Destiny is a perfect example of our efforts to find new ways to serve
the people of the state. We want to share the thrill of scientific
discovery with young North Carolinians, and the bus represents a
creative investment in our state’s future. Science increasingly
plays a major role in fueling the North Carolina economy.
Science also played a major role in the
University’s development. For instance, in 1891 John Motley
Morehead, working with UNC student William R. Kenan Jr. and chemistry
professor Francis P. Venable, discovered a gas that burned with a
white-hot flame. Morehead formed the Union Carbide Company to market
his discovery – acetylene gas. He and Kenan became two of the
greatest philanthropists in University history, creating the Morehead
Scholarships and W.R. Kenan Jr. Professorships.
Today’s Carolina students and faculty
are making discoveries we could not have imagined a few years ago.
Chemist Joe DeSimone is developing processes that use carbon dioxide,
a clean and recyclable gas, in place of toxic industrial solvents. His
first advances are being applied in the dry cleaning industry. The
National Science Foundation recognized his work by funding a Center
for Environmentally Responsible Carbon Dioxide-Based Processes, the
only such center in the world dedicated to discovering environmentally
friendly processes using alternative solvents.
Other examples of our using science to
improve quality of life abound. Biology professor Jeff Dangl is
working on making crops disease resistant. Kenneth Friedman in
pathology and laboratory medicine and Ryszard Kole in pharmacology
developed a way to repair a genetic problem that causes a form of
cystic fibrosis. Microbiologist Clyde A. Hutchison III determined the
minimum number of protein-producing genes a single-celled organism
needs to survive and reproduce in the laboratory. His research may
lead to new treatments for illness. It also moves us closer to
answering the question, "What is life?"
Carolina is the state’s preeminent
scientific resource — from pursuing new treatments for disease to
plotting Hurricane Floyd’s impact on the Pamlico Sound. For
outstanding scientific and medical research on the national level we
consistently rank in the top 20 in winning competitive research grants
from the NSF and the National Institutes of Health. Winning these
grants helps us attract and retain top-notch faculty and graduate
students, expose undergraduates to the very latest scientific
knowledge in the classroom, improve the quality of life and contribute
to North Carolina’s economy.
In fiscal 1999 Carolina attracted $344
million in outside research funding. Every dollar invested in our
research creates an estimated four dollars in net earnings, meaning
that sponsored research programs contribute about $1 billion and
15,000 jobs to the state’s economy annually. Last year Carolina
received 35 patents as a result of research, and we licensed 53
inventions for commercial use. Four high-tech companies have formed
since 1995 as a direct result of our inventions.
Carolina has the makings of an even
brighter future in science. We are dedicated to increasing our
competitiveness and our capacity over the next few years. The campus
needs 900,000 additional square feet of research and teaching
laboratories. Venable Hall must be replaced because continued
renovations simply aren’t worth the cost. And we need start-up funds
to support creative new research endeavors. We are addressing these
needs by making our case to federal and state leaders and in setting
priorities for the University-wide fundraising campaign.
Science is an important part of our
destiny because scientific excellence is crucial to our mission of
teaching, research and service. I invite you to invest in that
destiny! Let me know if you want additional ideas about investing in
science at Carolina.
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