buff briefs | New institute advances biosciences


New institute advances biosciences

The University of Colorado Board of Regents has unanimously approved the creation of a systemwide CU Biofrontiers Institute, which will focus on bioscience research and educating future interdisciplinary scientists.

The institute was developed from the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology (CIMB), which began in 2003 as a student collaboration to work across disciplines on significant challenges in bioscience and to translate new knowledge into biotechnology solutions.

The CU Biofrontiers Institute will include faculty members from across the CU campuses and from several departments, such as chemistry, biology, physics and applied mathematics.

The director of the institute is Nobel Laureate and CU-Boulder Professor Thomas Cech of the chemistry and biochemistry department.

The Biofrontiers Institute headquarters will be in the new Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building on CU-Boulder’s East Campus, and is scheduled to open in early 2012.

Learning more about solar flares

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which is carrying $32 million worth of University of Colorado Boulder instruments, has provided scientists with new information that energy from some solar flares is stronger and lasts longer than thought.

Solar flares are bursts of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots and are seen as bright areas on the sun. Their energy can reach Earth’s atmosphere and affect operation of orbiting communication and navigation satellites.

Over the course of a year and using SDO’s ultraviolet Extreme Variability Experiment instrument designed and built at CU, scientists observed that radiation from solar flares sometimes continues for up to five hours beyond the initial main phase of a solar flare occurrence. The new data also shows that the total energy from this phase of the flare sometimes has more energy than that of the initial event.

The new capability provided by SDO observations is giving scientists a more accurate estimation of the total energy input into Earth’s environment.

SDO was launched on Feb. 11, 2010, and is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun.

CU to celebrate Constitution Day

The University of Colorado Boulder is commemorating the signing of the U.S. Constitution with several campus events this week.

Constitution Day is Sept. 16, and this week the law school’s Byron White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law launched its Constitution Day Project by sending 60 law students to teach the principles of the First Amendment in 50 high school classrooms around the state.

In addition, CU’s journalism and mass communication program and the Colorado High School Press Association are co-sponsoring a student editorial-writing contest and panel discussion that is expected to bring more than 100 high school students and their advisors to campus. The event will be held Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Eaton Humanities Building.

CU’s Center for Western Civilization also will host a free public talk by best-selling author Thomas Woods of the Ludwig von Mises Institute on Thursday, Sept. 15. Woods’ talk, “Small is Beautiful: The Neglected Case for Human Scale in a World of Megastates,” will be held at 6 p.m. in the Hellems Arts and Sciences Building, room 252.

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