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When the Nobel Prize in physics was announced Tuesday, Shane Burns, Colorado College physics professor, shared the special elation of knowing a great deal about the work that went into the award.
Burns is one of a small group of people, including Nobel winner Saul Perlmutter, who began the work that resulted in the 1998 discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe. Burns has continued to work with the group, now known as the Supernova Cosmology Project, since its inception in 1989.
Burns and Perlmutter searched for supernovae, which are massive exploding stars, when they were graduate students in the 1980s at the University of California at Berkeley. Burns fell in love with teaching and eventually came to Colorado College, while Perlmutter remained at Berkeley, where he is a professor of physics.
With Perlmutter the “undisputed leader” of the group that became the Supernova Cosmology Project, Burns worked with as many as 30 other scientists to observe supernovae. He is a co-author of the team’s most recent paper, published in June 2010 in the Astrophysical Journal. They were in intense competition with another supernova research team, whose two leaders shared the Nobel with Perlmutter.
Using time on the Hubble space telescope, Burns worked on the project by studying the infrared brightness of supernovae during the summers and blocks off from Colorado College. Some of his calculations were done on a high-powered Mac workstation on his office desk in Barnes Science Center, in contrast to his work two decades earlier on the largest computer at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the PDP1144, a behemoth the size of a washer-dryer combination with a fraction of the capacity of his current desktop computer.
One summer in Berkeley, Burns brought in a Colorado College physics student, Katy-Robin Garton ‘01, who did measurements for the project. Garton and Burns are co-authors, with several others in the Supernova Cosmology Project, of a 2003 paper published in the Astrophysical Journal. Garton lives in Missoula, Montana, and is a documentary filmmaker.
“It was beautiful science,” said Garton, who remembers the project for its elegance and accessibility.
Brian P. Schmidt and Adam G. Riess, leader of a competing supernova research team, shared the Nobel Prize with Perlmutter.
The Colorado House of Representatives recently awarded Burns a commendation for his part in the Nobel Prize.
Burns lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, Stormy, an office coordinator in the music department. They have two children.
Colorado College Professor of Economics and Business Larry Stimpert has published a new book, “Strategic Thinking: Today’s Business Imperative.” The book provides a realistic picture of the dynamic and complex process of strategic management in organizations. Written from the perspective of a manager, the book builds on theories of managerial and organizational knowledge that have had a powerful influence on many business fields over the last two decades. However, “Strategic Thinking” also focuses on how managers understand their business environments, assess and marshal their firms’ resources, and strive for advantage in the competitive marketplace by examining economic, structural, and managerial explanations for firm performance.
Stimpert has taught at the Korean University Business School and the U.S. Air Force Academy. Prior to entering the academic field, he worked in the railroad industry and in a variety of marketing, forecasting, and economic analysis positions.
The book, published by Routledge, is co-authored by Julie Chesley, formerly of the CC economics department and now assistant professor of organization theory and applied behavioral science at the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University, and Irene Duhaime, senior associate dean and professor at Georgia State University.
Improved treatments for cancer, better window coatings, and effective sunscreens are among the many outcomes of nanotechnology, the study of structures so small they are measured in the same way that one measures light. The field is growing rapidly, and a wide variety of nanomaterials are flowing into consumer goods and waste streams.
But we don’t know much about the long-term effects of these new materials, according to associate professor of chemistry Murphy Brasuel and student Kelsey Wise ’12, whose peer-reviewed article on the subject was published last month in the journal “Nanotechnogy, Science and Applications.”
Their article, “The current state of engineered nanomaterials in consumer goods and waste streams: the need to develop nanoproperty-quantifiable sensors for monitoring engineered nanomaterials,” is a review of current applications of certain nanoparticles, methods used to characterize and quantify them, their presence in the environment, and what research has been done into their toxicity.
Brasuel, whose graduate work was on the development of nanoparticle sensors to monitor communication between cells, notes that nanoparticles have different properties than the same substance in larger form – one reason that so little is known about the effects of nanomaterials . A nanoparticle of titanium oxide, for example, a key ingredient in some mineral-based sunscreens, is different than a “bulk” version of the same material.
The nano version of titanium oxide is valued for its ability to be spread transparently over the skin as it absorbs UV light. It’s used as a pigment in toothpaste and some foods, has potential in solar and fuel cells and hydrogen production, and it’s used in self-cleaning windows because it’s good at creating reactive species that break down organic materials.
