Yuanbing Mao

Departmental Grant
The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

“Welch’s grant has a magnifying effect on our program above and beyond the actual monetary support,” says Yuanbing Mao, chemistry department interim chair, UT Texas Rio Grande Valley. “The research Welch makes possible leads to additional grants, which, in turn, supports more research and lets more students gain this invaluable experience.”

He notes the university is located at one of the poorest areas in the state and most of its students are first-generation college attendees from economically challenged backgrounds.

The opportunity to conduct research “opens their eyes and excites them about science,” Dr. Mao says. “I’ve personally seen many such moments when work in the lab changes the way they think about their future.”

Last year, the Welch grant directly supported the research of 15 graduate students and five undergraduates, with some 50 other chemistry majors otherwise taking part in research at the school. Investigations include research in analytical, bio, environmental, inorganic, materials, organic and physical chemistry. The Welch-supported work led to 25 peer-reviewed journal articles and 50 presentations at international, national and regional conference.

Today, the chemistry program boasts 20 tenured and tenure-track faculty members and 350 undergraduate majors and 38 in the master’s program. The school recently completed a new science building with 67,700 assignable square feet of research space on its Edinburg campus as well as a new academic building with five chemistry teaching labs on the Brownsville campus. The new facilities are making it possible for more students to take part in research as well as for the university to propose a new doctoral program around 2022.