A $500,000 grant from the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation soon will give University of Houston-Victoria students access to a piece of equipment for conducting advanced scientific research.
The gift to purchase and install a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectrometer is the largest one-time cash gift ever received by UHV. The spectrometer uses magnetic properties of atoms to determine the chemical structure of organic compounds.
“Acquiring an NMR spectrometer opens up possibilities for research and experience for faculty members and students in multiple areas of study,” said Jesse Pisors, UHV vice president for advancement and external relations.
The NMR spectrometer can be used by students pursuing many different areas of study, said Gen Kaneko, an assistant professor of biology who will join the UHV faculty in September. In addition to biology and biomedical sciences, students pursuing medical subjects, including health studies and nursing, will benefit from using it. Students will learn how to determine chemical structure using standard compounds, and how to measure the amount of chemicals and metabolites in biological components such as blood.
“Students also will have an advantage when it comes to equipment training.” Kaneko said. “An NMR spectrometer uses the same technology as a hospital’s MRI machine. If they become experienced with this spectrometer, it will be an easy transition for them to use an MRI.”
Since 1988, the M.G. & Lillie A. Johnson Foundation has provided a number of generous grants focused on scholarships, academic equipment, professorships and other mission-critical areas at UHV, Pisors said.
“The Johnson Foundation has supported UHV significantly for many years,” said Robert Halepeska, executive vice president of the foundation. “We are pleased to help UHV purchase this piece of equipment that will better prepare their students for health and other scientific careers and future studies. UHV fills a critical higher education need in our region, and we want to help it continue to fulfill its mission.”
The foundation chose to finance the spectrometer to support UHV’s expansion in areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. UHV plans to open a STEM building in 2019.
“UHV is appreciative of the continued support from the M.G. and Lillie A. Johnson Foundation,” UHV President Vic Morgan said. “It is a vote of confidence in our future. This equipment on our Victoria campus reinforces the foundation's commitment to the educational needs of the entire region.”
In addition to helping students, the spectrometer will give an advantage to faculty members pursuing research, said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences.
“The research being done by our STEM faculty is impressive and is annually attracting increasing levels of support,” Di Leo said. “This grant will allow us to continue to improve our research facilities and will be important part of attracting even greater levels of external support for our STEM division. Faculty and students will be able to conduct research and learn on state-of-the-art equipment as the result of the generous support of the Johnson Foundation.”