Besides titanium oxide, the article discussed four other nanomaterials that are in demand or will be soon be available to consumers. These are carbon nanotubes (used in cosmetics, paints, filters, and reinforced plastics), semiconductor quantum dots (poised to be used in targeted drug delivery, cancer detection, and image-guided surgery), and gold and silver (used widely in consumer products). The article notes that the properties that make these nanomaterials so useful could also make them toxic.
“But we don’t know,” said Brasuel, who called for more work on possible effects.
“Nanotechnology is growing very rapidly on the development side but not so much on the regulation of exposure side,” Brasuel said. “How do we monitor these materials in the environment?”
Brasuel and Wise discovered that relatively little has been done to study possible effects of exposure. “It’s hard to talk about this without fearmongering,” said Brasuel, who notes that some consumer groups fear the worse and are against nanotechnology, while industry groups tend to emphasize their view that nanoparticles are absolutely safe.
“The truth is probably in between,” Brasuel said. “It’s not going to be completely benign, but not so harmful, either.”
Brasuel, who is incoming chair of the chemistry department, and Wise, who is also a captain of the college’s women’s soccer team, worked most of the summer of 2010 and the spring semester of 2011 on the article.
“I learned something completely new and fascinating,” said Wise of her work on the article. She spent this summer in a pre-med program at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where she worked with a psychologist doing research on tumors in children.
Her work on nanotechnology contributed to her thinking about technology and society and long-term effects as she studied this summer, she said, noting that nanoparticles are used in some cancer treatment, though not in the work she did at Baylor.
“It’s so new. There’s a lot to be done,” Wise said. She returns to Colorado College in August for soccer practice – she plays center midfield – and for her senior year as a chemistry major. She plans to apply to medical school. She’s from Fairview, Texas, and went to high school nearby in Allen, Texas.
The Dean’s Advisory Committee and the Colorado College Venture Grant Fund supported Brasuel and Wise’s research.
As a first step in becoming part of the Colorado College community, President Jill Tiefenthaler is working with a small group representing trustees, faculty, staff, students, and alumni to help her transition into her new role. The Temporary Transition Advisory Committee will serve through the summer. Tiefenthaler’s presidency began on July 1.
“My most important goal in the first year is to understand the college and really listen to a lot of different people,” Tiefenthaler said.
The committee will provide initial input on key stakeholders, individuals, and groups that the new president should meet, and events she should attend in her first year at Colorado College to ensure that she connects with the college and its community broadly and in meaningful ways.
“Every culture is so different,” Tiefenthaler said. “A year of listening is critical, to understand our greatest strengths, our blemishes, and our opportunities for the future.”
The transition committee members are:
Jonathan Lee, Faculty Executive Committee chair
Esther Redmount, former Faculty Executive Committee chair
Jane Murphy, assistant professor of history
Brian Linkhart, associate professor of biology
Ken Ralph, director of athletics
Randy Nehls, Staff Council co-chair
Isabel Werner ’08, young alumni trustee
Heather Carroll ’89 Alumni Association Board
Emily Fukunaga ’12, student
Logan Dahl ’12, student, CC Student Government Association
Suzanne Woolsey (ex officio), Board of Trustees chair
Working Group: Beth Brooks, director of the president’s office; Jermyn Davis, chief of staff, president’s office; Steve Elder, vice president for advancement; and Jane Turnis, director of communications
The Board of Trustees voted on May 20, 2011, in favor of amending the college bylaws, effective as of July 1, 2011, to add “gender identity, gender expression” as an additional category for protection in Article IX “Equal Opportunity Statement” of the bylaws and in the college’s anti-discrimination policy. The bylaws state that any such vote is not effective until expiration of a 30-day advance notice requirement of the resolution amending the bylaws. The draft resolution for the Gender Identity Bylaws Amendment was provided to the trustees at the May 21, 2011 plenary session. The 30-day advance notice requirement for the Gender Identity Bylaws Amendment has now passed. The Bylaws Amendment will now be effective on July 1, 2011.
Researchers have developed a new way of determining the body temperatures of dinosaurs, providing new insights into whether dinosaurs were cold-or warm-blooded.
A paper co-written by Associate Geology Professor Henry Fricke discusses the techniques used to determine the body temperature of animals that have been extinct for 150 million years.
By analyzing the teeth of sauropods — long-tailed, long-necked dinosaurs that were the biggest land animals ever to have lived — the scientists found that these dinosaurs were nearly as warm as most modern mammals. The paper can be viewed at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2011/06/22/science.1206196
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s division of earth sciences
Anne Hyde, professor of history and Southwest studies, recently published “Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860,” part of a five-volume series that reassesses the entire field of Western history.
