The Banner Project

Some of the best long-term, basic research is often made immediately relevant by current events.

The COVID-19 pandemic and social justice disparities have transformed everything from the way Americans buy groceries to how we work and play. University of Utah faculty are responding with innovative projects that explore virus transmission, unequal access to healthcare, and how members of our community talk about their lives during a time when the country faces critical social issues.

With those forces in mind, University of Utah Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Reed has named a new cohort of Banner Project recipients—nearly two dozen researchers, teachers and librarians who are working to generate new knowledge and document this extraordinary time in human history.

“The faculty members working on these projects deserve recognition for taking on some of the thorniest problems facing our society,” Reed said. “This scholarly work will help us improve COVID-19 treatments; weather this global health crisis; expand access to health care; and bridge the social, economic and racial differences that divide us.”

The Banner Project recognizes mid-career faculty who are intellectual and thought leaders, not only at the U, but also in the community. “The goal is to put faces to the world-class scholarship, groundbreaking discoveries, unique innovations and creative works generated by our scholars,” Reed added.

Last year’s first cohort of Banner Project recipients—19 in all—were recognized for their work with data, business innovation, inspiring community through art, and understanding addiction. This year’s cohort highlights critical health and social justice issues.

The banners will hang on 1300 East, University Street and South Temple. Banner Project faculty also will be featured in a regular blog on the SVPAA website.

For Rebecca Utz, co-director of the Consortium for Families and Health Research (C-FAHR) and associate professor in the Department of sociology, her 2020 banner served as an unexpected mode of community outreach.

“People saw the banner and wondered what kind of research I was doing that may help them as they were dealing with challenging diagnoses, caregiving, or death of someone they loved,” Utz said. “In some cases, these people have become part of my research.”