016 following an auspicious career as, first, a patent examiner, manager and Group Director of the Tech Center responsible for biotechnology and pharmaceutical patent examination, and finally as Deputy Chief Policy Officer for Operations in the Office of Policy and International Affairs. A patent gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years in exchange for publishing an enabling public disclosure of the invention.

Stationed in Alexandria, VA, Elliott coordinated operations of approximately 45 attorneys and 55 admin and program staff responsible for advising U.S. Government on Intellectual Property matters and representing the U.S. government in IP-related international organizations and negotiations around the world.

The Office of the Administrator for Policy and International Affairs at USPTO Assists the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in advising the President, through the Secretary of Commerce, and Federal agencies on domestic and international IP issues as well as on United States treaty obligations. Among other tasks, the office also formulates U.S. domestic and international policy regarding protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights while promoting the development of intellectual property systems, nationally and internationally. It also advocates improvements in and more effective means of protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights of United States nationals in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Elliott’s experience at the University of Utah was formative across the board. While at the U, he chose to work with Marty Rechsteiner, now Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Biochemistry, who was continually coming up with new ways to look at intracellular small and large molecule metabolism.

“The lessons I learned working with Marty and in my interactions with [SBS faculty] Toto Olivera, Mario Capecchi, Dana Carroll, Bill Gray and others, stayed with me for the rest of my career, whether in research or at the Patent and Trademark Office.”

George Elliott is one of several alumni who have established a mechanism of estate giving to benefit the School of Biological Sciences. When asked why he has made a gift of this kind, he says, “The education I received while getting my PhD from U Biology was instrumental in providing us with a very enjoyable life together, and we feel it is very important to ensure that the programs that we benefited from can continue to the benefit of those who follow.”

by David Pace
About Planned Giving:

Some planned gifts may yield certain federal tax advantages and can even give you an income throughout your lifetime. The College of Science’s Crimson Legacy Society is designed to recognize those who have made a deep commitment to the future of the School of Biological Sciences through cash or planned gifts at the $50,000 level or above.

Members will be recognized on the Crimson Legacy donor wall and in the College's annual Discover publication. They will also receive special tokens of appreciation in recognition of their support.

Jim Kaschmitter, BS’72

Armed with optimism and a degree in physics, Jim Kaschmitter BS’72, showed up for his first day on the job at Anaconda Copper’s Research Facility in Salt Lake City only to be told by his supervisor to go home because Chile had just nationalized its copper mines. Undeterred, Kaschmitter found a job with OmniLift Corporation, a Salt Lake City startup that was developing a new type of conveyor system in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the U. While working at the U, Kaschmitter bought one of the first Hewlett Packard HP25 calculators and became fascinated by computers. This fascination has led to a long and successful career in Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley Beckons
In 1976, Kaschmitter earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University while working for Professor Robert Byer (the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Applied Physics at Stanford’s Applied Physics Department), helping to build laser spectroscopy equipment. He began a Ph.D. program in Applied Physics but dropped out to take a job at Stanford Telecommunications. Inc. (STI) in Mountain View, Calif. STI was founded by the late James Spilker, Jr., who hired Kaschmitter as an early employee. Spilker was one of the inventors of GPS. While at STI, Kaschmitter designed and built a Viterbi convolutional codec (with an encoder and decoder) for satellite communications.

From there Kaschmitter turned his attention to microprocessors, which were then rapidly advancing in Silicon Valley. He co-developed an automated wafer dicing saw using an Imsai 8080 he and his partner purchased from the first Byte Shop in Mountain View, Calif. Interestingly, this shop had the first Apple computer for sale at the time—an unpackaged PCB with a keyboard. After several interim electronics design jobs, Kaschmitter was recruited to Elxsi Corporation, a San Jose startup founded by ex-Digital Equipment Corporation engineers, where he designed the disk subsystem and worked on the IEEE floating point processor and high-speed bus. He became interested in integrated circuit packaging, which led him to apply for a position at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL)

At LLNL, Kaschmitter undertook several projects, including laser pantography for integrated circuit packaging, image processing, and redundant computing for orbital satellites, solar electric aircraft, and energy storage. In 1987, he co-founded nChip Corporation to commercialize hybrid wafer-scale integration; this technology was later sold to Flextronics. In 1989, Kaschmitter assumed responsibility for developing a low-cost power system for President Reagan’s Star Wars satellite system, but he was frustrated by the expensive, heavy batteries then used in satellites, so he began to investigate lithium-ion, or Li-ion batteries, which were still in the research and development phase. He co-founded PolyStor Corporation in 1993, with a grant from President Clinton’s Technology Reinvestment Project program, and his company subsequently established the first commercial Li-ion manufacturing facility in the U.S. In 1997, he spun off PowerStor Corporation from PolyStor to commercialize a carbon aerogel supercapacitor he’d co-invented at LLNL. PowerStor was subsequently acquired by Cooper Bussmann, Inc., which manufactures 1-2 million supercapacitors per month.

Today, Kaschmitter is CEO of SpectraPower (which he founded in 2002) in Livermore, Calif in order to apply PolyStor’s high-energy Nickel-Cobalt technology for high-altitude electric drones. Initially, the market wasn’t yet ready for the technology, so Kaschmitter subsequently founded UltraCell Corporation to work on reformed methanol micro-fuel cell technology. UltraCell’s fuel cells are deployed today with the U.S. military. In the meantime, Kaschmitter has continued with SpectraPower and now focuses his efforts there on supporting users and developers of Li-based battery technologies.

Memories of the U
“The U is a great school with strong technical departments and academics, especially in the area of physics. The department always had an international outlook but with a supportive small-school atmosphere,” said Kaschmitter. “The students and professors were friendly, approachable, and focused on science. Physics has truly provided the foundation for my career.” He also appreciated the advice provided by Professor Orest Symko, whose insights helped Kaschmitter set personal goals and priorities.

During his undergraduate years, one of his favorite jobs was running the undergraduate Physics Lab, where he maintained and explained basic physics experiments to students. “There have been some stressful times later in my career when I’ve wished I could have that job back!” quipped Kaschmitter.

His advice for undergraduate students is twofold: set career goals and be prepared to work hard to achieve them. As Edison famously said, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”

“I’d also encourage students to stay “fact-based” in whatever profession they choose,” said Kaschmitter. “Don’t let the zeitgeist or trendy popular ideas control your technical thinking. Weigh different opinions, but trust in facts and data. Learn to separate hype from reality.”

