September 2010

Campus All-Stars

Achievements of U of U Faculty, Staff, Students, and More

An Dinh is among four directors chosen this summer to participate in the Salt Lake Film Society’s Utah Digital Directors Project, an intensive six-week directors laboratory to foster talented Utah regional storytellers in film. The project is fostering the fellows through a three-month professional digital laboratory to increase their experience in cost-benefit production for independent cinema in Utah. Each fellow will graduate from the project with a 1- to 3-minute short on Blu-ray that will be presented in October to the general public and an iPhone application that will showcase their work. Dinh, who served his medical residency at the University of Utah in 2000, is a practicing rural physician who found his creative voice in filmmaking. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, his family fled in 1975 and found themselves building a new life in the drastically different landscape of Utah. His experiences growing up as a refugee draw him to stories dealing with the "fish out of water," the underdog, and the minority trying to find its collective voice. An's films include the award-winning feature film Single Tracks, which examines the true stories of queer Utahns and their straight spouses at various stages of the coming out process. His short film The Alice Winter is currently doing the film festival circuit and collecting its share of accolades along the way. He has several screenplays in development, including Welcome to Erda, a comedy about rural medicine and families. An is also a representative graduate from SLFS’ Utah Screenwriters Project.

The Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah has unveiled The Foundry, a program created to foster economic development in Utah through a rigorous entrepreneurial practicum. The Foundry, which provides participants hands-on business training, currently consists of 49 entrepreneurs in 15 startup companies founded and run by students in the program. Up-and-running examples include Adam Kaslikowski's META Restaurant booth at the Sugar House Farmer's Market, a healthy fast-food restaurant. Using a peer-based or "team" approach, where students meet regularly to brainstorm and help each other with various issues as they start up their individual companies, The Foundry aims to accelerate regional economic growth by developing principled, lifelong entrepreneurs capable of creating innovative, fundamentally sound companies.

Michele Johnson, the University of Utah's associate director of environmental health and safety, has been named a trustee to the Utah Transit Authority, representing localities inside Salt Lake and Tooele counties. Johnson oversees the U's Occupational Hygiene and Environmental Protection Division. She has worked for the U since 1996. Before that, she managed health and safety programs at the University of Hawaii, where she received a degree.

Adam Kirk, a University of Utah computer science major, took a class last spring on designing iPhone applications. In the backseat on the way back from a family camping trip in July, he began designing a new calendar/scheduler application for the iPhone called Calvetica. The app is now one of the top-selling productivity products offered at Apple's app store, averaging 500 sales a day. But app customers are a notoriously picky lot. Most customers say they’re happy but have suggestions for improvements. The 24-year-old Farmington developer is working daily to meet their expectations. Just one problem: “This could not be a worse time to start school,” said the University of Utah undergraduate, who is now balancing his emerging life as the programmer of a hot app with his ongoing quest to obtain a degree in computer science.

Mark Matheson, professor/lecturer in the Department of English, and Mimi Locher, professor in the Department of Architecture, have been named director and associate director, respectively, of the U Signature Experience, a new campus-wide initiative to ensure that truly extraordinary educational experiences are available to every student who enrolls at the U. Professors Matheson and Locher are ideally suited for this task. Matheson brings with him nearly 20 years faculty experience at the U. He has served in multiple positions, from professor in the Honors College to lecturer in the English Department, where he also serves as honors advisor and director of undergraduate counseling. In addition to teaching a large number of undergraduates, he co-established a yearly study abroad seminar in London and led the inaugural seminar in 2002. He was integral in the founding and development of the Gordon B. Hinckley Endowment for British Studies, which guarantees scholarships for all students admitted to the seminar. Matheson has been recognized as a Distinguished Honors Professor (1997) and is the three-time recipient of the ASUU Student Choice Teaching Award (1996, 2000, and 2008).  In addition, he has received the Phillip and Miriam Perlman Award for Student Counseling (2007) and the University of Utah Presidential Teaching Scholar Award, among others.  Locher has been with the University of Utah's College of Architecture + Planning since 2004. In her time at the U she has made a great impact, co-teaching a two-semester set of courses with planning Professor Keith Bartholomew called People and Place. Designed to bridge architecture and planning through community development projects, People and Place was the product of the 2006-2007 University Professorship and was selected as the 2008 Service Learning Class of the Year. Locher recently collaborated with visiting urban planning professor Miguel Rodriguez from Argentina on a project to envision the development of Green River, Utah, in which students incorporated community input into their designs and displayed them at the town business planning conference. Professor Locher also teaches courses on Japanese architecture that include a travel component that affords students the opportunity to work with traditional craftsmen in Japan. Locher is the recipient of numerous awards and grants, including the Early Career Teaching Award (2010), College of Architecture + Planning Professor of the Year (2008) and an alternate research fellowship for the Fulbright Scholar Program (2008-2009).

