University researchers were everywhere in 2018.
They were making discoveries on a creek in rural Utah that actually sparked some hope in an otherwise climate change-wracked world.
They were capturing important seismological data when a swarm of 90 earthquakes hit south Reno.
They were finding the contributors and the causes of a new, deadly term in wildland firefighting, the "Firenado," which in July killed eight and devastated the area around Redding, California.
They were generating first-ever treatments to help fight diseases that will no doubt become even more prevalent as the planet continues to warm.
In sum, University researchers were the big story in a year of big stories for the University of Nevada, Reno.
In an effort to determine the "top" stories of 2018, the staff of Nevada Today turned to a simple methodology driven entirely by analytics. Stories posted during 2018 on the University's news site, Nevada Today, were ranked in order of their total page views. A story on the re-discovery of a Lahontan cutthroat trout species thought to be extinct on a creek in Utah by University researchers was the most clicked-on story of 2018, with 11,874 page views.
Research-themed stories took the second and third spots and four of the top five most-visited stories as well.
For those keeping score at home, the University website, unr.edu, was visited nearly 2.3 million times in 2018.
2018 also saw the University men's basketball team reach unprecedented heights, as well as the University's infrastructure continue to grow with the opening of a new STEM-themed residence hall, the near-completion of a cutting-edge arts performance and teaching complex and the start of construction of a new engineering building.
Here is a rundown of Nevada Today's top 25 most popular stories of 2018:
On April 13, writer Lauren Bain reported: The Lahontan cutthroat trout was rediscovered in a "dinky" stream near the Nevada-Utah border. Genetic testing by Associate Professor of Biology Mary Peacock led to the rediscovery of an iconic Nevada fish. "Even though they were in that tiny, dinky stream on the edge of Utah for close to 100 years, they had maintained that capacity to grow into this big fish," Peacock said. "People just went completely wild; it's like the big boys are back." Peacock became involved with the research and recovery of the Lahontan cutthroat trout in the early 2000s. She began working on ways to perform genetic testing to determine if the small trout discovered in the Pilot Peak streams were the original species of the Truckee River watershed. The Peacock lab obtained samples of the Lahontan cutthroat stored in museums and compared the DNA to the Pilot Peak trout. "We asked a very basic question: ‘Who do these fish look most similar to?'" Peacock said. "We probably had 50 populations in this analysis. So we took those fish, and we compared them to all the populations and did the genetic analysis - and bingo! They're the original dudes."
On Jan. 12, Mike Wolterbeek wrote: The University of Nevada, Reno's Seismological Laboratory reports an ongoing swarm of earthquakes near south Reno, in the area of the Mt. Rose highway and I-580. Since last night, more than 90 events have been located. The largest recorded are four magnitude 2 quakes. There have been no reports of damage, and about 38 people have reported feeling the small earthquakes. "The activity notably increased late last night and this morning," Ken Smith, seismic network manager and associate director of the seismological lab, said. "We're monitoring the swarm closely and updating local emergency management officials in case this sequence evolves to a larger, damaging earthquake." "When we feel these small earthquakes, it's nature's way of telling us that Nevada, and Washoe County, is earthquake country," Washoe County Emergency Manager Aaron Kenneston said. "Today would be an ideal day to walk through your house, or place of work, and do a hazard hunt. Secure bookshelves, water heaters and items that can easily fall and hurt you."
On Dec. 5, Mike Wolterbeek wrote: A destructive fire-generated vortex - a massive stream of rising, spinning, smoke, ash and fire - that topped out at 17,000 feet above the earth, accelerated the Carr Fire that killed eight people and devastated a widespread area in the Redding, California region in July 2018. The vortex, a little-observed atmospheric phenomena, was spinning with the power of a class three tornado, which earned it the name of Firenado. Atmospheric scientist in the Department of Physics Neil Lareau has authored a paper in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters documenting the rare firenado, finding a number of factors that combined at just the right time and place to catalyze the deadly fire. These observations may help forecasters and scientists identify - and potentially warn - for future destructive fire-generated vortices. "This paints a clear picture of the sequence of events leading to the vortex development and intensification," Lareau said. "This sequence suggests the Carr Fire vortex may qualify as pyro-genetic tornado, and not merely a tornado-strength fire-generated vortex." In his study, satellite and radar observations document the evolution of the vortex revealing similarities to tornado dynamics. A key factor in the vortex formation was the development of a fire-generated ice-topped cloud (known as a pyro-cumulonimbus) which reached as high as 39,000 ft. The development of the cloud helped stretch the underlying column of air, concentrating the rotation near the surface and causing the tornado strength winds, estimated at 143 mph, the strength of an EF-3 tornado.
