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Distinguished Alumni Awards



Zlatko Bačić, is a professor of chemistry at the Department of Chemistry, NYU. Zlatko Bačić received his B.S. from the University of Zagreb and his Ph.D. from the University of Utah Department of Chemistry with Professor Jack Simons. Professor Bačić work includes research of theoretical and computational chemistry, quantum treatment of the dynamics and spectroscopy of molecules in nanoporous materials and on solid surfaces, vibrational spectra of fluxional molecular systems of biological interest, and weakly bound molecular clusters. He is also the founding director of the new Simons Center for Computational Physical Chemistry at NYU established in 2021.



Amy Barrios, is a medicinal chemist working as a professor of Medicinal Chemistry and the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Affairs at the University of Utah. On August 16, 2019, the Graduate School appointed Professor Amy Barrios, Department of Medicinal Chemistry (College of Pharmacy), the new Associate Dean of Postdoctoral Affairs in the Graduate School. Amy M. Barrios graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s in chemistry in 1995, followed by a Ph.D. in 2000 from MIT and a postdoc from the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco.



Mitchell Johnson, is the Executive Vice President at General Plastics Manufacturing Company responsible for developing the company’s strategic growth platforms, focusing on developing new products and new applications of its current products. Johnson earned his doctorate from the University of Utah Department of Chemistry with Professor Joel Miller. He pursued post-doctoral studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory, studying organometallic and lanthanide chemistry.



Roger Leach, retired from DuPont two years ago after a very successful 36-year career starting at the Experimental Station in Wilmington, DE. Roger was the Technical Senior Manager and Leader of the Science & Innovation Core Analytical Sciences organization. After relocating to the San Diego area, Roger joined Viridos, as their Director of Analytical Sciences, which is developing genomically engineered, industry-leading algal strains as lipid feedstock for second-generation renewable diesel and aviation biofuels. Leach received his Ph.D. 1984 from the University of Utah Department of Chemistry with Professor Joel Harris.



                                                                                                                         Read more here about our 2023 Distingushed Alumni accomplishments. 


Rik Tykwinski smilingRik R. Tykwinski earned his PhD from the University of Utah with Peter Stang in 1994. He worked with Professor François Diederich as a PDF at ETH-Zürich and then joined the faculty at the University of Alberta in 1997. In 2009 he accepted a position as Chair of Organic Chemistry at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany. In 2016 he became Chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta. His studies focus on structure-property relationships in conjugated molecules.


Carrie WagerCarrie Wager is Vice President Strategic and Scientific Operations at Ascidian Therapeutics. She received her Bachelor's in Chemistry in 1994 from Miami University, her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Utah in 2000 and an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2017.  Carrie spent 17 years at Pfizer as Senior Principal Scientist, Director of Business Planning, Chief of Staff for Pfizer Medical, and Medical Strategy Lead in Oncology.  She then joined the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard as Senior Advisor, before assuming her present position at Ascidian Therapeutics.


Raymond PriceRaymond Price received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Utah, followed by an M.D. from Harvard. He has spent his career expanding the role of surgery in public health, and has participated in or led surgical expeditions to Asia, Latin America, and Africa. He co-founded The Center for Global Surgery at the University of Utah. He also currently directs graduate surgical education at Intermountain Medical Center. 

He has served with the World Health Organization, and has written numerous peer-reviewed articles and books or chapters in books.



a black and white photo of Kurt ZilmKurt Zilm completed his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Utah in 1981. Now Chair of the Department of Chemistry at Yale, Zilm's research involves development of new NMR methods and their application to important problems in chemistry and materials science. Recent interests include the use of site specific sold state NMR relaxation measurements to characterize protein backbone motions and to measure difficult to access long range distance constraints. They are also studying the dynamics of water in proteins and other materials where nanoscopic confinement effects depress the freezing point by over 60 K.


a black and white photo of Michelle WilliamsMichelle Williams 
received her PhD from the University of Utah and began her career with Rohm and Haas Company as a Research Scientist in 1987. During her career with Rohm and Haas Company and Dow Chemical, Michelle also held manufacturing, sales, marketing, strategy, and general management positions. She was General Manager with CMP  Technologies, and later General Manager with Adhesives and Sealants. Michelle joined Arkema in 2011, and was named Global Group President of Arkema's Hydrogen Peroxide business unit. Michelle joined the Brady Corporation's Board of Directors, a global leader in safety and identification solutions.

a black and white photo of Bill Jack

Bill Jack went on to receive his PhD at Duke University after completing his BA in Chemistry at the University of Utah in 1977. He is now Senior Scientist at New England Biolabs whih is a recognized world leader in scientific innovation and environmental sustainability, and has been awarded as one of the most admired workplaces in the region. Bill's lab focuses on DNA polymerases, more particularly on the ability to incoroporate modified nucleotides, including chain terminators. This focus is expanding to include polymerase activity on modified DNA templates, for example, those of modified phage genomes.




