Posts tagged CU news
Lenses shaped like the bulging, bowl-shaped eyes possessed by dragonflies, praying mantises, houseflies and other insects can take exceptionally wide-angle photos without distorting the image.
To create the innovative camera, which also allows for a practically infinite depth of field, the scientists used stretchable electronics and a pliable sheet of microlenses made from a material similar to that used for contact lenses. The researchers described the camera in an article published today in the journal Nature.
Conventional wide-angle lenses, such as fisheyes, distort the images they capture at the periphery, a consequence of the mismatch of light passing through a hemispherically curved surface of the lens only to be captured by the flat surface of the electronic detector.
For the digital camera described in the new study, the researchers were able to create an electronic detector that can be curved into the same hemispherical shape as the lens, eliminating the distortion.
“The most important and most revolutionizing part of this camera is to bend electronics onto a curved surface,” said Jianliang Xiao, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at CU-Boulder and co-lead author of the study. “Electronics are all made of silicon, mostly, and silicon is very brittle, so you can’t deform the silicon. Here, by using stretchable electronics we can deform the system; we can put it onto a curved surface.”
Creating a camera inspired by the compound eyes of arthropods — animals with exoskeletons and jointed legs, including all insects as well as scorpions, spiders, lobsters and centipedes, among other creatures — has been a sought-after goal. Compound eyes typically have a lower resolution than the eyes of mammals, but they give arthropods a much larger field of view than mammalian eyes as well as high sensitivity to motion and an infinite depth of field.
Compound eyes consist of a collection of smaller eyes called ommatidia, and each small eye is made up of an independent corneal lens as well as a crystalline cone, which captures the light traveling through the lens. The number of ommatidia determines the resolution and varies widely among arthropods. Dragonflies, for example, have about 28,000 tiny eyes while worker ants have only in the neighborhood of 100.
Imitating the corneal lens-crystalline cone pairings, the camera created by Xiao and his colleagues has 180 miniature lenses, each of which is backed with its own small electronic detector. The number of lenses used in the camera is similar to the number of ommatidia in the compound eyes of fire ants and bark beetles.
The electronics and the lenses are both flat when fabricated, said Xiao, who began working on the project as a postdoctoral researcher in John Roger’s lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This allows the product to be manufactured using conventional systems.
“This is the key to our technology,” Xiao said. “We can fabricate an electronic system that is compatible with current technology. Then we can scale it up.”
The lens sheet and the electronics sheet are integrated together while flat and then molded into a hemispherical shape afterward. Each individual electronic detector and each individual lens do not deform, but the spaces between the detectors and lenses can stretch and allow for the creation of a new 3-D shape. The electronic detectors are all attached with serpentine filament bridges, which are not compromised as the material stretches and bends.
In the pictures taken by the new camera, each lens-detector pairing contributes a single pixel to the image. Moving the electronic detectors directly behind the lenses — instead of having just one detector sitting farther behind a single lens, as in conventional cameras — creates a very short focal length, which allows for the near-infinite depth of field.
The new paper demonstrates that stretchable electronics can be used as the foundation for a distortion-free hemispherical camera, but commercial production of such a camera may still be years away, Xiao said.
The three other co-lead authors of the paper are Young Min Song, Yizhu Xie and Viktor Malyarchuk, all of the University of Illinois. Other co-authors are Ki-Joong Choi, Rak-Hwan Kim and John Rogers, also of Illinois; Inhwa Jung, of Kyung Hee University in Korea; Zhuangjian Liu, of the Institute of High Performance Computing A*star in Singapore; Chaofeng Lu, of Zhejiang University in China and Northwestern University; Rui Li, of Dalian University of Technology in China; Kenneth Crozier, of Harvard University; and Yonggang Huang, of Northwestern University.
The research was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation.
CU news release
March 30, 2011
It’s not often that plants are described as diabolical, but spotted knapweed has that rare distinction. A 2004 issue of Smithsonian magazine, for instance, dubbed it the “wicked weed of the West,” a “national menace” and a “weed of mass destruction.”
Such reports were overstated and incorrect, but the press wasn’t making this stuff up. It was summarizing research results published in leading academic journals.
For example, an influential paper in the journal Science reported that knapweed produced poisons that killed native species.
In the academic and agricultural world, the prevailing view was that invasive species like spotted knapweed were crowding out native species on farmland and the prairie, that they had to be eradicated or at least controlled, and that the best means of doing this was through the use of herbicides.
Tim Seastedt, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado Boulder, has spent about 14 years studying the spread and control of knapweeds. His research contradicts the view that knapweed is a floral WMD.
Further, his work indicates that weed-eating bugs such as certain flies and weevils—knapweed’s natural predators—can keep and are keeping the weed under control.
