New Year’s Resolutions

The holidays are behind us and so comes a new year with new possibilities. As we excitedly begin 2018, it’s a time to reflect on the past year and what we’ve accomplished and many, including the U, are eagerly looking for and setting goals for the year ahead. You may include some of the common New Year’s Resolutions like lose weight, spend less, save more, learn something new or enjoy life to the fullest, but what about the University of Utah’s goals? Take a look at a few goals for 2018 from some our colleges and deans (some more serious than others):

Dean Richard B. Brown

The University of Utah’s College of Engineering is known for its success in large-scale research endeavors. Our goal in 2018 is to assemble a team of multidisciplinary investigators to bring Santa Claus into the 21st century through a comprehensive energy assessment and high-tech make-over. Benchmarks will include the development of:

  • Fuel-efficient all-electric sleigh with on-board navigation; LED lights for foggy nights; self-parking capability on roofs; and collision avoidance with chimneys and antennae. Also, Bluetooth for hands-free communication with elves back at the North Pole.
  • Ultralight Santa suit with heat sensors to regulate body temperature across global climates.
  • Laser distance meter to determine chimney dimensions and rebreather to help Santa avoid exposure to hazardous carbon deposits.
  • Online Christmas letter submission with data analytics and computer modeling to determine naughty or nice eligibility, and predictive capability for most-popular toys
  • Fitness wristband to monitor Santa’s caloric intake of cookies and milk vs. energy-expended and cardiac output in down-chimney exercises.
  • Auto-focus Santa glasses that adjust automatically to long-distance or low light conditions.

College of Nursing
Dean Patricia Gonce Morton

Your resolution: Lose weight.
Our resolution: Family nurse practitioners will help you make healthier food choices and boost your activity levels.

Your resolution: Drink less.
Our resolution: Psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners will help you process the feelings of anxiety and depression that contribute to excessive drinking.

Your resolution: Get out of debt.
Our resolution: We will help you manage the psychological components of excessive spending to reduce whim and credit card purchases.

Your resolution: Spend more time with family.
Our resolution: BirthCare HealthCare nurses will help you maintain a healthy pregnancy and deliver your baby.

Your resolution: Achieve a better work-life balance.
Our resolution: All of the above.

College of Humanities

We all want world peace in 2018, right? The College of Humanities has set a few New Years’ resolutions to save the day (and the world):

  • The Communication Department resolves to teach free YouTube tutorials on how to spot fake news using the latest in media literacy strategy
  • The English Department resolves to teach free classes for internet trolls on proper grammar and punctuation
  • The Philosophy Department resolves to teach free classes for internet users on how to form compelling arguments and when to stop feeding the trolls
  • The International Studies Programs resolve to host “get to know your neighbor” parties to promote cultural awareness and understanding
  • The Environmental Humanities Program resolves to bring together the world’s premiere environmental activists to protect us from environmental destruction
  • The History Department resolves to give our legislators free classes titled, “If You Don’t Know History, You’re Doomed to Repeat It.”
  • The Religious Studies program resolves to pray for us all.

S.J. QUINNEY College of LAW

In the interest of avoiding self-incrimination, the S.J. Quinney College of Law pleads the Fifth.

College of Architecture + Planning
Dean Keith Diaz Moore

Blueprint for a successful 2018: Go outside and get inspired

It may seem counterintuitive for an architect, but my New Year’s Resolution is to Go Outside and Get Inspired.
Take a moment to marvel at the mountains as they challenge us to aspire greatly. When inversions make me lose sight of them, I find that not only are my lungs constrained, but so, too, is my spirit. Find the time among the holiday silent nights to surrender to the stars—did you know Southern Utah has some of the largest and deepest dark skies in the world? Get out and enjoy the miracle of snow that provides us beauty and fun, and after the spring thaw, manages to keep us hydrated. The lessons of our place are immediate and significant, if we only take the time to look, listen and learn.

Dean Darryl Butt

My personal resolution this year is to have a resolution that I can keep.  But I’ve decided to be really ambitious this year and commit to three resolutions.  I’m committed to…

  • Eat breakfast and lunch every day (I’ve been told that Odwalla bars don’t qualify).
  • Spend at least 15 minutes every week cleaning my office so that I at least give the appearance of being highly organized.
  • Exercise less because it just makes me hungry.

College of EDUCATION
Dean Elaine Clark

College of Education’s 2018 resolution is to challenge Betsy DeVos and the current administration to…

  • Ensure school communities where safety and civility are available to all children in ways that allow them to succeed and thrive.
  • Set and uphold high standards for the preparation and credentialing of teachers, regardless of their work in public, for-profit, charter or private schools.
  • Ensure all students have equitable access to education where fair and just treatment is expected regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, language, income, disability, or sexual orientation, among others.
  • Gain knowledge of, and uphold, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 and other legislation intended to ensure appropriate education for students with disabilities and those with unique and valued needs.
  • Prioritize funding to schools to increase salaries for teachers/staff, ensure administrative support, improve working conditions and provide advancement opportunities in ways that support all educators in their work.
  • Support Institutions of Higher Education that prepare highly qualified teachers and principals and safeguard support for the education of teacher candidates in high need schools and in areas such as Special Education and STEM.
  • Provide more funding for the preparation of teachers and other personnel from underrepresented groups, including those committed to work in their home communities.
  • Increase knowledge about current legislation that has potential to negatively impact educational services (e.g., postponing enactment of the Special Education Disproportionality Rule, altering Title I, ESSA regulations, and reducing equal internet access for K-12 and IHE’s).
  • Enable DREAMERS, and others who have immigrated to the United States, to remain in the country and achieve their dreams of an education, a job and quality of life.
  • Advocate on behalf of students and communities in opposition to efforts that obliterate education funding at the expense of generations of children.

