Posts tagged Colorado Boulder
CU-Boulder to receive $36 million
The University of Colorado Boulder will receive roughly $36 million from NASA to build and operate a space instrument for a mission led by the University of Central Florida that will study Earth’s upper atmosphere to learn more about the disruptive effects of space weather.
The mission, known as the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk, or GOLD, involves imaging Earth’s upper atmosphere from a geostationary orbit some 22,000 miles above the planet. The mission is expected to have a direct impact on the understanding of space weather like geomagnetic storms that alter the temperature and composition of Earth’s atmosphere, which can disrupt communication and navigation satellites, affecting everything from automobile GPS and cell phone coverage to television programming.
The GOLD mission, which is being led by research scientist Richard Eastes of the University of Central Florida, will launch aboard a commercial communications satellite as a “hosted” payload. Such payloads, which are secondary to the satellite’s main objective, represent the most cost-effective way to reach geostationary orbit, said CU-Boulder aerospace engineer Mark Lankton of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, the GOLD project manager.
“LASP is extremely pleased to be working on this mission with Richard Eastes at the University of Central Florida, who we have been collaborating with for seven years,” said Lankton. “This mission is one of the first to involve a science instrument being launched on a communication satellite, which is a terrific idea and exactly the right way to run a quality mission on a smaller budget.”
The LASP instrument, known as an imaging spectrograph, weighs roughly 60 pounds and is about 2 feet long and about 1 foot tall and 1 foot wide – roughly the size of a microwave oven. It will launch aboard a commercial satellite built by SES Government Solutions in McLean, Va. The LASP instrument will be gathering data on Earth’s upper atmosphere in the far ultraviolet portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
“GOLD’s imaging represents a new paradigm for observing the boundary between Earth and space,” said Bill McClintock, the deputy principal investigator on the CU-Boulder spectrograph and a senior research scientist at LASP. “It will revolutionize our understanding of how the sun and the space environment affect our upper atmosphere.”
A geosynchronous orbit is an orbit that completes one revolution in the same amount of time it takes for the Earth to rotate once on its polar axis. “We will be able to view almost a complete hemisphere of the Earth, almost all the time, with this orbit,” said Lankton.
The mission scientists will be looking for the effects of space weather on the upper atmosphere — the ionosphere and thermosphere located roughly 50 miles to 350 miles above Earth – caused by the sun and Earth’s lower atmosphere, said Lankton. “The giant driver is the sun, including geomagnetic storms that can cause bright auroras and the disruption of satellite communications,” he said.
Lankton said the science team also will investigate the effects that atmospheric waves and tides from Earth’s lower atmosphere have on the thermosphere-ionosphere system. The mission will make use of other instruments gathering data on the sun, including LASP’s $42 million Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment flying on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Roughly 40 LASP researchers will be working on the GOLD mission when it is at full strength, including five to 10 students, split about evenly between undergraduates and graduates, said Lankton. Other participants in the GOLD mission include the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, the University of California, Berkeley, Computational Physics Inc. of Springfield, Va., and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The GOLD mission is part of NASA’s new Heliospheric Explorer Program designed to provide space observations to study Earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere. The mission is slated for launch in 2017. NASA Explorer missions of opportunity, such as GOLD, are capped at $55 million each.
by CU media relations
Advancing global enterprise at the university level by a billionaire seems to make excellent sense.
A better understanding of the core drivers that help great leaders innovate — and avoid failure — is key to advancing global enterprise. The Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder is now better equipped to advance this understanding, thanks to a new $2.25 million gift from the Thomas Stix Guggenheim family to establish an endowed faculty chair aimed at educating new generations of entrepreneurs on the core drivers of successful business design and innovation.
This prestigious faculty post was made possible by Thomas Stix Guggenheim and his wife Pedie, of Cincinnati and Snowmass Village, Colo., and his four children, each of whom also attended CU-Boulder.
The new chair will enhance business education at the Leeds School by offering a broader exploration of the factors that allow some firms to succeed while others fail.
The chair also advances key Leeds priorities, as it will help aspiring innovators develop the critical thinking skills that result in creative solutions to diverse and complex challenges. “Our business experience has demonstrated there is as much, if not more, to learn from business failures as from successes,” Guggenheim said. “One main aspect of our endowed chair is to case-study this belief.”
David Ikenberry, dean of the Leeds School, said the creation of the Thomas Stix Guggenheim Family Endowed Chair in Business Design and Innovation is emblematic of the school’s mission. “We have embarked on an innovation agenda that will enable graduates to evolve in a rapidly changing business climate and ensure their ability to drive value,” he said. “We are fortunate and grateful for the family’s generous support as we pursue this great challenge.”
The concept of business design is an emerging area of business education — exploring the interaction of factors such as strategy, product or service design, and entrepreneurial leadership to solve complex problems and drive economic innovation and successful business creation.
With Leeds and CU’s long-standing reputation for entrepreneurship education along with Boulder’s identity as one of the nation’s most entrepreneurial and creative cities, the new chair is a logical fit for Colorado and its economy.
The Thomas Stix Guggenheim Family Endowed Chair in Business Design and Innovation is a tribute to the successful career and outstanding leadership of the chair’s namesake. After graduating from CU-Boulder in 1950 with a degree in marketing, Guggenheim went on to lead two successful hosiery (sock) businesses.
“It’s exciting to see CU-Boulder graduates giving back to the university in such an important way so future generations of students can succeed in their entrepreneurial endeavors,” said Chancellor Philip DiStefano.
A longtime donor to CU-Boulder, Guggenheim has supported the Center for Education on Social Responsibility, which integrates ethics education across the Leeds School curriculum to develop values-driven leaders, and a popular freshman-level course titled “Profiles in American Enterprise,” which invited top executives to discuss relevant business issues.
An endowed chair gift provides a reliable and perpetual stream of funding for a senior faculty position. It is a public indicator of a program’s prestige and it helps universities recruit and retain top talent.
A global search will launch immediately to identify a candidate to serve as the first Guggenheim Family Endowed Chair. The goal is to fill the tenured post, to be housed within the school’s Division of Management, for the start of the fall semester in 2014.
The gift is one of more than 275,000 gifts made to date during Creating Futures, a $1.5 billion fundraising campaign to enhance CU education, research, outreach and health programs benefiting citizens throughout Colorado and beyond. Visit http://www.cufund.org for more information.
-CU Press Release-
A new look at conditions after a Manhattan-sized asteroid slammed into a region of Mexico in the dinosaur days indicates the event could have triggered a global firestorm that would have burned every twig, bush and tree on Earth and led to the extinction of 80 percent of all Earth’s species, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study.
Led by Douglas Robertson of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, the team used models that show the collision would have vaporized huge amounts of rock that were then blown high above Earth’s atmosphere. The re-entering ejected material would have heated the upper atmosphere enough to glow red for several hours at roughly 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit — about the temperature of an oven broiler element — killing every living thing not sheltered underground or underwater.
