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Nada Math Anxiety Here

Nada Math Anxiety with Ken Golden


At this point, we have all heard of STEM education, that is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. And there’s also STEAM education which includes the Arts.

Why is specifically math so important in STEM education and subsequent careers?

Featured on KPCW's COOL SCIENCE RADIO podcast, Professor Ken Golden, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at the University of Utah, talks about the importance of STEM careers in the U.S. to meet the needs of our climate and the economy.

Listen to the podcast at KPCW.

Remembering John Warnock

REmembering John Warnock, 1941-2023


As a high school student at Olympus High in Salt Lake City, co-founder and former CEO of Adobe John Warnock, who passed away August 19th at age 82, found a mentor in math teacher George Barton. “His approach was really quite simple,” remembered Warnock.


“He instructed us to pick up a college-level textbook for algebra, solve every problem in the book, then move on to the next subject, trigonometry, and do the same. And after that, go on to analytic geometry. By following his advice and solving a lot of problems, my grades in math and all other classes improved, and I went from C’s to A’s and B’s.”

The auspicious career of Warnock and other brilliant University of Utah alumni who changed the world through computer science was in high relief last spring when a sampling of the scrappy and now legendary bunch assembled on campus to commemorate their roles as 3-D graphics pioneers. The occasion was a celebration of 50 years of the U.’s Kahlert School of Computing, and Warnock was presented with a IEEE Milestone award.

John Warnock receiving the IEEE Milestone award in March 2023 with wife Marva.

But before he was known as the co-founder with the late Charles Geschke of Adobe, Warnock was propelled by his high school teacher into the U’s math department where Warnock earned a BS and MS in mathematics in the College of Science before decamping to the College of Engineering where he earned a PhD in electrical engineering/computer science. It was an exciting time. The U was one of 15 renowned universities that had a contract with the Advanced Research Projects Agency, prompted by the worrisome launch of the Russian Sputnik satellite during the Eisenhower era. A node on the original internet known as ARAPNET, the U was the first university to offer online registration to its students, and Warnock, as part of his dissertation research was busy at work, days (and long nights), ahead of when the portal dropped, having developed the recursive subdivision algorithm for hidden surface elimination that made computer graphics possible and that would eventually carry his name.

Twenty-five years post Sputnik, Adobe appeared which, inarguably, lofted desktop publishing into the stratosphere with its soon-to-launch PostScript language. The information technology sector has never been the same since.

Commencement in the time of Covid-19

At the university’s first-ever virtual graduation ceremony due to the coronavirus pandemic, Warnock reported that in the previous half century he had witnessed advancements in informational technology that “have been totally unpredictable and quite frankly, mind-blowing. Things that were thought to be impossible have materialized over the years.” (To wit: today, the internet is 90,000 times faster than its ARAPNET prototype.)

“The changes over the coming years,” he continued, addressing the class of 2020, “will probably be much greater and even more consequential for all of our lives. To manage this evolution, the world needs an educated and informed populace. Today, you are being honored and have earned the right of becoming part of that group.” The brick-and-mortar corollary of the change Warnock anticipates, and the workforce that will be needed, is the Utah County-based 38-acre Adobe campus, arguably the anchor to what’s come to be known as Silicon Slopes. A recent addition to the spread, costing $90 million, appreciably expanded the Adobe's original 280,000-foot, four-story footprint.

Adobe’s physical presence in Utah brought an appropriate closing of a circle for Warnock, a native of the Beehive State. Known for developing what is now the ubiquitous Portable Document Format (PDF) as well as its Creative Suite, including PhotoShop software, the company, based in Lehi, engages with the community to build a STEM pipeline. It’s also widely known for its determination to diversify its employee base with, among other initiatives, true pay parity. "Your customers are diverse," Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said at the 2018 Silicon Slopes Tech Summit. "If anybody thinks that you can deliver great products to a diverse set of customers without having a diverse employee pool, you're in denial."

Tracing a trajectory

Upon learning of Warnock’s passing, Peter Trapa, dean of the College of Science said, "In tracing Warnock's trajectory at the U – first as undergraduate and master’s student in mathematics, and then as a PhD student in ECE – one can literally see the evolution of modern computer graphics. Many of the ideas in his famous PhD thesis are foreshadowed in his earlier work in mathematics.” He recommends reading the conclusions sections of Warnock’s dissertation which “is especially forward-looking.”