David Eccles School of Business
Dean Taylor Randall

My 2018 New Year’s Resolution for the David Eccles School of Business is to start awarding our scholarships exclusively in Bitcoin (wink, wink). For me personally, I resolve to earn the “Most Improved” award at this year’s Eccles Business Open alumni golf tournament.

College of Social Work
Dean Martell Teasley

For my New Year’s resolution, I pledge to bring out the good side of faculty and staff — and they know what I mean! But after those meetings, I look forward to jumping “inte” 2018 with an integrative health focus, interprofessional collaborations and intelligent approaches to education, research and service.  This is an exciting direction for the College of Social Work. We are on the move!

College of Health
Dean David H. Perrin

You might say researchers, faculty, clinicians, students, and staff of the College of Health are in the New Year’s resolution business. I’m lucky to be surrounded by many people who eat fruits and vegetables, exercise, and watch their weight. Our careers have been devoted to helping people become healthy, fit, and resilient and stay that way. I am even luckier because it’s my job to help them become better at it.

Here are few things I’ve learned and tried – with varying degrees of success – to incorporate into my own life.

  • Go see your doctor more often: Staying healthy should be your top priority, but many people seem frightened of doctors and don’t go to the hospital or clinic nearly as often as they should, often waiting for their condition to significantly worsen. Regular checkups are a must no matter how you feel at the moment.
    Enough said.
  • Start eating healthier food, and less food overall: This is usually an extension of some previous resolution. Switching to a healthier diet can be incredibly tricky when we are surrounded by cheap junk food.
    I like popcorn.
  • Learn to cook better: Cooking is one of the essential skills that every man and woman should possess. It allows you to save money and eat the food you love just the way you like it.
    It doesn’t hurt that one of our departments, Nutrition and Integrative Physiology, has a full-on kitchen. It’s a laboratory.
  • Get in shape: Losing weight is the top resolution for Americans. Combined with “exercise more” and “stay fit and healthy,” it is something that over a third of the population wants to achieve. It’s easy enough to start an exercise and diet program, but the trick is to find a decent one that will give you steady results and will be easy to stick to in the long run. An important point: Stick with the good habits you have adopted.
    Our staff and students at PEAK have figured that out. Give ‘em a call.
  • Become more active: Some people don’t really have a big weight problem, and they even get some exercise a few times a week. The catch is they just sit around the most of the time at home and at work, which can have a negative effect on their posture and health. In that case, all you need is to find ways of moving around more throughout the day instead of staying hunched over the computer.
    Perhaps it’s a good thing, then, that the College of Health is spread across eight locations on campus. It helps us get a bit exercise.
  • Reinvent yourself: Sometimes serious changes are needed in your life. Reinventing yourself can give you a whole new perspective on life and take you in directions you may never have dreamed were possible.
    Bottom line: That’s what all of us at the College of Health help our clients, patients, and students do.

College of DENTISTRY
Dean Wyatt Hume

Personally, I will strive to remain very aware of all of the many positive things that happen here every day.  The patients who receive excellent care, the students and residents who learn to care for them, and the research scholars who improve care even more.  I will strive not to be too burdened by those few problems that naturally arise among a group of high achievers; the jockeying for space, the worries about financial priorities, the questions about who gets to peck at the birdseed first, and the (fortunately very few) disputes about who said what to whom, and why.  Institutionally, I will contribute to further fertilizing the ground, working towards that blossoming Spring day when colleagues in the two Schools, the three Colleges and the Eccles Library dance cheerfully forward, holding hands, as one integrated and harmonious family.  Sounds good to me.  Why not?


By Julie Kiefer, manager, science communications, University of Utah Health Sciences

When viruses infect the body’s cells, those cells face a difficult problem. How can they destroy viruses without harming themselves? Scientists at University of Utah Health have found an answer by visualizing a tiny cellular machine that chops the viruses’ genetic material into bits. Their research shows how the machine detects the intruders and processes them for destruction to protect cells and prevent the spread of infection.

Brenda Bass

“Fighting viruses is essential for survival,” says Brenda Bass, distinguished professor of biochemistry at U of U Health who co-led the study with assistant professor Peter Shen. “It is fascinating to see how biology has evolved to solve this problem.” Their findings were published online in the journal Science on Dec. 21.

Bass, Shen and their colleagues examined one such specialized machine, a protein from the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Now that scientists know how the fly protein works, they may be able to use some of the same tricks to overcome viruses that cause human disease.

At first glance, the “L”-shaped protein, aptly named Dicer, doesn’t look like anything special. But put it next to virus, and its machete-like properties spring to life. Viruses spread infection by replicating and copying their genomic material inside the cell, and during this process make double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). Dicer rids the cell of the offending intruder by grabbing hold of the rope-like dsRNA, chopping it into pieces as it reels it in.

One small difference between viral and cellular dsRNA is responsible for giving the virus away as an unwanted intruder. The ends of the strands of viral dsRNA are even, while one strand of cellular dsRNA is a tad longer than the other.

