Focus on CU Faculty

February 2016

University of Colorado Boulder

CU-Boulder researchers use light-activated nanoparticles to kill antibiotic-resistant 'superbugs'

CU researchers are using new light-activated nanoparticles known as “quantum dots” to successfully kill 92 percent of drug-resistant bacterial cells in lab-grown experiments.

“They are bad for the bug, but they are fine for the host,” said Anushree Chatterjee, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at CU-Boulder. 7News, Jan. 19

Dying star Betelgeuse keeps its cool ... and astronomers are puzzled

“In the next million years, if Betelgeuse lives that long, it is going to shed about a quarter of its current mass. And the problem is we don't understand the basic physics of how that happens,” said Graham Harper, an astrophysicist and senior research associate at CU-Boulder. Harper presented new observations of Betelgeuse to the American Astronomical Society. Space, Jan. 25

Also: Rare galaxy with two black holes has one starved of stars; odd intermediate size or just dieting? U.S. News and World Report, Jan. 5

Fallen CU-Boulder astronauts honored

Air Force Col. Ellison Onizuka, left, died Jan. 28, 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart above Florida. A failed booster destroyed the shuttle. Kalpana Chawla, right, died Feb. 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart over Texas during re-entry. The shuttle's heat-shield, damaged during launch, was blamed for the accident. KRDO, Jan. 28


Patty Limerick named state historian as History Colorado looks to future

As History Colorado continues to position itself for a more secure future, CU-Boulder’s Patty Limerick, professor of history, has been named the new Colorado State Historian. Westword, Jan. 11

Catching up on lost sleep really may reverse a few restless nights

You’ve averaged barely five hours of sleep each night. You may be able to catch up on those restless nights by sleeping in this weekend. A new study finds that only two days of make-up sleep reverses the metabolic damage from sleep deprivation — at least in the short term.

“You are going to improve your insulin sensitivity and giving yourself permission to sleep in , , , prevents your future diabetes risk,” said study author Josiane Broussard, assistant research professor at CU-Boulder. Today, Jan. 18

Gene editing breakthrough fuels Colorado research

CRISPR earned Science Magazine's award for the 2015 breakthrough of the year. It is a gene-editing technique that earned the award because it’s far cheaper, faster and more precise than other genetic engineering methods.  The development has scientists giddy with excitement. CU-Boulder Nobel winner Tom Cech, director of the BioFrontiers Institute, is among them. Colorado Public Radio, Jan. 14BioFrontiers Institute, is among them. Colorado Public Radio, Jan. 14

Cutting pollution from U.S. power plants cheaper than you think

A study suggests the U.S. can make the transition to lower-pollution power plants without a heavy investment in energy-storage technologies. “What the model suggests is we can get a long way, and wind and solar and natural gas can be a bridge,” said author Christopher Clack, a physicist at CU-Boulder. Bloomburg, Jan. 25

The El Niño has peaked. NowNiño has peaked. Now what?

Sea surface temperatures from the El Niño are going down slightly, which will energize the storm track – but not in Colorado. “The main thing with El Niño is that you get one storm after another,” said Klaus Wolter, a climatologist with CU-Boulder. “Any individual storm, it would be really hard to say if it is an El Niño storm. The fact that you get a lot of them makes all the difference.” KUNC, Jan. 6Niño are going down slightly, which will energize the storm track – but not in Colorado. “The main thing with El Niño is that you get one storm after another,” said Klaus Wolter, a climatologist with CU-Boulder. “Any individual storm, it would be really hard to say if it is an El Niño storm. The fact that you get a lot of them makes all the difference.” KUNC, Jan. 6

University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Statistician: No one expects to be killed by a meteorite, but they imagine winning the Powerball

Few people in Colorado Springs understand Powerball odds better than Katherine Cliff. The Katherine Cliff. The UCCS graduate student is studying applied math with an emphasis in statistics, and she has researched the odds of drawing the winning numbers. The Gazette, Jan. 12

Colorado caucus: How it works

“You select delegates to go to the next convention, which would be the county convention here in Colorado,” said Josh Dunn, a political science professor at UCCS. “So you select delegates based on how much support each individual candidate gets in your caucus.” Fox 21, Jan. 4

Also: Donald Trump boycotts Fox News debate: Will it help or hurt him? KRDO, Jan. 26

Civilians, first responders honored for their actions on day of Planned Parenthood shooting