Joseph Madsen smilingJoseph Madsen received his undergraduate degree from the University of Utah in 1976, from which he went on to earn an MD from Harvard Medical School in 1981. Between the years 1981 and 1983, he completed an internship followed by a research fellowship with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, then completed his residency in 1989 with Massachusetts General Hospital. He has certifications with the American Board of Neurological Surgery and the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Child Neurology. He has developed new techniques for monitoring shunt flow in patients with hydrocephalus, as well as predicting seizures using intracranial data gathered from implanted electrodes. Aside from practicing pediatric neurosurgery at Boston Children’s Hospital, Madsen is an adjunct professor in functional neurosurgery at Xanwu Hospital, associated with Capitol Medical University, Beijing Institute of Functional Neurosurgery. He hopes to improve pediatric neurosurgery and epilepsy surgery abroad, especially in China, and has been working on a mechanism to review surgical cases in real time with colleagues at Beijing’s Children’s Hospital.

Jeanne McHale's faculty photoJeanne McHale earned a BS in Chemistry from Wright State University in 1975, Jeanne McHale attended the University of Utah for her PhD, which she received in 1979 with Jack Simons, followed by postdoctoral research with Jim Wang. Jeanne was a member of the chemistry faculty at the University of Idaho from 1980 until 2004, which is when she joined the chemistry faculty at Washington State University, where she is currently a Professor Emerita. She is a fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and author of Molecular Spectroscopy (Prentice-Hall, 1999). She also edited the recently published Handbook of Luminescent Semiconductor Materials (Taylor & Francis, 2011) with co-editor Leah Bergman. The McHale lab specializes in the use of resonance Raman and photoluminescence spectroscopy for study of molecules and nanomaterials with interesting optical and electronic properties. Fundamental quantum mechanical aspects of electron transfer in solution and in interfacial systems are a major focus of their experiments. McHale’s group pioneered the use of resonance Raman spectroscopy to study solvent dynamics in electron-transfer reactions. (Photo courtesy of WSU.)

Craig ThatcherCraig Thatcher earned a BA in Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1974, a natural course for him since his grandfather was a chemistry teacher and founder of Wasatch Chemical Company, and his father a chemical engineer and founder of Thatcher Chemical Company. After receiving his undergraduate degree, Thatcher attended graduate school at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where he earned an MBA in Marketing in 1976. He and his wife Connie spent their first year of marriage in Centerville, Utah where he began his full-time career at Thatcher Chemical Company, a company for which he still dedicates his time and energy as president. The Thatcher Chemical Company has grown from humble beginnings with two employees and no facilities, to a company of over 500 employees in 11 U.S. locations with customers throughout the world. The company is currently debt-free and has experienced rapid growth in recent years. Craig Thatcher is always looking to improve himself and assist in helping others, and is actively involved in community service and charity work, as well as endeavors to build the Thatcher Chemical Company in an effort to achieve these goals.


Carlos BowmanCarlos M. Bowman received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1957. While working in rocket fuel research early on in his career at the Dow Chemical Company, Bowman implemented the innovative use of computers in using thermodynamics to predict substance thrust capabilities for use in rocket propellants. In 1967 he became the Dow Chemical Company’s Research Director, where he continued to advance the field of cheminformatics until 1980.

Ellen Fisher smiling up at the camera


Ellen R. Fisher earned her PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1991, after which she joined Colorado State University as a Professor of Chemistry. From 2009 to 2014 she served as Department Chair for CSU’s Department of Chemistry, and in 2014 she became Senior Faculty Advisor to the Vice President for Research. Her research focuses on using analytical and materials chemistry methods to better understand the underlying mechanisms of the processes of chemical vapor deposition and plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition. (Photo courtesy of Fisher Group People.)