Tristan Moore, resident composer at the University of Utah Children's Dance Theatre, is also now in his third year with Circus Smirkus, Vermont's traveling youth circus. Moore lives in Salt Lake City and collaborates long-distance online by phone with the troupe’s creative directors to create each season’s show, then travels with the troupe, playing keyboards, during each summer’s two-month tour of New England. Moore's creative process for each program begins months before the first rehearsal. First, the Circus Smirkus creative team decides on a theme for the year's show, as well as ideas for the various acts. The directors in Vermont and Moore in Salt Lake City plan by phone, then, for the next few months, Moore generates compositions that he shares with them over the Internet. Those compositions begin to take real form when the circus starts physically coming together at The Circus Barn in Greensboro and the acts began training. “That's where the personalities of the individuals, the troupers who are going to perform, come into play,” Moore says. “That's a big factor for me, to look at what story is being told, and what kind of energy they bring into the ring.” Moore responds by tweaking the pieces he has already written as well as generating new music. After all that, during each show, much of the music, played live by Moore on keyboard and Ryan Gray on drums and percussion, is improvised to a certain extent, and it's never quite the same composition from show to show. “The tricks obviously take variable lengths of time from show to show,” Moore says.“If the jugglers drop something, or if somebody takes longer to get from point A to point B, we need to build in some flexibility.”

The University of Utah is now ranked fourth in the nation on the Environmental Protection Agency's "green power partners" list for its use of green power on campus. The list annually recognizes institutions of higher education nationwide that have made steps toward reducing the environmental impacts of electricity use or have supported the development of new renewable generation capacity. Utah jumped six spots since last year thanks to its voluntary purchase of 62 million kilowatt-hours of wind-generated electricity and a small, solar photovoltaic energy program. Last year, the Utes campaigned for the creation of a small student fee to help pay for clean energy purchases. Then, Chris Hill, a biochemistry professor, expanded the campaign to allow voluntary contributions from faculty, staff, alumni and the public.

The University of Utah’s master plan has received kudos from the Society for College and University Planning, which awarded the state’s flagship school a merit award for excellence in planning. The society jury praised the U’s campus plan for “very smart practical land use strategy” that has “created an open space resource for everyone” and “institutionalized sustainability.” Following President Michael Young’s vision, officials crafted a 25-year plan, approved in 2008, to make the 1,500-acre campus more pedestrian friendly and vibrant and less reliant on energy use and automobiles. Anticipating the construction of 40 more buildings on lower campus, the plan calls for replacing at least 16 obsolete 1960s structures with “green” ones situated in ways that promote student interaction and creative use of limited open space. A major goal is to unite pedestrian spaces around academic buildings with campus light-rail stations and other public transit options.

Find out more about University of Utah faculty, staff, and student achievements at Recognizing U, a U of U Web page created to showcase their outstanding efforts and congratulate the honorees and recipients for their excellence.

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