Amid standing ovations, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman shook the hands of dozens of Colorado Springs and UCCS police officers, El Paso County sheriff’s deputies and firefighters who responded to the shooting. She applauded the agencies for their collaboration and calm in the face of evil, and she made special mention of one UCCS officer not there – Garrett Swasey, 44, who died trying to stop the rampage. The Gazette, Jan. 12

National cybersecurity center could become huge economic driver for Colorado Springs

Plans for the cybersecurity center started coming together last summer, when UCCS Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak and newly elected Mayor John Suthers began meeting with a group of business, military, government and educational leaders about ways to expand the cybersecurity industry in the Colorado Springs area. The amount of military and private-sector cybersecurity players in the Pikes Peak region make Colorado Springs a prime location for the center. The Gazette, Jan. 18

Colorado Springs group trying to get ahead of looming military base closures

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ed Anderson said the possibility of base closings means Colorado Springs needs to ramp up its public relations campaign now. “You don't need to wait for someone to say there’s going to be base a closing before you decide what to do,” said Anderson, the executive director of strategic military, science, space and security initiatives at UCCS. The Gazette, Jan. 18

Competitions offer chance to show skills

Software developers got the chance to show what they can do in two competitions: Global Game Jam and the Go Code Colorado app challenge. Terry Boult, the El Pomar Chair of Innovation and Security at UCCS, was an adviser at the UCCS jam site. The Gazette, Jan. 28

University of Colorado Denver

Dinosaur love nests unearthed on local land by Colorado researcher

A skilled Colorado dinosaur tracker has unearthed 100 million-year-old dino love nests in Denver's backyard. The first evidence of dinosaur dating was discovered by Martin Lockley, a CU Denver geology professor who stumbled across large scratch marks in Colorado rocks. The Denver Post, Jan. 7

Broncos use technology to deepen fan support

Immersive videos are the trend for sports this year, said Matthew Kaskavitch, a lecturer in the Department of Communication at CU Denver. “A lot of professional sports associations are doing it, not just the NFL,” Kaskavitch said, pointing to the NHL partnering with GoPro cameras to get more immersive, up-close footage of hockey. “But I think (the Broncos) are in the top five echelon willing to take the risk of doing something cutting edge for their fans.” The Denver Post, Jan. 22

Meltdown 2.0 led by China selloff, again

Jian Yang, a professor of finance at CU Denver, said because of higher economic uncertainty, emerging markets like China are likely to experience added volatility, which means the Chinese exchanges are more likely to reach the 7 percent threshold more frequently than in developed markets such as the U.S. China Daily, Jan. 8

Gov. Hickenlooper’s engagement sparks talk about age-gap relationships

A study co-authored by Hani Mansour, assistant professor of economics at CU Denver, addressed age gaps in marriage. “We were surprised to find that when you look at the entire population, things look very different, especially if you look at age gaps in first marriages,” Mansour said. Researchers found that men and women in age-gap marriages of about 10 years have lower annual earnings, lower-wage occupations and lower cognitive skills. “We think it has to do with choices people make when they’re young,” Mansour said. The Denver Post, Jan. 14

Study: Sharrows don’t make streets safer for cyclingSharrows don’t make streets safer for cycling

A study by CU Denver researchers Nick Ferenchak and Wesley Marshall, right, examined safety outcomes for areas in Chicago that received bike lanes, sharrows and no bicycling street treatments at all. The results suggest that bike lanes encourage more people to bike and make biking safer, while sharrows – line designations that set street space apart for cyclists – don’t do much of either. Streetsblog USA, Jan. 14Ferenchak and Wesley Marshall, right, examined safety outcomes for areas in Chicago that received bike lanes, sharrows and no bicycling street treatments at all. The results suggest that bike lanes encourage more people to bike and make biking safer, while sharrows – line designations that set street space apart for cyclists – don’t do much of either. Streetsblog USA, Jan. 14

Colorado schools are heeding the call for rapid ROI

“Schools want their graduates to be employed, and I think there is probably a greater lens on it now than there has been in the past,” says Sue Wyman, director of business career connections at the CU Denver Business School. “Students and their parents are more aware of picking schools that have some results in this area.” Colorado Business Magazine, Jan. 4Wyman, director of business career connections at the CU Denver Business School. “Students and their parents are more aware of picking schools that have some results in this area.” Colorado Business Magazine, Jan. 4

Coal-dependent states lose jobs and gain drug addiction

It could be the cruelest quandary of all: to bless a region with a once-rich natural resource only to have it lose favor decades later to cleaner fuels. The resulting devastation is now occurring in Appalachia, not just economically but also emotionally, as drug addiction among local inhabitants is at dangerous levels.

