The Competitive Edge Colorado State University

Table of Contents - February 2007

 

Penley Panel

President Penley

Penley Panel

This issue of The Competitive Edge looks at how the application of soil science has a profound effect on the economy – from the breached New Orleans levees during 2005’s Katrina, which resulted in the devastating loss of life and a $150 million economic-impact, to the United Nations’ warning in November that crop regions from Africa to Australia are under threat of turning to dust and could create millions of refugees. The fate of a microscopic roundworm in the soil of the Antarctic, for example, could become an economic issue because of what it signals about environmental degradation and climate change. These and other research findings pave the way for public policy initiatives implemented by the U.S. Congress, the European Commission, and the United Nations.

Scientists throughout the world and here in Colorado are collaborating and making a difference in the quality of life for people of all nations. Colorado State University researchers are partnering with India’s space research organization to study polarized Doppler Weather Radar systems, teaming with Mayo Clinic scientists to develop treatments for cancer and infectious diseases, working with Japanese marine biologists to establish conservation plans that also address the economic impact on tourism, and collaborating with other Colorado research universities to create new laser technology that generates tens of millions of dollars in annual research expenditures for the state.

Such collaboration takes on special importance when it’s focused directly on the most pressing challenges facing our world today, one of the most urgent of which is the growing demand for clean-energy alternatives. In his 2006 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush said, "America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The best way to break this addiction is through technology." Keeping America competitive requires affordable energy. The alternative fuels industry is helping to reduce the nation’s dependence on imports by introducing more domestic ethanol and biodiesel options into the transportation fuels industry. Business and university engineers are working together to commercialize technology that can inexpensively mass produce oil derived from algae – a response to the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels. Research on alternative fossil fuels will eventually have both an environmental and economic impact.

These are critical issues for Colorado and its research universities, as well as for the U.S. Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, which is also working toward long-term solutions with an emphasis on research and development in market-relevant, domestic energy technologies—and is partnering with the state’s research universities in pursuing new innovations.

Also in this issue, you’ll read how universities prompt high levels of development in non-urban areas. This story of innovation ties into a critical focus for Colorado State University, which is the changing face of agriculture and its implications for rural economies in the 21st century—an issue we’ll explore in the next issue of Competitive Edge. This brings us back to the connection of rural initiatives, scientific research, and international economics. As you will discover, they are not worlds apart.

Larry Edward Penley
Chancellor and President

 

Feature Story

Research-to-market entity advances global health solutions

Barry Beaty, chief scientific officer of MicroRX, discusses the influence of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in infectious disease transmission with graduate students at the Center for Environmental Toxicology and Technology.

Colorado State University in February unveiled MicroRx, a first-of-its-kind enterprise to speed the transition of life-saving research on infectious diseases from the academic world into the global marketplace. MicroRx is just the first of the University's "Superclusters" – alliances of academic researchers, economists, and business experts designed to encourage collaboration and bridge the vastly different worlds of business and academia. Colorado State also announced its Superclusters acceleration research-to-market model, which the University began developing in 2004.

"University research scientists often try to double as entrepreneurs to transfer their discoveries into useful products and medical remedies," said Larry Edward Penley, Colorado State University president and co-creator of the Superclusters model. "Our Superclusters model encourages their direct collaboration with industry experts, enabling them to focus on what they do best – innovation and research into the great global challenges – and taking advantage of the corporate drive to market for that research for the benefit of the public."

Colorado State Superclusters will focus on research areas where the University has demonstrated international prominence, and where a potential for growth is evident. MicroRx, the business arm of the first Supercluster to launch, is a private, non-profit entity focused on infectious disease and biomedical research and development. The University has global renown for its infectious disease discoveries, including diagnostic tests and vaccines for West Nile virus, leprosy, bubonic plague, and tuberculosis. The Colorado State Foothills Research Campus is home to the world's most advanced research techniques, facilities, equipment, and some of the world's leading researchers in the field of infectious disease.

Colorado State has experienced double-digit growth in research dollars in recent years with total annual research expenditures topping $267 million.

"MicroRx will translate groundbreaking scientific research from Colorado State, so that public-health solutions are developed faster for the people who need them," said Tony Frank, senior vice president and provost, who also is a co-creator of the Superclusters Model. "Our primary goal is to expeditiously commercialize intellectual property for society's benefit."

Many research universities have "technology transfer" programs, which guide scientists through the process of patenting and other complexities encountered in delivering discoveries to the global market. Colorado State's Superclusters model is unique in its multidisciplinary structure, enabling groundbreaking research to move to market more quickly by incorporating business practices.

"Our Superclusters will look and act like a business and will be managed by people who have been successful leaders in the for-profit sector," Penley added.

Business leaders in the biomedical field have welcomed the Superclusters model, which will make accessing new research and technology more streamlined.

"MicroRx, with Dr. Barry Beaty at its scientific helm, will speed the transfer of innovative discoveries to organizations like InViragen," said Dan Stinchcomb, InViragen's chief executive officer. "These entities will provide the expertise and resources required to develop needed products to improve global public health."

Each Supercluster, organized under a specific research area, will appoint a chief scientific officer who oversees research activities. A chief operating officer will focus on forging business alliances and developing new opportunities for the results of that research. The Supercluster's technology transfer specialist will seek opportunities for patents, licenses and startups. The team also will seek private equity investors for new business opportunities.

"I'm honored to spearhead this project of collaboration, which will deliver 'real-world' solutions based on pioneering scientific discovery," said Beaty, who will serve as the MicroRx chief scientific officer. Beaty is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is a Colorado State University Distinguished Professor in Arthropod-borne infectious diseases such as West Nile virus. "We'll develop medical interventions to save and improve lives faster and with more precision to fill gaps in current medicine."

Based on a competitive proposal process, Colorado State will select additional Superclusters in research areas including cancer, environmental sciences, alternative energy, and agriculture.

Future choices, similar to the current MicroRx Supercluster, will be guided by the University's strengths, global challenges, and interest in increasing economic prosperity and quality of life.

MicroRx and all future Superclusters will be governed by a new not-for-profit entity called Colorado State University Ventures. This business enterprise is a subsidiary corporation of the existing Colorado State University Research Foundation, or CSURF, a private, non-profit foundation that aids the university in overall research and educational efforts.

Colorado State's Board of Governors approved initial funding for MicroRx, and University officials anticipate growth into an annual operating budget in excess of $1 million. Revenues generated by MicroRx will come from shares of patents, licensing agreements, start-up companies or other partnership arrangements that evolve from Colorado State research. The not-for-profit structure will ensure that proceeds are funneled into future research at the University.

"The Superclusters enterprise will allow Colorado State University to more than double the number of inventions and startups resulting from all scientific findings in the next five years under this new economic development model," said Mark Wdowik, chief executive officer of CSU Ventures.

The Superclusters model is part of Colorado State's overall strategy to help transform Colorado with renewed emphasis on the economic benefits provided by higher education.

