Highlights from BYU colleges: Professor earns entrepreneur award, new wildflower discovered


Marriott School of Business

BYU alumna Carly MacLennan started a company to help employees adapt as they relocate for work. (Carly MacLennan)

A recent BYU graduate has created a company helping employees make social connections as they relocate for work. Entrepreneur Carly MacLennan (MBA ‘20) started SocialHire after realizing how many companies lose employees to homesickness, inability to adapt to a new area, or because they feel socially distant from their coworkers. Since launching SocialHire, MacLennan has already been recognized as a runner-up in the New Venture Challenge at BYU Marriott’s Rollins Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology and was invited to learn at the Founders Launchpad this summer.

“At SocialHire, we help employees identify specific things that they are looking for to improve their quality of life where they’ve recently relocated,” MacLennan said. “Moving to a new area can be lonely and difficult. I want to help employees struggling with these transitions.”

Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering

BYU professor Michael Jensen received a 2020 Utah Entrepreneur of the Year ® award. (Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering)

The dean of the BYU Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering earned a Utah Entrepreneur of the Year award from Ernst & Young. Dean Michael Jensen and former BYU faculty member David Arnold were recognized by this prestigious program for co-founding Wavetronix, a company designed to make roads safer and more efficient with radar technology. Other nominees for the award included well-known companies including Homie, Cotopaxi, and Pluralsight One. Jensen and Arnold will now have the chance to compete for a National Entrepreneur of the Year award, the winners of which will be announced Nov. 19. Jensen hopes to continue to use his entrepreneurial skills to not only benefit the world but more specifically to lead BYU students to great heights.

“Being entrepreneurial isn’t just about starting a company,” Jensen said. “It is about being creative, resilient, and using engineering skills to solve problems beyond technical hurdles. I hope our students take advantage of the college’s programs designed to help them develop these skills.”

College of Life Sciences

BYU professor Mikel Stevens found an unrecorded wildflower species in the Wasatch Mountains. (Mikel Stevens)

A BYU professor discovered a new variety of wildflower this year, leading to opportunities for plant research and development in the Provo area. Mikel Stevens, who teaches plant and wildlife sciences, was just above Soldier Summit in the Wasatch Mountains when he found a never-before-identified variety of penstemon. The distinctive pink coloring, lack of seeds, and drought tolerance of the wildflower make it a unique plant to study. Stevens hopes to patent the flower and help develop more drought-resistant plants that will thrive in Utah County.  

“We’re always going to want a BYU campus with lots of beautiful flowers, but the day will come when we will have to use less water,” Stevens said. Of the flower itself, he added, “If I were to put numbers on this, I would put the chance of finding it as one in millions.”

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