Bio Faculty Retirees




At the annual SBS Award Ceremony this past spring, three retiring faculty members, now emeritus status in the School, were recognized by their colleagues. 

Festschriften: a book honoring a respected person, especially an academic, presented during their lifetime and containing contributions from the honoree's colleagues, former pupils, and friends. 

Michael Bastiani 

On a clear night deep in the Wasatch the sky is painted by starlight – you can see about 5000 stars!  But that is only a tiniest fraction of their total number. There are 100 billion stars in our Milky Way Galaxy, that is 20 million times more stars than the ones you can see.  That unfathomable number is how many nerve cells are in your brain; your mind is as big and complex as the stars in Milky Way Galaxy.  Moreover, those neurons form connections, and are signaling to each other.  But the connections and networks must be correct for each of us to be the talented human beings that we are.

Mike Bastiani spent his career studying how the brain forms these connections in a reliable and correct manner among the number of those signaling neurons. The scale we are talking about here is worth mentioning. Nerve cells are only 30 micrometers in diameter but must send a thin process called an axon up to one meter away to form the correct connection to its target cell. Let's pretend that you're a nerve cell. That would be equivalent to your hand crawling on the ground for 85 miles – all the way from Salt Lake City to the Idaho state line.(That would be a pretty remarkable journey for a human hand).  

Mike first studied this process in grasshoppers, demonstrating that each of what he identified as sprouting growth cones on the end of the nerve’s axon follows a specific path, making contacts with particular cells along the way. His laboratory identified unique proteins on the surface of these tracts of axons that acted as guides for growth cones that followed along the established roadways, changing direction of migration – as if reading a map.

 With his labeled-pathways hypothesis in hand, Mike began to study growth cone behavior in intact (not dissected) transparent nematode worms. His lab was the first to characterize growth cones in an unperturbed environment and unexpected behaviors of growth cones, their collapse ­– a once discarded notion — and their re-creation of the growth cone on the other side once they’ve successfully navigated a barrier.

Using this assay, his laboratory then discovered an entirely new process in nervous system development. By continuing to observe the nervous system after wiring was complete, he and his team identified genes that stabilized it. These genes “told” neurons to set aside their youth, to stop sprouting growth cones, and to stabilize the existing network. 

Initially, Mike observed in yet another subject model, C. elegans, what most believed: that damaged axons could not regrow and shut down. But then seven hours following the damage done to axons by a laser, he saw that growth cones sprouted from the stump and regrew to their target, though admittedly not perfectly. He then screened for mutants that could not regrow axons and discovered a protein called DLK-1 that was required for the reappearance of a new growth cone. Importantly, if he caused the neuron to make DLK-1 before the axon was damaged, the growth cone sprouted immediately after being cut and was able to find its correct target.

Subsequently, these experiments have been validated in mammals.  It turns out, the nervous system can heal itself, and if the neurons can be prodded to respond to damage earlier, can regrow, and re-establish functional synaptic contacts. These experiments have led the neuroscience community to explore repair of damaged nervous systems such as spinal cord injuries that result in patient paralysis.

Mike Bastiani retired from the School of Biological Sciences this past May, but as of 11 am this morning can still be seen at his microscope room repairing the laser. Apparently, there’s more work to be done.   ~ Erik Jorgensen

Don Feener

Don Feener has retired from the School of Biology, joining the ranks of the emeriti. His lively wit and penetrating questions have been an integral part of the intellectual and social life of our School since 1989. I first met Don when we were both at the University of Texas at Austin in the late 1970s. I was just starting my PhD program and Don had just finished his PhD on the community ecology of ants. Don was famous as one of the most well read of all the students, exhibiting a remarkable breadth of ecological knowledge and being up to date on all the latest publications. He inspired me as I pursued my own career in insect ecology. Also, that lively wit was on full display, making for awesome parties at Don's. In 1981, Don published a ground-breaking paper in Science, showing how parasitic flies affect ant behavior, mediating and altering competitive interactions among ant species. This simple and elegant field experiment had a large impact on thinking in community ecology. To this day I use that paper in my teaching, as an example where the discovery did not rely on new or sophisticated technology, but simply asking the right question. Great science can be done with a pencil, a notebook, a stopwatch, and a prepared mind. Don went on to establish a prominent career as a community ecologist, using ants and their parasitoid flies as a model system for understanding how ecological communities are structured and function.

