Focus on CU Faculty

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

University of Colorado Boulder

Valerie McKenzie

Valerie McKenzie

Meet the colorful new weapon scientists are using to save toads

Valerie McKenzie’s hotel guests could only be described as extraordinarily high-maintenance. After all, the CU Boulder biologist was running a “toad hotel.” The fieldwork that McKenzie wrapped up in October has the potential to save billions of lives—amphibian lives, certainly, but possibly some human lives as well. Smithsonian, Dec. 15

A ‘Stonehenge’ and a mystery in the Amazon

Researchers have drawn parallels to the legends surrounding mythical lost cities in the Amazon, but evidence of large settlements in the area remains elusive.  John McKim Malville, a solar physicist at CU Boulder who writes extensively on archaeoastronomy, said the field is moving away from focusing exclusively on astronomical functions to interpretations that are more holistic, by including the ceremonies and rituals of ancient cultures. The New York Times, Dec. 14

Ted Scambos

Ted Scambos

New NASA imagery shows how fast glaciers are melting

The NASA data will enable researchers to understand what effect atmosphere and ocean conditions have on ice sheets and how that changes how much ice is flowing into the ocean.

“We can use the method to identify which areas to keep an eye on, or which events might lead to a rapid change,” said Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at CU Boulder. CNN, Dec. 12

Sarah Krakoff

Sarah Krakoff

The historic victory at standing rock

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Dec. 4 legally blocked the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, denying it a needed easement to drill beneath the Missouri River. “The effect of this protest was to make the administrative state do its job,” said Sarah Krakoff, a professor of law at CU Boulder. “It read the statutes, it listened to its president’s general policy goals, and then it did its job.” The Atlantic, Dec. 5

The thundering launch of GOES-R

Part of the GOES-R spacecraft, the EXIS (Extreme ultraviolet and X-ray Irradiance Sensors) instrument, was built at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at CU Boulder. Frank Eparvier, the lead scientist for the instrument, said “EXIS measures the absolute amount of light coming from the sun in the energetic, highly variable, short wavelength ranges.” Boulder Weekly, Dec. 8

Mark Borden

Mark Borden

Microbubble technology could save lives by helping create a ‘third lung’

CU Boulder researchers are part of a new project to develop microbubbles that could create a “third lung” for people who suffer lung injuries. Mark Borden, an associate professor, created the microbubbles years ago to help with ultrasound imaging. Borden and CU Boulder graduate Benjamin Terry – now an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln – came up with the idea of putting oxygen in the bubbles. Terry then suggested injecting the bubbles into a person’s abdomen to get oxygen to their blood. 9News, Dec. 6

Tad Pfeffer

Tad Pfeffer

Climate change is wreaking havoc on indigenous people in Alaska

On Nov. 21, the decline on the long-term average of sea ice extent was at 888,000 square miles – an area 10 times larger than the U.K., but smaller than the long-term average.

“Almost every year now we look at the record of sea ice and say ‘wow,’ but this year it was like 'three times wow,’” said Tad Pfeffer, a geophysicist at CU Boulder. “This year has been a big exaggeration on the trends we’ve already been seeing.” Business Insider, Dec. 19

Michael Radelet

Michael Radelet

‘See what racism looks like’: Charleston families brace for Dylann Roof’s trial

Dylann Roof filed a handwritten note requesting representation for the first part of the trial, which will determine whether he is guilty, and saying he would represent himself during sentencing.

Michael Radelet, sociology professor and criminologist at CU Boulder, said it took an average of 19 years before prisoners executed in the U.S. in 2016 were killed. If Dylann Roof continues representing himself at either the guilt or sentencing phase of his trial, he would hardly be the first high-profile defendant to do so. TIME, Dec. 5

University of Colorado Colorado Springs

UCCS Pam Shockley-Zalabak

Pam Shockley-Zalabak

UCCS Chancellor Shockley-Zalabak retiring in February

Pam Shockley-Zalabak has worked at UCCS in various capacities for 40 of the 50 years the campus has been in existence. She has continued to teach classes in the Communication Department while serving as head of the campus. The Gazette, Dec. 17

Also: EDITORIAL: Chancellor a big part of our area’s success, The Gazette, Dec. 20

Charles Sweet

Charles Sweet

City for Champions: UCCS’ Sports Medicine and Performance Center

While other projects have hurdles to clear, UCCS’ Sports Medicine and Performance Center is expected to gain form in 2017, said Charles Sweet, the university’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives. The goal: create a national hub for elite athletes, first responders, military personnel and exercise buffs. The Gazette, Dec. 18

UCCS entrepreneur lab allows students to wade into shark tank

UCCS has opened a laboratory where student entrepreneurs can wade into the shark tank. Instead of competing for an investment, six student teams have to show continued progress to stay in The Garage, a space in the school’s engineering building that student companies can use to turn their business ideas into companies that generate revenue. The Gazette, Dec. 3

John Harner

John Harner

Geographers analyze public comments on Browns Canyon

A team of geographers at UCCS has begun translating comments from listening sessions concerning Browns Canyon National Monument into documents and maps that will guide the development of a management plan for the area. John Harner, UCCS professor of geography, received a $28,746 grant from the Forest Service to process information using geographic information system software and spreadsheets to create maps and reports to better understand the diverse connections people have to the land, including places where activities occur and places that have special meaning. Chaffee County Times, Dec. 16