The CU-led team developed an alternate explanation for the fact that there is little charcoal found at the Cretaceous-Paleogene, or K-Pg, boundary some 66 million years ago when the asteroid struck Earth and the cataclysmic fires are believed to have occurred. The CU researchers found that similar studies had corrected their data for changing sedimentation rates. When the charcoal data were corrected for the same changing sedimentation rates they show an excess of charcoal, not a deficiency, Robertson said.
“Our data show the conditions back then are consistent with widespread fires across the planet,” said Robertson, a research scientist at CIRES, which is a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Those conditions resulted in 100 percent extinction rates for about 80 percent of all life on Earth.”
A paper on the subject was published online this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, a publication of the American Geophysical Union. Co-authors on the study include CIRES Interim Director William Lewis, CU Professor Brian Toon of the atmospheric and oceanic sciences department and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and Peter Sheehan of the Milwaukee Public Museum in Wisconsin.
Geological evidence indicates the asteroid collided with Earth about 66 million years ago and carved the Chicxulub crater in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula that is more than 110 miles in diameter. In 2010, experts from 33 institutions worldwide issued a report that concluded the impact at Chicxulub triggered mass extinctions, including dinosaurs, at the K-Pg boundary.
The conditions leading to the global firestorm were set up by the vaporization of rock following the impact, which condensed into sand-grain-sized spheres as they rose above the atmosphere. As the ejected material re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, it dumped enough heat in the upper atmosphere to trigger an infrared “heat pulse” so hot it caused the sky to glow red for several hours, even though part of the radiation was blocked from Earth by the falling material, he said.
But there was enough infrared radiation from the upper atmosphere that reached Earth’s surface to create searing conditions that likely ignited tinder, including dead leaves and pine needles. If a person was on Earth back then, it would have been like sitting in a broiler oven for two or three hours, said Robertson.
The amount of energy created by the infrared radiation the day of the asteroid-Earth collision is mind-boggling, said Robertson. “It’s likely that the total amount of infrared heat was equal to a 1 megaton bomb exploding every four miles over the entire Earth.”
A 1-megaton hydrogen bomb has about the same explosive power as 80 Hiroshima-type nuclear bombs, he said. The asteroid-Earth collision is thought to have generated about 100 million megatons of energy, said Robertson.
Some researchers have suggested that a layer of soot found at the K-Pg boundary layer roughly 66 million years ago was created by the impact itself. But Robertson and his colleagues calculated that the amount of soot was too high to have been created during the massive impact event and was consistent with the amount that would be expected from global fires.
Steven Hayward, Thomas W. Smith Distinguished Fellow at the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University in Ohio, will begin his one-year appointment in the fall.
“Dr. Hayward brings an impressive breadth of knowledge to this position, having researched a range of environmental, historical and political issues,” said Steven R. Leigh, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at CU-Boulder.
Hayward’s recent investigations of environmental issues “bring important dimensions to discussions on campus.” Leigh said. “He also shows dedication to our teaching mission, planning a well-defined range of courses. We are pleased that he will join us as a visiting scholar.”
Hayward is tentatively scheduled to teach four undergraduate courses, three in political science — Constitutional Law 1 and 2 plus a course in American Political Thought — and one in environmental studies, Free-Market Environmentalism.
Hayward will teach in both fall and spring semesters in 2013-14. Additionally, he will be encouraged to foster discussion by hosting public events in the campus community and perhaps around the state.
“This is a bold experiment for the university and me to see whether the ideological spectrum can be broadened in a serious and constructive way,” Hayward said.
Hayward added that the college classroom should not be a forum for ideological advocacy.
“Good teaching should make all students, of whatever disposition, better thinkers,” he said. “In the humanities, this should be done by considering fairly the full range of perspectives on a subject. That’s the way I intend to conduct classes while I am visiting at the university, and I hope that students of every kind of opinion will feel welcome in my classroom.”
Hayward holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from Claremont Graduate School. He has been the F.K. Weyerhaeuser Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he was principal author and project director of the AEI’s “Energy and Environment Outlook.”
Hayward has been a visiting lecturer in the Government Department of Georgetown University and is a senior fellow at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy. He has also served as a Bradley Fellow at The Heritage Foundation.
Hayward’s essays have been published in The Washington Post, National Review, Weekly Standard and other publications. His most recent book, published in 2010, is “Mere Environmentalism: A Biblical Perspective on Humans and the Natural World.”
Since last summer, an advisory committee has been working to identify candidates for the visiting scholar position. The committee sought a “highly visible” scholar who is “deeply engaged in either the analytical scholarship or practice of conservative thinking and policymaking or both.”
The advisory committee that selected Hayward includes five faculty members and five community members. Keith Maskus, associate dean of social sciences and professor of economics, chairs the committee but does not vote.
Maskus said committee members worked together extremely well and were committed to the goal of bringing an exceptional scholar to campus.
Non-university committee members include David Pyle, founder and CEO of American Career College; Mike Rosen, long-time radio host on AM 850 KOA and Denver Post columnist and political commentator; Bob Greenlee, former Boulder mayor and City Council member, and current president of Centennial Investment & Management Company Inc.; CU President Emeritus Hank Brown; and Earl Wright, CEO of AMG National Trust Bank.
CU faculty members on the committee include Vanessa Baird, associate professor of political science; David S. Brown, professor and chair of political science; Bradley Monton, associate professor of philosophy; Murat Iyigun, professor of economics; and Susan K. Kent, professor and chair of history.
“I am delighted to welcome Steven Hayward to the faculty of the University of Colorado Boulder as our inaugural Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “His record of scholarship, commentary and publishing on subjects ranging from energy to the environment to the U.S. Constitution will spark further debate, discourse and critical thinking among our students and contribute to the diversity of our academic community.”
The Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy is a three-year pilot program supported by private funds. More than 20 donors have raised $1 million to support the program.
Early next month, researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder will begin the painstaking process of interviewing hundreds of undergraduates in an effort to understand why the rates of students switching out of science, technology, engineering and math majors has remained troublingly high over the last couple of decades despite widespread efforts to address the problem.
The five-year, $4.3 million project, undertaken in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, replicates and expands on a study begun by a couple of CU-Boulder researchers two decades ago and published in 1997 as a book. “Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave the Sciences” has since become a seminal text in the field of STEM education.
“Part of the reason why we’re undertaking this study is that the rates of students switching out of STEM majors has remained so persistent,” said Anne-Barrie Hunter, co-director of Ethnography and Evaluation Research at CU-Boulder and principal investigator for the Colorado research team. “Here we are now, 20 years on, and the rates are still roughly the same. They’re very, very stubborn.”
The study, which is being funded by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, is the first to be run out of CU-Boulder’s new Center for STEM Learning.