A group of landowners in an area known as Spruce Gulch near Boulder asked Seastedt’s group for help in 2001 because they didn’t want herbicides in their water supply. So he introduced the seedhead weevil, which attacks the plant’s seeds at the top of the plant, and the knapweed root weevil, which goes underground and attacks the plant’s roots.
In 2010, Seastedt and CU researcher David Knochel reported that by using only the biological controls—meaning weed-eating insects—one area of Spruce Gulch has shown an 80 percent decline in plant densities since 2007.
In several recent studies funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Seastedt and Knochel have replicated these results.
Knapweed is native to Eurasia and was accidentally carried into the United States in the late 1800s, according to the USDA. It has spread over millions of acres of land in North America, out-competing native species.
Knapweed can crowd out alfalfa and other plants on which cows graze. The weeds’ spread seemed to accelerate in the 1990s.
In 1996, Boulder County began using helicopters to spray herbicides on diffuse knapweed, a close relative of spotted knapweed. In 1997, Seastedt told the county commissioners that spraying made little sense.
Spraying herbicides on 1,000-acre parcels in a sea of tens of thousands of acres of knapweed would not have any long-term benefit, he said.
The county let Seastedt conduct experiments on public land, trying to control knapweed with some of the plant’s natural predators, which had not arrived with the weed itself.
“We started with about 50 insects against about a million plants in 1997,” Seastedt recalls. The bugs took awhile to make an impact. On one parcel of land, the number of knapweed stems per square meter more than doubled between 1997 and 2000.
By 2001, however, the knapweed density had dropped about 80 percent. It fell even more the following two years. Density rose slightly in 2004 and ’05, then fell again to near-zero levels.
The introduction of knapweed’s natural predators was part of the reason for the decline. Another was that as knapweed populations struggled, other species bounced back. “We demonstrated that plant competition mattered,” Seastedt notes. “The invaders didn’t really do well if competing plant species were present.”
Still, “The surprise was how well the biocontrols worked and how quickly they worked,” he said. The results have been replicated from Colorado to British Columbia.
Knapweed seems to have been controlled in its native lands by traditional predators, and it appears to be manageable here too. With the addition of natural predators and competing plants, “It still exists, but it’s not an ecological threat,” Seastedt said.
CU Press Release–Read more on this story soon in Colorado Arts & Sciences Magazine at http://artsandsciences.colorado.edu/magazine.
Houston-based energy firm ConocoPhillips has made a major gift toward the University of Colorado Boulder’s Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building to bring together world-class scientists and engineers working toward solutions in fields such as medicine and energy.
ConocoPhillips intends to follow up a $1 million January cash gift with proposed future gifts of $2.5 million over the next two years, for an anticipated total of $3.5 million toward a wing of the building to house the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. The department will be one of three CU-Boulder units to occupy the 330,000-square-foot building on the East Campus, along with the Division of Biochemistry and the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology, or CIMB. Researchers will begin occupying the building in early 2012.
“The Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building creates a Front Range anchor for the biosciences with the help of partners like ConocoPhillips,” said CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano. “With interdisciplinary research, the possibilities for energy innovation are limitless, and ConocoPhillips is providing the foundation for this vital work.”
The gifts will name the ConocoPhillips Center for Energy Innovation, and bring under one roof select researchers from two CU-Boulder research programs it supports, the Colorado Center for Biorefining and Biofuels, or C2B2, and the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, or RASEI.
The Caruthers Biotechnology Building aims to dissolve walls and promote collaboration among science and engineering disciplines. Chemical and biological engineering faculty will work with researchers in nearly a dozen academic disciplines and with partners including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and ConocoPhillips. In all, the building will house 60 tenure-line faculty, 500 graduate students and research associates, and undergraduates working on critical challenges in biotechnology.
CU-Boulder chemical and biological engineers will pursue research that may herald:
–More efficient biofuels production, thanks to novel microbial technologies discovered by the lab of Associate Professor Ryan Gill, C2B2 managing director
–Improved transfer of biomass into synthetic fuels, based on pioneering work by Professor Alan Weimer, C2B2 executive director
–Improved capture of carbon at energy plants, based on liquid membrane technology conceived in the lab of Professor Richard Noble
ConocoPhillips currently sponsors more than $2 million in CU-Boulder faculty research contracts for 2011-13. The university is one of nine participants in the ConocoPhillips SPIRIT Scholars program, which provides scholarships, mentorship and enrichment for students interested in energy careers. CU alumni who have held ConocoPhillips leadership positions include Tom Sears (’52), James Gallogly (’74) and Carin Knickel (’79). The firm is a founding member and lead sponsor of C2B2.
With these gifts, nearly $40 million in private support has been raised for the building, whose construction is funded by a variety of private and public sources including a $15 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant.
CU-Boulder’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering ranks among the top 10 public graduate programs in the U.S. Its faculty have been awarded more than $25 million in research grants in the past two years, and have won more American Institute of Chemical Engineering awards this past decade than at any university except the University of Texas.