 Beyond focused research, Don has always been a conscientious contributor to the teaching and administrative components of our academic enterprise. Don is a dedicated and empathetic teacher and has shepherded countless students through a broad range of topics: general biology, ecology, evolution, tropical biology, entomology, and quantitative methods. He has advised and launched sixteen graduate students and served on innumerable graduate committees. Always a good citizen, Don was a regular and reliable member of administrative committees, doing the necessary but generally thankless work.

 But Don is more than his professional life. He has always been a consummate "curious naturalist," observing and pondering nature in all its beauty and complexity. He has also been a consummate human being, deeply caring for others and alert to their needs. I have been a colleague of Don's for 40 decades, a great experience. I have also been a friend, an equally important honor. In his new role, we lose his teaching and administrative service, but luckily we still get the scientist, the curious naturalist, and the friend.
~ Jack Longino

Jon Seger 

As a scientist, Jon brings rigorous scholarship, creativity, and a "no barriers" approach.  He defined bet-hedging in classic work, worked with Hamilton on parasites and sex, and was inspired by his wife Vicky Rowntree's right whale system to appreciate the power of being boring.  Whale lice, that we hoped would tell us something about whale movement, turned out to tell us absolutely nothing. Jon had the vision to appreciate how their dull environment and mind-numbing population dynamics provide the perfect system to measure the chilly draft of deleterious alleles that makes each of us rather less than perfect. 

Unlike some theorists I can think of, Jon knows how to run a lab, and can be found sequencing whale lice at odd hours of the day and night to extract the interesting from the boring.

 We've had fun running Theory Lunch since I arrived, making up witty posters, maybe helping a few people, and learning a lot along the way. As I see it, I come up with the "right way" to address the question, and Jon presents an alternative. He finds the holes in the logic, and by creating even bigger holes, finds the deeper questions lurking beneath a seemingly simple facade.  

Soon after my arrival, we were discussing some problem, and I made an off-hand comment about "pointy-headed molecular biologists."  Jon swiftly set me straight, that biology is biology and that head shape is uncorrelated with subdiscipline. That short conversation was part of the long conversation that set me on the path of my own increasingly pointy-headed research and perhaps even to the role I find myself in today.  For everything but that, Jon, thanks. I hope and trust that your retirement is the opportunity for us to keep our conversation going. It's in our genes after all… .  ~ Fred Adler

From the Lab to Costa Rica

From the lab to Costa Rica


Despite being over three thousand miles away from her lab back in Salt Lake City, Sylvia Lee was still able to sequence the DNA of the species she is studying.

While doing field work in Costa Rica, Sylvia continued her research by using Oxford Nanopore’s MinION, a portable technology that allows for DNA and RNA sequencing wherever you are.

Sylvia works in an SRI research stream that focuses on using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies to barcode and sequence DNA. This allows her lab to uncover new species and their phylogenetics. NGS allows in-house sequencing within the lab, rather than having to send it off to a company or lab. Or with the portable MinIOn, on a Costa Rican beach.

Sylvia’s main project is focused on ant-plant symbioses. She works to identify a third party within that symbiosis which is a crucial piece of the mutualistic interactions between ants and plants. The ants can’t get certain nutrients from their host plant, so the third party, mealybugs, are essential for this mutualistic relationship. She’s identifying the species of mealybugs involved, and after that, will look more closely at the nitrogen-fixing microbiome surrounding this entire process.

