Class Notes


Linda C. Smith BFA’64 was honored by the Madeleine Arts and Humanities Council for her contributions to the arts in Utah. As co-founder and executive/artistic director of Repertory Dance Theatre, Smith fulfilled her dream of becoming a performer, teacher, choreographer, writer, producer, company director, and more. Her pursuits have led to the development of the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, the establishment of the RDT Community School, providing commissions for established and emerging choreographers, and the creation of multi-disciplinary activities touching on dance history, the environment, social issues, multi-ethnic history, sustainability, and community. Her performing experience spans more than 90 works, and she has taught in over 1,000 schools, including as an adjunct associate professor of dance at the U and as a certified movement specialist in the Utah Artists-in-Education Program.

’70s

Les Standiford

New York Times-bestselling author Les Standiford MA’70 PhD’73 has written a new book, Battle for the Big Top:  P.T. Barnum, James Bailey, John Ringling, and the Death-Defying Saga of the American Circus. Standiford has authored 25 titles, including The Man Who Invented Christmas, which was made into a 2017 feature film.

Read our previous feature highlighting Standiford and his work here.

’80s

John Wecker BA’82 published Three Years in Afghanistan: Bamiyan, Balkh, and Bagram, a photo journal of his work there as a diplomat. The photos in this collection show the incredible beauty of the land and people of Afghanistan, and rare scenes of life at remote military outposts. The end result is a new and interesting look at the often-overlooked beauty and wonder of this war-torn and tragic country.

Dan Lundergan BS’82, MHA, is now chief executive officer at U of U Health Hospitals and Clinics. With more than 40 years of experience and success at U of U Health, Lundergan oversees five hospitals and 12 community clinics as well as the nearly 14,000 employees who work in the clinical system.

Natalie Gochnour BS’84 MS’88, associate dean in the David Eccles School of Business and director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, received the ATHENA Leadership Award from the Salt Lake Chamber. The organization's highest recognition for women in business, it is presented to a member who demonstrates excellence, creativity, and initiative in business. Read our previous highlight on Gochnour here. 

Edward Bateman BFA’85 MFA’03 made his fifth showing in the international exhibition de Gravure de Liège (Contemporary Engraving of Liège) in Belgium—among 48 artists selected from 470 applications, arriving from 62 countries—and was again invited to exhibit work in Agenda, an annual exhibition at Bibliotheca Alexandrina (the New Library of Alexandria), a distinguished exhibition on the Egyptian art scene. Bateman is an associate professor in the U’s Department of Art & Art History.

Ted Dawson

Ted Dawson MD’86 PhD’86 has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, one of the highest honors in health and medicine. Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering and a distinguished professor of neuroscience and pharmacology, his discoveries have helped in the development of new treatments for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Jose Parga Torres

Jose Parga Torres PhD87 received the National Award in Education from the Association of Mining Engineers, Metallurgists, and Geologists of Mexico, celebrating excellence in teaching. Parga is widely published in his field and has served for more than 40 years on the faculty of the Technological Institute of Saltillo, where he and his students have been recognized for numerous achievements. 

Steven J. Anderson BA’89 has published The Bicycle Book: The Story of a Boy, His Father, a Paper Route, and 12 Secrets of Serving Others in Business and Life. A fourth-generation alum of the U, Anderson shapes his deeply Utahn, often funny memoir as a tribute to the lifelong power of lessons learned young from attentive parents sharing life wisdom about the keys to fulfillment and success.

Deb Oakeson

Deb Oakeson HBA’89 is the new deputy regional forester for the Intermountain Region. Oakeson began her career with the Forest Service in 1999 at the Geospatial Technology and Applications Center and had most recently served as the acting national director for Engineering, Technology, and Geospatial Services.

’90s

President Joe Biden nominated two alumnae of the U’s S.J. Quinney College of Law to serve as U.S. attorneys—marking the first time ever that two U Law graduates have simultaneously been named to the position. Trina Higgins JD’95 (right) was nominated to serve for the District of Utah, and S. Lane Tucker JD’87 (left) for the District of Alaska. Higgins has served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Office for Utah since 2002, most recently as special counsel to litigative programs from 2017-21 and as senior litigation counsel from 2015-17. She was the violent crime section chief within the office from 2008-15 and the U.S. Attorney’s Office tribal liaison from 2005-15. Prior to her work on the federal level, she was a deputy district attorney for the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office from 1995 to 2002. Tucker has been a partner in the Anchorage office of Stoel Rives LLP since 2010. She was previously in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Alaska from 2002-06, following serving of counsel at Perkins Coie LLP and as a sole practitioner. From 1991 to 2002, she was a trial attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. From 1987-91, she served as an assistant general counsel for the General Services Administration.

Amy Oliver BS’95 (summa cum laude) was appointed a Third District Court judge by Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox. Oliver previously spent 15 years as an attorney for the federal government, first with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and most recently with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Prior to her public service, she worked for law firms in Washington, D.C., and Phoenix, Arizona.

Lara Lockwood BA’96 launched Savvy Sosh, which teaches social dances and social graces to tweens and teens in the Seattle area with the goal to help youth connect with each other face to face in meaningful and joyful ways. Lockwood is also a freelance event planner in the area.