Likewise, Tommaso de Fernex, current chair of the Department of Mathematics and the inaugural Warnock Endowed Chair in mathematics expressed condolences, thanking the family for their support. “The Warnock Endowed Chair has been an invaluable recruitment tool that has allowed the Department to attract young faculty of outstanding quality. It is hard to overstate the impact that this has had, and will continue to have, on the growth and excellence of our Department.”

A member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, Warnock in 2009 was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Technology and Innovation by President Barack Obama. In 2001 he was inducted into the College of Science’s Hall of Fame. Through his and his wife Marva’s largesse, the Warnocks have “paid it forward,” not only endowing the Warnock chair but donating millions to the U where an engineering building is named for them.

As commencement speaker, Warnock returned to the foundations of his career, not only at the U but as far back as high school in Holladay with his math teacher, George Barton.  “The whole experience taught me teachers have an enormous effect on their students. I hope in your educational experiences you have encountered great teachers and mentors.” He continued, determined to leave good advice to the 8,628 graduating students:

"The rest of your life is not a spectator sport. Your job in life is to be an active player, to make the world a better place.”

Warnock is survived by his wife and three children.


Read the remembrance of John Warnock from the The John & Marcia Price College of Engineering



Aftermath Summer 2023

Other Publications

Synthesis 2023

Wilkes Center, Applied Science Project and stories from throughout the merged College.

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Air Currents 2023

Celebrating 75 Years, The Great Salt Lake, Alumni Profiles, and more.

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Spectrum 2022

Explosive neutron stars, Utah meteor, fellows of APS, and more.

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Aftermath 2022

Arctic adventures, moiré magic, Christopher Hacon, and more.

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Our DNA 2022

Chan Yul Yoo, Sarmishta Diraviam Kannan, and more.

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Spectrum 2022

Black Holes, Student Awards, Research Awards, LGBT+ physicists, and more.

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Aftermath 2022

Student awards, Faculty Awards, Fellowships, and more.

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Our DNA 2022

Erik Jorgensen, Mark Nielsen, alumni George Seifert, new faculty, and more.

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Notebook 2022

Student stories, NAS members, alumni George Seifert, and Convocation 2022.

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Discover 2021

Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics Research, SRI Update, New Construction.

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Our DNA 2021

Multi-disciplinary research, graduate student success, and more.

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Aftermath 2021

Sound waves, student awards, distinguished alumni, convocation, and more.

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Spectrum 2021

New science building, faculty awards, distinguished alumni, and more.

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Notebook 2021

Student awards, distinguished alumni, convocation, and more.

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Spectrum 2021

Student awards, distinguished alumni, convocation, and more.

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Aftermath 2021

Sound waves, student awards, distinguished alumni, convocation, and more.

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Our DNA 2021

Plant pandemics, birdsong, retiring faculty, and more.

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Discover 2020

Biology, Chemistry, Math, and Physics Research, Overcoming Covid, Lab Safety.

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AfterMath 2020

50 Years of Math, Sea Ice, and Faculty and Staff recognition.

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Our DNA 2020

E-birders, retiring faculty, remote learning, and more.

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Spectrum 2020

3D maps of the Universe, Perovskite Photovoltaics, and Dynamic Structure in HIV.

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Notebook 2020

Convocation, Alumni, Student Success, and Rapid Response Research.

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Our DNA 2020

Stories on Fruit Flies, Forest Futures and Student Success.

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Catalyst 2020

Transition to Virtual, 2020 Convocation, Graduate Spotlights, and Awards.

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Spectrum 2020

Nuclear Medicine, PER Programs, and NSF grant for Quantum Idea Incubator.

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Discover 2019

Science Research Initiative, College Rankings, Commutative Algebra, and more.

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Spectrum 2019

Nuclear Medicine, PER Programs, and NSF grant for Quantum Idea Incubator.

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Notebook 2019

The New Faces of Utah Science, Churchill Scholars, and Convocation 2019.

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Catalyst 2019

Endowed Chairs of Chemistry, Curie Club, and alumnus: Victor Cee.

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Our DNA 2019

Ants of the World, CRISPR Scissors, and Alumni Profile - Nikhil Bhayani.