High school seniors from as far away as Hawaii and Vermont and as close as Boulder and Denver will be on the University of Colorado Boulder campus for Admitted Student Day on Saturday, April 2.
More than 3,500 prospective students and their parents are expected for the daylong event, according to Kevin MacLennan, director of admissions.
“We’re excited to welcome this outstanding group of students and their families to the CU-Boulder campus for Admitted Student Day,” MacLennan said. “This program provides students and their families the chance to explore the academic opportunities at our world-class institution as well as connect with faculty and staff.”
After registering, picking up an agenda and meeting Ralphie, CU’s live mascot, students will attend the Welcome Pep Rally from 8 to 8:40 a.m. in the Coors Events Center. The pep rally will include a welcome by Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano followed by entertainment from CU’s spirit squad, members of the Golden Buffalo marching band and the mascot Chip.
The rest of the day is structured so that attendees can explore academic and student life interests. A full range of activities across campus has been planned in order to give students who have been admitted the opportunity to find if CU is the “right fit” for their college experience, said Cara Ray, a senior assistant director of admissions who organized the event.
Tours will be offered of the campus, residence hall rooms, the Engineering Center, the Koelbel Business Building and selected academic facilities, and the Center for Community will have an open house so guests can explore the many student support services. Participants also will have the opportunity to confirm their intent to enroll, sign up for housing, and talk with financial aid counselors.
A wide variety of information sessions also will be offered throughout the day, including: Navigating Your Academic Experience; Life in the Residence Halls; Academic Support Services; Safety, Security and Student Responsibilities on Campus; and Academic, Cultural and Social Support for Diversity. An information fair will be held from noon to 2:30 p.m. in Coors Events Center where current students associated with clubs, organizations and residential academic programs will be available.
Activities such as recreation center classes, music performances, films and museum open houses also will be available to attendees.
Feb. 21, 2011
The Glenn Miller Archive at the University of Colorado Boulder American Music Research Center has acquired one of the world’s most significant collections of Big Band Era recordings and memorabilia.
The Ed Burke Collection – named for its shepherd and founder – contains approximately 1,400 reel-to-reel tapes containing hundreds of hours of live radio programs featuring virtually every musician of major importance during the Big Band Era.
“This collection is especially extraordinary as the material is in a live radio context,” said Professor Tom Riis, director of the American Music Research Center in the College of Music. “We have the announcer’s voice, the advertising, everything. It is also in remarkably good condition, as the tapes were made directly from the transcription discs loaned to Ed by the radio stations.”
The vast collection includes performances by almost every Big Band musician and entertainer who appeared on records or radio between 1930 and 1960, including broadcasts by Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong, Tommy Dorsey, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman. The collection has been transferred in its entirety to the Glenn Miller Archive for permanent preservation.
In addition to the historically valuable collection of live recordings – which includes original material never distributed commercially – the collection also includes photographs, magazines, documents and other memorabilia from the unique era in American popular music. An avid fan and collector, Ed Burke founded and operated the independent record and compact discs labels Fanfare, Jazz Hour and Soundcraft.
“The Glenn Miller Archive honors and preserves the legacy of our distinguished alumnus, Glenn Miller,” said archive curator Alan Cass, “and we are grateful to Ed Burke for his lifelong dedication to preserving an important segment of American popular music.”
To view a short sound slide on the Ed Burke Collection visit http://www.colorado.edu/news and click on the story headline.
For those interested in hearing the music of the era brought to life, the award-winning musicians of CU Jazz Ensemble I from the College of Music are staging the inaugural Spring Swing concert Feb. 27 at 2 p.m. in Macky Auditorium. Big Band Era favorites scheduled for the performance include “In the Mood,” “Moonlight Serenade” and “A String of Pearls.”
For more information on the concert visit http://music.colorado.edu/events.
Feb. 15, 2011 Following a more than three-month delay due to technical problems, NASA’s space shuttle Discovery will make its final flight Feb. 24 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida carrying two University of Colorado Boulder-built biomedical payload devices.
One of the experiments is designed to help scientists better understand changes in the virulence of bacteria in the low gravity of space as a way to help researchers prevent or control infectious diseases. The second is a cell cultivation experiment in a tropical plant known to produce n
uts that could be used to make biofuels, said Louis Stodieck, director of BioServe Space Technologies in CU-Boulder’s aerospace engineering sciences department.
Both experiments will be carried aboard Discovery in sets of specially designed fluid-processing cylinders built by BioServe known as GAPs, said Stodieck, The bacteria experiment will target how microgravity affects the growth of bacteria, in this case Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus, also known as MRSA.