Sylvia is planning to go to graduate school, pursuing research in the biotech field. She’s a Social Justice Advocate, connecting U housing residents to resources and creating safe communities where they feel like they belong. She’s also part of the U’s undergraduate chapter of SACNAS, designed to support Chicano, Hispanic and Native American STEM students. 

“My parents are my heroes,” she said. “I look up to them because I have seen how much they’ve gone through, raising two children in a foreign country, far away from what’s familiar and far from where they called home. They did all of this just to make sure their kids would have a good life and a good future.”

Sylvia was born in Cheongju, South Korea, but at a young age moved overseas with her family. She traveled many places, but spent a lot of time in Mexico, and came to the U as an international student. Sequencing DNA has not only proven “portable” for Sylvia Lee; when she graduates with BS in biology and minor in chemistry, they’ll be infinitely “portable” as well. 

By CJ Siebeneck

SRI Story: Lauren Wigod

This is me out on the frozen bed of the Great Salt Lake, collecting soil and water samples. It might be sunny, but it was freezing, and I think I still have salt stuck in my boots.



My name is Lauren, I’m a senior majoring in biology and philosophy of science, and I was a member of the first cohort of the Science Research Initiative (SRI), first-year research program in the College of Science. For my project in the antibiotic discovery stream, led by Dr. Josh Steffen, I cultured a library of halophilic bacteria that thrive in the Great Salt Lake. In a time when most of my classes were online, the SRI offered the opportunity for hands-on learning, both in a lab and in the field. In just my second semester, I was gaining valuable research skills and synthesizing concepts from my other classes. 

We took a closer look at our benchwork (an example is pictured to the left) with weekly journal clubs. Dr. Steffen helped us tackle academic articles that were directly applicable to our research and in turn enforced our understanding of the fundamental ideas at play.

These exercises combined with my work in philosophy of science and a year-long novel writing workshop through the Honors College spurred the realization that my true passion lies in science communication. 







Oh … and during my spare time I took a job at the stock room in the Department of Chemistry where, among other things, for BeReal, I wielded bolt cutters that were almost my height. En garde!


When I told Dr. Steffen that I loved science but didn’t think research was for me, he helped me find a role where I could play to my strengths and apply my scientific expertise.

Now, as a science writer intern for the College of Science (I’m posing here with my fellow interns), I talk to students and faculty about their research and turn their experiences into stories that everyone can engage with regardless of their background.

zebrafish (Danio rerio)

So, it turned out that laboratory research didn’t end up being the path for me. Even so, my participation in the SRI has been one of my most radical experiences at the U. During my time in the program, I developed confidence in the lab, professional connections and a lasting community within the College of Science. One of my favorite projects I covered was a paper from the Gagnon Lab about a chemical sunscreen called gadusol found in zebrafish. The research paper reading skills I learned from the SRI came in handy on that one!

There may be a point in your academic career at the U where, like me, you aren’t sure you even belong at the university – or in science at all. But the SRI and Dr. Steffen helped me see that a career in science can take many forms, not just being “at the bench” but wordprocessing away on a laptop telling stories about science. Sky’s the limit for you as a science major as well. 

I am honored to have been among the first cohort of SRI students and gratified to see how the program has already developed in the few years since its conception. Already, SRI scholars are producing great work, and I’m excited to hear (and write about) their imminent discoveries across all disciplines of science. 


by Lauren Wigod
Science Writer Intern

SRI Stories is a series by the College of Science, intended to share transformative experiences from students, alums, postdocs and faculty of the Science Research Initiative. To read more stories, visit the SRI Stories page.

Read more College of Science stories by Lauren Wigod here.

SRI Story: Gap-Year Buzz

Gap-Year Buzz


“I joined the beekeepers club my first semester of college,” says Claudia Wiese, a recent graduate from the U and an alum of the Science Research Initiative (SRI). She became very interested in bees — both honeybees and native bees. “So when an opportunity arose to do research on bees, I was very excited.”