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Catalyst 2019

Methane-Eating Bacteria, Distinguished Alumni, Student and Alumni profiles.

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Spectrum 2019

Featured: Molecular Motors, Churchill Scholar, Dark Matter, and Black Holes.

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Our DNA 2019

Featured: The Startup Life, Monica Gandhi, Genomic Conflicts, and alumna Jeanne Novak.

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AfterMath 2018

Featured: A Love for Puzzles, Math & Neuroscience, Number Theory, and AMS Fellows.

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Discover 2018

The 2018 Research Report for the College of Science.

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Spectrum 2018

Featured: Dark Matter, Spintronics, Gamma Rays and Improving Physics Teaching.

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Catalyst 2018

Featured: Ming Hammond, Jack & Peg Simons Endowed Professors, Martha Hughes Cannon.

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How statistical physics illuminates sea ice

How statistical physics illuminates sea ice

Since he began studying polar sea ice at NASA in 1975, mathematician Ken Golden has helped document alarming changes in the seasonally shifting, thin veneers covering the Arctic and Antarctic oceans.

Ken Golden. Feature photo above: Arctic melt ponds. Credit: Donald Perovich

There’s now a lot less ice and the University of Utah scientist has since devoted much of his career to applying statistical mechanics—the physics of phase transitions and complex collective behavior in systems like gases and magnets—to better understand the role of climate change in the disappearance of our polar sea ice covers. The stakes couldn’t be higher as the impacts accelerate. In recent decades, according to Golden, the extent of Arctic sea ice has shrunk by about half.

“Not over the past million years, like on geophysical scales, not over a thousand years, but over the past 30 or 40 years. A couple of months ago, even in Antarctica, we just saw a new record low,” Golden said in his opening remarks at the May 17 Climate Summit hosted by the U College of Science’s Wilkes Center for Climate Science & Policy. “But just like throwing a rock into a pond, there are ripple effects, and the bigger the rock, the bigger the ripples and the further they go. The extent of sea ice we’ve lost in the Arctic is about two-thirds the area of the contiguous United States and is probably the largest change on Earth’s surface due to planetary warming. That’s a big rock.”

The part of Earth’s climate system featuring snow and ice, known as the cryosphere, is experiencing severe disruptions as the planet continues warming. Ice still covers 9% to 15% of Earth’s ocean surface, but the trends are ominous.

Read the full article by Brian Maffly in @TheU

Tommaso de Fernex, Math’s new department chair

Tommaso de Fernex is stepping into the role of Chair of the Department of Mathematics following Professor Davar Khoshnevisan’s notable six-year term.

“It is with great anticipation that I step into the seat of Chairman of the Department of Mathematics,” says de Fernex, who begins the role on July 1. “I am honored for this appointment and humbled by the faith the College of Science has in me. Under the strong leadership of Davar Khoshnevisan, the Department has been on a great upward trajectory, reaching new heights with exemplary faculty recruitment and record recognition, grants, and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. Davar and I have collaborated for some time about the outlook of the department and I see a bright future. I am fortunate to belong to such a community, with a first-class faculty, fantastic staff, impressive students, and postdoctoral fellows. I am looking forward to serving the Department in the coming years.”

“Tommaso is the perfect person to lead the Department of Mathematics,” said Peter Trapa, dean of the College of Science. “His towering international reputation and previous leadership experience will serve him well as he takes the department to new heights.” Trapa also took a moment to thank outgoing chair Davar Khoshnevisan. “I am grateful for the six years that Davar served in this role. He skillfully navigated the upheaval of the pandemic, hired an exceptional cohort of new junior faculty,  and significantly advanced the research and educational missions of the department.”

De Fernex is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Grant from 2020 through 2023 and has contributed to nearly 50 publications, with more than 50 invitations to conference talks.

Former Associate Department Chair from 2017 to 2019, De Fernex works in algebraic geometry. The main focus of his research has been on the study of singularities and birational geometry of algebraic varieties and the structure of arc spaces and other valuation spaces. He started his studies in Italy, obtaining his Laurea in Mathematics (summa cum laude) at the University of Milano in 1996 (roughly the equivalent of a B.S.) and completing a Dottorato di Ricerca in Mathematics (the equivalent of a Ph.D.) at the University of Genova in 2001. During these studies, de Fernex spent one semester visiting the University of Hong Kong in 1999 and then moved to the U.S. where he obtained a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2002.