“Dicer has to be careful about what it destroys because otherwise it would shut down the cell,” explains graduate student and first author Niladri Sinha. “Seeing how Dicer works answers a long-standing question of how antiviral-receptors can discriminate between ‘self’ from ‘non-self.’”

This property is important for more than one reason. As a part of normal cell function, Dicer slices dsRNA made by the cell, too. For the first time, this study shows that this single machine processes dsRNA from viruses using a completely different mechanism.

Peter Shen

In a way, this new view of Dicer has been nearly 20 years in the making. When Bass first started investigating the protein, she noted it had a region known as the helicase domain. But for all those years, no one knew why. It was pure curiosity that led her to collaborate with Shen to determine whether seeing the protein could help them answer that question.

To do so, they flash-froze and analyzed Dicer using cryo-electron microscopy, this year’s Nobel Prize-winning technology. Despite using advanced methodologies, it was not easy to get a picture of the protein interacting with viral RNA. Dicer is tiny even by cryo-EM standards. Plus, it bends and moves, making it difficult to pin down.

The scientists overcame these difficulties by using biochemistry to trap the pair in defined poses and then taking hundreds of thousands of images. They discovered that the mysterious helicase domain defines the previously unknown mechanism for destroying virus: it recognizes the intruder and reels it in just before the kill. Importantly, once the helicase grabs hold of the viral material, it doesn’t let go, improving its chances for eradicting infection.

“What I love about this is that we had no idea how the enzyme was working. Just by looking at it, we came upon something unexpected,” says Shen.

It’s possible that Dicer only functions this way in flies. But biology has a habit of reusing tools that work well. “I’m sure people will be thinking that perhaps under certain conditions, or in the presence of additional protein factors, human Dicer could act like the fly’s.” Such a discovery could give scientists new ways to control viral infection, and our body’s response to infection.


Video credit of Janet Iwasa, faculty in Biochemistry.

# # #

This research was supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health and the H.A. and Edna Benning Presidential Endowed Chair, and will be published as “Dicer uses distinct modules for recognizing dsRNA termini” in Science on Dec. 21, 2017.

In addition to Bass, Shen and Sinha, Janet Iwasa, a research assistant professor also in the Department of Biochemistry at U of U Health, is a coauthor. Bass is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Human Genetics and a member of the Huntsman Cancer Institute.


By Lisa Himonas, assistant dean, College of Social Work

Photo of Hank Liese and Colin Brown in 1964 as cadets at Culver Military Academy.

The two 15-year-olds stand on the grounds of their new school staring at the camera, anxious as they contemplate what awaits them at Culver Military Academy. It is their first day at the college prep school in Indiana. They have just donned their uniforms and have yet to learn how to properly stand at attention.

The year was 1964 and new cadets Hank Liese and Colin Brown could not have imagined they would celebrate their 50th high school reunion at Culver in the spring of 2017 as a retiring dean at the University of Utah College of Social Work and the chairman and CEO of JM Family Enterprises in Deerfield Beach, Florida. The two met in 1959 as fifth graders at the American School in Manila, the Philippines, and became best friends. Together they schemed to attend Culver, following tradition in both of their families.

Shortly after their Golden Anniversary reunion at Culver, Liese was humbled when Brown announced he wanted to make a gift to the college in honor of his childhood friend and the impact Liese had on his students and colleagues during his 24 years at the university. Liese suggested a small scholarship, but Brown was adamant that he wanted to do something “big.”

In 2017, Dean Hank Liese and Chairman and CEO Colin Brown celebrated their 50th high school reunion and their decades-long friendship.

He did, creating the six-figure Colin W. Brown Endowment that will support the Hank Liese Scholarship for BSW, MSW, or Ph.D students at an estimated $4,000 per year. Per Liese’s request, special consideration will be given to those pursuing social work as a second career.

“I was a late-blooming social worker myself,” Liese said, “coming to the profession after 12 years in public relations and marketing. Teaching over the years, I was continually impressed by students who were returning to the classroom after careers in other fields. I can appreciate the challenges they face as non-traditional students, the financial sacrifice they and their families make, and the courage they demonstrate in learning and exercising entirely new skills.”

“Colin’s generosity knows no bounds,” Liese said, reflecting on the new scholarship in his honor. “He is a major donor to Culver, and now to the College of Social Work. I am moved by his kindness and hope he will be able to join me at our fall scholarship dinners in the coming years.”

Brown said, “I am thrilled to be able to recognize and acknowledge Hank’s and my friendship through this endowment. Hank is my oldest and dearest friend. Our histories are intertwined, given the experiences we have shared over the past half-century plus, from grade school in Manila to high school at Culver, and now to more frequent visiting since we are both in retirement mode.”


The next generation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V), will move forward with mapping the entire sky following a $16 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The grant will kickstart a groundbreaking all-sky spectroscopic survey for a next wave of discovery, anticipated to start in 2020. The University of Utah has been a key member of the SDSS collaboration since 2009, and all of the survey data will be processed and stored at the U’s Center for High-Performance Computing.

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey has been one of the most successful and influential surveys in the history of astronomy, creating the most detailed three-dimensional maps of the universe ever made, with deep multi-color images of one third of the sky, and spectra for more than three million astronomical objects. The survey’s fifth generation will build off the earlier SDSS incarnations, but will break new ground by pioneering all-sky spectroscopic observations, taking the spectra of another 6 million objects, and monitoring many of the objects’ changes over time.

