Texas Tech Names Winners of $1.6 Million Research Grant Competition

Three Texas Tech University researchers will share more than $1.66 million to enhance their research efforts. The research ranges from paleoecology to nanotechnology to a soil bio-diversity project.

Three Texas Tech University researchers will share more than $1.66 million to enhance their research efforts. The research ranges from paleoecology to nanotechnology to a soil bio-diversity project.

Dean Smith, vice president for research at Texas Tech, announced the winners in the second annual grant competition today (Friday) at a news conference in the Experimental Sciences Building on the Texas Tech campus.

“It is imperative that Texas Tech increase its research capacity,” Smith said. “Research is about creating new knowledge and solutions to better our society. Incentives such as this grant competition send a clear signal that we are serious about supporting our research efforts.”

The projects were selected from 75 applications submitted by Texas Tech researchers from across the campus. Independent reviewers looked at the applications and made recommendations to Smith.

“The three research projects selected exemplify the breadth of the excellent research going on at Texas Tech,” said Jon Whitmore, Texas Tech University president. “I believe it is important to note that each of these projects is interdisciplinary in nature reaching across the campus to include experts in several fields.”

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

Winners are:

Randall Jeter, associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, received a $547,108 grant to hire graduate research assistants, post-doctoral associates and to acquire soil moisture sensors and loggers. Jeter's research team is studying how microorganisms in the soil interact with crop roots to try to determine if positive effects can be enhanced as a way of improving agricultural production of crops, especially cotton and peanuts.

Eileen Johnson, professor of museum science and curator of anthropology at the Museum of Texas Tech University, received $612,376 to hire graduate research assistants, post doctoral associates and other staff as well as to pay for services such as radiocarbon dating and charcoal-based tree identification. Johnson’s team is studying landscape development in an area on the southern edge of the Llano Estacado to determine how the land looked before humans moved into the area, how the landscape has changed and how people have made land use decisions over several thousand years.

Yanzhang Ma, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, received $506,138 allowing the purchase of equipment. His project will establish a facility to synthesize large amounts of novel nanomaterials and to explore their properties. By creating a Wire Electrical Explosion Nonocrystalline Production System, the group will be able to produce daily nanomaterials on a kilogram scale.

-30-

CONTACT: Dean Smith, vice president for research, at (806) 742-3905 or via e-mail at dean.smith@ttu.edu.