The book, published by the University of Nebraska Press, makes clear that the Louisiana Purchase did not involve virgin wilderness discovered by virtuous Anglo entrepreneurs. Rather, the United States was a newcomer in a place already complicated by vying empires.
The period covered in Hyde’s book, 1800-1860, spans the fur trade, Mexican War, gold rushes, and the Overland Trail, usually very male-dominated fields of study. Hyde took a different approach, and, using letters and business records, documented the broad family associations that crossed national and ethnic boundaries. “These folks turned out to be almost entirely people of great wealth and status who loved and married across racial and cultural lines. It turns out that the West of that period is really a mixed race world that made perfect cultural and economic sense until national ideas made that cultural choice impossible in the 1850s,” Hyde said.
“Empires, Nations, and Families” reveals how, in the 1850s, immigrants to the newest region of the United States violently wrested control from Native and other powers, and how conquest and competing demands for land and resources brought about a volatile frontier culture—not at all the peace and prosperity that the new power had promised.
The Worner Campus Center, the nucleus of all campus activity, is undergoing a major renovation that will result in a more welcoming and energy-efficient building.
Most of the Worner Center improvements are focused on the main level, with the goal of transforming the dated and congested Rastall Hall into a dining area that is bright, sustainable, and easily navigated. A portion of the north side of Rastall will be opened to the Perkins Lounge area with full light doors (see artist’s rendition), resulting in a flexible layout that can accommodate a variety of functions. Most notable of the changes will be the servery area which will be open to the dining area and will provide a variety of new food choices.
Colorado Coffee is moving inside the entrance to Benji’s, and Benji’s will be upgraded with an improved layout, which includes a new grill area, Taqueria, Sushi, Grab n’ Go coolers, flooring, furniture, and new paint. Benji’s, along with Colorado Coffee, also will be used as an additional study area in the evenings, giving students more study area options.
Energy efficiency is a major goal of the renovation, and the project is aiming for LEED certification, said Will Wise, building trades manager for facilities and project manager for this project. Approximately 144 solar panels producing 35KW are being installed on the Worner Center roof to help offset the electrical usage in the building. An interactive flatscreen on the main floor will be devoted to monitoring energy consumption in Worner Center, he said.
The shared kitchen between Rastall and Benji’s will have the most energy-efficient dishwasher available, one which drastically reduces water use. The new kitchen appliances are Energy Star-rated, lighting throughout the building will be upgraded to low-energy usage lights, plumbing will be low-flow and all 25 toilets in Worner will be dual-flush.
The building’s seven air handlers, most of which date from the original 1959 building, will be reduced to five vastly more efficient ones. The air handlers take care of the building’s ventilation, heating, and air conditioning needs.
“Our goal is to reduce energy consumption by a minimum of 30 percent,” Wise said. A 30 percent reduction would result in an anticipated savings of $108,000 a year, he said. Total cost of the project is $9 million, which includes $7.7 million for construction, as well as architect, engineer, permits, and testing fees, and funds for new paint and carpeting, and other aesthetic issues, Wise said.
The project has a tight timeline of 81 days, and in order to complete the work by the August 19 deadline, two crews are working two shifts, six days a week . Bon Appetit will then have a week to get the kitchen ready before new students arrive on campus. In the meantime, the kitchen in Bemis Hall, which was remodeled last summer in preparation for the Worner Center renovation, is handing all the campus’s summer dining needs.
The project is the first major renovation of Rastall Hall since 1988, when the building took on a major transformation, and follows recommendations made in a 2009 study involving faculty, staff, students, and trustees.
The CC Board of Trustees met May 19-21 on campus and conducted the following business.
Voted to approve:
- The Revised Faculty Handbook, to become effective July 1, 2011.
- Promotion to full professor for Hong Jiang in the Department of German, Russian, and East Asian Languages.
- The transferring of $1.6 million of year-end dollars to fund the previously approved FY 2011-12 distribution from the Financial Aid Quasi Endowment for scholarships during the 2011-12 academic year.
- Renewal of trustee Mike Lampton’s term.
- 2011-12 trustee committee membership and chair assignments.
- Renewal of the current trustee officers’ terms for 2011-12.
- A resolution naming the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center theater the “Richard F. Celeste Theatre.”
The Board celebrated with the William Jackson Palmer Society inductees; dined with President Celeste and Jacqueline Lundquist to honor them for their efforts on behalf of the college for the past nine years; and recognized outgoing trustees Liz Larned ’83, Ray Petros ’72, and Hans Utsch P’92 and P’95.