The GAPs will ride inside BioServe’s Commercial Generic Bioprocessing Apparatus, an automated, suitcase-sized device developed at CU-Boulder that has been launched on more than 20 NASA space shuttle missions, with two of the CGBA devices now on the International Space Station. BioServe is providing the hardware, integration and operations support for all Discovery GAP experiments.
Astronauts will control the individual GAP experiments using hand cranks to trigger and then later terminate cell growth via fluid mixing, said Stodieck. The samples will remain on the space station until the next shuttle mission slated to launch at the end of February, at which time they will be returned to Earth for further study.
The bacterial experiment is sponsored by Astrogenetix Inc. headquartered in Austin, Texas, and designed by researchers at the Durham VA Medical Center in North Carolina. MRSA is a growing problem in hospitals and health clinics because of its ability to resist antibiotics in the penicillin class of drugs. “It can cause a variety of infections, some potentially fatal,” said Stodieck.
“Because astronauts show decreases in their immune systems during spaceflight, we would like to know more about how bacteria behave in space, including their apparent increase in virulence and resistance to antibiotics,” said Stodieck. “The findings may have applications not only for keeping space crew members safe by helping scientists better understand gene and protein changes in pathogens, but also could potentially help to prevent and control infectious diseases on Earth.”
A second experiment, designed by the University of Florida, will use BioServe hardware to study cell cultivation in a tropical plant known as Jatropha that produces energy-rich nuts, a popular new renewable crop for biofuels. The researchers will be looking for genes that help or hinder growth in this tropical plant species to see if it could be commercially grown in “warm-temperate” areas like the southern United States.
The Jatropha experiment is sponsored in part by Vecenergy, the energy division of Vecellio Group Inc. headquartered in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“We would be unable to carry out all of our research without the help of CU-Boulder students,” said Stodieck. “Both undergraduate and graduate students play an important role in designing, building and testing spaceflight payloads, activities that can give them a significant advantage when they move on to careers in the aerospace industry. ”
Michael Murry, a junior from Centennial, Colo., who is part of the BioServe team, said he never expected a chance as an undergraduate to conduct hands-on research at CU-Boulder with science payloads being launched into space.
“When I heard about this opportunity, I jumped on it,” said the junior aerospace engineering science major who attended Grandview High School in Aurora. “By combining what I’m learning in the classroom with my experience at BioServe, I am developing a solid set of skills for a career in the aerospace industry.”
While the Endeavour launch slated for 2011 may be NASA’s last space shuttle launch, there is a chance NASA may add an additional shuttle flight by Atlantis before the fleet is retired. BioServe hardware and experiments are manifested on the Endeavour space shuttle as well as on future resupply vehicles traveling to the International Space Station from other countries, said Stodieck.
BioServe also has plans to fly hardware and experiments in microgravity on existing commercial rockets and on space vehicles now under development, Stodieck said.
BioServe also has flown several K-12 educational experiments on the International Space Station, including seed-germination studies, crystal garden growth experiments and the life cycles of butterflies — all of which have provided learning opportunities for middle school and high school students around the world, said Stefanie Countryman. Countryman is BioServe’s business manager and coordinator of education outreach.
BioServe is a nonprofit, NASA-funded center founded in 1987 at CU-Boulder to develop new or improved products through space life science research in partnership with industry, academia and government. Since 1991 BioServe has flown payloads on 36 space shuttle microgravity missions.
A fuel leak delayed a planned November 2010 launch, after which cracks were discovered in the shuttle’s fuel tank, pushing the launch date into 2011.
For more information on BioServe visit For more information on CU-Boulder’s aerospace engineering sciences department visit http://www.colorado.edu/aerospace
-CU media release
A new assessment of global earthquake fatalities over the past three decades indicates that 83 percent of all deaths caused by the collapse of buildings during earthquakes occurred in countries considered to be unusually corrupt.
Authored by Professor Nicholas Ambraseys of the Imperial College of London and Professor Roger Bilham of the University Colorado at Boulder, the study also found that in some relatively wealthy countries where knowledge and sound business practices would be expected to prevail, the collapse of many buildings is nevertheless attributable to corrupt building practices.
A commentary piece on the subject is being published in the Jan. 13 issue of Nature.
Corrupt building practices — which are generally covert and hard to quantify — can include the use of substandard materials, poor assembly methods, the inappropriate placement of buildings and non-adherence to building codes, said the authors.
Ambraseys and Bilham used data gathered by Transparency International, a global organization based in Berlin that operates through more than 70 national chapters around the world. Transparency International annually generates a Corruption Perception Index, or CPI, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.
The CPI index — which defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain — is determined by an aggregate of 13 opinion polls averaged over two years from 10 institutions monitoring the frequency and extent of bribes paid within various countries, said Bilham, a professor in CU-Boulder’s geological sciences department. A CPI score of 0 indicates a highly corrupt nation with zero transparency, while a score of 10 indicates an absence of perceived corruption with total transparency.