Like many of us, Kaschmitter is facing uncertainties during the pandemic but believes the quarantine can provide us with opportunities for independent work. For example, Sir Isaac Newton invented calculus, optics, etc., while he was quarantined in the English countryside during the Great Plague. “We probably can’t all do that, but I’ve found the quarantine allows me to get a lot of work done without the usual day-to-day distractions,” said Kaschmitter.

When he isn’t working, he makes time for his other love—flying. He has a long-time interest in aviation and first did a solo flight at age 16 at the Salt Lake International Airport. “My instructor was Bill Edde, and I sometimes flew with his older brother, who was a former WWI Spad fighter pilot. Later in my career, while at LLNL, I developed lightweight wing-mounted solar panels for the Pathfinder and Helios solar electric aircraft, which AeroVironment subsequently used to set altitude records,” said Kaschmitter. He currently owns, maintains, and flies an experimental Velocity XL-RG: N568Y.

In summing up his career, Kaschmitter notes his favorite adage: “If you love your work, you’ll never work a day in your life,” and that’s certainly how I feel about my career." He admits physics is not the easiest path academically, but studying it gives students a fundamental understanding of science and technology that will give them an edge over the competition. “I’ve dealt with many venture capitalists in Silicon Valley and worldwide throughout my career,” he said. “Having a technical background is a real asset—the ones without it are at a disadvantage in today’s technology-reliant world.”


Donor Recognition

Crimson Laureate Donors

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

Last updated - June 2020


Gary L. & Ann Crocker

PATRONS $500,000-$999,999
Ronald O.* & Eileen Ragsdale
The Sorenson Legacy Foundation

ASSOCIATES $100,000-$499,999
Rodney H.* & Carolyn H. Brady
Thomas Kursar* & Phyllis D. Coley
Michael & Sally S. Hunnicutt
T. Benny* & Gail T. Rushing
John P. & Margaret A. Simons
Ryan J. & Jennifer Warner Watts

FOUNDERS CLUB $50,000-$99,999
Willard L. & Ruth P. Eccles Foundation
Raymond B. Greer
Frances N. & Joel M. Harris
Ole T. & Martha F. Jensen
Ruth Lofgren*
Preston* J. & Phyllis* R. Taylor
Taylor Family Revocable Trust

DESERET CLUB $25,000-$49,999
David F. Blair
John Marcell Davis
Martin & Ragnhild Horvath
Dinesh C. & Kalpana Patel

PRESIDENTS CIRCLE $10,000-$24,999
ARUP Laboratories
Scott L. Anderson & Cynthia J. Burrows
Carleton DeTar & Laurel Casjens
Frederick R. Adler & Anne Collopy
Stephen G. & Susan E. Denkers Family Foundation
Naomi C. Franklin
Henry S. White & Joyce Garcia
Sidney J. & Marian C. Green
Mitchell T. & Diana M. Johnson
David B. & Lisa Goldstein Kieda
Jerry Anthony Murry
Batubay Hamit Ozkan
George R. Riser
Victoria J. Rowntree & Jon Seger
Thaddeus B. Eagar & Rebecca A. Uhlig
Neil & Tanya M. Vickers
Michael R. & Jan Weaver

PRESIDENTS CLUB $2,500-$9,999
Millard Alexander
Peter L. Ashdown
David G. Murrell & Mary C. Beckerle
Nikhil K. Bhayani
BioFire Diagnostics, LLC
Alexandre Boldyrev
Carlos* & Ann Bowman
Patrick Brennan & Carol D. Blair Brennan
Garrett M. Hisatake & Phuong Ngoc Bui
R. Harold Burton Foundation
Kathleen K. Church
Adella Serin Croft
Lawrence T. & Janet T. Dee Foundation
Sue M. Durrant
Edna & James Ehleringer
George & Lissa Elliot
David R. Carrier & Colleen G. Farmer
Joseph A. Gardella
Kenneth M. Golden
Scott A. & Larisa V. Zhilyakova Gore
Jim Hanson
Byron L. & Judy C. Hardy
Eric Harwood & Melissa Mitchell Harwood
Gale A. & John L. Haslam
Darren Wayne Housel
R. Kent & Terri N. Jex
Kenneth D. & Sandra D. Jordan
Paul & Darice Koo
Heber Jacobsen & Christine Lake
Dennis L. & Patricia A. Lombardi
George H. Lowe III
Larry L. & Leslie Marsh
Mark D. & Jennifer McLaws
Edward A. Meenen
Herbert I. & Elsa B. Michael Foundation
Robert Churchwell & Shelley D. Minteer
Mission Math Utah
Diego P. Fernandez & Valeria Molinero
RJay Murray
Jerry Rees & Lynda S. Nelson
Jeffrey A. & Teresa A. Nichols
Mark T. & Brenda Nielsen
Alan P. Peterson
PRA Health Sciences
Timothy J. Purcell & Jessica Shepherd Purcell
Kirk Max Ririe
Rockwell Collins
Rocky Mountain Power Foundation
Matthew S. Sigman & Deborah L. Burney-Sigman
Angela & Mark H. Skolnick
The Skolnick Foundation
David P. & Kimberly K. Sorensen
John E. Straub
Douglas J. N. Taylor
William B. & Vivien G. Terzaghi
Thomas F. & Kathlyn Thatcher
Utah STEM Action Center
Egbertus D. VanDerHeiden
Xiaodong Jiang & Jia Wang
Mary Ann & Peter B. White
Douglas L. & Kaye W. Wyler
XMission L.C.
Shaoqing Song & Fuli Zhao

