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Biologist and Writer Sylvia Torti Tapped to Head Honors College at University of Utah

Sylvia Torti

January 18, 2012 – The University of Utah announced today that Sylvia Torti has been appointed dean of the Honors College. The appointment is pending final approval of the Academic Senate and the University Board of Trustees.

Torti joined the university in 2003 as research assistant professor in biology and is currently associate director of the University of Utah Rio Mesa Center, a research and education center located near Moab, Utah. The Center provides students with broad opportunities for place-based interdisciplinary studies of the environment and ecology. Torti also has a parallel career as a literary writer, having so far published one novel, several short stories and essays.

“Sylvia brings a rich combination of intellectual and professional experience to Honors as a biologist, creative writer and adept administrator of Rio Mesa,” says Martha Bradley, associate vice president for academic affairs and former dean of the Honors College. “Her perspective on interdisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning will serve the College and its students well, but even more important are Sylvia’s immense energy and creativity. She is going to be an amazing dean to watch.”

Torti holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of Utah and a bachelor of arts from Earlham College. She conducted her graduate work in tropical biology in the Congo, Panama, Mexico and Trinidad resulting in scientific publications as well as subject matter for her first novel. She wrote “The Scorpion’s Tail,” which won the Miguel Mármol Award for “best debut fiction by an American of Latino/a descent.”

“Pragmatic solutions to life’s complex problems will increasingly require ‘nimble experts’ who are adept at thinking beyond their disciplines, who can collaborate, communicate and innovate,” says Torti. “An Honors education with many opportunities for that kind of engaged learning helps prepare such well-rounded citizens, and I look forward to guiding the Honors College, one of the U’s unique assets, to its next stage of success.”


The Honors College promotes an enriched academic environment for talented and highly motivated students. The College is a community of excellence that fosters values of social responsibility, inclusiveness and academic quality.