Donor Impact

Donor Impact


The Student Emergency Fund

Earlier this year the College of Science asked our supporters to help science students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The response was overwhelming.

“Thank you for this generous scholarship. It will not go to waste. With the money I am receiving, I will be able to stay in school and not have to take any semesters off.”

 

Faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the college came together to help our students in need, making 283 donations in support of the Student Emergency Fund. So far, the fund has supported 83 students in need with over $108,000 in scholarships, ranging from $200 to $4,000 per student.

“Words cannot begin to express my appreciation to have been chosen as a recipient of your donation. You have no idea how much relief I felt. I am very grateful that I can further pursue my studies.”

 

Students received help after facing issues like unexpected medical diagnoses and hospitalizations, caring for terminally ill family members, rapidly increasing drug costs for essential medications, and job losses due to the pandemic.

“I am so grateful for this support. I can’t wait to graduate and be able to pay it forward to others in need.”

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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.

Michelle Williams

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
 

Doon Gibbs

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.

Alumni VS Coronavirus

Alumni Alert
Randy Rasmussen, PhD'98

SBS alumni Randy Rasmussen is the founder of BioFire Diagnostics which, along with ARUP and other Utah biotech companies, is making a difference in fighting the coronavirus.

Randy Rasmussen, PHD'98

UTAH BIOTECH COMPANIES RALLY TO FIGHT THE CORONAVIRUS

After a new virus, COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) was deemed a pandemic by the World Health Organization and then rapidly spread throughout the United States and other countries throughout the world, healthcare professionals and patients alike became vocal about the lack of testing kits available throughout the state and country.

In order to ensure that a greater percentage of the population would have accessibility to testing in the event that it was needed, the Food and Drug Administration announced a series of regulatory changes for laboratories and other diagnostic companies that gave already certified high-complexity laboratories (such as the ones found in hospitals or doctor’s offices) the ability to use their own tests to diagnose COVID-19, instead of the pre-authorized and distributed tests from the CDC.

BIOFIRE CREATED CORONAVIRUS TESTS IN TWO MONTHS

As a result, several Utah biotech companies stepped up to the plate, including Biofire Diagnostics, and it’s sister company BioFire Defense, who created a specific biological test used to help healthcare providers throughout the country screen for the novel virus. Partnering with the Department of Defense on the development of the test, BioFire managed to create the test and have it certified for use in as little as two months, a lightspeed feat just when patients across the world needed one the most.

Biofire

“Part of that [shortened time frame] was because the FDA was amazing. They were so good to work with. My team was sending emails to the FDA in the middle of the night and they were getting responses within minutes. It was super impressive. And so I think that’s why the development time was super-compressed,” says Wade Stevenson, senior vice president of BioFire Diagnostics when discussing the timeline of the BioFire test. “The Department of Defense [also] provided us with some end-targets that supported the product that they wanted and they gave us some funds to help get there. The development work was done by BioFire Defense and then BioFire Diagnostics does most of the manufacturing.”

The BioFire test wouldn’t have become a reality without their hundreds of employees coming in to work on the front lines every day. “You can’t do research and diagnostics from home,” laughs Stevenson when asked how the company is handling the process while adhering to the new social distancing guidelines. “You also can’t fit production lines into anyone’s home. So we, as a company, had to take a hard look at who can do their job at home or not. Governor Herbert did claim BioFire an essential business, however.”

Essential, indeed. Throughout the country, and the rest of the world, BioFire’s diagnostic capabilities are capable of saving the lives of thousands of potentially sick patients. In fact, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio specifically called out another BioFire diagnostic tool, the BioFire FilmArray Respiratory Panels, in his plan to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in New York City. “First thing [healthcare providers] will do, or among the first thing that they will do, is to test you with BioFire,” said de Blasio in a televised March 9th press conference.

De Blasio went on to discuss how providers would use the BioFire respiratory panels to first screen patients for twenty of the most common respiratory viruses to determine if it could be something other than COVID-19. Only after a patient tested negative with the BioFire respiratory test would they be tested for COVID-19, which could save hundreds of tests for those who are likely positive.

