Why we mourn celebrities

January 14, 2016

Why do people mourn celebrities they don’t (personally) know? It happens whenever a familiar name passes away. In recent years, Michael Jackson, Robin Williams and this week — David Bowie and Alan Rickman — and draws huge outpourings of public mourning from fans and others who take to social media and other outlets to profess their sorrow. Why does this happen? Sociology professor Theresa Martinez is available to comment on this phenomenon. The best way to reach her is via email.

‘Downton Abbey’ via art

January 14, 2016

“Downton Abbey” fans are relishing the last season of the beloved series. Did you know you that the Utah Museum of Fine Arts sponsors a tour for book lovers, including art related to “Downton Abbey”? Fans rejoice. UMFA Director of Marketing and Public Relations Mindy Wilson is available to answer any questions regarding the tour. The best way to reach her is via email.

Making a Murderer: University of Utah criminal law expert available to speak on Steven Avery’s case

January 5, 2016

Thousands of people have signed online petitions to free convicted murderer Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, whose stories have gone global in the wake of the newly released Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer.” The story continues to gain traction, particularly as filmmakers Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos announced this week that a juror from Avery’s 2005 murder case in Wisconsin reached out to them to say that some jurors believed the defense that law enforcement framed Avery for the murder of Teresa Halbach, in part as retribution for a lawsuit Avery had brought against the county for his wrongful conviction in 1985 for the rape of Penny Beernsten.

With so many twists and turns, the case brings no shortage of issues to talk about. Shima Baradaran Baughman a professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah, is available to speak about the Avery case and continuing questions arising from it. Baughman is an expert on criminal law, including issues of criminal procedure and evidence. She can offer commentary on Avery’s case relating to evidentiary issues at trial; the inadequacy of counsel for both Avery and Dassey (and related Sixth Amendment issues); improper searches conducted without a warrant (violations of the Fourth Amendment); as well as the prosecutorial and police misconduct laced throughout the trial. Baughman can also speak to how the Netflix series is shining a light on improprieties in the criminal justice system —and whether current discussion may lead to broader criminal justice reforms at a time when other legislation aimed at creating a more just system is being considered.

Phone: (801) 819-5322 |

Game about virtual pets puts students on fast track to entrepreneurship

December 17, 2015

University of Utah MBA student Tim Cooley wanted to find a way to make exercise more fun. He started with a simple question: What if walking a pet —even a virtual pet —could be made into a game? With help from the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute at the David Eccles School of Business, he and a team of other students joined forces to do just that. They created StepPets, a game where players compete with pets they earn by walking and increasing their fitness goals each day. Earlier this month, Cooley, along with Topher Nadauld, Binoy Mohanty — who both were Entertainment Arts and Engineering graduate students at the U — and Eleora Nelson, a local Salt Lake City artist, watched as their creation hit the ITunes store. After raising more than $10,000 through the U’s Get Seeded and Bench-to-Bedside programs, they were given $20,000 from Zions Bank to take the company to the next level. This month, StepPets, through its parent company Random Breakfast, launched in the Apple App Store. The students are available for interviews about their product and their journey to becoming young business owners.
Tim Cooley |Phone:619-301-9180 | Email:

To modernize or not to modernize?

October 30, 2015

“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Can the same be said for the impact of Shakespeare plays translated into modernized language? The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is taking up that very question with its recent commissioning of 36 playwrights, paired with dramaturgs, to translate 39 Shakespeare plays into modern English. This three-year project called “Play on! 36 playwrights translate Shakespeare” boasts some of the industry’s most prestigious names including two faculty members in the University of Utah’s Department of Theatre, assistant professor Martine Kei Green-Rogers and associate professor Tim Slover. One of the project’s goals is to increase understanding and connection to Shakespeare’s plays, as well as engage and inspire theatregoers, theatre professionals, students, teachers and scholars. Green-Rogers is available to discuss this project and the controversy it has caused among those against modernizing the original language.

Martine Kei Green-Rogers Phone: 703-625-9979 | Email:

Victim Services for Assault

October 23, 2015

The University of Utah’s Department of Theatre presents Naomi Iizuka’s “Good Kids,” which explores the very public aftermath of a sex crime and its cover-up, Oct. 30 –  Nov. 8. The plot is based on the widely reported incidents in Steubenville, Ohio, in 2012, in which four high school football players assaulted a young woman while she was unconscious and then used social media to foolishly broadcast their exploits to the world. Katie Steil, manager of the Center for Student Wellness, is available to discuss victim services, prevention and education and college trends.
Phone: 208-521-7853| Email: