Presidential Scholar

Presidential Scholar

Pearl Sandick

Pearl Sandick one of Four U Presidential Scholars named.

Four faculty members—a pharmacologist, a political scientist, an engineer, and a physicist—have been named Presidential Scholars at the University of Utah.

The award recognizes the extraordinary academic accomplishments and promise of mid-career faculty, providing them with financial support to advance their teaching and research work.

The 2020 recipients are: Marco Bortolato, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in the College of Pharmacy; Jim Curry, associate professor and director of graduate studies for the Department of Political Science in the College of Social and Behavioral Science; Masood Parvania, associate professor and associate chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering; and Pearl Sandick, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and associate dean of the College of Science.

“These scholars represent the exceptional research and scholarship of mid-career faculty at the University of Utah,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “They each are outstanding scholars and teachers in their fields of specialty. Their scholarship is what makes the U such a vibrant and exciting intellectual environment.”

Presidential scholars are selected each year, and the recipients receive $10,000 in annual funding for three years. The program is made possible by a generous donor who is interested in fostering the success of mid-career faculty.

Pearl Sandick

Pearl Sandick, a theoretical particle physicist and associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, studies explanations for dark matter in the universe—one of the most important puzzles in modern physics.“I love that my work involves thinking of new explanations for dark matter, checking that they’re viable given everything we know from past experiments and observations, and proposing new ways to better understand what dark matter is,” she said. “I find this type of creative work and problem solving to be really fun on a day-to-day basis, and the bigger picture — what we’ve learned about the Universe and how it came to look the way it does — is just awe-inspiring.”

She has given a TEDx talk and been interviewed on National Public Radio’s Science Friday. Sandick is passionate about teaching, mentoring students and making science accessible and interesting to non-scientists. In addition to the Presidential Scholar award, she has received the U’s Early Career Teaching Award and Distinguished Mentor Award.

“One of the great joys of working at the U is our commitment to engaging students at all levels in research,” Sandick said, “and I’ve been thrilled to work with amazing undergraduate and graduate students.”

by Rebecca Walsh first published in @theU

Christoph Boehme

Christoph Boehme

Dean Peter Trapa announced that Professor Christoph Boehme has accepted an offer to serve as chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy, effective July 1, 2020.

"Professor Boehme is deeply knowledgable and committed to the research and educational missions of the department, and has served with distinction as interim chair this year," Trapa said. "Christoph has my full and unwavering confidence and support, as well as that of SVPAA Dan Reed, in leading the department forward."

Previously, Boehme served as associate chair of the department from 2010-2015. His research is focused on the exploration of spin-dependent electronic processes in condensed matter. The goal of his work is to develop sensitive coherent spin motion detection schemes for small spin ensembles that are needed for quantum computing and general materials research.

A child of the 1970s, Christoph was born and raised in Oppenau, a small town in southwest Germany, 30 miles east of the French city of Strasbourg. After obtaining an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering, and committing to 15 months of civil services caring for disabled people (chosen to avoid the military draft), he moved to Heidelberg, Germany in 1994 to study physics at the University of Heidelberg.

In 1997 Boehme won a Fulbright Student Scholarship which brought him to the United States for the first time, where he studied at North Carolina State University and met his wife Kristie. In 2000 Christoph and Kristie moved to Berlin, Germany where they lived for 5 years while he worked for the Hahn-Meitner Institut, a national laboratory. He finished his dissertation work as a graduate student of the University of Marburg in 2002 and spent an additional three years working as a postdoctoral researcher.

Christoph moved to Utah in 2006 to join the Department of Physics & Astronomy as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted into the rank of Associate Professor and awarded tenure in 2010, and promoted to the rank of Professor in 2013. Boehme received the U’s Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award in 2018 for his contributions and scientific breakthroughs in electron spin physics and for his leadership in the field of spintronics.


Dean Peter Trapa

University of Utah Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Reed announced that Peter Trapa has accepted an offer to serve as the next dean of the College of Science.

Trapa is currently chair of the university’s Department of Physics & Astronomy and previously served as the chair of the Department of Mathematics and special assistant to the dean of the College of Science. Trapa also was the inaugural presidential fellow in 2016-17 under former U President David Pershing. He was named a fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2019.

“Trapa is regarded as an excellent and innovative administrator, a strong advocate for students, staff and faculty, and an outstanding scholar,” Reed said. “He is a great communicator who is able to develop consensus and cultivate a positive culture. His deep understanding of the university and the state will serve the College of Science well as it continues to rise among its peers.”

The College of Science consists of three departments—chemistry, mathematics and physics and astronomy—and the School of Biological Sciences. It also includes several interdisciplinary centers. It has annual research expenditures of approximately $40 million.

Following completion of the appointment approval process, Trapa will assume his position on July 1, 2019.

“I'm honored to be named the next dean of the College of Science,” Trapa said. “It's an exciting time for the college, and I look forward to working to advance its world-class research reputation and further propel its central educational mission both within the university and the state of Utah.”

Trapa joined the U’s Department of Mathematics in 2001; he was named chair of the department in 2011, serving in that position until 2017. He served as special assistant to Henry White, current dean of the College of Science, in 2017-2018.

He has served as chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy since 2018, where he has overseen development of a model graduate program, reorganized departmental leadership and staff and implemented a strategy to recruit exceptional and diverse faculty.

Trapa also has played a key role in state-level discussions about math courses, requirements, assessments and the need for strong high school curriculums that prepare students for college course work. He served on the state’s Math Task Force, the Standards Review Steering Committee and as a director and member of the National Association of Math Circles, among others service work.

Trapa’s main research interest is representation theory, a kind of mathematical quantification of the symmetries that arise in physical theories. He has published extensively, and has contributed to solutions of the most outstanding problems in his discipline. Trapa is currently managing editor of the American Mathematical Society’s journal Representation Theory.

Trapa received undergraduate degrees in mathematics and integrated science from Northwestern University and a doctoral degree in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He did postdoctoral work at Harvard University and the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton before joining the U.

Leslie Sieburth: Associate Dean

The College of Science is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Leslie Sieburth from the School of Biological Sciences as the new Associate Dean of Research in the College of Science, effective July 1, 2019.

Leslie earned her PhD in Botany from the University of Georgia, completed a postdoctoral appointment at the California Institute of Technology, and joined the University of Utah in 1999. Leslie’s research interests are plant developmental biology, especially as it relates to RNA decay and cell signaling. Leslie is a recipient of the prestigious University of Utah Distinguished Teaching Award and the College of Science Award for Teaching Excellence. She recently served as Associate Director of the School of Biological Sciences and serves on numerous University and school committees.

We are delighted that Leslie has agreed to take on the important role of Associate Dean of Research as the College moves to increase research capacity and productivity in the CoS.

Pearl Sandick: Associate Dean

The College of Science is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Pearl Sandick from the Department of Physics & Astronomy as the new Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs in the College of Science, effective July 1, 2019.

Pearl earned her PhD in Physics from the University of Minnesota and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Weinberg Theory Group at the University of Texas at Austin before joining the University of Utah in 2011. Pearl’s research interests are in particle physics beyond the Standard Model, including possible explanations for the dark matter in the universe. Pearl is a recipient of the prestigious University of Utah Early Career Teaching Award. She recently served as Associate Chair in the Department of Physics & Astronomy and as a member of the University of Utah Academic Senate.

We are delighted that Pearl has agreed to take on the important role of Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs as the College moves forward on many new academic fronts. Please join us in providing your support to Pearl as she begins this new position.