From 2002 to 2005, de Fernex was a Hildebrandt Research Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan and spent the academic year of 2005-2006 as a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies before joining the faculty at the University of Utah.

As incoming chair, de Fernex will continue his passion for algebraic geometry with focus on the study of singularities and birational geometry of algebraic varieties such as log canonical thresholds, multiplier ideals, questions of rationality and the structure of arc spaces and other valuation spaces. In fact, he’s scheduled to speak in December of this year in Pipa, Brazil at a conference on “Algebraic Geometry and Related Topics.”

Atomic-Scale Geometry

How Atomic-Scale Geometry Might Shape the Future of Electronics

Twistronics could illuminate a path to superconductivity, revolutionize electronic devices, or perhaps hasten the arrival of quantum computing


Mathematicians at the University of Utah have discovered that, by twisting one square lattice over another, composite materials based on the resulting bilayer moiré pattern display electrical and physical properties that can change quite abruptly. Their findings echo twistronics, the science of twisting atomic lattices, and on some rather complex geometric principles. The discovery could have implications for a wide variety of industries, as engineers might be able to precisely calibrate the electrical, optical, thermal, or even acoustic properties of these materials. Specifically, twistronics and aperiodic geometry might soon illuminate a path to higher-temperature superconductivity, revolutionize electronic devices, or perhaps even hasten the arrival of quantum computers.

“We rotated and dilated two regular lattices relative to one another, creating a veritable zoo of microgeometries—and some incredible patterns emerged,” says Ken Golden, distinguished professor of Mathematics at the University of Utah and senior author of the study.

“The resulting moiré provides a template for the geometrical arrangement of two component materials, that, together make up a new twisted bilayer composite,” he tells Popular Mechanics. Imagine chicken wire lattices layered on top of each other; these can be twisted one relative to another and form entirely new moiré scales of periodicity or non-periodicity.

Read the entire story by ADRIENNE BERNHARD in Popular Mechanics.

Sandra J. Bromley Scholarship


Sandra J. Bromley Scholarship

Providing a Role Model for New Generations

Ray Greer. Banner Photo above: Dannon Allred, Ray Greer and his wife Jill, Michaela Fluck, Keegan Benfield, Eliza Roberts. Credit: Matt Crawley

The Sandra J. Bromley scholarship is a full-tuition scholarship for undergraduate students in the College of Science. It provides in-state tuition, up to 15 credit hours per semester, for eight semesters which allows each recipient to complete their degree. The program, now celebrating its 10-year anniversary, is funded by the generosity of Ray Greer, BS’86, in Mathematics.

Each year, a freshman student is selected as a new Bromley scholar, and rolls into the program, while a senior student graduates. This unique model provides continuous funding to the students and allows the College of Science to assist and monitor the students as they progress through their academic program.

“The Bromley scholarship is extremely valuable because it can serve a student throughout their entire undergraduate career,” says Peter Trapa, dean of the College of Science. “The cumulative effect for the student is truly profound. Each year we see the incredible results.”

In addition, Greer and his wife, Jill, host the Bromley scholars at least once a year on campus. The informal luncheon allows the students to report on their progress and discuss any problems or concerns.

“I have had the pleasure of meeting and getting acquainted with the undergraduates as they progress through their academic goals, and it is always a pleasure to see their progression and academic interest flourish over time. In all I have done throughout my life, this has been one of the greatest and most rewarding experiences I have had the opportunity to be a part of,” says Greer.

Role Model

When Greer was just 12 years old, his mother, Sandra J. Bromley, moved her young family from Texas to Utah. The year was 1976. Bromley was promptly hired at the University of Utah and enjoyed a successful career as a technical illustrator in the College of Mines and Earth Sciences under the direction of Frank H. Brown.

“My mother was the single greatest influence in my life,” says Greer. “She taught me the value of hard work and perseverance. She also insisted that college was not optional. It was like going from junior high to high school — you just did it!”

Greer enrolled at the U for fall semester 1981 and was initially interested in computer science and engineering. However, computer science was highly competitive at the time so available classes were scarce.

