Governors Medal for Science and Technology Winners Announced

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January 05 2017 - 3:22 pm

News Release
For Immediate Release

Michael O’Malley
GOED Business Marketing Director

Justin Berry
USTAR Public Affairs Officer

Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology Winners Announced
The award program is celebrating its 30th anniversary

SALT LAKE CITY (Jan. 5, 2017)—Gov. Gary R. Herbert, along with the Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) initiative and the Governor’s Office for Economic Development (GOED), today announced the winners of the 2016 Governor’s Medals for Science and Technology. The medals will be presented to 11 individuals and one company at a 30th anniversary awards dinner on Jan. 18.

“The medal recipients are true leaders in innovation, serving as educators, mentors and influencers statewide,” Gov. Herbert said. “Innovation drives Utah’s thriving economy and unmatched quality of life. I commend the winners for excellence in their fields and for their important work, which will benefit Utah residents for generations.”

Since 1987, the Governor’s Medals for Science and Technology have been awarded to residents and companies who have provided distinguished service or made significant contributions to Utah’s advanced scientific and technological knowledge, education and industry. Nominations are reviewed by an advisory panel before formally presenting winners to the governor.

This year’s 12 medals are awarded in the categories of academic/research, higher education, K-12 education, industry, government and one special recognition. The 2016 recipients are:

Cynthia Burrows, Ph.D.—Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry, University of Utah
Cynthia Furse, Ph.D.—Associate Vice President for Research, University of Utah
Timothy McLain, Ph.D.—Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Brigham Young University
Terry Messmer, Ph.D.—Professor and Extension Wild Life Specialist, Utah State University Director, Utah Community-Based Conservation Program
John Morrey, Ph.D.—Research Professor, Director of the Institute for Antiviral Research, Utah State University
Kyle Rollins, Ph.D.—Professor of Civil Engineering, Brigham Young University

Adam Beehler—Lecture Demonstration Specialist for the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Utah

Debra Spielmaker, Ph.D.—Professor, Utah State University Project Director, USDA-National Agriculture in the Classroom Program and Team Leader, National Center for Agricultural Literacy

Lawrence Thatcher—CEO, Thatcher Group

ENVE Composites—Ogden, Utah

Robert Baskin, Ph.D.—Supervisory Hydrologist, U.S. Geological Survey, Utah Water Science Center

Dr. Vivian Lee—Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the School of Medicine, University of Utah CEO, University of Utah Health Care

***See 2016 winner biographies below*** 


About the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED)
The Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) charter is based on Gov. Gary R. Herbert’s commitment to statewide economic development. The state’s economic vision is that Utah will lead the nation as the best performing economy and be recognized as a premier global business environment and tourist destination. GOED provides extensive resources and support for business creation, growth and recruitment statewide, as well as programs to increase tourism and film production for the benefit of Utah residents. All administered programs are based upon strategic industry clusters to develop a diverse, sustainable economy. GOED accomplishes its mission through unprecedented partnerships. For more information please contact: Aimee Edwards, (801) 538-8811 or

The Utah Science Technology and Research (USTAR) agency advances the Governor’s commitment to maintaining Utah’s position as the best performing economy in the nation and be recognized as a premier global business destination. USTAR is a long-term, state-funded investment designed to strengthen Utah’s knowledge economy and create a technology ecosystem that enables ideas to seed, grow and thrive. Funded in March 2006 by the State Legislature, USTAR’s diverse portfolio of investments will recruit and retain top researchers to the State’s research universities; support technology entrepreneurs through training, funding, incubator and accelerator programs and broker technology transfer by connecting capital, management and industry. For additional information please contact Justin Berry at

About the 2016 Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology winners

cynthia-burrowsCynthia Burrows, Ph.D.
Cynthia Burrows is distinguished professor and Thatcher Presidential Endowed Chair in biological chemistry at the University of Utah. Her research efforts center on the chemistry and biology of free radical stress on DNA and the effect of changes in DNA and RNA structure on cellular function. She has also tackled new methods for DNA sequencing to identify sites where chemical modifications have occurred. Molecular changes in genetic material, particularly oxidative stress, underlie the genesis of certain cancers and impact infectious diseases such as Zika virus. She serves the university community as Chair of the chemistry department, the international research community as editor-in-chief of Accounts of Chemical Research, and has served the state of Utah as a former member of the USTAR Governing Authority. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2014.

cynthiafurseCynthia Furse, Ph.D.
Dr. Cynthia Furse is associate vice president for research at the University of Utah and professor of electrical and computer engineering. She is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the National Academy of Inventors. Her expertise in electromagnetics is applied to sensing and communication in complex lossy environments such as the human body, geophysical prospecting, ionospheric plasma, and aircraft wiring networks. She co-founded LiveWire Innovation, which pioneers systems for locating intermittent electrical faults on aging aircraft wiring. Dr. Furse is also an innovative teacher who cares deeply about her students. She a leader in the flipped classroom teaching method, and works to interest young students, including women and minorities, in engineering. She has received numerous teaching and research awards including the 2009 IEEE Harriett B. Rigas Medal for Excellence in Teaching.