Not as excited, perhaps, as bees get when they’re being looked at and managed by an eager student researcher. Little do they know, they are in good (and ambitious) hands. The Missoula, Montana native graduated with no fewer than three degrees: two BS honors degrees, one in biology and the other in Environmental and Sustainability Studies as well as a BA in Latin American Studies.

But wait. There’s more. She also graduated with Honors Ecology and Legacy Integrated Minor which offers students a guided pathway through Honors, one where they can dive into environmental and ecological thinking in an interdisciplinary manner.

Busy as a bee, it would appear.

SRI experience

No wonder today, Claudia is taking a gap-year break before she heads back to academia for a graduate degree. In the meantime, she spends “a lot of time outside and work[ing] as a ski instructor and river guide. It’s also a priority of mine to be active in local organizations that work on protecting public lands.”

Bzzzzz . . .

“Honeybees,” she reminds us, “are only about eight species of 20,000+ bee species in the world! In other words, the vast majority of bees on earth do not make honey.” This isn’t your average backyard beekeeper. In her research, she explains, “I sequence the DNA of pollen from honeybees to understand what plants they are visiting. Specifically, I am using this approach to understand the effect of a mite treatment that is commonly used. Do bees visit different flowers due to the treatment?,” she asks.

Her SRI experience in the program's Pollen Metagenomics research stream was a definite introduction and asset to her field of study. And gap-year or not, she regularly leaves Snowbird during the winter where she works as a ski instructor to continue working in her SRI stream “with the goal to finalize my research and mentor other students.”

“I am very thankful for the opportunities that SRI has provided me,” says Claudia Wiese, the recent graduate, poised to take on the next hive of scientific inquiry. “They have been an incredible launchpad to culture my passion for research and [to demonstrate how to balance it with my other interests.”


By David Pace

SRI Stories is a series by the College of Science, intended to share transformative experiences from students, alums, postdocs and faculty of the Science Research Initiative. To read more stories, visit the SRI Stories page.

Nadkarni Named NatGeo Explorer at Large

Nadkarni named NatGeo Explorer at Large


The National Geographic Society has appointed famed University of Utah forest canopy researcher Nalini Nadkarni as a National Geographic Explorer at Large.

A Professor Emerita at the School of Biological Sciences, Nadkarni, an ecologist who pioneered the study of Costa Rican rainforest canopies and an avid science communicator, will serve as an ambassador for the National Geographic Society. As an Explorer at Large, Nadkarni will receive support for her research and in bringing accessibility to science and nature across communities.

Explorers at Large hold the highest distinction within the organization. They are preeminent leaders in their field who also serve as mentors to other National Geographic Explorers. The title is bestowed upon a few select global changemakers, including Explorers like storyteller Shahidul Alam, oceanographers Bob Ballard and Sylvia Earle, artist Maya Lin and ecologist Rodrigo Medellín.

“At the National Geographic Society, we often say science and exploration are our foundation, and storytelling and education are our superpowers. Nalini’s career embodies this sentiment,” said Jill Tiefenthaler, chief executive officer, National Geographic Society. “Nalini is passionate about sharing her work with people of all backgrounds to foster a greater understanding of and care for the natural world. This is key to our mission and among the many reasons we’re thrilled to name her a National Geographic Explorer at Large.”

Read the full press release dated Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023 at National Geographic.

Epiphytes face growing threats

Epiphytes face growing threats


Orchids, mosses, ferns—or epiphytes, defined as nonparasitic plants that grow on other plants—are crucial for Earth’s biodiversity and play essential roles in forests around the world, building habitat in trees for myriad other life forms, from bacteria and insects to birds and reptiles.

However, the very attributes that have enabled epiphytes to thrive in forest canopies are now making them vulnerable to both natural and human-caused disturbances, according to Nalini Nadkarni, the University of Utah biologist renowned for her pioneering work studying and conserving treetop ecosystems.

