J. Dane Bates and Ricardo Romo
Southwest Research Institute President J. Dan Bates and UTSA
President Ricardo Romo

Coordinating Board approves master's, doctorate in physics

(April 27, 2005)--The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved plans for a partnership between UTSA and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) that will offer the region's first master's and doctoral degree programs in physics.

"These degree programs are crucial in our mission to become a premier research university and attract additional research funding to support our faculty and students," said UTSA President Ricardo Romo.

The partnership, the first of its kind in Texas, is expected to serve as a model for similar collaborations at other UT System campuses and prepare graduates to make significant contributions to the evolution of space science and technologies, biophysics and cosmology.

"I think the collaboration of these two great institutions will provide for a very strong graduate program in physics for UTSA," said SwRI President J. Dan Bates.

SwRI is a leading, independent, nonprofit applied research and development organization specializing in the creation and transfer of technology in the physical sciences and engineering. Since 1977, SwRI has played a key role in NASA space physics and planetary missions with expertise in planetary and space science, instrument design and fabrication, and data system development. With a staff of 2,900, SwRI scientists have conducted more than $399 million in research.

"This will be the place for students who really want to be involved in spacecraft instrumentation, and it offers new opportunities for South Texas Hispanic and minority students," said David J. McComas, senior executive director of the SwRI Space Science and Engineering Division.

Under the agreement, eight scientists from the SwRI Space Science and Engineering Division will serve as "adjoint" professors for the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy when the program begins fall 2005.

The scientists will develop and teach advanced graduate courses and supervise graduate students while remaining full-time SwRI employees. UTSA graduate students also will conduct research in SwRI laboratories.

"The establishment of the physics Ph.D. at UTSA is a watershed event which puts in place the last pillar for providing the full spectrum of science and engineering education and research at UTSA," said Patrick Nash, UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy chair.

The program will include a 30 credit hour master of science degree as well as a doctoral degree with 45 credit hours of course work and 36 credit hours of research culminating in a dissertation.

UTSA now has 13 doctoral degree programs in neurobiology, computer science, educational leadership, culture, literacy and language, electrical engineering, business administration, English, biomedical engineering, cell and molecular biology, environmental science and engineering, counselor education and supervision, chemistry and physics.

--Kris Rodriguez

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