AUSTIN—Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott hosted several researchers – including Dr. Joan Brennecke, who will soon be joining the faculty of The University of Texas at Austin -- at the Governor’s Mansion on Monday to congratulate them for being selected as the first recipients of grants through the Governor’s University Research Initiative.
Approved by the Texas Legislature in 2015, the Governor’s University Research Initiative, or GURI, was designed to bring the best and brightest researchers in the world to Texas colleges and universities. To date, the governor’s office has approved nearly $40 million in GURI matching funds to three Texas universities: UT Austin, Texas A&M and the University of Houston.
UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven joined Chancellor John Sharp from the Texas A&M University System and Chancellor Renu Khator from the University of Houston in thanking the governor for his unparalleled support of higher education and for asking the Legislature to continue funding for the initiative in this legislative session.
“Every time we bring outstanding faculty members to Texas – whether it’s to UT, A&M, UH or any other institution – it advances our state’s reputation, advances our overall research portfolio, and helps attract other star faculty as well,” McRaven said. “It makes us a smarter, stronger, better place.”
Abbott said the GURI recipients are rewriting the standard of not only where we are but, more importantly, where we are going. They are, he said, game changers for Texas universities and the Texas economy.
“What these individuals are doing is far more than just creating the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math. They are partnering together with private enterprises, with federal government grants, creating teams that create more jobs, that empower the next generation of the Texas economy,” Abbott said. “The people behind me are just as important to the future of Texas as Sam Houston was to the future of Texas at his time.”
Brennecke, a chemical engineer whose research focuses on energy and sustainability, was recruited from The University of Notre Dame and will begin her appointment at UT Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering in August. Brennecke is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and also a UT Austin alum. She will work closely with the university’s office of technology commercialization to facilitate technology transfer from her lab to the marketplace to benefit not only the university, but the entire state of Texas.
“I know Governor Abbott – a UT alum like Dr. Brennecke and myself – is excited to have her on the team, and I want to thank him for his vision in the last session in proposing legislation to get the Governor’s University Research Initiative established and funded,” McRaven said.
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 228,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System’s operating budget for FY 2017 is $17.9 billion, including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and many members of the National Academies – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.