WTAMU Secures Two Highly Competitive NSF MRI Awards

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Over $530,000 in awarded funds will help WTAMU purchase previously unavailable technology and build institution-wide research infrastructure.

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West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) is the recipient of two Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) grants totaling more than $530,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The awards represent a major coup for the University, as the NSF receives thousands of applications and only 175 proposals are selected each year to receive the highly competitive grants.

“Universities are limited to the submission of two MRI proposals per year, and WTAMU has achieved acceptance of both of our allotted NSF, Major Research Instrumentation grants for 2013-2014,” stated Dr. Angela Spaulding, vice president for research and compliance, said. “These are highly competitive grants and reflect the quality of research being conducted at WTAMU by recognized and renowned researchers. The implementation of these funds will pay tremendous cross-disciplinary research dividends for our faculty and students.”

WTAMU’s first NSF MRI award of $371,700 supports the purchase and maintenance of a 400 MHz NMR spectrometer and probes—equipment that will contribute to research and training in four departments across two campuses. As the only solid-state-capable NMR within a 200-mile radius, this equipment also will serve as a resource for other institutions in the region. To achieve this award, Hanover Research senior grants consultant, Bryan DeBusk, assisted WTAMU’s principal investigator Dr. Cathy Clewett, assistant professor of physics, with resubmitting a previously unsuccessful proposal to better demonstrate how this piece of equipment could connect multiple WTAMU departments in research.

“What makes this grant so impressive is the fact that it involved the work of faculty in three different departments at WTAMU as well as Amarillo College,” stated Dr. Nick Flynn, head of the Department of Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics at WTAMU. Dr. Don Topliff, dean of WTAMU’s College of Agriculture, Science and Engineering, further reiterates the impact of this award, noting: “It gives us the capability to do research that previously was beyond our ability. This equipment can be transformative for both WTAMU and Amarillo College.”

The grant will be administered under the direction of WTAMU faculty members Clewett, Flynn, Dr. Gary Barbee, assistant professor of environmental science, and Dr. Erick Butler, assistant professor of environmental engineering, and Mark Shadix, instructor of physical sciences at Amarillo College.

The second NSF MRI award of $160,000 will enable the acquisition of a Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer-Flame Ionization Detector (GC/MS-FID) for research in environmental and agricultural sciences at WTAMU. The GC/MS-FID, a vital piece of previously unavailable technology, will expand WTAMU’s research capabilities by enabling multiple university researchers to conduct research supporting human and animal health, the cleanup and protection of the environment, and the development and vitality of the economy. Hanover Research supported the proposal production process to achieve this award by articulating to NSF the intellectual merit and, especially, the broader impact of the research and education activities to be conducted using the funded instrument.

The grant will be administered under the direction of WTAMU faculty members Dr. David Parker, principal investigator and professor of environmental science and engineering, Dr. Ty Lawrence, associate professor of animal science, Dr. Gary Barbee, associate professor of environmental science, and Dr. Andy Cole with the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service-Conservation and Production Research Laboratory in Bushland.

“This instrument will be a great addition to our core laboratory facility, allowing us to support a variety of research activities across several disciplines and with our USDA-ARS external partner,” Parker said. “What makes this win so special is the combined team effort of our administrators, WTAMU Sponsored Research Services, Hanover Research, and 10 faculty members.”

Barbee is appreciative of the extra refined level of editing and organization Hanover Research provided to the final proposal document and grateful to the NSF for investing in and advancing the environmental sciences at WTAMU and the region.

“Many environmental toxicants can disrupt biological activities at very low doses or concentrations, and the GC-MS allows us to study such adverse health effects, which would not be possible without this instrument,” Barbee said.

“As WTAMU looks to elevate its presence among research institutions in the state of Texas, securing these research dollars is a huge barometer for measuring the institution’s success in achieving this goal,” stated Chad Ross, managing content director at Hanover Research. “WTAMU came into its Hanover partnership with the goal of increasing its research funding, specifically around STEM. These awards directly support this goal both in the short-term for the PIs’ research agendas and in the long-term for adding to the University’s infrastructure.”


About West Texas A&M University:
West Texas A&M University, a member of The Texas A&M University System, is a student-centered public university located in Canyon, Texas, that celebrates record enrollment numbers, award-winning academic programs, top-notch professors, state-of-the-art facilities and Lone Star Conference championships. Students enjoy an atmosphere that is committed to personal attention, teaching excellence and programs that are both engaging and challenging. WTAMU offers a doctoral program in agriculture, 41 masters’ degree programs and 62 baccalaureate degree programs to a growing population of more than 8,000 students. For more information about WTAMU, visit http://www.wtamu.edu.

About Hanover Research:
Hanover Research’s Grant Development Center is the global leader in providing research and grant writing solutions to post-secondary institutions. Currently, more than 300 colleges and universities rely on us for comprehensive support for programmatic as well as basic, applied, and comparative effectiveness proposals. Through our fixed-fee service model, we help clients improve their grantseeking efforts and achieve a wide array of external funding goals in an extremely cost-effective and time-efficient manner. In addition to our full-service capabilities, our clients benefit from dedicated project managers, weekly customized grant alerts and analyses of industry news, and industry white papers. To learn more, visit us at http://www.hanoverresearch.com.

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