DEANS CIRCLE $1,000-$2,499
Constantine P. Georgopoulos & Deborah Ang
Tarlton J. & Lorie L.* Blair
Scott K. Carter
Pejman Mahboubi Chalezamini
Lane C. & Paula W. Childs
Paul E. & Denise R. Christian
Carlos A. Chu-Jon
Thomas C. Robbins & Kathleen A. Clark
Ryan J. & Charlotte Conlon
Lawrence J. & Judy Kei Cook
Michael J. Bastiani & Denise Dearing
Sidney Paul Elmer
Cecelia H. Foxley
William E. Buhro & Regina Faye Frey
Donald Ned & Mary Ann Garner
David P. Goldenberg
Kameron Goold
Maciej & Anna Gutowska
Raymond R. & Vernetta B. Jessop
Erik Mathias & Nan Jorgensen
Charmaine Keck
Daniel V. Kinikini
Craig V. & Linda M. Lee
Kristin Erickson Levinson
Ryan & Meghan Looper
Marin Community Foundation
Noel E. Marquis
Jeffrey M. & Allison J. Martin
Maria Navas Moreno
Frances & Richard* Muir
Stanley A. & Jane S. Mulaik
Kevin Wendell & Filinita Tupou Nemelka
Eric & Lora B. Newman
Clifford W. & Susan A. Nichols
Rick D. & Denise Nydegger
Anita M. Orendt
Burak Over
Gregory Steven Owens & Crystal D. Owens
Michael J. Pelletier & Christine C. Pelletier
Robert G. & Susan G. Peterson
Bernard T. & Marsha W. Price
Kevin P. Dockery & Kelly Reynolds
Carl L.* & Kathryn S. Robinson
Peter E. & Susan E. Rogers
Bryant W. & Betty Rossiter
Susan K. Rushing
George G. & Linda A. Seifert
Norman J. Dovichi & Susan L. Sharpe
Cameron J. & Melanie T. Soelberg
TD Williamson Inc.
Richard Neville & Jane Ellen Torgerson
Jacob T. Umbriaco & Erin L. Umbriaco
Jorge Rojas & Gabriela M. Vargas
Christopher Waters
Paul T. Watkins
Kenneth A. Savin & Lisa A. Wenzler
H. Ross & Katherine Workman
Workman Nydegger
Heng Xie
Doju Yoshikami
Dean H. & Jane H.* Zobell

DEANS CLUB $500-$999
Thomas Kelly Alberts
Iwona Anusiewicz
Charles H. & Judy J. Atwood
Ntsanderh C. Azenui
Zlatko & Vesna Bacic
Keld Lars Bak
F. Reid & Margaret H.* Barton
Dennis M. & Jean C. Bramble
Benjamin C. Bromley
Glenn S. & Renée L. Buchanan
Emily Ann Carter
Daniel Patrick & Kara Cherney
Frederic Marsh & Dulce Civish
Samuel J. Cole & Mary G. Furlow-Cole
Mark G. & Linda L. Conish
John E. & Sally P. Crelly Jr.
John C. & Laurie N. Dallon
Donald D.* & Jane G. Dennis
Christoph Boehme & Kristie Dawn Durham
Berton A. & Tiraje Earnshaw
Richard & Linda Easton
Richard D. & Chariya A. Ernst
Larry A. & Wendy Evans
Zhigang Zak & Wenfang Bian Fang
John R. & Terry-Lee Fitzpatrick
Craig D. George
Michael E. & Elizabeth S. Gibson
Bob Palais & Micah Goodman
Ed & Yvonne Groenhout
Tulle Hazelrigg
Henryk & Malgorzata F. Hecht
Daisy Germaine Hewitt
Robert W. Van Kirk & Sheryl Hill
Michelle Jen
Aaron Paul & Chantel Lucile Jenkins
Richard H. & Aurora Jensen
János Kollár & Jennifer M. Johnson
Michael D. Johnson
Anne Hamner & Cheryl Lynn Keil
Thure E. Cerling & Mahala Kephart
William B. Lacy
David Ryan & Laura Lowther
Jordan M. Gerton & Brenda K. Mann
Alexander Gibson McCray
Michael J. & Loretta H. McHugh
Clifton D. McIntosh & Terrie T. McIntosh
James C. & Michele H. McRea
David S. & Viera I. Moore
Neil P. Morrissette
Robert A. Sklar & Brenda L. Moskovitz
William R. Mower
Christopher P. Murdock
Patience A. Nelson
Aaron Y. & Holly A. Nelson
Ruth L. & Phillip J.* Novak
Earl M. & Alesa Ohlson
Roger & Kathleen Pugh
Justin D. Anderson & Lorena D. Purissimo
Jack B. & Itha W. Rampton
Gary L. & Norma D. Ranck
Natalie N. Rasmussen
Cheri Smith Reynolds
Barry B. & Michelle Rhodes
Harold M. & Deborah Jean Rust
David H. & Barbara Schultz
James W. Sewell
Patricia Sharkey
Mark H. Sherwood
Stewart Shuman
Megan V. Sinner
Shane E. Smith
Dean J. & Samantha Stoker
Richard Dean & Elizabeth Blackett Streeper
Eric M. Peterson & Karen C. Thomas
Zeev Valentine Vardeny
Warner Wada
Feng Wang
Jiang-Hua & Hanju Wang
Michael L. Shields & Rachelle Wirth
York J. & Mary Ann Yates
Sean R. Young
Ted Allan & Debra Young

Karen L. Anderson
Jeffrey L. & Kathleen T. Anderson
Dawn Aoki
Edward I. & Florence Aoyagi
David Owen Baumann
Austin F. & Dale O. Bishop
L. Beth Blattenberger
Kathleen Merry Chaudhry
Landon R. Clark & Erin Anne Shaw Clark
Chad & Kimberly Peterson Coates
Steven John & Kimberley Condas
Marcia Cook
Roy & Elaine Corsi
Ruggiero S. Costanzo
Ronald W. Day & Mava Jones Day
Steven J. Dean
R. Bruce & Debby Dickson
Nicholas C. Gunn & Gretchen Jane Domek
James Shannon Doyle & Lisa S. Doyle
Arthur & Katherine Edison
Mohamed M. & Joyce F.* El-Mogazi
Donald Feener
Karla Jean Gilbert
Roy W. Goudy
Patricia Elena Govednik
Mark Hammond & Ming Chen Hammond
Alex & Louise Butler Hardman
Harry G. Hecht
Minmin Lin & Hua Huang
Jeffrey H. & Sherry N. Jasperson
R. Bradley & Vangie Jensen
John W. & Inga Kenney III
Antonios G. Koures & Anupama Kushawaha-
Elizabeth Marie Kralik
Elwood I. & Marion B.* Lentz Jr.
Daniel W. Lundberg
Malcolm & Carole J. MacLeod
Jed B. & Kathryn G. Marti
Fritz J. Knorr & Jeanne L. McHale
Kevin Wight McJames
Lindsay G. Miller
Graeme Milton
William L. & Jane Ehardt Moore
Marvin L. & Sharron Lee Morris
William D. & Ruth B. Ohlsen
Larry Okun
Allen K. & Anne Oshita
James L. & Bonnie D. Parkin
James E. & Margaret A. Parry
Steven & Elizabeth Grace Pattison
Zackary Johannes & Karli Rachel Plenert
Clark B. & Sherrie W. Rampton
Ilya B. Reznik & Riley Lorimer-Reznik
Lee K. & Dawn L. Roberts
Andrew George Roberts
Brian G. & LeeAnn W. Russell
Dennis B. & Barbara H. Sagendorf
Pearl Elizabeth Sandick
Dennis T. & Charlotte J. Sauer
Patrick A. & Deborah F. Shea
Peter E. Silas & Stephanie B. Silas
Piotr & Joanna Skurski
Jerilyn S. McIntyre & W. David Smith
Scott Smith
Nathan Frederick Dalleska & Eileen M. Spain
Thomas G. Richmond & Cynthia Squire
Claude Karim Tabet
Michael L. Taylor
Ye Tian
Zhiwei Liu & Aihua Tong
Jared M. Vargason
Lane J. & Rhonda L. Wallace
Michael A. Weibel
Steven A. & Catherine N. Werner
Vernon D. Sandberg & Carol A. Wilkinson
Mary A. Young
Steven Yourstone

