The Geekwave Episode 7: Gretchen McClain

Our final interview for Homecoming 2015! Thanks so much to the Alumni Association for getting us these great opportunities.

In Episode 7, we had the opportunity to bring Gretchen McClain into the studio. We get a chance to hear about her career, her memories from the University of Utah, her work on the International Space Station, her thoughts on Utah’s water situation, and her advise to engineers. Honestly, this whole interview is riddled with good advice. We loved talking with her, and we hope you enjoy listening in!

Homecoming Conversation 2015, “Time, experience and joy”

Anne Cullimore Decker, Homecoming 2015

Recipient of the U’s highest award, the Honorary Doctorate, Anne Cullimore Decker.

We celebrate Homecoming 2015 with U arts alumni, Anne Cullimore Decker. Utah’s “grand dame of theater,” Anne Cullimore Decker, was recently awarded University of Utah’s highest award, the honorary doctorate.

This makes it an important year for this famed alumnus who has made huge contributions to the performing arts throughout her life and career as thespian and teacher. Anne was preparing for a trip to celebrate her 80th birthday in London with husband, Ashby and three sons.

“Our job in theater is to provoke people into looking at a fictitious character on stage, so they get a glimmer, or glimpse of themselves.”

Before the conversation had gone too far, Anne shared thoughts on the past and present that ended with an important suggestion for all students.

When asked about Decker’s achievements in the arts, graduate of the U’s Bachelor of Fine Arts, Actor Training Program, Stein Erickson said, “Anne is amazing. She is a steward of the arts and artists.”

Review – The Martian

As Matt Damon looks into the web camera and announces one of the many hilarious phrases that added comedy to a very intense and fantastic movie, the audience roared with laughter. This was not a response that I assumed would be consistent in this movie or even present at all. Instead, The Martian offered an intense story with occasional break for comedy, which is good because Matt Damon’s situation was pretty dire throughout. He started out a on six person mission on Mars, but when everything goes wrong he is left stranded on the red planet to fend for himself. So, the Martian did what I think anyone could reason living on Mars would be like…by yourself.  It was a good movie that kept me wanting Matt Damon to survive and had me laughing out loud at some of the hilarious breaks of comedy the movie takes. Unfortunately, I found myself a little drawn out of the experience with the long scenic views of Matt Damon driving his rover over the harsh landscape.

The cinema is very good with many large pans of Martian landscape all the way to repeated use of a webcam to create interesting dialogue for the audience. Matt Damon has to do a lot of driving in this movie, which is okay because there is some beautiful Martian Landscape to view. Well, maybe that is not quite right. The major downside to the whole movie is how much time we spent looking at Martian landscape. It is for sure breath taking, but it is at these points when the action really slows and some may lose interest. On the other hand, the close quarter camera angles of the webcam/video diaries and close up angles from in the rover make so you really understand Matt Damon. You see how difficult his life has become and understand the struggle he faces. It is also great for creating dialogue, because Matt Damon has no one to talk to; they are quite literally 4 years away by space travel. So instead he talks to the webcam and outlines what he is doing, how he won’t give up and the occasional funny punchline. It is really a good time! Additionally, the action sequences and CGI look beautiful and do in fact put you on the edge of you seat. In fact, I actually wish there were more action sequences because the one’s we saw were really good!

The action was epic, but I wish there could have been more. Without mentioning spoilers it is hard to talk about the action, which is why I will be brief, similar to how it was in the movie. The times when everything goes wrong for Matt Damon and we have epic scenes of destruction, is the movie at its finest, sadly these are only at a few points. Much of the movie is like watching Matt Damon be in a survival video game which is still very cool but made me want to play. Still, there are some great explosions!

Now to ask if anyone else should have been The Martian, is foolish. Matt Damon is perfect for this role. The whole movie blended comedy and action for a really nice experience and very few people could have done it like him. The acting was on point, and I always felt sympathy for him. And he helped to make the long rover drives more interesting with his indulgent comedy.

Without further ado The Martian gets The Geekwave stamp of approval. It is an epic journey that makes you love Matt Damon and wish for him the best experience. The action sequences measure up to space travel destruction and the comedic punchlines created a well-blended experience. This is one not to miss!


The Geekwave interviews Nolan Bushnell

Thanks to the awesome folks at the Alumni Association and in honor of Utah Homecoming 2015, we had the amazing chance to interview Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and UofU Alumni. We talk to him about his time at the U, some memories of Utah and Atari, and what he’s working on now. But you don’t want to hear from us: Listen to the man himself on Episode 6 of The Geekwave.


Images courtesy of and

Homecoming Conversation 2015

We got together with a few alumni to celebrate Homecoming 2015.

Distinguished alum, Larry Gluth, SVP of Habitat for Humanity (US and Canada) reflects on then and now. Larry described that leadership is about service and giving back, leadership values learned from his parents that Larry continues to rely on today.

“I’m fiercely independent. I had to work my way through school,” said Gluth.

Essentially, Larry’s job is to support hundreds of others, who support a growing network of affiliates and partners who help others build a roof over their heads. In a word, Habitat’s program is “holistic rather than incremental,” said Gluth. It’s about partnerships with families.

“My organization focuses on providing people with a decent and safe place to live.”

After a “brutal winter” at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota, Larry and a friend visited Park City, Utah. From a “very practical perspective,” they promptly decided University of Utah “sounded terrific.”

“We realized we could go to school, and ski in the same day,” said Gluth. “So Utah it was.”

Larry and son, Connor, at Utah vs. Michigan in Ann Arbor last fall.

Larry and son, Connor, at Utah vs. Michigan in Ann Arbor last fall.

Associate Professor, Communication, University of Utah

“You can’t look at women’s health without talking about feminism.”

Robin Jensen says, “You can’t look at women’s health without talking about feminism.”

Jensen is currently exploring the rhetorical history of women’s health, and how we define what it means to be fertile.  Jensen continues to take a serious look at the implications of reducing access to healthcare, opportunity, education and professional outlets for women.

Jensen is what you call a rhetor, the kind that wins high honors in communication study, like the Karl C. Wallace Memorial Award. Rhetor, by way of Greek and Latin, is a ‘big-brained’ way to say, she is an expert on issues related to rhetoric and health communication. She is award-winning author of the book Dirty Words, teacher and student of rhetoric.

“The question is, how do we talk about these things?” said Jensen.

Taking “Newspaper to news organization”

Katherine Ellis, Editor in Chief, Daily Utah Chronicle, University of Utah. Photo by Kiffer Creveling.

“From newspaper to news organization,” a few words with Katherine Ellis, Editor in Chief @TheChrony

Its no wonder Katherine found a niche at the Chronicle. She didn’t become an editor in the traditional way. She went from night owl to early bird. She has been a writer since her first word, and her love for the written word had her editing copy long before she got to the newsroom.

“Before I could even write, I felt like I was writing,” said Katherine. “I understood the concept, but I just didn’t know how, but that wasn’t going to stop me from pretending I could.”

Despite her quiet confidence, it was exciting to hear Katherine describe how Chronicle staff once out-scooped the pros. On the job for only a year, her vision for student news paints a bright future for those seeking real-world experience.