June 17, 2008

UTB-TSC Physics Professors to Lecture in China

By Kevin Sieff, The Brownsville Herald, Texas

Jun. 17--Ten years ago, the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College lacked even a basic physics department. Now, the university's Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy is world renowned, its students and professors at the cutting edge of international research.

In the most recent of the program's accolades, four UTB-TSC physics professors have been selected to teach Chinese scientists and graduate students about their field at the Morningside Center of the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing.

It's the third year that professors have taught summer sessions in China, as a part of what is becoming an increasingly important binational academic relationship.

"We're at the dawn of a new kind of astronomy," Professor Richard Price said. "The Chinese have realized that they missed the boat on this, and they put a group of us together to get them up to speed."

The Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy, which has received significant grants from NASA, seeks to better understand "ripples in the fabric of space-time," Price said.

The first UTB-TSC-China summer school took place at Nanjing University, China's top university for astrophysics, in the summer of 2006. Last year professors traveled to China West Normal University, in Nanchong, Sichuan province.

In Beijing, the professors will lecture to graduate students and post-doctoral fellows, some of whom they hope to recruit on behalf of UTB-TSC. The program already has two Chinese graduate students thanks, in part, to the efforts of Professor Fredrick Jenet, one of the world's leaders in the field of gravitational wave detection through pulsar timing.

The Chinese students contribute significantly to UTB-TSC's program, professors say. And as UTB-TSC's international contributions continue, the university's reputation will grow.

"When (Chinese students) think of gravitational wave astronomy in the U.S.," Price said, "they're going to think about UTB."


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