The University of Utah
Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah

Wave At Saturn Event

Dr. Tabitha Buehler & Dr. Ben Bromley

Come be a part of human history! Wave at Saturn as the NASA Cassini probe takes our photo!

There will be telescopes, lectures, and hands-on activities for the whole family!

Free event open to the public.

Location: Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah
View Map

Date: Friday, July 19, 2013, 2:00 - 4:00pm (photo at 3:27pm)

From JPL's website:

"One of the most exciting Cassini events in 2013 will be the unusual opportunity on July 19 to image the whole Saturn system as it is backlit by the sun. With Saturn covering the harsh light of the sun, we will be gathering unique ring science and also catching a glimpse of our very own home planet.

The main science goal for the mosaic we are making of the Saturn system is to look at the more diffuse rings that encircle Saturn and check for change over time. A previous mosaic of the Saturn system Cassini made in 2006 revealed that the dusty E ring, which is fed by the water-ice plume of the moon Enceladus, had unexpectedly large variations in brightness and color around its orbit. We'll want to see how that looks seven Earth years and a Saturnian season later, giving us clues to the forces at work in the Saturn system. We'll do this analysis by collecting data from our visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, composite infrared mapping spectrometer and ultraviolet imaging spectrograph in addition to the imaging cameras."

Learn more here.


University of Utah Names Physics Chairman Dean for Graduate School

June 4, 2013 – The Office of Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Utah announced that David Kieda has been selected to be the new dean of the Graduate School. He replaces Charles A. Wight, who left in 2012 to become the president of Weber State University.

As professor and current chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the U, Kieda has worked closely with faculty and administrators to establish and expand the astronomy program. He helped set up both a public observatory on campus and a high-altitude research telescope in southern Utah.

“Professor Kieda has shown tremendous leadership skills through his research programs and administrative accomplishments,” said Michael Hardman, interim senior vice president for Academic Affairs “He has successfully led graduate students in rigorous disciplines and has effectively managed major academic ventures. I am confident he will serve the Graduate School with professionalism and integrity.”

Read the announcement here.


2013 List of Graduates & Awards

Graduation and commencement exercises for the University of Utah took place on May 3, 2013. The Department of Physics & Astronomy congratulates all of its 2013 graduates and welcomes them to their alumni family.


Leah Papadopoulos

Dave Kieda

Yuting Hu

Shawn Merrill & parents

Christoph Boehme & Scott Temple

Carleton DeTar

Rhett Zollinger

Graduation Party

Mark Limes

Congratulations to our 2013 graduates and scholarship recipients!

2013 Awards & ScholarshipsBaccalaureate DegreesMasters DegreesPh. D Degrees

Swigart Scholarship for Outstanding Graduate Student
Mark Limes

Outstanding Graduate Student
Bhoj Gautam
Yuting Hu

Outstanding Postdoctoral Research
Nick Borys

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants
Yuting Hu
Rhett Zollinger

Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Assistants
Jon Drake
Lea Papadopoulos

Paul Gilbert Outstanding Undergraduate Research
Joshua Wallace

Martin Hiatt Outstanding Undergraduate Research
Scott Temple

Outstanding Undergraduate - Senior
Lea Papadopoulos

Outstanding Undergraduate - Junior
Joshua Wallace

Outstanding Undergraduate - Sophomore
Ariel Herbert-Voss

Tyler Soelberg Memorial Award
Shawn Merrill

Departmental Scholarship
Laurel Hales
Christopher Harker
Shawn Merrill
Joshua Wolfe

Christopher Ahn
Kyle Arslanian
Matthew Baird
Sean Burns
Alexandria Burringo
Keyton Clayson
Brian Colson
Trevor Dick
Jon Drake
Haleigh Van Eerden Emerson
Dan Filler
Eric Grimm
Jeffrey Healey
Pyong Hlaing
Daniel Hoyt
Brian Kimmig
Gavin Kindall
Wade Jensen
Richard Jones
David Lawrence
Samuel Leventhal
Max Llamozas
Gannon McDonald
Michelle Miller
Travis Nielsen
Eric Peterson
Brian Pfenning
Matthew Shaw
Eric Swenson
Christopher Tellesbo
Sky Blue Thai
Shai Vardeny
Mary Walton
Branson Williams
Thomas Woodland
Sarah Yenchik
Anil Ghimire
Nabraj Sapkota
Alex Thiessen
Tek Basel
Jacqualine Butterfield
Mahamadou Diakite
Bhoj Gautam
Jeff Hodges
Yuting Hu
Mark Limes
Ella Oljenik
Matt Olmstead
Bill Pandit
Kipp van Schooten
Kamdem Thaddee


Charlie Jui Awarded Honors Professorship

Prof. Charlie Jui has been awarded a University-wide Honors Professorship for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Prof. Jui was also a recipient of a College of Science Professorship as well. Both professorships will allow Prof. Jui to develop a new course in complex systems.

Prof.Jui is one of the department's most dedicated and talented lecturers and researchers. The award is very well deserved as recognition of his recognized leadership in both teaching and science.


Dave Kieda & Others Awarded Governor’s Science Medal

Dave Kieda, Geri Mineau, Thure Cerling, Ted Stanley among Winners

Jan. 4, 2013 – Four University of Utah faculty members – physicist David Kieda, demographer Geraldine Mineau, geochemist Thure Cerling and anesthesiologist Theodore Stanley – are among 10 winners of the 2012 Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology.

