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2019 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Dr. Kurt Zilm, PhD 1981
Dr. Michelle Williams, PhD 1987
Dr. Bill Jack, BA 1977

Kurt Zilm completed his PhD in Chemistry at the University of Utah in 1981. Now Chair of the Department of Chemistry at Yale, Zilm's research involves development of new NMR methods and their application to important problems in chemistry and materials science. Recent interests include the use of site specific sold state NMR relaxation measurements to characterize protein backbone motions and to measure difficult to access long range distance constraints. They are also studying the dynamics of water in proteins and other materials where nanoscopic confinement effects depress the freezing point by over 60 K.

Michelle Williams 
received her PhD from the University of Utah and began her career with Rohm and Haas Company as a Research Scientist in 1987. During her career with Rohm and Haas Company and Dow Chemical, Michelle also held manufacturing, sales, marketing, strategy, and general management positions. She was General Manager with CMP  Technologies, and later General Manager with Adhesives and Sealants. Michelle joined Arkema in 2011, and was named Global Group President of Arkema's Hydrogen Peroxide business unit. Just this past February, Michelle joined the Brady Corporation's Board of Directors, a global leader in safety and identification solutions.

Bill Jack 
went on to receive his PhD at Duke University after completing his BA in Chemistry at the University of Utah in 1977. He is now Senior Scientist at New England Biolabs whih is a recognized world leader in scientific innovation and environmental sustainability, and has been awarded as one of the most admired workplaces in the region. Bill's lab focuses on DNA polymerases, more particularly on the ability to incoroporate modified nucleotides, including chain terminators. This focus is expanding to include polymerase activity on modified DNA templates, for example, those of modified phage genomes.

Past Distinguished Alumni

The Department is honored to have such great alumni and looks forward to recognizing a select few each year. To recommend a Distinguished Alumni please contact the development team at 801-585-7896 or

Last Updated: 8/19/21