President Bruce Benson
The old superstition suggests that bad news comes in threes, but we've experienced the opposite recently at the University of Colorado. Three has been pretty lucky for us. In just over three weeks, the exceptional work of three CU faculty members has earned them some of the most prestigious honors in the world.
In early October, Eric Coleman, a geriatrician at the CU School of Medicine, received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, also known as the "genius" grant, which supports work of outstanding creativity and originality. Coleman's work aims to reduce the number of patients released from a hospital only to be readmitted soon after. Nearly 20 percent of Medicare patients return to the hospital within a month of release, a trend that is costly and largely preventable. Ensuring better transitions from hospital to home is an important piece of national health care reform, and Coleman's work is at the forefront of the movement. He is the eighth CU faculty member to earn a MacArthur Fellowship.
Just more than a week later, CU-Boulder physics instructor David Wineland received CU's fifth Nobel Prize. Wineland, who works closely with our graduate students and engages them in his research at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), shared the prize with his French colleague and friend Serge Haroche. Wineland developed a technique that uses lasers to cool ions to absolute zero. His work has already contributed to advances in telecommunications and cellphone global positioning systems. It sets the stage for more precise atomic clocks and computers that are far faster than any currently in use.
He is the fourth member of the CU-Boulder Physics Department to earn a Nobel Prize, joining Carl Wieman, Eric Cornell and John Hall in the elite club. Our first Nobel winner, Tom Cech, from the Chemistry Department (where he still teaches freshman chemistry), now leads our BioFrontiers Institute.
Shortly after the Nobel announcement, Deborah Jin of the Physics Department at CU-Boulder received the prestigious L'Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science award. Jin, who already has a MacArthur Fellowship to her credit, was one of five women internationally to earn the award and the only winner from North America.
The Women in Science awards jury recognized Jin "for having been the first to cool down molecules so much that she can observe chemical reactions in slow motion, which may help further understanding of molecular processes which are important for medicine or new energy sources."
Jin, also a fellow of JILA, a cooperative laboratory with CU-Boulder and NIST, was cited for demonstrating exceptionally original approaches to fundamental research in the physical sciences.
These three significant milestones are indicative of the quality of discovery and innovation that occurs on CU campuses. They also share three common threads that are critical to the life of the university: All of the faculty members engage undergraduate and graduate students in their world-renowned work; they have a deep commitment to collaborating across disciplines, campuses and external scientific partners; and they are emblematic of the high quality of CU faculty.
The honors received by professors Coleman, Wineland and Jin recognize the highest levels of excellence in science, and we are proud of their achievements. But we are as proud of the fact that they reflect the quality of teaching and research that permeates all CU campuses. Our strength as a university is in the strength of the thousands of women and men across CU whose dedication, passion and knowledge are at work every day, educating the next generation of leaders and making our world a better place.
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