Three Sam Houston State University faculty members have been selected by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to receive Advanced Research and Advanced Technology Programs research grants totaling $208,296.

Dave Donnelly ($107,508), Gan Liang ($64,200) and Barry Friedman ($36,588) are among 452 researchers working in Texas universities awarded grants of $59.5 million.

Of the 452 grants awarded statewide, only 14 are for proposals in the field of physics. Of those 14, two were submitted by SHSU faculty members Donnelly and Friedman.

While Liang is also a member of the physics faculty, his research is classified as "materials technology" rather than "physics."

"Less than 15 proposals each biennium have been awarded statewide to departments which do not offer science Ph. D. degrees," said Russell Palma, physics department chairman. "So the success of the department is especially noteworthy.

"In fact, the SHSU Department of Physics has been awarded more grants by itself than the vast majority of universities in Texas," said Palma.

Research proposals were solicited in 24 different areas from all public and private institutions of higher education in the state. The proposals were subjected to rigorous peer review by nationally prominent scientists outside of Texas who made the selections.

Donnelly's research proposal was entitled "3d Transition Metal Impurities in Antiferromagnetic Ferrous Flouride." Friedman's proposal was entitled "Novel Consequences of Topological Zero Modes in Unconventional High-Tc Superconductors." Liang's proposal was for research on "Practical Cable Technology for High-Temperature Superconductors."

Palma said that all three of the Sam Houston researchers are working in the area of superconductivity, with the aim of applying advancements to industrial and everyday uses. Such research involves finding new classes of materials which will work at higher temperatures.

At present, superconductivity, or the ability to transmit energy with little or no loss, must be done at extremely cold temperatures, which makes it expensive and impractical.

Friedman and Liang are both working in collaboration with researchers at Texas A&M University.

Since creation of the Advanced Research and Advanced Technology Programs by the Texas Legislature in 1987, SHSU has received 11 grants, with 9 awarded to faculty in the physics department, for a total of more than $1.25 million.

When the awards were first made, Bill Covington, now associate vice president of Research and Sponsored Programs at SHSU, received a grant which allowed him to set up a solid state research laboratory.

SHSU physics faculty members Covington and Palma received two grants in 1991, and in 1993 Palma received his second consecutive award for research in analyzing meteorites and the history of the early solar system.

In 1995 Charles Meitzler received funding to pursue research on a particle accelerator design for the study of heavy metal pollutants from smokestacks. That year Liang was awarded a grant to study how electrons scatter due to magnetic fields generated by atoms within materials.

Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak

Oct. 17, 1997