“SDSS has long been a great example of hundreds of astronomers of all ages, from many continents, working together on a big project. We’re excited to continue that tradition!” says Gail Zasowski, assistant professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the U, and the SDSS-V spokesperson. Zasowski works to keep the collaborative part of the survey running smoothly, and helps interface between SDSS and the rest of the astronomical community.

She also does most of her research with SDSS data, adding, “The new knowledge we’re going to learn about the astrophysics of stars, galaxies and black holes will be truly remarkable.”

SDSS-V will consist of three projects, each mapping different components of the universe: The Milky Way Mapper, the Black Hole Mapper and the Local Volume Mapper. The first Mapper focuses on the formation of the Milky Way and its stars and planets. The second will study the formation, growth, and ultimate sizes of the supermassive black holes that lurk at the centers of galaxies. The Local Volume Mapper will create the first complete spectroscopic maps of the most iconic nearby galaxies.

The survey operates out of both Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, home of the survey’s original 2.5-meter telescope, and the Carnegie Institute of Science’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. SDSS‐V will make use of both optical and infrared spectroscopy, to observe not only in two hemispheres, but also at two wavelengths of light.

Joel Brownstein, research associate professor at the U’s Department of Physics & Astronomy, is the principal data scientist for SDSS-V.  His data team will support the various data reduction and analysis pipelines that process the raw data collected by the telescopes, and make it publicly available in a format that is helpful to a broad range of users, from young students to amateur and professional astronomers. The team is developing software and laying the groundwork for the deluge of data processing that will run on the SDSS cluster, located in the U’s Center for High-Performance Computing in 2020.

“We are very fortunate at the U to provide the central computational cluster for SDSS-V.  A tremendous effort of SDSS has been the development of a data archive and specialized web interfaces that serve astronomers at all phases of their careers.  There is an ever-increasing demand from the community, with current rates exceeding 10 TB per month downloaded with over 50 million hits per month, mostly from the public.  Our data team is very excited to refresh our systems for the next scientific phase of SDSS-V, taking the most advantage of the data science revolution in astronomy,” Brownstein says.

The project’s fifth generation is building its consortium, but already has support from 18 institutions including the Carnegie Institution for Science, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, University of Utah, the Israeli Centers of Research Excellence, the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University, Harvard University, The Ohio State University, Penn State University, Georgia State University, University of Wisconsin, Caltech, New Mexico State University, the Space Telescope Science Institute, University Washington, Vanderbilt University, University of Warwick, Leibniz Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Monash University, and Yale University, with additional partnership agreements underway.

“SDSS-V is proof that great science knows no borders and stands out for its commitment to diversity,” says Evan S. Michelson, program director at the Sloan Foundation. “It will create unparalleled opportunities for all scientists to participate in answering some of the most exciting questions in astronomy.”

This original release from which this was adapted can be found here.

Banner image credit: Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science/SDSS


By Brooke Adams, communications specialist, University Communications

Thinking about living at Lassonde?

The priority application period ends Jan. 15. Apply and learn more here:

Sure, there’s the free coffee.

But when you talk to students who live at Lassonde Studios about what makes it a great experience, the thing that comes up over and over is the people.

Few places on campus offer a comparable opportunity to mingle with students from a wide-range of disciplines or to be exposed to the kind of creative thinking that results in the Next Big Thing.

That’s what is at the heart — or more accurately, ground level, of Lassonde Studios.

The Studios are an extension of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute, an interdisciplinary division of the David Eccles School of Business. The institute has offered entrepreneurial programs since 2001.

Lassonde Studios, a five-story student housing and innovation building that has garnered national recognition since its debut in 2016, provides an immersive experience for its 400 residents as well as creative work spaces for all U students. That doesn’t mean you have to have to have a business idea or be a budding entrepreneur to live or get involved at Lassonde, as you’ll see. But an open, curious mind is a plus.

Here are four stories about what it’s like to live at Lassonde:

Story one: Danesh Ajioka

Let’s start at the ground floor — in the Neeleman Hangar, where the Make space occupies the entire east side of the building. This is where you are likely to find Danesh Ajioka.

Ajioka, a sophomore from Salt Lake City, is student director of the Make program shop. He manages all the tools and equipment, from filament for the 3-D printers to wood for craft projects, and makes sure the shop is working safely, smoothly and sustainably.

He lives on the second floor, the Sustainability & Global Impact floor, in a loft with three roommates. Ask Ajioka why he wanted to live at Lassonde and three themes emerge: Diversity. Active inclusion. Passion.

“You get to see and interact with a lot more people from more backgrounds than you would typically on campus,” said Ajioka. “It is full of ideas and new ideas because people have very different ideas on things, which is awesome.”

Take his own experience. As a kinesiology major, Ajioka would have little opportunity to cross paths with students seeking other degrees. Not so at Lassonde Studios, where Ajioka has become good friends with a student majoring in engineering whose advice he often seeks out on projects.

“We’ll talk about 10 different ways I could solve a problem,” he said.

Among the projects Ajioka has seen take form at the Make shop: a sled, a wakeboard, skis, ski racks, an intricate jewelry box. “It’s amazing to see how much wood we go through,” he said.

