Salt Lake Tribune readers pick award-winning STEM students as Utahns of the Year

(Becky Jacobs | The Salt Lake Tribune) Sidor Clare, left, and Kassie Holt, right, are among 30 finalists in a national science competition for their project focused on making building materials for Mars. Clare and Holt, along with Ogden student Mercedes Randhahn, topped The Salt Lake Tribune's Utahn of the Year readers' poll.

When asked to pick 2019’s Utahn of the Year, a plurality of Salt Lake Tribune readers didn’t choose a leader in government or business — they opted for three teenage girls who demonstrated their skills at science.

The Tribune’s reader poll drew 1,049 responses, and the top vote-getters, at 22.9%, were Sidor Clare and Kassie Holt of Sandy and Mercedes Randhahn of Ogden. They were among 30 finalists in the Broadcom MASTERS, a national STEM competition for middle-school students.

[Read more: Utahn of the Year: Gail Miller shows us how to be our better selves]

Clare received the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation, and Holt received $3,500 and a first-place award in technology, for their project: A way to create building materials on Mars by mixing resin to native soil to make super-strong bricks. Randhahn got second place for engineering, and a $2,500 prize, for devising a safe way to dispose of leftover opioids.

Second place in the reader voting, at 9%, were protesters, an umbrella designation that included those marching at the University of Utah (over public safety) and Brigham Young University (about Honor Code enforcement), and rallies for the homeless and against the inland port.

Archie Archuleta, a leader in Utah’s Latino community for a half-century who died Jan. 25 at the age of 88, came in third at 8.2%.

Coming in fourth, at 7.1%, was Russell M. Nelson, president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nelson was seventh with readers in 2018.

At fifth place, with 6.5%, were Jill and Matthew McCluskey, the Washington State University academics who filed a lawsuit to maintain pressure on the University of Utah after their daughter, Lauren, was murdered outside her dorm in 2018.

The pick of Salt Lake Tribune editors, philanthropist and Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller, came in sixth in the readers’ poll, at 6.5%

Rounding out the top 10: The Huntsman family, at 6.3%; San Juan County commissioners, at 6.1%; Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando, at 5.5%; and Utah’s homeless, at 3.6%.


Here, in list form, are the top vote-getters in The Salt Lake Tribune’s Utahn of the Year readers’ poll.

1. Sidor Clare, Kassie Holt, Mercedes Randhahn, STEM competition winners; 22.9%.

2. Protesters; 9%.

3. Archie Archuleta, Latino activist; 8.2%.

4. Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; 7.1%.

5. Jill and Matthew McCluskey, parents of murdered U. of Utah track star Lauren McCluskey; 6.8%.

6. Gail Miller, businesswoman, philanthropist, owner of Utah Jazz; 6.5%.

7. Huntsman family, business owners, philanthropists; 6.3%.

8. San Juan County commissioners; 6.1%.

9. Nick Rimando, retiring Real Salt Lake goalkeeper; 5.5%.

10. Utah’s homeless; 3.6%.