UCCS debuts spirit song

UCCS unveiled its spirit song before tip-off of the women’s home basketball game against Black Hills State University. Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak said the spirit song is a way to build excitement during sports events and other activities on campus. John Standish of City Tracks produced the spirit song, which consists of a clapping rhythm accompanied by a chant.  Gazette, Dec. 2

University of Colorado Denver

Christoph Stefes

Christoph Stefes

How ‘islands of honesty’ can crush a system of corruption

Democratic checks on public abuses can be weakened. That is the situation in countries like Russia, said Christoph Stefes, a professor of political science at CU Denver, who studies authoritarianism and democratization. In Russia, control over both political power and corruption is concentrated among a small group of politicians and the oligarchs in their inner circle, and no institution or prosecutor has enough power to challenge them. The New York Times, Dec. 9

Jeffrey Beall

Jeffrey Beall

Fake academe, looking much like the real thing

Stacking multiple fake conferences at the same hotel is a common practice, says Jeffrey Beall, a tenured CU Denver librarian. He maintains a website for identifying “predatory open access scholarly publishers” that masquerade as scholarly journals, but are actually in the business of pumping out worthless articles and exploiting scholars with hidden fees. “You just rent a hotel, make up a name and stand around while everyone is reading their papers,” Beall says. “It’s easy money.” The New York Times, Dec. 28

CU Denver Mary Dodge

Mary Dodge

Wrong man arrested for attempted murder after witness misidentification

In 2015, Cesar Hernandez was charged with attempted murder for a double shooting he didn’t do.

“Memories aren’t always clear,” said Mary Dodge, a criminal law professor at CU Denver. Dodge said research shows relying solely on witness identification can lead police in the wrong direction. “It’s dangerous, it may be the first step, but they need to build the case from there.” she said. KDVR, Dec. 20

Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson

The Dakota Access Pipeline isn’t just about the environment. It’s about religion

Greg Johnson, a Hawaiian religion expert and an associate professor of Religious Studies at CU Denver, said the indigenous protests are increasingly led by organizers who are “generating” religion through their activism.

“The kids of today’s generation know a new set of chants, a new set of prayers because of those who came before them,” Johnson told ThinkProgress. The Washington Post, Dec. 5

Trump’s tax plan saves most families money, some to pay more

President-elect Donald Trump’s tax plan will reduce taxes by thousands of dollars for millions of Americans, but could require fewer people to pay more taxes. CU Denver professor Eric Zinn, director of the Graduate Tax Program, cautions people from relying on specific numbers. “The proposed policy of Trump’s administration is unclear,” Zinn said. 7News, Dec. 8

Chancellor Dorothy Horrell

Dorothy Horrell

Downtown Denver university is growing up

With Dorothy Horrell’s appointment as chancellor, CU Denver is laying out a sweeping plan to integrate itself into the business and civic community in ways it never has before: As the city’s only public, urban research university. Horrell said CU Denver is different from other Colorado institutions that state business leaders and policy makers have looked to in the past. The Denver Business Journal, Dec. 2

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Cheryl Krause-Parello

Cheryl Krause-Parello

Study examines the health effects shelter dogs may have on veterans with PTSD

A small nonprofit organization studying the health of American veterans recently received funding to examine how shelter dogs physically and psychologically impact veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. The funding was provided to Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors by the College of Nursing at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. “Our study’s findings have the potential to contribute physiological and psycho-social evidence indicating that volunteering at a dog shelter can decrease stress and enhance quality-of-life indicators in reintegrating veterans with PTSD,” said principal investigator Cheryl Krause-Parello, associate professor in the College of Nursing. KDVR, Dec. 20

Work. Walk 5 minutes. Work.

In a new study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, researchers from the CU Anschutz Medical Center, the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, and other institutions decided to test several methods of increasing movement among office workers. The New York Times, Dec. 28

Bonnie Jortberg

Bonnie Jortberg

With the autoimmune protocol diet, a last-ditch effort at regaining health

“There is absolutely zero research this kind of diet is effective for anything, not to mention autoimmune disease,” says Bonnie Jortberg, assistant professor in the department of Family Medicine at the CU School of Medicine. One of Jortberg’s big objections to the diet, in addition to the lack of research showing its efficacy, is that it eliminates many nutritious foods and adds a lot of animal fat into a person’s diet. The Denver Post, Dec. 16

These drinks are most likely to give you a terrible hangover

Be careful of champagne. The carbon dioxide used to create those fun bubbles also makes your bloodstream absorb the alcohol more quickly. “You get a faster rate of absorption, higher blood alcohol levels — and brain levels — if you drink champagne as opposed to something non-carbonated,” said Boris Tabakoff, pharmacology professor at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Esquire, Dec. 4

Joshua Denson

Joshua Denson

Patient safety may drop during doctor rotations

Hospitalized patients who are handed off by their original medical team to a new set of caregivers might face a higher risk of early death, new research warns. The transitions “occur each month when a training physician [resident] switches clinical rotations by transferring the care of hospitalized patients, often up to 10 to 20 at a time, to an oncoming physician who has never met the patients,” said study author Joshua Denson, a fellow in the division of pulmonary sciences and critical care medicine at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. CBS News, Dec. 7