Lassonde Studios is open to everyone enrolled at the U and the more participation that comes from across campus, the more creative and innovative the ideas become Ajioka said.

“When that happens, everyone is much more successful.”

Story two: Eden Renee Wairepo

Eden Renee Wairepo was a sophomore at Utah Valley University when she heard Troy D’Ambrosio, executive director of the Lassonde Institute, speak at an economics conference. At the time, she was looking for a new challenge.

D’Ambrosio’s remarks about Lassonde and its goal of helping students focus on big problems, to meet a need and come together to inspire each other resonated for Wairepo.

“I found my new challenge,” she said. Wairepo, who is originally from New Zealand and graduated from Mountain View High School, transferred to the U soon after. She completed a bachelor’s degree in economics this fall and is now beginning a master’s in finance.

Wairepo is one of three resident advisors in charge of the Adventure & Gear, or fourth, floor.

“My role is to make sure the people I live with are set up to succeed,” she said. “One thing I am passionate about is helping people, whether that is helping residents find what they are interested about or teaching the importance of education or what they want to do after they graduate. Working with people is what I’m good at.”

She also was a student associate for the 2017 High School Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, a “really cool experience. What high school students are coming up with is inspiring.

“This building is able to bring together people who are like me, who are wanting to do good in the world and in college. That is exciting,” Wairepo said. “Once you get a bunch of really smart people together, it’s going to be extremely innovative.

Story three: Taren Rohovit 

Once Taren Rohovit heard about the new Lassonde Studios, there was no question where he wanted to live during his freshman year at the U.

“I got invigorated with the spirit and the motivation of the people who would be there,” said Rohovit, who grew up in Salt Lake City. And, “It had features none of the other dorms did.”

Like free access to 3-D printers. And the 24-hour Miller Café, which is handy when inspiration strikes at 2 a.m. and you need a snack to power you through a creative moment.

That’s how it worked for Rohovit. During his freshman year, he was meeting “tons” of people — in classes, group projects, at the gym — and was frustrated trying to find and keep track of them all on various social media platforms.

“I figured there had to be a better way of doing it,” said Rohovit, who is majoring in psychology and minoring in computer science.

And so Rohovit and his business partner Mathew Beseris, a computer science major, are inventing an app for that. It’s called Index and you can find it on iTunes (Index: Connect Everything by Index, LLC) and, soon, the Google Play store. Learn more about it here.

Rohovit returned to Lassonde for his sophomore year; he lives on the fifth floor, which is designated as the Games & Digital Media floor. Through Lassonde’s Company Launch program, Rohovit also has an office — an open desk in the Hangar — to work in and collaborate with other students. He’s also been able to get some initial seed money.

“Lassonde has so many resources and I don’t know if enough students realize what’s available and participate as much as they should,” Rohovit said. “Even when I started Index, I didn’t initially realize all the opportunities there.”

In fact, he credits the environment at Lassonde for getting the creative thoughts flowing that led to his business idea.

“Without it, I would never have gone in that entrepreneurial direction,” Rohovit said. “I’ve met so many people I never would have met outside of Lassonde. There are totally different disciplines and personalities and Lassonde is the only place we could have come together.”

Story four: Cynthia Grissom

Intrigued by the idea behind Lassonde Studios?

So was Cynthia Grissom. The Salt Lake native liked the idea of being in a collaborative, creative environment where she would be surrounded by people with an entrepreneurial mindset and a shared passion for learning and innovation.

“I wanted to see what that was like,” said Grissom, who spent her freshman year at Lassonde.

And? “I absolutely loved it,” she said — so much so she is back at Lassonde this year.

“The studios offer so many opportunities to meet new people, learn new skills and develop your own thoughts and ideas,” said Grissom. “During most hours of the day, you could walk into the Hangar and see people producing various projects in the Make space or working in the company launch area. More often than not, the people working in these areas are eager to share and talk to you about what they are working on because it excites them to share their ideas with others. During your conversation, you will learn about their passions but also about your own because in the process of sharing knowledge and information, you are learning more about the world around you.

“The design of the building is to bring people together, all these different communities. It forces you to get to know people who are not just in your little world,” she said. That said, “you do have to make an effort and reach out to others in order to truly experience the benefits of the building.”

And students like Grissom are available to help you do just that.

Grissom, a double major in communications and psychology, is a student associate in the Cowork program. She facilitates student networking, provides building tours and serves as a “walking information desk.”

The ability for students to take ownership in their living space and interact closely with staff is one of the benefits of living at Lassonde — and in Grissom’s case has led to an interest in a student affairs career as a result of working closely with the building’s area coordinator.

Still thinking about Lassonde?

“Absolutely do it,” Grissom said. “It has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my college career. It has led me to become a social person and also to figure out where I want to go. I’ve been inspired by all these different people and have been able to explore other areas of study without actually having to take a class because of being exposed to people in different majors.”


By Vince Horiuchi, public relations associate, College of Engineering

For inexperienced social workers, the first home visits could result in important decisions tainted with bias. But practice makes perfect, and students and faculty at the University of Utah’s Therapeutic Games and Apps Lab (The GApp Lab) are developing a virtual reality simulation for social work students that recreates a home environment so they can better prepare to check for potential hazards.