“Fortunately, Hugo Rossi, a math professor, convinced me that if I majored in mathematics I could get as much course work in computer science as I wanted,” says Greer.

For several years Greer worked through the rigorous mathematics major requirements. He persevered and completed his math degree in 1986.

Then, in 2000, Greer’s mother moved back to Texas for the remaining years of her life. She passed away in 2011. Shortly thereafter, Greer established the Sandra J. Bromley scholarship to honor his mother by providing a way for deserving students to earn a college degree.

“She worked hard to provide for her family, but her greatest regret in life was not attending college herself, hence the vision behind the Bromley scholarship,” says Greer.

“Her requirement was that she would support me as long as I didn’t quit school,” says Greer.  “That is why the Bromley scholarship requires continuous attendance.”

Solving Problems

Greer has more than 40 years of experience in logistics and transportation industries. He has held senior management positions for Greatwide Logistics Services, Newgistics, Ryder Logistics and FedEx. He served as president of BNSF Logistics, headquartered near Dallas, Texas, from 2011 to 2018.

“Math allows me to think critically about situations and problems generally. Not just numerically but logically, to find patterns and trends that point to likely outcomes,” he says.

In 2018, Greer was named CEO of Omnitracs, a leading company in onboard technology for the transportation industry. Omnitracs is an international billion-dollar company that provides telematic devices and logistics to support drivers and their organizations to be compliant, safe and efficient.

“Math is universal and most importantly it teaches you discipline and persistence to work a problem until it is solved. That process of critical thinking and problem-solving has served me well throughout my entire career,” says Greer.

In 2021, Greer sold Omnitracs and transitioned to advisory board work as well as becoming an operating partner for Welsh, Carson, Anderson and Stowe, focused on supply chain technology investments.

Ray Greer has high hopes and expectations for today’s college students. His advice: “Connecting with people — not apps and cell phones — will differentiate you from the competition.”

The Bromley Scholars

Eliza Robert

“I love the entire vibe of the university”

Eliza Roberts is the most recent recipient of the Bromley scholarship. A freshman at the U, she is pursuing a degree in applied math and physics, with an emphasis in astronomy and astrophysics. Being awarded this scholarship has made Roberts’ experience at the U even more valuable. “It has truly allowed me to focus more on my classes, and even take classes that I wouldn’t have taken otherwise,” she says. “With the scholarship, I don’t have to worry about the financial aspects of college like I was fully intending to, which means that I can explore my passions and dedicate my time to learning.”

In addition to her hard work as a student, Roberts works as a math tutor in the TRIO office at the U. One of her proudest accomplishments is receiving her Girl Scout Gold award, for which she focused on creating a safe backyard space for adults with disabilities. 

Roberts lives in Salt Lake City and makes the most of her time at the U participating in LEAP classes, a year-long learning community for entering University students, and even discovering top-secret study and nap spots on campus. “I love the entire vibe of the university,” she says. “I feel safe, valued, and free. I have been able to explore myself more than I have in years, and it has helped me figure out who I want to be.”

~Julia St. Andre

Dannon Allred
“Space is simply beautiful”

Dannon Allred was awarded the Bromley Scholarship in 2021 and just completed his sophomore year at the U. A passionate learner, he is studying physics with an astronomy emphasis. “Ever since I’ve been interested in science, I’ve felt a pull towards physics and astronomy,” he says. “There’s just a lot in astronomy that spikes my curiosity, there’s a lot that’s unknown, and [outer] space is simply beautiful.”

The Bromley scholarship has given Allred the opportunity to experience college without any financial worries and has allowed him to focus more of his energy on his passion for astrophysics. “Obviously one of the most daunting things about college is paying for it, and that’s a lot of stress that most students have to deal with,” he says. “I would say that’s what’s most impactful about the Bromely scholarship because it allows me to go through college stress-free in that aspect.” 

On top of his astrophysics studies, Allred has been involved in several research projects on campus. “In my freshman year, I was part of Dr. Boehme’s … lab as part of the Science Research Initiative doing research on Organic Light-Emitting Diodes (OLEDs) using spintronics,” explains Allred. “This spring, I did an introductory research project analyzing the spectral emission features of the Sombrero Galaxy with Dr. Anil Seth” who specializes in astrophysics. 

