College of Science alumni celebrated

Alumni from the College of Science and Mackay School were honored at an event in October

Louisa Hope-Weeks addresses an audience at a podium with her hands clasped. There are glass awards on a table behind her.

Dean Hope-Weeks addressed the audience for the first Distinguished Alumni event she has emceed.

College of Science alumni celebrated

Alumni from the College of Science and Mackay School were honored at an event in October

Dean Hope-Weeks addressed the audience for the first Distinguished Alumni event she has emceed.

Louisa Hope-Weeks addresses an audience at a podium with her hands clasped. There are glass awards on a table behind her.

Dean Hope-Weeks addressed the audience for the first Distinguished Alumni event she has emceed.

The College of Science recognized ten exceptional alumni at its Distinguished Alumni event, held during Homecoming week in October. Seven of the ten alumni were able to attend in person, and many brought their families with them to celebrate. The College of Science recognizes these alumni for their career success and dedication to advancing the reputation of the College of Science and the University of Nevada, Reno.

Distinguished Alumni

Manolo and Leslie Sherrill - College of Science Alumni of the Year

Leslie Sherrill speaks at a podium while Manolo Sherrill looks at her.

Manolo and Leslie Sherrill are proud graduates of the Department of Physics. Manolo earned his Ph.D. in 2003, and Leslie received her Ph.D. in 2006, both under the guidance of Trevor J. McMinn Endowed Research Professor of Physics Roberto Mancini. Following similar paths, they both took postdoctoral fellowships at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Since then, they have progressed in their careers from postdoc to scientist, spending many years doing science in the national interest, and now both have positions of technical management. Manolo is the Program Manager for Physics and Engineering Models in the Advanced Simulation and Computing Program. In this role, he guides the development of physics models in eight topical areas incorporated in Los Alamos’ multi-physics codes that are used to support the Stockpile Stewardship mission. Leslie is the Deputy Division Leader of the X Theoretical Design Division, which is responsible for physics evaluations and assessments in support of national security missions. Manolo and Leslie are active in promoting science in the national interest as a rewarding career path for young scientists. They are honored to be the recipients of the Samuel Goudsmit Medal, since they highly value the education they received at the University.

Tim Crowley - Mackay School Alumnus of the Year

Tim Crowley graduated from the University in 1992. When he arrived at the University, Crowley didn’t know what he wanted to with his life. The University proved to be the right place to explore the options and get some focus. He credits the late Professor Chris Exline for showing him what possibilities exist with a geography degree. Crowley previously served six years as president of the Nevada Mining Association and four years as the association’s Government Affairs Director. His government relations experience is rooted to working on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Harry Reid followed by serving as a senior member of Nevada Governor Bob Miller's administration. Crowley also co-founded two public affairs companies, Crowley & Ferrato Public Affairs and the Griffin Crowley Group. Today, Crowley is the Vice President of Government and Community Relations for Lithium Americas Corporation which is building a major lithium mining and processing plant in Nevada. He and his wife Stacey live in Reno where they’re surrounded by family and friends.

Professional Achievement Awardees

Peter Lenz - Mackay School Professional Achievement Awardee

Peter Lenz speaks at a podium.

Peter Lenz, born and raised in Reno, received his bachelor’s degree and his master’s degree in mining engineering at the University. After receiving his undergraduate degree in 1979, Peter worked as a mining engineer in the barite industry in central Nevada. Lenz planned for and supervised the execution of a major mine expansion, along with its eventual completion and mine closure. He became a Licensed Professional Engineer in the State of Nevada in 1988. Lenz returned to the University for his master’s degree where he worked as a graduate research assistant, then as a mining consultant and corporate officer for a small company involved in metals reclamation and minerals consulting. After completing his master’s degree in 1989, Lenz began his career with Eagle-Picher Minerals in 1990 as manager of Research and Development based at Clark Station, Nevada.  Over the next 30 years, he continued working in R&D for Eagle-Picher, finally retiring in 2019 as Senior Research Scientist. His work encompassed all aspects of diatomaceous earth exploitation, from exploration, mining and processing support through product development. He also was involved in developing products using other industrial minerals and rare earths such as perlite, various clays, zeolites and lanthanum. Although much of his work resulted in unpublished proprietary intellectual property, Lenz is listed as an inventor on nine issued U.S. patents and as an inventor on additional patents pending. Lenz’s career in the minerals industry represents a significant - but by no means the only - portion of his life’s work. He is also a professional musician. He began his professional music career at the age of 13 as a member of the cello section of the Nevada Opera Orchestra. Peter studied music while at the University, during which time he started playing with the Reno Philharmonic and Reno Chamber Orchestra. Lenz has been the principal cellist of both orchestras for about 40 years and has performed as a soloist with both. He also performs at the Nevada Chamber Music Festival and with other regional organizations. Lenz currently resides in Reno with his wife, Cecilia Lee, and has two daughters who earned degrees in music at the University. 

