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Texas A&M researchers honored at reception hosted by Governor Abbott

Four Texas A&M University College of Engineering faculty members attended a reception on March 6 hosted by Governor Greg Abbott in Austin. The reception honored the researchers recruited through the Governor’s University Research Initiative program (GURI) and officials from three Texas universities at the Texas Governor’s mansion. The honorees from Texas A&M were Dr. Girish Saran Agarwal, Dr. Richard B. Miles, Dr. Thomas J. Overbye and Dr. George M. Pharr IV. 

Agarwal is a professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, and a fellow of The Royal Society in the United Kingdom. His research at Texas A&M is in theoretical quantum optics, particularly the interaction of laser light with atoms, and in developing applications for this technology. 

Miles is a TEES Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Miles will establish and lead the Center of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Optical and Laser Detection Systems for National Security and Safety at Texas A&M. One application of his research is the development of state-of-the-art instrumentation for remote detection that will identify hazardous gases and dangerous contaminants such as anthrax or the Ebola virus, hidden explosives such as IEDs and/or greenhouse gases and pollutants.

Overbye is a TEES Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research interests are in the domains of smart grid cybersecurity, renewable electric energy systems, power system visualization, power system analysis by computer methods, power system stability and power systems operation and control. 

Pharr is a TEES Distinguished Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and a member of NAE. Pharr’s research interests include nanoindentation and nanomechanical testing, thin film and small-scale mechanical behavior, mechanisms of fracture and flow in solids, and finite element modeling of indentation contact. 

Dr. Leif Andersson from the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences was a 2016 GURI recipient, but was unable to attend the event. Andersson’s research area is molecular and comparative genetics, which has many applications in animal breeding and veterinary medicine.

Enacted in 2015 by the 84th Legislature, the GURI is a grant-matching program that assists eligible institutions of higher education in the recruitment of distinguished researchers.  Last year, Governor Abbott announced the recruitment of nine distinguished researchers to Texas A&M University, The University of Texas at Austin and the University of Houston.

“Texas universities stand apart as a model for the nation for developing groundbreaking innovations, driving our state’s powerful economy, and improving quality of life around the world,” said Governor Abbott. “Thanks to our nine internationally renowned researchers recruited by the GURI initiative, ideas that begin in Texas will help transform the world. These brilliant minds have put Texas universities on a path to national and international prominence, and we must continue to ensure Texas is on the cutting edge of research and development.”