Annually, the University of New Mexico's Communications and Marketing Department (UCAM) releases its top-10 general news and research stories at UNM. Below is this year's research news list top-10 and the article UCAM published online recognizing the achievement.

1. Economic growth depends on energy supply. In this day and age, large increases in energy will be required to fuel economic growth, increase standards of living and lift developing nations out of poverty. It is far from certain, however, whether existing supplies and technologies will be able to meet this demand. These are the dire conclusions of research published in the January 2011 issue of BioScience titled, "Energetic Limits to Economic Growth," by a group of ecologists at the University of New Mexico.

2. Researchers in UNM's Earth and Planetary Sciences Department must now sit and wait. They're waiting for the Atlas V rocket that carries the Mars Science Laboratory and an instrument called ChemCam, to land on Gale Crater on the surface of the planet Mars. Also on that rocket was the next Mars rover, Curiosity, which is the most sophisticated Rover ever built by NASA.

3. University of New Mexico Cancer Center researchers Larry Sklar and Bruce Edwards recently unveiled a powerful new method for discovering molecules that target the regulation of cancer cell life and death. Their high-tech screening approach, detailed in a scientific paper published in the July issue of Nature Protocols, offers cancer researchers at UNM and around the world a potent tool for identifying and characterizing molecules that show promise as the basis for targeted anti-cancer drugs.

4. A research group led by Mechanical Engineering professors C. Randall Truman and Peter Vorobieff have found and documented an unexpected effect in the way a gas behaves when hit by a shock wave. It's a discovery that may have interesting applications in many areas, including astrophysics.

5. A new study from a team of researchers at the University of New Mexico and the University of Tennessee is answering questions about how we identify race in other people. Heather Edgar, assistant professor of Anthropology and curator at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, led a team that used a new orthodontics collection at the Maxwell Museum to ask how people estimate the races of others. The findings were published recently in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.

6. An international team of researchers, including UNM's Peter Fawcett, has drawn a strong relationship between warmer temperatures and megadroughts during the mid-Pleistocene interglacials and the possible cause. Fawcett, an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and the lead author of a recent paper published in Nature titled, "Extended megadroughts in the southwestern United States during Pleistocene interglacials," indicates that these ancient megadroughts may have been caused by the poleward expansion of the subtropical dry zone in response to natural warming. These megadroughts had significant effects on water availability as well as ecosystem composition. These Pleistocene arid periods may also be suggestive of future climate change in the region.

7. It's survival of the fittest – even in the world of seeds. New research conducted by an international team of scientists including the University of New Mexico's Tim Lowrey, professor of Biology, reveals a complex plant-animal interaction of long-standing that has depended exclusively for its evolutionary longevity on mechanical factors. The material properties of the thick-shelled seed, from the plant family Annonaceae (Soursop, Pawpaw, and Custard Apples), have evolved into a fine balance that allows the seed to germinate while impeding predators, including tiny weevils and large great apes, that want to devour it for its tasty oils and nutrients.

8. New research shows that visually normal cells immediately surrounding breast tumors share key characteristics with their malignant neighbors. Scientists from the UNM Cancer Center have discovered that noncancerous tissue one centimeter – but not three or five centimeters away from breast tumor tissue – contains levels of the enzyme telomerase similar to that of the tumor itself. Their study, published in the September issue of Molecular Cancer Research, raises new questions about the relationship between breast cancer tissue and its "microenvironment."

9. This summer the U.S. Patent Office issued its 108th patent to researchers at the University of New Mexico's Center for High Technology Materials. It is a milestone for CHTM, and it is a tribute to the imagination of the New Mexico legislature who set out to do something about economic development more than 25 years ago.

10. Dorian Arnold, assistant professor in UNM's Computer Science Department is a member of a research team that has been recognized with a 2011 R&D; 100 Award. The award is for STAT, the stack trace analysis tool, which is being developed with researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, (LLNL), the University of Wisconsin and UNM. The R&D; 100 awards are widely recognized as the "Oscars of Innovation." They celebrate the top technology products of the year.