Science professors receive grant for new technology

By Jade Mardirosian
Staff Writer

A team of Baylor faculty from the mechanical engineering and chemistry and biochemistry departments has received a Major Research Instrumentation grant from the National Science Foundation.

Major Research Instrumentation grants are highly competitive, according to Dr. Leslie Wright, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and principal investigator for the project. This is the first time Baylor has been awarded one.

The grant will fund the purchase of a high-speed, Stereo-Particle Image Velocimetry for velocity measurements of the air, as well as a Planar Laser Induced Fluorescence for temperature measurements within the air.

These instruments will give researchers the ability to look at fluid flows unlike they have been able to before.

“We saw the potential to be able to get this instrumentation to take the research capabilities of the department, the school and the university to the forefront of things that are happening in the energy related field,” Wright said.

Dr. Kenneth Van Treuren, professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean for research and faculty development, is a co-principal investigator on the project and said graduate and undergraduate students will have access to the new equipment.

“One of the things we really want to do is integrate our students in our research programs and give them the experience they need to be competitive in the job market and research laboratories,” Van Treuren said. “We are real hands-on and want to get students involved, and I think that makes them better engineers in the long run.”

Dr. Stephen McClain, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, and Dr. Patrick Farmer, professor and chair of chemistry and biochemistry, are also co-principal investigators for the project.

“We have a unique synergy of the researchers that are going to be working on this,” Wright said. “We also have unique facilities that allow us not only to get information that very few people around the world are able to do, but we are ready to implement that as well. So, there are a lot of things coming together that I think really made this grant successful.”

Van Treuren said he and the team are very blessed and grateful to receive this grant and that it fits well with the Baylor 2012 plan to become a leading research institution.

“This gives us cutting-edge research capabilities,” Van Treuren said. “We are in competition with research universities all over the world, and having a system such as this and being able to apply it will give us notoriety and the ability to have an impact in these areas that we were not able to have before.”

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency created to promote the progress of science.

This is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering except for medical sciences.