Greg Powell

Departmental Grant
Abilene Christian University

“A scientific education really isn’t complete without direct research experience,” says Professor Greg Powell. “At ACU, we get as many students as possible involved in the lab. And there is no doubt that support from The Welch Foundation has made it possible to establish and maintain a first-rate undergraduate research program.”

The school’s Summer Research Institute offers up to five faculty and 12 undergraduates the opportunity to conduct full-time research for eight weeks. Students receive a stipend and are required to report results both orally and in writing as a journal article. Many continue research during the school year with a record-setting 20 undergraduates participating in projects in spring 2017.

The eight chemistry and biochemistry faculty members’ research is diverse, including understanding the details of DNA damage repair, preparing new organic chemicals with medicinal properties, discovering new types of polymers and synthesizing metal cluster complexes with potential anticancer activity.

Over the past 15 years, faculty and students have published 20 journal articles with Welch-stipend students listed 69 times as coauthors. In 2016, ACU students swept the top three undergraduate awards at an American Chemical Society DFW meeting. Since ACU began receiving Welch funds, 106 graduates have earned a Ph.D. degree in science and 164 in the health professions with another 25 alumni in graduate school.

“Success often breeds more success,” Dr. Powell says. Inspired by research results, alumni contributions recently allowed ACU to purchase a research-grade X-ray diffractometer. “Our future looks as bright as ever!”