When the original study began in the early 1990s, the high rates of students leaving STEM majors — between 40 and 60 percent, depending on the discipline — were known, but the reasons for the switching were just conjecture. Some thought that the students who switched didn’t have the necessary ability to succeed in tough science classes, while others blamed teaching assistants with difficult-to-understand accents or the lack of experience of teaching assistants in general.
CU-Boulder researchers Nancy Hewitt and Elaine Seymour set out to determine whether any of the speculation was true by asking those who should know: the students. The pair led a research team that interviewed more than 400 undergraduates, both “switchers” and “persisters.”
“Our evidence didn’t support what they thought,” said Seymour, who is also involved with the new study. “We were really surprised.” As it turned out, “switchers” and “persisters” were equally bright and teaching assistants were often a much-needed lifeline for struggling students. In fact, both sets of students faced the same set of challenges, the largest of which was the way science classes were taught.
“What we discovered was that an incoming interest in the sciences was dissipated over the course of the first two years by the way the courses were taught,” Seymour said. “The teaching in those days was predominantly stand-and-deliver lecturing.”
Since Seymour and Hewitt’s book was published, there has been a nationwide effort to improve the quality of undergraduate science education. “Change is going on all across the country,” Seymour said. “But it may not be sufficient to move the needle.”
For “Talking About Leaving Revisited,” the researchers will interview undergraduates at the seven institutions that hosted the original study to find out if the reasons for switching have changed. But the new study will also go further by interviewing course instructors, observing classroom teaching practices and analyzing the transcripts of students across institutions to look for patterns among switchers and persisters. When the study is concluded, the research team plans to publish another book.
Talking About Leaving Revisited is one of the inaugural grants affiliated with CU-Boulder’s Center for STEM Learning, which was officially formed in December. The center, which was organized over four years with the backing of a $1 million institutional transformation grant from the National Science Foundation, aims to provide an infrastructure that will support the more than 75 existing STEM education programs on campus and allow them to more easily collaborate.
“We will provide a network and support structure designed to catalyze and provide links among these people, ideas, tools and resources,” said physics Professor Noah Finkelstein, one of the people who helped lead the effort to create the new center.
The Center for STEM Learning, which will also strive to be a state, regional and national resource, has three main thrusts: to transform the way STEM classes are delivered, to support research into the best practices for STEM education, and to help recruit the brightest to become STEM teachers.
For more information on the study visit http://wceruw.org/projects/projects.php?project_num=956.
Interdisciplinary thinking bolsters innovation. That’s the concept behind the University of Colorado Boulder’s new nLab, a mobile hub that allows students to develop their entrepreneurial ideas through peer and mentor-based collaboration, sustainability resources and other tools.
The free resource, launched last fall by CU-Boulder’s Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the Leeds School of Business, is designed to help students campus wide tap into communities beyond their academic spheres. The CU Environmental Center, an nLab partner, offers specialized support to integrate sustainability into student ideas.
The nLab supports cross-campus entrepreneurship curricula, the CU New Venture Challenge business plan competition and individuals who want to explore ideas.
“You don’t have to be a business major to think like an entrepreneur,” said Costa Raptis, a junior in geography at CU-Boulder. “You just have to be driven and have a versatile mind and kind of know what you’re after.”
Raptis, who’s interested in cultural anthropology and marketing, is exploring his idea — a talent agency that operates without a traditional hierarchy — using the nLab. He’s been paired through nLab with an employee-owned solar company for mentorship.
Other student ideas that have been brought to the nLab are a cosmetic line and a job-search website called Startups 2 Students, which matches students with position openings at unique companies.
The nLab includes a website where users can post ideas and browse existing projects. It also hosts weekly co-working sessions on campus and provides a mobile kiosk intended to spark both planned and impromptu meetings, and to serve as a workspace. Faculty also can enlist nLab.
“I’m beginning to use nLab as an additional tool to give my students a safe, welcoming and helpful place to apply course material to ideas of their own and others,” said Eben Johnson, a CU-Boulder lecturer in the Lockheed Martin Engineering Management Program. “The value of nLab is that it’s for the whole campus. From music to biology, history and finance, great ideas for new products and services are found everywhere.”
Johnson teaches an undergraduate and graduate-level course called Marketing and High-Tech Ventures. Each semester, his students conceptualize new ideas from lithium ion batteries for cell phones to algae nutritional supplements, and nLab will be a resource for such projects, he said.
Other campus supporters of nLab are CU’s Technology Transfer Office; the Silicon Flatirons Center for Law, Technology and Entrepreneurship; the Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society, or ATLAS; and the Lockheed Martin Engineering Management Program.
CU-Boulder amphibian study shows how
biodiversity can protect against disease
The richer the assortment of amphibian species living in a pond, the more protection that community of frogs, toads and salamanders has against a parasitic infection that can cause severe deformities, including the growth of extra legs, according to a new study by the University of Colorado Boulder.
The findings, published Feb. 14 in the journal Nature, support the idea that greater biodiversity in larger-scale ecosystems, such as forests or grasslands, may also provide greater protection against diseases, including those that attack humans. For example, a larger number of mammal species in an area may curb cases of Lyme disease, while a larger number of bird species may slow the spread of West Nile virus.
“How biodiversity affects the risk of infectious diseases, including those of humans and wildlife, has become an increasingly important question,” said Pieter Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and lead author of the study. “But as it turns out, solidly testing these linkages with realistic experiments has proven very challenging in most systems.”
Researchers have struggled to design comprehensive studies that could illuminate the possible connection between disease transmission and the number of species living in complex ecosystems. Part of the problem is simply the enormous number of organisms that may need to be sampled and the vast areas over which those organisms may roam.
The new CU-Boulder study overcomes that problem by studying smaller, easier-to-sample ecosystems. Johnson and his team visited hundreds of ponds in California, recording the types of amphibians living there as well as the number of snails infected by the pathogen Ribeiroia ondatrae. Snails are an intermediate host used by the parasite during part of its life cycle.
“One of the great challenges in studying the diversity-disease link has been collecting data from enough replicate systems to differentiate the influence of diversity from background ‘noise,’ ” Johnson said. “By collecting data from hundreds of ponds and thousands of amphibian hosts, our group was able to provide a rigorous test of this hypothesis, which has relevance to a wide range of disease systems.”
Johnson’s team buttressed its field observations both with laboratory tests designed to measure how prone to infection each amphibian species is and by creating pond replicas outside using large plastic tubs stocked with tadpoles that were exposed to a known number of parasites. All of the experiments told the same story, Johnson said. Greater biodiversity reduced the number of successful amphibian infections and the number of deformed frogs.
In all, the CU-Boulder researchers spent three years sampling 345 wetlands and recording malformations — which include missing, misshapen or extra sets of hind legs — caused by parasitic infections in 24,215 amphibians. They also cataloged 17,516 snails. The results showed that ponds with half a dozen amphibian species had a 78 percent reduction in parasite transmission compared to ponds with just one amphibian species. The research team also set up experiments in the lab and outdoors using 40 artificial ponds, each stocked with 60 amphibians and 5,000 parasites.
