Natural Sciences

Researcher looking at how to use solar energy to produce fuels

Assistant Professor Gordana Dukovic is all for using sunlight and solar panels to produce electricity that can power homes and buildings.

But what she really wants to do is to better understand how to use sunlight to drive useful chemical reactions – essentially using solar energy to produce fuels rather than electricity. A fuel is basically a way of storing energy, she says, and the idea is to produce fuels that can be transported and used as needed, even when the sun is not shining. 

Researchers in Antarctica

Colorado is heading full force into winter, which means it's that time of year again: science season in Antarctica.

Every North American winter, buff "beakers," the slang term used in Antarctica for scientists, head south to the U.S. resarch center on Ross Island, called McMurdo Station, which is in the throes of summer.

CU-Boulder researchers use video games to spark kids' interest in coding

In grade school classrooms across the country, students have been hard at work this semester trying to figure out how to smash a virtual frog with a virtual truck. They’re building their own video games—inspired by the 1980s classic Frogger—and there are a thousand details to work out. 

In the end, the students will have built a video game. But more important, the students will have learned how to code—whether they knew it at the time or not.

Tallgrass prairie restoration could be bolstered by understanding rare microbes

In the first half of the nineteenth century, American settlers pushed westward into the Great Plains, lured to the prairies by the agricultural promise of their dark, rich soils.

Within a century, America’s tallgrass prairies—which once stretched across more than 150 million acres, from Minnesota south to Texas and from Illinois west to Nebraska—had all but vanished under settlers’ plows. The demise of the tallgrass prairie also meant the demise of dozens of species of grasses that could grow to the height of a man, hundreds of species of flowers and herds of roaming bison.

Bugs that don't blend in can endanger larger insect community

One badly disguised bug easily becomes a snack for a bird.

But the impact reaches far beyond one poorly camouflaged insect. The bird, drawn to the insect that doesn't blend in, sticks around to eat all the other insects that live on the same plant. Those insects, in turn, are not able to feed on the leaves of the plants as they normally would.

Satellite designed and built by CU-Boulder students now in orbit

DANDE has left the planet.

A beach ball-sized satellite designed and built by a team of CU-Boulder students is now whipping around the planet in a polar orbit. Roughly 150 students have been involved in the project since 2007.

The satellite, known as the Drag and Atmospheric Neutral Density Explorer satellite, or DANDE, will investigate how atmospheric drag can affect satellite orbits.

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

Ana Maria Rey, a theoretical physicist and a fellow of JILA, a joint institute of the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, today was named a winner of a 2013 MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as the “genius grant.” Rey also is an assistant research professor in the CU-Boulder Department of Physics. She teaches undergrauate and graduate classes.

Rey is the eighth CU-Boulder faculty member to win the prestigious award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation of Chicago.

NSF fellows tackle research ranging from cystic fibrosis treatment to a better hip replacement

This fall, the University of Colorado Boulder is again hosting a large class of National Science Foundation fellows. Twenty-six new graduate researchers have received NSF fellowships, bringing the total number of NSF fellows on campus to 101, a new record for CU-Boulder.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program is one of the most prestigious awards available for student researchers in the country. This year CU-Boulder was among the top 20 universities enrolling NSF fellows.

MAVEN arrives in Florida

Following a decade of work from the birth of an idea to a finished spacecraft, NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN, or MAVEN, mission to Mars being led by the University of Colorado Boulder has arrived in Florida for a slated November launch.

“We are now on the final journey to the launch pad,” said CU-Boulder Professor Bruce Jakosky of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, principal investigator for the project. “It doesn’t get more exciting than that.”

Set by the sun: An escape from electrical lights synchs our circadian clocks to the solar day

A weeklong wilderness escape from the electrical lights that illuminate most of our daily lives is enough to reset our internal circadian clocks to synchronize with sunrise and sunset, according to new research from the University of Colorado Boulder.

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