By Daniel C. Houston
The first researcher who will set up a laboratory at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative received a guided tour of the facilities Monday as construction workers come closer to completing the first phase of the project.
Dr. Marlan Scully, physicist specializing in quantum optics, laser physics and bioengineering, will move his research projects from Princeton University to the new BRIC facility as early as Fall 2012 after being named Baylor’s distinguished research academician of science and engineering.
The tour highlighted the area in which Scully’s laboratory research will occur once the dust is cleared and the floor and walls are sealed and polished.
While the future laboratories require further construction, Scully expressed excitement about the facility’s potential.
“Lots and lots of lab space is a big plus,” Scully said. “We will find money; we’ve always found support for our problems. We have, on occasion, found that we have a good problem, we have the funding for it, but we don’t have the lab space.
Now we have a new laboratory facility dedicated to engineering science. That’s the thing I like. I like to see problems solved which are real-world problems that make a difference.”
Scully brings a proven track record to the table, Dr. Truell Hyde, vice provost for research who oversees the BRIC project said.
Hyde said Scully’s affiliation with Princeton, Texas A&M University and now Baylor promotes BRIC research efforts as well as Baylor’s global reputation
“Every time he goes all over the world to give invited talks, which he does on a regular basis, that [Baylor] affiliation will be [apparent] on his invited talks,” Hyde said.
The most noticeable alterations since February are concentrated on the exterior of the building.
The structure outlining what will eventually become the front atrium has taken shape, and the large stenciled title “Baylor Research & Innovation Collaborative” spans the wall that will greet visitors as they enter the building.
“We’re almost completed with the exterior,” Hyde said. “We’ve got all the walls up, we’re starting to put the glass in, we’ve got all the concrete poured in the front and the steel up for the main entrances and we’ve actually started to fill in the interior. So a tremendous amount of work has been accomplished.”
The laboratory areas will not be ready to completely move into until next fall.
Scully is already planning the logistics of the move.
“You start moving into a place like this when you start thinking about where you’re going to put your apparatus and which experiments you’re going to move in; we’re already doing that,” Scully said.
“Now when it comes to putting my optical tables in here and the actual layout in, it depends on when they get the dust cover fixed and when the floors are sealed and polished.”
Scully’s research with lasers has implications for astronomical photo-imaging, detecting trace chemical impurities in food, and other areas of practical application.
“At present, our research emphasis is photonics,” Scully said. “We use quantum mechanics and lasers to solve problems that other people can’t solve, like, for example, detecting anthrax in the mail without opening the envelope.”