 

Global Connections

Global economic issues are reflected in the soil

The study and application of soil science can have a profound effect on the economy. Ask the Louisiana State University soil scientists who counseled the engineers building the levees in New Orleans – pre-Katrina. The issue was the unusual chemical characteristics of the soils there, which in 2005 cost 1,700 lives and an estimated economic impact to Louisiana and Mississippi of $150 billion.

In Washington, the U.S. Congress is concerned that domestic regulation of a pesticide widely used in international agricultural commerce and as a soil steriliant, methyl bromide – which contributes to stratospheric ozone depletion and poses a health threat to living organisms – will provide an economic disadvantage to the United States. Other countries will continue to produce and use this substance after it has been phased out in the United States, argues Congress.

At the United Nations, the degradation of formerly productive land is a world economic, social, and environmental problem. U.N. experts last month said that desertification could create millions of refugees unless governments promote less water-intensive farming and new jobs ranging from solar energy to eco-tourism.

And on the far reaches of the globe, in the coldest and driest region on earth, researchers studying the soil in the McMurdo Dry Valley of the Antarctic have documented some alarming changes in the ecosystem there, reflected in a roundworm. The microscopic nematode Scottnema lindsayae plays a disproportionate role in the cycling of carbon, and its populations are decreasing rapidly, says Colorado State University soil ecologist Diana Wall.

Wall and scientists from CSU, Brigham Young University, Dartmouth, Virginia Tech, and the University of Florida, have documented a decrease in the nematode population by 65 percent since 1993, which translates to a loss of a third of the total carbon cycling in the soil’s ecosystem. Currently in the Antarctic for their 16th expedition, Wall and fellow researchers are testing how warming soil and increased water from permafrost or glacial melt affects soil biology. By examining the demographics of the soil invertebrates – the abundance, distribution, and age structure of different nematode species – over the years, they can determine how climate change may affect the animals and the cycling of carbon through the ecosystem.

Why is this microscopic worm important? "Soil microbes and animals benefit humans by regulating rates of decomposition of organic matter, like in a compost heap, or leaves on a forest floor," says Wall. The many species of animals – isopods, millipedes, earthworms, ants, termites, microarthropods, and nematodes – that work in a food web to filter water, maintain soil fertility, decay organic matter, and sequester carbon are regulators of human and plant pathogens and are food for birds and other above-ground creatures. This food web recycles carbon and is important in the Antarctic and global carbon cycle, Wall explains.

The Antarctic is an ideal research environment, say the researchers. The number of invertebrate species regulating these processes is very much reduced – there are only mosses above ground, no insects, and only soil nematodes as top of the food web in the soil – so the annual reduction of a major soil nematode species is easier to study.

"Soils worldwide are in danger," says Wall. Up until recently, many businesses and corporations didn’t take into account what the environment provided for free, she notes, referencing a 2005 landmark study, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Synthesis Report, conducted by 1,300 experts – including Wall – from 95 countries. The study revealed that approximately 60 percent of the ecosystem services that support life on Earth – such as fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water regulation, and the regulation of regional climate, natural hazards, and pests – are being degraded or used unsustainably. Scientists warn that the harmful consequences of this degradation could grow significantly worse in the next 50 years.

The study warns that the ongoing degradation of 15 of the 24 ecosystem services examined is increasing the likelihood of potentially abrupt changes that will seriously affect human well-being. This includes the emergence of new diseases, sudden changes in water quality, creation of "dead zones" along the coasts, the collapse of fisheries, and shifts in regional climate. Easing the strains we are putting on the planet lies within the power of human societies, maintains the Millennium Assessment board in Living beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human Well-Being. "Achieving this, however, will require radical changes in the way nature is treated at every level of decision-making and new ways of cooperation between government, business, and civil society," the directors report.

Across the globe, the European Commission recently proposed a strategy to ensure that Europe’s soils remain healthy and capable of supporting human activities and ecosystems. The strategy addresses such issues as desertification, compaction, loss of soil fertility, and loss of porosity in Europe's soils. "Good quality soil is essential to our economic activities as it provides us with food, drinking water, biomass and raw materials – and all our human activities are somehow related to soil," reports the commission. But soil degradation is accelerating, "with negative effects on human health, ecosystems and climate change – and on our economic prosperity and quality of life," the commission states.

In Washington, soil issues also are being considered. The House Soils Caucus was formed in 2006 to address the role of soils and soil science among policymakers, promoting proper soil management and conservation, and the protection and enhancement of the environment and natural resource base across the nation. Created on the premise that soils are in crises worldwide, the caucus studies issues of erosion, contamination, depletion of organic matter and nutrients and loss of biodiversity that have degraded the world’s land resources. The knowledge of the importance of soil science is increasingly absent among policymakers and the public, the caucus contends, which had resulted in steadily declining state and federal support for soils research.

"Corporations are now starting to look at how we can pay for damage to the environment, says Wall. "New York City decided it was smarter to pay to ensure the watersheds near the city had trees and remained intact as an ecosystem that purified water rather than to build a water purification plant. This is because they recognize the danger of losing the soils and recognize that soil biodiversity is a critical interface to the atmosphere and water," she explains.

Back to the tiny Antarctic roundworm, Wall discusses the benefits of studying in Antarctica. A very reduced but natural field experiment allows the scientists to isolate the species in food webs and see how they are involved in carbon cycling. The scientists can study how these soil habitats and the species that the public thinks very little about can be altered by global changes, much like larger species above ground.

"Soils are important to us because we want to eat. But we know only a fraction of the biodiversity – the millions of species in our front yards – and how this food web works," says Wall. "There is a cost associated with losing a species."

Learn more about the business perspectives of the Millennium Assessment report at www.maweb.org and click on Business and Industry Sector Perspectives.

India provides opportunities for interdisciplinary partnerships

The delegation from Colorado State University stands in front of India’s National Institute for Fashion Technology. From left, Sanjay Gupta, Sandra Woods, Tony Frank, A.B. Dugal, James Cooney, D.K. Batra.

Some key Colorado State leaders who visited India in November have high hopes for future partnerships with key scientists and organizations there.

"The potential in India is enormous, and everyone is excited about the prospects," noted Jim Cooney, associate provost for international programs.

Professors in at least 16 departments in nearly every college at CSU have ongoing partnerships or relationships with scientists, governmental agencies, and organizations in India. They range from a recently signed partnership with India’s version of NASA, the Indian Space Research Organization or ISRO, to research on Indian fiscal and trade policy to exploring cooperative research in new textile fibers and processing technologies.

A few highlights:

  • Holly Stein and Judith Hannah in CSU’s Department of Geosciences are working with scientists in the Geological Survey of India, five universities, and the Hindustan Copper Limited, the national mining industry.
  • Tom Lundberg in CSU’s Department of Art has participated in the U.S. Educational Foundation in India/CSU Faculty Group Study of Agricultural Development and hosted a visiting Fulbright scholar who is a textile designer from India.
  • Prabha Unnithan in the University’s Department of Sociology has helped the National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science in India put together a master’s program and has published research with faculty members at Jamia Millia Islamia University.