Ryan Dotson - College of Science Professional Achievement Awardee

Ryan Dotson speaks at a podium.

Ryan Dotson became interested in computers and electronics at a young age, and spent most of his free time through high school programming, experimenting, and learning how to write software. Ryan sold his first commercial software application to Heavenly Ski Resort and Alpine Meadows when he was 16. Dotson earned his bachelor's degree in applied mathematics from the University in 2003. During his time as an undergrad, Dotson co-founded Fireball Information Technologies, a small company focused on providing wildland fire mapping services to state and federal agencies. For 12 years at Fireball, he developed dozens of geospatial solutions for different government entities, including the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NASA and the Department of Defense. During this time, he also completed his master’s degree in mathematics at the University and was awarded a U.S. patent for a novel approach to integrating high resolution imagery and LIDAR measurements. In 2010, Dotson began developing an online billing platform for Apex Revenue Technologies, a private-equity-owned business in the healthcare billing and patient communications space. For the next 6 years, he led the development of Apex’s core technology platform and products, eventually becoming the company’s Chief Technology Officer. During this time, the company grew over 400%. When the company was sold in 2018, it set an all-time record for investment returns to the firm that owned it. For the last 5 years, Dotson has spent his time as an advisor and investor, promoting technology-enabled growth strategies in small and mid-market companies. He lives in Reno with his wife, Elaine, and their two children.

Young Alumni

Dan Sturmer - Mackay School Young Alumnus

Dan Sturmer speaks at a podium.

Dan Sturmer completed his master’s degree in geology in 2007 working with Professor Jim Faulds and his doctoral degree in geology with Professor Jim Trexler, Jr. in 2012. Sturmer is now an associate professor in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Cincinnati. His work focuses on combining sedimentology, geophysics, structure and geochemistry to understand the tectonic evolution of western North America. After graduating from the University, Sturmer spent three years as an exploration geologist at Shell Exploration and Production Company in Houston, and one year as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. Since 2017, he has been at the University of Cincinnati, where he supervises graduate and undergraduate research and teaches courses in geophysics, structural geology, tectonics, natural hazards and geoscience careers. Sturmer has published more than 20 journal articles and over 80 conference abstracts since receiving his doctoral degree. Much of his research still focuses on the geologic evolution of Nevada, from understanding changes in tectonism 350 million years ago, to evaluating young landslide events, to interpreting the shapes of basins around Reno to improve models of seismic shaking. Sturmer continues to engage in collaborative research with faculty and students in the University of Nevada, Reno’s Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering, Nevada Seismological Laboratory, and Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.

Juli Petereit - College of Science Young Alumna

Juli Petereit speaks at a podium.

Juli Petereit graduated from the University with her bachelor's degree in 2008 and her master’s degree in 2010 in mathematics. She is the director of the Nevada Bioinformatics Center at the University. Petereit provides cutting-edge bioinformatics, statistical, and data services to diverse and interdisciplinary research endeavors, from survey studies in social behavioral science to in-depth investigations into protein variations across various experimental conditions. Since joining the Nevada Bioinformatics Center in 2014 as a doctoral student, Petereit has climbed the ranks. In March 2017, she transitioned into the role of a scientist, and became director in 2021. Petereit aims to continue advancing the field of bioinformatics and life sciences.

