Archive for April, 2010
Those of you who haven’t been to Austin’s old Robert Mueller Airport recently might be interested to learn that we dedicated a new UT research center there today.
The Dell Pediatric Research Institute (DPRI) will house research on childhood obesity, cancer, diabetes, birth defects, brain injury, epilepsy, and autism. DPRI is adjacent to the Dell Children’s Medical Center.
The new facility extends UT Austin’s health-related research and will move science at UT Austin from the laboratory to the bed side, as our researchers work with doctors from Dell Children’s Medical Center and other institutions.
DPRI was made possible by a $38 million challenge grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation that was announced in 2006. Other support has come from the RGK Foundation, the Bank of America Foundation, and the Topfer family, as well as significant support from UT Austin.
More than 150 people attended the dedication, an enormous step in the evolution of UT Austin.
Here’s a video featuring some of our scientists whose work is based at the new Dell Pediatric Research Institute:
This is Research Week on campus, now in its third year as our annual celebration of the outstanding undergraduate research taking place at UT.
When we hear the words “university research,” we usually imagine professors, research fellows, and graduate students hard at work on their projects. But our new curriculum initiatives are giving undergraduates, even first-year students, the opportunity to get involved in vibrant, world-class research. This is one of the advantages we offer as a large, all-encompassing research university.
Lynne Chantranupong, a senior biology student working in Professor George Georgiou’s lab group, is doing protein research that may bring us closer to a successful treatment of liver, kidney, and skin cancers. Her work involves the enzyme arginase and its potential role in improving chemotherapy. She grew up in Canada but says she was drawn to “the immense amount of resources and research opportunities at UT.” She is graduating in May and has been accepted to graduate school in biology at MIT.
Lynne is a remarkable student, but her experience is not unique at UT. Undergraduate students are doing research in every school and college, including the arts and humanities. More than 40 units are participating in Research Week 2010, which began on Monday. Among the many events is the Longhorn Research Bazaar, a festive outdoor event at Gregory Gym plaza that highlights research opportunities for students in all majors. One of our largest events is the College of Natural Sciences Undergraduate Research Forum, which features 150 undergraduates presenting posters that describe their research projects.
Research Week is coordinated by the School of Undergraduate Studies and the Senate of College Councils. For more information visit the Research Week website.
While we’re facing budget challenges at UT, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the business of running a large, complex university and lose sight of the fact that amazing things happen on our campus every day. A good example is the recital I attended recently honoring Joe and Terry Long.
Pianist and faculty member Anton Nel performed in the Main Building, and it was stunning. Anton is a renowned performer and master teacher, and an acclaimed interpreter of Beethoven. He has played concerts around the globe and performed with some of the world’s leading symphonies. A native of South Africa, Anton served on UT’s faculty as young musician, followed by prestigious appointments on the faculties of the Eastman School of Music and the University of Michigan. We were happy to convince him to return to Austin in 2000.
Anton’s performance of Schumann and Liszt in the Jamail Room was inspiring, but so were the performances by his students. I couldn’t imagine hearing a better performance in Carnegie Hall. The graduate students hail from the Juilliard School and the Cleveland Institute, with homes in Prague, South Africa—and several from Texas. A sophomore among the performers is from Austin. What they have in common is that they’ve come to UT to take the next step in their development. These are very gifted musicians, and we will be hearing more from them as their careers progress. The student performers were Johan Botes, Joseph Choi, Christopher Guzman, Katherine Lee, Michael Schneider, and Karolina Syrovatkova.
Anton Nel is the first recipient of the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Endowed Chair in Piano, and we are fortunate to have him lead UT’s Division of Keyboard Studies. In addition, several of his students receive scholarship support made possible by Joe and Terry Long. The Longs were also instrumental in creating an endowment to support the Miro Quartet, the internationally recognized faculty string quartet in residence at UT.
Earnest and Sarah Butler also attended, and I know they must be proud of the strides being made in the Butler School of Music under the leadership of Director Glenn Chandler.
Joe and Terry Long’s contributions to UT span many departments and reflect their passion for education and its ability to transform lives.
Thanks to the Longs, Anton Nel, and our hosts Dean Doug Dempster and Director Glenn Chandler for a night to remember.
UT Professor Todd Ditmire makes physics exciting. I recently heard him speak at an event on the campus and his enthusiasm was contagious.
Down in the basement of Robert Lee Moore Hall, he’s built a laser that has the power output of more than 2,000 times all the power plants in the United States. The device, called the Texas Petawatt Laser, is a trillion times brighter than sunlight on the surface of the sun, but it only lasts for one 10th of a trillionth of a second. The laser takes its name from a unit of measurement—a petawatt is one quadrillion watts.
The laser gives University of Texas at Austin faculty members and students the capability to experiment with high-energy reactions, simulate the workings of stars and other celestial bodies, and investigate nuclear fusion, the process that powers the sun.
“For a small area and a brief moment, we have the brightest light in the universe,” said Ditmire, who is director of the Center for High-Intensity Laser Science at UT. He is a terrific teacher and scientist, and he’s also very resourceful. He succeeded in raising $14 million to fund the project, with most of the funding coming from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
Great research universities offer some opportunities that just aren’t available elsewhere. Todd Ditmire regularly teaches introductory physics to engineering majors and puts undergraduates to work in his labs. This is an example of how UT fulfills our Texas constitutional mandate to be “a university of the first class.”