1605-42 09 1605-42 Tim McLain portrait.  Mechanical Engineering May 11, 2016 Photography by Todd Wakefield/BYU © BYU PHOTO 2016 All Rights Reserved  (801)422-7322

Timothy McLain, Ph.D.
Tim McLain is a professor of mechanical engineering at Brigham Young University (BYU), where he has also served as department chair. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in from BYU and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, all in mechanical engineering. He joined BYU as a professor in 1995. During 1999 and 2000, he was a visiting scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory where he initiated research in the guidance and control of unmanned aircraft systems. Since then, his UAS research has attracted the support of the Air Force, the Army, DARPA, NASA, NSF, ONR, and numerous companies. With Professor Randy Beard and students, he helped found Procerus Technologies, a company that produces UAS autopilot, sensing and guidance technology. Lockheed Martin acquired Procerus in 2012. He is co-author of the textbook Small Unmanned Aircraft, and is currently the director of the Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

terry-messmerTerry Messmer, Ph.D.
Terry A. Messmer is a Utah State University (USU) professor and extension wildlife specialist. He received bachelor’s degrees in wildlife management and biology at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He received his master’s degrees in botany and planning, as well as his Ph.D. in animal and range sciences, at North Dakota State University in Fargo. He is the director of the Jack H. Berryman Institute and the Utah Community-Based Conservation Program. He has served as the major professor for 55 graduate students. In 2007 he was awarded the USU Extension E.G. Peterson Award for outstanding service to the state of Utah and in 2008 the USU Outstanding Graduate Mentor Award. In 2016 the Wildlife Society recognized his research in wildlife conservation with the Caesar Kleberg Award. He is the scientific advisor to the Governor’s Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Strategy Team. He retired as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. His military awards include the Military Order of Medical Merit and the Bronze Star.

morreyjohn-07John Morrey, Ph.D.
Dr. John Morrey is a research professor at Utah State University, as well as director of USU’s Institute for Antiviral Research. His work has led to world-recognized advances in understanding and treating viral diseases of the brain and liver. Under Dr. Morrey’s direction, the institute has received more than $107 million in funding over nearly 30 years through National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants and pharmaceutical industry contracts. The institute has utilized this funding for the study of viruses including Zika virus, West Nile virus, avian influenza, swine flu, SARS virus, yellow fever virus and many others. Dr. Morrey’s productive career has resulted in 132 peer-reviewed publications in virology, neurology, immunology and therapeutics. Instructional videos on recombinant DNA techniques from his private venture have been utilized worldwide. Dr. Morrey’s previous awards include the Researcher of the Year and James LeGrand Shupe Achievement awards from USU’s College of Agriculture.

kylerollinsKyle Rollins, Ph.D.
Kyle Rollins is a pioneer in the area of large-scale testing for improving bridge and foundation performance during earthquakes. Seismic design research is critical to life safety and economic resilience for Utah and seismically active regions throughout the world. Prof. Rollins developed techniques for simulating soil liquefaction in the field using small explosive charges. These techniques have been employed on research projects in the U.S., Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Italy. While at Brigham Young University (BYU), Prof. Rollins has supervised 110 master’s students and six Ph.D. students. For these efforts he received the Utah Engineering Educator of the Year award. Prof. Rollins has published 122 peer-reviewed technical papers with external research support of $5.1 million and has lectured throughout the world. He received the Maeser Research Award from BYU, the Research Trailblazer Award from the Utah Department of Transportation, the Osterberg Award recognizing innovation in foundations, and was the Canadian Geotechnical Society Cross-Canada lecturer speaking at 14 cities across Canada.

adambeehlerAdam Beehler
Adam Beehler’s preferred title of “phyzard” was dubbed by his daughter, but his official designation is lecture demonstration specialist for the University of Utah Department of Physics and Astronomy. With more than 20 years of experience in physics teaching, Mr. Beehler is passionate about community engagement and outreach. He has reached more than 65,000 Utah students and members of the general public through his volunteer lecture-demonstration presentations and outreach activities at elementary and middle schools. Mr. Beehler’s demonstration activities have been published as a national best practice and have been adopted by many peer institutions due to their effectiveness for increasing student learning. Mr. Beehler loves physics and loves sharing it. Some would say that getting into the details of science to explain something as beautiful as a rainbow would dampen the experience. For Mr. Beehler, understanding the science behind a rainbow opens his eyes even more to its beauty.