PHOTO CREDIT: University of Utah EAE

A screenshot of the virtual reality app, “Virtual Home Sim,” being developed by students and faculty from the University of Utah’s Therapeutic Games and Apps Labb. This app, which works with smartphones, allows social work students to simulate a home visit.

“’Virtual Home Sim’ does something not currently possible in social work education by letting students virtually visit many homes,” said The GApp Lab Director Roger Altizer. “We not only provide them with an amazing experience but help prepare them to keep families safe.”

This unique software is one of 44 student-produced video games and apps were on display in December, during EAE Play, an annual event hosted by the U’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering video game development program in which the public can playtest games under production.

“Virtual Home Sim” is being developed for virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift and for Android smartphones. After putting on the headset, the player steps into a virtual home that has been staged to look like one of many typical homes social workers visit. These workers then can take virtual pictures of potential hazards as well as safety features in the home.

“Virtual Home Sim” is one of five games from The GApp Lab that was on display at EAE Play. The lab is supported by EAE, the Center for Medical Innovation and the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library. Also showed was four graduate thesis games and 10 undergraduate titles from EAE’s largest undergraduate capstone class ever with 163 students. Additionally, there was 19 graduate student prototypes available for playtesting.

PHOTO CREDIT: University of Utah EAE

A screenshot of the multiplayer game, “ORE.” The game is being developed by students from the University of Utah’s Entertainment Arts & Engineering video game development program.

EAE Play also showed off a new AAA-quality game produced by the program’s largest student team ever. “ORE,” a top-down action game for the PC where players work on a hostile planet in order to destroy a massive beast, has professional-quality graphics with lush 3-D environments and alien creatures.

“ORE” has been in production since January 2017 and is made by a team of 20 graduate students, including a University of Utah music student who is composing the game’s original score.

“If players think it’s hard to beat the beast with four players, they ought to try making a game with 20 students!” joked “ORE’s” student producer, Jeff Nay.

Other titles that were on display include:

  • A Walk in the Woods” —  An adventure game where up to four players must roam a dark and dangerous forest.
  • “Imperium” — The player’s character must use emotional manipulation as her only weapon while searching for her lost brother.
  • “Glitchball” — A competitive soccer-based party game, except where the ball kills the player and the setting is in a 90s-styled shopping mall.
  • “Slimy” — A 3-D puzzle game in which the player is slathered in chemicals for new abilities.

“Our students are eager to share with the public their exciting new games currently under development,” said EAE Executive Director Robert Kessler, who also is a professor in the U’s School of Computing. “The feedback that the students will gather at EAE Play will positively influence the games and ultimately help them publish better, more meaningful games in the spring of 2018.”

Entertainment Arts and Engineering, under the U’s College of Engineering, launched in 2007 and has quickly become one of the most highly regarded video game development programs in the nation. EAE has been ranked the No. 1 video game program in the nation for three of the last five years by the Princeton Review.

To see a list of the game demos that were on display during EAE Play and screenshots for each, click here.


Stay motivated and moving with fitness classes at the U
Alta Sustainability Leadership Awards nominations due by Jan. 31, 2018

Call for nominations: Distinguished Innovation and Impact Award 2018


Don’t let your bad eating habits and lack of commitment to exercise take over this year. The U has a ton of fun fitness classes to choose from, giving you just what you need to stay motivated and moving all year round.

If you are a University of Utah benefits eligible faculty or staff member, you may get 50 percent off your tuition. Check with HR to see if you qualify.

Classes begin Monday, Jan. 8. Register online:


The University of Utah is partnering with Alta Ski Area to recognize students, faculty and staff with the fourth Alta Sustainability Leadership Awards. The awards recognize members of the university community who demonstrate leadership in sustainability education, research or campus/community initiatives. An award of $2,500 is given in four award categories.

The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2018.

The awards will be presented on Feb. 15, 2018 at the Environment and Sustainability Research Symposium.

For more information on applying, or to nominate yourself or a colleague, click here.

Call for Nominations: Distinguished Innovation and Impact Award 2018

The Distinguished Innovation and Impact Award (DIIA) recognizes outstanding faculty innovators for contributions that improved the lives of people. The DIIA recognizes contributions by faculty from all academic disciplines, including health care, energy, environment, business, law, communications, technology or the arts.

The deadline for submissions is January 12, 2018, at 5 p.m.

To see criteria and deadlines, click here.

Student Life

 Alta Sustainability Leadership Awards nominations due by Jan. 31, 2018
Call for nominations: Distinguished Innovation and Impact Award 2018


The University of Utah is partnering with Alta Ski Area to recognize students, faculty and staff with the fourth Alta Sustainability Leadership Awards. The awards recognize members of the university community who demonstrate leadership in sustainability education, research or campus/community initiatives. An award of $2,500 is given in four award categories.

The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2018.

The awards will be presented on Feb. 15, 2018 at the Environment and Sustainability Research Symposium.

For more information on applying, or to nominate yourself or a colleague, click here.

Call for Nominations: Distinguished Innovation and Impact Award 2018

The Distinguished Innovation and Impact Award (DIIA) recognizes outstanding faculty innovators for contributions that improved the lives of people. The DIIA recognizes contributions by faculty from all academic disciplines, including health care, energy, environment, business, law, communications, technology or the arts.

The deadline for submissions is January 12, 2018, at 5 p.m.

To see criteria and deadlines, click here.