CENTURY CLUB $250-$499
Roger L. Aamodt
Randy Adachi
D. Wain & E. Rebecca Allen
Glenn D. & Lee Allinger
Terrell N. & Virginia L. Andersen
Albert G. & Christine M. Anderson
Les C. & Mary E. Anderson
Gameil Taher Fouad & Gina Barberi
Jim & Kimberly M. Barton
Scott W. & Susan T. Bean
Richard & Shirley Behrendt
Douglas Neal & Karen Holt Bennion
Robert S. & Sydney B. Bennion
Burton L. Markham* & Diane L. Bentley
Douglas Bergman
George Howze* & Katharine O. Biele
Jay R. & Kathleen L. Blain
Gary M. & Shanna H. Blake
Casey Carlo & Jiliane M. Brandol
William & Julie Breckenridge
William O. Wilson & Carmen R. Buhler
Ryan Gregory Bullett & Kelly S. Bullett
Michael J. Cavanagh
Grzegorz & Barbara Chalasinski
Shenlin Chen
Brigham V. & Marsali M. Cheney
David T. Chuljian
Kip Smith & Monica D. Clement
Stephen L. & Nicola G. Dahl
Michael D. Darley
Harold A. & Sonja M. Decker
Celeste Veronica Delrio
James K. & J. Linda Detling
Alan D. & Vickie Muir Eastman
Christopher F. & Joanne Lewis* Erskine
Wei Jiang & Chenxi Fang
Briant J. & Glenna R. Farnsworth
Aaron L. Fogelson & Deborah Susan Feder
Christopher Bradford Fox
Kimberly Geisler
Stephen M.* & Jessica T. Gledhill
Keith M. Gligorich & Olena M. Gligorich
Bridget L. Gourley
Fletcher & Sally Gross
Brian & Mary Wohl Haan
Robert J. & Carolyn B. Hargrove
Angela Harper
Carol Ann Harper
David G. & Jean Hart
Kenneth C. & Michele Taylor Hartner
Grant E. & Carolyn C. Head
Bret Heale & Rebecca Noonan-Heale
Emily C. Heider
E. Ronn & Nancy Decker Heiner
Robert K. & Tina R. Herman
William C Hewitson
Barton T. & Elizabeth E. Hoenes
Christopher House
Douglas H. & Charlotte R. Howe
Hongbo Tang & Yufeng Huang
Charles B. & Janet Hubley
John Hughes
Paul Rollins & RosaMaria Hurst
Alan Can-Hung & Nancy Huynh
Joseph & Karen Jensen
Georgia A. Jeppesen
Isaac Benjamin Johnson
Ronald L. & Mary Sue Johnson
Paul E. & Constance B. Johnston
Gary S. & Cynthia Kanner
Jennifer Pei-Chen Kao
Siegfried G. & Ellen G. Karsten
James P. & Kristine Keener
Roy A. & Marilyn L. Keir
Walter J. & Kelly S. Keller
James Kelley & Carolyn O. Kelley
Matthew T. & Autumn Kieber-Emmons
Ed & Marsha Kilgore
Paul I. & Eileen L. Kingsbury Jr.
Peter A.* & Carole Koren
Carol Korzeniewski
Robert O. & Judy R. Kron
Lawrence R. & Sally L. Kursar Sr.
Roger O. & Sue Ann H. Ladle
Armin P. Langheinrich
Rolf Eric & Lucinda K. Larsen
Michael Craig & Cathy Larsen
Franklin M. & Joan T. Leaver Jr.
Kerry L. & Ann J. Lee
Xiaoqin Cao & Zhongjian Li
Wei Li
Jason A. & Linda E. Lillegraven
Marilyn Loveless
Hai-Bo Wang & Jun Lu
Anthony F. & Jennifer Ann Lund
Vance Andrew & Heidi R. Lyon
Chaoxiong Ma
Ming-Jun Lai & Lingyun Ma
Lynn R. & Pamela Mahoney
Russell L.* & Estelle S. Marlor
James U. & Sylvia B. Mathis
Walter L. & Carol L. McKnight
Thomas C. & Linda B. McMillan
Frank G. & Sharon R. Meyer
William E Miller
Larry K. & Sharma B. Millward
Steven Mimnaugh
Hwa-Ping Feng & Diana L. Montgomery
Earl & Sharlene Mortensen
Marcus P. & Sara Nebeling
William & Raquel Nikolai
Vanessa Blue Oklejas
Larry J. & Carol Page
Dong Pan
David N. & Gloria Pehrson
Carl J. & Barbara Popp
Douglas Samuel & Jeannie M. Prince
Li & Hope Z. Qi
Urvin Shah & Kavita Reddy
David J. & Earnestine M. Remondini
Robert Anselmo Sclafani & Christine M. Roberts
Jack D. Morris & Glenda M. Rose
Peter E. Rose
Alan S. & Cheryl Ruth Rothenberg
Richard M. & Marilynn Rytting
Richard & Peggy D. Sacher
Robert A. Sanchez
Richard P. Savage Jr. & Mary Savage
William D. Schraer
Jeraldine Schumacher
Kimberly R. Schuske
James Lloyd Sferas
Richard B. & Harriett Sher
Yifan Shi
Ki Joon & Akiko K. Shin
William Thomas & Susan D. Silfvast
Richard A. & Diane R. Smookler
Don & Barbara B. Snyder
Glade V. Sorensen
Philip J. & Maida H. Spjut
Michael Henry & Ruth C. Stevens
Harold T. & Kay Stokes
Gary G. & Jeanne A. Stroebel
Barry M. Stults & Connie C. Stults
Joseph Subotnik
Edward Yu & Helen Sun
Tom Vitelli & Michele A. Swaner
Pete W. & Diane T. Temple
Robert B. Roemer & L. Irene Terry
Roy M. Piskadlo & Ellen Tolstad
Thomas E. & Susan Tomasi
Sylvia D. Torti
John C. Tully
Christian A. & Laura J. Ulmer
John F Unguren
Chi S. Van
Jayson A. Punwani & Jaimie VanNorman
Gregory Alan VonArx
Jennica Waldman
Reed H. & Catherine Walsh
Gang Wang
Qiuquan Wang
Ruping Deng & Xiaoli Wang
M. Bruce & Claire L. Welch
Luisa Whittaker-Brooks
Paul Landry Wiggins
Eliot J. & Susan Wilcox
Bonnie B. Wilkerson
Cagan Sekercioglu & Tanya Williams
Kenneth & Betty J. Wireman
Yung-Cheng Yang
Charles Jui & Tamara Young
Timothy R. & Rocio Zajic
Daniel Ryan Wik & Gail Zasowski
Steve M. & Shari Zinik
Dylan Zwick