Nalini Nadkarni, professor emerita of biology

In a study published this month, Nadkarni found these vital plants are under more and more pressure as a result of rapid environmental change, and proposes specific actions for preserving these fascinating plants.

“This synthesis revealed the exceptional vulnerability to the increasing levels of disturbances—such as climate change and deforestation—on the abundance diversity and connectivity of canopy-dwelling plants around the globe,” she said. “Although we categorize the disturbances with greatest negative effects on canopy plants as ‘natural,’ as hurricanes and wildfire, human activities are increasing the severity and frequency of those in the USA and around the world.”

Nadkarni’s latest paper reviews the available science on epiphyte communities and categorizes the drivers and consequences of and societal responses to drought, wind, insects, wildfire, logging and other disturbances. Her findings should serve as a wake-up call to land managers and others interested in preserving the health of the world’s woodlands.

Read the full story by Brian Maffly in @TheU.

Fall’s flamboyance: The science of autumn leaves

Fall's Flamboyance


To many, Utah’s fall leaves are a dazzling display of nature’s beauty. To Eleinis Ávila-Lovera, the autumnal switch to reds, yellows, oranges and purples tells a chromatic story of survival.

Eleinis Ávila-Lovera. Banner photo: Archie enjoys the fall leaves changing in Millcreek Canyon. Credit: Jessica Taylor

“Whenever I see plants outside, I’m always thinking what’s going on at a cellular level and why they’re doing what they’re doing. It always goes back to what’s best for the plant through evolutionary time,” said Ávila-Lovera, assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences. “We might think that they just want to put on a show for us, but the changing fall colors are part of a strategy that allows these plants to survive the climate they experience in their natural habitat.”

Ávila-Lovera is a plant ecophysiologist who researches how plants respond to and tolerate drought. She figures out the mechanisms and traits underlying plant strategies that allow vegetation to cope with extreme water limitations. For example, some desert plants drop their leaves during the hottest and driest months to preserve moisture. In the mountains, the psychedelic foliage works in much the same way—trees that are deciduous drop their leaves to preserve nutrients and prevent freezing over harsh cold winter months.

The science of autumn leaves

Fall officially begins after the autumnal equinox, when the Northern Hemisphere begins to slowly tilt away from the sun. The shortening daylight triggers the beginning of the changing colors.

“Deciduous trees want to drop their leaves in a controlled way to preserve some of their nutrients and sugars. This process is called leaf senescence,” Ávila-Lovera said.

Read the rest of the story by Lisa Poster on @TheU.

‘Solving’ biology’s most important molecule

‘solving’ biology’s most important molecule


According to microbiologist “Venki” Ramakrishnan, “We all have imposter syndrome,” a phenomenon described as self-doubt of intellect, skills, or accomplishments among high-achieving individuals.


With Peter Trapa, dean of the College of Science

In a much-anticipated lecture at the College of Science’s Frontiers of Science September 27, Ramakrishnan detailed “My Adventures in the Ribosome.” With a warm reminder to the standing-room-only crowd at the Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU) he explained that there were setbacks, re-directs and moments of doubt for the microbiologist who helped solve the structure of biology's most important molecule yet shrouded in mystery ever since the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA fifty years earlier.  “Everything in the cell is either made by the ribosome or made by enzymes that are themselves made by the ribosome,” he says. The event was co-sponsored by the U's Department of Biochemistry, U Health and NHMU.

Whatever syndrome Ramakrishnan once suffered from, the Nobel Prize laureate learned to value change, whether it was pivoting from his early studies in physics — a discipline that dates back to Galileo in the 16th century — to that of biology, now in the midst of a resurgence, supercharged with the advent of genetics. (To the PhD physicist “lambda” was a wavelength, not a virus, he shared with the audience, garnering laughs.)

In his new life science digs, he soon gravitated to capturing the essence of an enormous molecular machine made up of a million atoms — wherein large, complex protein molecules are produced, turning the genetic code into organisms.

