Annually, the Communication and Marketing (UCAM) Department and the Office of the Vice President for Research compiles a list of its Top-10 Research News stories from the University of New Mexico during the course of the year. Below is the list of UNM's Top-10 Research News stories for 2012.

UNM Physicists play key role in search for Higgs Boson.
UNM Physicists Part of the Search for the Higgs Boson Particle
UNM Physicists, including Professor Sally Seidel and Research Professor Igor Gorelov, are among several thousand scientists around the world who have been collaborating for 17 years in the search for the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. Recently, a new particle was observed in the search, but whether the particle has the properties of the predicted Higgs boson is now a matter of intense scrutiny.

Nanoscale Materials for Targeted Cancer Treatment
C. Jeffrey Brinker, professor in Chemical and Nuclear Engineering, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, is developing nanoscale materials for curing cancer, microelectronics, and energy harvesting. He and his students are building and engineering nanoscale materials to deliver drugs directly to cancer cells, therefore avoiding the collateral damage associated with traditional chemical therapies. Brinker believes that nanoparticles may change the way personalized medicine is delivered in the future. 

Climate Change Played a Part in the Collapse of the Maya
An ongoing study of the Maya allowed an international research team to document climate change using a chemical process that allowed analysis of a stalagmite from a cave in Central America. Associate professor Keith Prufer and graduate student Valorie Aquino in the Department of Anthropology, and Professor Yemane Asmerom and Senior Researcher Victor Polyak in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, were co-authors of a paper featured on the cover of "Science" magazine in November. 

Developing Innovative Nano Technologies for Mobile Devices
UNM is part of a multi-institution effort to develop nanoscale manufacturing systems for mobile computing. Lead by the University of Texas at Austin, and including the University of California Berkeley, the project has been awarded $18.5 million from the National Science Foundation. The Nanomanufacturing Systems for Mobile Computing and Mobile Energy Technologies (NASCENT) Center will develop innovative nanomanufacturing, nanosculpting, and nanometrology systems that could lead to more versatile mobile computing devices such as wearable sensors, foldable laptops, and rollable batteries.

Life on Mars?
Research Professor and Scientist Horton Newsom is part of the ChemCam team on the Mars Rover Curiousity. The ChemCam has been busy obtaining photos and data in and effort to analyze the chemistry of rocks and soil on Mars and determine if there is evidence of microbial life on the planet. So far, a major discovery was made when ancient streambed material was found, determining that there once was flowing water on Mars.

Earthquake Potential in Colorado and New Mexico Alive and Active
The Rio Grande Rift — the north-trending continental rift zone that extends from Colorado's central Rocky Mountains to Mexico—is not dead but geologically alive and active, according to a new study by scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Environmental Sciences (CIRES) in collaboration with the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech, Utah State University and UNAVCO. The data indicates that researchers expect to see some earthquakes in the continental rift zone.

Building a Cell Replica
"Friday afternoon is usually the best time to do science. There's somehow less pressure. The week is behind you. You may get to sleep in tomorrow morning, so why not just try something?" Bryon Kaehr said. Kaehr is a research scientist at the University of New Mexico and an advanced materials researcher at Sandia National Laboratories. His sim­ple exper­i­ment may have far reach­ing impact for nano­ma­te­ri­als, for drug devel­op­ment, and for the whole field of bio-catalysis.

Converting and Altering Muscle Function
Did you ever wonder why some Olympic runners are so good at short distances, while others excel at long-distance exercises? Much of this difference is accounted for by the types of muscle fibers that predominate in the individual: fast fibers for sprinters, and slow fibers for endurance athletes. How the ratio of different muscle fiber types is predetermined in the body has always been of interest to researchers. Recently, scientists at UNM, including Research Assistant Professor Anton Bryantsev, and Professor and Biology department chair Richard Cripps, used fruit flies to discover a mechanism that converts one muscle type into another, and thus, altering the function of the muscle.

A Quicker, Less Expensive Way to do High Quality Rendering for Computer Generated Films
Computer and Engineering Assistant Professor Pradeep Sen and graduate student Soheil Darabi have found a new way to solve an old problem in the digital film industry. Normally it takes thousands of hours of computing time to calculate the final image frames in films that use computer graphics, such as those with special effects or completely computer-generated films. The reason is that computers typically use an algorithm based on random numbers to simulate how the light bounces around the complex environments. In order to render properly, millions of calculations are performed over a long period of time. The researchers have developed an new The newmethod is that it reduces the com­pu­ta­tion time by sev­eral orders of mag­ni­tude, thereby enabling the ren­der­ing of com­plex effects for quickly.

Native Americas Sought Caffeine Buzz Long Before Europeans Arrived
UNM Anthropology Professor Patricia Crown lead a team that identified the organic residue absorbed by pottery used by Native Americas to process and brew a highly caffeinated black drink from parts of holly plants. The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, explains that the inhabitants of North America near St. Louis Missouri had complex rituals involving the drink.

** The selections above are in no particular order.