The reason for the decline in parasitic infections as biodiversity increases is likely related to the fact that ponds add amphibian species in a predictable pattern, with the first species to appear being the most prone to infection and the later species to appear being the least prone. For example, the research team found that in a pond with just one type of amphibian, that amphibian was almost always the Pacific chorus frog, a creature that is able to rapidly reproduce and quickly colonize wetland habitats, but which is also especially vulnerable to infection and parasite-induced deformities.
On the other hand, the California tiger salamander was typically one of the last species to be added to a pond community and also one of the most resistant to parasitic infection. Therefore, in a pond with greater biodiversity, parasites have a higher chance of encountering an amphibian that is resistant to infection, lowering the overall success rate of transmission between infected snails and amphibians.
This same pattern — of less diverse communities being made up of species that are more susceptible to disease infection — may well play out in more complex ecosystems as well, Johnson said. That’s because species that disperse quickly across ecosystems appear to trade off the ability to quickly reproduce with the ability to develop disease resistance.
“This research reaches the surprising conclusion that the entire set of species in a community affects the susceptibility to disease,” said Doug Levey, program director in the National Science Foundation’s Division of Environmental Biology, which helped fund the research. “Biodiversity matters.”
The sheer magnitude of the recent study also reinforces the connection between deformed frogs and parasitic infection, Johnson said. Beginning in the mid-1990s reports of frogs with extra, missing or misshapen legs skyrocketed, attracting widespread attention in the media and motivating scientists to try to figure out the cause. Johnson was among the researchers who found evidence of a link between infection with Ribeiroia and frog deformities, though the apparent rise in reports of deformations, and its underlying cause, remains controversial.
While the new study has implications beyond parasitic infections in amphibians, it does not mean that an increase in biodiversity always results in a decrease in disease, Johnson cautioned. Other factors also affect rates of disease transmission. For example, a large number of mosquitoes hatching in a particular year will increase the risk of contracting West Nile virus, even if there has been an increase in the biodiversity of the bird population. Birds act as “reservoir hosts” for West Nile virus, harboring the pathogen indefinitely with no ill effects and passing the pathogen onto mosquitoes.
“Our results indicate that higher diversity reduces the success of pathogens in moving between hosts,” Johnson said. “Nonetheless, if infection pressure is high, for instance in a year with high abundance of vectors, there will still be a significant risk of disease; biodiversity will simply function to dampen transmission success.”
CU-Boulder graduate students Dan Preston and Katie Richgels co-authored the study along with Jason Hoverman, a former postdoctoral researcher in Johnson’s lab who is now an assistant professor at Purdue. The research was funded by NSF, the National Geographic Society and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.
To view photos and a video about the research, visit http://freshwatersillustrated.org/link/AmphibianDeformities.
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s highly praised school anti-violence tour continues in spring 2013 with a new program based on “The Tempest” that focuses on themes of vengeance and forgiveness.
Created in conjunction with the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado Boulder, CSF’s “Twelfth Night” anti-bullying tour has now been seen by more than 22,000 Colorado schoolchildren. That inaugural program examined the problem of bullying through the character Malvolio.
The new program explores the character of Prospero, who conjures a mighty tempest to shipwreck his enemies of old on his remote island domain. But even as he plots his revenge on those who wronged him years before, he ponders his actions and at the last moment turns to forgiveness instead.
“The rarer action is in virtue rather than vengeance,” Prospero says, renouncing all his schemes for payback.
“This is really about how to relate to other people and deal with conflict in your life. This performance and the workshops that follow focus on the importance of reconciliation and forgiveness as a tool for ending the cycle of violence,” says CSF Literary Manager Amanda Giguere, who co-created the program with Timothy Orr, interim producing artistic director.
During the program, four professional actors perform an abbreviated version of the play. The actors then lead the students in small-group exercises exploring alternatives to violence that are based on the latest research from CU-Boulder’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence.
The play emphasizes that there is always a choice between continuing the “cycles of revenge” and choosing not to retaliate, says Beverly Kingston, director of the center. She notes that 33 percent of American high school students had been in at least one physical fight in the preceding 12 months, according to the 2011 national youth risk behavior survey.
“You can see that in every one of those fights, someone had to make a decision to retaliate for some reason,” Kingston says. “Violence really begins with a decision and we all have a choice how we respond to difficult circumstances in our lives. That’s the message of this play.”
The new play makes use of Japanese bunraku-style puppets to represent some of the characters, including Prospero and his spirit servant Ariel.
In actor and stage manager Caroline Barry’s hands and animated by her voice, Ariel’s sea-blue face and colorful trailing veils seem almost to swim across the stage. With a few simple gestures — a thoughtful nod and touching foreheads with his spirit companion — the puppet Prospero becomes a fully-fledged character.
“We really want you to start imagining the actors’ expressions on the puppets,” says actor Crystal Eisele.
The new program debuts Feb. 12 at the Cole Arts and Sciences Academy in Denver. There are more than 40 schools on the spring schedule — and for the first time, a senior center — and Giguere expects to add more.
CSF’s innovative anti-violence school programs have received tens of thousands of dollars in grant funding and been featured prominently in print, online and television media across Colorado.
CSF’s anti-violence production of “The Tempest” is available for booking. For more information email email@example.com, call 303-492-1973 or visit http://www.coloradoshakes.org/education-outreach/shakespeare-in-the-schools.
CSF in the Schools: “The Tempest,” spring 2013 scheduled performances
February 12 (AM) Cole Arts & Sciences Academy – Denver
February 12 (PM) Denver Montclair International – Denver
February 13 (AM) Whittier Elementary School – Boulder
February 13 (PM) Angevine Middle School – Lafayette
February 14 (AM) Eagle Ridge Academy – Brighton
February 15 (PM) Flagstaff Charter School – Longmont
February 19 (AM) Westminster High School – Westminster
February 20 (AM) High Point Academy – Aurora
February 20 (PM) Clyde Miller P-8 – Aurora
February 21 (AM) Sunset Middle School – Longmont
February 22 (AM) Archuleta Elementary School – Denver
February 22 (PM) McGlone Elementary – Denver
February 26 (PM) Platte River Charter Academy – Highlands Ranch
February 27 (AM) The Academy of Charter Schools – Westminster
February 28 (AM) Douglass Elementary School – Boulder
February 28 (PM) Friends’ School – Boulder
March 1 (PM) Asbury Elementary School – Denver
March 5 (AM) Boulder Explore – Boulder
March 5 (PM) Gold Hill Elementary School – Gold Hill
March 6 (PM) Spangler Elementary – Longmont
March 8 (PM) Sacred Heart of Jesus – Boulder
March 13 (AM/PM) Timberview Middle School – Colorado Springs
March 15 (AM) Coal Ridge Middle School – Firestone
March 20 (AM) Thornton High School – Thornton
March 20 (PM) North High School – Denver
April 2 (AM) Escuela Tlatelolco Charter School – Denver
April 2 (PM) Force Elementary School – Denver
April 3 (AM) SOAR Green Valley Ranch – Denver
April 4 (AM) Woodlin School – Woodrow
April 4 (PM) Arickaree School – Anton
April 5 (AM) Dunstan Middle School – Lakewood
April 5 (PM) Bryant Webster Elementary – Denver
April 9 (AM) Northeast Elementary School – Parker
April 9 (PM) Henry World School – Denver
April 10 (AM) Lafayette Elementary School – Lafayette
April 10 (PM) Longmont Estates Elementary – Longmont
April 11 (AM) Niwot Elementary School – Niwot
April 11 (PM) Eagle Crest Elementary School – Longmont
April 12 (AM) OLLI West (Senior Center) – Denver
April 12 (PM) Horizon Community Middle – Aurora
Creeping climate change in the Southwest appears to be having a negative effect on pinyon pine reproduction, a finding with implications for wildlife species sharing the same woodland ecosystems, says a University of Colorado Boulder-led study.
