CU-Boulder: Highlights of 2013

December 20, 2013

In 2013, members of the CU-Boulder community stood out in a wide range of areas, from publishing cutting-edge research to volunteering in compassionate service to performing at the top of their game in sports. Here's a look at some of the highlights:

Picture-perfect launch to Mars

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, mission made a flawless launch in November. The mission, led by CU-Boulder, will help scientists determine how the loss of gases in the Martian atmosphere changed Mars from a warm, wet and possibly habitable planet to the cold, dry and inhospitable place it appears to be today.

Related link: MAVEN in-depth series

Physicist wins a 'genius grant'

Theoretical physicist Ana Maria Rey—a fellow at JILA, a joint institute of CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology—was named a winner of the 2013 MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as the “genius grant.” Rey, who teaches graduate and undergraduate classes, is the eighth CU-Boulder faculty member to win the award.

Related link: CU-Boulder/NIST physicist Ana Maria Rey wins 2013 MacArthur Fellowship

Floods bring campus community together

The historic floodwaters that inundated the Front Range in mid-September caused water damage to dozens of buildings, forced the evacuation of some of the family housing units, and closed the campus for multiple days. In the face of the seemingly endless rain, staff members across campus, from facilities management to CU Police, put in long hours to take care of displaced students and faculty, repair buildings and keep the community safe. Volunteers from across campus pitched in to help—student athletes served warm meals to evacuees, for example—while scientists used the the opportunity to learn more about the local interplay of geography and weather and how those risks can be mitigated in the future.

Related links: September 2013 flooding at the University of Colorado Boulder, Student athletes serve flood-weary community with a hot meal, The Western Water Assessment’s Front Range Rain Event and Floods, September 2013

Athletes stand out, take national honors

The ski team won its 19th national championship in 2013 in Vermont. This year, the men’s cross country team also became national champions. The NCAA victory was the team’s fourth. Other teams that had exemplary performances in 2013 were the men’s basketball team, which made the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, and the women’s basketball team, which made the field for the first time in nine years. The women's volleyball team also made it to the NCAA tournament—their 17th such appearance—where they advanced to the second round for the ninth time in their history. CU-Boulder's women’s soccer team also was noteworthy for making the Sweet 16. 2013 also was a big year for many of CU-Boulder's 33 club sport teams. National championships were won by triathlon, free-style skiing and swimming teams. The free-style ski team also was selected to represent the U.S. in the Winter World University Games and brought home two medals: Alexis Keeney won gold and Katie Souza took bronze.

Related links: CU Skiers Rally To Win NCAA Championship, Men's Cross Country Claims National Championship, Volleyball Enjoys Memorable 2013 Season, CU Soccer Upsets No. 19 BYU To Advance To Sweet 16

Physicist named a U.S. Professor of the Year

Physicist Steven Pollock was named a 2013 U.S. Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Pollock is the second CU-Boulder faculty member to receive the award. Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, also a CU-Boulder physics professor, was honored with the designation in 2004. The Professor of the Year award honors the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country.

Related links: U.S. Professor of the Year helps students create their own understanding of physics, CU-Boulder physicist Steven Pollock named a 2013 U.S. Professor of the Year

Scanning the brain to measure pain

Scientists at CU-Boulder discovered a neurologic signature for pain that allows them, for the first time, to objectively measure how much pain a person is in. The researchers used a computer to help them identify the signature in a series of brain scans. Now, the only method doctors have for knowing how much pain their patients are in is to ask them.

Related link: First objective measure of pain discovered in brain scan patterns by CU-Boulder study

Remembering some of CU-Boulder’s brightest stars

In 2013, CU-Boulder lost several of its most distinguished community members. In September, Al Bartlett, professor emeritus of physics, died at the age of 90. Bartlett was well known for his lecture on the impacts of world population growth. Alumnus Scott Carpenter, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, died in October at the age of 88. Carpenter was the second American to orbit Earth after fellow astronaut John Glenn. CU-Boulder also lost former university Chancellor Roderic Park in September and Lawson Crowe, the campus’ first chancellor, in November.

Related links: CU-Boulder alum, NASA Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter dies at 88, CU-Boulder campus mourns death of longtime, celebrated physics professor Al Bartlett, Former CU-Boulder Chancellor Roderic Park dies at 81

North America's oldest petroglyphs

A high-tech analysis by a CU-Boulder researcher indicated a set of rock engravings, which are cut into several boulders in western Nevada, date to at least 10,500 years ago and perhaps even as far back as 14,800 years ago, making them North America's oldest known petroglyphs. Located near Winnemucca Lake 35 miles northeast of Reno, the petroglyphs consist of large, deeply carved grooves and dots forming complex designs on several large limestone boulders.