Patrick Barber - College of Science Young Alumnus

Patrick Barber speaks at a podium

Patrick S. Barber, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of West Florida, holds bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and piano performance from the University of West Florida. In 2011, he completed his doctoral degree in chemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno, under the guidance of Susan Magee and Gary Clemons Professor of Chemistry Ana de Bettencourt-Dias, focusing on the study of luminescent lanthanide ion complexes for potential applications in lighting and bioprobe technology. During his graduate studies, Barber was named the Graduate Research Assistant of the Year from the Department of Chemistry and the State of Nevada Regent’s Scholar Award. After graduating with his doctoral degree, he served as a postdoctoral researcher under Professor Robin Rogers at the University of Alabama. In addition to his current role, Barber has spent several years as an assistant professor at Williams College and Earlham College, where he dedicated his time to teaching and mentoring students in research. His own lab, the Barber Research Group, focuses on the development of luminescent lanthanide ion complexes for environmental sensing and the development of sustainable materials from waste products such as shrimp or lobster shells. The group frequently presents their research findings at regional and national conferences, and Barber’s efforts have resulted in more than 25 research articles and patents. Barber is active within the scientific community, participating in the local American Chemical Society section and serving as an academic editor for PeerJ – Chemistry. He extends his passion for music and community engagement by performing with various chamber music groups and the Pensacola Choral Society. In his leisure time, he loves the outdoors, exploring new destinations, good food, and bad movies.

Talia Retter - College of Science Young Alumna

Talia Retter grew up in Arizona and attended college at the University of Chicago, where she studied psychology and biology. She then worked in Belgium as a research assistant and lab manager at Université catholique de Louvain (UC Louvain) for three years. Retter moved to Reno at the same time as the University of Nevada, Reno’s neuroscience graduate program was starting, and worked with professors Michael Webster and Fang Jiang (in a joint program with UC Louvain). Retter was the first doctoral neuroscience student to graduate from the University in 2019. Since graduation, Retter has held a postdoctoral researcher position at the University of Luxembourg. She currently has 20 scientific journal publications and has contributed to one book chapter. She actively reviews scientific journal articles and grant proposals, presents her work at scientific conferences, and has co-supervised two undergraduate research theses. Retter has contributed methodologically in the development of analyses of frequency-tagged harmonic brain responses, as well as conceptually in the domains of visual perception (color, faces, motion) and cognition.

Tim Hansen - College of Science Young Alumnus

Tim Hansen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and philosophy in 2016. During his undergraduate career, Hansen studied with Associate Professor Chris Jeffrey investigating the photochemical reactivity of natural products derived from a plant, Piper kelleyi. After graduation, he spent seven years working as a Research Associate at Gilead Sciences as a medicinal chemist. At Gilead Sciences Hansen worked to design, synthesize, and test new small molecule therapeutics for the treatment of inflammatory disorders, oncology, and viral infections. This work led to authorship on several patents and recognition within the organization. Recently, Hansen departed Gilead to work as an associate scientist at Terremoto Biosciences where he is developing a novel modality that covalently modifies lysine residues on targeted proteins in the hopes of developing new medicines.

Tyler Hill - Mackay School Young Alumnus

Tyler Hill speaks at a podium.

Tyler Hill graduated with a master’s degree in geology from the University’s Center for Research in Economic Geology (CREG) program in 2016, where he studied time-space relationships between Eocene magmatism and Carlin-style mineralization at Kinsley Mountain in eastern Nevada. After graduating, Hill worked briefly for a private equity company evaluating mineral properties throughout Nevada before taking a role with Premier Gold Mines as a Project Geologist. At Premier Gold, he was part of the discovery and reinterpretation team of the Gap and Helen gold deposits on the McCoy-Cove property. Hill was subsequently promoted to Lead Project Geologist where he led exploration on multiple properties in Premier’s portfolio. In 2020, Premier Gold was acquired by Equinox Gold and its Nevada properties were spun-out into i-80 Gold Corp. It was during this time Hill was promoted to Senior Geologist to oversee exploration and property evaluations across all of i-80 Gold’s portfolio. Over the past two years, Hill has led the discovery of multiple deposits including the South Pacific Zone at the Granite Creek Mine and the Hilltop Zone at the Ruby Hill Mine. In addition, he obtained his Professional Geologist state licensure and became a Certified Professional Geologist through the American Institute of Professional Geologists. Hill was also an industry member of the CREG steering committee during the search for a new program chair. Earlier this year, he was promoted to Chief Geologist at i-80 Gold and continues to oversee exploration, development, and evaluations across Nevada.

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