Bryant W. RossiterBryant W. Rossiter earned his PhD from the University of Utah in 1957 and currently works as a consultant, author, and as the senior editor of Physical Methods of Chemistry. From 1957-1985 he was the Director of the Chemistry Division at Eastman Kodak Co., and from 1985-1989 served as President of Viratek Pharmaceuticals, Inc. His ventures resulted in several successful attempts at developing broad-spectrum antiviral drugs, some of these treatments experiencing worldwide implementation.


Clifton Sanders smiling for the cameraClifton G. Sanders received his PhD from the University of Utah in 1990 and went on to hold many positions in both research and education, including Research Scientist for CardioPulmonics, Dean for the School of Science, Mathematics and Engineering for Salt Lake Community College, and Adjunct Instructor for the Salt Lake Theological Seminary. He is currently the Chief Technology Consultant and Co-Owner of Better Options Consulting International, and is the Provost for Academic Affairs at Salt Lake Community College.

Edward Eyring smiling for the camera


Honorary Distinguished Alumnus Edward M. Eyring received his PhD in Physical Chemistry in 1960 and proceeded to become an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow with the University of Goettingen. He would then spend the next 50 years of his life as a dedicated faculty member of the University of Utah Department of Chemistry, where he contributed most recently to nanoparticle and Chemical Looping Combustion research. He is the recipient of several awards, including the NATO Senior Fellowship in 1977, the Willard Gardner Prize of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters in 1993, and the Utah Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology in 2011. He retired in 2016, after which the Edward M. Eyring Undergraduate Scholarship was established in his honor and in gratitude for his many years of service and contributions to chemistry.


a black and white photo of Sung Wan KimSung Wan Kim received his PhD in Physical Chemistry with Professor Henry Eyring in 1969. He is currently a Distinguished Professor of Pharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Chemistry and a Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering at the U. He was Director of the Center for Controlled Chemical Delivery from 1985-2006. Dr. Kim is a pioneer in drug delivery research focused on hydrogels, biodegradable drug conjugates, self-regulating drug delivery and stimuli sensitive polymers.

Jaqueline L. Kiplinger smiling for the cameraJaqueline L. Kiplinger obtained her PhD in Organometallic Fluorocarbon Chemistry at the University of Utah with Professor Tom Richmond in 1996. She is now a Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she has worked since starting as a postdoctoral fellow in 1999. She is recognized as a pioneer in uranium and thorium chemistry, and has received numerous awards for her research, service, and mentorship.

Milton L. Lee's staff photoMilton L. Lee received his B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1971. He attended graduate school at Indiana University, earning his PhD with Professor Milos Novotny in 1975. In 1976, he joined the faculty at BYU, where he is now the H. Tracy Hall Professor of Chemistry. He specializes in microseparation techniques, column technology for microseparations, and instrumentation for capillary separations and high performance separations-mass spectrometry.

James Sugihara in graduation robes


James M. Sugihara received the first PhD ever awarded by the University of Utah in 1947, working with Professor Henry Eyring. He was a member of the faculty until 1964, when he accepted a professorship at North Dakota State University, where he served as dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. He was named Dean of the Graduate School and Director of Research in 1974. In 1998, he was awarded an honorary doctorate at NDSU and retired as Professor Emeritus.





Joe GardellaProfessor Joseph A. Gardella, Jr. received his Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and completed postdoctoral research in Physical Chemistry at the University of Utah working with Ted Eyring in 1982. He then joined the faculty at University at Buffalo, State University of New York, where he is now a Distinguished Professor and the John & Frances Larkin Professor of Chemistry. Joe’s research interests are in quantitative analysis and surface chemistry, broadly applied to the study of environmental effects at polymer surfaces and tissue engineering with synthetic biomaterials. He is also director of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Partnership (ISEP), which brings together the University of Buffalo, 21 public schools, the Buffalo Museum of Science, and Buffalo State College to increase hands-on learning in science classes.

Diane ParryDiane B. Parry obtained her PhD in Physical and Analytical Chemistry at the University of Utah with Professor Joel Harris in 1989, followed by postdoctoral research with Mike Philpott at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA. She has worked at the Procter & Gamble Company for 26 years, leading many disciplines within Research & Development including supply chain innovation, process design, consumer understanding and formula design. Diane is currently a Research & Development Associate Director; her Department includes Chemists, Physicists and Engineers and stretches across six countries. Diane is also the President of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy.  She has been involved in FACSS and SciX for more than ten years, including as the Governing Board Chair in 2006, and started organizing sessions on “Analytical Chemists Easing World Poverty” in 2010.

