2021 Taft Nicholson Summer Fellows
Learn about the eleven U of U faculty that will be in residence in University Village
on the Taft-Nicholson Environmental Humanities Education Center campus, working on
their individual research agendas in the quiet and peace of the Centennial Valley
in 2021. Click the photos to learn more about our summer fellows.
Past Taft Nicholson Summer Fellows
2019 was the inaugural season for the Summer Fellows Program. In the month of July, seven U of U faculty were in residence in University Village on the Taft-Nicholson Environmental Humanities Education Center campus working on their individual research agendas in the quiet and peace of the Centennial Valley. Click on the photos to learn more about the 2019 Summer Fellows.
Fred Adler is a professor in Department of Mathematics and the School of Biological Sciences. He is a mathematical biologist with particular interest and expertise in models of self-organized dynamics and application of ecological and evolution principles across biological scales. He is the author of two textbooks, Modeling the Dynamics of Life: Calculus and Probability for the Life Sciences (Brooks/Cole Publishing) and Urban Ecosystems: Ecological Principles for the Built Environment (Cambridge University Press). Professor Adler will use the fellowship to draft a book on the unifying concept of Concentration in ecology, biology, economics, and the arts.
Lisa Henry is an associate professor in the Department of Architecture and Chair of the School of Architecture. Her research combines traditional scholarly production with experimental design projects. Professor Henry combines architectural theory and literary analysis with a black feminist methodology to explore how literature specifically focused on the American landscape can inform architectural and activist practices. Professor Henry Benham will develop a research plan focused on the role of interdisciplinary research in the development of Design Justice and activist architectural practice.
Lauren Birgenheier is an Associate Professor in the Geology and Geophysics Department. She specializes in reconstructing ancient depositional environments recorded in sedimentary rocks. In particular, at Taft-Nicholson she will be writing a paper that critically evaluates the deposition of mudstones or shales in ancient oceanic environments. Professor Birgenheier will develop a field-based geoscience teaching module that centers on the unique geologic surroundings of the Taft-Nicholson Center. She will develop parallel versions of this teaching module for two different learning audiences - undergraduate geoscience majors and visitors to the Taft-Nicholson Center from all backgrounds.
Brenda Bowen is a professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics. Her research as an interdisciplinary geoscientist focuses on how changing environmental conditions influence the composition of sediments, authigenic minerals, and fluids in both modern dynamic systems and ancient lithified strata. Professor Bowen is collaborating with Professor Wischer and will prepare for an exhibition of Wischer’s sculptural work that is inspired by Bowen’s biophysical research which focuses on the landscape of the Bonneville Salt Flat. They will develop and write five-year plan for art-science collaboration.
James Gagnon is an assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences and holds a Mario Capecchi Endowed Chair in Biology. His research focuses on vertebrate development and adult tissue homeostasis through the lens of the lineage tree and studies variability in the vertebrate lineage tree - how it is compensated for and how it can lead to individuality. Professor Gagnon will develop a new research stream based on an active topic in his research lab. Briefly, this research stream will evaluate new CRISPR-Cas genome editing tools in zebrafish embryos.
Peter Lippert is an associate professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics. His Research uses field study in conjunction with paleomagnetic, rock magnetic, collaborative stratigraphic, geochemical, and geochronologic approaches to investigate a wide range of geological puzzles. It utilizes the unique information encoded in the magnetic and chemical properties of geological materials to understand tectonic, paleoclimate, and paleoecological processes, and to recognize feedbacks between geodynamics, climate change, and surface processes. Professor Lippert will immerse himself in the geology and resources of the valley and will explore access to and appropriateness of locations for field instruction. He will investigate the feasibility of a field course and begin the groundwork for new instructional modules.
Michael Mejia is an associate professor in the Department of English. He is the author of the novels TOKYO and Forgetfulness, and his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in many journals and anthologies, including AGNI, DIAGRAM, The Collagist, Seneca Review, and My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. Professor Mejia will work on Conquests of Mexico, an examination of Latin American migration in the context of the personal and the historical. Through fragments of fiction and nonfiction, Conquests weaves together three journeys in a grand vision of movement across América.
Ofer Rog is an assistant professor in the School of Biological Sciences. His research focuses on the synaptonemal complex (SC) — a conserved structure that underlies chromosome-wide behaviors during sexual reproduction. The SC has been observed in almost all eukaryotes - from yeast to worms to humans. Professor Rog will develop a proposal for a series of workshops that will bring together experts from diverse disciplines to discuss new ways to conceptualize, represent and study cellular space.