Highlighted Events

Monday, Jan. 8, 2017 | 3 p.m.
Moot Courtroom, sixth floor, S.J. Quinney College of Law

The next Academic Senate meeting will be Monday, Jan. 8 at 3 p.m. in the Moot Courtroom of the College of Law. Senate meetings are open to the public.

The agenda will be posted here approximately one week before the meeting.

Monday, Jan. 8, 2018 | 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
Campus Store

To help ease your transition back to school and work, your friends at the Campus Store are hosting a pancake breakfast on Monday, Jan 8, from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. This “Welcome Back Breakfast” will be held on the north patio and is open to students, staff and faculty alike. Kodiak Cakes, a favorite local business, will be serving free pancakes while they last.

And to keep you warm, Starbucks will serve coffee and hot chocolate. During the breakfast, don’t forget to enter to win some amazing prizes, provided by University Federal Credit Union. So bring your friends and colleagues, huddle up near a heat lamp and start the new semester off right.

‘Climate Change as Strategic Opportunity: Imagination, Responsibility and Community’
Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018 | 4-5 p.m.
Aline Wilmot Skaggs Biology Building (ASB), Room 210

Climate change poses profound ecological, social and political crises, but also opportunities to re-imagine our responsibilities to one another and the natural world and to create community. This talk draws upon fieldwork on climate denial and my present climate adaptation work with the Karuk Tribe.

For more information, go here.

Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 | 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Union Ballroom

The Campus Relations Board in ASUU will be hosting Spring Plazafest on Jan. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Union Ballroom. There will be more than 140 student-run organizations at Spring Plazafest from all across the university. Students can learn all about the various opportunities on campus, including leadership, service, sports, and more.

Spring Plazafest is a great way for both new and current students to find different ways to be involved. In addition, because there are so many student-run groups there, it allows students to get a better feel for the student community on campus. Students often feel like it’s too late to join new organizations in the spring semester; however, many student run organizations become more active in the spring semester, so this is a great opportunity for students to get involved and learn more about various student groups, whether they live on or off campus.

Warming Up to the Career Center
Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018 | 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Tanner Plaza

Picture this. A crackling fire. Gooey marshmallows. Hot, hot cocoa. Does this sound like your ideal start to a new semester? We agree.

Come warm up to a new semester with the Career Center. Swag give-aways and information on the new mentoring platform AlumniFire will be available, along with previews of our spring events. Cheers to a new year (ting ting ting… that’s us cheers-ing).

Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018 | 12:15-1:15 p.m.
Sill Center

On the first Thursday of each month during the academic year, MUSE invites an inspiring University of Utah faculty member to present a Lunchtime Lecture in relation to our current theme. Join us in the Sill Center at 12:15 p.m. for free lunch and an hour of unique perspectives on the theme.

Our Lunchtime Lectures provide great opportunities for you to meet other students with similar interests and to connect with some of the most prominent professors from all different colleges and departments across campus.

All students, staff and faculty are welcome to attend.

Click here for more information.

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 | 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Various campus and community locations

This day of service is part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Week of Celebration at the University of Utah. This day of service honors the legacy of Dr. King and his work in working alongside the community.

The day of service will take place on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 from 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Service opportunities are available on and off campus, please visit the event link for more details.

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 | 12-12:40 p.m.
Broadway Centre Cinemas, 111 E. Broadway

Rory Kinnear (The Threepenny Opera, Penny Dreadful, Othello) is Marx and Oliver Chris (Twelfth Night, Green Wing) is Engels, in this new comedy written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman. Broadcast live from The Bridge Theatre, London, the production is directed by Nicholas Hytner and reunites the creative team behind Broadway and West End hit comedy One Man, Two Guvnors.

1850, and Europe’s most feared terrorist is hiding in Dean Street, Soho. Broke, restless and horny, the thirty-two-year-old revolutionary is a frothing combination of intellectual brilliance, invective, satiric wit, and child-like emotional illiteracy.
Creditors, spies, rival revolutionary factions and prospective seducers of his beautiful wife all circle like vultures. His writing blocked, his marriage dying, his friend Engels in despair at his wasted genius, his only hope is a job on the railway. But there’s still no one in the capital who can show you a better night on the piss than Karl Heinrich Marx.

PG-13 | Running time: Approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes, including a 20-minute interval.

Click here to purchase tickets.

Free parking available with validation at Broadway Centre Garage (east of Broadway Theatre).

Saturday, Jan. 20-Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018 | 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Natural History Museum of Utah

Dinosaur fans get ready for “Dinosaurs in Motion” at this year’s 2nd annual DinoFest Weekend happening January 20 & 21, 2018, at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Meet scientists and experts. See real fossils and learn how they are found, studied and cared for. Visit for more information.

Price: $9.95 to $14.95 – kids 2 and under free

Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Through–Sunday, March 11, 2018

Utah Museum of Fine Arts

A new exhibition opening at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts explores one of the most important chapters of American history through celebrated artworks from one of the nation’s finest collections of western art.

Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West” opened to the public Sunday, Dec. 3, the first major traveling exhibition on view at the UMFA since the museum’s newly remodeled galleries reopened in late August. The exhibition considers evolving notions of the American West through more than eighty works of art by both Euro-Americans and Plains Indian artists.

“Go West!” is a special ticketed exhibition, but admission is free for U students, staff and faculty.

Through Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Join us for a year of programming around research reproducibility. From September until June we will be holding weekly discussions, an immersive workshop and conference.