*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 January 1, 2019 and May 1, 2020. Standard University group designations are used. We are extremely grateful for these and all of our generous supporters.


Bill Jack, BA’77

Bill Jack’s undergraduate experience at the University of Utah’s Chemistry Department was foundational and flavored his graduate school and professional path. In hindsight, Bill also recognizes the influence of the few humanities courses he participated in where discussions on James Joyce and American Literature altered his perspective on the world. His only regret about his undergraduate years here at the U, is that he did not slow down and take advantage of broader educational opportunities to learn as much as he could in both the humanities as well as in chemistry.

During one undergraduate summer, Bill was inspired by a single sentence in a physics course that would influence the way he approached the world. The instructor, Dr. Swaggart, began his class by telling the students, “I’m going to teach you about a new way to look at the world.” Bill integrated this sentiment in a variety of different subjects since then, whether in math, social studies, literature, chemistry, anything really. “It’s a different way to see the world, and that broad background just increases your appreciation of the world,” says Bill.

Bill’s educational foundation lead him to a graduate program at Duke University where he thought he would begin a career as a physical biochemist after “tailing” Sidney Velick all summer, but, in an effort to simplify his newlywed life, he asked to work in a lab which quickly altered his path. He ended up being a graduate student with Paul Modrich researching an enzyme that ended up being one of the enzymes that is foundational at New England Biolabs--the only “real” job he’s ever had after he completed his graduate and postdoc work.

Bill has been working at NEB for the past 31 years, and now enjoys the freedom to take risks in his research. He confirms that the company’s founder is absolutely right when he claims that, “New England Biolabs scientists can’t wait to get to work each morning to see how their experiments turned out.” Bill’s latest project is admittedly risky, but that’s what makes it so exciting. The possibility that something might work as he tries to wrap his mind around different ways of analyzing and changing the environment to find a solution for such a fascinating biological phenomena keeps him pushing new boundaries.

Bill is collaborating with a team at Columbia University with an expertise in the biology of the DNA sequence he’s investigating. They’re growing, breaking, and piecing back together the sequences to try to replicate in a test tube the DNA splicing that happens naturally. “I believe that there will be steps along the way that we will have insights into other organisms, other processes whether they be normal ones or ones that cause disease, and there’s also even prospects from a commercial perspective that some of the enzymes involved will be useful in advancing other molecular biology techniques. The company I work for takes enzymes that occur in nature, pulls them out, and characterizes them so they’re available in other workflows to prepare DNA sequences.”

by Anne Vivienne

Kurt Zilm, BS’76, PhD’81

As Yale’s current Chair of the Chemistry Department, it seems clear that Kurt has always understood what the foundation of a successful chemistry department is built on: human connection, collaborative research, and investment in students. As a graduate student at the University of Utah, Kurt took advantage of Professor Ted Eyring’s time, knowledge, and generosity as much as Ted would endure his endless questions and curiosity. He’s spent the past 16 years as the Director of Undergraduate Studies at Yale University, and has committed to create an environment for students that allows them to indulge their curiosity--just as he was able to do with Professor Eyring.

After being at Yale for 38 years, Kurt has recently been part of a renaissance in their college of science as they renovate and build facilities that give all students the opportunities and experiences they need in order to establish themselves as serious chemists and innovators. The department’s investments have made it possible for every undergraduate in organic chemistry to have their own hood with an updated condenser system that delivers chilled water back through a seperate gravity-fed drain system--saving 150,000 gallons of water per year. Kurt has moved his lab three times in the past few years with all the renovating, but of course, is already seeing the extensive benefits to student research.

Since 1995, Yale has made a big push to provide more opportunities for women, minority, economically underprivileged, and other historically underrepresented students in STEM through their STARS Program. Zilm has seen the impact of this program on the science community, and the stats reveal that students who participate in this program continue on in the sciences with a significant impact.

Kurt’s own research is on the cusp of exciting results that he will be publishing in the near future. For one project, he’s been collaborating with a team at Dartmouth trying to figure out what it is that makes infectious prions infectious and how to differentiate them from non-infectious prions. He’s also been working with a team at Yale’s Medical School to understand the molecular mechanism of Alzheimer’s Disease--which he thinks they now understand, and have drugs that seem to work with mice.

These research projects have been 90% of Kurt’s work over the past five years, and it’s all finally starting to bear some fruit. He is quick to talk about the importance of collaboration:

“These projects are really starting to bear fruit only because we’re collaborating with these two teams, and we have the right people and the right facilities to work on this. None of us could have done it on our own.”

For Zilm, it’s all connected: from the similar molecular origins of his two projects, to the investment in students and facilities, to his beginnings at the University of Utah, and the collaborations he’s been part of in the past, present, and future.

by Anne Vivienne

Michelle Williams, PhD’87

Michelle Williams

Michelle’s story sounds like it must have been deliberately calculated and executed. How else does someone go from Jamaica at an all-girls boarding school to college in New York City to graduate school at the University of Utah to Global Group President of Arkema, a billion-dollar subsidiary of Altuglas International? Turns out, Michelle had zero plans whatsoever to lead an international company along her career path. Instead, she thought she might like teaching. As she says, “Plan A never works out, and sometimes it’s Plan H or Plan G that finally works!”