Allred’s hope is to complete a graduate degree in the field as well. Not surprisingly, when he’s not busy studying stars and galaxies far, far away, he loves astrophotography, admiring the universe through the lens of his camera.   ~ Julia St. Andre

Michaela Fluck
“Proceeding Into the Wilderness”

Michaela Fluck works in the Zelikowsky Lab, which researches neural circuits that affect stress, fear, and social behavior. “I’ve always been interested in neurobiology, since I was a kid,” she states. “I’ve had family members who’ve had strokes and other brain injuries.”

A biology major with a psychology minor, Fluck says the study of abnormal psychology is also a passion of hers. “Seeing what can go wrong with the brain and what’s behind [it] …  is super interesting as well.”

Fluck was inspired to become a doctor by her patients at Primary Children’s Hospital, where she works as a phlebotomist. “I want to become an advocate for patients,” she says, “and help people work through the difficulties of medicine. Kids tend to hate procedures no matter what, so helping them work through the procedures is honestly one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”

Her favorite class was organic chemistry. “Not a lot of pre-meds can say that,” she jokes. Fluck also loved taking an acting class at the U which relieved the stress of being a STEM student and harked back to her time as an actress in high school, especially her appearance in the the late Stephen Sondheim’s epic musical saga about daring to venture Into the Woods~ CJ Siebeneck

Keegan Benfield
Who knew I could do that?”

As a Bromley Scholar, Keegan Benfield BS’23, was able to spend more time on scientific passions, such as research and projects. “The Bromley Scholarship and the U have helped shape me to be the best that I can be.” 

Along with his double majors in mechanical engineering and physics, Benfield focuses his time on humanitarian efforts, volunteering with Youthlinc and Real life programs. He’s the president of the university’s marksmen club, and has attended National Collegiate events at the National and Junior level.

Prior to graduation, Benfield worked in the Deemyad Lab, researching condensed matter physics. The Lab focuses on theoretical physics, especially the physics of matter at extreme conditions of temperature and pressure.

One of Benfield’s favorite classes was Introduction to Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. “It was an ‘ah-ha!’ class that was challenging and fun,” Benfield says. “I have learned and expanded my knowledge in ways that amaze me. Who knew I could do that?”

Benfield recently completed a summer internship at Cosm and developed educational programs for planetariums using Digistar 7, which features full-dome programs and production services, giant screen films formatted for full-dome theaters, premium-quality projection domes, and theater design services. He plans on getting a master’s or PhD and work in a national laboratory or research company.   ~ CJ Seibeneck


View a LIst of all Bromley Scholars (as of June 2023) and brief updates on their whereabouts

Celebrating Our Exceptional Faculty 2023

4 College Faculty Receive 2023 U Awards

Each year, the University of Utah recognizes the achievements of exceptional faculty members in teaching, research, mentorship and service. Below are the College of Science honorees for this year, with excerpts from their nomination letters.



Calvin S. and JeNeal N. Hatch Prize in Teaching

Kenneth Golden
Distinguished Professor of Mathematics

“Having more than 40 years of classroom experience to perfect the art of teaching, 80-plus publications in academic and scientific journals, more than 500 invited lectures and having presented three times in front of the United States Congress, Dr. Golden has amplified what it means to be a teacher by not only being at the top of his field but also by creating a safe and inclusive environment where students can be challenged to reach their full potential.”



Distinguished Professor

Michael Morse, professor
Department of Chemistry

“Professor Morse’s substantial work exemplifies the highest goals of scholarship and research and he is internationally viewed as a leading expert in the experimental study of small transition metal, lanthanide and actinide molecules. His most recent work is setting the standard for these species and is crucially needed for benchmarking computational chemistry. At the same time, he is dedicated to teaching, mentoring and providing service to the profession and the local community at the highest level.”



Early Career Teaching Award

Claudia De Grandi, associate professor (lecturer)
Department of Physics & Astronomy

“Dr. De Grandi is an outstanding educator because of her persistent aspiration to evolve her teaching practice. I know from experience that she gives students many opportunities throughout the semester to provide feedback regarding the class. Furthermore, I know that she uses this information to shape how she proceeds in the classroom. Her commitment to enhancing her classrooms is one of the many ways that she is able to accommodate a wide range of student needs. As a future educator myself, I admire her devotion to education and her perspective on education as a constantly developing process. Dr. De Grandi’s willingness to adapt is something that all educators could benefit from.”