The new study showed that pinyon pine seed cone production declined by an average of about 40 percent at nine study sites in New Mexico and northwestern Oklahoma over the past four decades, said CU-Boulder doctoral student Miranda Redmond, who led the study. The biggest declines in pinyon pine seed cone reproduction were at the higher elevation research sites experiencing more dramatic warming relative to lower elevations, said Redmond of CU’s ecology and evolutionary biology department.
“We are finding significant declines in pinyon pine cone production at many of our study sites,” said Redmond. “The biggest declines in cone production we measured were in areas with greater increases in temperatures over the past several decades during the March to October growing season.”
The cones in which the pinyon seeds are produced are initiated two years prior to seed maturity, and research suggests the environmental stimulus for cone initiation is unseasonably low temperatures during the late summer, said Redmond. Between 1969 and 2009, unseasonably low temperatures in late summer decreased in the study areas, likely inhibiting cone initiation and development.
The study is one of the first to examine the impact of climate change on tree species like pinyon pines that, instead of reproducing annually, shed vast quantities of cones every few years during synchronous, episodic occurrences known as “masting” events. Redmond said such masting in the pinyon pine appears to occur every three to seven years, resulting in massive “bumper crops” of cones covering the ground.
In the new Ecosphere study, the researchers compared two 10-year sequences of time. In addition to showing that total pinyon pine cone production during the 2003-2012 decade had declined from the 1969-1978 decade in the study areas, the team found the production of cones during masting events also declined during that period.
Some scientists believe masting events evolved to produce a big surplus of nut-carrying cones — far too many for wildlife species to consume in a season — making it more likely the nuts eventually will sprout into pinyon pine seedlings, she said. Others have suggested masting events occur during favorable climate conditions and/or to increase pollination efficiency. “Right now we really don’t know what drives them,” Redmond said.
“Across a range of forested ecosystems we are observing widespread mortality events due to stressors such as changing climate, drought, insects and fire,” said CU’s Barger. “This study provides evidence that increasing air temperatures may be influencing the ability of a common and iconic western U.S. tree, pinyon pine, to reproduce. We would predict that declines in pinyon pine cone production may impact the long-term viability of these tree populations.”
Wildlife biologists say pinyon-juniper woodlands are popular with scores of bird and mammal species ranging from black-chinned hummingbirds to black bears. A 2007 study by researchers at the University of Northern Arizona estimated that 150 Clark’s Nutcrackers cached roughly 5 million pinyon pine nuts in a single season, benefiting not only the birds themselves but also the pines whose nuts were distributed more widely for possible germination.
For the new study, Redmond revisited nine pinyon pine study sites scattered throughout New Mexico and Oklahoma that had been studied previously in 1978 by Forcella. Both Forcella and Redmond were able to document pinyon pine masting years by counting small, concave blemishes known as “abscission scars” on individual tree branches that appeared after the cones have been dropped, she said.
Since each year in the life of a pinyon pine tree is marked by a “whorl” — a single circle of branches extending around a tree trunk — the researchers were able to bracket pinyon pine reproductive activity in the nine study areas for the 1969-1978 decade and 2003-2012 decade, which were then compared.
Pinyon pines take three growing seasons, or about 26 months, to produce mature cones from the time of cone initiation. Low elevation conifers including pinyon pines grow in water-limited environments and have been shown to have higher cone output during cool and/or wet summers, said Redmond. In addition to the climate-warming trend under way in the Southwest, the 2002-03 drought caused significant mortality in pinyon pine forests, Redmond said.
“Miranda’s ideas and accompanying results will be of value to ecologists and land managers in the deserts of the Southwest and beyond,” said Forcella, now a research agronomist in the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service. “The work is evidence that the University of Colorado continues to cultivate a cadre of high-caliber graduate students for which it rightfully can take tremendous pride.”
Pinyon nuts, the Southwest’s only commercial source of edible pine seeds today, were dietary staples of indigenous Americans going back millennia.
For more information on CU-Boulder’s ecology and evolutionary biology department visit http://ebio.colorado.edu.
In hopes of better understanding nutrition and health, the University of Colorado Boulder is playing the leading science role in a “crowd funding” effort that has raised more than $340,000 for a project designed to sequence the gut bacteria of thousands of people around the world.
Known as the American Gut project, the effort raised the money through a crowdfunding effort online in which collective groups of people pool money to support various initiatives, said CU-Boulder Associate Professor Rob Knight of the BioFrontiers Institute. The $340,477 raised for the American Gut project is the largest amount of money ever raised through crowdfunding for a science project, said Knight, who is co-leading the effort with Jeff Leach, founder of the Human Food Project.
The money contributed by 2,005 funders will be used to sequence gut bacteria from about 3,500 people said Knight. Each human is believed to harbor roughly 10 trillion microorganisms — about 10 times more than the number of cells in the human body — that undertake a number of important functions ranging from digesting food to the strengthening of immune systems.
In 2009, a consortium of 200 researchers from 80 institutions organized by the National Institutes of Health, including Knight, mapped the normal microbial makeup of healthy humans as part of the $173 million Human Microbiome Project. Building on the massive NIH effort, the American Gut project will be an “open source” effort, meaning participants will have access to the data gathered to help understand how diet and lifestyle may contribute to human health through the interaction of our microbiomes, cells and genes, said Knight.
“The outpouring of public support for this research project demonstrates how public awareness of the role of our microbial systems in human health is growing,” said Knight, the project’s scientific lead who holds joint faculty appointments in CU-Boulder’s chemistry and biochemistry department and computer science department. “By looking at samples from the general public, we can get a far better sense of what a ‘normal’ microbiome is and what factors have the largest effects.”
