The Texas A&M University College of Science has earmarked more than $500,000 to support cutting-edge interdisciplinary research activities across the college and overall campus as part of its newly launched Strategic Transformative Research Program (STRP).

The initiative, unveiled this past spring, resulted in 31 applications in its initial call for submissions. Based on the innovative and interdisciplinary nature of the work and the subsequent plan for proposal development, 11 research concepts put forward by 27 faculty were selected to go forward, fueled by $504,882 in total funding support.

Associate Dean for Research Dr. James D. Batteas, who serves as director of the STRP, says the work supported by these awards will assist faculty as they test new concepts and ideas, ideally to ready them for submission as transformative research projects suitable for consideration for major funding opportunities through the federal agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTFA), and the Department of Energy (DOE).

"These funds will aid our faculty in engaging in new research directions that will allow them to target new funding streams for their work," Batteas said. "As faculty, we often have ideas for new interdisciplinary work but very limited flexible resources to carry out the initial experiments needed to bring those ideas to fruition in a new direction of research. The College of Science STRP aims to reduce this barrier by facilitating the discovery process at one of its most critical stages -- the beginning."

The program is jointly funded by the College of Science and the Office of the Vice President for Research in partnership with the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Education and Human Development, and Engineering, along with the Texas A&M Health Science Center. The one-year awards range from $25,000 to $50,000 and include support for graduate students, materials and minor equipment purchases.

According to Batteas, the goal is to enable the targeted development of initial research results that will enhance the competitiveness of Texas A&M researchers in their quest for higher-level funding. By design, he says the support comes with a key catch in the form of a primary outcome requirement: submission of a new grant application to an appropriate agency within the 12-month duration of the award.

The initial projects selected for funding are listed below:

  • "Reaching the Landauer Limit: An Orbitals to Materials Approach to Designing Energy Landscapes for Energy-Efficient Computation," PI: Sarbajit Banerjee (CHEM/CLSC); Co-PIs: Raymundo Arroyave (MSEN/CLEN) and Patric Shamberger (MSEN/CLEN) - $50,000

  • "Addressing a Bias in the Relations Between Galaxies and their Central Black Holes," PI: Anirban Bhattacharya (STAT/CLSC); Co-PIs: Bani Mallick (STAT/CLSC), Jonelle Walsh (PHYS/CLSC) and Louis Strigari (PHYS/CLSC) - $40,352

  • "Screening of Cell Surface Binding using DNP-NMR," PI: Christian Hilty (CHEM/CLSC) - $25,000

  • "Next Generation Detergents for Biophysical Studies of Membrane Proteins," PI: Art Laganowsky (CHEM/CLSC); Co-PI: Lei Fang (CHEM/CLSC) - $49,900

  • "Novel Directional Neutron Monitor for National Security, Basic Science and Industrial Applications," PI: Grigogy Rogachev (PHYS/CLSC); Co-PI: Peter Kuchment (PHYS/CLSC) - $40,780

  • "Assessment of Metabolism with Exhaled Breath Biomarkers," PI: Hans Schuessler (PHYS/CLSC); Co-PI: Nicolaas Deutz (HLKN/CEHD) - $50,000

  • "RNApex: A Genetically Encoded Electron Microscopy Reporter for RNA," PI: Jonathan Sczepanski (CHEM/CLSC); CO-PI: Junjue Zhang (BCBP/CLAG) - $50,000

  • "Control of Photon and Charge Carrier Flow in Inorganic Perovskite Nanostructures," PI: Dong Hee Son (CHEM/CLSC); Co-PIs: Matthew Sheldon (CHEM/CLSC) and Xioafeng Qian (MSEN/CLEN) - $50,000

  • "Using Motor Protein Devices to Detect and Study Neuropthologies at the Molecular Level," PI: Winfried Teizer (PHYS/CLSC); Co-PIs: James Sacchettini (BCBP/CLAG), Rajesh Miranda (TAMU HSC), Wonmuk Hwang (CLEN) - $48,850

  • "Faster-than-real-time Data-driven Simulation of Large Power Systems," PI: Le Xie (ELEN/CLEN); Co-PI: Jianhua Huang (STAT/CLSC) - $50,000

  • "Addition of Tumor Cell Selectivity on a Highly Efficient Anti-cancer Drug Vehicle," PI: Hon-Cai Zhou (CHEM/CLSC); Co-PI: Jean-Phillippe Pellois (BCBP/CLAG) - $50,000

  • To learn more about the Strategic Transformative Research Program or research in the Texas A&M College of Science, visit http://www.science.tamu.edu/research or contact Batteas at (979) 845-7361.

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    About Research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is at the forefront in making significant contributions to scholarship and discovery, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represented annual expenditures of more than $866.6 million in fiscal year 2015, ranking Texas A&M in the top 20 of the National Science Foundation's Higher Education Research and Development survey (2015). Texas A&M's research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting, in many cases, in economic benefits to the state, nation and world. To learn more, visit http://research.tamu.edu.


    Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. James D. Batteas, (979) 845-7361 or batteas@chem.tamu.edu

    Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. James D. Batteas

  • (Credit: Texas A&M Division of Research.)

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