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Celebrate U 2019: A Showcase of Extraordinary Faculty Achievements

The J. Willard Marriott Library and the Office of the Vice President for Research hosted the fourth annual “Celebrate U” event to acknowledge faculty members for extraordinary work produced in 2018. Those honored on April 3rd were selected from these categories: authors, creatives, entrepreneurs and research.

Below is a sampling of this year’s honorees. For a complete list of the honorees, visit the Celebrate U site.

Book Authors

Julia Corbett,

College of Humanities

Published “Out of the Woods” University of Nevada Press

Have you ever wondered about society’s desire to cultivate the perfect lawn, why we view some animals as “good” and some as “bad,” or even thought about the bits of nature inside everyday items–toothbrushes, cell phones, and coffee mugs?  In this fresh and introspective collection of essays, Julia Corbett examines nature in our lives with all of its ironies and contradictions by seamlessly integrating personal narratives with morsels of highly digestible science and research.  Each story delves into an overlooked aspect of our relationship with nature—insects, garbage, backyards, noise, open doors, animals, and language—and how we cover our tracks.

Vincent Cheng,

College of Humanities

Published “Amnesia and the Nation: History, Forgetting, and James Joyce” Springer Verlag

This book examines the relationships between memory, history, and national identity through an interdisciplinary analysis of James Joyce’s works—as well as of literary texts by Kundera, Ford, Fitzgerald, and Walker Percy.  Drawing on thinkers such as Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Luria, Anderson, and Yerushalmi, this study explores the burden of the past and the “nightmare of history” in Ireland and in the American South—from the Battle of the Boyne to the Good Friday Agreement, from the Civil War to the 2015 Mother Emanuel killings.

Rick Anderson

Marriott Library

Published “Scholarly Communication: What Everyone Needs to Know” Oxford University Press

Scholarly Communication: What Everyone Needs to Know® offers an accessible overview of the current landscape, examining the state of affairs in the worlds of journal and book publishing, copyright law, emerging access models, digital archiving, university presses, metadata, and much more. Anderson discusses many of the problems that arise due to conflicts between the various values and interests at play within these systems: values that include the public good, academic freedom, the advancement of science, and the efficient use of limited resources. The implications of these issues extend far beyond academia.

In late nineteenth-century Mexico a woman’s presence in the home was a marker of middle-class identity. However, as economic conditions declined during the Mexican Revolution and jobs traditionally held by women disappeared, a growing number of women began to look for work outside the domestic sphere. As these “angels of the home” began to take office jobs, middle-class identity became more porous.

Creative Works

Kirstin Chávez

College of Fine Arts

“La Traviata”

Kirstin performed the role of Flora in a brand new production of “La Traviata” at the Metropolitan Opera in New York during December of 2018. The performance was also broadcast around the world in movie theaters on December 15, 2018.


Rajesh Menon

College of Engineering

“Pioneering unconventional optical systems”

We demonstrate imaging over the visible band using a single planar diffractive lens. This is enabled via multi-level diffractive optics that is designed to focus over a broad wavelength range, which we refer to as an achromatic diffractive lens (ADL).

Early disease diagnosis is crucial for improved patient outcomes, and Porter’s group is dedicated to advancing the field of early detection for patients in all areas, and especially for those in low- and middle-income countries. His work continues to focus on exploiting the capabilities of SERS as a diagnostic platform, aiming to translate the technology from the laboratory to the point-of-need environment.


Gwen Latendresse

College of Nursing

Telehealth Distance Platform

Telehealth Distance Platform for the delivery of mental health services can address some of the barriers to accessing care for childbearing women in rural and frontier Utah and randomized trial of telehealth group intervention to reduce perinatal depressive symptoms in diverse populations.

School violence has emerged in the last ten years as a significant public health crisis that include behaviors ranging from bullying, hate-based language, sexual harassment, and physical assaults . A recent study found that almost one-third of students in grades 6-12 reported they had been victimized by peers, and 5% to 13% admitted to bullying others. Researchers in music education acknowledge peer victimization and bullying is also a serious concern for music students. If school music students may be more likely to be targets of victimization and feel unsafe at school when compared to their non-music peers, then research is needed to determine the prevalence of these behaviors and document detailed instances of this phenomenon. To date, there has been no published research examining the the prosocial and anti-social behavior development of school-based music ensemble performers.

Angie Fagerlin

Department of Population Health Sciences

Incorporating shared decision making into cardiology care

Congenital heart defects are the most common birth defect, affecting nearly 40,000 babies born in the United States each year. The condition often demands treatment within the first months after birth, and can impact patients for the rest of their lives. This research seeks to discover causes of congenital heart disease (CHD) to find new methods for prevention and treatment. Another major focus is to develop strategies for helping parents understand this information to better equip them for making decisions about their child’s medical care.

Marjorie Chan

College of Mines and Earth Sciences

Utah Geology: From Earth to Mars

Chan, who heads the STAR group in the geology department focuses her research on analogous research between geological formations on Earth and their similar counterparts on Mars. This work formed the basis for the two main lectures she gave during her itinerary, “Mars for Earthlings: Using Earth Analogs to Decode the Sedimentary History of Mars,” and “Eolian Explorations: “Dunes, Diagenesis, and Deformation.”

Virtual environments can revolutionize how we inform young people’s thinking about 3 dimensional (3D) objects, which is known as spatial reasoning. Spatial reasoning and thinking are fundamental components of success in STEM fields and critically important to our nation’s future success. Moreover, there is a positive effect of action or “learning-by-doing” in STEM classrooms. Virtual environments are ideal for promoting action-based learning because of their flexibility in creating 3D, immersive, accessible, and interactive spaces that can simulate many contexts across a spectrum of skills in spatial reasoning, from simple to complex. Previously, virtual environment technology was not easily usable by children at critical ages for the development of spatial reasoning. This team, consisting of computer scientists and cognitive scientists, will develop a comprehensive understanding of how children perceive and act in virtual environments, and how their spatial reasoning capabilities can be understood and applied in the real world. Using the results of this work, designers of virtual environments should be able to effectively implement technologies that provide learning-by-doing and harness the positive effects of action on cognition.

Classical conditioning is a quintessential learning process; however, maladaptive forms of conditioning sustain many unhealthy behaviors (e.g., addiction). Mindfulness training is theorized to de-automatize conditioned behavior by decoupling stimulus and response. This study assessed the effect of mindfulness training on conditioned behavior during a classical conditioning task. Findings indicated mindfulness training decreased classically conditioned behavior relative to an active control condition, delaying the onset of first conditioned response and decreasing conditioned response frequency. Thus, mindfulness training may be one method of increasing volitional control over maladaptive conditioned behaviors that contribute to the development and maintenance of clinical disorders.

Celebrate U - 2019
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