She came to the University of Utah after breezing through college so much so that it was all a blur, and she found herself in Dr. David Grant’s research group at the age of 19. “I had no idea what I was getting into.” She, like most 19-year-olds, was looking for adventure and eagerly said goodbye to her teary-eyed mother at the airport. Michelle was checking off her adulting list: she rented an apartment--her ​own​ place; figured out her schedule; supported herself on her tiny teaching and research stipend; and she made her way, “I mucked my way through it.”

Michelle is emphatic that “this is where I grew up.” Only second to her decision to have children, coming to the University of Utah Chemistry Department was the best decision she ever made. Despite her overwhelm when she began her graduate research, she was quick and willing to ask for help, and she’s continued to do so throughout her entire career. “The reality is that I have always found that there are people who will help you. There are always people who see something in you.”

As she was completing her PhD research and dissertation defense, Michelle began casually interviewing with companies while she waited for her experiments to finish. She turned down a job offer from Dow Chemical though the interview was one of the most impactful conversations she would have about her career. The interviewer advised her, “young lady,” at which Michelle rolled her eyes, “you’re going to have opportunities and opportunities, and you need to find a company that has the right personality to match your personality.” She turned down the Dow Chemical position, and, instead, accepted a job at Rohm and Haas.

The job at Rohm and Haas was a continuation of the sense of community she had come to love at the University of Utah. It was a small enough, family-owned company where she could build relationships, and the focus was on learning, training, development and growing people. From a young age, Michelle has developed and followed her core values through every step of the way.

by Anne Vivienne

Ole Jensen, BS’72

On the surface, Ole Jensen’s start as an undergraduate biology major, angling for medical school, didn’t appear particularly auspicious. His one claim to fame was that as an undergraduate the Salt Lake native was tapped to be a “calf sitter,” which meant that he would sit all night with young bovine used in experiments and monitor their heart rates. The calves were a critical part of the University’s artificial organ program which would eventually produce the world’s first artificial heart in the 1980s.

Not bad for a Utah boy who, when he wasn’t fishing with his Norwegian-born father on the Provo River and elsewhere, spent much of his early life collecting what would become one of the largest insect collections in the state.

It was a heady time to be studying biology at the U. Department Chair Gordon Lark was bringing in guest lecturers and expanding the faculty at a prodigious rate, including micro-biologist Mario Capecchi who would eventually be awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in genetics. Jensen recalls his time in the early seventies as an undergraduate at the U. One day, he says, anatomy professor Stephen Durrant “threw out twenty animal bones spread over a long table and asked the students to identify […them] as part of the midterm exam.” It turned out that the students, who in class had been studying strictly land mammals, got very few correct answers. “One bone that very much perplexed me that I remember to this day,” Jensen continues, “was half of a frontal bone with an ovoid depression. It was from a dolphin: the depression access for the spout!” Needless to say, it was “a particular shock” to find a marine mammal bone in the pile, but it was an experience that Jensen still recalls with some exhilaration.

After graduating from dental school at Northwest University, Jensen continued to Michigan to study oral surgery and, as a post doc, anesthesia, which would eventually lead to a Master’s degree in anesthesiology before returning to the west where he set up practice in Denver. There he plied his trade, as both a science and an art, for the next 38 years. But research has continued to braid its way through his entire professional life—a continuous thread that has kept him at the forefront of the fast-moving field of oral and maxillofacial surgery in which technology, the life sciences and medicine converge. As with many oral surgeons, Jensen performed four-on-one implant operations, which combine bridgework with a maximum of four implants per each of the crescent arrangements or arches.

Eventually, he modified the procedure so that it was less invasive and more intuitive, underscored by his determination to see the implant not as an analogue to a tooth (or teeth) but as a function of bio-mechanical forces, mathematically determined. Eventually he would join forces with business partners to found Clear Choice Dental Implants. “Basically, for five years I wanted to die,” Jensen says of the start-up which now has forty clinics across the nation. The company nearly failed three times, including during the recession of 2008. “I wanted to practice . . . business with integrity, and to be doing things in the best interests of the patients. It’s hard to do that with this kind of work where it’s not too costly and not too difficult for doctors to perform.” In a recent DentalTown podcast, Jensen explains, “If you have a business that is related to dental implants, you’re not going to do stuff that will put the business at risk."

"So this has a business, scientific, and a clinical basis of validity," he says ". . . [and] we stand by the way we treat our edentulous patients… .” Of course success is never final. With his rigorous research background and his bias for asking lots of questions, this time about biofilm, the pervasive glue-like matrix that grows virtually everywhere and can lead to complications in bio-medical work, Jensen took on yet another professional challenge. In September he was hired as Chief Medical Officer for Israel-based NOBIO, helping to create products through Nano-technology in which particles with superior micro-biotic activities are baked into the product to prevent bacteria from growing on surgically implanted devices.

Jensen’s research questions, especially as they’ve related to medicine, have been open ones. “Almost everything I’ve done is in surgery,” he says. “Now I’m doing a project with computers,” referring to his latest adventure. Inspired by the training of pilots who learn to fly by logging many hours in flight simulators, Jensen and his team at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston are developing a program for surgical simulations.

Doon Gibbs, BS’63

Doon Gibbs is currently the Director of Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York. Brookhaven is a multi-program U.S. Department of Energy laboratory with nearly 3,000 employees, more than 4,000 facility users each year, and an annual budget of about $600 million.

Brookhaven Lab’s largest facilities include the National Synchrotron Light Source II, the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, and the Center for Functional Nanomaterials – some of the finest research instruments in the world.

Doon was born in Illinois, where his father was a post doc, but grew up in Salt Lake City near the University of Utah. His father, Peter Gibbs, was a prominent physics professor at the U, and his mother, Miriam, was a school teacher at Wasatch Elementary in the Avenues district. The family home was just off First Avenue and Virginia Street, only a few blocks from campus.

Doon and his younger siblings, Victoria and Nicholas, attended East High School. Upon graduation, Doon moved to Portland to attend Reed College, a private liberal arts school. After two years, he returned to Utah and enrolled at the U. He worked on campus as a writer and reporter with The Daily Utah Chronicle, the University’s student newspaper.

“I tried just about everything else except physics in school,” says Gibbs. “But, there was one physics course that sounded intriguing. It was Gale Dick’s entry-level class, ‘Physics for Poets.’ I signed up for summer semester 1974. Despite my best efforts to not do exactly what my dad did, I found that physics was totally compelling.”