Nevada Today reported: How do you make the impossible a reality? How do you make a comeback in the NCAA Tournament something worth re-telling for years to come? How do make sure you are never forgotten? How about doing what the Nevada Wolf Pack did Sunday during the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The seventh-seeded Wolf Pack rallied from a 22-point second-half deficit to stun No. 2 Cincinnati for a 75-73 victory at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., to advance to the University's first Sweet 16 appearance since 2004. The Wolf Pack never led in the game until Josh Hall's floater in the lane off a Cody Martin miss put the Pack up, 75-73, with only nine seconds remaining. Cincinnati, 31-5, couldn't get a shot off on its final possession and suddenly the 29-7 Wolf Pack, who had trailed by 22 points with 11 minutes and 37 seconds left in the game, was in the Sweet Sixteen. Nevada will meet another Sweet Sixteen surprise, Loyola of Chicago, in the South Region semifinal in Atlanta on Thursday. The comeback was the Wolf Pack's second show of resiliency in three days. On Friday, Nevada rallied from 14 points behind in the second half to down to Texas in a first-round game before rallying to win 87-83 in overtime. Third-year Wolf Pack Coach Eric Musselman, who has become something of a cult figure throughout the country for his post-game celebrations, didn't disappoint afterward. He tore off his dress shirt and ran into the Wolf Pack's locker room. Bare-chested, he was soaked in water by his joyous players. The Wolf Pack's comeback is the second greatest in NCAA Tournament history.
On Feb. 21, Robyn Feinberg wrote: For those who are active hikers, or find themselves outdoors often, the reality of a tick bite is not unusual, nor are its potential consequences. Ticks are known for transmitting many diseases in animals and humans, especially the deer tick, which is a known carrier of diseases such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, and anaplasmosis. Monika Gulia-Nuss, assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Nevada, Reno, is working on generating transgenic ticks in her lab, the first of their kind, in order to explore new targets for vector control. Vector control is any strategic method used to limit organisms that spread disease pathogens. Gulia-Nuss' lab works specifically on the deer tick and has received a $407,000 grant from the National Institute of Health to continue studies. "Our focus is to be able to manipulate these ticks in the lab so that we can understand the functions of different genes," Gulia-Nuss said. "This way we can have a better approach for finding new vaccine, drug or insecticide targets."
On Aug. 16, Griffin Drew wrote: Great Basin Hall, the University's newest 400-bed residence hall, opened Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. The residence hall will begin welcoming students for the Fall 2018 Semester Saturday, Aug. 18. Led by Vice President of Student Services Shannon Ellis, the grand-opening event included remarks from University President Marc Johnson and Nevada System of Higher Education Regent Cathy McAdoo. Some of the key messages around the hall's opening were: the University's commitment to sustainability, the fostering of a campus community, providing a space for STEM-specific students and the significance of its naming. ... Designed by VanWoert Bigotti Architecture, a Reno-based firm that also designed the William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building at the University, Great Basin Hall is environmentally friendly. Intended to be a Gold LEED building, the 114,000 square-foot residential hall features energy-efficient mechanical systems, LED lighting, low water-flow fixtures, recycled materials and large windows to maximize natural light.
On Dec. 6, John Trent wrote: Bill Musselman's coaching stop in Reno worked. He was too good a coach not to coach in the NBA. Within a year he was coaching the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, and later was the founding coach of the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves in 1989. When he died at the Mayo Clinic in 2000 at the age of 59, he was mourned by coaches and players throughout the college and professional games. Today, we have another Musselman, Bill's son Eric, roaming a basketball sideline in Reno, coaching the nation's sixth-ranked collegiate basketball team. Eric, like his father, is a good basketball coach - a savvy tactician, a stickler for detail and player development, a surprising showman who isn't above ripping the shirt off his chest when the championship moment warrants it. His daily twitter feed is an electronic 10 Commandments of Coaching and Life and a testament to "Three E's" he was raised by, and there are times at Lawlor Events Center when the 54-year-old Wolf Pack coach will implore the sold-out crowd to rise to its feet, to help will the Wolf Pack to a defensive stand. ... We are living in memorable times if you are a northern Nevada basketball fan. The Wolf Pack is undefeated, and into Eric Musselman's fourth season as the Wolf Pack's coach, it is apparent that something special is happening. The coach on the sideline has labored long and hard for this moment, and like his father 40 years before, has captured something in the community and across the nation that has resulted in record crowds and record recognition of the Wolf Pack program.
