Published: Feb. 13, 2024 By

As thousands of researchers, educators, policy makers and industry leaders gather in Denver this week for the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), University of Colorado Boulder faculty—including Nobel Laureate Tom Cech—will be prominently featured.  

Massimo Ruzzene

Massimo Ruzzene, Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Dean of the Institutes, CU Boulder

Alongside other prominent scientists from around the world, more than a dozen CU Boulder faculty will present on a variety of important space, climate, health and technology related topics, underscoring the university’s impact as a widely recognized leading research university. A unique combination of excellence in research and innovation and our success in maximizing the impact of those efforts set Colorado’s flagship research university apart, even in the company of the nation’s top research institutions. 

CU Boulder has long been regarded as a global leader in fields like atomic, molecular and optical physics, aerospace engineering, and earth and environmental sciences. We are also a pioneering institution in areas as diverse as quantum physics, environmental law and the fine arts. Excellence in research and innovation are at the core of the education students earn at CU Boulder, but the quality of our faculty’s work is only part of the equation. 

Equally important is the environment at CU Boulder—one that extends beyond labs, classrooms and studios. This expanded set of opportunities that we call our “ecosystem” includes the diverse partners we work with to drive innovation, and to translate research, scholarship and creative work into educational outcomes, products, services and programs with real-world implications. 

And what an ecosystem we have. We work with the top universities around the country, and with many four-year, two-year educational institutions and community colleges right here in Colorado. We collaborate daily within the nation’s densest cluster of national laboratories, which includes NOAA, NREL, NIST, USGS and many more. We partner with many of the world’s most innovative companies—from Lockheed Martin to Google—and the next generation of industry superstars thriving in one of the most prolific startup hubs in the U.S. Supporting these partnerships are our state and federal government partners who offer policy and funding support to accelerate progress. With this ecosystem working as a team, CU Boulder is uniquely positioned to launch the discoveries of our faculty and students into the world. 

Research and innovation outcomes that extend beyond our campus demonstrate the full potential of what higher education offers, not just to students but to all of society. A few recent examples demonstrate what is possible when we work with government, academic and industry partners to amplify the excellence of our faculty and the impact of their scholarship:  

It’s no wonder that CU Boulder attracted a record $684 million in research last year.  While this number quantifies the size of the research enterprise, it does not fully convey the excellence across the broad range of innovation, scholarship and creative work—fields with impact not as easily measured through dollars and cents.

Our faculty and students are identifying and tackling humanity’s toughest challenges, and our funders agree that CU Boulder is worthy of their investments. The unique combination of our outstanding faculty and our excellence in translating discovery into the real world make CU Boulder a world-class institution, even when sharing a stage with leaders from around the globe.

Massimo Ruzzene signature

Massimo Ruzzene
Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Dean of the Institutes, CU Boulder