Dr. Pearl Sandick, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and associate dean of the College of Science, has been named a Presidential Scholar. The award recognizes the extraordinary academic accomplishments and promise of mid-career faculty, providing them with financial support to advance their teaching and research work.
“These scholars represent the exceptional research and scholarship of mid-career faculty at the University of Utah,” said Dan Reed, senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “They each are outstanding scholars and teachers in their fields of specialty. Their scholarship is what makes the U such a vibrant and exciting intellectual environment.”
Presidential scholars are selected each year, and the recipients receive $10,000 in annual funding for three years. The program is made possible by a generous donor who is interested in fostering the success of mid-career faculty.
Sandick is a theoretical physicist who works at the intersection of particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. She is expert in models of dark matter, a substance known only through its gravitational influence on stars, galaxies, and the largest structures in the universe. Professor Sandick earned her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota and held a postdoctoral appointment in Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg’s group at the University of Texas, Austin, before joining the U in 2011.
“I love that my work involves thinking of new explanations for dark matter, checking that they’re viable given everything we know from past experiments and observations, and proposing new ways to better understand what dark matter is,” she said. “I find this type of creative work and problem solving to be really fun on a day-to-day basis, and the bigger picture — what we’ve learned about the universe and how it came to look the way it does — is just awe-inspiring.”
In addition to her research, Sandick is passionate about teaching, mentoring students, and making science accessible and interesting to non-scientists. She has given a TEDx talk, been interviewed on KCPW’s Cool Science Radio, and NPR’s Science Friday. Sandick has been recognized for her teaching and mentoring work, with a 2016 University of Utah Early Career Teaching Award and a 2020 University of Utah Distinguished Mentor Award. She recently served on the American Physical Society (APS) Committee on the Status of Women in Physics and as the Chair of the National Organizing Committee for the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiPs). She will chair the Four Corners Section in 2021-2022.
“One of the great joys of working at the U is our commitment to engaging students at all levels in research,” Sandick said, “and I’ve been thrilled to work with amazing undergraduate and graduate students.”
Please join us in congratulating Sandick.