“The coal industry provides employment opportunities and income, but our results suggest that those opportunities come at the price of overall long-term income growth,” said economists Anne Walker, assistant professor of economics at CU Denver, and Stratford Douglass of West Virginia University. Forbes, Jan. 3

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

Storm chasers converge on Norman over weekend to discuss safety tips

Speaking on “We’ve Got Cows: Exploring the Injury Patterns of Severe Weather,” Jason Persoff, assi

stant professor of internal medicine at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, combined medical expertise with storm-chaser humor to present serious topics of concern to health and safety. Persoff also has a love for storm chasing and for keeping chasers safe. Norman Transcript, Jan. 24

Zika virus unlikely to hit Colorado

Doctors in Brazil recorded a rise in both Zika and microcephaly – an abnormally small head and brain in children. However, Daniel Pastula, assistant professor in the department of neurology, said doctors can’t say for sure if Zika is responsible: “There has been concern that could be associated with Zika virus, however that link has not been proven.” 9News, Jan. 28

The best way for teens to recover from overuse injuries

“Overuse injuries should never happen in first place, or they should be caught when they are so minor that rest can prevent them from turning into a medical issue,” says study co-author Dawn Comstock, associate professor at the Colorado School of Public Health at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus. Because coaches may discount overuse injuries and athletes may hide them for fear of missing competition, she says, it is important for athletic trainers to intervene. Wall Street Journal, Jan. 18

Denver doctors visit Nepal

Frederick Grover, of the cardiothoracic surgery division at the CU School of Medicine, made his ninth Nepal trip. He said the plan is to build a relationship, “Not just come in and do one or two visits and then blow out to somewhere else.” Nepalese doctors and nurses who Grover helped mentor years ago have come into their own and are thriving, he said. The Denver Post, Jan. 3

5 reasons why people jump off cliffs for fun

Omer Mei-Dan, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the CU, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, conducts scientific studies about cliff jumping. Mei-Dan looks at mortality rates and whether there is something mentally different about those who find plummeting like a brick a fun pastime. What makes Mei-Dan unique is that he’s a BASE jumper, as well. CNN, Jan. 15

Colorado study finds teens who tan indoors more likely to abuse drugs

Robert Dellavalle, associate professor of dermatology at the CU School of Medicine, looked at the 2013 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey of health data from Colorado public schools and found the correlation between indoor tanning and substance abuse.

“Heroin, methamphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, alcohol; all of them are used at higher rates in high school students who are indoor tanning,” Dellavalle said. CBS Denver, Jan. 20

Tornadoes’ aftermath puts some at risk for PTSD

The stress of having a home destroyed or damaged, having to move and worries about money can put children at increased risk at the hands of grownups who care for them, said Desmond Runyan, a pediatrician and child abuse specialist at CU Anschutz Medical Campus. In the six months after Hurricane Floyd in 1999, Runyan found a spike in very young children admitted to hospitals for a traumatic brain injury. Dallas Morning News, Jan. 25

As boomers age, Alzheimer’s research picks up

Researchers first tested a drug called Leukine on mice with Alzheimer’s. They say it reversed the deposits of a key protein found in plaques linked to the disease and reversed cognitive problems. Jonathan Woodcock, clinical director of the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center at  the CU Jonathan Woodcock, clinical director of the Rocky Mountain Alzheimer’s Disease Center at  the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, is helping to lead the clinical trial. “We’re hopeful” the research will yield positive results, Woodcock said. Colorado Public Radio, Jan. 25

January 2016

University of Colorado Boulder

Study: Religion has been a source of conflict for more than 2,000 years

Researchers at CU-Boulder and the University of Central Florida studied several Mexican archaeological sites dating as far back as 700 B.C. and found that religion was the cause of tension even back then. Professors Arthur A. Joyce, CU-Boulder, and Sarah Barber, UCF, spent several years conducting field research in Mexico’s Pacific coast, where they discovered that local religious rituals played a big role in helping small communities there develop connections. International Business Times, Dec. 22

How to succeed in business with hip-hop

Adam Bradley, a professor of English at CU-Boulder who frequently studies hip-hop, believes that a hip-hop-inspired businessman is a product of the times.

