Smith Announces Winners of $1.8 Million Grant Competition

DATE: May 4, 2006
CONTACT: John Davis,

LUBBOCK – Researchers in plant genetics, wind science and the geosciences at Texas Tech University will share in a $1.8 million grant awarded by the vice president of research.

Dean Smith, vice president of research at TTU who created the grant competition, announced the winners Thursday at a news conference at the Experimental Sciences Building on the Texas Tech Campus.

“My mission is to increase research capacity at Texas Tech University,” Smith said. “I felt we needed to do something different to ignite the research engine. That’s why we put the $1 million out there with no constraints.”

Originally, Smith offered TTU researchers $1 million. However, after he saw the quality of the 95 research applications, he said he increased funding to $1.8 million.

The three awards provide funding for modern state-of-the-art equipment that will enhance Texas Tech’s research infrastructure, Smith said. This will make TTU researchers more competitive in their applications for state and federal funding.

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

Winners are:

• Randy Allen, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, earned a $315,049 grant for equipment and to pay for graduate research assistants. Researchers hope to find genetic answers to improve plant stress tolerance and improve crop plant production under marginal conditions.

• Melanie Barnes, senior research associate in the Department of
Geosciences, earned a $506,203 grant for an inductively–coupled plasma


mass spectrometer with laser ablation. This machine will enable researchers to analyze the chemical composition of water, soil and other compounds to detect elements in parts-per-billion. In geology, the device can be used to determine the age of rocks and how they were formed.

• John Schroeder, assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, earned a $1 million grant for two high-resolution mobile research Doppler radars for the Wind Science and Research Center. These will be used to study the lower atmosphere and create four-dimensional wind flow simulations to better understand weather patterns near Earth’s surface.


CONTACT: Dean Smith, vice president for research, (806) 742-3905, or