Recipients of Research Grant Competition Named

Texas Tech biology and engineering researchers receive funds to improve diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases and better protect cotton crops.

The grant competition is supported by the Texas Legislature’s Research Development Fund to support research activities in higher education.

Two Texas Tech University scientists have received funding to enhance their research efforts.

Shan Bilimoria, in the Department of Biological Sciences, will receive $294,998 to study new ways to fight boll weevils and aphids in cotton. Brian Nutter, in the Department of Electrical Engineering, will receive $480,928 to devise an innovative way to model the human brain.

“Increasing our research capacity is vitally important to our university,” said President Guy Bailey. “Increasing research creates new knowledge and new solutions for the issues facing our state and our country.”

The projects were selected from 22 applications submitted by Texas Tech researchers. Independent experts reviewed the proposals and made recommendations to the Office of the Vice President for Research.

“These research projects exemplify the excellent research going on at Texas Tech,” Bailey said. “And this grant competition sends the message that research is important and we will find ways to support the efforts of our researchers.”

The grant money comes from the Research Development Fund, which was created by the Texas Legislature to support research activities in higher education.

Shan Bilimoria, Department of Biological Sciences

Bilimoria’s project studies novel, environmentally acceptable control methods for boll weevils and aphids. The pests do an estimated $3.5 billion in damage annually to cotton crops in the United States. Bilimoria and his team are looking at what new insecticidal proteins can breed cotton plants to control boll weevils and aphids. The grant will allow that testing. Because boll weevils can not be reared on the Llano Estacado due to a state issued quarantine, the testing will be done at the Cotton Entomology Laboratory in Weslaco.

Brian Nutter, Department of Electrical Engineering

Nutter’s team is examining ways to improve magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) use to study the structural and functional characteristics of the human brain. With traditional MRI, it takes intensive computer work to see precise locations of some pathways in the brain. Nutter proposes to change the way data are used to model the brain. His work would have significant impact on the knowledge of normal aging and could improve diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases and neurosurgery.