Texas Tech


research • scholarship • creative activity

Spring 2011

In Short

Inaugural Issue Welcome

President Guy Bailey and Vice President for Research Taylor Eighmy would like to welcome you to the first edition of Texas Tech Discoveries research magazine.

"Welcome to the inaugural issue of Texas Tech Discoveries: Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity. This electronic magazine celebrates the many accomplishments of the faculty as well as the work of our outstanding undergraduate and graduate students and alumni. The university has set a goal of becoming a great, public national research university. Texas Tech Discoveries is a showcase for the broad range of work that is the foundation of our mission. I invite you to read further to see the breadth of the research, scholarship and creative endeavors happening on our campus."

Taylor Eighmy, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research

"There is no better place to be right now than Texas Tech University. We have set a goal to become one of the great, public national research universities. Our new electronic magazine, Texas Tech Discoveries: Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity, spotlights exactly why I believe that Texas Tech will achieve its goal. If this is your first introduction to Texas Tech, I hope you are impressed. If you are a member of the Red Raider family, here are dozens of more reasons to be proud of your university."

Guy Bailey

Texas Tech Researchers Receive $3.2 Million in NSF Grants

Texas Tech's Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering has garnered about $1.75 million in grants from the National Science Foundation.

Two of the nine awards are NSF rapid response grants to support research related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. One seeks to lengthen the life of wind turbines, reducing the cost of wind energy.

A group of researchers also recently received another $1.45 million from NSF to encourage 60 students to pursue and complete degrees in math and biology.

The Proactive Recruitment in Introductory Science and Math (PRISM) is a 5-year grant, said Brock Williams, lead investigator on the project and an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics. Of the three grants recommended, Texas Tech received the largest amount in funding.

The PRISM team includes nine research mentors from the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, three from the Department of Biological Sciences and two from The Institute of Environmental and Human Health. Lawrence Schovanec, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and Vice President Juan Munoz also are included as senior personnel.

Other investigators include Jaclyn CaƱas, an assistant professor at The Institute of Environmental and Human Health; Jerry Dwyer and Sophia Jang, associate professors in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, and Nancy McIntyre, an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Discovering 12,000 Years of History at Lubbock Lake Landmark

The Lubbock Lake National Historic Landmark is celebrating 75 years of discovery.

A unit of the Museum of Texas Tech University, the Lubbock Lake Landmark is an archaeological and natural history preserve at the northern edge of the city of Lubbock. The Landmark contains evidence of almost 12,000 years of occupation by ancient people on the Southern High Plains, said Eileen Johnson, director of the landmark.

"For thousands of years, people on the Southern High Plains used the water resources in the draw until those resources went dry in the early 1930s," Johnson said. "Years of sediment covered the traces of human activity until 1936, when the city of Lubbock dredged the meander in an effort to revitalize the underground springs. And that led to the discovery of the largest, most complex and longest continuously inhabited hunter-gatherer site in the New World.

"The Lubbock Lake Landmark exhibits a virtually complete cultural sequence from the Clovis Period to historic times," she said. "The periods are easily distinguished due to the separation of sediment layers containing cultural material by sterile layers where sediment lacks artifacts."

The first explorations of the site were conducted in 1939 by the West Texas Museum (now the Museum of Texas Tech University). By the late 1940s, several Folsom Period (10,800-10,300 years ago) bison kills were discovered. In a location of an ancient bison kill from a then unidentified Paleoindian group, charred bison bones produced the first-ever radiocarbon date (currently the most accurate form of dating) for Paleoindian material (9,800 years old).

The Lubbock Lake Landmark currently serves as a field laboratory for geology, soils, and radiocarbon dating studies, as well as being an active archaeological and natural history preserve.

Texas Tech Begins Renewed Efforts in Zealous Research

As Texas Tech continues on a journey to Tier One research university status, the importance of scholars joining together to share and advance in knowledge and discovery becomes more important. One organization that facilitates these goals is seeing resurgence at the university.

The Texas Tech chapter of Sigma Xi, the international scientific research honor society based in the sciences and engineering disciplines, is increasing its efforts to promote growth and recruit new members. The efforts were initiated by Michael San Francisco, associate vice president for research (faculty development) and renewed Sigma Xi member, and former Texas Tech Sigma Xi President Gary Elbow, as a way to promote interactions and dialogue among faculty to enhance quality, trans-disciplinary research.

"By participating in Sigma Xi activities, faculty and students can become aware of what others do in their research and this may stimulate discussions, formulation of new ideas and further the cause of science and engineering over the long-term," San Francisco said. "Ideally, Sigma Xi is a wonderful forum for mentoring and celebrating scholarship. I hope that the chapter will develop programs for exchange of faculty and student ideas and showcase expertise. We look forward to inviting in many outstanding speakers as well, including our very own Kelly Sullivan, President elect of Sigma Xi."

In January, Sigma Xi announced Texas Tech alumna Kelly Sullivan as the next president of the international organization. She was elected president of the 125-year-old society at Sigma Xi's annual meeting in Raleigh, N.C.

Sullivan earned her doctorate in physical chemistry in 1994 and currently works for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as director of institutional partnerships.

Sullivan's term as president-elect will begin July 1.

Researchers Continue Search for Elusive New Particles at CERN

Though sought at much higher energies than before, researchers at Texas Tech University associated with a Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) continue to seek the elusive new particles, which, if found, could answer some of the most profound questions about the structure of matter and the evolution of the early universe.

