A&Spire to Illuminate Signature Academic Initiatives


Over the last 50 years, materials science has played a pivotal role in defining modern society by improving technologies that make products faster, stronger, and lighter. Composite materials are increasingly used in the aerospace and automotive industries, revolutionizing the way we travel. Materials science has led to advances in computer technology, smartphones, high-definition (HD) televisions, and other communication systems, as well as enhancing the development of efficient energy storage, solar energy, and electric cars. Materials research extends into the medical field, specifically in the development of artificial implants and nanoscale materials that may offer alternatives for drug delivery in cancer treatments.

Baylor's School of Engineering & Computer Science and the College of Arts & Sciences have between 10 and 15 faculty conducting research in this important area. This initiative aims to double the number of faculty in materials research and to move Baylor University toward recognition as an R1 institution. Funding for this initiative will provide endowed chairs, endowed professorships, postdoctoral fellowships, and graduate fellowships. Faculty in the Baylor departments of Chemistry & Biochemistry; Electrical & Computer Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; and Physics will form interdisciplinary materials research teams. These faculty hires represent the resources necessary to attract and retain top faculty, enhance student recruiting and mentoring, and bring scholarly prestige and financial stability to the program. In addition, other science departments may partner with these research teams according to their areas of specialty, from biology, geosciences, environmental science, mathematics, and statistical science.

Funds dedicated to this initiative will replace transmission electron microscope (TEM) in the Center for Microscopy and Imaging (CMI), as stated in the Cancer Collaborative initiative. Updated TEM instrumentation will enable ultrastructural analysis of chemical composition and 3D reconstruction of nanoparticles, composite/polymer materials, and biological structures, including proteins.

It is our mission to make significant contributions to the discovery and dissemination of materials science knowledge and to develop, within a Christian environment, ethical scholars, skilled professionals, and educated leaders who understand the needs of society.  

Goal 1: Implement the Materials Science Initiative.

Year 2: We hired Julia Chan in chemistry to help lead strategies for this area of research. We will form a working group in the coming year, and will begin the search for the Baugh Endowed Chair in Materials Science (Physics).

 Action Steps

1.1    Seek funding opportunities to endow the initiative or to endow components of it through endowed chairs by using the University match program.

     Year 1: The search for the Schofield Chair in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry is underway through a committee appointed by the Provost. In addition, a search will be conducted in the future for the Baugh Chair in Materials Science, awarded to the Department of Physics.

1.2    Seek University support to expand the program incrementally through faculty and staff lines, including startup and facilities costs.

     Year 1: A TEM purchased by the University will be installed in the Baylor Sciences Building in Fall 2021. In addition, A&S purchased a OLS5100 3D Laser Scanning Microscope from Olympus that will be housed in the CMI.

Year 2: Delayed arrival until the fall of 2022.

1.3    Depending on the success of the program, consider the formation of an Institute that is administered by the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, Dean of Arts & Sciences, and Dean of Engineering & Computer Science.