Early Career Teaching Award

Sean Howe, assistant professor
Department of Mathematics

“During my undergraduate career, Dr. Howe has been instrumental in my success by advising my applications for scholarships, graduate schools and research experiences; and by providing individual instruction on an advanced research project and related topics. I am extremely fortunate and grateful for Dr. Howe’s constant support and the positive impact he has had on my life and academic career. The personal impact of his guidance truly cannot be understated—he has proven to be an outstanding mentor in every manner possible, exhibiting extraordinary character and compassion for his students.”



Celebrate all faculty awards given this year by the University of Utah here:


Goldwater Scholars

Goldwater Scholars 2023

Four College of Science students awarded a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship for 2023-24

As the result of an ongoing partnership with the Department of Defense's National Defense Education Programs (NDEP), Dr. John Yopp, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, announced that the Trustees of the Goldwater Board has again been able to increase the number of Goldwater scholarships it is awarding for the 2023-2024 academic year to 413 college students from across the U.S.

“The Department of Defense’s continued partnership with the Goldwater Foundation ensures we are supporting the development of scientific talent essential to maintaining our Nation’s competitive advantage,” said Dr. Jagadeesh Pamulapati, Acting Deputy Director of Research, Technology and Laboratories, who oversees the NDEP program, as he explained the partnership.

With the 2023 awards, this brings the number of scholarships awarded since 1989 by the Goldwater Foundation to 10,283.

Eliza Diggins
Physics & Astronomy
Applied Mathematics

A sophomore, Eliza Diggins participated as a freshman in the Science Research Initiative (SRI) program, sponsored by the College of Science. The SRI puts students in a lab to do research as soon as they arrive on campus. After Eliza was admitted to the program, she began working with Fred Adler, professor of mathematics and of biology in the Department of Mathematics and in the School of Biological Sciences. "Math and physics have both had a special place in my heart for most of my life. Even back in elementary school, math and science always held my attention more than other subjects. I began to actively study physics in middle school and never looked back."

Following graduation she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics to use innovative computational and analytical techniques to better understand the dynamical processes at play on all scales of the cosmos.You can read an interview of Eliza here.


Audrey Glende
Physics & Astronomy
Philosophy of Science

An honors student with a triple major, Audrey Glende is currently researching a crystal and mapping its electrical and magnetic properties at extreme conditions, such as pressures similar to that of the earth's core temperatures just above absolute zero. The crystal (EuCd2P2) has been labeled as a superconductive candidate among other characteristics. As with electronic parts or materials used in fuel/battery cells, "many of the materials with complex properties," she says, referring to her work with the crystal, "are discovered through both theory and experimentation within condensed matter physics." It is this area of inquiry in which her ambition lies, and she is hoping to complete a Ph.D. in physics  and eventually share her knowledge through teaching at the college level.

Among many influential family members in her life,  she says, "I probably see myself most in my dad and know that it is very much so because of him that I have been comfortably hand-held into my passion for STEM in a way many people aren’t." Her father encouraged her to participate in science fairs as a youth and she was eventually recognized by Business Insider as having conducted one of the 30 most impressive science fair projects in the U.S. in 2015. Glende's faculty mentor is Professor Shanti Deemyad.


Daniel Koizumi

After graduation, "I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics [and] conduct research in pure mathematics and teach at university," says Daniel Koizumi. His faculty mentors include Professor Karim Adiprasito, a German mathematician working at the University of Copenhagen and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem who works in combinatorics; Professor Sean Howe, who works in arithmetic and algebraic geometry, representation theory, and number theory; and Professor Jon Chaika, whose research in the field of dynamical systems seeks to understand a space and a map by following individual points.

Recipient of the departmental Undergraduate Award for Excellence in Graduate Courses, Koizumi's  ambition is to continue doing research at the intersection of combinatorial topology and commutative algebra. He spent three months in 2022 as a research fellow at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "On a lazy Saturday," he says, "I ... enjoy hiking, cooking, or running."


