Posted: 2/19/20

Cong. Cuellar Announces $307,795 for TAMIU’s STEM Program


Congressman Henry Cuellar
Congressman Henry Cuellar ('82)  

Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) announced $307,795 in federal funding to Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) through the Department of Defense (DoD) Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. Funds will be used to enhance high-performance computational capabilities that will support research within multiple STEM fields, as well as build the skills of minority students.

The DoD is the largest employer of scientists and engineers in the nation and focuses on attracting, inspiring and developing STEM talent. Through their STEM program they seek to improve instruction, increase engagement among historically underserved groups, grow the pool of STEM degree holders, and improve the graduate school experience.

“These funds will not only enrich TAMIU’s STEM program, but will also build students’ skillsets, making them more marketable for their future professional careers,” said Congressman Cuellar, “By advancing research opportunities at TAMIU, we have the ability to greatly impact minority students at the high school level all the way to the graduate level. With this grant, the next big technological breakthrough could very well happen at this institution. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue working on ensuring that students have access to competitive research programs and educational opportunities.”

DoD program manager Dr. Virginia Pasour said the Grant will support a wide variety of projects.

“This new equipment will be used by almost 200 students and staff members to work on a wide variety of projects important to the Army, including the development of artificial skin, sensor technology, munitions chemistry, bioinformatics, and biological control agents,” said Dr. Virginia Pasour, program manager, biomathematics, Army Research Office, “These additional resources will also attract and increase access to minority students in STEM fields.”

"The Award is the result of a merit competition administered by the Army Research Office under policy and guidance of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)), to increase the capabilities of HBCU/MSIs to perform defense research. The Army Research Office is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory," Dr. Pasour noted.

Dr. Pablo Arenaz, TAMIU president,  said, “This is a rare cross-disciplinary grant that will nurture transformative impacts along an impressive spectrum of projects. It also provides remarkable and rare opportunities for students to be involved in cutting-edge STEM research that can truly change the world. We believe these revolutionary opportunities for students will act as a catalyst to encourage them to continue their education at TAMIU. We greatly appreciate Congressman Cuellar’s visionary partnership in securing this Grant. As we continue to celebrate our 50th Anniversary, historic initiatives like this are truly legacy-building.”

The research project, “TAMIU STEM High-End Computational Resource” will be led by TAMIU professor of Geology, Dr. Ken Tobin.

The  team of TAMIU co-investigators taking part in the project include Dr. Kameron Jorgensen, associate professor of Chemistry; Dr. John Kilburn, TAMIU associate vice president for Sponsored Projects and Research; Dr. Marvin Bennett, associate professor of Geology; Dr. Deepak Ganta, assistant professor of Engineering; Dr. Runchang Lin, professor of Mathematics, and Dr. Mónica Mendez, associate professor of Biology.

The support offered through this Grant will be used to build the skills of students and advancing research opportunities to minority students, from high school to graduate school, affirmed Dr. Tobin.

“This Grant is a game-changer that will catalyze research in the fields of Engineering, Health and Biological Science, Chemistry, Petroleum, Mathematics, and Geosciences. DoD will accelerate the research agendas of the seven TAMIU faculty members and their students,” explained Tobin.

Dr. Kilburn noted that this Award serves as a major step in transitioning the University into an emerging research institution. 

“We are excited about this investment by the DoD in TAMIU, and hope to leverage this support to obtain more external funding to enhance our research infrastructure,” said Kilburn. 

Each researcher's work focuses on a different topic, ranging from underground oil and gas energies, implantable medical devices, micro and nanomaterials for energy and sensing applications, systems of equations, environmental sustainability, among others. 

Dr. Jorgensen, a co-investigator, will utilize these resources to help fuel and accelerate her ongoing research quantum chemistry. 

“In the proposed research, my research group will investigate cyclic and caged nitramine compounds, which have increased nitrogen to carbon ratio, allowing for a decrease in soot and smoke production,” explained Jorgensen,“This leads to longer weapon lifetimes and smokeless combustion, which is of great interest to the DoD.” 

For additional information, contact Tobin at 956.326.2417, email ktobin@tamiu.edu or visit offices in the Lamar Bruni Vergara Science Center, room 346.

Information, including opportunities for students internships,  is also available online at www.tamiu.edu/cees.

Throughout this year, TAMIU is celebrating its 50th anniversary and its 25th  anniversary at its north Laredo campus.  A dedicated website shares the University’s transformation from a hybrid upper-level university to a full doctoral degree-granting University with over 29,000 alumni worldwide. The website traces the University’s history, shares its impact in personal stories, and includes a calendar of Anniversary events and more at tamiu.edu/50.

For additional information, contact the TAMIU Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at 956.326.2180, email prmis@tamiu.edu, click on tamiu.edu or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268.


grant award photo
Celebrating news of funding for TAMIU's STEM Program are, left to right, Dr. John Kilburn, TAMIU associate vice president for Sponsored Projects and Research; Congressman Henry Cuellar; TAMIU co-investigators Dr. Runchang Lin, professor of Mathematics; Dr. Mónica Mendez, associate professor of Biology; Dr. Kameron Jorgensen, associate professor of Chemistry; Dr. Deepak Ganta, assistant professor of Engineering;  Dr. Pablo Arenaz, president; Anne Frey, associate director of Grant Development and Celeste Kidd, research associate. Not pictured areTAMIU professor of Geology, Dr. Ken Tobin, and Dr. Marvin Bennett, associate professor of Geology.