Bringing Research and Business Together for Colorado

Governor’s Awards 2012

These annual CO-LABS awards recognize achievements at Colorado's 24 federal labs and other research facilities.  Presented by the Governor, these awards highlight breakthroughs in “High Impact Research”.  The 2012 awards honor breakthroughs in hurricane forecasting, oil-spill air quality assessment, Lyme disease prevention, energy efficiency, detection of aquatic invaders, and crop science.

Colorado is a global leader in natural resource management, climate science, renewable energy, photonics, materials science, astrophysics, telecommunications and earth science. “Researchers in Colorado laboratories are working together and finding solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems, which is reflected in the Governor’s awards and the commitment that Colorado has to its federal and state organizations,” Bill Farland, chair of CO-LABS

2012 Award recipients include:

Deepwater Horizon Atmospheric Science Team, a partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Honored for their work in atmospheric science will be Thomas Ryerson, Joost de Gouw, and researchers from NOAA and CIRES who joined together to form the Deepwater Horizon Atmospheric Science Team that under urgent circumstances assessed the potential air quality risks posed by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The team calculated independent estimates of the oil leak rate and analyzed the fate of the leaked oil in the environment. Using NOAA research aircraft, they also were able to advance scientific understanding of the chemistry of the atmosphere in the unique environment.

Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere/Advanced Technology Source, Colorado State University

Scientists from CIRA and ATS, led by Mark DeMaria, will be honored for creating advanced software that allows them to make direct comparisons between satellite observations and model forecasts to give a complete picture of tropical storms and their environments. The forecast tools developed by the Hurricane Forecast Intensity Program help transform cutting-edge observations and theory into better forecasts of hurricane intensity for operational meteorologists, saving lives and property. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fort Collins

An award will be presented to Robert D. Gilmore, Toni G. Patton, Kevin S. Brandt, and their colleagues at the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases for discovering a gene that, when inactivated, prevents the bacteria that causes Lyme disease from producing an infection following a tick bite. The finding was the first demonstration of a borrelial gene essential to the process of transmitting infection via ticks. Understanding how the organism functions in both ticks and mammals may help in identifying new targets for vaccines and other therapeutics.

United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service

Using a process-level computer model, Laj Ahuja and the team of researchers made several breakthroughs in helping farmers choose summer crops, evaluate performance of new bio-energy or forage dryland crops, manage water better, and explore potential adaptations to climate change, among other applications. The RZWQM2 computer model can extend short-period field research to long-term weather conditions, and different climates and soil; evaluate long-term effects of various management practices on water conservation, crop water use, and production under dryland and irrigated conditions; develop a decision criteria to select a summer crop which gives maximum net return to the farmer; help farmers in different Colorado counties make better decisions about irrigation; and evaluate effects of projected climate change on water demand.

Bureau of Reclamation

Denise M. Hosler and her colleagues at Reclamation’s Invasive Mussel Research Laboratory at the Denver Federal Center will be honored for advances in the early detection of zebra and quagga mussels and evaluation of potential control methods.  Early detection at the larva stage provides reservoir managers with evidence that a water body is being exposed to mussels and gives them time to prepare for potential mussel impacts before noticeable problems arise. It also give managers the opportunity to implement additional public education and boat inspection and cleaning programs that may prevent further exposure and reduce the chances of an infestation.

U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Honors will go to NREL senior scientist Matthew Keyser and his colleagues in the category of Foundational Technology for developing the Large-Volume Battery Calorimeter (LVBC) that can detect heat loss and determine efficiency in the large batteries being used to power electric vehicles. NREL’s LVBC is a crucial tool for automakers and battery companies, the only isothermal calorimeter capable of measuring the thermal efficiency of batteries for today’s and future generations of advanced vehicles. NREL’s calorimeter was recently used to identify the source of a potential 17% gain in battery power, which could ultimately deliver a dramatic improvement in vehicle performance.