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Governor to Recognize State’s Top Scientists, Researchers

Sept. 9, 2004 –Utah’s top scientists and researchers have been honored for their achievements during the presentation of the Governor’s Medal Awards for Science and Technology.

Gov. Olene Walker today presented the Governor’s Medal Awards for Science and Technology to ten recipients.

The Governor’s Medal Awards for Science and Technology are a cooperative effort of the governor’s office and the state science advisor in the Department of Community and Economic Development. The awards were initiated in 1987 to recognize Utahns who have made career achievements and/or provided distinguished service that has benefited the state in the areas of science and technology.

The recipients are as follows:

A. Lorris Betz, M.D., Ph.D., University of Utah

Over the course of nearly 30 years and over a hundred peer-reviewed papers, Dr. Betz has come to be distinguished both nationally and internationally as a pioneer in the study of the blood-brain barrier and brain membrane permeability. In 1978, for example, Dr. Betz and Goldstein published the seminal paper demonstrating that the endothelial cells lining cerebral blood vessels possess the special property of polarity, a discovery that was key to understanding limitations on the delivery of drugs to the brain. More recently, as Senior Vice President for Health Sciences, Dr. Betz has had an enormous impact on the University of Utah, and thereby on the state of Utah, by aggressively leading the drive to expand with two new research buildings, an education building, and the Huntsman Cancer Hospital, as well as significant growth in the volume of research grants and contracts, making the Health Sciences Center the ninth largest employer in the state today.

Stephen R. Carter, M.S., Brigham Young University

Steve Carter has been making notable contributions to his chosen field ever since he received his B.S. in Computer Science from BYU nearly 30 years ago. At Eyring Research he was a key player in developing a new automated magnetic tape manufacturing system for 3M, and while at WordPerfect he lead numerous innovative product development projects. During the rise of the Internet, his expertise was called upon to help create world standards for the World Wide Web, and today as the most prolific inventor in Novell’s history, Steve continues to play a leading role in that domain. He was the chief architect responsible for the system that allows for the management of thousands of internet caching devices, and his security inventions allow for the protection and controlled access of cached information. The State of Utah uses this system to accelerate and filter web content, providing the children in our public schools with a fast, reliable and safe internet.

Noelle E. Cockett, Ph.D., Utah State University

Dr. Cockett has been studying genes in order to solve problems affecting food animals for at least two decades now, and was named a AAAS Fellow in recognition of her past achievements and future promise in that field. She has characterized the callipyge gene of sheep, which is responsible for muscle hypertrophy, and identified the genetic marker for Spider Lamb Syndrome, an important disease of sheep, providing both a valuable tool for eliminating this defect in the population and contributing to the study of bone disorders in humans. With help from the State’s Centers of Excellence Program, in 1997 she cofounded a company that markets a genetic test now used by countries around the world. Today, Noelle is making a significant impact as Dean of the College of Agriculture at USU. As Chair of a special committee, she directed an extensive study of the role of genomics research as applied to agriculture within the State of Utah, identifying and promoting the University’s strengths and refocusing the Biotechnology center to become the Center for Integrated Biosystems, with emphasis on the use of genomics research for the benefit of Agriculture. Noelle also established a Research Apprentice program at USU that recruits women and minorities into agricultural research.

Michael J. Glass, Ph.D., Dugway Proving Grounds

Dr. Glass, who previously worked in both the industrial and nonprofit sectors as a Principal Scientist at Gull Laboratories, where he developed DNA-based diagnostic assays, and the Battelle Memorial Institute, currently serves as Chief of the Special Programs Division for the West Desert Test Center, U.S. Army Dugway Proving Grounds. He has been identified as a subject matter expert in biological warfare defense, counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation for numerous agencies within the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. In this capacity, he has overseen the creation of testing and training programs to prepare both military and civilian first responders to deal with chemical and biological warfare measures, either in the United States or abroad. Today Utah Emergency First Responders are being trained in his Advanced Chemical and Biological Integrated Response Course, which is expected to be expanded at the national level.

Richard J. Halterman, Ph.D.
Science Educatio

For 33 years, Dr. Halterman both instructed and inspired many hundreds of students in the Granite School District. In the 1950’s, he taught Physics and Electronics at Olympus Junior High School, where he organized the first Electronics Club and the first Science Fair competitions. In 1964 he settled into Skyline High School, where he taught for the next 22 years – introducing the first classes in physiology and genetics, serving as chair of the Science department, supervising the student teaching program and judging science fairs around the state. Many former students took time to share their reflections, and probably the best commentary is an excerpt from one of those: “*Our enthusiasm, sparked by Dr. Halterman, instilled in each of us an excitement for learning, a zeal to know, and the confidence to challenge and to investigate. The dedicated and inspired efforts of Dr. Halterman changed us profoundly. I am certain he affected countless others in similar ways.” The writer is the now retired Senior Manager of Sandia National Laboratories – and that says it all.