Sung-Won Lee, an assistant professor of physics at Texas Tech and a member of the university's High Energy Physics Group, said researchers have not given up finding any possible hints of new physics, which could add more subatomic particles to the Standard Model of particle physics.

Their findings were published in Physical Review Letters. Their results are the first of the "new physics" research papers produced from the CMS experiment at LHC. Read the paper here.

A New Voice for Texas Tech

People with an interest in Texas Tech have several venues to learn and receive information about the university, whether they read stories online or watch videos and follow news on one of the university's social media accounts. Now, a new addition to the university's current media efforts is allowing people to also lend an ear to what's happening academically across campus.

AcademiCast, a podcast series developed by the Office of Communications and Marketing and Office of the Provost, is aimed at telling Texas Tech's academic story. The first podcast in the series was released Nov. 3, and new podcasts will be produced and released on a bi-monthly basis. The podcasts will feature stories about anything from faculty, staff, student and alumni accomplishments, to on-going research, notable books, writings and academic news. Each podcast will consist of a news segment followed by a segment hosted by Provost Bob Smith.

AcademiCast listeners can access the podcast series on the Office of the Provost website http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/academicast. The website also includes related links and a full transcript for each podcast.

Texas Tech Makes Progress on Tier One Funding

Texas Tech University is well on its way to becoming the next national research university in Texas.

In 2009, the Texas Legislature established the National Research University Fund (NRUF), and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board named seven universities, including Texas Tech, as emerging research universities to compete for the benefits of the fund. The seven must meet set criteria to qualify for additional state funding from the NRUF.

The universities must meet benchmarks in two consecutive years of a given biennium. Fiscal year 2010 and 2011 make up the first biennium under the new legislation, and Texas Tech met the criteria for 2010.

The universities must meet four of six specified criteria. Also, all seven emerging research universities must meet one benchmark of having $45 million in restricted research expenditures. Texas Tech reported just more than $51 million for fiscal year 2010, up from $35 million in 2009 and $27 million in 2008.

What Tier One Means

It has long been recognized that Texas needs more nationally competitive research universities. Currently only the University of Texas, Texas A&M and Rice University hold that distinction. California, with nine Tier One institutions and New York, with seven, are far ahead of Texas. Pennsylvania, with a population of 12.5 million people, about half that of Texas, has four Tier One universities.

The terms, "Tier One" and "national research university" do not have hard and fast definitions and are often used interchangeably. But they are often members of the AAU or have similar characteristics.

AAU institutions typically have more than $250 million in total funding. Texas Tech reached $125 million for the first time in its history. AAU institutions also typically have internationally recognized faculty, attract the highest achieving students and serve their state and communities both as economic engines and as cultural centers.

"With NRUF, the state of Texas has given Texas Tech an unprecedented opportunity to improve the level of education we provide and expand the research we perform that has an impact on our community, the state and the nation both in the addition of the new knowledge and economic development," said Guy Bailey, president of Texas Tech. "While it will take years for Texas Tech to achieve AAU-like status, it's important to understand that as Texas Tech achieves these characteristics, the quality of the education it provides, the impact of its research on the state and nation, and its economic impact on Lubbock and the region advances greatly. Our progress and improvement is important to the students, employers and citizens of Texas."

Texas Tech Attributes Successful Year of Research to Faculty

Texas Tech experienced one of its most successful research years in fiscal year 2010 and is crediting that success to the efforts of university faculty, according to Taylor Eighmy, vice president for research.

"We had a successful year for research and scholarship opportunities across all disciplines," Eighmy said. "We have a talented and dedicated faculty, many of whom are the nation's top experts in their areas of study. They embraced our goals of enhancing our research and creating and seizing opportunities to conduct research. Our success is a credit to their hard work."

In a period where the university is competing to become a Tier One and top research university in the state, Texas Tech researchers were instrumental in the number of proposals submitted (954), the number of awards received (607) and the value of the awards received ($67 million). All of these measures were the best ever recorded by Texas Tech.

The university also received a record number of monetary research grants. While final numbers won't be available until later in the fall, restricted research expenditures are expected to reach record numbers and eclipse the $35 million spent on research in 2008-09. Total research expenditures will pass the $100 million plateau for the first time as well.

Wind Researchers Win Competitive DOE Research and Development Award

In 2010, Texas Tech was included in a $5.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to advance two areas of wind power research. The announcement was made by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

One project will improve short-term wind forecasting, which will accelerate the use of wind power in electricity transmission networks by allowing utilities and grid operators to more accurately forecast when and where electricity will be generated from wind power. Another project aims to boost the speed and scale of mid-size wind turbine technology development and deployment.

"This is a fabulous day for Texas Tech University and our wind energy researchers in engineering," said Taylor Eighmy, vice president for research after the announcement. "Our new partnerships will be substantive as we work in the mid-sized turbine R & D space with General Dynamics SATCOM Technologies and Carter Wind. Equally importantly, we competed on the national stage for this award from the U.S. Department of Energy and we won the competition on the merits of our proposed work and the strength of our collaboration with our partners. We also will collaborate with AWS and NOAA on enhancing short term wind forecasting. This certainly is another excellent indicator for our future in wind energy innovation."

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Nov 24, 2015