If you want to see the world

Finding the structure of the ribosome wasn’t easy. For one thing, it entailed uprooting his family. In his presentation, Ramakrishnan repeatedly displayed a travel map with dotted lines to illustrate how, if you want to see the world, study the ribosome. He and eventually his family traveled from his home in India to Ohio to San Diego before beginning his postdoctoral work with Peter Moore at Yale University in Connecticut, and then a sabbatical in Cambridge, England, to Utah, where he was on the biochemistry faculty for more than four years. (A U lab staff photo projected at the event prompted Ramakrishnan to refer to himself, heavily-bearded in the 1990s photo, as being his “bin Laden days.”)

From Utah he returned to Cambridge, England and the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology where he is currently group leader.

The race for solving the ribosome turned into a four-way contest of labs and turned on securing the right level of detail to see how the ribosome actually works–from x-ray technology to eventually crystallography facilitated by the U’s own Chris Hall and others determined to solve a fundamental problem regardless of the challenges.

Fifteen years after the first crystals and there was still no apparent progress towards determining the actual structure of the ribosome. In Utah, Ramakrishnan and his lab focused on what had earlier been identified as the smaller subunit of the ribosome, but it wasn’t until his return to the UK that the goal of bagging atomic resolution crystals of both ribosome units was accomplished. This with the help of electron microscopy as well as circular particle accelerators known as synchrotrons used by his team and his Yale colleagues.

Mission Accomplished

Finally, there was enough detail to hazard a “mission accomplished,” and in 2009 Ramakrishnan, now elected to The Royal Society, shared the Nobel prize in chemistry with Thomas A. Steitz and Ada Yonath for research on the structure and function of ribosomes. In 2012 he was knighted.

Not bad for someone who claims to be subject to sometimes crippling self-doubt, and he was eager to share some take-aways to the audience for not only scientific research success, but life success. In addition to his recurring refrain that we all suffer from imposter syndrome, Ramakrishnan referenced the late Max Perutz, the Austrian-born British molecular biologist who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with John Kendrew, for their studies of the structures of hemoglobin and myoglobin. Perutz charted the variables at play for success in the scientific realm beyond just talent:  money, skill, patience and luck.

And Ramakrishnan's advice?

  • Keep your options open, even if it means learning completely new techniques, moving, or even changing fields
  • Never be afraid to ask for help or show your ignorance
  • Talk to people but not all the time

Of course, “success” is never final for a scientist, perhaps especially for one traversing the mysterious inner galaxies of molecules. And this is where Ramakrishnan brought his journey back to a recognizable metaphor for the uninitiated. In a series of slides, he showed the structure of this mighty molecular machine, including where antibiotics bind to the molecule which has advanced our understanding of how the ribosome works and how antibiotics inhibit it.

It took ten to fifteen years of taking snapshots of the ribosome to get a full complement of intricate, uniquely shaped moving images at an atomic resolution that could then be fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. Finally, biologists could see and render the long-enigmatic process that takes place from the blueprint of DNA to protein: where exactly mRNA entered, how other proteins attached, and where the amino acid chain exited from the ribosome.

Each of the slides at the Tuesday night event presented a progressively more detailed model of the ribosome, until it was three-dimensional. In his visual piece de la resistance, Ramakrishnan put up an animation of the completed jigsaw puzzle designed by Janet Iwasa and the U’s animation lab. The frenetic choreography of multi-colored components wowed the audience, especially when the good scientist put it up to speed and the illustrated ribosome seemed to go kinetically cosmic before everyone’s very eyes.

Ribosome exhibit at Natural History Museum of Utah.

The animation is featured in a new exhibit dedicated to the ribosome on the fourth floor of the Natural History Museum of Utah.

It was a stirring finish for Venki Ramakrishnan who brought it all up to scale when he closed the evening by saying, “During the time you've been listening to me, the thousands of ribosomes in each of your cells have been churning out tens of thousands of proteins as we speak."

