For Immediate Release
Department of Physics and Astronomy to Announce $5 Million Grant
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – OCTOBER 1, 2012 – The Department of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College has been awarded a $5 million Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology grant from the National Science Foundation. Students, faculty members and administrators will gather at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 in the Education and Business Complex’s Salon Cassia to celebrate the grant.
At the university the center supports 13 faculty members, seven doctoral students, 20 master’s degree students and 11 undergraduate students. The grant is a continuation of funding from November to October 2017 for the department’s Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy.
“I believe the success of the CREST grant application was predetermined by a successful implementation of the previous grant, dedication of faculty to the grant’s projects and integration of the educational needs of students and faculty research,” said Dr. Mikhail Bouniaev, Dean of the College of Science, Mathematics and Technology. “The funds the center received will allow CGWA and the Department of Physics and Astronomy to continue cutting edge research and provide our students with better educations.”
The center is part of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration. In the future, faculty members and students will work with multi-messenger astronomy using optical and radio astronomy to detect gravitational waves. The research will be in three components: astrophysics, data analysis and detector instrumentation.
“A major educational impact will be realized with the CGWA Instrumentation effort, which involves students in experimental physics research and provides hands-on training in gravitational wave detector subsystems,” according to the award abstract. “The CWGA Optics and Material Science laboratories offer unprecedented research experiences for students at UTB.”
Knowing how to work with science is critical now because of the move in some fields to use automation requiring more people to understand mathematics, theories, computer science and robotics.
“If we don’t go in that direction things will be dire for people who don’t understand it,” said Dr. Mario Diaz, Professor of Physics and Director of the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy.
The university was among five finalists from a pool of 38 applicants to seek funding. The Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology provides financial support to Minority-Serving Institutions to provide research opportunities for faculty members and students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
“I was a bit skeptical because it was a tough competition,” said Diaz. “Now you have a lot of universities that are research institutions that are Minority-Serving Institutions.”
The center was developed in 2003 with a $6 million grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and will mark its 10th anniversary in 2013.
“I am particularly pleased that this grant will be able to support not just the growing research needs of the CGEA, but a large number of undergraduate and graduate student scholarships,” said Dr. Soma Mukherjee, Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.
Since its founding the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy has generated more than $30 million in federal funding through faculty members and grants. The center generates at least 50 publications in international refereed journals a year.