Don ReeseDon L. Reese, MD received his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1973. He then attended medical school at the University of Utah, earning his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1977. He completed a dermatology residency at the University of Minnesota in 1981. In 1983, Don started his own private practice in dermatology, working in the field until his recent retirement. Don and his wife Rebecca have been champions of undergraduate teaching and research at the U. They have generously endowed a scholarship in science teaching with the College of Science and a chemistry scholarship through the Ragsdale Fund. Their contribution to the Thatcher Building established the Department’s advanced undergraduate laboratories.  Don and Rebecca are also founding members of the Curie Club.


Kirk RirieKirk M. Ririe is a visionary scientist and inventor with several patents to his name. He currently serves as CEO of BioFire Defense, which delivers a fully integrated suite of biological agent identification products and life science systems to the biodefense and first responder community. Among his inventions, he built the prototype to shorten the processing time of a cutting-edge DNA analysis technique called PCR from hours to minutes. This prototype, and assistance from his alma mater, the University of Utah, spurred his founding of BioFire Diagnostics, Inc. and the invention of the LightCycler. His latest invention, FilmArray System and Respiratory Panel, was approved by the FDA in 2011 to quickly test dozens of organisms simultaneously. Ririe is the recipient of numerous awards, including Entrepreneur of the Year from Ernst & Young in 2004 and the Franklin Jefferson Award in Science and Technology Innovation in 1999, and the Utah Technology Council’s Hall of Fame in 2014.


david clemmerProfessor David Clemmer received his PhD at the University of Utah in 1992. He spent a year in Japan as a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Fellow at the Himeji Institute of Technology, and two years as a post-doctoral student at Northwestern University.   He joined the Chemistry faculty at Indiana University in 1995.  His research involves the development of methods for studying the structures of complex low-symmetry systems in the gas phase.

jerry murryJerry A. Murry obtained his PhD in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Utah with Professor Gary E. Keck in 1994 and completed an NIH post-doctoral fellowship with Professor David A. Evans at Harvard University. He started his industrial career at Pfizer, then worked as the Director of Process Development at Merck Research Laboratories. He joined Amgen in 2006, where he is now Vice President of Small Molecule Process and Product Development.

thomas thatcherThomas F. Thatcher received his BA in Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1985, along with an emphasis in Japanese. He served as a missionary for the LDS Church in Fukuoka, Japan from 1980 to 1982. In 1987, he obtained his MBA from Brigham Young University. He worked for 27 years at the Thatcher Company, and was General Manager of Thatcher Pharmaceutical from 1999-2012. Currently, Tom is the founder and CEO of Intuitive Funding, a company focused on helping startups succeed.




Richard Smith

Dr. Richard Smith completed his doctorate degree under Jean Futrell in 1975. He is the Battelle Fellow and Chief Scientist within the Biological Sciences Division of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. His research interests span development of advanced analytical methods and instrumentation, with particular emphasis on high-resolution separations and mass spectrometry, and their applications in biological and biomedical research. Dick also is Director of Proteome Research at PNNL, Director of the NIH Research Resource for Integrative Proteomics, an adjunct faculty member in the chemistry departments at Washington State and Utah State universities, and an affiliate faculty member at the University of Idaho. He is the author/co-author of more than 800 peer-reviewed journal articles and recipient of 43 patents.



Dr George Uhlig smiling for the camera

Dr. George Uhlig earned his doctorate degree in 1972 under Henry Eyring while a career U.S. Air Force officer. George worked on his doctoral research and simultaneously handled projects of greater interest to the Air Force. After retiring from the Air Force in 1983 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, George was the head of Research and Development for Hercules Aerospace at the Bacchus Works in Magna, Utah. He then taught college chemistry courses first at Salt Lake Community College and then the College of Eastern Utah in Price. At CEU, he founded the only science research program at the college and inspired many students to pursue advanced education in the sciences and engineering. George retired from CEU in 2008.



Dr Robert Webb

Dr. Robert Webb was the second doctoral graduate of Gary Keck’s lab. He defended his thesis in 1982. Following an NIH-sponsored postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Sam Danishefsky at Yale University, Rob took a position in the pharmaceutical industry with Bristol-Myers Squibb working on drugs for the treatment of HIV infection and cancer. Rob then moved to Arena Pharmaceuticals in San Diego where he helped guide key programs into development, most notably APD356 that has received FDA approval for the treatment of obesity and will be marketed as Lorcaserin. He is currently Vice President at Amplyx Pharmaceuticals. Rob and his wife divide their time between San Diego and Park City.




