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April 14, 2003

Four SMU Faculty Members Receive Ford Research Fellowships

DALLAS (SMU) -- Four SMU faculty members, representing outstanding scholarship in diverse fields, are the initial recipients of the Gerald J. Ford Research Fellowships, established last year through a $1 million pledge from Ford, who is chair of SMU's Board of Trustees. The first Ford Research Fellows are John D. Buynak, chemistry; Scott C. Douglas, electrical engineering; Rebekah Miles, ethics; and Kamal Saggi, economics.

Research directed by John Buynak, professor of chemistry in Dedman College, has resulted in several new classes of molecules that inactivate bacterial defenses. These new molecules have already proved useful against several pathogenic bacterial strains and bacterial enzymes, including defensive enzymes possessed by anthrax. This research has the potential for developing new pharmaceutical products and anti-bioterrorism agents. Buynak plans to use the Ford Fellowship to establish a center for design and synthesis of biologically important small molecules, which would involve research leading to production of new drug candidates.

Work of Scott Douglas, associate professor of electrical engineering in the School of Engineering, has been used recently in building-sized earthquake simulators for testing structural designs in Japan. His research is in the area of signal processing and includes adaptive filtering, active noise and vibration control, blind deconvolution, source separation and hardware implementations of digital signal processing systems. Douglas plans to use the Ford Fellowship funds to develop a multimedia systems laboratory in the Junkins Building at SMU and to pursue joint research with faculty at other institutions.

Rebekah Miles, associate professor of ethics in Perkins School of Theology, is the author of The Pastor as Moral Guide and The Bonds of Freedom: Feminist Theology and Christian Realism and the co-author of a book on Wesleyan theology. She has written extensively on Wesleyan theology and ethics, clergy ethics, cloning and genetic ethics. Miles plans to use the Ford Fellowship for research and writing on a book to be titled Good Kids, Good Society, Good God: Theological and Ethical Reflections on Raising Good Children for a Good Society.

Research interests of Kamal Saggi, associate professor of economics in Dedman College, include the theory of international trade and investment, economic growth and development, and industrial organization. A consultant for the World Bank, he has worked extensively on the role multinationals play in international technology transfer. With the Ford Fellowship, Saggi wants to develop his research on multilateral policy rules such as the Most Favored Nation clause, with emphases including MFN and trade liberalization, MFN and reciprocity, and MFN under limited information.

The Ford Research Fellowships are available to continuing SMU faculty members on a competitive basis. Their purpose is to help the university retain and reward outstanding research scholars by providing research support of $15,000 each for up to four faculty members each year.