CU Denver Research Showcased at Board of Regents Meeting

September 12, 2023

Last week, the University of Colorado Board of Regents convened at the CU Denver campus for a board meeting, which provided updates on online learning and research at CU Denver, among other topics. 

CU Denver’s Research in the Spotlight:  

Representatives of two interdisciplinary faculty teams presented their Grand Challenges initiative-funded research programs to the University of Colorado Board of Regents when CU Denver hosted the Sept. 7 – 8 board meetings. 

Chancellor Michelle Marks led the host campus report by sharing that CU Denver research awards were up 55% last year, an important marker of the university’s goal to become internationally known for research and creative work. 

Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities Phillip De Leon provided an overview of the Grand Challenges initiative and CU Denver’s efforts to nurture grant writing and provide seed funding to ensure the university sustains a strong pipeline of research and creative activity. The faculty presenters were from teams that are emblematic of the charge to solve specific, complex global problems: 

Center for Applied Genome and Epigenome Science 

  • Who: Xiaojun Ren, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, and Chris Phiel, Associate Professor Department of Integrative Biology, and  
  • The Research: Ren’s lab is one of only a handful in the world that can perform epigenetics studies at high resolution in living cells. One of their team’s projects is finding a way to use epigenetic reprogramming to reduce the concentration of cancerous cells in children with brain tumors. Phiel also noted that a CU Denver alum who worked in his lab for four years is now finishing a degree at Harvard Medical School. 

Infrastructure Informatics 

  • Who: Dr. Farnoush Banaei-Kashani, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering 
  • The Research: Banaei-Kashani’s team is working on many infrastructure research projects in the areas of transportation, environment, buildings, cyber, and water. One initiative, which is funded by the Colorado Department of Transportation, is using artificial intelligence to develop an intelligent bridge management system. Banaei-Kashani said CU Denver’s AI-powered model is 46% more accurate at predicting bridge deterioration than the best available public model. 

Lynx Connections 

The September meetings were the first full board meetings in new roles for several people with CU Denver connections. School of Public Affairs Professor Callie Rennison was elected chair of the Board of Regents in June. Former Executive Vice Chancellor of Administration and Strategy Jennifer Sobanet was back on campus after being named the interim chancellor of UCCS over the summer, while CU Denver alum Usha Sharma gave her first board briefing as CU’s new treasurer and chief investment officer

Online Learning Trends 

CU System Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Chad Marturano opened a deep dive discussion on online enrollment and programs, where the regents and representatives of each campus broke into tabletop groups to discuss trends in online learning. Presenting on behalf of CU Denver, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Innovation and Strategy Katie Linder guided participants through an overview of the campus’s existing offerings, new program pipeline, and new program characteristics such as market-informed development and stackability that will ensure offerings are attractive to prospective students. While the number of online student credit hours have declined slightly at CU Denver since the first year of the pandemic, the 2022–23 total was still 58% greater than 2019–20 and represents 38% of all credit hours, the highest percentage ever.