More recently, a delegation led by Provost and Senior Vice President Tony Frank completed a 10-day trip to India in November to build partnerships with other key Indian universities and research institutions. The group included Ajay Menon, dean of the College of Business, Sandra Woods, dean of the College of Engineering, and Cooney. The highlight of the trip was the signing of a formal agreement with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in Bangalore.

The agreement calls for interaction between ISRO's Radar Development Unit and Colorado State relating to dual polarized Doppler Weather Radar and to the Virtual CHILL concept for Doppler Weather Radar systems. The director of ISRO's Radar Development Unit, Gouravaram Viswanathan, and Frank signed the formal Memorandum of Understanding.

The chairman of ISRO, G. Madhavan Nair, also met with the CSU delegation. Professor V. "Chandra" Chandrasekar from the College of Engineering is the key CSU faculty member involved with the project.

The CSU delegation also met with Professor C.N.R. Rao, chief advisor to the Prime Minister of India for science and technology and former director of the India Institute for Science in Bangalore. Professor V. "Mani" Manivannan has worked closely with Rao, and the focus of the discussion was to unite faculty members in such fields as engineering mechanics, biology and genetics, and solid state lighting.

"We were pleased to have a person of Dr. Rao's stature offer his full support for building bridges to CSU," Woods said.

The College of Engineering is actively developing plans to collaborate with Rao and the Nehru Center for Advanced Research, which he directs.

In Delhi, the Colorado State group met with the Director General of the National Institute for Fashion Technology, Gauri Kumar, and other senior faculty members. The chair of the CSU Department for Design and Merchandising, Mary Littrell, is organizing a group of 20 participants who will travel to India in January.

"India has always been a remarkable country for textile design," Littrell said. "We can learn from their long history, and we can offer them our expertise in merchandising."

Other meetings were scheduled with the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research and the Indian Institute for Technology in Mumbai. In Delhi, the group met with representatives of the Department of Biotechnology for the Government of India and with the head of the Confederation of Indian Industries. They also met with CSU alumni in Bangalore.

Economy update: India

India’s economy is experiencing unprecedented growth, but is the acceleration primed for a drop? Although GDP growth is rising to 9.2 percent each year, inflation has nearly doubled over the past 12 months, and equity and housing markets are overbought. "The economy is increasingly at risk to overheating," reports The Economist. The stock market has spiked and cost of living is rising. The Reserve Bank of India has tightened monetary policy and raised benchmark repo rates (the rate at which funds are added to the banking system), but this alone may not ease inflationary pressures.

The Economist, Economist Intelligence Unit, Dec. 1, 2006

 

Nation

Nation’s agricultural industry could help reduce global warming

The report is available for download on the Pew Center for Climate Change Web site.

Changes in agricultural practices across the nation could offset current greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and further reduce emissions by replacing fossil fuels with biofuels made from agricultural crops, according to recent report released by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

To help mitigate global warming, a variety of means of artificially capturing and storing carbon and enhancing natural sequestration processes are being explored. Managing carbon sequestration – the process of removing carbon – in agricultural soils and reducing nitrous oxide and methane emissions from agricultural sources would allow the United States to reduce its current greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent to 14 percent, says Keith Paustian, professor and senior research scientist at Colorado State's Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory and co-author of the report "Agriculture's Role in Greenhouse Gas Mitigation."

Additionally, as the development of agricultural biofuels is pursued and further developed, another 14 percent to 24 percent of current emissions in the country could be eliminated by substituting biofuels for fossil fuels. Potentially, the nation’s agricultural industry could reduce emissions by 20 percent to 38 percent.

"There are no simple solutions to the global warming problem, but the agricultural community can make a major contribution, which is often overlooked," Paustian said.

Farmers would be encouraged to adopt new management practices to store carbon in agricultural soils and reduce agricultural emissions of methane and nitrous oxide. Financial incentives, better access to financing, information, and education are needed. A variety of technological advancements will also affect farmers' ability to play a part in climate solutions.

The agriculture industry in the United States contributes only about 8 percent to the nation's emissions, but the influential role agriculture could play in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions is its ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce feedstock for biofuels.

As plants take up carbon dioxide through the process of photosynthesis, some of the carbon is stored in organic matter found in soils and plants. With the right management, carbon dioxide can be effectively removed from the atmosphere.

There are several ways that farmers can implement specific management practices to increase carbon sequestration in agricultural soils and reduce the loss of carbon already in the soil. Suggested management practices include farmers using better crop rotation, reducing tillage intensity, putting marginal land into conservation reserves, and improving the management of their pastures. By adopting these practices, additional environmental benefits are accrued, including improved soil fertility, reduced soil erosion, and improved water quality.

While the agriculture industry does not emit a large percentage of the nation's greenhouse gases, two of the gases it does emit – methane and nitrous oxide – have a more powerful effect pound-for-pound on global warming. The primary way to reduce these emissions is by implementing more efficient use of fertilizers and manure and improving livestock management. If farmers adopted these management practices, Paustian and his colleagues estimate that nitrous oxide and methane emissions could be reduced by 20 percent to 40 percent.

Another component of Paustian's study examines the use and production of biofuels. Currently, about 5 percent of the United States' energy supply comes from biomass. This includes ethanol from corn and biodiesel from soybeans and restaurant oil, as well as heat and power from biofuel in homes and industry.

With aggressive improvements in agricultural production and in the technology to convert biomass to energy, Paustian estimate’s that the nation's agricultural industry could produce enough renewable bioenergy each year to supply one-fifth of the total energy consumed last year in the United States. All of this bioenergy would be produced on 15 percent of prime agricultural land.

Paustian cautions that if biomass is converted to transportation fuels, the impact of greenhouse gas will vary depending on the amount and source of energy used to produce the biomass and convert it to fuels. Thus, ethanol from corn grain is less effective in reducing overall greenhouse gases compared with biodiesel because of factors involved in growing and harvesting corn. Biodiesel is derived from vegetable oil, or so-called bioethanol, which is derived from crop residues and grasses.

"The big problem with using grain is that you use almost as much energy to produce the grain as you get out of the ethanol value. It's not very energy efficient," said Paustian. "However, the cost of producing bioethanol from residues and grasses is currently higher than for corn ethanol, and thus more research and development is needed before bioethanol can play a major role as a renewable fuel."

 

State

Stable, long-term funds and continued accountability key for higher education

Colorado must do a better job of tracking the real funding needs of its colleges and universities, graduating qualified working-class students, and setting benchmarks for accountability, but state policymakers also need to work with the public to approve long-term, stable funding sources, Colorado State University Chancellor Larry Edward Penley said Jan. 23.

Penley’s comments followed the release of a proposal that identifies four key steps state leaders need to take to address chronic underfunding of Colorado’s state colleges and universities. A recent study by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems (NCHEMS) identified an $832 million shortfall for higher education in the state. The full Colorado State University proposal is available online at www.president.edu.

"As a premier leader in Colorado higher education, the Colorado State University System recognizes that the state faces considerable funding challenges and difficult decisions in balancing many important public needs," Penley said. "But the state’s future depends on its ability to link funding for higher education with its goals for a highly skilled workforce and economic prosperity."

