Even on a Friday afternoon the U of H chemistry lab is busy, and it's about to get busier. "We're really excited about what it and what it can do for us.
That's associate dean for research Randy Lee and the "IT" he's talking about is a four million dollar gift to help fund a polymer research center. Polymers are a fancy way of saying plastics...
"Everybody in the City of Houston is using polymers. They're in your cars, they're in your homes. It's a really important type of material and we will be able to develop the next class of materials."
Polymers are a vital part of the petrochemical industry as well, which is a vital part of the Houston area's economy. The State is going to match the grant and the U of H is going to put in more cash as well.. All told we're talking about 14 million dollars..
The research will be what's called fundamental. That essentially means pure as opposed to applied science, but it's a very short walk between them in this field. The petrochemical industry is crying out for trained workers and scientists and that's why the Houston-Based Welch Foundation put up four million.
We support very few proposals that come to us. This struck us because it was polymer chemistry and it was something that wasn't being done in another place in the state and we thought it was good for the university and good for the region.
The University hopes to hire four researchers right away.. and eventually it will have a staff of twenty. Students on all levels will get training here and Lee says they can get going soon enough.
"This is going to be a game changer for us."