My first experience in a research lab came from meeting my undergraduate advisor, professor Barbara Imperiali, as a freshman. I worked in her lab every semester and summer for three years, so I feel like I got my 10,000 hours in early on.
I learned a lot of things in the lab before taking the classes. It really motivated me academically. I wanted to learn and understand more about what I was doing in the lab.
Shanti Deemyad, an Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, recently helped solve a long-standing mystery about lithium, the first element in the periodic table that is metallic at ambient conditions. Lithium, which is a key element in electronics and battery technology, has played an important role in the development of modern condensed matter theories.
The crystal structure of materials at zero pressure and temperature is one of their most basic properties. Until now, it was thought that a complex arrangement of lithium atoms, observed during cooling in the laboratory, was its lowest energy state. But the idea baffled theoretical physicists since lithium has only three electrons and therefore should have a simple atomic structure.
My teaching took a turn about five years ago. I went through a fairly traumatic experience. That helped me realize how important it is to have humane, kind classrooms. If we don’t intentionally build the kind of culture we want in a classroom, then we unintentionally build a culture.
I’m really concerned about equity in mathematics, and I don’t know any better way to make it more equitable than to try to make it more humane for everyone.
A Vermont native, Gagnon arrived at the University of Utah in January 2018 from Harvard. Previous to that he earned a PhD from Brown University and a BS from Worcester Polytechnic west of Boston.
In Utah Gagnon went from post-doc to principal investigator and Assistant Professor of Biology. In his lab at the Center for Cell and Genome Science, Gagnon curates 10,000 fish in 1,000 controlled tanks carefully labeled for experiments.
To countless undergraduates and former TAs, Joel is well known as a lab rat. He is best known for a hands-on approach to undergraduate laboratory courses, in which students work on independent projects, asking scientific questions of their own choosing, exploring the literature to identify the best methods of analysis, and conducting experiments to solve real-world problems.
Joel works one-on-one with the students in Chemistry 3000 in their exploration of what’s in the world around us, leading to a capstone signature experience for our undergraduate students. This course is considered as one of the most challenging in our undergraduate curriculum.
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 currently serves as an Associate Dean of the College of Science. Her research interests are in particle physics including possible explanations for the dark matter in the universe.
Sean Lawley, assistant professor of mathematics at the U, believes the most interesting math often comes from trying to explain phenomena in other fields. For example, if you’re seeking an answer to a question about biology, physics, or economics, the answer often leads to new and interesting mathematical theories.
“Historically, much of the inspiration for mathematics has come from physics,” said Lawley, “but biology is increasingly a driving force that is pushing the frontiers of math.”