[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 19-Sep-2013
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Contact: Jeannie Kever
jekever@uh.edu
713-743-0778
University of Houston

University of Houston receives $4 million to launch new chemistry initiative

Welch Foundation grant will fund Center of Excellence in Polymer Chemistry

The University of Houston has received $4 million from the Welch Foundation to establish the Center of Excellence in Polymer Chemistry.

The gift will support start-up packages to recruit the first two of four polymer chemists the University will hire to provide a foundation for a nationally recognized polymer research center.

"Throughout the years, the Welch Foundation has been incredibly generous to the University of Houston," said Dan E. Wells, interim dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "We are grateful to receive this grant that will advance our Tier One research and generate a uniquely skilled workforce for Houston and Texas."

Chemists develop polymers that can be used to make products for the fiber, communication, packaging and other industries. UH faculty will emphasize fundamental chemistry research, but they also will work with area petrochemical companies seeking to convert natural gas feedstock into advanced materials.

Mike Harold, chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering, whose faculty will also be involved in the new center, said the gift will speed efforts to develop new polymer products and technologies.

"This is especially timely with the domestic energy revolution we are experiencing, since the main feedstocks of polymers are petroleum and natural gas," he said.

David Hoffman, chairman of the Department of Chemistry, said the money will do more than simply establish a research center.

"The Foundation's grant will help the University more rapidly expand and enhance its research on polymers, an area of research important to Texas and, in particular, Houston because of its close proximity and ties to the petrochemical industry," Hoffman said.

Eloise Stuhr, vice chancellor for Advancement for the UH System, noted that the Welch Foundation is dedicated to advancing chemistry and improving life "goals that match perfectly with those of a Carnegie-designated Tier One university such as the University of Houston. I am so pleased that the Foundation's generous support will help bring greater visibility to UH and help us broaden our commitment to overall excellence."

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