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

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


Andromeda Wants You! Astronomers Ask Public to Find Star Clusters in Hubble Images

Note: Anil Seth will discuss the Andromeda Project during the university College of Science’s Science Night Live, 5:30 p.m. MST Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012, at Keys on Main, 242 S. Main St., Salt Lake City.

The Andromeda galaxy, shown here, is the closest spiral galaxy to our own spiral, the Milky Way. Astronomers at the University of Utah and elsewhere have launched the Andromeda Project so thousands of volunteers can help them find star clusters in detailed images of Andromeda made by the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Robert Gendler

Astronomers at the University of Utah and elsewhere are seeking volunteers to explore the galaxy next door, Andromeda. The newly launched Andromeda Project will use people power to examine thousands of Hubble Space Telescope images of the galaxy to identify star clusters that hold clues to the evolution of galaxies.

Anyone can take part by going to

“We want to get people excited about participating. We’re hoping for thousands of volunteers,” says Anil Seth, an organizer of the Andromeda Project and an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Utah.

University of Utah astronomer Anil Seth is helping launch the Andromeda Project at so that citizen volunteers can help scientists look for star clusters in Hubble Space Telescope images of Andromeda, the nearest large spiral galaxy to our own Milky Way, which also is a spiral galaxy. Star clusters provide clues to the evolution of galaxies. Photo Credit: Lee J. Siegel, University of Utah

“I love looking through these amazing Hubble Space Telescope images of Andromeda, the closest big spiral galaxy to our Milky Way galaxy,” he adds. “The Andromeda Project will give lots of people the opportunity to share in that amazement.”

“Star clusters are groups of hundreds to millions of stars that formed from gas at the same time so all the stars have the same age,” Seth says. A goal of the Andromeda Project “is to study the history of the galaxy, and these clusters play an important role.”

Finding star clusters is difficult work. Eight scientists spent more than a month each searching through 20 percent of the available Hubble images just to find 600 star clusters. This is less than a quarter of the 2,500 star clusters they believe exist in the full set of Hubble images of Andromeda, also known as galaxy M31.

It would take too long for the astronomers to continue looking for star clusters on their own, and pattern-recognition software isn’t good at picking out star clusters.

To obtain faster results, Seth and colleagues want to “crowdsource” the problem and enlist volunteers from all walks of life to identify the star clusters. Registration isn’t required and a simple online tutorial helps volunteers quickly learn how to recognize and mark star clusters on

“You don’t need to know anything about astronomy to participate, and it’s actually pretty fun, like playing an online game,” says Cliff Johnson, a University of Washington graduate student working on the project.

The Andromeda Project is a collaboration that includes scientists and website developers at the University of Utah, University of Washington, Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Oxford University, University of Minnesota, University of Alabama and the European Space Agency.

About 400 volunteers participated in a recent test of the new website.

 Full press release.

Salt Lake Tribune Article


Science Night Live with Anil Seth

Wednesday, Dec. 5 @ 5:30 p.m. - Science Night Live! with Anil Seth! "Spying on Our Neighbors With the Hubble Space Telescope" at Keys on Main(242 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT)!.


with Dr. Anil Seth,
Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy

Spying on Our Neighbors With the Hubble Space Telescope

Date & Time: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012. 5:30 - 7:00 PM

Location: Keys on Main (242 South Main Street, Salt Lake City, UT)
View Map

Galaxies are collections of billions of stars with a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Astronomers still don't fully understand how this diverse zoo of galaxies form. In the galaxies nearest to our own Milky Way, we can learn about their histories by studying individual stars and clusters of stars. The Andromeda galaxy is our nearest galactic neighbor: beautiful, intriguing, and full of secrets.

The Hubble Space Telescope is currently engaged in a 4-year campaign to image Andromeda and reveal some of these secrets. U of U Professor of Physics and Astronomy Anil Seth will show some of the amazing pictures from this survey and discuss what we can learn from them.

Frontiers of Science is free and open to the public. Must be 21 or older to attend.

Learn More.


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