Challenge accepted: Researchers to present on ‘Global Grand Challenges’

This event has been cancelled. The Office of the Vice President for Research will reschedule it for a later date.

The Office of the Vice President for Research at Colorado State University will host Global Grand Challenges: Research and Translation, Wednesday, Feb. 24, at 1 p.m. at the Warwick Hotel in Denver. The event will feature about 20 CSU faculty members who will discuss solutions to global issues including optimizing the use of critical resources, nourishing a growing population, and finding cures for animal and human health.

Promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration, the event acts as a summit for individual fields to bring forth their knowledge and collaborate with experts in other areas, finding solutions through collective effort. “CSU’s innovative prowess continues to improve global and local conditions as well as address emerging and persistent issues,” said Alan Rudolph, vice president for research. “The Global Grand Challenges event takes a unique route in academic discovery by recognizing the power of collaboration. In doing so, it serves as a continuation of CSU’s culture of social responsibility and innovative approaches.”

Three panel sessions will include CSU’s leading experts in various fields. Each panel will include a featured speaker who will explore each issue’s effect, reach and threat level. Question and answer periods will follow.

Held previously in Washington D.C., this traveling event’s presence in Colorado’s capitol provides CSU’s esteemed researchers a new opportunity for local partnerships.

“As this event takes place on our home turf this year, our researchers and scientists can converse with Colorado’s innovators and partners to discuss global solutions,” Rudolph said.  “Our state has historically held solutions for the planet, and that spirit continues today.”

The panel session will begin at 1 p.m. and will be promptly followed by a reception at 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Registration is required at or (877) 498-7787.

Seminar topics and speakers

1. How will we optimize use of critical resources: water, energy and environment?

Water, energy and the environment represent a critical nexus of resources that must be optimized to sustain our planet. CSU researchers’ innovative, interdisciplinary approaches are leading the development of novel solutions to complex global problems.

Featured Speaker:

  • R. Ravishankara, professor in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. Ravishankara’s expertise centers on the chemistry of the Earth’s atmosphere as it relates to climate change, regional air quality, science policy and energy.

Panel Speakers:

  • Mazdak Arabi, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He is teaching and actively conducting research in the water resources management and planning and environmental engineering areas.
  • Ken Carlson, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He worked in industry for more than 10 years in roles that included environmental project management for Intel, Inc. and senior technology management at CH2M Hill.
  • Sonia Kreidenweis, interim associate dean for research, College of Engineering, and professor of atmospheric science. Her research interests are in atmospheric aerosols and their impacts on visibility and climate.
  • Bryan Willson, professor of mechanical engineering, director of the CSU Energy Institute and founder of the CSU Engines and Energy Conversion Lab. In these roles, he has worked for over 25 years to develop large-scale solutions for global energy needs with a significant focus on reducing environmental impacts from natural gas production and use.
  • Ken Reardon, Jud and Pat Harper Chair of Chemical and Biological Engineering, with joint appointments in five other science and engineering programs at CSU. His current research involves the analysis and engineering of bacteria and algae for the production of biofuels and other chemicals.

2. How will we nourish our planet in the face of projected population growth?

As the world’s population grows, increasing agricultural capacity poses a grand challenge for CSU researchers.

Featured Speaker:

  • Jan Leach, University Distinguished Professor and professor of bioagricultural sciences and pest management. Leach is a renowned authority in the molecular biology of plants and pathogen interactions in rice, an important food crop for the planet.

Panel Speakers:

  • Paul Morley, veterinarian and professor at CSU, specializing in control of infectious disease problems for animals and people. His research currently emphasizes metagenomic investigations of microbial ecology and antimicrobial resistance, and characterizing antimicrobial drug use in animals.
  • James Pritchett, agricultural economist whose interdisciplinary research and engagement program focuses on agribusiness management, farm and ranch economics, agriculture policy, risk management and the economics of agricultural water resources.
  • Raj Khosla, CSU Monfort Professor who specializes in precision agriculture and is involved with quantifying and managing spatial variability of soils by precise crop input management in an environmentally sensible manner on large- and small -scale farming systems.
  • Matthew Wallenstein, founding director of the Innovation Center for Sustainable Agriculture at CSU. Wallenstein studies how soil microbes respond to environmental change and how those responses affect the functioning of plants and ecosystems.
  • Courtney Jahn, assistant professor in the Department of Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management. Jahn uses genetic and molecular tools to improve plant bioenergy yields. Her Plant Bio-Energy Lab evaluates the effect of local growing environments, plant physiological and morphological processes, and leaf and stem chemical composition on biofuel yield.

3. How can we accelerate 21st-century cures for animal and human health? 

Rapid development of innovative approaches to diseases that plague both human and animal populations will affect all aspects of 21st century life. CSU researchers are poised to make significant strides through initiatives such as One Health, infectious disease research, and novel approaches to solving antimicrobial resistance.

Featured Speaker:

  • Sue VandeWoude, associate dean for research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, and winner of the Excellence in Research Award from the Association of American Veterinary Medical College. VandeWoude’s research includes the study of naturally-occurring animal modes of human disease, disease ecology, diagnosis and therapeutics.

Panel Speakers:

  • Dick Bowen, a veterinarian whose research focuses on zoonotic diseases, particularly with respect to understanding infectious disease in natural hosts, including domestic animals and wildlife.
  • Diane Ordway, associate professor at the CSU Mycobacteria Research Laboratory, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. Ordway is focused on mycobacterial research in the areas of pathogen transmission, breath diagnosis and vaccine development.
  • Dennis Pierro, assistant professor and director of BioMARC, a biopharmaceutical manufacturing organization at CSU that specializes in high containment biologics manufacturing of therapeutics, diagnostics and vaccines for human clinical trials and commercialization.
  • Elizabeth Ryan, assistant professor of toxicology in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences. She has global nutrition, translational science and ‘one health’ research interests in host metabolism by the gut microbiome and dietary modulation of mucosal immunity. Ryan also investigates nutrient digestibility and weight loss in companion animals and conducts dietary interventions in infants, children and adults.
  • Melissa Reynolds, associate professor of chemistry and associate chair of the School of Biomedical Engineering, whose research is multidisciplinary and focuses on the molecular design and fabrication of biomimetic materials for use in medical device applications.
  • Greg Ebel, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology whose research focuses on arthropod-borne and infectious diseases. Ebel’s research takes a multidisciplinary approach that combines classical virology, entomology, and molecular and computational biology.
  • Rod Page, medical oncologist and director of CSU’s Flint Animal Cancer Center
  • Bruno Sobral, professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology and the Director of CSU’s One Health Institute. He has built research institutes in academia, nonprofits and for profit organizations over the last 25 years. His research spans both computational and laboratory sciences.