Welch grant highlights student involvement

Hannah Nelson, Entertainment Editor

The Welch Foundation was recently awarded $90,000 grant to the department of Chemistry and Physics for the use of research starting in the summer of 2018.

The newly awarded grant is an extension of a previous one by the foundation. This grant will give students the ability to work in funded research while attending school.

“The Welch Foundation has a number of different grants that they provide to chemistry faculty, this particular one is what they call a Welch departmental grant,” Professor of Biochemistry, Dr. Nick Flynn said. “It’s a grant that is intended to provide both undergraduate and graduate students with the opportunity to do research.”

The Welch Foundation has provided the chemistry department with the ability to conduct research by providing a financial support. The award will be divided up over the next three years. These funds will help pay for a variety of expenses including the cost of lab equipment.

“The Welch Foundation funds chemistry research across the state of Texas,” Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Jason Yarbrough said.

Looking into the next three years, the department will be using the grant for some key topics. These main topics include the delivery of chemotherapeutics to cells, polymer research and research with yeast metabolism.

“This grant is going to allow us to tackle what I think are important issues, from a chemist’s perspective, take on projects that are going to allow students to get in the lab and do things they otherwise wouldn’t have access to,” Yarbrough said.

For students who are involved in conducting the funded research they have resources to help them while doing working the topic they are apart of.

“It can provide them with the right financial support in the form of a stipend or a fellowship, or it can be used to purchase pieces of equipment or chemicals they need to do their research,” Flynn said.

Dr. Flynn also hopes that the grant will spark more student involvement and convince students to apply for fellowship opportunities.

“We would actually like to see a couple more students get involved in what we have currently, we would like to see along the order of three, four, or five students participating in this each year,” Flynn said. “We would like to see those students presenting their research either at a regional ACS or a national ACS meeting.”

James Welbaum, a biochemistry and biology major, participated in research through the Welch Fellowship last semester. For him, this was a gain experience.

“I traveled to an ACS meeting down in Lubbock, and they helped pay for that, the grant did,” Welbaum said. “I also went down to Baylor for their chemistry they have an advanced instrumentation workshop and that actually fell under the Welch fellowship as well.”

Being apart of the research and presenting has also helped Welbaum personally get him name out there in professional settings.

“It helped me get my name out there because people were interested in what we were doing,” Welbaum said.

Students wanting to apply or learn more can contact a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Physics. Applications include providing a transcript, personal essay and brief description of the research project.