Governor Gary Herbert to Award Science Medals

Gov. Gary Herbert, along with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative will present the Governor’s Science Medals for 2014 to the awardees on April 15. 

The event, which honors Utah’s top innovators at an annual dinner reception, will be held at the Masonic Temple in downtown Salt Lake City from 6-8:30 p.m.

The Governor’s Medal award program recognizes those who have provided notable service or made significant career achievements that have benefitted the State of Utah in the areas of science and technology. This year, awards will be given in the following categories: Academic, science education, industry – individual (independent inventors and entrepreneurs) and industry – company (for-profit or non-profit).

The space science-themed evening will begin with a cocktail hour and networking reception followed by dinner. The program will feature a Space Jeopardy segment, with Susan Opp, senior vice president of of L-3 Communications, Pedro Sevilla from the Space Dynamics Laboratory and Ben Prail, science teacher at Bonneville High School as contestants. Greg Jones, associate director of the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute will play the critical role of Alex Trebek.

Ivy Estabrooke, executive director of USTAR, said that this year’s nominations highlights Utah’s capable and highly trained science and technology professionals.

“This year the awardees came from an incredibly high caliber, impressive pool,” said Estabrooke. “The level of talent in the fields of science and technology in Utah is really quite remarkable.”

Awardees in the area of academia are Phyllis Coley and Erik Jorgensen, professors of biology at the University of Utah; Christine Fogarty Celestino, science instructor at Juan Diego Catholic High School and Helen Hu, professor of computer science at Westminster College. Industry individual winners are Niel Holt, director of Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory and Ronald Weiss, professor of pathology at the University of Utah School of Medicine and former president of ARUP laboratories. The industry company winner is US Synthetic for its contributions to science, technology, engineering and math education in Utah.

Special recognition will go to Troy D’Ambrosio, founding director of the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the University of Utah.

“Workforce development and STEM education are top priorities in the state for sustaining future economic growth,” said Gov. Herbert. “I am pleased to highlight the efforts  of these innovative leaders and am grateful to see that our future workforce has the best of the best role models to inspire them.

The Governor’s Science Medal Award Program will be sponsored by the Clark Planetarium, Women Tech Council and the STEM Action Center. Lindsie Smith, the associate director of the Clark Planetarium, will host the ceremony.