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The Post VPR Office names 2022-2023 Distinguished Research Award recipients

VPR Office names 2022-2023 Distinguished Research Award recipients

By Xoel Cardenas, Sr. Communications Specialist, Office of the Vice President for Research

The Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR) is honored to announce the 2022-2023 recipients of the Distinguished Research Award (DRA). The DRA is designed to shine a spotlight on the outstanding achievements of three University of Utah research faculty.

Nominees are evaluated on the impact and significance of their career research, scholarly and creative work in their field, transformative achievements or innovations, and their history of broadening or enhancing equity, diversity, and inclusivity in their discipline, department, and/or research. This prestigious research award provides the faculty member with a $10,000 grant to pursue research and/or creative pursuits and receive special recognition during U of U General Commencement.

University of Utah faculty continued to demonstrate an unmatched dedication to research growth and excellence, and this year’s DRA recipients are no exception.

“All of the DRA recipients are outstanding scholars who have exerted significant impact through their work,” said Jakob Jensen, Associate Vice President for Research. “It is such an honor to recognize these outstanding faculty.”

The DRA recipients for 2022-2023 are:

Alana Welm, Ph.D.
Senior Director of Basic Science, Huntsman Comprehensive Cancer Center
Professor, Department of Oncological Sciences
Investigator, Huntsman Cancer Institute

Dr. Welm received her undergraduate degree in Microbiology from the University of Montana.  She completed a Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology at Baylor College of Medicine under the supervision of Gretchen Darlington. She then went on to conduct postdoctoral training in J. Michael Bishop’s laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco, where her work focused on developing new models of breast cancer metastasis. Welm started her laboratory at the University of Utah’s Huntsman Cancer Institute in 2007, and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2013 and to full Professor in 2019. She now holds the Ralph E. and Willia T. Main Presidential Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and is Senior Director of Basic Science at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

Work in Welm’s laboratory focuses on metastatic breast cancer, investigating mechanisms by which cancer cells transition from a period of latent disease to metastatic outgrowth, and how the immune system controls that process. She also develops and utilizes patient-derived tumor models to understand breast tumor evolution during metastasis, to identify new therapeutic vulnerabilities in metastatic tumors, and to personalize therapy for breast cancer patients using functional drug testing in their tumor models.

Brett Clark, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Sociology

Dr. Clark is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Utah. In addition to sociology, he has appointments in both the Environmental Humanities graduate program and the Environmental and Sustainability Studies undergraduate program.

From 2015-2021, he served as the Director of Environmental and Sustainability Studies. His research broadly examines the human dimensions of environmental change. This includes analyzing the social drivers of greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption, and industrial pollution; studying the political-economic, historical, and environmental conditions that influence the emergence of ecological problems, uneven development, and environmental injustice; and assessing how the structure and organization of militarism contributes to unique forms of environmental degradation.

Clark is one of the leading scholars developing and employing social metabolic analysis as a means to investigate environmental issues such as climate change and overfishing.

Valerio Pascucci, Ph.D.
Director, Center for Extreme Data Management Analysis and Visualization
Professor, Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute, School of Computing

Dr. Pascucci is the Inaugural John R. Parks Endowed Chair of Computing, the founding Director of the Center for Extreme Data Management Analysis and Visualization (CEDMAV), a Faculty of the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute, and a Professor of the School of Computing of the University of Utah. He been the recipient of the 2022 IEEE VGCT Visualization Technical Achievement Award, has been inducted into the IEEE VGTC Visualization Academy, and received Distinguished Mentor Award of Graduate School, University of Utah.

Pascucci is also the President of ViSOAR LLC, a University of Utah spin-off, and the founder of Data Intensive Science, a 501(c) nonprofit providing outreach and training to promote the use of advanced technologies for science and engineering. His research interests include Big Data management and analytics, progressive multi-resolution techniques in scientific visualization, discrete topology, and compression.

Pascucci is the coauthor of over two hundred refereed journal and conference papers and was an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics.

Please join us in wishing our DRA recipients our sincerest congratulations on this exceptional achievement!

For more information on the Distinguished Researcher Award, click here.