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Professors Tom Hughes and Mark Mear Win Grand Challenge Awards

Seven University of Texas at Austin researchers are confronting what the scientific community has defined as this century's grand challenges in drug design, environmental sustainability and improved oil recovery using Moncrief Grand Challenge Faculty awards for 2011-12.

Professors Tom Hughes and Mark Mear of the department are among those selected.

The awards, funded by the private donations of oilman and philanthropist W. A. "Tex" Moncrief of Fort Worth and an anonymous donor, enable scientists and engineers to work at the Institute for Computational and Engineering Sciences (ICES) on challenges that affect the competitiveness and international standing of the United States.

Hughes' research project is on modeling the behavior of nanoparticles in blood vessels to design drug delivery systems.

Mear's research project is on modeling the behavior of soil and rocks to improve recovery of natural resources such as groundwater and oil.

Grand challenges are problems that must be addressed to achieve a sustainable, economically robust and politically stable future. These involve using computational methods to study such topics as cardiovascular engineering, water sustainability and weather. Other vitally important areas include carbon sequestration, drug design and delivery, advanced materials, rising seas modeling, national security, nano-science and engineering, and computational medicine and biomedicine.

Over the past three years the Moncrief Grand Challenge Awards Program has provided more than $1 million in funding for university faculty to pursue research in computational science and engineering.

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