"Colorado State is committed to working with the Governor, the Legislature, the statewide business community, and Colorado residents to move this agenda forward."

First, Penley said, the state must more accurately determine funding needs of its institutions by looking at their missions, program costs, and peer funding levels. The NCHEMS study revealed some Colorado institutions are disproportionately underfunded relative to peers. Research universities account for $520 million – more than 60 percent – of this underfunding.

To address that issue, Colorado State has created a new online tool at www.president.colostate.edu that allows lawmakers to assess, by institution, what mix of state and/or tuition funding is needed to reach peer average. The tool can be used to see how different percentage tuition increases can help offset state funds in addressing the $832 million shortfall – and to review exactly what each college and university requires in comparison to peers on an annual basis and over time.

In other recommendations in Penley’s plan, he said the state should:

  • Reach agreement and gain public approval on a stable source of funds that will ensure the long-term health of Colorado higher education and other state infrastructure needs such as K-12 and transportation.
  • Assure educational access for qualified low-income, working-class and first-generation students by covering the educational costs of Pell Grant recipients (an additional $10 million for Colorado State's Fort Collins campus alone). A Pell Grant, awarded to students with financial need, today covers slightly more than one-third of the average cost of a public university.
  • Challenge colleges and universities to continue to be more accountable and to set benchmarks to measure student learning and success.

The funding plan follows considerable discussion in recent weeks about the need for a new funding model for higher education and the public release of Penley’s white paper outlining the importance of linking the state's economic goals with the strengths of its colleges and universities. Penley and eight other leading higher-education officials in the state co-signed a statement in The Denver Post Jan. 7 that reflected their philosophical consensus on the need for fundamental change in the system used to fund Colorado higher education.

In his "State of the State" address, Jan. 11, Gov. Bill Ritter highlighted the importance of educational access and the need to align economic development strategies with the state's educational offerings.

"As the state works to encourage job growth and attract key industries, it must determine how to more effectively invest in the educational mechanisms essential to supporting those goals," Penley said. "The economic future of Colorado depends on it."

Job growth expected for Northern Colorado economy

The number of new jobs in Northern Colorado will grow 2.8 percent in 2007 – the fastest expansion the region has experienced since the 2001 recession, according to the first quarterly report from the new regional economist based at Colorado State University.

Nearly 6,100 jobs could be added in Larimer and Weld counties in 2007, particularly in the areas of health care and social assistance and professional and business services, said Martin Shields, associate professor and regional economist at Colorado State, and David Keyser, research economist.

Their research is supported by the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp. and Colorado State's Office of Economic Development. The two organizations pooled resources to hire Shields this summer as part of a new partnership to collaborate on economic development-oriented programs.

"These reports will be valuable for businesses and economic development leaders in the region who want to protect and strengthen an already vibrant Northern Colorado economy," said Maury Dobbie, president and chief executive officer of the Northern Colorado Economic Development Corp.

Shields' forecast of 2.8 percent growth in 2007 is close to the 2.6 percent growth experienced in the region in 2005. Additionally, the region added 5,643 jobs between the first quarters of 2005 and 2006 – a gain of 2.9 percent. The top five growth sectors were accommodations and food services, finance and insurance, health care and social assistance, retail trade, and construction.

The region lost 7,667 manufacturing jobs between 2001 and 2005 – a trend that is slowing but continuing, Shields said.

"The region continues on a path of recovery, but we still face a slowdown in new housing construction, which is mirrored nationally, and the continued loss of jobs in computer and electronics manufacturing," Shields said.

Health care and social assistance are expected to employ more workers in the area than manufacturing in 2007.

Within the region, other differences have emerged. Employment in Weld County, for example, grew faster than in Larimer County, although fewer jobs were added. Additionally, per capita income in 2005 averaged $34,219 in Larimer County compared with $24,687 in Weld County. The statewide average was $37,946; nationally, it was $34,586.

Sectors that are expected to grow throughout the region in 2007:

  • Leisure and hospitality: 1,200 new jobs, particularly in restaurants
  • Private education and health services: 1,000 jobs, largely in health services
  • Local government: 800 jobs, largely K-12
  • Natural resources, mining and construction: 740 new jobs, largely in oil and gas
  • Professional and business services: 700 jobs
  • Retail trade: 570 jobs

Shields is the former director of Pennsylvania State University's Center for Economic and Community Development. He is based in the economics department in the College of Liberal Arts at Colorado State and also reports to the University's Office of Economic Development on his outreach activities. Shields is expected to issue regular reports on the economy.

Laser research collaboration benefits state

Researchers study extreme ultraviolet coherent light sources, optics and optical systems.

Presidents at Colorado's major research universities are working collaboratively, generating tens of millions of dollars in annual research expenditures for the state. Laser research at Colorado State University, the University of Colorado, and the Colorado School of Mines accounts for more than $1 billion in annual research expenditures in Colorado. Those dollars have resulted in the creation of new technology, numerous research and educational opportunities for students and young scientists, spin-off companies, and jobs, which makes laser research one of the best examples of collaboration among the state's research universities.

"Collaboration among Colorado's major research universities is a key to the state's strong position in the rapidly expanding photonics industry," said Drew Crouch, vice president and general manager for Advanced Technologies & Products at Boulder-based Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.

Consistent economic analysis indicates research universities provide a fundamental economic advantage for the state in which they're located. Colorado's research universities all rank in the top tier, and each brings strengths in areas ranging from biomedicine to engineering to human health. While the universities routinely compete for students, faculty, and research funding, those competitive advantages strengthen the institutions and their benefits to Colorado.

"It is essential for the success of nanotechnology and technology-based industries that we foster and support research collaborations with the universities and research labs," said Debbie Woodward, executive director of the Colorado Nanotechnology Alliance. "The state has an established and stellar research base to support industry, which will position Colorado among other leading technology states and create higher-wage jobs and economic growth for the state."

A particularly successful example of collaboration among industry and Colorado's research universities is the National Science Foundation's Engineering Research Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Science and Technology. The center, a partnership between Colorado State University, CU-Boulder, and the University of California-Berkeley, is affiliated with numerous research and educational institutions nationwide. The National Science Foundation has committed $20 million to fund the center for the next five years.

The group is among the world's leaders in developing compact extreme ultraviolet coherent light sources, optics and optical systems that can accommodate ever-shrinking electronic circuits and nanotechnologies.

Industry partners are eager to jump on such technology. By 2009, six major technology companies, including Intel and AMD, plan to produce computer technologies using EUV light that will allow them to fabricate chips with speeds exceeding 20 GHz – about 10 times faster than existing technologies.

"This center is a model for how we want to work with our partners in higher education, particularly in Colorado," said Sandra Woods, dean of the College of Engineering at Colorado State. "Together, we advance technology that improves human lives and the world we occupy."