Debra Spielmaker Business or work (435) 213-5562 Office Location Ag Systems Technology & Educ (ASTE) 102 Address 2315 Old Main Hill Logan, UT 84322-2315 Titles Extension » Agriculture in the Classroom Project Director College of Agriculture » School of Applied Sciences, Technology and Education Extension Associate Professor

Debra Spielmaker, Ph.D.
Debra Spielmaker is a professor at Utah State University in the School of Applied Sciences, Technology, and Education. Dr. Spielmaker is also the project director of the USDA-National Agriculture in the Classroom program and the team leader of the National Center for Agricultural Literacy. For 18 years, Debra directed the Utah Agriculture in the Classroom program as a partnership between Utah State University Extension and the Utah Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. She has conducted numerous teacher professional development trainings for hundreds of university education majors and practicing teachers statewide. She has created nearly 200 classroom-ready resources for K-12 teachers in the areas of science, social studies, nutrition, and career and technical education. She believes that agriculture is the ideal theme to contextualize academic content, meet educational standards, and that everyone should understand agriculture as it affects their quality of life and their environment.

lawrence-thatcherLawrence Thatcher
Lawrence Thatcher was trained in chemistry and chemical engineering at the University of Utah. In 1967, he founded Thatcher Chemical (now the Thatcher Group), a chemical manufacturing company. A subscriber to hard work, Lawrence built the company into the highly successful business it is today. His early achievement was in re-engineering aluminum sulfate in a more economical way for use in the water purification, fabric dyeing, paper manufacturing and cosmetics. Today, the Salt Lake City-based company creates products ranging from pharmaceuticals to water treatments and employs approximately 500 people. Not only did Mr. Thatcher become an astute businessman—he did so with the highest standards of conduct for his employees, customers, and community. Recognizing the importance of giving back, Larry and his late wife Helen donated millions of dollars to the University of Utah for the construction of the Thatcher Building for Biological and Biophysical Chemistry, which opened in 2013.

envelogoENVE Composites
Located in Ogden, ENVE Composites is a manufacturer of handmade carbon fiber bicycle rims and components. Partnering with the prominent frame builders of our time and the world’s best athletes, ENVE combines the best composite technologies with real world athlete feedback to provide our customers with the ultimate in performance, durability, and quality. ENVE designs and manufactures 100 percent of their rims in their Ogden facility.

robbaskin2Robert L. Baskin, Ph.D.
Dr. Robert Baskin earned his Master of Science and doctorate degrees from the University of Utah and is a supervisory hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. He has worked extensively with local, state, federal and international entities on subjects ranging from water quality and availability, seismic hazards, thermal imaging, and saline ecosystems. Best known for his innovative research on the Great Salt Lake, Dr. Baskin’s work has provided information vital for effective management of the lake and has greatly contributed to the understanding of how lake bathymetry and carbonate-forming microbial communities at the sediment-water interface influence the health of the ecosystem. Dr. Baskin’s ongoing research focuses on integrating multiple technologies to identify environmental variables which affect microbial carbonate development and influence the ecology of the Great Salt Lake. A registered professional geologist in the state of Utah, he has published more than 30 peer-reviewed papers and is working on multiple research projects.

Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.
Since July of 2011, Dr. Vivian S. Lee has served as senior vice president for health sciences, dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, and CEO of University of Utah Health Care. She is responsible for an annual budget of $3.3 billion, including a healthcare system, health plan, as well as the Schools of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health and the new School of Dentistry. A graduate of Harvard-Radcliffe, Dr. Lee received a doctorate in medical engineering at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Returning to Harvard, she earned her M.D. with honors. Following a residency in diagnostic radiology at Duke, she trained as a fellow in MRI at New York University (NYU) and also completed an MBA at the Stern School of Business at NYU in 2006. An National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded investigator for nearly 20 years, Dr. Lee was elected to the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) and the American Society of Clinical Investigation. She serves on NIH Council of Councils and on the boards of two publicly traded companies. A fellow and past president of the International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine (ISMRM), Dr. Lee has authored over 160 papers and a popular textbook, Cardiovascular MRI: Physical Principles to Practical Protocols.

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