“We will be adding COVID-19 to the [respiratory label] but that will take a few more months of development,” says Stevenson. “[When that is added] that will change the game because you can rule out COVID-19 right along with the 20 other cases of respiratory infection.”

Though the FilmArray respiratory panels are already available for purchase, the initial batch of BioFire’s COVID-19 tests was sent to the Department of Defense in mid-March. The company expects to have the test available on a clinical basis around the third week of April.

ARUP LABORATORIES PROVIDES TESTING CAPABILITIES TO UTAHNS

Additionally, to further help meet the need of sick Utahns, ARUP Laboratories, a nonprofit enterprise of the University of Utah, was one of the first non-public health laboratories to offer COVID-19 testing when the pandemic first hit.

ARUP Labs

“ARUP began working with an outside manufacturing partner back in January.  As soon as the FDA issued their guidance in late February, ARUP was able to complete the validation of the test, and we began running tests on March 11,” says Brian Jackson, official spokesperson for ARUP Laboratories.

Between March 11-27th ARUP Laboratories revved up their testing capacity to run 2,400 tests per day. However, in order to preserve both testing capacity and rapid result delivery, ARUP is focusing initial testing efforts on Utah, and as of late March is not offering COVID-19 testing to hospitals outside of the state.

In an online press release, Sherrie Perkins, MD, PHD, and CEO at ARUP says that ARUP has faced challenges in sourcing the needed reagents and other supplies needed to run these tests at scale. And they aren’t the only ones, though BioFire manufactures their own reagents, they too are worried about meeting the demand for their products.

“Demand for the tests is going to be much greater than our ability to provide them,” says Stevenson. “We will very likely launch [the clinical COVID-19 test] under an allocation where we can only fill a [certain number of orders.]” And that’s a problem echoed throughout the entire diagnostic industry.

OTHER COMPANY SUPPORT AGAINST COVID-19

Though the lack of reagents is causing some uneasiness for healthcare providers and biotech companies throughout the country, there are a few other companies throughout Utah who are doing anything and everything they can to normalize the situation as much as possible.

On March 20th, Chris Gibson, CEO of the Salt Lake-based biotech powerhouse, Recursion Pharmaceuticals announced in a series of tweets that they would be partnering with a local “BioSafety Level 3” facility to do a series of experiments on “compounds and their efficacy against COVID-19.”

The Recursion team promised to share any discoveries with the scientific community and Gibson confirmed that the company would not be seeking profit on any discoveries that might be made. But it’s not just the biotech companies throughout Utah rallying around the doctors, nurses, and patients fighting on the front lines. In true tech-community spirit, the companies who make up the Silicon Slopes are working hard to do their part, as well.

In a town hall meeting just days after Gov. Herbert first put the guidelines in place in early March, Silicon Slopes members set up a community relief fund designed to help those in need. They plan to use their allocated funds throughout Utah to fund things like additional FDA approved tests for Utahns, the aquisition of medical supplies for healthcare and nonprofit workers, as well as additional public health and K-12 education efforts.

“One part of Silicon Slopes’ mission is to serve,” says Clint Betts, executive director for Silicon Slopes. “COVID-19 impacts all of us, so it’s important that we all play a role as we address this issue. By pooling our collective resources we’ll be able to come out of this in a lot better position than if we operated in our own siloes.”

Other tech companies in the area, such as Podium, are taking a more targeted approach to help restaurants who have been severely affected by the pandemic. In mid March, the Podium team released their “Text To Takeout” software that allows customers to directly text local restaurants to place, purchase, and pick up their orders. The software makes the process as safe as possible for all parties involved, which provides comfort to customers in a time of uncertainty.

But that’s not all. Other companies like Avii have offered their tax accounting software services to small businesses for free, Woodside Homes announced that they would be collecting PPE for healthcare workers, Nav is offering their expertise with small business finances to those in need, Walker Edison donated over 500 desks to students and workers now forced to work from home, Nearmap is offering their digital software to governments at no cost in order to help them plan COVID-19 relief, and Solutionreach came up with an innovative way to streamline the doctor/patient communication process. And this was all just within the last month.

