Aggie Insights
    VOLUME 4 | ISSUE 5May 2006    

In This Issue


Event Listings



USU Alumni Spotlight - Dr. Carl T. Wittwer

Dr. Carl T. Wittwer

Dr. Carl T. Wittwer is a self-described geek whose work is helping unravel the mysteries of DNA. Growing up in East Lansing, Michigan, he was constantly taking things apart to see how they worked before "trying" to put them back together. He continued to pursue his interests in college after deciding to follow the late USU Professor Gaurth Hansen, a former faculty member at Michigan State University, out to Utah State University.

In 1977, Dr. Wittwer graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in chemistry from Utah State. A Ph.D. from USU followed in 1982 before he returned home to Michigan and earned his M.D. from the University of Michigan two years later. After graduating, he settled at the University of Utah as a pathology resident.

Following the completion of his residency in 1988, Dr. Wittwer continued on at the U of U as a professor of pathology and researcher. In the early 1990s, he developed rapid-cycle PCR techniques for DNA amplification. As Dr. Wittwer explains it, "PCR does what each cell in your body does when it divides, it duplicates the amount of DNA present so one cell can become two. The trick is PCR does it in a test tube, without all the surrounding cell machinery". He is also the primary inventor of the LightCycler, a machine that implements PCR while watching the process with fluorescence.

Dr. Wittwer is the Director of Flow Cytometry and the Advanced Technology Group at Associated Regional and Medical Pathologists. Since 2003, he has directed the State of Utah Center for Excellence on "Homogeneous DNA Analysis". He also co-founded Idaho Technology along with Aggies Randy Rasmussen and Kirk Ririe. The company is based in Salt Lake and has successfully commercialized many PCR products, including biothreat detection devices for the US government.

For his work, Dr. Wittwer received small business innovation awards in 1999, 2002, and 2004. He has also been awarded the Governor's Medal for Science and Technology, the AACC award for Outstanding Contributions, and the IFCC-Abbott Award for Molecular Diagnostics.

But there is more to Dr. Wittwer than just his work. While at Utah State, he studied mime performance under Ron Ross and was part of a troupe that gave several performances at the Lyric Theatre. He also enjoys juggling and running the mountain ridges around his home.

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Alumni's New Director

Wallace Wally S. Odd II

Following a four-month, nationwide search, Wallace "Wally" S. Odd II has been selected as the new executive director of Utah State University Alumni Relations.

In the late 1960's, while attending Utah State, Wally served as public relations vice president on the ASUSU Student Senate Executive Council, as a member of the ROTC Arnold Air Society, and as president of the Sigma Nu fraternity.

As a student, Wally organized the Young-Timers Singing Group to further USU's high school relations efforts. During one performance, the Young-Timers were noticed by an entertainment agent from New York, signed to a contract, and went on tour. Eventually, the singing group joined with the USO to perform for northern tier troops in the name of Utah State University.

In 1968, he was honored with a Robins Award for Achievement of the Year and was a finalist for Man of the Year, Personality of the Year, and Talent of the Year. He was also listed in the 1967-68 and 1968-69 editions of Who's Who In American Colleges And Universities. In 1969, he graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science. A year later, he earned his master's degree in educational administration.

After school, Wally entered the U.S. Air Force, serving as squadron commander and eventually as chief of the Strategic Air Defense Branch at the Pentagon. After retiring from the service, Wally became a senior policy analyst with the Office of National Drug Control Policy for President George H.W. Bush and President Clinton. He specialized in detection, monitoring, and interdiction for North, Central, and South America.

His other leadership positions include working with U.S. Customs, Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Mint, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Outside of his military and government service, he was president of The Language Arts, a language transition company.

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Commencement 2006

On May 5-6, 2006, Utah State University held its 115th Commencement ceremonies. This year the university graduated over 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, USU bestowed three honorary degrees upon Lorenzo (Ren) Hoopes, C. Peter Magrath, and Manon Caine Russell. Below are short introductions to this year's honorary degree recipients.

Lorenzo (Ren) Hoopes

Lorenzo (Ren) Hoopes

Mr. Hoopes retired in 1979 after a long and successful tenure as senior vice president and director of Safeway, Inc. In 1953, he took a two-year leave of absence from Safeway to serve as executive secretary to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson. Mr. Hoopes has served on many boards and councils through the years, including the board of education for the Oakland Unified School District, the National Dairy Council, and the Foundation for American Agriculture.

C. Peter Magrath

C. Peter Magrath

Mr. Magrath is the past-president of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, the nation's oldest higher education association. He has also served as president of the University of Missouri, the University of Minnesota, and the State University of New York at Binghamton. Mr. Magrath organized the Kellogg Commission of the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities, and has served on the Commission on the Future of the National Science Foundation, and the board of directors of the Salzburg Seminar.

