Published: Aug. 31, 2016

Among the state’s four winners of this year’s Governor’s Award for High-Impact Research are the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and the JILA physics institute, both at CU Boulder. The award, administered by the CO-LABS consortium, celebrates the groundbreaking work of scientists and engineers from Colorado’s federal research labs.

“We’re delighted that CU Boulder’s research institutes are being recognized for their high-impact research,” said Terri Fiez, CU Boulder’s Vice Chancellor for Research. “JILA and LASP are exceptional in their pursuit of innovations that can transform the lives of people across Colorado and the world.”

LASP won in the category of Earth Systems and Space Sciences for its research on space weather.  LASP Director Dan Baker led LASP scientists and engineers in the research, which can lead to future mitigation of damage of space and ground-based technological systems caused by severe space weather events.

“I am honored on behalf of all the great people at LASP doing space research to accept this recognition from CO-LABS and Governor Hickenlooper,” Baker said. “It is gratifying to study themes that are both fascinating from a basic scientific point of view and also highly relevant for societal needs.”

JILA won in the category of Foundational Science and Technology. Scientists Cindy Regal and Konrad Lehnert led the JILA Quantum Machine Team, which was awarded for work on an electrical to optical converter, needed when superfast quantum computing becomes widespread. Fiber-optic networks will still carry information, but quantum computers will emit electrical signals, and these two signals don't communicate––yet.

"We are thrilled to have the governor's recognition of the Quantum Machine Team,” said JILA chair Dana Anderson. “Building on more than 50 years of Colorado-federal joint research and training, JILA is proud to witness quantum technology having a rapidly growing impact on the economy of Colorado and the nation."

In total, 12 nominations from Colorado’s federal laboratories were reviewed by a CO-LABS panel of 10 researchers from Colorado’s research universities and professional scientific community. CO-LABS is a nonprofit partnership among federal research labs, research  universities, businesses and economic development organizations that informs the public about breakthroughs and impacts from the 24 federal labs in Colorado.

Other award recipients for work in public health, life sciences and sustainability include representatives from the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention, Vector-Borne Disease Division and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Earth System Research Laboratory.

JILA is a joint physics institute between CU-Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology that fosters creative collaborations among its scientists.

LASP is a full-cycle space research institute, combining all aspects of space exploration through expertise in science, engineering, mission operations, data management and education. It employs 77 doctoral-level scientists ranging in fields from solar influences, to Earth's and other planetary atmospherics processes, space weather, space plasma and dusty plasma physics. In addition, more than 135 CU Boulder undergraduate and graduate students work at LASP.

The two groups will be recognized at an awards presentation to be held at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The event will be hosted by CO-LABS and presented by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy. Those wishing to attend the event should register at

An artist's depiction of space weather.

For its involvement in space weather research, which can have many and varied impacts on technological systems, LASP will receive one of this year's governor's awards for high-impact research. (Image: NASA)

Cindy Regal, left, and Konrad Lehnert, right, are pictured standing side by side.

For their work on an electrical to optical converter to further quantum computing, Cindy Regal, left, and Konrad Lehnert, right, will receive one of this year's governor's awards for high-impact research. (Photo courtesy of JILA.)