At CU-Boulder, a group led by physics professors Margaret Murnane and Henry Kapteyn is a world leader in the technology of ultrashort-pulse lasers and ultrafast coherent EUV sources. A spin-off from their group, KMLabs in Boulder, sells high-power femtosecond lasers worldwide. At Colorado State, Professor Jorge Rocca's team has developed the world's first tabletop soft X-ray laser. Other faculty members have made use of the lasers to develop unique microscopes and metrology tools for industry and scientific research.

Physics and chemistry departments at the various institutions also are involved in laser research.

"In the five years that we've worked together, we've developed new tabletop microscopes with resolution superior to any compact light-based microscope and demonstrated new extreme ultraviolet spectroscopy tools for the study of materials structure and dynamics," Murnane said. "It's a fantastic partnership."

Teams led by Murnane and Rocca, working with Berkeley scientists, have used the newly developed laser sources to implement engineered systems designed to find solutions to challenging scientific and technological problems.

At the Colorado School of Mines, physics professors Jeff Squier and Chip Durfee want to improve biological imaging with faster lasers, so they're working with professors such as Randy Bartels in Colorado State's engineering college.

While Squier is using lasers as the lightbulb inside a microscope, Scott Diddams at the National Institute of Standards and Technology wants the technology to make extremely precise optical clocks.

"Each one of the groups has different applications, but we all need inexpensive, robust laser sources, so we're pooling our resources," Squier said. "The ultrafast laser community on the Front Range is amazing. Everyone's aware of everyone else's resources and strengths. We're trying to take care of those strengths and not be competitive."

 

Startup Spotlight

The Keen Ingredients Case: From the Andes to Colorado, quinoa offers modern potential

By Hunt Lambert

Quinoa

A few years ago, a special person asked to join one of our College of Business entrepreneurship classes. Laurie Scanlin had years of industry experience in food ingredients and was pursuing her Ph.D. in the CSU Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, under the guidance of Professor Martha Stone. They respected the past work in quinoa agronomy by Sarah Ward, professor of soil and crop sciences, which grew into a shared passion for one of the most ancient grains in the Americas. Over time, this passion grew into a desire to launch a new company around the grain’s modern potential.

Quinoa (keen'wä), known as the super grain, future grain, and mother of all grains, is grown predominantly in the Andes mountain regions of South America. A heritage crop for more than 5,000 years, quinoa was called mother grain by the Incas because of its sustainability and heartiness. Today, quinoa is recognized throughout the scientific community for its nutritional and unique characteristics, but it is not yet a major new-world grain.

Introduced to the Rocky Mountain region of Colorado in the early 1980s, quinoa can be an important crop to Colorado because it adapts to a harsh environment, contains high-quality protein and other components of value to the food industry, and offers a nutritious, gluten-free option to those who suffer from Celiac disease and intolerance to wheat, barley, rye, and oats. While Stone and CSU graduate students continued their research and trained talent for the agriculture and food industries, Scanlin launched her start-up company to expand the use of this unique crop. Keen Ingredients delivers quinoa ingredients to the market that can be used by manufacturers in products ranging from energy bars to infant cereals, cookies, and frozen foods. The CSU Research Foundation filed a patent application for quinoa technology, which was licensed to Keen Ingredients.

Keen is a classic success story that illustrates how CSU delivers talent and technology to society. Scanlin and her team of undergraduate business students wrote a feasibility study and market survey to assess quinoa oil in the local retail market and later assembled an industry team to form a company. The CSU Research Foundation awarded Keen a Commercial Opportunity Fund, established to encourage research in areas with strong potential for commercial success, and a business model evolved. The Center for Entrepreneurship, which focuses on creating learning experiences for entrepreneurship students at CSU, and its board members provided the team with mentoring and industry contacts and visibility within the Colorado business community. Scanlin completed her Ph.D. and developed a new company, with a mission to create jobs in Colorado.

Start buying more foods containing quinoa, and you can improve your health and the Colorado economy. Check out Keen Ingredients’ product line at www.keeningredients.com.

Hunt Lambert is the director of the Office of Economic Development at Colorado State University. He can be reached at hunt.lambert@colostate.edu.

 

Innovation & Partnerships

Collaboration to expand new treatments for cancer and infectious diseases

Canine patient receives treatment at Colorado State University's Veterinary Medical Center.

Colorado State University and Mayo Clinic researchers are partnering to find new treatments for cancer and infectious diseases. Through a new multi-year agreement, the clinic and University will research new diagnostic methods and treatments in vaccinology, oncology, and infectious disease therapies.

Colorado State’s world-leading expertise in biomedical research and Mayo's unparalleled reputation for integrating groundbreaking research and patient care provide the foundation for this innovative partnership. CSU is only the second university with which Mayo Clinic has collaborated on research and education initiatives.

Mayo Clinic is a worldwide leader in transferring new technology from the laboratory directly to patients, said Tony Frank, provost and senior vice president at Colorado State. "With Mayo, Colorado State can collaborate on research related to cancer and infectious disease to find solutions to serious health problems affecting the entire globe. At the same time, we can learn more from one of the most successful clinical laboratories in the country about expeditiously moving our technologies and solutions into the marketplace."

Colorado State's world-renowned biomedical research served as a basis for the partnership. Research at the University’s Animal Cancer Center, which pioneered numerous surgical, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy procedures associated with cancer, translates directly into finding cures and therapies for human cancer. Researchers have developed a technique to deliver intravenous radiation drugs to bone cancer patients without causing damage to other healthy cells and vital organs, drastically reducing illness and side effects of toxic radiation treatments. Other research has resulted in the development of a custom-fit bone replacement device, which has helped prevent limb amputations in humans with bone cancer.

To combat infectious diseases, the University broke ground last year on the Rocky Mountain Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, scheduled for completion in 2007. Researchers there will study how to better treat and prevent diseases such as West Nile virus, hantavirus, Lyme disease, and plague.

Partnership with Japan protects wildlife and promotes ecotourism

East is meeting western researchers 600 miles from Japan’s Tokyo coast in the Ogasawara Islands, a popular ecotourism spot among international tourists and regional breeding ground for green sea turtles. Colorado State University Professor Tara Teel and graduate student Asuka Ishizaki from the Department of Natural Resource Recreation and Tourism are working with a Japanese marine center to reduce the human impact on nesting turtles as well as promote sustainable ecotourism to the islands.

A conservation plan must be adopted that is both biologically effective, appropriate for the local culture, and considers the impact on tourism, say researchers. Closing the beaches could affect tourism, which drives the economy of the island’s 2,500 residents. And because the islands are expected to be nominated for consideration by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the number of visitors to the island is likely to increase.

How the Japanese view conservation and the preservation of natural habitats is a key component of the project. While conservation strategies have proven successful in the United States and Greece, adopting Western culture ideas about conservation and sustainable ecotourism may not be easily adopted on the islands. The researchers will study management options that best suit the local culture.

EPA recognizes wind power program

Medicine Bow Wind Energy Project

Nearly 300 students opted to buy wind power in their residence halls at Colorado State University this fall, earning the University recognition by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as an EPA Green Power Partner. Colorado State was one of the first schools in the country to offer wind power to students after the student government passed an initiative approving the alternative energy purchase from the city of Fort Collins.