Marilyn Marquis

Dr. Marilyn Alder Marquis received her undergraduate degree Chemistry from the University of Utah, and went to Berkeley for a month for graduate school, and then returned to Utah to study with Henry Eyring. Marilyn worked on dynamic mechanical testing of polyamides and the relationship between their rheological response and their chemical structure. While a graduate student, she produced a set of lecture notes from Henry Eyring’s classes which became the start of a textbook Statistical Mechanics and Dynamics co-authored by Henry Eyring, Doug Henderson, Betsy Stover, and Ted Eyring. Marilyn’s notes were mimeographed and bound with a yellow cover and were referred to by students as the yellow peril. Dr. Marquis was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Utah. Dr. Marquis also earned an M.B.A. Degree, Finance and Management, at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. Dr. Marquis worked for several large corporations and government labs including Utah’s Dugway Proving Ground. Her research contributions are broad, and these include Arc Plasma Processing of Chemicals, Synthesis of Tetrafluoroethylene, Synthesis of Polymer Intermediates from Low BTU Methane; Kinetics and Mechanism of Ozone reactions, and Solvent Effects in Molecular Decomposition Reactions. She has also worked on project management in the private sector and for the US Department of Energy in Magnetically-Confined Fusion, Radioactive Waste Management, and Geothermal-Based Electric Power Generation. Dr. Marquis was married to the late David M. Marquis, who was a Ph.D. graduate in organic chemistry from Harvard who she met at Dugway; they have two sons and four grandchildren.

Bill McKenna

Dr. Bill McKenna earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Utah. Bill joined the technical staff at Eastman Kodak as a Senior Scientist working in the area of vibrational spectroscopy and high-resolution electron energy loss spectroscopy. At Kodak, he was promoted to Senior Research Associate. He received several other promotions, his last being the Program Manager for the Flexible Display program. When Dow Chemical acquired Kodak’s flexible display program, Bill became Director of Research for Optical Display Films Display Technologies at Dow. In 2010, Bill retired from Dow and co-founded The Avout Group which provides consulting in the areas of technology scouting and development in the area of materials and materials applications. 




Norman Dovichi

Dr. Norm Dovichi was the first doctoral graduate of Joel Harris’ lab. At the University of Wyoming Dr. Dovichi and faculty launched a research program in high sensitivity, small-volume detection methods for liquid chromatography. In 1986, Norm moved to the University of Alberta where he developed the multi-capillary detection for sequencing DNA. In 2001, Norm was appointed to an endowed chair at the University of Washington. A decade later he moved to Notre Dame, where he is currently the Grace Rupley Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry. 65 students have earned graduate degrees in his lab, and he has worked with 30 postdoctoral fellows and an equivalent number of undergraduates. Norm is presently an Associate Editor of Analytical Chemistry. 




Steven Kuznicki

Dr. Steven Kuznicki received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Utah. After a 20+ year career in industry, Dr. Kuznicki initiated a career in academia. Dr. Kuznicki is widely regarded as the world’s leading authority on mixed coordination molecular sieves. In recent years hundreds of authors from over 60 institutions in at least 20 countries have published patents or scholarly articles on these new materials. This area represents a fundamental scientific contribution of Dr. Kuznicki to microporous solids and nanotechnology. 



Marvin Vestal

Dr. Marvin Vestal received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Utah. He is an accomplished and well known thought leader in the international field of mass spectrometry. He has published well over 100 articles in peer reviewed journals and has been awarded over 50 patents, with additional ones pending. In 2010, he was recognized with a rare "Distinguished Contribution to Mass Spectrometry" award by the American Society for Mass Spectrometry (ASMS). Dr. Vestal is widely known as the inventor of Thermospray HPLC-MS, which was the most common LC-MS interface before the advent and commercialization of electrospray ionization. 



Arthur Ruoff

Dr. Arthur Ruoff received his Ph.D (Physical Chemistry with a Minor in Physics) under the tutelage of Henry Eyring (U. Utah. Ruoff became an Assistant Professor at Cornell at the age of 24. He is the author of two textbooks, a book on energy, and an audiotutorial course on Introductory Materials Science that has been used in 60 universities world‐wide. He mentored 43 Ph.D. students and 19 postdoctoral associates. He has published 322 reviewed papers. Dr. Ruoff received the Bridgman Medal for High Pressure Research. He was honored as an outstanding alumnus by the University of Utah and by Purdue University. 

Last Updated: 11/6/23