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Postdoctoral researcher Yanice Benitez adjusts a light that allows her to better see the glowing heat shield material being heated in a pyrolysis chamber while she and first year aerospace program graduate student Celeste Guiles run the chamber through tests to ensure its proper operation after a series of improvements were made to the system on Tuesday at the University of Colorado’s Ann & H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences building in Boulder. University of Colorado Boulder is investing in aerospace and national defense research through a $2 million donation to the Center for National Security Initiatives from The Anschutz Foundation. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)
Postdoctoral researcher Yanice Benitez adjusts a light that allows her to better see the glowing heat shield material being heated in a pyrolysis chamber while she and first year aerospace program graduate student Celeste Guiles run the chamber through tests to ensure its proper operation after a series of improvements were made to the system on Tuesday at the University of Colorado’s Ann & H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences building in Boulder. University of Colorado Boulder is investing in aerospace and national defense research through a $2 million donation to the Center for National Security Initiatives from The Anschutz Foundation. (Timothy Hurst/Staff Photographer)
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University of Colorado Boulder is investing in aerospace and national defense research through a $2 million donation to the Center for National Security Initiatives from The Anschutz Foundation.

The campus has already hired one new research associate through the gift and is looking to hire an additional four or five researchers over the next two years, said center Director Iain Boyd.

“This gift increases the number of opportunities for students in areas where we are already strong and provides new opportunities that don’t exist at all in other areas where we have limited or no capability today,” Boyd said.

If new researchers are experts in areas that CU Boulder is already strong in, Boyd said, they can add capacity and fresh perspective.

The funding will also allow the center to expand into research areas where CU Boulder isn’t as strong, like cybersecurity, Boyd said.

“The Anschutz Foundation was very clear early on that they don’t want to throw a bunch of money at the university for professors to publish more papers, and quite right, because there are plenty of federal agencies who do that,” Boyd said. “What I think the Anschutz Foundation is more interested in is the health and prosperity of the aerospace defense sector in Colorado.”

Senior Research Associate Daniil Andrienko, the first researcher to be hired through the gift, started work in August.

Andrienko is researching computer simulations of extreme environments, such as the presence of extreme velocity, temperature and energy, that can impact everything from astronauts returning to Earth to lasers used in materials processing.

“Experimental observation of these effects is usually costly if possible at all,” Andrienko said in an email. “And this is when we need to rely on computer models.”

Andrienko came to CU Boulder because of its research and connections to governmental agencies and businesses, on top of being drawn to the city itself.

Aerospace is one of the Center of National Security Initiative’s many focuses, he said.

“National security is happening not only in space but also here, on the ground,” he said. “Artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and even weather prediction are all topics of great interest to us.”