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COLLEGE STATION --

The Welch Foundation has awarded nearly $2.5 million to fund 16 projects in basic chemistry research at Texas A&M University.

The funds will support research into chemistry's unanswered questions, such as F. Albert Cotton's work on di- and poly-nuclear compounds and Marlan O. Scully's study on how quantum mechanics can be applied to produce better anthrax detectors.

"We are now able to do things we never thought possible because of the extreme sensitivity of devices using quantum mechanics," said Scully, distinguished professor of physics, whose insights are being used in such diverse areas as quantum computers, quantum thermodynamics applied to automobile engines and biological applications, like the new anthrax detector.

Scully's discoveries about quantum mechanical principles could change the way scientists think about the universe. While scientists have long accepted Heisenberg's uncertainty principle - that the act of measurement alters the state of a quantum particle - Scully's work shows that the interaction between the article and the detector does not prevent scientists from knowing the particle's characteristics and behavior.

His experiments demonstrate that in the quantum world, if a detector interacts with a particle, the two objects become irrevocably linked or "entangled." Therefore, while the detector changes the particle, a change in the particle likewise alters the state of the detector. It is the information gleaned from this interaction between the two objects - their entanglement - that is important.

"Welch funding acts as a flywheel by giving me support I can count on," Scully said. "This has enabled me to hire a post-doctoral researcher and branch out into areas that are more speculative than would ordinarily be allowed by more goal-oriented funding sources.

"Welch has first-rate scientists in charge who understand the subtleties and vagaries of research and who can easily discern whether the Foundation is getting its money's worth," he observed. "This superior scientific insight at the highest levels makes the Foundation verity effective."

This year, The Welch Foundation is contributing more than $19 million in new and renewal grants to 126 scientists at 20 Texas institutions.

Texas A&M researchers, in addition to Cotton and Scully, who received new or renewal grants are Paul Cremer, Victoria J. DeRose, Paul F. Fitzpatrick, Francois P. Gabbai, Carl A. Gagliardi, Stephen A. Miller, Frank M. Raushel, Gregory D. Reinhart, Hans A. Schuessler, Eric E. Simanek, Alexei V. Sokolov, Jerry Tsai, Sherry J. Yennello, Dave H. Youngblood and Thomas G. Schmalz.

The Welch Foundation is one of the nation's oldest and largest sources of private funding for basic chemistry research. Each three-year grant provides minimum funding of $150,000. The Foundation currently supports 436 ongoing projects at 28 institutions. It has contributed more than $465 million to chemistry research since it was established in 1954.

The Welch Foundation was established in 1954 by the estate of Robert A. Welch, an oil and minerals entrepreneur.

The Welch Foundation underwrites 40 academic chairs in chemistry at Texas colleges, organizes lecture series, provides numerous grants each year, supports a summer scholar program for high school students, and helps fund a biennial conference for chemistry and science teachers at the high school and junior high levels.

The Foundation also bestows one of the world's most prestigious chemistry honors, The Welch Award in Chemistry, a $300,000 annual prize given for lifetime contributions to chemical research, as well as the Norman Hackerman Award in Chemical Research, a $100,000 prize that recognizes the work of young researchers in Texas.

"The Welch Foundation is proud of its mission to support basic research in chemistry, which leads to advancements in areas such as medicine, biochemistry, technology and the environment," said Richard J.V. Johnson, foundation chairman.

"Our lives and the world around us are ultimately improved through the exploration of the most fundamental questions of chemistry."

Contact: Anne Rhodes or Heather Schroeder, 713-752-1900; http://www.welch1.org;
Judith White, 979-845-4664, jw@univrel.tamu.edu.

White Judith

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