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For research that engaged four or more distinct research entities in Colorado (with at least two being federally-funded labs) whose results leveraged the resources and strengths among partnering organizations – and demonstrate the power of collaboration.

Pathfinding Partnerships Award


We are Water Project

Communities in the US Southwest are increasingly experiencing disruptions from climate change, including drought, wildfire, and other extremes. A CIRES education-focused research team saw an opportunity to build community resilience to those impacts by creating spaces where communities and individuals could engage with these topics and learn from each other. The resulting project, We Are Water, pulled together a diverse array of partners in the desert Southwest, including Indigenous education organizations, local libraries, and climate scientists. These partners collaborated deeply to create—and then study the impact of—water exhibits, storytelling sessions, lessons, book clubs, and other community activities. Importantly, many of these activities were conducted in English, Spanish, and Navajo (and where possible Ute). This collaborative work has not only inspired community engagement around issues of water, including drought, it has also resulted in measurable changes in participants’ interest, awareness, and respect for multiple ways of knowing about water. Program developers learned how to center the expertise and lived experiences of all collaborators, which required more thoughtful work. The result was a truly thoughtful and inclusive exhibit and body of work that is already inspiring more thoughtful, deliberate, and high-impact community-research partnerships.

Key partners include the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, which hosts the CU Boulder-NOAA cooperative agreement; Western Water Assessment, a NOAA Climate Adaptation Partnership (CAP) program based at CIRES in CU Boulder; Colorado Libraries: Ignacio Community Library, Montrose Regional Library, Pine River Library, other libraries in the Four Corners region, and the Colorado State Library, part of the state’s Department of Education; Indigenous Education Institute, Native Pathways, and Reimagine Research Group. These Indigenous organizations are based in Washington, New Mexico, and Oregon, not Colorado. However, they are national in scope and have impact in the state and the region, and both are critical partners to the success of the We Are Water program. CoCoRaHS, the NOAA-funded Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network, is a program of the Colorado Climate Center, whose community-collected weather data are used by the NOAA National Weather Service in forecasting, and the Space Science Institute in Boulder, CO.

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For research that resulted in a technological solution with widespread and/or significantly measurable societal utilization, with related impact on a global challenge or issue.

Technology Transfer Award


Radiofrequency Measurements to Address Electromagnetic Compatibility between Radar Altimeters and 5G Base Stations

This team of researchers from the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) rapidly and effectively responded to concerns about coexistence between new C-Band 5G base stations and existing safety-of-life airborne radar altimeters by designing and performing measurements and technical analyses to assess whether 5G might interfere with the altimeter receivers. They worked with a multi-stakeholder group including over 100 representatives of the NTIA, FCC, FAA, and eight other federal agencies; three cellular carriers; three airlines; and four aircraft and radio altimeters (RADALT) manufacturers.

The winning team for the Technology Transfer Award include:

Mr. Frank H. Sanders, Senior Technical Fellow, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce; Mr. Geoffrey A. Sanders, Electronics Engineer, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences; Mr. Kenneth R. Calahan, Electronics Engineer, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences; Mr. Savio M. Tran, Electronics Engineer, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences; Mr. Kenneth Tilley, Engineering Technical Writer Editor, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences; Mr. Kenneth Brewster, Electronics Technician, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences.

For discoveries with impacts that have developed over more than 15 years, that have revealed profound new understandings of foundational science and/or theories within a given field and the resulting impact on society.

Lifetime Achievement Award:
Dr. Alan Rudolph

Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Alan Rudolph

Dr. Alan Rudolph, recently retired VP of Research at Colorado State University; Former CO-LABS Board Chair; former leader of the U.S. Biodefense, Biosecurity, and Biotechnology programs at the DARPA; and serial entrepreneur and founder of Cellphire, a biotechnology company in phase II human clinical trials for freeze-dried platelets - has had an illustrious career marked by a profound commitment to scientific innovation and collaboration. During his tenure at CSU, he transformed the institution into a prominent research hub with total sponsored expenditures reaching $456.9 million, solidifying its position among top research universities. His leadership birthed influential research hubs like the Center for Healthy Aging, One Health Institute, and Data Science Research Institute.

Dr. Rudolph's impact extended to the realm of robotics, collaborating with Marc Raibert, founder of Boston Dynamics, on groundbreaking projects. Notably, his dog Laney was the inspiration that led to BigDog, an advanced four-legged robot used by the Pentagon. His dedication to pushing technological boundaries showcased robotics' potential in various applications.

Furthermore, he pioneered brain-machine interface technology, notably demonstrated during the 2014 World Cup when a paralyzed individual operated a robotic exoskeleton using their brain to perform the opening kick. This groundbreaking initiative showcased the potential of technology to bestow newfound independence on those with paralysis.

Dr. Rudolph's expertise in fostering collaborative partnerships transcended academia. He united institutions and sectors to address challenges ranging from infectious diseases to national security, garnering increased support for scientific initiatives. His legacy continues to inspire progress and excellence across diverse fields.

This Award spotlights the discoveries and remarkable work of someone having more recently started on their path of scientific discovery. We look for significant demonstration of initiative, Inspiration, collaboration skills, and other skills and attributes, including the ability to inform and inspire others.

Outstanding Early Career Scientist Award: 
Dr. K. Shankari

Dr. K. Shankari

Dr. K. Shankari is a trailblazing expert in open-source computer systems for sustainable transportation. Her groundbreaking research in computational mobility, spanning over 30 publications and reports, focuses on understanding and influencing travel behavior to support decarbonization and improve global transportation infrastructure. Dr. Shankari's vision led to the creation of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Open Platform for Agile Trip Heuristics (OpenPATH), a groundbreaking open-source tool that empowers communities to collect and analyze their own transportation data, removing financial barriers and democratizing access.

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