On May 4, Yun Ku wrote: The 2018 Reno Jazz Festival concluded its three-day run April 28 by recognizing more than 50 performers and schools with honors for outstanding performances during the adjudicated competition. More than 300 choirs, bands and combos from 170 middle schools, high schools, college and universities converged on the University of Nevada, Reno campus from April 26-28 to showcase the best of jazz music. In addition to evening concerts by guest artists drummer Dafnis Prieto and multi-talented musician and composer Peter Apfelbaum, the Reno Jazz Festival offered daytime competitions, workshops and clinics by dozens of professional jazz artists and adjudicators for more than 9,000 young jazz musicians. The three-day festival culminated in a festival showcase concert and awards ceremony to honor the best and brightest young standouts.
On Aug. 22, Yun Ku wrote: One clay rectangle at a time, row upon rows of brick and mortar, was laid by SAM. However, SAM isn't a mason. SAM100 is a bricklaying robot -- the first to be used in the state of Nevada. The new University of Nevada, Reno Arts Building employed state-of-the-art technology in the construction of the $35.5 million facility. A-1 Masonry and Sandblasting and general contractor Q&D Construction brought the robot to the project to help lay more than 60,000 units of bricks. In total, about 100,000 bricks will be installed in the three story building, according to Jennifer Roberts, owner of Las Vegas' A-1 Masonry. Roberts graduated from the University in 2002 with a dual degree in psychology and criminal justice. "With this being the first time SAM100 has been used anywhere in Nevada, it is a clear-cut sign that we are adapting and willing to accept new techniques, processes and procedures for use and implementation in the construction industry to give us an advantage with bidding and performing work," said Jeff Van Dellen, project manager for Q&D Construction LLC. "This technology is just one example of innovation implemented by A-1, a masonry subcontractor Q&D has worked with for many years." A-1, a woman-owned small business, is the only SAM-certified contactor in Nevada with exclusive rights for use. SAM stands for Semi-Automated Mason made by Construction Robotics out of New York. It uses a robotic arm, computer programming, and a materials-feeder system. The metal arm spreads mortar on brick and uses a laser-guided system to lay rows.
On July 23, Nicholas Ruggieri wrote: Your commute to work, to school or to the store may seem like standard everyday events, but for Zong Tian, a professor in the University of Nevada, Reno's civil and environmental engineering department, it is anything but standard. His work can help drivers have a better commute. Working jointly with the Beijing Institute of Technology, China, Tian oversaw the architectural design for the University's Physical Arterial Signal Simulation, or PASS system: a state-of-the-art traffic simulator specific to the Reno area. It is the only system of its kind in a North American university. "The College of Engineering is focused on making a major impact on the improvement of the quality of life of Nevadans," Manos Maragakis, dean of the College of Engineering, said. "The PASS System exemplifies the College's efforts on improving the operation and efficiency of the infrastructure of Nevada, and the nation, and demonstrates our commitment and success in this important aspect of our mission." With the PASS system allowing Tian and University students to create traffic simulations quickly and effectively, Reno commuters have a real chance to benefit from the outcome of the research. "Signal re-timing is considered one of the most cost-effective traffic management strategies," Tian said. "For both personal vehicles and public transportation, well-timed signals means reduced stops, which reduces travel delays and back-ups, and lowers fuel consumption and emission. One of the first intersections we studied on was North McCarran Boulevard along Clearacre Lane and US 395, and we've found that the general benefit-cost ratio ranges between 30:1 to 300:1. So this system can help us create a very real and very tangible difference." The PASS system allows University students to develop optimized coordination timing plans for traffic signals around the Reno area.