UT Arlington announces $25.2 million research institute

ARLINGTON -- In the quest for Tier One status, money is important, of course. But so is knowing the right people.

On Monday, those ingredients -- as well as Dallas-Fort Worth's strength of geography -- came together in the announcement of a planned $25.2 million research institute at the University of Texas at Arlington that one high-ranking official predicts will "help bring life-changing technologies to North America."

UT System regents allocated $7.5 million from the Permanent University Fund for the three-part Institute for Research Technologies. That will go toward an $18.5 million equipment purchase from Maryland-based Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, whose tools chemistry and biochemistry associate professor Kevin Schug first began using as a graduate student at Virginia Tech.

His arrival at UT Arlington in 2005 set the stage for the university's first acquisition of Shimadzu-made instruments two years later.

That dialogue led in turn to a $3 million gift in April that was matched by a slightly larger amount from UT Arlington for the creation of the Shimadzu Center for Advanced Analytical Chemistry. The center, housed in the College of Science, features cutting-edge chromatography, mass spectrometry and spectroscopy equipment used to break down substances.

Far from being limited to graduate researchers, the equipment is available even to freshman, which Schug said is "unheard of."

At the chemistry analysis center, researchers can determine the identities and volumes of different substances in a compound. Their work includes areas like drug trials in humans and environmental analysis of well water, Schug said.

The newly announced funding creates the umbrella research institute and adds two components: the Center for Imaging and the Center for Environmental, Forensic and Material Analysis.

"The institute will provide unlimited opportunities for scientific discovery for students, faculty members and private sector partners, not only at UT Arlington, but also nearby UT Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center," UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said in a statement.

Schug, who as a graduate student developed contacts with regional Shimadzu officials who have now moved up the ranks, said the company may see one advantage of the partnership as developing a market base in North Texas.

The institute will offer students and faculty access to state-of-the art Shimadzu equipment and software, some of which will be available in North America exclusively at UT Arlington. The institute will foster innovation across a variety of disciplines and will involve research teams from the colleges of engineering and nursing and the School of Social Work, among others.

Carolyn Cason, UT Arlington's new vice president for research, said the links between UT Arlington and Shimadzu, which is the U.S. subsidiary of Kyoto, Japan-based Shimadzu Corp., will span the globe for years to come.

"This is a great day for UT Arlington and the state of Texas," she said Monday. "The institute's facilities will be second to none and will foster intellectual exchanges that help bring life-changing technologies to North America."

Patrick M. Walker,


Twitter: @patrickmwalker1