Additional physics and math classes soon followed. He changed his major to Mathematics in 1975, added a Physics major in 1976 and graduated with both degrees in 1977. He was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.

Although his father was a well known professor of physics at the U, and chairman of the department from 1967-1976, Doon didn’t take a single class from his dad.

“Well, I got physics lessons from my dad every day, but it was usually at home on the front porch or in the kitchen,” says Gibbs. “I didn’t get any college credit.” He chuckles.

Doon pursued a Master’s degree in physics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, ironically, the same school at which his father had been a post doc. He stayed at Illinois to complete a doctorate degree in condensed matter physics in 1982 – the same field as his dad, although Doon is an experimenter and his father is a theorist. During this time, his research interests focused on the utilization of synchrotron radiation to perform spectroscopy of surfaces.

After graduate school, Doon found an entry-level job as an assistant physicist. The place was Brookhaven National Laboratory. The year was 1983.

At Brookhaven, he specialized in condensed matter physics and X-ray magnetic scattering and was promoted to a senior physicist in 2000.

In 2003, Gibbs was honored with the Advanced Photon Source Arthur H. Compton Award “for pioneering theoretical and experimental work in resonant X-ray magnetic scattering, which has led to many important applications in condensed matter physics.”

He was named Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology in 2007.

By 2010, Gibbs’ management experiences at Brookhaven included the positions of Group Leader of X-ray Scattering, Associate and Deputy Chair of Physics, Head of Condensed Matter Physics, Interim Director of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials, and Associate Laboratory Director for Basic Energy Sciences.

“A science background is a great preparation for an increasingly complex world. The ability to analyze and creatively solve complicated problems is a wonderful advantage,” says Gibbs.

Gibbs was instrumental in overseeing the design and construction of Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials, and has played a significant role in advancing other major Lab projects including the National Synchrotron Light Source II and the Interdisciplinary Science Building. He has also overseen the growth of Brookhaven’s basic energy sciences programs in chemistry, materials science, nanoscience, and condensed matter physics.

“Brookhaven is moving in new and exciting directions,” says Gibbs. “In the next decade, we hope to expand our nuclear and particle physics efforts to build a next-generation electron-ion collider, among other projects. In general, national labs develop and use science and technology to address critical issues such as energy security, national and nuclear security and environmental clean-up.”

Doon met his wife, Teri Barbero, on a blind date in New York City. “We went to a cool Indian restaurant in midtown,” recalls Gibbs. “We were inseparable after that, and were married about a year later.”

The couple lives in Setauket, New York. They have two sons, Theo, 20, and Alex, 18. The family enjoys skiing, soccer, and backyard barbecues.

Doon visits Utah on occasion to visit friends and family. His father is always ready with a physics lesson for the youngster.

The Gandhis, BS’86, 91, 92

Last December, when the three Gandhi children, Rajesh BS’86, Monica BS’91 and Leena BS’92 returned home to Salt Lake City—two from one coast, and one from the other—they celebrated their parents fifty-fifth wedding anniversary. As alumni, all three, from the School of Biological Sciences, they must have had a lot to reflect on.

Their father, Om, now aged 84, had brought his young family to the U in 1967 during the “summer of love” from their native India when Rajesh “Tim,” the only child at the time, was three years old. A Professor of Electrical Engineering at the U for over 50 years (and former department chair) Om has since retired. Says Rajesh, “We essentially grew up in the Merrill Engineering Building.” He and his sisters remember department picnics and other college events. “We were especially impressed as children with all of the colored chalk they had in the classrooms,” remembers Rajesh. Both Om and the Gandhi children’s mother (Santosh) had to leave home at a young age to pursue further education. After Om earned his PhD at the University of Michigan in the late 50s, he returned to the subcontinent where he taught physics for a time in a small town in India before accepting an opportunity to return to the U.S. He chose the U.

Once the children were older, Mrs. Gandhi returned to school herself, and even took classes from her husband. Far from showing her favoritism, he insisted on only answering her questions during office hours! She eventually finished her degree in computer programming before taking a position at the Salt Lake branch of 3M.

It was an educated family, for sure, and all in the sciences. It was also a family inextricably tied to the University of Utah. All three of the Gandhi children attended the U because it was local, “a function of my parents’ having to leave home early [in their studies] in post-partition India,” says Monica who attended Harvard for her MD and who is currently Professor of Medicine and Associate Chief of the Division of HIV, Infectious Disease, and Global Medicine at UCSF. She also serves as Medical Director of the Ward 86 HIV Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital, one of the oldest HIV clinics in the country. All three siblings remember the excitement of coming to the U after going to public schools in the 1970s/80s, recalling how it broadened their horizons from the more limited experiences they had growing up.

“We were all pretty much wedded to the U. Part of our ethos growing up” in Utah, continues Monica. Attending the U was liberating, they say, mind-opening with a bit of counter-culture at play after going through the public school system in Salt Lake. And certainly it was formative.

“I was moved to enter HIV care,” says Monica, “after growing up in a place where I saw friends coming out as gay in high school struggle with stigma. I also became interested in infectious diseases, which differentially affect the poor, after going to India several times as a child to visit grandparents and witnessing the stark contrast between rich and poor. This set me on the path to medical school.

” Beginning her sophomore year Monica worked on chemotaxis in E.coli with her undergraduate advisor Dr. John (“Sandy”) Parkinson in his lab. She will be returning to Utah as this year’s convocation speaker in May. She describes the Bay Area where she currently lives as a place “that couldn’t be more different than Utah.” Although San Francisco is generally a place where gay and transgender individuals have sought refuge from more conservative places throughout the U.S., “stigma towards people living with HIV still exists and must constantly be combatted,” she says.

Before Monica enrolled in the U, Rajesh, five years older, worked in Dr. Baldomero “Toto” Olivera’s lab, the celebrated faculty researcher whose subject model is poisonous cone snails. “Toto was an incredible mentor to me and to countless others,” says Rajesh. “He taught me the transformative power of science and set me on the road to a career in biology and medicine. I would not be where I am without his encouragement and influence.”

Rajesh’s U experience was as much about philosophy and history as biology. Both he and Leena remember fondly the five-term Intellectual Traditions of the West colloquia with professors like the beloved theologian and classicist Dr. Sterling McMurrin. “At the U, I experienced a whole new world from my time in public schools,” says Rajesh. “It was a place packed with people of diverse experiences, interests and perspectives. It was a vibrant and exciting place to be.”