The scientists are particularly interested in how diet and lifestyle, whether by choice or necessity, affect peoples’ microbial makeup, including those suffering from particular autoimmune diseases or who have food allergies, said Knight, also a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Early Career Scientist.
“The large number of participants in American Gut, coupled with our ongoing work in Africa and South America, will allow us to explore the impact of diet and lifestyle between western and more traditional societies,” said Leach. “We may find that our modern gut microbiome has shifted significantly away from our ancestral one, but reinstating some of that primal balance may be within our grasp.”
“I’m super excited about helping to build a system that not only integrates so much data but also presents it to the user in a useful way,” said Meg Pirrung, a graduate student in Knight’s lab. “This is an amazing opportunity for me and everyone involved.”
Daniel McDonald, a graduate student in the BioFrontiers Institute’s IQ Biology Program, said the American Gut project is allowing him to hone his interdisciplinary experience. IQ Biology students are involved in semester-long rotations that immerse them in disciplines ranging from mathematical and computational biology to biophysics and bio-imaging. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity for discovery,” he said.
The American Gut data also will also be used in the several IQ Biology Program courses taught by Knight with Manuel Lladser, an associate professor in the applied mathematics department. Last year the IQ Biology program at CU’s BioFrontiers Institute, which offers doctorates in eight disciplines, was awarded a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship, or IGERT.
Second Genome, a biotech company headquartered in San Bruno, Calif., is working with the American Gut project to explore the connection between the human microbiome and type 2 diabetes, said company president and CEO Peter DiLaura.
“The American Gut project has succeeded in bringing together the largest citizen science network ever for human microbiome sample collection,” DiLaura said. “By building this extensive reference database, we now have the opportunity to explore the connections between the human microbiome and metabolic and inflammatory diseases.”
Although the first round of funding that enabled the project to commence has ended, a second phase also allows anyone in the world to join, said Leach. Once the scientific results are in from the initial group of participants, a third phase will allow new participants to obtain additional analyses crucial to understanding the microbiome.
“By integrating the tens of thousands of environmental samples that the scientific community has provided from around the world and applying powerful modeling approaches, we will be able to gain unprecedented insight into the links between our own microbes and those in our environment,” said Argonne National Laboratories microbial ecologist Jack Gilbert, a member of the Earth Microbiome Steering Committee.
“With advances in DNA sequencing, we are moving towards a world in which no infectious disease goes undiagnosed, and in which we have full knowledge of the microbes that inhabit us and our surroundings,” said Knight. “By participating in this project, thousands of people are helping us to make this future a reality.”
We’ve all heard examples of animal altruism: Dogs caring for orphaned kittens, chimps sharing food or dolphins nudging injured mates to the surface. Now, a study led by the University of Colorado Boulder suggests some plants are altruistic too.
The researchers looked at corn, in which each fertilized seed contained two “siblings” — an embryo and a corresponding bit of tissue known as endosperm that feeds the embryo as the seed grows, said CU-Boulder Professor Pamela Diggle. They compared the growth and behavior of the embryos and endosperm in seeds sharing the same mother and father with the growth and behavior of embryos and endosperm that had genetically different parents.
“The results indicated embryos with the same mother and father as the endosperm in their seed weighed significantly more than embryos with the same mother but a different father,” said Diggle, a faculty member in CU-Boulder’s ecology and evolutionary biology department. “We found that endosperm that does not share the same father as the embryo does not hand over as much food — it appears to be acting less cooperatively.”
A paper on the subject was published during the week of Jan. 21 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Co-authors on the study included Chi-Chih Wu, a CU-Boulder doctoral student in the ecology and evolutionary biology department and Professor William “Ned” Friedman, a professor at Harvard University who helped conduct research on the project while a faculty member at CU-Boulder.
Diggle said it is fairly clear from previous research that plants can preferentially withhold nutrients from inferior offspring when resources are limited. “Our study is the first to specifically test the idea of cooperation among siblings in plants.”
“One of the most fundamental laws of nature is that if you are going to be an altruist, give it up to your closest relatives,” said Friedman. “Altruism only evolves if the benefactor is a close relative of the beneficiary. When the endosperm gives all of its food to the embryo and then dies, it doesn’t get more altruistic than that.”
In corn reproduction, male flowers at the top of the plants distribute pollen grains two at a time through individual tubes to tiny cobs on the stalks covered by strands known as silks in a process known as double fertilization. When the two pollen grains come in contact with an individual silk, they produce a seed containing an embryo and endosperm. Each embryo results in just a single kernel of corn, said Diggle.
The team took advantage of an extremely rare phenomenon in plants called “hetero-fertilization,” in which two different fathers sire individual corn kernels, said Diggle, currently a visiting professor at Harvard. The manipulation of corn plant genes that has been going on for millennia — resulting in the production of multicolored “Indian corn” cobs of various colors like red, purple, blue and yellow — helped the researchers in assessing the parentage of the kernels, she said.
Wu, who cultivated the corn and harvested more than 100 ears over a three-year period, removed, mapped and weighed every individual kernel out of each cob from the harvests. While the majority of kernels had an endosperm and embryo of the same color — an indication they shared the same mother and father — some had different colors for each, such as a purple outer kernel with yellow embryo.
Wu was searching for such rare kernels — far less than one in 100 — that had two different fathers as a way to assess cooperation between the embryo and endosperm. “It was very challenging and time-consuming research,” said Friedman. “It was like looking for a needle in a haystack, or in this case, a kernel in a silo.”
Endosperm — in the form of corn, rice, wheat and other crops — is critical to humans, providing about 70 percent of calories we consume annually worldwide. “The tissue in the seeds of flowering plants is what feeds the world,” said Friedman, who also directs the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard. “If flowering plants weren’t here, humans wouldn’t be here.”
When a sun-gazing NASA satellite designed and built by the University of Colorado Boulder launched into space on Jan. 25, 2003, solar storms were raging.
A decade later, the four instruments onboard the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment, or SORCE, have given scientists an unprecedented look at some of the most intense solar eruptions ever witnessed — including the notorious Halloween storms in October and November 2003 — as well as the anomalously quiet solar minimum that hushed the sun’s surface beginning in 2008 and, now, a new solar maximum that appears to be the least active in a century.
“We were there to see it transform from a fairly normal solar cycle to a very low-activity solar cycle,” said Tom Woods, associate director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, known as LASP, and principal investigator for SORCE. “Of course we couldn’t predict or know that, but it’s very exciting.”
The data generated by SORCE’s instruments, which were originally designed to operate for just five years, are downloaded twice a day with the help of CU-Boulder undergraduates working at LASP mission control. Scientists are now using that data to better understand how energy from the sun affects Earth’s climate. While human-produced greenhouse gases have been the dominant driver of climate change over the last several decades, the activity of the sun can either enhance or offset the resulting global warming.