The students’ collective purchase translates to nearly 547,000 kilowatt hours of green power on an annual basis and represents about 4 percent of the University’s Housing and Dining Services annual electrical usage. Wind power costs slightly more than traditional fossil fuel-based electricity.

Renewable energy sources are cleaner than conventional sources of electricity that produce carbon dioxide emissions, a greenhouse gas linked to global climate change. Green power purchases help accelerate the development of new renewable energy capacity nationwide. Based on national average emissions rates, the EPA estimates that Colorado State's purchase of 547,000 kWh is equivalent to keeping more than 760,000 thousand pounds of CO2 from entering the Earth's atmosphere over the next year. This amount of CO2 is equivalent to eliminating CO2 emissions associated with the use of nearly 40,000 gallons of gasoline annually.

Wind power is just one of Colorado State's Housing and Dining Services' sustainability commitments. The department also has launched a composting project and a biodiesel program that refines used cooking oil from the dining centers.

 

Real World Education

Business students step into boardroom hot seat, offer international marketing recommendations

Optibrand specializes in livestock traceability using biometrics coupled with global positioning system technology.

"It’s a huge global issue," said Charlotte Fox, a Colorado State University student from Australia who just completed a class project with international business implications. "Years ago, who would have thought customers would use a cell phone in a grocery store to learn where their beef came from?"

In the project-based international business management class, Fox and four classmates accepted a charge from Mark Swanson, chief operating officer for Colorado-based Optibrand: Investigate the opportunity to penetrate the South Korean market with two of the company’s product lines. The students would present their findings to Optibrand officers five weeks later.

Optibrand, which was founded in 1998 by three Colorado State University professors who developed a handheld retinal scanning system for livestock identification, specializes in livestock traceability using biometrics coupled with global positioning system technology. Source and age verification of animals has been a concern for decades in the livestock industry, but threats of mad cow and foot-and-mouth diseases and agro-terrorism have made verification a global issue. Optibrand responded with a technological solution that is easy to use, cost-effective, and 100 percent effective, said Swanson.

The first product, Optibrand’s Secure Integrated Supply solution, records the unique retinal vascular pattern of each animal and sends it to a handheld computer. The data can be transmitted to an owner-managed database and through Internet access can provide a method for customers to verify the source, location, and ownership of live and slaughterhouse animals. The second product, the Secure Asian Export solution, combines Optibrand and Mitsubishi Electric technology. COCO-Dates, the brand name for the Mitsubishi Electric-patented technology currently used in Japanese retail stores, displays traceability information on food items, which is accessed through an Internet connection from a customer’s cell phone. The integration of the Optibrand and Mitsubishi technologies allows consumers in Japan to review information about U.S. beef products on their cell phones before leaving the store.

"The Japanese consumer places a significant amount of trust in technology solutions, Japanese firms, and the ability to provide transparency of data," said Swanson. Data collected by the OptiReader links to a COCO-Dates-generated barcode printed on retail packaging. The barcode is scanned in the store with a cell phone and a certificate with the traceability information is transmitted from a database and displayed real time on the consumer’s phone.

The U.S.-Japanese collaboration is a boon to consumers, offering a seamless integration of technology and real-time information. Optibrand’s success in Japan led the company to consider new markets – including South Korea.

After learning about Optibrand’s products, the Colorado State students studied the cultural, political, and economic climate of South Korea, researched and analyzed data, and applied lecture concepts to assess if the combined retinal scanning and COCO-Dates technologies would be a viable product in the Asian country, said Clinical Professor Bill Shuster. "They had to figure out where they can apply concepts in international business learned during lectures." The students researched the South Korean government’s conditions on importing beef, studied the general business concerns of Korean companies, calculated cost factors, currency exchange rates, opportunities to hedge or arbitrage, and assessed if the end users were able to use the technology – all in order to determine what global strategy, if any, they would recommend.

Asian consumers are skeptical about imported products, but they must import their beef products, said Fox. "During the mad cow disease scare, South Korea locked out the United States from importing beef. Australia, which already had an identification system, took that trade away from the United States."

Laura Woodard, a business management student from Lakewood, Colo., who also worked on the project, was particularly interested in a company’s decision-making process when considering taking a product abroad. "It was amazing to do research for a real company, present it in a meeting-style setting, and gain their feedback," she said.

In their final analysis, the students recommended that Optibrand bring their combined product offering with Mitsubishi Electric – which can ease the consumer’s concerns about mad cow disease, disease outbreaks, and meat quality – to the South Korean imported beef product market. Additionally, they found there would not be a demand for the domestic use of the Secure Integrated Supply solution because of the country’s small domestic herd sizes.

The students contributed an independent and fresh set of eyes to validate the data, said Swanson. "We often get consumed with the details of our business, but the students offered new ideas on how to penetrate the market." The students also learned how to build and defend a business case and apply sound critical thinking skills to recommend a strategy using other foreign partners as potential candidates for entry into the market, Swanson noted.

Woodward said that working on the project reinforced the knowledge she learned in class. "It was the most rewarding experience I have had during my four and a half years at CSU. We wanted to pull our hair out at times, but in the end it was all more worth it than any other project I have done."

Fox, too, said the experience was rewarding. "It taught me that it’s not how smart you are but how resourceful and savvy you are."

Just like real life.

Trends in doctoral graduates and impact of internationalization

By Peter K. Dorhout

The number of doctoral degrees granted in 2005 was up 2.9 percent from the previous year, according to an annual survey of earned doctorates sponsored by several federal agencies and administered by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago. This increase was driven in part by foreign student populations, particularly in the sciences and engineering.

The number of doctoral degrees granted in 2005 reached an all time high nationally, 43,354, surpassing the previous high mark set in 1998. Colorado State University granted 187 doctoral degrees in 2005, a level not seen since 1999, and a 20 percent increase in Ph.D.s granted since 2002.

Nationally, the percentage of doctoral degrees granted to U.S. citizens dropped to just less than 63 percent, the report claimed. In 1975, that number was 82 percent. According to a Dec. 1 article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the percentage of doctoral degrees granted to U.S. citizens has fallen significantly over the past five years. The percentage of U.S. citizens granted doctoral degrees by Colorado State University in 2005 was more than 70 percent.

The sciences and engineering disciplines continue to dominate the fields of study for doctoral students nationally, with nearly 68 percent of all Ph.D.s being granted in those fields. At CSU, that distribution is higher: 79 percent of all Ph.D.s being granted in 2005 were in the sciences and engineering. In the sciences and engineering at CSU, 63 percent of degree recipients were U.S. citizens compared to 59 percent nationally.

Interestingly, the time to degree, once starting graduate school, is hovering around eight years, both nationally and at CSU. Consequently, students receiving their degrees in 2005 probably started their doctoral studies in 1997 or 1998. In 1999 and 2000, the United States saw increases of 8 percent and 13 percent, respectively, in new international students, followed by four years of negative growth in new international students.