Kieda won for his work in establishing a full-fledged astronomy program at the university. Mineau was cited for managing data needed to identify genes responsible for cancer and other diseases. Cerling’s award was for his work in using stable isotopes to reveal the ancient diets and environments of animals and human ancestors. And Stanley was honored for his work as an entrepreneur.

“Utah was built on a heritage of innovation. We have the pleasure of recognizing the leaders who strengthen this foundation,” Gov. Gary Herbert said. “The tireless efforts of these innovative individuals continue to accelerate Utah’s economy.”

The winners will be honored at an invitation-only awards reception and dinner at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17 at the Discovery Gateway children’s museum in Salt Lake City.

Kieda, Mineau and Cerling swept the awards’ academia category, while Stanley won in the industry category.

David Kieda: Establishing Astronomy in Utah

Kieda is professor and chair of physics and astronomy at the University of Utah. Since 1988, he has worked to establish the university’s astronomy program. He helped set up a public observatory on campus and a high-altitude, research telescope in southern Utah. He also enrolled the university in major astronomy efforts like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He leads several major gamma-ray observatory projects.

Kieda discovered numerous gamma ray sources, including exploding stars and black holes. He pioneered several techniques, used worldwide, for observing high-energy cosmic rays and gamma rays, and is co-discoverer of the highest-energy cosmic ray ever observed.

He has 15 patents, including safer electrodes and other devices made by a Utah company and used in electrosurgery, during which tissue is cut by electrical current rather than mechanically by a blade.

Geraldine Mineau: A Database for Discovering Disease Genes

Mineau is a demographer, Huntsman Cancer Institute investigator and research professor of oncological sciences at the University of Utah.

She helped put Utah in the forefront of research to identify human disease genes by developing the Utah Population Database since it was conceived in the 1970s.

The database, which Mineau directed during 1994-2010, contains 19 million records, including extensive family histories, vital statistics and medical information.

The database has enabled scientific advances dealing with several cancers (including breast, colorectal, skin, prostate and pancreatic cancers), autism, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, longevity, fertility and prenatal care.

Thure Cerling: Reconstructing Ancient Diets and Landscapes

Cerling is a geochemist and a distinguished professor of geology and biology at the University of Utah.

He uses isotopes – different forms of chemical elements – to study the ancient environments and diets of human ancestors; how global changes in climate and plant ecosystems influenced human and animal evolution; the dating of landscapes from tropical to Arctic zones; animal physiology for wildlife conservation purposes; and for forensic purposes such as helping identify murder victims.

His field work has taken him to all seven continents. He has served on federal and state boards that review nuclear waste disposal plans.

Theodore Stanley: Founding New Companies

Stanley is a professor of anesthesiology at the University of Utah. He is recognized as an international expert on intravenous anesthesia, opioid analgesics, drug delivery systems and wildlife immobilization techniques.

He has published hundreds of research manuscripts, abstracts, chapters and books, and visited, lectured and consulted at medical centers, veterinary schools and zoos all over the world.

Stanley became a “serial entrepreneur” 30 years ago, and has founded or co-founded 10 life science companies. One of his companies, Anesta, produced a pain product (Actiq) that has helped thousands of patients and resulted in billions of dollars in revenue and tens of millions of dollars of royalties to the University of Utah.

He currently is managing director of Upstart Ventures, a venture capital fund focused on developing University of Utah and other Utah-based life-science technologies into useful products and companies.

Full List of Winners

Here is the complete list of winners of the 2012 Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology:


– Thure Cerling, University of Utah, distinguished professor of geology and geophysics, and of biology.

– David Kieda, University of Utah, professor and department chair of physics and astronomy.

– Geraldine Mineau, University of Utah, investigator at the Huntsman Cancer Institute and research professor of oncological sciences.

Science Education

– Adam Johnston, Weber State University, professor of physics.

– Amy Pace, Open High School of Utah, chair, Department of Science.


– Individual: Theodore Stanley, managing director of Upstart and founder of Anesta.

– Company: Ceramatec.


– Ted McAleer, executive director, Utah Science Technology and Research initiative.

– Nicole Toomey-Davis, CEO, Enclavix LLC.

Special Recognition

– Scott Anderson, president and CEO, Zions Bank.

Full press release available here.


MLK 2012: Keynote Speaker - Rev. Jesse Jackson

The Office for Equity and Diversity is pleased to announce the keynote speaker for the University of Utah's 29th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.

Reverend Jesse L. Jackson

Thursday, January 24, 2013
12:00 noon
Kingsbury Hall

The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson is a world-renowned civil rights activist and politician who worked closely with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For his work in social disparities, Rev. Jackson has been awarded various recognitions, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the nation's highest honor bestowed upon civilians. Originally part of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, Rev. Jackson has continued to fight for social equality across races as well as labor in international disputes, working to free many imprisoned U.S. citizens in other countries. In addition to running twice in the presidential race, Rev. Jackson has served as the U.S. Senator from Washington, D.C. and as a special envoy to Africa. One of Rev. Jackson's greatest legacies is the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which is a progressive organization he established to fight for social change across races and a range of issues. Rev. Jackson has never stopped working for civil rights, and continues to be an inspiration in the fight for social change and racial equality.

Event Calendar

Friday, January 18, 2013
Utah State Martin Luther King, Jr. Commission Luncheon

Saturday, January 19, 2013
Day of Service

Monday, January 21, 2013
Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Rally & Parade
Awards Reception & Ceremony

Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Campus and Community Panel

Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Film/ Panel Discussion

Thursday, January 24, 2013
Keynote Address
Cultural Performance


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