“About 10 to 15 percent of the climate warming since 1970 is due to the sun,” Woods said. “That’s going to change now. Now that solar activity is low, the global warming trend could slow down some, but not nearly enough to offset the anthropogenic effects on global warming.”
The current, lackluster solar maximum is being compared to periods when astronomers observed very few sunspots in the early 19th century known as the Dalton Minimum and in the last half of the 17th century known as the Maunder Minimum. During the Maunder Minimum, which coincided with an era known as the Little Ice Age, temperatures in Europe were especially cool, with rivers and canals freezing during the winter across the continent and rapidly advancing glaciers destroying villages in the Swiss Alps.
The SORCE mission is also a critical contributor to the long-term record of total solar irradiance — the magnitude of the sun’s energy when it reaches the top of the Earth’s atmosphere — which stretches back to 1978, when the Nimbus-7 satellite was launched. The Total Irradiance Monitor, or TIM, instrument onboard SORCE is taking the most accurate and most precise measurements of total solar irradiance ever collected.
“The total solar irradiance provides nearly all the energy powering the Earth’s climate system, exceeding all other energy sources combined by 2,500 times,” said Greg Kopp, LASP senior research scientist and co-investigator responsible for the TIM instrument. “Any change in total irradiance can thus have large effects on our climate.”
Data from the SORCE mission have also begun a new record for measurements of visible and near-infrared light emitted from the sun. The solar spectral irradiance measurements are being made for the first time by the Spectral Irradiance Monitor, or SIM. Combined with other instruments onboard SORCE, scientists can now see all the wavelengths, including those in the ultraviolet range, emitted by the sun at once. This new way of seeing the sun has led to interesting discoveries, including that the energy emitted in some wavelengths of light vary out of phase with the sun’s overall activity, actually increasing as the number of sunspots decreases.
Now that SORCE has doubled its original life expectancy, LASP scientists are building new instruments to take over when SORCE gives out. A new TIM built at LASP launched on NASA’s Glory mission in 2011, but the satellite failed to make orbit. After the loss of Glory, CU-Boulder scientists, determined to avoid a gap in the record of total solar irradiance measurements, came up with a creative solution, repurposing a ground-based TIM to quickly make it space-worthy and then integrating it onto a U.S. Air Force satellite built by Ball Aerospace that is set to launch in August of this year.
“It’s important to have continuous measurements of solar irradiance since we’re looking for small changes in the sun’s output over decades and even centuries,” said Kopp. “Detecting such small changes using measurements disconnected in time would make this even more difficult.”
A new SIM instrument, also built at LASP, is scheduled to launch in 2016 on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite. But while SORCE is expected to continue functioning for at least another year, allowing for overlapping measurements with the TIM instrument launching in August, it’s uncertain if SORCE’s SIM instrument will still be running when its successor makes it to space in 2016.
“We’re definitely hoping and planning that SORCE lasts through this year,” Woods said. “But 2016 — I don’t think SORCE’s battery is going to last that long.”
During SORCE’s 10-year foray in space, the satellite also witnessed two rare transits of the planet Venus in front of the sun and another two less-infrequent transits by Mercury. When Venus, the larger of the two planets and the closer to Earth, blocked out part of the sun’s light, SORCE’s TIM instrument measured a corresponding drop in the amount of total solar irradiance. The measurements are now useful reference tools for astronomers hoping to discover planets around other stars by measuring a dip in a star’s light from a planetary transit.
In all, CU-Boulder has received about $120 million from NASA for the construction and operation of SORCE. But in 2008, LASP took the unusual step of returning $3 million in cost savings from the SORCE mission to NASA that resulted from the program’s efficient operations.
Researchers at LASP are planning to celebrate SORCE’s 10th birthday with cake, a science seminar and a write-up of the satellite’s top-10 accomplishments in NASA’s The Earth Observer magazine.
But while the decade mark is typically an important milestone for celebration here on Earth, the more appropriate milestone for SORCE may come in 2014 at the 11-year mark, the average length of a complete solar cycle
“Eleven years is special to us,” Woods said. “Instead of having a big science conference this year, we’re planning it for next January.”
For more information, visit LASP’s SORCE website at http://lasp.colorado.edu/sorce/index.htm.
A video of CU-Boulder researchers discussing the SORCE mission is available at http://www.colorado.edu/news/multimedia/cu-boulders-sun-gazing-satellite-turns-10-0.
Colorado business leaders’ optimism is modest going into the first quarter of 2013 with uncertainty surrounding the country’s political and economic environments, according to the most recent quarterly Leeds Business Confidence Index, or LBCI, released today by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Leeds School of Business.
For the first quarter of 2013 the LBCI, conducted by the Leeds School’s Business Research Division, posted an overall confidence reading of 51.3, down slightly from 51.6 in the fourth quarter of 2012. A reading greater than the neutral mark of 50 indicates positive expectations and one less than 50 indicates negative expectations going forward
Business leaders are optimistic about all of the metrics of the quarterly index except for the national economy and industry hiring plans. The other categories measured include the state economy, industry sales, industry profits and capital expenditures.
“For months, drags on the national economy have included the European debt crisis, the slow rate of employment growth and the resolution of the federal debt crisis,” said economist Richard Wobbekind, executive director of the Business Research Division. “While Colorado business leaders have stronger confidence in the local economy than the national economy, they’re proceeding very cautiously.”
Confidence in the state economy, which is at 55.5 points for the first quarter of 2013, outstrips that of the national economy, which posted a reading of 47. The outpacing of confidence in Colorado’s economy compared to the national economy is a 30-quarter trend, based on LBCI results.
Business leaders’ sales expectations for the first quarter rose to 54.4, up from 53.2 last quarter, and are buoyed by 44.1 percent of LBCI respondents who anticipate an increase in the first quarter versus only 25.2 percent who predict a decline. Meanwhile, leaders’ profit expectations fell to 51.6, down from 52.2 for the last quarter of 2012.
Hiring expectations have slipped into negative territory at 49.3, down from 51 in the last quarter of 2012, while capital expenditures remain close to neutral at 50.1.
CU-Boulder, vet hospital team up for
clinical study to treat canine pain
A University of Colorado Boulder professor and her biomedical spinoff company Xalud Therapeutics Inc. of San Francisco are teaming up with a Front Range veterinarian to conduct a clinical study targeting an effective treatment for dogs suffering from chronic pain.
Distinguished Professor Linda Watkins of CU-Boulder’s psychology and neuroscience department said the study involves treating ailing dogs with a gene therapy using Interleukin-10, or IL-10, a protein and anti-inflammatory that both dogs and humans produce naturally. Watkins is working with veterinarian Robert Landry of Mountain Ridge Animal Hospital and Pain Management Center in Lafayette, who will be treating canine patients suffering from chronic and painful conditions, some of which already are being treated with various other medications with limited success.
