2021 RISE Awards

The Office of Sponsored Projects and Technology Commercialization is pleased to announce the awardees for the inaugural Research, Commercialization, and Entrepreneurial Awards. This program provides the opportunity to honor faculty that have distinguished themselves through research and innovation, and made noteworthy contributions to Weber State, the community, and the world. Awardees receive $1,500 and recognition for their contributions to research and innovation.

2021 Awardees


Outstanding Research Award
Dr. Craig Oberg

Craig Oberg has a prolific record of presentations and publications in the field of microbiology over his career at Weber State University. Although his focus has been research associated with the Dairy Industry, he has also made significant contributions in the antimicrobial and immunological effects of essential oils and as well as collaborative efforts in the study of pressure ulcers (associated wheelchair bound patients) and the study of bacteria and viruses in the Great Salt Lake. Overall, Craig has over 100 refereed publications and nearly 40 in the Journal of Dairy Science. These publications have been cited over 3000 times in other scientific publications. His most recent work was discovering one of the causes of a cheese defect that has been costing the dairy industry millions of dollars a year in lost revenue, and he also led a collaborative team to identify risk factors and mitigation strategies. The process of identifying this organism has led to new and novel approaches to determine the cause of other fermentation issues in the dairy industry and acceptance of a new paradigm for studying contaminating organisms in dairy fermentations. Craig’s collaborative work with fellow researchers at Utah State University and with WSU faculty and students over the years has changed the Mozzarella cheese production industry manufacturing protocols and processing parameters, and these publications are the most cited in this area (Mozzarella cheese is the top produced cheese in the US). He also, holds several patents including the first patent for a recombinant DNA food grade fermentation bacterium and for the production process of reduced fat and nonfat mozzarella cheese. Craig has been an invited speaker at numerous national and international scientific meetings and symposia – in the last five years he has been invited to present his research findings at the Lactic Acid Bacteria meeting in the Netherlands (only held every three years and the most prestigious dairy microbiology conference in the world), Teagasc Institute in Ireland (Irish national agricultural research institute), American Society for Microbiology and American Dairy Science Association national meetings among others. Over the last 5 years Craig has collaborated with Evan Call, an international known pressure ulcer expert, to develop new theories on the cause of pressure ulcers, a billion-dollar issue in the health care industry. Their theories, now published, have gained worldwide acceptance, and they have published new interventions and preventative measures based on these theories that are influencing the commercial development of implementation of these measures. Last year his undergraduate researchers had their project featured at the American Society for Microbiology national meeting and he did an interview for NPR. In all these research efforts, Craig has provided faculty and students opportunities for collaboration that has led to student presentations and co-authorship on publications.