We are likely to continue to see increases in both Ph.D. production and production by non-U.S. citizens nationally for the next few years followed by two to three years of decline in 2008-2010 of degrees granted to non-U.S. citizens. At CSU, we are starting to feel that decline in non-citizen students on campus, but application pressure is increasing again after several years of decline.

Colorado State University continues to provide outstanding preparation for its Ph.D. graduates with more than 80 percent reporting immediate post-graduation employment, primarily in research and development. Nationally, this number is less than 80 percent employed at graduation. The industrial sector continues to be well-served by CSU graduates with more than 15 percent seeking employment there, similar to national trends. Better than 20 percent of CSU graduates find employment in government service and 60 percent in academic jobs.

Peter K. Dorhout is the vice provost for graduate affairs and assistant vice president for research at Colorado State University.

Students participate in gene research

Controlling plant reproduction can have major economic importance, such as in the production of most hybrid crop plants, says Colorado State biology professor Pat Bedinger. Identifying genetic controls that keep plants from interbreeding with other species is the focus of a $3.9 million, National Science Foundation Plant Genome research grant recently awarded to Beginger and her research team.

The research project includes an innovative program in which undergraduate honors biology students identify tomato genes involved in these processes, seeking new information about pollination barriers in the tomato family by direct observation of cross-species pollinations. The students, who spend laboratory sessions identifying important genes and using online databases to analyze the genes, already have replicated DNA from samples. The lab sessions are part of a collaboration with scientists from Cornell, the University of Missouri, Ohio State University, and the University of California-Davis to better understand what keeps plants from accepting pollen from the wrong species.

The researchers will study transferring beneficial traits from wild to domesticated species, maintaining the genetic identity of wild species by preventing them from accepting interspecies pollen, and identifying mechanisms that help avoid cross-species mating that could result in sterility or other problems.

"If we can better understand these biochemical barriers, then we can better control them," Bedinger said.

Construction software focuses on compatibility, gives students competitive edge

Graphisoft's 5D Virtual Construction software integrates construction modeling, model-based estimating, 4D sequencing, and 5D cash-flow analyses in such applications as a 3D model of a home.

Construction management students at Colorado State University now have the competitive edge as they enter the workforce. With the 5D Virtual Construction professional software program, a $1.1 million gift from Graphisoft, students merge and manage multiple dimensions of construction projects including preconstruction plans, estimating, and scheduling. The software integrates construction modeling, model-based estimating, 4D sequencing, and 5D cash-flow analyses.

Graphisoft, the pioneer of Virtual Building modeling software, develops software that allows data from multiple facets of construction and architectural projects to be compatible, saving project managers from costly mistakes. The software can be used by multiple sectors of the construction industry, allowing information to be shared via open standards. Without such software, information for projects must be entered into numerous databases for each business that is involved, such as suppliers, electricians, and construction crew managers.

"The construction industry has an enormous appetite to hire graduates who have 5D skills," said Don Henrich, vice president of Graphisoft. "Many of our customers will only hire those who can demonstrate a strong understanding of managing the relationship between design, cost, and schedule."

The software has been used by more than 40 construction companies in North America and 100,000 professionals in construction and architectural firms to design a million completed buildings worldwide. 5D Virtual Construction allows complete and detailed computer simulation of a project before building begins, also helping to prevent mistakes in supply ordering, planning, and construction.

Students analyze groundwater in hands-on program

College-level and K-12 students are diving into interactive learning opportunities focused on surface water and groundwater at Colorado State University. The GetWET Observatory, the Groundwater Education and Teaching Outdoor Laboratory, provides University students and local teachers and their classes unprecedented access to real-time water data, experience with analytical techniques, and advanced water monitoring equipment and workshops on science pedagogy.

GetWET, consists of six monitoring wells and a surface-water monitoring station on Spring Creek, a perennial stream that experienced a high-magnitude flood in 1997 and record drought in 2002. The laboratory will raise student awareness and understanding of the complex hydrologic issues facing Colorado, such as drought, water supply, and water pollution.

The GetWET site provides students with quantitative, real-life, field-based interdisciplinary learning opportunities in surface and groundwater hydrology. Support for K-12 science teachers includes professional development workshops, groundwater well access, inquiry-based classroom exercises, field activities, and equipment loans.

Students will eventually collect and analyze data on water levels, conduct hydraulic and tracers tests, and test for general water-quality indicators allowing for a comprehensive understanding of surface water and groundwater interactions. Continuous data recording of hydraulic head, temperature, and specific conductance will occur in several wells, and a Web-accessible database will allow students to make annual and seasonal comparisons that enhance student understanding of surface and groundwater processes over time.

A National Science Foundation grant funded the original proposal. A donation from a local groundwater monitoring equipment manufacturing company, In-Situ, Inc., added to that initial investment. To learn more about the GetWET Observatory, go to www.csmate.colostate.edu/getwet.

 

Science & Technology

Algae to oil, technology provides environmentally friendly solution to finite fossil fuels

Bryan Willson inspects beta cribs containing colonies of algae.

Consider a mass-produced oil that is an environmentally friendly solution to high gas prices, greenhouse gas emissions, and volatile global energy markets. Solix Biofuels Inc., a startup company based in Boulder, Colo., is working with Colorado State University engineers to commercialize technology that can cheaply mass produce oil derived from algae and turn it into biodiesel, a substitute for diesel fuel made from organic products.

Solix officials plan to commercialize the technology over the next two years. After ramping up to widespread production, the company expects to eventually compete commercially with the wholesale price of crude petroleum.

"We're facing two global challenges: depletion of our petroleum reserves and a buildup of greenhouse gases," said Bryan Willson, director of Colorado State's Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, which is helping Colorado State achieve its goal to lead the nation in developing and commercializing environmentally sustainable solutions to global problems. "This process harnesses photosynthesis to turn carbon dioxide and energy captured from the sun into an economical petroleum substitute."

Algae are the fastest growing organisms on the planet and can produce 100 times more oil per acre than conventional soil-tilled crops that are now being grown for biofuel use, said Solix founder Jim Sears.

Solix officials estimate that widespread construction of its photo-bioreactor system could meet the demand for the U.S. consumption of diesel fuel – about 4 million barrels a day – by growing algae on less than 0.5 percent of the U.S. land area, which is otherwise unused land adjacent to power plants and ethanol plants. The plants produce excess carbon dioxide, which is necessary to turn algae into oil. In addition to producing biodiesel, the process would prevent a large portion of the greenhouse gases produced by coal-burning power plants from being expelled directly into the atmosphere.

"Algae to biofuel technologies are still being developed, yet a strong case can be made for global domestication of algae as an energy crop," said Doug Henston, chief executive officer of Solix. "We want to manage this technology to create a business that will serve current and future energy stakeholders."

Colorado State and Solix officials are collaborating with New Belgium Brewing Co. to use excess carbon dioxide from the brewery's plant to test the algae-based biodiesel process. Solix is one of many companies doing business in northern Colorado because of its leadership in attracting clean and renewable energy companies and technology.