Read Michael Mozdy’s post about Dr. Ramakrishnan and the new Ribosome exhibit at the NHMU.

By David Pace


About Frontiers of Science

The College of Science Frontiers of Science lecture series was established in 1967 by University of Utah alumnus and Physics Professor Peter Gibbs. By 1970, the University had hosted 10 Nobel laureates for public Frontiers lectures. By 1993, when Gibbs retired, the Frontiers organizers had hosted another 20 laureates. Today, it is the longest continuously running lecture series at the U.

The next event in the series takes place March 19, 2024 and will feature Maureen Raymo, American paleoclimatologist and marine geologist.

Ribosome adventures

Venki Ramakrishnan, 'My adventures in the ribosome'


Venkataraman “Venki” Ramakrishnan’s story is the stuff of fiction. He went from an eager undergraduate student in India to a self-described “failed physicist” to a major player in the race to uncover one of biology’s biggest mysteries—the structure of the ribosome, the most important molecule that nobody’s heard of that earned him a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009.

The opportunity to research the ribosome drew Ramakrishnan to the University of Utah in the late ‘90s. The ancient molecule brings him back as a Nobel laureate to discuss his “Adventures in the Ribosome” at the College of Science’s Frontiers of Science Lecture Series on Sept. 26, at the Natural History Museum of Utah. The evening should be enthralling—his popular memoir Gene Machine reads like a thriller that navigates inspired collaborations, friendly rivalries, and cutthroat competition behind scientific discoveries and international accolades.

“Why did my career work out? I didn’t go to any famous schools for my undergrad or graduate school, and I was sort of an outsider most of my life. I think there’s some sort of general lessons there,” Ramakrishnan said. “One of them is if you find things don’t work out, you have to be open to change.”

Ramakrishnan has never been afraid of change. He earned a PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Ohio, but immediately realized that developing theories and mathematical calculations wasn’t for him. The field of biology grabbed his attention.

“Every issue of Scientific American when I was a grad student was full of big breakthroughs in biology. That was a time when the first sequences of DNA were being reported, Ramakrishnan said. “Biology was going through this huge revolution, and it hasn’t stopped.”


Read the full story by David Pace and Lisa Potter in @TheU.
Read more about the Ribosome exhibit, in conjunction with Ramakrishnan lecture, at the Natural History Museum of Utah. 


Climate-Resilient Western Grid

Gird YOUR Grid


The Western Interconnected Grid, commonly known as “the Western Interconnection,” is one of the two major interconnected power grids in North America.

The "Western Interconnection," as it is called, stretches from the northern edge of British Columbia, Canada to the border of Baja, Mexico, and from the California coast to the Rockies, and serves roughly 80 million people over 1.8 million square miles across two Canadian provinces and fourteen western states in the United States.  It is the backbone of one of the largest regional economic engines in the world.

On September 18th it was announced that  through  $5M funding by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and $3.75M funding by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the University of Utah and University of Calgary will establish and co-lead the U.S.-Canada Center on Climate-Resilient Western Interconnected Grid.

Masood Parvania, associate professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Utah’s John and Marcia Price College of Engineering will co-lead the center along with Hamid Zareipour, professor of Electrical and Software Engineering at the University of Calgary’s Schulich School Engineering.

“Our center is being established at a critical time when the region is experiencing more frequent and severe extreme weather disturbances such as wildfires, heatwaves, drought, and flooding, the impacts of which not only pose threats to human health and the environment but also affect the ability of the western interconnection to continue powering the communities,” says Parvania.

At the University of Utah, the center involves co-principal investigators Valerio Pascucci, professor at the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute and Kahlert School of Computing, William Andregg, director of the Wilkes Center for Climate Science and Policy, and Divya Chandrasekhar, associate professor in the Department of City and Metropolitan Planning in the College of Architecture and Planning, among multiple other partners and faculty.

Read the full story from the John & Marcia Price College of Engineering website.

More about this story from Brian Maffly in @TheU