Outstanding Research Award
Dr. Adolph Yonkee

Adolph is a world-renowned expert on geologic evolution regarding large, curved mountain systems, such as the Rocky Mountains and the Andes Mountains. In 2019, Adolph was elected to the Fellowship of the Geological Society of America in recognition of a sustained record of distinguished contributions to the geosciences. The Geological Society of America is an internationally recognized leader in geosciences, thus Adolph’s recognition is strong evidence of his impact in the scientific community. In 2019, Adolph was awarded the John S. Hinkley Fellow Award at Weber State University. Adolph’s research and its impact on our community were important factors in receiving this award. In 2017, Adolph was recognized by the Geological Society of America's Structural Geology & Tectonics Division with the Outstanding Publication Award. This annual award is designed to recognize a published work of exceptional merit that significantly advances the science of structural geology and tectonics. Adolph and co-author Arlo Weil (Bryn Mawr College) were honored for their paper “Tectonic evolution of the Sevier and Laramide belts within the North American Cordillera orogenic system,” published in Earth-Science Reviews (2015, v. 150, p. 531-593). Adolph has developed and sustained an internationally recognized research program funded by numerous external grants, including seven major grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2008. His research program has resulted in more than 30 presentations at scientific conferences and 17 peer-reviewed publications in leading geoscience journals just in the last ten years. According to the website “Google Scholar”, Adolph has been cited by other scholars more than 1,800 times, with 790 times in just the last five years. His research articles have been published in highly regarded scientific journals, including Earth-Science Reviews, Geological Society of America Bulletin, Earth & Planetary Research Letters, Journal of Structural Geology, Tectonics, and Lithosphere. Adolph’s impact on our community is illustrated by numerous interviews and articles in Utah newspapers in which he shared his knowledge about earthquakes, regional geologic features and other natural hazards. Perhaps, even more importantly, Adolph’s research contributed to exceptional teaching and mentoring of countless students. Adolph frequently serves as a reviewer for proposals and manuscripts for granting agencies and scientific journals. This service is additional strong evidence of his nationally and internationally recognized expertise. At several other universities, Adolph has served on numerous thesis and dissertation committees. Adolph is recognized as one of the leading field geologists and educators in the nation. His contribution to field geology research is exemplified by numerous examples. Adolph has organized and led numerous multi-day field trips offered to attendees at geological conferences, including meetings of the Geological Society of America, Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, and the Utah Geological Association. Adolph currently serves on the Utah Geologic Mapping Advisory Committee and the Utah Quaternary Fault Hazards Committee. He was also the General Program Chair for the 2005 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Salt Lake City.


Innovation Success
Dr. Sally Cantwell

The mental health crisis of our students and community is at an all time high. Bias in mental health is a real challenge and has a direct impact on the unwillingness of many to comfortably talk about mental health and suicide. Sally created a mental health course, speaking with healthcare facilities and providers across the Wasatch Front on the gaps in learning nursing students have when graduating school, so she could help better prepare these students for the workforce and decrease his gap. Her course is Mental Health: The Complex Role of Healthcare Professionals. She discusses very challenging topics such as myths and facts of mental health and suicide, emotional intelligence, ethical decision making, evidence-based practice in understanding patient perspectives, and nurse and family resiliency. With COVID happening, she converted her course to online and didn't miss a step. She is a certified QPR Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention trainer, has her students using the Adobe Creative Cloud for podcasts and presentations, and provides real life interviews with family members who have loved ones struggling with a mental health disorder. With all of this, her student evaluations actually went up this past year! Any work done to promote education in mental health and suicide prevention has a lasting impact on our community and Sally has taken this challenge and succeeded.

Entreprenuerial Spirit
Dr. Alex Lawrence

Alex spent the first 20 years of this career in business as an entrepreneur that started, led and sold multiple companies. His ventures spanned software, consumer internet, commercial real estate, venture capital and franchising. Alex raised over $25 million in capital, and one of his partnerships made the top 50 on the Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing, private companies in the United States. Alex came to WSU in 2011 as Vice Provost for Innovation & Economic Development. Initially, he led WSU’s the Technology Outreach Center, and served as the key interface with the state’s USTAR initiative. Alex’s roles evolved over the next decade, but he always served as a driving force for entrepreneurship at WSU in in the broader community. Here are some ways in which Alex has supported the entrepreneurship infrastructure. Startup Ogden -- Alex was the driving force behind WSU’s downtown center which contains Startup Ogden, a tech community whose structure promotes co-working and collaboration to foster innovation. The location offers entrepreneurs, students and other community members technology-enabled space to meet and work. Startup Weekend – Alex organized several Startup Weekend events which brought entrepreneurs throughout Northern Utah together for weekend-long sessions of pitching, planning and perfecting their business ideas. During the event teams formed around the most popular ideas presented and then spend the rest of the weekend brainstorming and creating business plans and basic prototypes. Hall Global Entrepreneurship Program -- Alex Lawrence served as the initial director of the Hall Global Entrepreneurship Program which helps students start and run companies that produce revenue, profits and create jobs while they are still in school. Subsequently, Alex achieved his long-sought goal of completing a PhD degree and joining WSU’s faculty. In that role, he specializes in internet Sales, internet technology and social media sales, and he continues to promote entrepreneurship in Utah.