The authors determined that there is roughly a one-to-one relationship between a nations’ wealth and its perceived level of corruption. “Less wealthy nations are the most corrupt,” said Bilham, also a fellow in the CU-Boulder based Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. “We found that fully 83 percent of all deaths from earthquakes in the last 30 years have occurred in nations where corruption is both widespread and worse than expected.”
Relative wealth is the most obvious parameter that influences a country’s corruption, according to the authors. Bilham and Ambraseys chose the gross national income per capita to compare the relative wealth of the countries. High wealth is strongly linked to countries with a stable government conducive to the rule of law, they said.
The authors noted that while a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck in New Zealand in 2010 resulted in zero fatalities, an identical 2010 quake in Haiti resulted in a death toll reaching six figures. “Widespread anecdotal evidence points to the collapse of structures in devastating earthquakes as a result of corrupt building practices,” said Bilham. “In this study we have attempted to quantify that perception.
“Corruption is found to be far worse in some countries than others, despite a measure of wealth that tells us they should do better,” said Bilham. “It is in the countries that have abnormally high levels of corruption where we find most of the world’s deaths from earthquakes.”
The global construction industry, currently worth $7.5 trillion annually and which is expected to double in the next decade, is recognized by experts as being the most corrupt segment of the world economy, said the authors.
Since 1980, deaths due to an absence of effective earthquake engineering activity have averaged about 18,300 per year, according to the authors.
Poverty and poor education also contribute to building collapse through a lack of strong, available building materials and a lack of education that otherwise would help guide safe building practices, the authors said.
The number of deaths attributable to collapsed dwellings is influenced both by the population density and the vulnerability of buildings near earthquake epicenters, said the authors. In the past 30 years, the rapid increases in urban populations — particularly in developing countries — have been adversely affected by building quality.
The authors said even if corrupt building practices were halted today, those residing in impoverished nations would inherit at least some structures and dwellings that were constructed while corrupt construction practices were under way.
“The structural integrity of a building is no stronger than the social integrity of the builder, and each nation has a responsibility to its citizens to ensure adequate inspection,” the authors wrote in Nature. “In particular, nations with a history of significant earthquakes and known corruption issues should stand reminded that an unregulated construction industry is a potential killer.”
SOIURCE: CU MEDIA RELEASE
A University of Colorado at Boulder faculty member is one of two scientists who will use data gathered by a world-class telescope flying aboard a modified Boeing 747 to peer at a distant star-forming region during its inaugural science flight this week.
Known as the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, the jet was significantly modified in order to mount a 2.5-meter reflecting telescope in the rear fuselage, said Senior Research Associate Paul Harvey of CU-Boulder’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, one of the scientists involved in the mission.
The jet will fly at 40,000 to 45,000 feet in altitude, putting it above more than 99 percent of the water vapor in the atmosphere — which blocks infrared light from reaching the ground — and will allow scientists to observe stellar targets in wavelengths of light that can’t be observed by ground-based telescopes, said Harvey.
The aircraft and telescope were successfully tested in the summer of 2009. SOFIA’s Faint Object InfraRed Camera, known as FORCAST, is a versatile camera that collects light from the visible, infrared and sub-millimeter portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, Harvey said.
Harvey will be observing and analyzing the distribution of dust and gas in a young, star-forming cluster known as Sharpless 140 that is roughly 3,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cepheus. One light-year is equal to about 6 trillion miles.
“Observing the birth of stars in our own galaxy is critical because planetary systems form at the same time that a central star is formed,” said Harvey. “In addition, some of the most luminous galaxies in the universe appear to be powered by extreme bursts of star formation.”
Harvey flew on several hundred flights of SOFIA’s predecessor, the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, but will not be aboard the first science flight of SOFIA. The second set of observations on this week’s SOFIA science flight will be led by Mark Morris of UCLA, who will be targeting star-forming regions in the Orion nebula.
Harvey said the FORCAST camera on the telescope has large, two-dimensional array detectors that are similar to charge-coupled devices found in digital cameras. The goal is to obtain a sequence of images of the star cluster with the telescope, which will move almost imperceptibly between each image in order to sample “sub-pixels.”
One advantage of the SOFIA observatory is that scientists can make changes and improvements to the craft’s instruments between flights as well as change observing techniques, said Harvey. “These are impossible tasks for orbiting telescopes that have very fixed procedures for the instruments and observations.”
He also is working with the FORCAST team to interpret data gathered during the first science flight in order to carefully characterize SOFIA’s imaging capabilities for future users.
Harvey said he hopes to build a long-term program of specialized observations on SOFIA that eventually will involve data analysis by CU-Boulder students.
NASA hopes SOFIA will continue to fly astronomical science observations for the next two decades, with research flights expected to ramp up to two or three flights a week by 2015. SOFIA’s suite of instruments are expected to gather new information on a wide variety of astronomical targets, including black holes, distant galaxies, the formation of stars and planets, and up close views of comets and asteroids.
