Spring 2016 Edition


Dean's Letter
Celebrating a renovation and a bright future


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Carbon fiber material

Breakthrough: fully recyclable carbon-fiber composite

Strong and light carbon-fiber composites can be easily and cost-effectively recycled into new material just as strong as the originals, a team of researchers led by CU-Boulder has found. The composites are popular because they are lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel. Unlike metal, however, carbon-fiber composite is generally not recyclable.

Climate change

Prof finds reasons for climate hope

When Peter Blanken flew to Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in December, he had somewhat low expectations. But the CU-Boulder geography professor was heartened to see and hear that the 200 countries attending COP21 agreed on the urgency to act. “There was a strong sense that if we don’t do something in these two weeks (of the conference), it will be too late.”

What Rousseau didn’t know

What Rousseau didn’t know

Economic inequality is a hot topic in a presidential election year. Economists, politicians and journalists are all weighing in — but what, exactly, can an archaeologist bring to the discussion? Sarah Kurnick, a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow at CU-Boulder, is glad you asked.

the carcass of a dead animal lies next to the limestone quarry that borders the site of a 1970 trichloroethylene spill near Le Roy, Photographs by Donna Goldstein.

‘Hysteria’ theory short on science

In 2011, 12 high-school girls in upstate New York began to exhibit strange neurological symptoms: tics, verbal outbursts, seizure-like activity and difficulty speaking. The diagnosis was “conversion disorder.”


A petroglyph of an eclipse is seen with a wide-angle lens in a photograph at Chaco Canyon, where CU-Boulder researchers captured a rare Aurora Borealis in the southern night sky. Photo courtesy of Fiske Planetarium.

A digital look at ancient skies gets a showing at Fiske

Having captured the summer solstice and a week’s worth of sunsets, sunrises and their lunar equivalents from the vantage point of ancient Chacoan people in southwestern Colorado, using parabolic video technology, a multi-disciplinary team from the University of Colorado Boulder counted its June 2015 trip a success.

The greenhouse on the roof of the Ramaley Biology building is partly obscured from view at ground level. Up on the roof, it enjoys the full benefit of those famous 300 days of Boulder sunshine annually. Photo by Laura Kriho.

Greenhouses grow better students, biologists say

In the oasis of greenhouses on campus, biology students can make cutting-edge scientific advances, while surrounded by tropical plants in a tranquil setting.

The Gardens of Adonis, an 1888 painting by John Reinhard Wkeguelin depicts women bearing the container-grown plants and festal rose garlands to dispose of in the sea, as part of the festival of Adonis.

Prof sees a ‘subversive critique’ in ancient Greece

A CU Boulder classicist argues that the festival of Adonis was actually a “dissent and a critique of important cultural practices.”

Practicing yoga during pregnancy can help prevent postpartum depression. iStockphoto.

Meditation outperforms meds on postpartum depression

Pregnant and postpartum women at risk of depression are less likely to suffer depression when they meditate or get in a yoga pose than when they are treated with psychotherapy or antidepressants, a study led by CU-Boulder researchers has found.

Participants in a modern cell-biology ‘boot camp’ in Ghana pause for reflection during the course. Photo courtesy of Dick Macintosh.

Biologists’ ‘boot camps’ help fight disease in Africa

A distinguished professor of biology and a biology alumna recently traveled to the University of Ghana in Legon to participate in a two-week course on modern cell biology for biochemistry graduate students. The duo have taught the course in four African countries. They call the courses modern cell-biology “boot camps” and say their goal is the promotion of front-line research in Africa, which has no shortage of disease but a dearth of cutting-edge research on disease.

Francis Beckwith has been named the fourth Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy at CU-Boulder.

Beckwith named new scholar in conservative thought

Francis Beckwith will serve as the Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy for the 2016-17 academic year. He is the fourth person to hold the position.


Mae Morgan, a Navajo weaver, is one of several weavers who produces rugs for an auction that raises funds for the Museum of Natural History at CU-Boulder. Photo courtesy of Harry Jackson Clark Sr.