Manon Caine Russell

Manon Caine Russell

Ms. Russell's name, along with her sister, Kathryn Caine Wanlass, is proudly associated with USU's recently completed world-class performance hall. She has supported countless university and community organizations as a trustee of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation. She is also a board member of the Cache Valley Center for the Arts and the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, and serves on the Dean's Advancement Council for the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.

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New Vice Provost Named

Byron Burnham

USU's Executive Vice President and Provost Raymond Coward announced the appointment of Byron Burnham as vice provost and dean of the graduate school. Burnham will officially assume his duties on July 1.

The appointment comes after the departure of Tom Kent, who left for Western Michigan University. Prior to this latest appointment, Burnham served as department head and a professor for the Department of Instructional Technology, and a research professor for the Department of Psychology.

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Merrill Library Videos

A hole in the ground is all that remains of the Merrill Library. Click here to view the photo gallery and watch videos of the library coming down.

Inside The New Dorms

The new living/learning center is going up fast. The suite-style apartments are conveniently located near the Taggart Student Center and Old Main. A covered parking structure and community center are also being built. To get a better look at the new dorms click here, or go to the USU Housing website.

Alumni Calendar Desktop Background Downloads

The Alumni Calendar has become a much sought after item because of its beautiful and unique photos of campus and Cache Valley. Now those beautiful shots are available for your computer's desktop background, free of charge.

To view and download your own desktop background, click here.

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Back to the Buzzer


The Who's Who of Utah State University in 1968. Circled is new Alumni Relations Executive Director Wallace Odd.


The Old Lyric Repertory Company's Summer Schedule

The 2006 Old Lyric Repertory Company summer season is fast approaching. This year's performances include "Noises Off", "Route 66", "Postmortem", and "Relative Values". Check the OLRC website for the summer schedule, promotions, and more information. For tickets, the OLRC Box Office will open May 15, 2006.

Utah State University Alumni Relations sponsors many exciting events throughout the year. To keep informed about the most current ones, visit often.

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Read the Classnotes


Read the Obituaries

Chapter News

Southeast Idaho Aggie Chapter

May 20, 2006 - The Southeast Idaho Chapter invites Aggies and their families to the chapter's Alumni Spring Party. Meet up with your fellow Aggies and partake in fun and games for kids and adults, a heated swimming pool, a raffle for Aggie gear, as well as great food and Aggie Ice Cream. The party will take place on Saturday, May 20 from 6:00-8:30 p.m. at the Courtyard Swim & Tennis Club. The cost is $10.00 per family. To RSVP or learn more, call the Alumni Relations office at 800.291.ALUM or 208.238.7280. Click here (.pdf) for a map and more information.

Treasure Valley Idaho Aggie Chapter

June 3, 2006 - For 10 years, the Treasure Valley Scholarship Golf Tournament & Barbecue has raised funds to help students from the Treasure Valley area attend Utah State University. This year's tournament will take place Saturday, June 3 at the Eagle Hills Golf Course. Following the tournament, everyone is invited to stay and enjoy a delicious barbecue and awards presentation. To guarantee your spot, make sure to register by May 23, 2006. Click here (.pdf) for more information.

For more information about alumni chapters and to find the chapter in your area, visit

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Aggies Head To Hawaii For WAC Championships

The Aggie Track team is in Honolulu for the 2006 Outdoor WAC Track and Field Championship. Eight of the Aggies making the trip already own the league's top times or distances. They include sprinter DJ Smith (100 and 200 meters), Ben Kessen (mile), Vance Twitchell (steeplechase), Justin Wickard (110 meter hurdles), Scott Bell (400 meter hurdles), Clint Silcock (high jump), and Lacey Hulbert (heptathlon). The USU men's 4X100 relay team also owns the league's best time. The championship will begin on May 10 and run through May 13. To see the latest results, visit

USU Volleyball Signs Utah Player Of The Year

Utah State's Womens Volleyball team got a big boost from the signing of Utah's 5A Player of the Year. Hailey Jeppson earned 5A Most Valuable Player honors from both the Deseret Morning News and Salt Lake Tribune last year. She also earned first-team all-state honors and lead Pleasant Grove High School to a state championship.

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Travel Opportunities

Yangtze River Cruise and China Tour

Great Wall of China

September 12 - 23, 2006
Discover this remarkable and interesting nation with the USU Alumni Association as you see and experience many of the important highlights of China, starting with its Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and more. You'll visit the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, take a fascinating three-day cruise on the Yangtze River, and conclude your trip in Shanghai.

For more information on upcoming alumni travel events, visit or call the Alumni Relations office at (435)797-2055.

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