governor's science medal

Recipients of the 2023 Utah Governor’s Science Medals Announced

Kaitlyn ClarkeUtah Innovation Center, News

The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity has announced the award recipients for the 2023 Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology. Gov. Cox will present awards to three individuals who have provided significant contributions and distinguished service to Utah and beyond in the fields of K-12 education, academic/research, and industry.

Awards will be presented at the upcoming One Utah Summit on May 2, 2023, at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, Utah. The event invites Utah decision-makers, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs to connect. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from distinguished speakers and attend breakout sessions on economic development trends, exclusive insights, and accomplishments, establishing Utah as one of the world’s leading economies.

“We’re pleased to congratulate this year’s recipients of the Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology,” said Linda Cabrales, director of the Utah Innovation Center powered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity. “Each of these individuals excels in their respective fields and demonstrates the qualities that have built Utah’s thriving science and technology community.”

Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology: K-12 Education – Lora Gibbons

Lora Gibbons is a teacher at Mountain Heights Academy with over 23 years of experience. She knows students are our future and inspires countless students through her teaching, mentorship, and fostering a love of learning with all students from accelerated learners to those who require more support. Gibbons strongly supports STEM education in Utah with involvement in state and national STEM competitions. She has mentored nationally-winning eCYBERMISSION teams, state and national finalist Samsung Solve for Tomorrow teams, Lexus Eco Challenge teams, and Thomas Edison Pitch students. She’s on the Utah Science Teachers Association board, works on various Utah State Board of Education projects and cohorts, and works as an advisor with the STEM Action Center to support students in the first group of Chief Science Officers at Mountain Heights Academy.

Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology: Academia/Research – Julie L. Valentine, Ph.D., RN, SANE-A, FAAN

Dr. Julie Valentine, associate dean for undergraduate studies and research at the Brigham Young University College of Nursing, has conducted groundbreaking research on sexual assault that has driven Utah’s improvements in addressing sexual violence. Her collaborative research study with the Utah Bureau of Forensic Sciences, starting in 2011, captures data on sexual assault cases. This growing dataset of approximately 10,000 sexual assault cases is the largest database of its kind. Dr. Valentine’s research has been foundational for several legislative bills, including House Bill 200 Sexual Assault Kit Processing Amendments mandating the submission and testing of all sexual assault kits resulting in statewide submission rates improving from 38% to 98%. She was the primary author of Utah’s original Sexual Assault Kit Initiative grant and District Attorney of New York grant, which awarded around $3.2 million to Utah to fund the testing of over 11,000 backlogged sexual assault kits and identification of over 2,000 suspects. Dr. Valentine’s research has resulted in multidisciplinary reforms in education, practice, and policy in Utah and the United States.

Governor’s Medal for Science and Technology: Industry – David J. Bearss, Ph.D.

Dr. David Bearss is the president, chairman, and CEO at Halia Therapeutics. His mentorship and achievements are transforming therapeutics, spawning discovery, seeding startups, and strengthening Utah’s life sciences community. His successful entrepreneurial track record of drug development spans the last 25 years, including the discovery of 16 compounds that moved to clinical development. He started numerous companies, including, notably, Tolero Pharmaceuticals in Lehi, Utah, that resulted in a successful exit to Sumitomo Dainippon of nearly $1 billion (a state industry record). Dr. Bearss helped establish the research arm of Huntsman Cancer Institute and the U2TAH Therapeutics Accelerator at the University of Utah, which guides investigators and researchers in moving their programs toward clinical studies and licensing. Dr. Bearss serves on the board of Halia Therapeutics, Biolexis Therapeutics, Canary Speech, Xenthera, and Galvan Health. He was one of the science experts Gov. Cox consulted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We congratulate the awardees and look forward to presenting awards to these individuals on May 2. To learn more and register for the upcoming summit, visit The summit includes an entrepreneur pitch competition on the evening of May 1, with a daylong agenda the following day, May 2, with guest speakers and breakout sessions. Tickets are available now.