SOFIA is a joint project between NASA and the German Aerospace Center. SOFIA’s science and mission operations are managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, Md., and the Deutsches SOFIA Institut in Stuttgart, Germany.
SOURCE: CU PRESS RELEASE
Will Taylor, president of the University of Colorado Student Government, will travel to Moscow Nov. 13-20 as part of a delegation of 15 U.S. university student leaders selected to visit the country at the invitation of the Russian Federal Agency on Youth Affairs.
Taylor, a CU-Boulder senior, joins student leaders from Harvard, Stanford, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgetown and several other universities. The trip is designed to better acquaint future U.S. leaders with Russia and give them insight into Russian leaders’ decision-making processes.
“I am very excited to participate in this unique and groundbreaking opportunity,” Taylor said. “I look forward to working with fellow student leaders to learn more about Russian government and culture and also share our American perspectives with our hosts. I am honored to have the chance to meet with high-ranking Russian officials and students and am confident that it will be an educational experience for all involved.”
While there, Taylor and the other students will meet with top Russian leaders of all branches of government, visit Russia’s top universities and meet with their Russian counterparts. The trip is completely funded by the Russian Federal Agency on Youth Affairs.
Taylor was selected for the trip through a competitive process that sought university student leaders expected to help shape future U.S. policies.
SOURCE: CU MEDIA RELEASE
Paul Voakes, dean of the University of Colorado at Boulder’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, today announced he will step down as dean and return to the teaching faculty of the school, effective June 30, 2011.
“Leading the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at CU-Boulder has been an honor and a privilege,” said Voakes, who assumed the post in 2003. “I believe over the last seven years we have confronted profound transformations in journalism and mass communication, ushered in important changes in journalism education, and produced a new generation of journalists and communicators ready to meet still more challenges and changes.
“I now look forward to returning to the faculty and continuing this important work with our students,” Voakes said.
In accepting the resignation, CU-Boulder Provost Russell L. Moore praised Voakes’ service to the school.
“Paul Voakes has led our journalism program in the most difficult time in its history,” said Moore. “He has done so with character and compassion, while being a key part of the academic leadership of CU-Boulder. We thank him for his dedicated service to the university and welcome him back to the classroom.”
Moore said he will begin work on seeking interim leadership for the SJMC after Voakes’ departure as dean next summer.
“It will be valuable to have Dean Voakes in place through the conclusion of both the program discontinuance review currently under way and the completion of the work of the Exploratory Committee on Information, Communication and Technology,” Moore said. “This will provide us continuity as we examine all of our options and recommendations that ensure our course and degree offerings meet the needs of students, the labor market, our campus mission and the communications needs of a rapidly changing global society.”
SOURCE: CU PRESS RELEASE
A University of Colorado at Boulder-led study shows that specific types of stem cells transplanted into the leg muscles of mice prevented the loss of muscle function and mass that normally occurs with aging, a finding with potential uses in treating humans with chronic, degenerative muscle diseases.
The experiments showed that when young host mice with limb muscle injuries were injected with muscle stem cells from young donor mice, the cells not only repaired the injury within days, they caused the treated muscle to double in mass and sustain itself through the lifetime of the transplanted mice. “This was a very exciting and unexpected result,” said Professor Bradley Olwin of CU-Boulder’s molecular, cellular and developmental biology department, the study’s corresponding author.
Muscle stem cells are found within populations of “satellite” cells located between muscle fibers and surrounding connective tissue and are responsible for the repair and maintenance of skeletal muscles, said Olwin. The researchers transplanted between 10 and 50 stem cells along with attached myofibers — which are individual skeletal muscle cells — from the donor mice into the host mice.
“We found that the transplanted stem cells are permanently altered and reduce the aging of the transplanted muscle, maintaining strength and mass,” said Olwin.
A paper on the subject was published in the Nov. 10 issue of Science Translational Medicine. Co-authors on the study included former CU-Boulder postdoctoral fellow John K. Hall, now at the University of Washington Medical School in Seattle, as well as Glen Banks and Jeffrey Chamberlain of the University of Washington Medical School.
Olwin said the new findings, while intriguing, are only the first in discovering how such research might someday be applicable to human health. “With further research we may one day be able to greatly resist the loss of muscle mass, size and strength in humans that accompanies aging, as well as chronic degenerative diseases like muscular dystrophy.”
Stem cells are distinguished by their ability to renew themselves through cell division and differentiate into specialized cell types. In healthy skeletal muscle tissue, the population of satellite stem cells is constantly maintained, said Olwin.