Related link: New CU-Boulder led research effort dates oldest petroglyphs known in North America

A commitment to upgrade athletic facilities

The Board of Regents unanimously approved a $143 million plan to upgrade CU-Boulder’s athletic facilities. The plan includes adding an indoor multipurpose practice facility and refurbishing the Dal Ward Athletics Center. Rick George, who took over as athletic director in August, said the upgrades would allow CU-Boulder to create “a world-class, holistic student-athlete experience." George is the former president of business operations for the Texas Rangers.

Related links: Board of Regents approves $142 million plan for athletics facilities upgrades, DiStefano names Rick George next Director of Intercollegiate Athletics at CU-Boulder

Shakespeare play takes on bullying

A new anti-violence production of “The Tempest” put on by the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in conjunction with CU-Boulder’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence toured Colorado schools in 2013. A shortened version of the play, which focuses on themes of vengeance and forgiveness, was used to engage kids in a discussion about bullying. The work builds on a similar production of “Twelfth Night,” which has been seen by more than 22,000 Colorado schoolchildren.

Related link: CU’s anti-violence production of ‘The Tempest’ to tour Colorado schools

Fiske’s new ‘star ball’ shines

Fiske Planetarium reopened this fall after a modern makeover that included the installation of a “star ball” that can project 20 million individual stars, a vastness not fully visible to the naked eye. The new digital ball replaced a 40-year-old analog projector. The planetarium also upgraded its video system, allowing for high-definition pictures that audience members can see in a 360-degree view.

Related link: CU-Boulder’s modernized Fiske Planetarium to reopen Oct. 12

Army ROTC earns national honors

CU-Boulder’s ROTC program won one of eight MacArthur Awards in the nation. The program was selected as the top unit of the Cadet Command’s Fifth Brigade, which consists of 36 Army ROTC programs in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming. The award recognizes the ideals of duty, honor and country.

Related link: CU-Boulder Army ROTC ranks among nation’s top 8 units, receives 2012 MacArthur Award

Engineers give printing a fourth dimension

CU-Boulder engineers developed a technology that allows an object created with a 3D printer to later self-assemble into another form. The new 4D printing method incorporates “memory fibers” into the material used by traditional 3D printers. After the object is printed, the fibers remember how to stretch, curl, twist or fold, ultimately creating a different structure. The technology could allow solar panels or similar products to be produced in a flat configuration that could be activated after shipping to assemble into the optimal form.

Related Link: CU-Boulder researchers develop 4D printing technology for composite materials

First scholar in Conservative thought

CU-Boulder appointed Steven Hayward its first Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy. The visiting scholar position is a three-year pilot program supported by private funds. During his one-year appointment, Hayward, who has a Ph.D. in American studies, will be teaching classes and hosting public discussions in the campus community.

Related link: CU-Boulder appoints Steven Hayward as inaugural Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy

Recognition for a globally minded campus

The university received two top rankings this year that reflect an international interest among students. CU-Boulder was ranked No. 1 in the state for sending and receiving international students, according to the Institute for International Education. CU-Boulder also was ranked No. 4 nationally for Peace Corps volunteers in 2013. The school has ranked in the top four every year since 2004. In 2013, CU-Boulder also set a record for Fulbright grants. Twelve students were offered grants to pursue teaching, research and graduate studies during the 2013-14 year.

Related links: CU-Boulder ranks No. 1 in state for sending, receiving students internationally, says new report, CU-Boulder ranked No. 4 nationally for Peace Corps volunteers, Record number of CU-Boulder students offered Fulbright awards for 2013-14

Julie Andrews speaks at commencement

Actress Julie Andrews won the hearts of buffs everywhere when she gave a speech at the spring commencement. She was met with cheers from her first line ("Hello buffalo people") to her last ("Congratulations, dear students. These hills, today, are truly alive, with the graduating class of 2013.") The ceremony honored candidates for 6,084 degrees, including 4,687 bachelor’s degrees, 903 master’s degrees, 171 law degrees and 494 doctoral degrees.

Related links: Julie Andrews, Spring 2013, 2013 CU-Boulder Spring Commencement

Less sleep leads to more weight

CU-Boulder sleep researchers found that participants in a study who slept just five hours a night over a workweek and who had unlimited access to food gained nearly two pounds of weight. While staying awake requires more energy than going to sleep, the extra food participants ate more than offset the calories burned. The findings suggest that adequate sleep could be one tool to help battle obesity.

Related link: Less sleep leads to more eating and more weight gain, according to new CU-Boulder study

Service learning: Students provide shelter

Fifteen CU-Boulder students studying environmental design spent part of their summer constructing an entire building--from foundation to roof, from insulation to siding, from caulk to paint. The simple 9-by-12-foot structure was built for the Lama Foundation in Questa, N.M. The nonprofit, which is still recovering from a 1996 wildfire, is an ecumenical spiritual retreat and educational center nestled in a mountainside near Taos, N.M. The location is about 300 miles south of Boulder.

Related link: Through the creation of a simple shelter, students gain new skills, community