Rebecca Utz is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology. She researches lifecourse sociology, focusing on health and aging in America. Specifically, questions about how families manage end-of-life and chronic disease care transitions, developing and testing interventions that maximizes the benefits of respite time use for caregivers to persons with Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias. Professor Utz will complete two manuscripts, “Supporting Widowed Persons: An Individually-Tailored Bereavement Intervention Based on Dual Process Model” and “Redefining Respite Care: Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic”
Wendy Wischer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art & Art History. Her creative work highlights environmental issues and seeks to translate data into personal meaning. Through interdisciplinary research, often in collaboration with scientists and engineers, it addresses our environmental crisis in hopes of finding impactful ways to connect people more deeply with the environments they live in and each other. Professor Wischer is collaborating with Professor Brenda Bowen and they will work on drafting a paper around their Art and Science exhibition of Wischer’s sculptural work that is inspired by Bowen’s biophysical research on the landscape of the Bonneville Salt Flats. They will also develop ideas for future art-science collaborations.
Lynne Zummo is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology. Her research investigates how cognitive, social, and cultural factors interact to influence learning of climate change science in K-12 classrooms and the Natural History Museum of Utah. Professor Zummo will advance this research through writing that theorizes about quantitative data practices, or how people make sense of numerical information within their social and cultural contexts. Bridging cognitive theories with sociocultural concepts, this writing will theorize about learning experiences that can foster data practices in ways that support public alignment with science.
Tom Alberts studies probability theory and its intersection with statistical mechanics, along with its application to statistics. His most prominent focus is on two-dimensional conformally invariant systems, but also has interests in random walks in random environments, directed polymer models, last passage percolation, and random matrix theory. Alberts received his PhD in 2008 from New York University and completed postdocs at the University of Toronto and California Institute of Technology before joining the U's Mathematics Department in 2014.
Kevin Coe is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah. Professor Coe’s research and teaching focus on the interaction of American political discourse, news media, and public opinion, with a particular interest in the U.S. presidency and issues of identity. He is the author of more than 40 academic articles and chapters, which have appeared in such venues as Communication Monographs, Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Public Opinion Quarterly, and The Oxford Handbook of Political Communication. He is the coauthor, with David Domke, of The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America (Oxford, 2008), and has written opinion pieces for a wide range of news outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and Time.com. He holds a Ph.D. in Speech Communication from the University of Illinois, and an M.A. and B.A. from the University of Washington.
Rachel Alicia Griffin, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Race and Communication in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah. As a critical/cultural scholar who has earned several honors, her research interests span Black feminist thought, critical race theory, sexual violence, and the social institutions of sport, media, education, and the U.S. presidency. Dr. Griffin has published in journals including Women’s Studies in Communication, Critical Studies in Media Communication, the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, and Communication, Culture, & Critique. She is also the co-editor of Adventures in Shondaland: Identity Politics and the Power of Representation (Rutgers University Press, 2018). Her pending research project is a co-authored monograph titled Marginalization and the Modern Presidency: Presidential Communication, Identity Politics, and the Battle for “Real’ America. Exceptionally committed to sustaining synergy between research and service, Dr. Griffin has delivered well over 100 anti-sexual violence and Inclusive Excellence presentations nationally and internationally.
Isabel Dulfano, a member of the Department of World Languages and Cultures, teaches classes on a wide range of topics, including Business Spanish, Indigeneity in the Americas, and contemporary Latin American feminist literature. Her recent research interest has examined the autoethnography, agency, activism, and self-representation of Indigenous women in the Americas.
Dr. Lisa Taylor-Swanson
Dr. Lisa Taylor-Swanson, PhD, MAcOM, EAMP is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing at University of Utah. She is a native of Salt Lake City and completed an Honors BS in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. Her research focuses on the improvement of chronic pain with an emphasis on midlife women’s health, gender disparities of the opioid epidemic, and the evaluation of traditional East Asian medicine interventions (including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and moxibustion). She has completed a Master’s degree in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (Seattle Institute of East Asian Medicine - SIEAM) and a PhD in Nursing Science (University of Washington). Dr. Taylor-Swanson previously provided acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine in private practice for over 17 years with an emphasis on women’s health and the treatment of male- and female-factor infertility. Dr. Taylor-Swanson is an avid flamenco dancer and enjoys world music, yoga, hiking, swimming, and skiing.