“In this study, the hallmarks we see with the aging of muscles just weren’t occurring,” said Olwin. “The transplanted material seemed to kick the stem cells to a high gear for self-renewal, essentially taking over the production of muscle cells. But the team found that when transplanted stem cells and associated myofibers were injected to healthy mouse limb muscles, there was no discernable evidence for muscle mass growth.
“The environment that the stem cells are injected into is very important, because when it tells the cells there is an injury, they respond in a unique way,” he said. “We don’t yet know why the cells we transplanted are not responding to the environment around them in the way that the cells that are already there respond. It’s fascinating, and something we need to understand.”
At the onset of the experiments the research team thought the increase in muscle mass of the transplanted mice with injured legs would dissipate within a few months. Instead, the cells underwent a 50 percent increase in mass and a 170 percent increase in size and remained elevated through the lifetime of the mice — roughly two years, said Olwin.
In the experiments, stem cells and myofibers were removed from three-month-old mice, briefly cultured and then transplanted into three-month-old mice that had temporarily induced leg muscle injuries produced by barium chloride injections. “When the muscles were examined two years later, we found the procedure permanently changed the transplanted cells, making them resistant to the aging process in the muscle,” he said.
“This suggests a tremendous expansion of those stem cells after transplantation,” Olwin said. Fortunately, the research team saw no increase in tumors in the transplanted mice despite the rapid, increased growth and production of muscle stem cells.
As part of the research effort, the team used green fluorescent protein — which glows under ultraviolet light — to flag donor cells in the injected mice. The experiment indicated many of the transplanted cells were repeatedly fused to myofibers, and that there was a large increase in the number of satellite cells in the host mice.
“We expected the cells to go in, repopulate and repair damaged muscle and to dissipate,” Olwin said. “It was quite surprising when they did not.
“It is our hope that we can someday identify small molecules or combinations of small molecules that could be applied to endogenous muscle stem cells of humans to mimic the behavior of transplanted cells,” Olwin said. “This would remove the need for cell transplants altogether, reducing the risk and complexity of treatments.”
But Olwin said it is important to remember that the team did not transplant young cells into old muscles, but rather transplanted young cells into young muscles.
The research has implications for a number of human diseases, Olwin said. In muscular dystrophy, for example, there is a loss of a protein called dystrophin that causes the muscle to literally tear itself apart and cannot be repaired without cell-based intervention. Although injected cells will repair the muscle fibers, maintaining the muscle fibers requires additional cell injections, he said.
“Progressive muscle loss occurs in a number of neuromuscular diseases and in muscular dystrophies,” he said. “Augmenting a patient’s muscle regenerative process could have a significant impact on aging and diseases, improving the quality of life and possibly improving mobility.”
Olwin said the research team is beginning experiments to see if transplanting muscle stem cells from humans or large animals into mice will have the same effects as those observed in the recent mouse experiments. “If those experiments produce positive results, it would suggest that transplanting human muscle stem cells is feasible,” he said.
University of Colorado President Emeritus Hank Brown will lead a CU-Boulder political science class on a trip to the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 11-13.
The trip is part of his “Icons of the American Republic” class, which introduces students to the founding period of the United States through the events, concepts and individuals depicted in art exhibited in the U.S. Capitol Building. The 21 CU-Boulder students, along with five students from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, will get an extremely rare opportunity to visit the floors of both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.
This is the third consecutive year Brown has led students on the visit to Washington. The class trip is made possible by financial contributions from external donors.
According to Professor Ken Bickers, chair of the CU-Boulder political science department, “This is a remarkable opportunity for our students. They learn about the American experiment in national self-governance in the heart of the government itself from someone who has been an influential participant in that experiment.”
Brown has 30 years of public policy experience as a legislator, congressman, U.S. senator and higher education executive. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 to 1991 and in the U.S. Senate from 1991 to 1997.
He retired from the CU-Boulder faculty last year, but continues to teach the Icons of the Republic course through the political science department. He served as president of the University of Colorado from 2005 to 2008. Following his presidency, he was a tenured professor of political science and held the Quigg and Virginia S. Newton Endowed Chair in Leadership at CU-Boulder.
SOURCE: CU NEWS RELEASE
University of Colorado at Boulder faculty member Ivan Smalyukh is one of only 100 men and women in the United States to be awarded a coveted 2010 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, or PECASE.
The PECASE awards are the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent careers. President Barack Obama announced the awards on Nov. 5. The award includes $600,000 of funding from the National Science Foundation over five years.
Smalyukh, an assistant professor in CU-Boulder’s physics department and a member of the university’s Liquid Crystals Materials Research Center, and his students are studying the organization of nanoparticle andmolecular self-assembly related to precisely controlled structures in liquid crystals. The research is expected to help scientists develop new electrically and optically controlled materials that could lead to a number of technological breakthroughs, including more efficient conversion of solar energy into electricity using inexpensive solar cells and the development of flexible display and data storage devices.