’00s

Camille Washington BA’06 was recognized with a Living Color award for her work with Good Company Theatre, the only Black-owned theatre in Utah—now in its 10th year—which she co-directs with her sister Alicia, her co-honoree. A playwright (her play Oda Might was produced at Plan-B Theatre, and several others at GCT), Washington also works by day as the marketing and box office manager at Onstage Ogden and serves on the Ogden City Arts Advisory Committee. She is a past Lambda Literary Writers Retreat Playwriting Fellow and was recognized as the 2019 David Ross Fetzer Foundation Emerging Playwright. She holds a master’s degree from the San Francisco Art Institute and was previously curatorial fellow for diversity in the arts at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, MN.

Jeffrey M. Brown PhD’01 is vice president of preclinical research at Deep Genomics, an artificial intelligence therapeutics company. Brown previously built the research organization and led multiple gene-therapy discovery research programs at Voyager Therapeutics, led multiple programs with Wave Life Sciences, and spent nearly a decade as a senior research investigator with Bristol-Meyers Squibb.

Nick Scown

Nick Scown BA’02 co-directed the new film Too Soon: Comedy After 9/11, which The New York Times called “smart and surprisingly cathartic.” The film explores the sudden halt and triumphant rebirth of comedy following the cataclysmic events of 9/11. The film was Scown’s labor of love for five years.

Carey Hilderbrand MBA’02 is chief marketing officer for National University System, a nonprofit network of education institutions including City University of Seattle. She was previously chief marketing officer at Western Governors University and has more than 20 years of combined marketing and management experience.

Adam S. Arthur MPH’02, MD, is the chair of neurosurgery in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Arthur has been the director of cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery for Semmes Murphey Clinic and the UTHSC Department of Neurosurgery since 2009. He also has more than a decade of distinguished service as a neurosurgeon at major hospitals in Memphis.

Timothy D. Greene BA’07 is a new partner in the Los Angeles office of law firm Gunderson Dettmer and a member of its Licensing, Strategic Partnering and Commercial Transactions group. He was previously a residential fellow for Copyright and Fair Use at Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society and remains affiliated with CIS as a nonresidential fellow.

Darin Mano

Darin Mano BA’08 BS’08 became the first Asian American elected to the Salt Lake City Council in November 2021. An architect with his own firm and deep experience with urban planning, he was first appointed to the city council in 2020 to fill the vacancy in District 5. He previously served on the Salt Lake City Planning Commission and the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Advisory Committee.

Sandra Mitchell PhD’08, CRNP, FAAN, has been promoted to senior scientist at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. She also serves as program director in the Outcomes Research Branch in the Healthcare Delivery Research Program at the National Cancer Institute and maintains a clinical practice in survivorship care. Author of more than 150 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, she has been recognized with honors including fellowship in the American Academy of Nursing.  

’10s

Candelario Saldana

Candelario Saldana BS’10 was named one of 2022’s 40 Best LGBTQ+ Lawyers Under 40 by the LGBTQ+ Bar, which recognizes legal professionals who have distinguished themselves in their field and demonstrated a profound commitment to LGBTQ+ equality. Saldana is an associate with the Capital Markets group of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in Charlotte, NC. 

Miriam Albert-Sobrino MFA’14 and Sonia Albert-Sobrino MFA’14, known as the Also Sisters, recently screened two of their new films internationally. AURA premiered at the 54th edition of the Sitges Film Festival in Catalonia, Spain. Face Not Recognized, Try Again premiered at Colorado's first and longest-running genre film festival, the Telluride Horror Show. The twin sisters are both assistant professors in the U’s Department of Film & Media Arts.

Ciriac Alvarez Valle

Ciriac Alvarez Valle BS’17 is a senior policy analyst at Voices for Utah Children, which advocates for and advances policies and practices for the state’s youngest citizens. Alvarez Valle was born in Mexico and grew up in Salt Lake City. While at the U, she served a Hinckley Institute internship with Ibarra Strategy Group in Washington, D.C., and she plans to continue her education by attending law school.

U electrical and computer engineering assistant professor Jacob George MS’18 PhD’20, director of the Utah NeuroRobotics Lab who is also helping develop the “LUKE Arm” motorized prosthetic, was named one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30” in the Science category for 2022. Read our full feature on the LUKE Arm here.

Emily Guffin MCP’19 (city and metropolitan planning) is the new trails manager for the City of Bella Vista, Arkansas, maximizing opportunities for biking and walking. Guffin is focused on creating healthy and active communities.

’20s

Utah scientists Jason Nance MS’20 and his former professor Taylor Sparks are collaborating to find better ways to illuminate road lines to make roads safer at night. The pair are working to create a long-lasting, weather-resistant glow-in-the-dark paint.

Sandra Leu Bonanno

Sandra Leu Bonanno PhD’20 won the American Educational Research Association’s Social Justice Dissertation Award for “Towards a Democratic Project of Schooling: Exploring Culturally Sustaining Leadership Mindsets.” Bonanno is an assistant professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver.

Francesca Hsieh

Francesca Hsieh BFA’21 was awarded the Ivory Prize for Excellence in Student Leadership for her work in creating BIPOC Artists for Awareness, which helped launch an important dialogue between the U’s Department of Theatre and its students and enhanced the department’s commitment to anti-racism. The award includes $2,000 for the recipient and a $10,000 donation to their cause. She is now pursuing a master’s degree in theater directing from Royal Holloway, University of London.

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