Monday, March 6, 2017

Governor Abbott Hosts Reception Recognizing Governor’s University Research Initiative Recruits

AUSTIN – Governor Greg Abbott today hosted a reception recognizing researchers recruited through the Governor’s University Research Initiative program (GURI) and officials from Texas universities at the Texas Governor’s Mansion. The Governor previously announced the recruitment of nine distinguished researchers to Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston who were honored at today's reception.  

“Texas universities stand apart as a model for the nation for developing groundbreaking innovations, driving our state’s powerful economy, and improving quality of life around the world,” said Governor Abbott. “Thanks to our nine internationally renowned researchers recruited by the GURI initiative, ideas that begin in Texas will help transform the world. These brilliant minds have put Texas universities on a path to national and international  prominence, and we must continue to ensure Texas is on the cutting edge of research and development.”

As one of the Governor's top priorities, GURI was enacted in 2015 by the 84th Legislature with the goal to bring the best and brightest researchers in the world to Texas universities. The program is a matching grant program to assist eligible institutions of higher education in recruiting distinguished researchers. The GURI grant program is operated within the Office of the Governor’s Economic Development and Tourism Division.

GURI Recipients In Attendance

Dr. Girish Saran Agarwal previously served as the Noble Foundation Chair and Regents Professor at Oklahoma State University. He is a member of The Royal Society in the United Kingdom. His research at Texas A&M University is in theoretical quantum optics, particularly the interaction of laser light with atoms, and in developing applications for this technology. These applications will permit the identification of chemical compounds and will form the basis to detect pathogens and chemicals at a distance. He also is teaching a graduate course on Spectroscopy and will be mentoring graduate students. Texas A&M University has been awarded a GURI grant totaling $4,612,000.

Dr. Joan Frances Brennecke will be a professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering and holder of an endowed chair at the University of Texas at Austin starting August 1, 2017. Currently, she is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Notre Dame. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. As a member of the UT Austin faculty, she will assist in the teaching and training of graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Brennecke’s research will focus on energy and sustainability, including the design of ionic liquid systems for safer, more reliable and longer-lasting batteries. Dr. Brennecke will work closely with the university’s office of technology commercialization to facilitate technology transfer from her lab to the marketplace thus benefiting the university and the state of Texas. The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a GURI grant totaling $1,800,000.

Dr. Richard B. Miles leads a Center of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Optical and Laser Detection Systems for National Security and Safety at Texas A&M University and is a full-time faculty member in the Aerospace Engineering and the Mechanical Engineering Departments. He was a Senior Scholar at Princeton University and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. One such application of his innovative research is the development of state-of-the-art instrumentation for remote detection that will identify hazardous gases and dangerous contaminants such as anthrax or the Ebola virus, hidden explosives such as IEDs, and/or greenhouse gases and pollutants. He also teaches undergraduate and graduate students in optics, spectroscopy and thermodynamics. Texas A&M University has been awarded a GURI grant totaling $5,000,000.

Dr. Thomas J. Overbye is a full-time faculty member Texas A&M University. Previously, he was the Fox Family Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. His research interests are in the domains of: Smart Grid Cyber Security, Renewable Electric Energy Systems, Power System Visualization, Power System Analysis by Computer Methods, Power System Stability, and Power Systems Operation and Control. He also teaches in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering on topics related to power distribution and generation. Texas A&M has been awarded a GURI grant totaling $4,500,000.

Dr. George M. Pharr IV is a full-time faculty member Texas A&M University. Previously, he served as the Chancellor’s Professor and McKamey Professor of Engineering at the University of Tennessee and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. His research will be in the creation and testing of nanomaterials. Dr. Pharr teaches in the Material Sciences and Engineering Department at both graduate and undergraduate levels on nanomaterials and properties of materials. Texas A&M University has been awarded a GURI grant totaling $5,000,000.

Dr. Andrea Prosperetti joined the University of Houston as a Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering in the Cullen College of Engineering.  He previously served as the Charles A. Miller, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Dr. Prosperetti will also lead the multi-disciplinary Center for Advanced Computing and Data Systems. This center represents efforts in high performance computing as it applies to important applications that will have significant impact on the State of Texas including energy, infrastructure, aerospace, health and national security.  Dr. Prosperetti’s research is focused on multiphase flows and high performance computing. The University of Houston has been awarded a GURI grant totaling $3,060,500.

Dr. John Suppe joined University of Houston as a Distinguished Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. He was previously a Distinguished Chair and Research Professor at National Taiwan University, and he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Suppe will establish and lead the multi-disciplinary Center for Tectonics and Tomography the (CTT) at the University of Houston. This center will yield fundamentally new insights into the interaction of past plate motions and the global circulation of Earth's mantle. Dr. Suppe’s research is focused on seismic tomography as well as generation of new tomographic models. The University of Houston has been awarded a GURI grant totaling $2,427,700.

Dr. Ganesh Thakur joined the University of Houston as a Distinguished Professor of Petroleum Engineering in the Cullen College of Engineering. He is President and Global Advisor at Thakur Services, Inc. and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Dr. Thakur also serves as the Director for Energy Industrial Partnerships at the University of Houston. This center represents efforts in upstream and midstream as it applies to important applications, and will have immense impact on the State of Texas in the field of energy.  Dr. Thakur’s research is focused on waterflood management as applied to secondary recovery of oil. The University of Houston has been awarded a GURI grant totaling $3,044,350.