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Student Research, Technology Get a Boost

Giving News

Two recent grants illustrate the power of philanthropy to transform research for faculty and students alike. The W. M. Keck Foundation awarded the university $1 million to develop an ultra-bright laser and another $500,000 to help undergraduates utilize advanced technologies in their research.

Mark Raizen

Raizen, a global leader in atomic physics and ultra-cold atoms, has developed methods that can lead to lifesaving medical treatments.

“These two grants support our core missions as a public research university — pushing the boundaries of knowledge and expanding the experiential learning of our undergraduate students,” says UT President Gregory L. Fenves. “I am grateful to the Keck Foundation and look forward to the discoveries they will enable us to make and the research experiences they will allow our undergraduates to have.”

The first grant will support the “Ultra-Bright Atom Laser” project led by Mark Raizen, a professor in the Department of Physics. A Nobel Prize in Physics recognized laser cooling of atoms in 1997. Raizen’s method could prove to be far more effective, perhaps surpassing the current state of the art by a factor of 100 million. Such an atom laser could lead to innovations in nanoscience, tests of fundamental physics, and new non-invasive detection of oil and gas reservoirs.

The second grant supports the work of Andrew Ellington, a professor in the Department of Molecular Biosciences, to engage doctoral-level “technology educators” in guiding undergraduates’ use of ultramodern technologies in research.

Andrew Ellington

Ellington has been involved with the Freshman Research Initiative since its inception 10 years ago.

The project builds on UT’s successful Freshman Research Initiative, which offers first-year students in the College of Natural Sciences the opportunity to initiate and engage in authentic research experiences with faculty and graduate students.

“We are excited to be working with the Keck Foundation,” says Linda Hicke, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, “and welcome this investment in the cutting-edge research and innovative education that The University of Texas at Austin is well known for.”



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