Follow the hashtag #MakeResearchTrue on Twitter.

For more information, go here.

A Healthier U

By Health Sciences Office of Public Affairs

The Effects of Hypertension and High Blood Pressure on Strokes

Over 40 percent of the U.S. population are not able to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Could you? Identifying the symptoms of a stroke isn’t difficult, once you know what they are. Understanding the symptoms of and how to respond to a stroke could save someone’s life someday — even yours. Beyond that, learning about strokes can help prevent a loved one from experiencing a stroke in the first place. But did you know that you can actually prevent a stroke? To understand how to stop a stroke from happening, you first have to understand what takes place in the body when a stroke hits and why they happen in the first place.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when a part of the brain becomes deprived of blood and oxygen, which typically happens when a blood vessel ruptures or becomes blocked. This causes cell death in the area of the brain that would normally be supplied by the affected blood vessel. Because different parts of the brain control different movements, sensations and functions of the body, the way a person is affected by their stroke can vary significantly.

Strokes can also vary widely in severity, but stroke is consistently listed as one of the leading causes of death in the United States, contributing to the death of nearly 130,000 people in the U.S. every year. Sadly, this accounts for nearly 1 in every 20 deaths. Chances are, you know or will know someone affected by stroke. One person in the U.S. experiences a stroke every 40 seconds, and a person dies from a stroke about every 4 minutes.

Pretty scary stuff.

But here’s the good news: Despite how serious of a health problem stroke can be, it is preventable. In fact, it’s the leading preventable cause of disability. One of the most important things you can do to protect you and your loved ones is to take control of the many lifestyle-related factors which can increase your risk of having a stroke. After quitting cigarette smoking, high blood pressure is the single most important risk factor to control.

What is high blood pressure?

Blood pressure is a measure of how hard your heart has to work to pump blood throughout the body. Specifically, it’s a measure of the pressure of blood against the walls of your arteries (in millimeters of Mercury, or mm Hg) when your heart is contracting (systole) and relaxing (diastole).

This is why you see two numbers when your blood pressure is read. The top number represents your systolic pressure, and the bottom number represents your diastolic pressure. Textbook “normal” is 120/80 mmHg, but it’s normal to have variability in this number, especially since so many things (including medications, foods, stress, time of day, etc.) can influence it.

What’s not normal is when your systolic pressure rises to 130 or higher, and/or your diastolic pressurerises to 80 or higher. If these numbers stay elevated, a person can be said to have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension (elevated blood pressure occurs when a person’s systolic pressure is between 120 and 130, and/or their diastolic pressure is between 80-89).

Hypertension is a common problem, currently affecting almost half of the US adult population (46% of us). Known as the “silent killer,” it can drastically increase a person’s risk of health problems often without showing any obvious signs other than the reading itself (which is why getting your bloodpressure checked on a routine basis is so important).

The relationship between high blood pressure & stroke

High blood pressure contributes to the development of multiple health conditions including glaucoma, heart failure, kidney disease, and yes, stroke. “Not only is high blood pressure one of the leading risk factors for stroke, but it is also one of the most controllable risk factors, as well,” said Jennifer Juhl Majersik, M.D., M.S., associate professor of neurology at the University of Utah, School of Medicine.

Think of it this way: The problem with blood pressure is that it forces your heart to work that much harder. This can damage your heart, causing it to misfire or beat irregularly. Plus, the increased pressure inside your arteries hardens them over time and leads to the build-up of hard plaque (atherosclerosis) that can cause narrowing or closure of your arteries, including the ones supplying blood to your brain.

If this happens in the brain, a stroke occurs.

How to prevent high blood pressure

Scientific research provides compelling evidence that high blood pressure and stroke are closely linked. But while there is no cure for high blood pressure, it can be prevented and well-managed with the help of your physician.

  • Adopt a healthier diet. Specifically, consume less salt and sugar and eat more veggies, fruit, and lean animal protein.
  • Stay physically active. Daily exercise strengthens your heart and promotes increased blood flow throughout your body.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese only puts more strain and pressure on your circulatory system.
  • If you snore consistently or have stopped breathing in your sleep, let your primary care doctor know, these are symptoms of sleep apnea, which is a cause of high blood pressure
  • Minimize alcohol intake. Alcohol, along with certain other things such as grains and sugar, promotes inflammation within the body, which can damage your arteries.
  • Work with your doctor. Take all medications as prescribed and get your blood pressure checked regularly. That way, you’ll know how your positive lifestyle changes are impacting your health.

Remember: by doing what you can to prevent high blood pressure, you can also reduce your risk of stroke at the same time. So talk to your doctor about high blood pressure and learn more about how you can help you and your family.

Learn more about how to properly track your blood pressure here


Evidence suggests high heels can hurt your feet and ankles. On today’s Health MinuteDr. Kirtly Parker Jones says wearing heels occasionally is okay, but everyday wear can create foot pains. Dr. Jones also suggests some simple exercises to relieve the foot of stresses that high heels can cause.

Click here to listen to the story.



How can you be the type of person who can more easily overcome adversity? You may need to focus on improving your resiliency. On today’s Health MinuteDr. Amy Locke explains what exactly the concept of ‘resiliency’ is and a few ways you can work on it so that you can more easily bounce back when things in your life get stressful.

Click here for the full story.

For more expert health news and information, click here.