“As a scientist and educator, I receive this great honor with deep gratitude,” said Smalyukh. “The PECASE award is a strong encouragement for me and for my students. It will help us in achieving many important and ambitious research goals.”
Established by President Bill Clinton in 1996, the awards are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected on two criteria — the pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and a commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education or community outreach.
Smalyukh also was a winner of the 2009 National Science Foundation’s Faculty Early Career Development, or CAREER award, the agency’s most prestigious awards to junior faculty members around the nation. The NSF nominated Smalyukh for the 2010 PECASE awards.
He also is a founding fellow of the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, a joint center of CU-Boulder and the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Nine federal departments and agencies join together annually to nominate the outstanding young scientists and engineers for the PECASE awards. The recipients are researchers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for strengthening America’s leadership in science and technology and contributing to the awarding agencies’ missions, according to the White House.
This year’s recipients will be honored at a White House ceremony with Obama in early 2011.
SOURCE: CU MEDIA RELEASE
Two finalists have been named for the position of dean of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
The finalists are David L. Ikenberry of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Kenneth A. Kavajecz of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, according to William Kaempfer, chair of the search committee and vice provost and associate vice chancellor at CU-Boulder.
The position is expected to be filled during spring 2011.
Ikenberry, who will visit campus Nov. 17-20, is the associate dean of the College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His academic experience dates back to 1990, and he has held faculty and administrative positions at Rice University, the University of Washington and the University of Illinois. He has sat on several external boards and committees. He earned his doctorate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Ikenberry teaches investment and corporate finance and has been recognized for his excellent work in the classroom as a professor. In 2002, he was named as one of the best instructors in the nation by Business Week.
On Nov. 30-Dec. 3, Kavajecz, associate dean for full-time masters programs and associate dean for the undergraduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Wisconsin School of Business, will visit. A former assistant economist with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System’s Division of Monetary Affairs, Kavajecz academic experience dates back to 1996. He has held faculty and administrative positions at Northwestern University, The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He earned his doctorate at Northwestern University.
Kavajecz has been recognized for excellence in teaching and research. He received teaching awards for both undergraduate and graduate level courses at Northwestern University and at The Wharton School.
In addition to Kaempfer, search committee members include: Michael Stutzer, professor of finance; Phil Shane, professor of accounting; Kai Larsen, associate professor of information systems; Page Moreau, associate professor of marketing; Cathleen Burns, senior instructor of accounting; Victor Fleischer, associate professor of law; Aswad Allen, director of the Leeds School of Business Office of Diversity Affairs; Toni Blodgett, junior accounting major; Aaron Schlagel, master of business administration candidate; Peter Burridge, president and CEO of Greenhouse Partners and member of the Leeds School of Business Board; and John S. Fischer, CEO of Breakthrough Energy LLC and member of the Leeds School of Business Board.
Manuel Laguna, professor of operations and information management, is currently serving as interim dean of the Leeds School of Business. Laguna succeeded Dennis Ahlburg, who accepted the presidency of Trinity University in San Antonio.
SOURCE: CU MEDIA RELEASE
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has issued recommendations for individuals who should receive the meningitis vaccine in light of recent cases of meningococcal meningitis at Colorado State University and in the Fort Collins community.
Meningococcal meningitis is a bacterial infection of the membranes lining the brain and spinal cord. The same bacteria may invade the blood stream as well. Such infections are rare but potentially fatal. Symptoms of meningococcal meningitis include fever, severe sudden headache, stiff neck, nausea, vomiting, rash and lethargy.
There are currently no cases of meningitis at CU-Boulder. The last reported case was in March 2006.
The CDPHE recommends a meningitis vaccine for faculty, staff and students who are up to 30 years of age AND:
• Have a partner/family member attending or working on the CSU campus and who have never had the vaccine, or who have not had the vaccine within the last three years
• Have been in close contact with CSU students (such as through sharing utensils and beverages, kissing, playing beer pong or other games in which cups are shared) over the past two weeks and who have never had the vaccine, or who have not had the vaccine within the last three years
• Who are currently living in a CU residence hall (excluding family or graduate housing) and who have never had the vaccine, or who have not had the vaccine within the last five years, regardless of their contact with individuals at CSU
Any person who might be included in one of the above recommendations should call 303-492-5432 to schedule an appointment at Wardenburg Health Center for a meningitis vaccine. Limited quantities of the vaccine are available for $14.50 for students, faculty, and staff meeting the above guidelines, and it is free for students who are enrolled in the Student Gold Health Insurance Plan.
Students who are unsure if or when they had the meningitis vaccine should contact their parent/guardian, health care provider, or CU’s Immunization Program Office at 303-492-2005.
Parents of all incoming freshmen receive a letter during the summer with information about the recommendation for the immunization.
Wardenburg Health Center is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
SOURCE: CU MEDIA RELEASE