Four University of Utah faculty members have been named Presidential Scholars, an award that honors extraordinary research and academic efforts of early to mid-career faculty. The award provides these talented faculty with financial backing to support their scholarly, teaching and/or research initiatives.
The recipients are Anil Seth, associate professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy; Jorge Contreras, professor, S.J. Quinney College of Law; Kathy Sward, associate professor, College of Nursing; and Micah Drummond, associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training in the College of Health.
“These scholars exemplify the high caliber work taking place at the University of Utah,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “They are outstanding scholars, educators and members of our faculty. We are delighted to honor them and fortunate to have them working at the U.”
Presidential scholars are selected annually, and recipients receive funding for three years. The program is made possible by a generous donor who is interested in fostering the success of mid-career faculty. Please join us in congratulating these scholars.
Anil Seth, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is a passionate researcher and educator who is expanding our understanding of the formation and evolution of nearby galaxies. Seth and his group have discovered 10 massive black holes at the centers of nearby galaxies—discoveries that help astronomers understand the formation of massive black holes. His work uses the Hubble Space Telescope and other large ground-based observatories around the world, and his research has received substantial financial support from the National Science Foundation and NASA. Since arriving at the U eight years ago, Seth and his group have led 18 peer-reviewed publications and he has co-authored 59 papers. He is regarded as an exemplary member of his department and played a key role in the recent changes to its undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as development of the new Dark Sky Studies minor. Seth is considered an outstanding educator and is also engaged with the community through outreach, including the creation an astronomy summer internship program that allows undergraduates interested in science education and communication to spend a summer providing free star programs at Bryce Canyon National Park.
Jorge Contreras, a professor in the S.J. Quinney College of Law and an adjunct professor in the Department of Human Genetics, is an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of intellectual property and technology law, specifically in the areas of technical standardization, science policy, antitrust law and biomedical research. Contreras has edited six books and authored or co-authored more than 100 journal articles and book chapters on these subjects. His research has been published in top legal journals including NYU Law Review and Georgetown Law Journal, as well as the scientific and technical literature, including peer-reviewed publications such as Science, Nature and the Annual Review of Genomics & Human Genetics. Contreras’s work has been cited favorably by courts in the United States and Europe and by the United States Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission. He lectures around the world and is a frequent commentator for the print, broadcast and online media. He has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Washington Post and Economist, and has been featured on NPR, PRI and BBC radio programs. Contreras received the IEEE Standards Association's 2018 Standards Education Award and has twice been awarded first prize in the Standards Engineering Society's annual paper competition. He serves on numerous national committees in addition to engaging in bar and professional service organizations. The many awards Contreras has won testify to his depth as a scholar and a teacher.
Kathy Sward, an associate professor in the College of Nursing, is a premier educator, scientist and scholar who is nationally renowned in the field of nursing informatics. Her diverse background includes clinical nursing, education and administration. Sward has served in numerous positions in the College of Nursing, including interim specialty track director for nursing informatics. Her current research focus is clinical research informatics, including the unique aspects of managing research information in special populations and multi-center research networks, and use of informatics to support exposure science and sensor monitoring. Sward has served as a principal or co-investigator on multiple NIH extramural awards. She is currently the principal investigator on a national initiative to examine effects of the environment on health. Sward’s service to the College of Nursing includes development of internal databases, such as for the grief and loss program—Caring Connections—still in use today. She has given her time and expertise within the profession, to the department and to students, including mentoring more than 50 faculty and graduate students.
Micah Drummond exemplifies interdisciplinary excellence. He is an associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training in the College of Health and holds adjunct faculty positions in the Department of Nutrition and Integrative Physiology, Department of Pathology and Department of Internal Medicine. Drummond’s research centers on the mechanisms of skeletal muscle growth and metabolic function in aging muscle and therapeutic treatments to curb muscle and metabolic deficits caused by physical inactivity of older adults. He has successfully attracted funding from the National Institutes of Health and American Diabetes Association. Drummond has nearly 80 publications in the leading journals in his field. He has a research lab in the Eccles Institute for Human Genetics, where he mentors two post-doctoral fellows, three doctoral students and numerous undergraduate students. Students universally remark on Drummond’s passion for his subject and praise his ability to make concepts understandable and applicable. He has also served the university in many other capacities, from time as chair to service on committees and boards.