Contact: Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7650

Oct. 26, 2001

SMU ENGINEERING AND CHEMISTRY PROFESSORS RECEIVE GRANTS OF NEARLY $1.3 MILLION FOR TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH

DALLAS (SMU) -- The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has awarded eight grants totaling $1,290,024 to researchers at Southern Methodist University whose work in emerging technologies has been deemed to have the greatest potential for commercialization. The grants begin in January 2002 and are good for two years.

The grants were awarded through the Coordinating Board’s Advanced Technology Program (ATP). ATP is a competitive, peer-reviewed research grant program created by the Texas Legislature in 1987 to encourage economic development by funding advances in technology that have the potential for commercial application. The grants are available to faculty at all Texas private and public universities.

This is the largest amount of funding that SMU researchers have ever received through the ATP program. In all, the Coordinating Board funded 402 research projects out of 3,100 project proposals received. Researchers at 36 universities in Texas received grants totaling approximately $60 million.

Larry Smith, director of Research and Technology Management at SMU, said the university is pleased to receive grants from the ATP program because they generally lead to other grants from agencies such as the federal government.

“This money will be even more significant for SMU in the future,” Smith said.

Seven of the eight grants went to researchers in the SMU School of Engineering. Four of these researchers are working in the emerging field of microelectronics, and the others are working on manufacturing technology, telecommunications, and computer and information engineering.

“These grants reflect the strength of research done in the School of Engineering and particularly our growing strength in the field of microelectronics,” said Geoffrey Orsak, associate dean of research and development.

The other grant went to a professor of chemistry in SMU’s Dedman College who is designing antibiotics to defeat resistant organisms.

Here are brief descriptions of the eight SMU research projects receiving funds:

  • Gary Evans, professor of electrical engineering, received $242,225 to help commercialize low-cost surface-emitting semiconductor lasers. Semiconductor lasers are about the size of a grain of salt and are used in long-haul data transmission. They also are used in consumer electronics such as CD and DVD players. Evans’ grant is a Technology Development and Transfer grant (TDT), which are given to researchers whose technology is more developed. With TDT grants, the researchers must receive matching funds from a company partner that is involved in the effort to commercialize their technology. A Dallas company called Photodigm is commercializing Professor Evans’ technology.
  • Radovan Kovacevic, the Herman Brown Chair in Mechanical Engineering, received $200,000 to develop an information system for a hybrid rapid manufacturing process. Kovacevic is director of SMU’s Research Center for Advanced Manufacturing, which is located in Richardson.
  • Choon Sae Lee, associate professor of electrical engineering, received $199,467 to develop a compact antenna system for mobile satellite communication.
  • Jerome Butler, University Distinguished Professor, received $181,618 to develop a more efficient way to couple laser light to optical fibers, a technology that will allow digital communication to travel farther and more efficiently. Several North Texas companies have expressed an interest in Butler’s work and two -- Photodigm and Plano-based MicroFab -- have helped fund his research.
  • Zeynep Celik-Butler, professor of electrical engineering, received $148,290 to develop advanced computer-based models for understanding the next generation of digital and analog circuits. Motorola, Texas Instruments, ST-Microelectronics and Legerity Inc. also are supporting this research.
  • Jeff Tian, associate professor of computer science and engineering, received $115,540 to develop methods to ensure and maximize reliability and safety for embedded software systems. Industrial partners on this research include Lockheed Martin Aeronautics and Rex Black Consulting Services.
  • Richard Helgason, associate professor of engineering management, information and systems, received $102,884 to develop mathematical models for telecommunications network management with quality of service guarantees. Professor Helgason is applying established operations research techniques such as yield management to Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS), a likely successor to Internet Protocol (IP).
  • John Buynak, professor of chemistry, received $100,000 to develop new, highly potent compounds that effectively treat penicillin-resistant infections. Buynak has developed four new classes of compounds, called beta-lactamase inhibitors, which can defeat resistant bacteria’s protective defenses without harmful side effects to humans. SMU and Research Corporation Technologies have formed a company called AlamX to commercialize Professor Buynak’s inhibitors. The inhibitors are currently in phase 2 of commercial development.

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