“We live in a time in which there are hip-hop everybodys — hip-hop architects, hip-hop doctors, hip-hop businessmen. . . . They are all children of [the music], bringing that renegade spirit that animated hip-hop at its birth into all sorts of endeavors,” Bradley said. Westword, Dec. 22

Loss of Arctic ice may mean more precipitation

Julienne Stroeve, senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at CU-Boulder, said previous studies have suggested a link between less September sea ice and an increase in snow in the Siberian Arctic.

“At least statistically there’s a correlation between less sea ice and more precipitation in certain parts of the Arctic,” she said. CBS News, Dec. 21

CU-Boulder researchers part of team promoting light for faster processing

Faster, more powerful computing systems and network infrastructure are on the horizon thanks to collaboration between CU-Boulder researchers and others in developing a groundbreaking microprocessor chip using light — instead of electricity — to transfer data at rapid speeds while consuming minute amounts of energy. Milos Popovic, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering, is a corresponding author of the study. Daily Camera, Dec. 25

CU-based Takács Quartet, assistant prof are nominated for Grammy Awards

A recording by the Takács Quartet, based at CU-Boulder, has been nominated for a Grammy. Abigail Nims, an assistant professor of voice, also has been nominated for a Grammy for her part in the Boston Baroque’s recording of Claudio Monteverdi's Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria, the College of Music announced. Daily Camera, Dec. 17

University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Why Obama might be wrong about freedom being more powerful than fear

“Fear and freedom are an ongoing battle in life,” said Tom Pyszczynski, a psychology professor at UCCS. “To be free involves facing your fears. But at times, fear prevents people from exercising their freedom. Freedom is nobler — it’s a core value of American culture. But when people are terrified, they are typically willing to give up their freedoms.” Washington Post, Dec. 12

UCCS grad, Pulitzer Prize winner returns to Colorado Springs for ceremony

Yusef Komunyakaa, the only UCCS graduate to win a Pulitzer Prize, returned to his alma mater to give a public poetry reading and deliver the keynote address at graduation. Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak praised Komunyakaa for providing examples of the kind of accomplishments alumni of the university can achieve. The Gazette, Dec. 15

Colorado Springs college students collaborate on startup ideas

A group of Colorado Springs college students believes collaboration is key. And they hope an event called Student (Ad)Venture Day planned for early in the new year  will help foster the city’s entrepreneurial environment. UCCS sophomore Justin Hein, one of the event organizers, said the goal is to build on the community of young entrepreneurs by bringing students together to exchange ideas, solve problems and make connections. The Gazette, Dec. 24

UCCS students, religious studies professor weigh in on Trump’s controversial Muslim comments

Donald Trump argues his plan would keep the American people safe by keeping terrorists off U.S. soil. But religious studies professor Jeff Scholes believes such rhetoric demonizes millions around the globe and is unconstitutional. 

“It runs so counter to the Founding Fathers’ ideals to the separation of church and state,” Scholes said. “Any religious litmus test on the grounds of this kind of prevention of entering the country is incredibly troubling to me.” KRDO, Dec. 8

Governor, Colorado Springs mayor celebrate university’s 50th anniversary

Gov. John Hickenlooper and Colorado Springs Mayor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers were among the guests at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opening of UCCS. Neal Lane, a former chancellor who advised former President Bill Clinton, and Colorado legislators also attended the event. The Gazette, Dec. 2

Does matcha beat green tea in health benefits?matcha beat green tea in health benefits?

Some companies who sell matcha claim that, since people consume all of the leaf, they ingest more healthy catechins. A 2003 study by researchers at UCCS found the concentration of EGCG available from drinking matcha was 137 times as great as in one brand of green tea. Wall Street Journal, Dec. 14

University of Colorado Denver

Marijuana employees ask to be treated with the same respect as their merchandise

Marty Otañez, a CU Denver anthropology professor, has immersed himself in the marijuana industry, obtaining a state-issued marijuana employee badge and attending Green Mountain Harvest’s Trimmer Training School. He has concerns about workplace conditions and the lack of federal efforts to address them. International Business Times, Dec. 18

Think traffic is bad around the Denver area? Just wait a decade or two

By 2040, the daily traffic lull could seem as bad as today’s morning rush hour, according to a report from the Denver Regional Council of Governments.