Nichols Crawford Taylor
Applied MathematicsComputer Engineering
Computer Science

"I love robotics, autonomous systems, and all the math and engineering surrounding them," says Nichols Crawford Taylor. "I'm excited for the future they'll create!" Taylor, a triple major, plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in robotics and then transferring to industry to teach and present his research.

"Right now," he says, "I’m working on skill sequencing for autonomous manipulation using partial views of objects. We don’t expect robots to have all encompassing knowledge, so we’re using human-like views of objects with color and depth. From there, my research is about how to put together different skills the robot has to achieve a goal, like re-arranging books on a shelf."

A presidential intern during the 2021-2022 academic year and, currently, the Residence Hall Association President at the U, Taylor has been on the Dean's List and is a member of Pi Mu Epsilon. He is also a member of the Jiu Jitsu club. His faculty mentors include Dr. Daniel Drew, Dr. Alan Kuntz and Dr. Tucker Hermans, the latter of whom he considers his hero. "His breadth of knowledge and experience is astounding," says the Orem native. "He knows so much about and surrounding the field, and has incredible insights on problems take a good bit of time to wrap my head around."


A.A.U. Membership



"It is difficult to overstate the importance of AAU Membership. This elevates the U to an exceptional category of peer institutions."
- Dean Peter Trapa


The University of Utah is one of the newest members of the prestigious Association of American Universities, which for more than 100 years has recognized the most outstanding academic institutions in the nation.

Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities (AAU), announced Wednesday that University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins has accepted an invitation to join the association, along with the University of California, Santa Cruz and Dartmouth College. The three new members bring the number of AAU institutions to 65.

AAU invitations are infrequent; this year’s invitations are the first since 2012.



“AAU’s membership is limited to institutions at the forefront of scientific inquiry and educational excellence,” said Coleman. “These world-class institutions are a welcome addition, and we look forward to working with them as we continue to shape policy for higher education, science, and innovation.” - Mary Sue Coleman


About the AAU
The AAU formed in 1900 to promote and raise standards for university research and education. Today its mission is to “provide a forum for the development and implementation of institutional and national policies promoting strong programs of academic research and scholarship and undergraduate, graduate and professional education.”

A current list of member institutions can be found here. The membership criteria are based on a university’s research funding (the U reached a milestone of $547 million in research funding in FY2019); the proportion of faculty elected to the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine; the impact of research and scholarship; and student outcomes. The U has 21 National Academies members, with some elected to more than one academy.

An AAU committee periodically reviews universities and recommends them to the full association for membership, where a three-fourths vote is required to confirm the invitation.

Leaders of AAU member universities meet to discuss common challenges and future directions in higher education. The U’s leaders will now join those meetings, which include the leaders of all the top 10 and 56 of the top 100 universities in the United States.


“We already knew that the U was one of the jewels of Utah and of the Intermountain West. This invitation shows that we are one of the jewels of the entire nation.” - H. David Burton


U on the rise
In FY2019 the U celebrated a historic high of $547 million in sponsored project funding, covering a wide range of research activities. These prestigious awards from organizations such as the U.S. Department of Energy, National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation are supporting work in geothermal energy, cross-cutting, interdisciplinary approaches to research that challenge existing paradigms and effects of cannabinoids on pain management.

They also are funding educational research programs with significant community engagement, such as the U’s STEM Ambassador Program and the Genetic Science Learning Center’s participation in the All of Us Research Program.

“AAU is a confirmation of the quality and caliber of our faculty and the innovative work they are doing to advance knowledge and address grand societal challenges. Our students and our community will be the ultimate beneficiaries of these endeavors. " - President Ruth Watkins


On Nov. 4, 2019, the U announced a $150 million gift, the largest single-project donation in its history, to establish the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. These gifts and awards are in addition to the ongoing support of the U from the Utah State Legislature.

This fall the university welcomed its most academically prepared class of first-year students. The freshman cohort includes 4,249 students boasting an impressive 3.66 average high school GPA and an average ACT composite score of 25.8. The incoming class also brings more diversity to campus with both a 54% increase in international students and more bilingual students than the previous year’s freshman class. Among our freshmen who are U.S. citizens, 30% are students of color.

The U’s focus on student success has led to an increased six-year graduation rate, which now sits at 70%—well above the national average for four-year schools. The rate has jumped 19 percentage points over the past decade, making it one of only two public higher education research institutions to achieve this success.