“We recognize there is a lot of information circulating around COVID-19 and many healthcare organizations are left with no solution to reach out to their patients in a timely fashion with the proper information,” says Solutionreach CEO, Josh Weiner. “Allowing free use of our emergency messaging is just one small way we can continue to support the healthcare community during the COVID-19 situation.”

As the news continues to fill with depressing stories of grief, poverty, and a collapsing system, it’s so important to remember the companies, whether they be biotech or otherwise, who are putting everything into making this situation a little bit better for the rest of us. “There are so many stories of private companies that have approached us and offered their help,” says Betts. “Utah really is going to be a case study for how both the private and public sector can make a difference for the communities they serve.”

 

 - by Kelsie Foreman, in Utah Business Magazine, April 13, 2020

 

Crimson Legacy

Crimson Legacy Society


A planned gift is the easiest way to make a major contribution to help the university advance scientific education and research. Your gift will produce exceptional opportunities for students and faculty.

The Crimson Legacy Society is designed to recognize those who have made a deep commitment to the future of the college. Members will be recognized on the Crimson Legacy donor wall and in the college’s annual Notebook publication. You will also receive special recognition of your support and be inducted into the University’s Park Society.

How do I become a member?
Designate a gift or pledge of $50,000, or more, in your will or estate to either the University of Utah College of Science, the School of Biological Sciences, or one of the departments of Chemistry, Mathematics, or Physics & Astronomy.

What if I already have the college or one of the departments in my will or estate plan?
First of all, thank you! Second, please contact us so we can record the details of the gift.

Please contact Jeff Martin at martin@science.utah.edu or 801-581-4852 for more information.

 

 - First Published in Discover Magazine, Fall 2019

George Elliott

"Always be open to unforeseen possibilities and opportunities; never be afraid to fail, and learn from your failures," says George Elliott (PhD'81). "Don’t get bogged down in a very narrow line of pursuit—the broader your knowledge is the more creative and successful a problem-solver you will be." That's great advice to U Biology students today. And it seems to have been the advice Elliott himself followed back in the day when he was at the U, following his sojourn at University of California, San Diego where he earned his bachelor's.

“My graduate career began in 1973,” says Elliott 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.

Stationed in Virginia, 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.

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.”

With respect to COVID-19, Elliott is reassuring to students who are faced with what seems an unprecedented time during their academic careers. "It will pass, eventually, but everybody should take it seriously," he remarks. "The idea that younger people are somehow in less danger is being proven less and less true all the time. And nobody should think it is only about protecting themselves—it’s all about creating situations where the virus is spread. But students should know that—they just need to act on their knowledge."

George Elliott is more than grateful for his own experience at the U. He is also 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

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.”

 

Alumni Panel

Frontiers of Science - Distinguished Alumni Panel

Homecoming 2019 brought a number of alumni and friends back to the U this September. Before the tailgating and the football, the College of Science fielded an All-Star game of their own. The Frontiers of Science Distinguished Alumni Panel, held September 27, featured five science alumni currently working in cutting-edge science and technology.

Kirk M. Ririe, BS’05 Chemistry, Founder of Idaho Technology, (now Biofire), a medical device and diagnostics company. Ririe since developed new methods for rapid diagnosis of diseases and pathogens ranging from the common cold to anthrax.

Doon Gibbs, BS’77 Mathematics and Physics, 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.

Dylan Zwick, PhD’14 Mathematics, Co-Founder and CPO of Pulse Labs, a startup company working to provide testing and analytics for developers working in the voice app industry. Pulse Labs was one of nine companies chosen for the “Alexa Accelerator,” Amazon’s first startup accelerator.

Reshma Shetty, BS’02 Engineering, Co-Founder of Ginkgo Bioworks, a Boston-based biotech company focused on using software and automation to bring rapid iteration, prototyping and scale to synthetic biology and organism design.

Ryan Watts, BS’00 Biology, CEO and Co-Founder of Denali Therapeutics, a biotechnology company focused on treatments and cures for neurodegenerative illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Dean Peter Trapa acted as moderator for the evening. The mood was warm and friendly and surprisingly personal at times. The panel brought a huge range of diverse experiences to the discussion while consistently crediting their scientific education and research training as key to their success.

 

 - by Matt Crawley
  first published in Discover Magazine, Fall 2019

 

 

Bill Jack

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