This spring, Colorado State and Solix participated in the creation of the Northern Colorado Clean Energy Cluster, a clearinghouse that connects entrepreneurs and major power users with researchers and government officials, encouraging innovation, new job creation, and investment in the region. The Clean Energy Cluster has already produced several technology transfer opportunities including a new collaboration between Colorado State University's Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory in the College of Engineering and Spirae Inc., a privately held company based in Fort Collins, Colo.

A majority of Colorado State's eight colleges host faculty who are researching clean and renewable energy alternatives including Willson, who is a mechanical engineering professor in the College of Engineering. Also reinforcing the major role of Colorado State in the clean-energy arena is the recent formation of the Clean Energy Collaboratory between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Colorado State, Colorado School of Mines, and the University of Colorado.

"Commercialization partners such as Solix are critical to the successful transfer of laboratory innovations to the marketplace, and with the tremendous entrepreneurial interest in the Northern Colorado region, we expect to see Colorado State participating in many more startups," said Mark Wdowik, vice president for Technology Transfer at Colorado State University Research Foundation – a private, non-profit foundation that aids the University in its research and educational efforts, including the responsibility to protect and manage the intellectual property resulting from that research.

"We have already seen evidence of earlier commercialization successes from the engines lab, including Envirofit, a not-for-profit corporation created to commercialize reduced emissions technologies created by Dr. Willson and his colleagues, and we expect more to come," Wdowik said.

Innovative labtop system improves understanding of science

With the help of Tablet PCs – which combine the computational power needed for science and engineering with the portability of paper and the wireless connectivity of a laptop – Colorado State University students are testing a new, technology-based chemistry curriculum that could eventually displace the large lecture/recitation learning strategy in favor of a student-centered, inquiry-based approach.

The Labtop System, being developed by Stephen Thompson, director of the Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education Center and professor of chemistry at Colorado State, places a Tablet PC at the point of learning. Thompson’s Labtop System seamlessly unites lecture, laboratory work, use of instruments, homework and field work, literature searching, modeling, simulation, and computation and assessment.

"Historically, the lecture is separated from the laboratory for logistical reasons," Thompson said. "The tablet is a catalyst for getting over traditional institutional barriers." Thompson plans to integrate the lecture and laboratory and thereby fuse theory and practice into a comprehensive and effective general chemistry course.

Because scientific equations and other scientific notations are difficult to type, the ability for a student to draw such notations onto the tablet PC has become invaluable, Thompson said. "Students have even used cameras embedded in cell phones – snapping photos of experiments and later loading images into their lab reports – to augment their note-taking."

Thompson has been developing innovative and accessible approaches to teaching laboratory sciences for more than 35 years. To foster understanding with active participation in experimental work and by merging that with the technological power of Tablets, students can practice the process of invention and discovery and develop the critical thinking skills necessary for their future careers.

The Internet and computer technologies are significantly changing science. The contemporary scientific environment is characterized by rapid technological change, proliferating information sources, increased pressure for interdisciplinary collaboration, greater complexity, and a realization that local solutions can lead to dramatic global consequences, said Thompson. "Technological literacy calls for students to develop practical design and problem-solving skills in the context of real world technological examples."

Students typically use a laptop for e-mail, downloading music, and word-processing. "But these functions represent a fraction of what a computer is capable of doing," said Thompson. "By researching, conducting experiments, and engaging in learning discussions online, students will find they are capable of deeper critical analysis – and that their computers are capable of much more as well."

 

Quotable

Petroleum problem

"If everyone drove an HEV [a hybrid-electric vehicle] we could reduce our petroleum consumption right now by at least 20 percent and perhaps as much as 40 percent."
— National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2005 Research Review

Market failure

"Global warming can be seen as a classic ‘market failure,’ and many economists, environmental experts, and policy makers agree that the single largest cause of that failure is that in most of the world, there is no price placed on spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere."
The New York Times, Dec.12, 2006, on the cost of an overheated planet

World power admission

"China’s Communist Party has a new agenda: It is encouraging people to discuss what it means to be a major world power and has largely stopped denying that China intends to become one soon."
The New York Times, Dec. 8, 2006, on China showing signs of shedding its false modesty

 

Making News

Wages catching up with prices

After four years in which pay failed to keep pace with price increases, wages for most American workers have begun rising significantly faster than inflation. With energy prices now sharply lower than a few months ago and the improving job market forcing employers to offer higher raises, the buying power of American workers is now rising at the fastest rate since the economic boom of the late 1990s.

The New York Times, Dec. 8, 2006

Should colleges beef up science requirements?

Americans are divided about whether college students need to study more mathematics and science to preserve America's global economic competitiveness, according to survey findings released in December by the American Council on Education. President Bush, members of Congress, and a series of blue-ribbon panels have called for more U.S. citizens to study mathematics and science to preserve America's global economic competitiveness, arguing that America is at risk of being overtaken by China and India in the production of high-tech commercial goods and engineering professionals.

Although 86 percent of respondents were aware that China and India were producing more workers with technical skills, 46 percent said they believed that colleges and universities should not require students to take more courses in math and science, the study reports. The results suggest that colleges and the council need to do a better job of persuading students to take such courses and to disseminate successful teaching methods, said David Ward, the council's president.

The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dec. 7, 2006

College kids trade aid for debt

Colorado's poorest students are taking on more debt to earn a degree. With recent state budget cuts to higher education, a decrease in financial aid of 14 percent, and an average tuition increase of 9 percent, students are making up for shrinking state and federal aid with bigger loans. College students graduated with an average of $19,200 in debt in 2004, compared with $9,250 a decade earlier, according to federal data. Colorado needs about $12 million to meet the average amount spent on financial aid by other states—and is moving toward becoming a high-tuition, low-financial-aid state, which is a disaster for students, according to the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.

The Denver Post, Nov. 20, 2006

 

Noteworthy

Student makes $80,000 donation

Sami Bedell, who graduated from Colorado State's College of Liberal Arts in December, has pledged a total of $80,000 to fund scholarships within the college. Bedell, who enrolled at Colorado State as a freshman from Iowa, made the donation on behalf of the Bedell World Citizenship Fund, established by her father, Tom Bedell, two years ago. "Providing scholarships to future students is one of the best ways to make sure I can continue to make a difference in the lives of others for years to come," said Bedell.

Named to prestigious federal economic advisory committee

Jay Breidt, chairman of the Department of Statistics at Colorado State University, was appointed by U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao to serve a three-year term on the Federal Economic Statistics Advisory Committee. The committee recommends research to address important technical problems arising in federal economic statistics, establishes working relationships with professional economics associations, and provides advice on statistical methodology, research and other matters related to the collection, tabulation, and analysis of federal economic statistics.

Appointed to national energy advisory council

Larry Edward Penley, Colorado State University president, was appointed as a member of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s National Advisory Council. The NREL, a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory, is the nation’s primary laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. The council is currently focusing on addressing the nation’s energy goals by meeting market objectives to accelerate the research path from scientific innovations to market-viable solutions.