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

Frontiers of Science with Dr. Ryan J. Watts

Thursday, April 12, 2018 @ 6:00 p.m. - Frontiers of Science with Dr. Ryan J. Watts! "Charting New Territory in Neurodegeneration" in room 220 of the Aline Wilmot Skaggs Building (ASB) on the U of U Campus!


with Dr. Ryan J. Watts,
Ryan J. Watts, PhD, CEO, Denali Therapeutics

Date & Time: Thursday, April 12, 2018  at 6:00pm

Location: 220 Aline Skaggs Building at the University of Utah
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Neurodegeneration is one of the largest medical challenges of our time. Recent human genetic and cell biological insights into the causes and progression of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Lewy body dementia, ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases is offering new territory for the discovery and development of effective medicines. At Denali Therapeutics, Dr. Watts is leading a team of scientists and clinicians focused on inventing disease-modifying therapies to halt neurodegeneration. Denali is elucidating the biological mechanisms of four pathways with direct links to neurodegeneration. Understanding these pathways is leading to the discovery of biomarkers and therapies to treat disease. Nevertheless, a major barrier to developing neurological disease medicines has been the body’s own defense mechanism, known as the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which has evolved to protect the brain from toxins. In addition to pursing new targets, Denali is engineering medicines to cross the BBB and access disease targets in the brain.

Frontiers of Science is free and open to the public. The Frontiers lecture series features eminent scientists and researchers from across the country who are exploring the latest frontiers in their fields. All lectures are free and open to the public, although tickets are required and seating is limited. Click here to learn more about the Frontiers of Science lecture series.


2018 Graduate Student Research Symposium a Great Success!

The second annual Department of Physics & Astronomy Graduate Research Symposium took place Friday, March 31, 2018 at the University of Utah Guest House.

The idea behind this event is to bring all graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and all career and tenure track faculty together to foster communication, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas. This event provides first year graduate students an excellent opportunity to get to know our research programs, and professors are able to advertise their research projects and open research positions, all in a more relaxed atmosphere, outside the classroom, thus encouraging more student/faculty interaction.

There was a great turnout, with 50 student poster presentations and close to 100 total attendees. The event stimulated vigorous scientific discussion and was also quite fun.

The award winners for best poster presentation are:

  • 1st Place - Vijith Jacobpoovelil from Dr. Gail Zasowski's research group with his poster:
    "Stellar Doppelgangers & the Power of Chemical Tagging"
  • 2nd Place - Sanduni Fernando & Jason Martineau from Dr. Jordan Gerton's research group with their poster:
    "High Information Point-Spread Functions for Color Sensitive Localization Microscopy"
  • 3rd Place - Megha Agarwal from Dr. Eugene Mishchenko's research group with her poster:
    "Binding Energy & Lifetime of Excitons in Metallic Nanotubes"
  • Honorable Mention: Kevin McCarthy from Dr. Valy Vardeny's research group with his poster:
    "The Effects of Galaxy Assembly Bias on Redshift-Space Distortions"

Vijith Jacobpoovelil

Jason Martineau

Megha Agarwal

Kevin McCarthy

If you see these students around the department, please congratulate them for their achievement!


More photos available here:



Society of Physics Students: New Officers

The University of Utah Society of Physics Students has held elections for the 2018-2019 school year and we are excited to announce the results:

President- Jared Coles

Vice President- Galen Bergsten

Treasurer- Maria Stokes

Outreach Coordinator- Maile Marriott

Outreach Coordinator- Jesse Snow

Secretary- Sage Yaeger

Historian- Zane Gerber

Historian- Jordan Lybarger

We look forward to your involvement in our activities for the remainder of this semester, and under new leadership next year. Thank you for your support!
The SPS leadership team



Results of the Department of Physics & Astronomy Review Released

In October 2017 we experienced the tragic death of one of our graduate students.  As a department we vowed to learn from this tragedy and to improve our graduate program. The university commissioned an outside review of all issues and concerns related to the experience of graduate students on our campus.  More details are available here. We are strictly following the department-related recommendations of the review and directives from the administration to help our students succeed in the best way we can.


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