Animals perceive and experience several levels of pain that are similar to humans, and chronic pain can be debilitating and also shorten the lives of pets, said Landry, one of only a handful of credentialed American Academy of Pain Management practitioners in Colorado. Landry currently is seeking Denver-Boulder area pet owners who have dogs suffering from chronic pain and who might be interested in participating in the study, which is free.
The new study is driven by research spearheaded by Watkins indicating a type of cell known as glial cells found in the nervous system of mammals plays a key role in pain. Under normal conditions, glial cells act as central nervous system “housekeepers,” cleaning up cellular debris and providing support for neurons, said Watkins. But glial cells also can play a pivotal role in pain enhancement by exciting neurons that both transmit pain signals and release a host of chemical compounds that cause problems like chronic neuropathic pain and other medical issues.
The team will use Xalud’s lead product candidate, XT-101, a gene therapy that harnesses the power of the potent anti-inflammatory IL-10 to normalize glial activity and eliminate neuropathic pain for up to 90 days with a single injection.
The gene therapy based on IL-10 has a number of advantages, including suppressing glial activity in the spinal cord, stimulating tissue regeneration and growth, decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory substances and increasing the production of anti-inflammatory substances, Watkins said. Landry and Watkins also have been working with the American Kennel Club on potential funding for additional clinical studies involving the treatment of chronic pain in dogs, said Watkins.
“We have already tested this new therapy in two pet dogs, and both have had remarkable reversals of their pain for long durations after a single injection of the therapeutic,” she said. “Our early peek at the potential of this therapeutic treatment in dogs shows essentially the same positive effects we have seen in laboratory rats used in our studies that have been treated with the therapy.”
Watkins said demonstrating the efficacy and safety of the new gene therapy in a second species of mammal is important in terms of moving it forward to eventually meet FDA regulations for human clinical trials.
In addition to studying what triggers glial cells to become activated and begin releasing pain-enhancing substances and ways to control chronic pain, Watkins and her research team recently discovered that clinically prescribed opioids also activate glial cells and cause them to release pain-enhancing substances. “Our ultimate goal is to find a means by which clinical pain control can be improved so as to relieve human suffering,” she said.
To contact Landry about possible participation in the study by family dogs suffering chronic pain and that might benefit from the experimental treatment, call the Mountain Ridge Animal Hospital at 303-665-4852.
For more information on CU-Boulder’s psychology and neuroscience department visit http://psych-www.colorado.edu/. For more information on Xalud Therapeutics Inc. visit http://www.xaludthera.com/. For more information on Mountain Ridge Animal Hospital visit http://www.mountainridgevet.com/.
CU Boulder research team finds massive crevasses and bendable ice affect stability of Antarctic ice shelf0
Gaping crevasses that penetrate upward from the bottom of the largest remaining ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula make it more susceptible to collapse, according to University of Colorado Boulder researchers who spent the last four Southern Hemisphere summers studying the massive floating sheet of ice that covers an area twice the size of Massachusetts.
But the scientists also found that ribbons running through the Larsen C Ice Shelf – made up of a mixture of ice types that, together, are more prone to bending than breaking – make the shelf more resilient than it otherwise would be.
The research team from CU-Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences presented the findings Dec. 6 at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in San Francisco.
The Larsen C Ice Shelf is all that’s left of a series of ice shelves that once clung to the eastern edge of the Antarctic Peninsula and stretched into the Weddell Sea. When the other shelves disintegrated abruptly – including Larsen A in January 1995 and Larsen B in February 2002 – scientists were surprised by the speed of the breakup.
Researchers now believe that the catastrophic collapses of Larsen A and B were caused, at least in part, by rising temperatures in the region, where warming is increasing at six times the global average. The Antarctic Peninsula warmed 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the middle of the last century.
The warmer climate increased meltwater production, allowing more liquid to pool on top of the ice shelves. The water then drained into surface crevasses, wedging them open and cracking the shelf into individual icebergs, which resulted in rapid disintegration.
But while the meltwater may have been responsible for dealing the final blow to the shelves, researchers did not have the opportunity to study how the structure of the Larsen A and B shelves may have made them more vulnerable to drastic breakups – or protected the shelves from an even earlier demise.
CU-Boulder researchers did not want to miss the same opportunity on the Larsen C shelf, which covers more than 22,000 square miles of sea.
“It’s the perfect natural laboratory,” said Daniel McGrath, a doctoral student in the Department of Geography and part of the CIRES research team. “We wanted to study this shelf while it’s still stable in order to get a better understanding of the processes that affect ice shelf stability.”
McGrath worked with CIRES colleagues over the last four years to study the Larsen C shelf in order to better understand how the warming climate may have interacted with the shelf’s existing structure to increase its vulnerability to a catastrophic collapse.
McGrath presented two of the group’s key findings at the AGU meeting. The first was the role that long-existing crevasses that start at the base of the shelf and propagate upward – known as basal crevasses – play in making the shelf more vulnerable to disintegration. The second relates to the way a type of ice found in areas called suture zones may be protecting the shelf against a breakup.
The scientists used ground penetrating radar to map out the basal crevasses, which turn out to be massive. The yawning cracks can run for several miles in length and can penetrate upwards for more than 750 feet. While the basal crevasses have been a part of Larsen C for hundreds of years, the interaction between these features and a warming climate will likely make the shelf more susceptible to future disintegration. “They likely play a really important role in ice-shelf disintegration, both past and future,” McGrath said.
The research team also studied the impact of suture zones in the ice shelf. Larsen C is fed by 12 distinct glaciers, which dump a steady flow of thick ice into the shelf. But the promontories of land between the glacial outlets, where ice does not flow into the shelf, allow for the creation of ribbon-like suture zones, which knit the glacial inflows together and which turn out to be important to the ice shelf’s resilience. “The ice in these zones really holds the neighboring inflows together,” McGrath said.
The suture zones get their malleable characteristic from a combination of ice types. A key component of the suture zone mixture is formed when the bottoms of the 12 glacial inflows begin to melt. The resulting freshwater is more buoyant than the surrounding seawater, so it rises upward to the relatively thinner ice zones between the glacial inflows, where it refreezes on the underside of the shelf and contributes to the chaotic ice structure that makes suture zones more flexible than the surrounding ice.
It turns out that the resilient characteristics of the suture zones keep cracks, including the basal crevasses, from spreading across the ice shelf, even where the suture zone ice makes up a comparatively small amount of the total thickness of the shelf. The CIRES team found that at the shelf front, where the ice meets the open sea, suture zone ice constitutes only 20 percent of the total thickness of the shelf but was still able to limit the spread of rifts through the ice. “It’s a pretty small part of the total ice thickness, and yet, it still has this really important role of holding the ice shelf together,” McGrath said.
Other CU researchers involved in the Larsen C project were Konrad Steffen, former director of CIRES; Ted Scambos, of CIRES and CU-Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center; Harihar Rajaram, of the Department of Civil Engineering; and Waleed Abdalati, of CIRES.