Published: Dec. 19, 2017

In 2017 these stories attracted widespread media coverage and represented significant advancements in fields of study, from aerospace to anthropology. They also reflect our campus priorities to lead, innovate and create positive impact in the world.


Newly engineered material can cool roofs, structures with zero energy consumption

A team of engineers develops a scalable manufactured metamaterial—an engineered material with extraordinary properties not found in nature—to act as a kind of air conditioning system for structures. It has the ability to cool objects even under direct sunlight with zero energy and water consumption. Discovery makes Physics World Top Ten Breakthroughs of 2017 list. 

Can't get to sleep? A wilderness weekend can help

Filling the day with natural light and the night with true darkness for as little as a weekend can have a profound impact on our circadian rhythm, which may help us fall asleep earlier and potentially deliver other health benefits, according to new research involving Colorado campers.

Scientists celebrate—and mourn—the Cassini mission grand finale

Launched in 1997 and pulling up at Saturn in 2004 for the first of hundreds of orbits through the planet’s system, the Cassini mission fostered scores of dazzling discoveries, including the discovery of methane lakes on the icy moon Titan and water plumes found squirting from the moon Enceladus. CU Boulder researchers reflect on their involvement and its significance. 

Humans dramatically increase extent, duration of wildfire season

Research shows that humans have dramatically increased the spatial and seasonal extent of wildfires across the U.S. in recent decades and ignited more than 840,000 blazes in the spring, fall and winter seasons over a 21-year period. 

Light-activated nanoparticles can supercharge current antibiotics

Light-activated nanoparticles, also known as quantum dots, can provide a crucial boost in effectiveness for antibiotic treatments used to combat drug-resistant superbugs such as E. coli and Salmonella, new CU Boulder research shows.

New shoe makes running 4 percent easier, 2-hour marathon possible

Days after Boulder runner Shalane Flanagan won the NYC Marathon, CU Boulder researchers publish the long-awaited study that inspired the name of the shoes she wore, confirming they reduce the amount of energy used to run.

Big herbivorous dinosaurs ate crustaceans as side dish

A surprising CU Boulder study shows giant, plant-eating dinosaurs roaming present-day Utah snacked on crustaceans, a behavior that may have been tied to reproductive activities. 

When love hurts, a placebo can help

A new CU Boulder-led study of 40 recently brokenhearted men and women finds that a placebo disguised as an emotionally soothing medicine eased their heartbreak and quieted areas of the brain related to rejection.

Spousal age gap affects marriage satisfaction over time

Men and women both report greater marital satisfaction with younger spouses, but that satisfaction fades over time in marriages with significant age gaps, study shows.

Ancient DNA used to track abandonment of Mesa Verde in 13th century

Ancient DNA used to track the exodus of Pueblo people from Colorado's Mesa Verde region in the late 13th century indicates many wound up in the northern Rio Grande area of New Mexico.