Navajo rugs go from reservation to preservation at CU

Start unraveling the annual 100 Navajo Rugs silent auction, one of the longest‐running, most successful fundraisers at the Museum of Natural History at the University of Colorado Boulder, and you’ll eventually come to … Pepsi Cola. It’s quite a yarn.

Stack of books

With private boost, CU launches Finnish courses

The Program in Nordic Studies has begun offering Finnish‐language courses at the University of Colorado Boulder. It’s noteworthy because it’s such a rare language, and the courses are offered for full credit, which means the courses can satisfy a foreign‐language requirement.

Archiving equipment

Big donation of archiving gear boosts film studies

With the recent gift of $2 million worth of professional preservation and archiving equipment from Wyndham Hannaway, a visual‐effects specialist, film studies will be adding film preservation and archiving to impressive list of offerings. Hannaway’s Boulder company, GWH&A, has been a leader in creating professional imaging for film and media services for more than 30 years.


Face vocal band

Without instruments, CU alums FACE the music

The a capella group ‘could do a Metallica song, and your grandma would like it. Open your eyes, however, and you see five guys seated around a table — not an instrument in sight. Meet FACE. Since its humble 2001 beginnings in the practice rooms of the College of Music...

Alums Alex Becker and Kristen Allen don traditional Bavarian clothes with the Regensburg Dom behind them. Photo courtesy of Alex Becker.

World studies pave way to a stellar career

Alex Becker, a 2006 International Affairs Program graduate, embodies a global‐minded, entrepreneurial spirit. He says CU‐Boulder opened introduced him to a host of new opportunities. “But I never thought I would be doing anything like this,” he says in an email sent from aboard a catamaran as first mate.

Alla Balabanova

Obstacles don’t deter standout grad’s cancer‐drug research

Alla Balabanova describes her time at CU‐Boulder as “anything but easy,” adding that she faced obstacles “just about every step of the way,” starting with her initial uncertainty about what to study. That might not sound like a ringing endorsement, but it is. Balabanova graduated summa cum laude in biochemistry and was the Fall 2015 outstanding graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences.

CU-Boulder alumni in San Diego joined meet to network and catch up on the latest news from the university. Photo courtesy of Chrissy Reneger.

Arts and Sciences hits the road to meet alums

Nearly 40 alumni and friends of the College of Arts and Sciences recently gathered in San Diego for an intimate evening of networking with local Buffs. It’s part of a new effort to connect with Arts and Sciences alumni across the country while featuring the great work our students and faculty are doing on campus.


Although enrollment in the humanities at universities nationwide has fallen in recent years, the same is not true of classics, or “classical studies,” as it is sometimes called. Photo of Rome under stormy skies by Tyler Lansford.

Classics unfazed by the ‘crisis in humanities’

In the headlines, the words “humanities” and “crisis” are so commonly conjoined that you’d think that college courses on human thought, experience and creativity are collapsing like the Roman Empire. The story has more nuance than the headline, as the Classics Department illustrates.

16mm frame still, scanned at 2K from By Pain and Rhyme and Arabesques of Foraging (2012) a David Gatten film. Image courtesy of David Gatten.

Noted filmmaker joins CU film studies faculty

David Gatten became fascinated with cinematography after watching Star Wars at age 7, so it’s no surprise he became a filmmaker.

June Gruber

CU-Boulder’s Gruber explores dark side of happiness

At some point in your life you’ve likely heard that “too much of a good thing” can be bad for you. June Gruber has used science to prove this old adage true.

June Gruber, at left, is leading an interdisciplinary effort to improve human understanding of people’s emotions. Photo by Glenn Asakawa.

Group taps broad expertise to understand emotion

Human emotions are universally experienced but not fully understood. A new initiative at the University of Colorado Boulder aims to tap a wide range of expertise to shed light on “the mysteries of human nature.”

Jackie Elliot

Classicist wins top honor for ‘daring, meticulous’ book

Jackie Elliott, associate professor of classics at the University of Colorado Boulder, has won a 2016 Goodwin Award of Merit from the Society for Classical Studies, the nation’s top research recognition in classical languages & literature. Elliott was recognized for her book, Ennius and the Architecture of the Annales.