Four new associate professors have been named as Presidential Scholars at the University of Utah. Each of the scholars—including a pediatric oncology nurse, a mechanical engineer, a chemist and a sociologist—will be recognized as a Presidential Scholar for three academic years, from 2022 to 2025.
The annual awards recognize excellence and achievement for faculty members at the assistant or associate professor level, and come with $10,000 in annual funding for three years to support their scholarship and enrich their research activities. The program is made possible by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.
The 2022 recipients are Ashley Spear, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering; Lauri Linder, associate professor in the Acute and Chronic Care Division of the College of Nursing; Luisa Whittaker-Brooks, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry; and Marcel Paret, associate professor in the Department of Sociology.
“I am so proud of the work these scholars are doing in the classroom, and in their field of study,” said Interim Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Martell Teasley. “As educators at the U, they are positioned to guide their students and impact our whole community. I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Lauri Linder is an associate professor and academic nurse scientist in the College of Nursing. As one of the few clinically embedded pediatric oncology nurse scientists in the nation, Linder maintains an ongoing clinical practice at Primary Children’s Hospital that facilitates a program of research and scholarly inquiry that is grounded in academic and clinical collaboration. Her mentorship, research and leadership have received national and international recognition, awards and grants.
As an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, Marcel Paret’s research on race, class and social movements has been described as having relevance to our current social climate that cannot be overstated. In less than 10 years at the U, Paret has published one book, 25 journal articles, six original book chapters and four book reviews as the first or sole author on many of the publications. His research has been published in top high-impact specialty journals in citizenship, migration, inequality and labor studies. He has also received the College of Social and Behavioral Science Superior Teaching award in 2017 and the Early Career Teaching award in 2021.
When it comes to estimating the life of an aircraft or the cause of a fracture in a human skull, Ashley Spear’s work is instrumental in creating understanding. Spear, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has won multiple awards including the department’s professor of the year in 2021, the Early Career Teaching award in 2018, the NSF Faculty Early Career award in 2019, and the Outstanding Researcher Award in 2020. During her less than eight years at the U, Spear has generated more than $6.3 million in research funding, which has supported nearly 20 graduate students in their education.
As an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry who organized a research program with national prominence, Luisa Whittaker-Brooks has been called a “trailblazing role model.” Whittaker-Brooks’ program focuses on the synthesis of organic and inorganic materials for energy conversion and storage, among other things. Whittaker-Brooks’ research results have appeared in premier journals of chemistry and materials science, and she has received numerous awards for her work, including being selected as a Department of Energy Career awardee, a Cottrell Scholar and a Scialog Fellow.