Around the time Rajesh entered medical school, also at Harvard, he recalls with Monica, the state of affairs of that singular time in American medical history. “HIV was just ramping up. It was a devastating disease and one that was being defined in front of our eyes.” Between 1988–90, the medical sector was furiously attempting to figure out how the disease manifested itself. Treatments were very poor. He especially admires Kristen Ries, MD, MCAP who for a time was head of the clinic at the U serving HIV/AIDS patients. The difference, he says, between the attitude toward the sick in small towns compared to, again, a place like San Francisco at this time was “very moving to me,” he says. Currently, he practices medicine in Boston where he is a specialist in infectious disease and Medical Director of the HIV Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is also actively involved in HIV clinical research, working on discovering a cure for HIV—the disease that defined his generation.

While all three Gandhis ended up as medical doctors, Leena, who has focused on oncology for the past 10-plus years, currently leads early drug development at Lilly Pharma. Leena earned her PhD at the University of California Berkeley in DNA replication studies before attending New York University for medical school, followed by her residency at Mass General and a fellowship at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston. She characterizes her experience at the U as providing “a genuine ‘college experience’. [The School of Biological Sciences] …was all about scientific inquiry,” she says. “I learned something every day from [then] junior faculty like Dr. Mary Bekerhle [now head of the Huntsman Cancer Institute].” Leena also worked in Ted and Tucker Gurney’s lab in cell biology.

“The spirit of scientific inquiry was everywhere,” she continues, “and it really motivated me to go on for a PhD in the science of medicine and the early development of drugs… At the U, I learned that science drives how we interact at the macro level. It was very grounding.” With the benefits of the novel field of immune-oncology, Leena still has patients who have been free of cancer for more than ten years. But, of course, there is still work to be done. “At Lilly I’m able to do work at a much larger scale and with a much broader population.”

The Gandhi Effect found in Rajesh, Monica and Leena Gandhi— from “sea to shining sea”—is indeed a rarity, what one might call “A Triple Threat” that the School is proud to embrace.

Our DNA Magazine

McKay Hyde, BS’97

McKay Hyde (Honors B.A. Mathematics, B.A. Physics ’97) always enjoyed math and science, but it was taking a series of physics classes at the U, between his junior and senior year in high school, that changed his life. “I always enjoyed mathematics,” he said. “But physics showed me how mathematics could be used to solve real-world problems. That was tremendously exciting to me and still is.”

The Hyde Family

Today Hyde is managing director in Equities Engineering for the New York office of Goldman Sachs and is responsible for building systems to manage securities inventory and collateral, working closely with teams across Engineering, as well as the Finance, Operations and Securities divisions. “I like being part of a cross-functional team, building relationships and working together to find solutions that impact the organization and the clients we serve,” he said. “The combination of using mathematics and computer science applied to practical problems is very rewarding.”

He joined Goldman Sachs in 2006 and was named managing director in 2010. At Goldman Sachs, Hyde has had a range of responsibilities. He was head of the global Market Risk Technology team within Finance and Risk Engineering. Before that, Hyde led the Trading Strats team for Interest Rate Products in New York as well as the Core Quant Strats team, which developed models, algorithmic trading methods, and pricing infrastructure used by a number of trading desks. (“Strat” is a term that originated with Goldman Sachs to describe individuals that use tools from mathematics and computer science to build financial models In his Core Quant Strat role, Hyde led the build out of the Strat teams in Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore), India, known as “The Silicon Valley of India.”

McKay Hyde, BS'97

Roots in Utah and at the U

Hyde grew up in Salt Lake City and North Salt Lake, graduating from Woods Cross High School. He met his wife, Marie, in an “outstanding” honors class taught by Professor Emeritus Jack Newell (“Education and Identity”), who served as dean and principal architect of the U’s Liberal Education Program. In his first two years at the U Hyde was also active in the U’s music program, playing the trumpet in several university bands—Concert, Marching, Pep, and Jazz.

Hyde gives credit to the education he received at the U with helping prepare him for a career in the financial sector. “I received a tremendous education in physics and mathematics, including research experience working in the Cosmic Ray group and in probability theory. The U provides great value as an institution—a quality education at a reasonable cost,” he said.

He also has great memories of three professors who made a difference for him during his undergraduate years: Davar Khoshnevisan (professor and current chair of the Math Department), Hyde’s undergraduate research advisor in mathematics; Martha Bradley, former dean of the Honors College, and the late Professor Gale Dick, whose “physics lectures were a work of art,” said Hyde.

Using Agile Principles in Undergraduate Research

Hyde believes students should be encouraged to participate in research opportunities early in their undergraduate years, and he applauds the decision of the College of Science to focus on a new program called the Undergraduate Research Initiative. “Research is very different from coursework—it’s really a separate skill,” said Hyde. “Engaging and encouraging undergrads to work together in research opportunities provides a far richer educational experience that really pays off in preparing students for demanding careers.”

To that end, Hyde thinks the same concepts and principles that teams use in Agile software development can effectively be applied to something like the Undergraduate Research Initiative program. “Creating an Agile environment—whether in software development or research—is essentially the same,” said Hyde.

“It involves developing and supporting a culture that encourages a team of people to work toward a common goal. To that end, a large project or research problem can be broken down into smaller tasks. A scrum master or team leader evaluates the special skills and talents of each individual on the team, assigns them to specific tasks, and the team comes together frequently—typically during a daily stand up —over focused sprints—typically 2-3 weeks long—to complete those tasks yielding demonstrable progress at the end of each sprint. By repeating this process, the team improves while building confidence and trust through repeated accomplishment of its goals.”

Previous Academic Career

After earning degrees at the U in 1997 Hyde completed a Ph.D. in Applied and Computational Mathematics from the California Institute of Technology in 2003. Hyde worked as a postdoc in the School of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota and later joined Rice University as an assistant professor of computational and applied mathematics.

When Hyde first left academia to work at Goldman Sachs, he wondered if he would need to dress and act like a “stereotypical banker.” But he discovered it was a much easier transition. “I found smart people from technical fields applying their skills in the area of finance,” he said. “It made me realize the importance of being open to new opportunities—taking the skills and talents you have and using them in different fields or industries to build relationships with others and do meaningful work. That’s really what it’s all about.”

Hyde and his wife, Marie, enjoy living in New Jersey and are the parents of four children: a son studying music at Berklee College of Music; a daughter at Brigham Young University (currently serving a church mission in Peru); and a son and daughter in high school.

 - First Published in Discover Magazine, Fall 2019