“DRCOG does a great job at projecting traffic levels,” said Bruce N. Janson, a civil engineering professor at CU Denver. “They’re one of the most progressive metropolitan planning organizations in the country with regard to their traffic forecasting methodology.”  But with the traffic trouble spots known well and limited funding, it is up to state and local officials to prioritize projects. The Denver Post, Dec. 20

Also: Highway injustice in Denver’s Latino neighborhoods, High Country News, Dec. 21

Can fracking affect your homeowners’ insurance policy?

 “There is a lot of variation from state to state, in terms of how vigorously regulators seek to prevent damage in the first place, whether homeowners have administrative remedies and what burden of proof a homeowner must carry in court if initiating a damages claim,” said Lloyd Burton, a professor at the CU Denver School of Public Affairs. NerdWallet, Dec. 22

CU Denver Chancellor Wartgow leaves with new projects on the horizon

Interim Chancellor Jerry Wartgow is retiring for the third and final time, but leaves behind a legacy at the university. Wartgow worked closely with the students, fighting an “uphill battle,” and in April 2015, students voted 61 percent in favor of raising credit hour prices by $6 to fund a wellness center. The regents followed suit, voting 7-2 in its favor April 17. Denver Business Journal, Dec. 17

Burning natural gas can be as bad as coal

Coal recently was eclipsed by natural gas as the nation’s top source of energy for electrical power generation. That might seem like a good development, because gas has a reputation as a cleaner fuel that contributes about half as much carbon dioxide to the atmosphere when it’s burned as coal does. But that could be misleading if even only a small amount of the gas — less than 5 percent of what is removed from the Earth — leaks into the atmosphere while it’s being used to produce electricity, according to a study by CU Denver researchers. Discovery News, Dec. 6

Chaffee County sheriff investigating three Buena Vista High sexting cases

“The problem is we kind of lack a middle range of laws that deal with what’s actually happening, which is really a privacy violation,” said Amy Hasinoff, an assistant professor of communications CU Denver. “Child porn laws are not meant to deal with a privacy violation but a horrific form of abuse.” The Denver Post, Dec. 14

University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

As mass casualties continue, hospitals keep honing their preparedness

Barbara Blok, associate professor of emergency medicine, who was on duty at University of Colorado Hospital, had heard over the emergency dispatch system about the Aurora theater shooting. But it wasn’t until one of the first patients came in by car with minor pellet wounds that Blok got a sense of the scale.

“We had physicians that had never seen trauma,” she said. “I told them, ‘Look [the victims] over from head to toe and come back to me and tell me what you see.’ It worked, but it’s not the ideal situation.” The Washington Post, Dec. 25

Being smart about your child’s brain

Professor Dawn Comstock of the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz was interviewed by The New York Times columnist Frank Bruni about concussions ahead of the release of the major Hollywood movie starring Will Smith, Concussion, which opened in December. The New York Times, Dec. 20

CU Anschutz students create care kits for the homeless

Students at the CU Anschutz Medical Campus created hundreds of care kits for the homeless in Denver. The kits include items such as washcloths, toothpaste, tissues, winter accessories, snacks, Band-Aids and soap. The students held a donation drive to get the items in November. This is the second year the students have done this project. 9News, Dec. 11

How much should you exercise? Try an exercise prescription

Iñigo San Millán, director of sports performance at the new CU Sports Medicine and Performance Center, said, “People go on this drastic diet, they go to the gym and just kill themselves . . . and we know that people drop out of these programs in six months. They fail at losing weight. Many even get injured.” Denver Post, Dec. 19, 2015


Targeted therapy keeps pedal to life’s metal

Matt Mikulich, 73, was diagnosed with stage 3B non-small-cell lung cancer in February 2009. Following chemo and radiation therapy, his cancer spread, and by April 2010, the diagnosis worsened to stage 4. To no small degree, Matt Mikulich owes his presence to another British export: Ross Camidge, the Joyce Zeff Chair in Lung Cancer Research at the CU Cancer Center. Chaffee County Times, Dec. 17

The tricky business of treating altitude sickness

Robert Roach, director of the Altitude Research Center at CU Anschutz, talks about ways of coping with altitude sickness when traveling in the mountains of Colorado and beyond. The New York Times, Dec. 13

CU doc partners with Boulder Valley on concussion recovery

Sherri Ballantine, a CU School of Medicine sports medicine doctor and assistant professor of orthopedics, helped develop the new concussion protocol for Boulder Valley School District and serves on the district’s Brain Injury Resource Team.

“The teachers are with the kids every day,” she said. “They can see if the kid is tanking at the end of the day.” Daily Camera, Dec. 21

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