Sometimes long-term, basic research is made immediately relevant by current events. COVID-19 and social disparities have transformed everything from the way Americans buy groceries to how we work and play. U faculty are responding with projects that explore virus transmission, unequal access to health care, and how members of our community talk about their lives during a time when the country faces critical social issues.
To celebrate this vital work, more than 20 researchers, teachers, and librarians are featured on banners hanging on streetlights on 1300 East, University Street, and South Temple.
“The faculty members working on these projects deserve recognition for taking on some of the thorniest problems facing our society,” says U Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dan Reed. “This scholarly work will help us improve COVID-19 treatments; weather this global health crisis; expand access to health care; and bridge the social, economic, and racial differences that divide us.”
The Banner Project recognizes mid-career faculty who are intellectual and thought leaders, not only at the U but also in the community. “The goal is to put faces to the world-class scholarship, groundbreaking discoveries, unique innovations, and creative works generated by our scholars,” adds Reed.
Last year’s first cohort of Banner Project honorees were recognized for their work with data, business innovation, inspiring community through art, and understanding addiction. For Rebecca Utz, co-director of the Consortium for Families and Health Research (C-FAHR) and associate professor of sociology, her 2020 banner served as an unexpected mode of community outreach.
“People saw the banner and wondered what kind of research I was doing that may help them as they deal with challenging diagnoses, caregiving, or the death of someone they loved,” Utz says. “In some cases, these people have become part of my research.”