Karl Gordon Lark, Ph.D., University of Utah

Some people, fortunately, just can’t seem to retire, and Dr. Lark, Distinguished Professor of Biology, Emeritus, at the University of Utah is clearly one of them. As a colleague put it, “Dr. Lark has maintained excellence in his science for over four decades, and is still going strong. His current work on mapping quantitative trait loci in the dog is receiving broad recognition all over the world.” It is not only his research that has earned his recognition here, however. As another distinguished scientist wrote in their letter of recommendation, “Not only is he an outstanding scientist, and a scientific pioneer, but one can scarcely imagine what biological research and the biotechnology industry would be like in Utah, had Professor Lark not come a little more than three decades ago.” Indeed, many have called him the “Father” of modern Biology in Utah. Hired to rebuild Biology at the UU in 1970, he has been held largely responsible for creating one of the best departments for molecular genetics in the nation, and laying a foundation for the renowned Department of Human Genetics at the UU School of Medicine. He did this in part by attracting many of today’s biotech leaders, one of whom wrote that, “No one else in the world could have successfully recruited me to Utah.” In summary, one senior colleague who has since moved on to another state put it this way: “I hope that I can contribute to my new University some small fraction of what Lark brought to the University of Utah. I cannot imagine anyone who has made a more profound contribution to the State of Utah or will leave such a solid and long-lasting legacy.”

Joel S. Miller, Ph.D., University of Utah

Few of us have the pleasure, in the course of our careers, of turning accepted dogma on its head, and creating a new field of study in the process. But many colleagues of Dr. Miller, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at the University of Utah, took pains to point out that he has done just that. Said one, “He and his coworkers have achieved the impossible – they have made polymeric organic materials which are magnets. Before Miller’s work in this area, anyone who claimed that they could do this would be placed in ‘the Goofy Bin.’ Today, Miller and his work are being praised by the world’s leading scientists.” This entirely new class of magnets, the first in over 400 years, exploits highly creative chemical synthesis rather than the energy-intensive metallurgical processing required to form conventional magnets, and shows great promise for commercial applications. Having first honed his skills in industrial labs at Xerox and DuPont, Dr. Miller came to the UU in 1993. Known as an excellent lecturer, Prof. Miller has given over 400 seminars in various venues, as well as coauthoring over 400 articles in peer reviewed publications.

C. Arden Pope, Ph.D., Brigham Young University

Today many scholars agree that much of the important work to be done in the future will require the crossing and combining of traditional fields of inquiry, but relatively few actually practice that course of action. Dr. Pope, however, has been successfully straddling academic boundaries at BYU for over twenty years, applying the analytic techniques of the social sciences to the world of Medicine – with the result that this Economics Ph.D. has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, among many other places. The U.S. EPA based its national ambient air quality standards for fine particulate air pollution on his work, and his studies have also largely served as the basis for international air pollution standards and guidelines, World Health organization risk estimates, and numerous economic and public policy analyses. Characterized as an outstanding teacher, Dr. Pope is praised for being engaging, clear, and helpful to students whether covering Economics or Epidemiology.

Rex S. Spendlove, Ph.D., Hyclone Laboratories

It is probably fair to say that Dr. Spendlove began his distinguished career in Virology at a time when cell culture was almost more art than science. While pursuing fundamental studies of RNA viruses and viral diseases of infants and children at USU in the 1960’s, he became frustrated with the poor quality of commercially available fetal bovine serum, which hindered his work. As a result, he developed his own methods of producing research grade serum * and the rest, as they say, is history. After a period of processing serum in a small facility on campus (and funding some of his research by selling the product to other scientists), the fledgling enterprise moved off campus in 1975, and HyClone Laboratories was born. Over the succeeding decades he garnered statewide and then national awards, and grew HyClone into the world’s premier supplier for cell culture – a $200MM, 500 employee international business in Cache Valley. Dr. Spendlove has never retired; he simply started the Spendlove Research Foundation after turning over the reins of his company, and is still going strong.

Wynn R. Walker, Ph.D., Utah State University

When it comes to the subject of surface irrigation, Dr. Walker, who served as head of the Biological and Irrigation Engineering department at USU for 15 years, literally wrote the book * actually, an internationally recognized text, software for the simulation and design of such systems, and now a series of engineering short courses being distributed electronically with video lectures in English, Spanish, and Arabic. Utahns, of course, are well acquainted with his work in automating irrigation control structures on the Sevier River, optimizing the use of that precious resource and conserving vast quantities of water in the process, but in fact his expertise has been tapped by bodies including the United Nations and the World Bank to improve surface irrigation projects from Morocco to Thailand. Although his publications number over 200 and his awards are numerous, perhaps Dr. Walker’s greatest legacy are his over 50 graduate students who today make water policy and management decisions affecting the lives of millions on five continents.