News Clips Galore: Texas A&M Researchers Make World Headlines

                                                           By Keith Randall


      Texas A&M researchers continue to make headlines statewide, nationally and around the world with projects and findings in a variety of fields, personifying the solid results of the university’s on-going and broad-based experiments and scholarly studies.


            Texas A&M’s research initiatives, totaling approximately $550 million annually and with most of the funding coming from external sources, rank the university among the leaders in expenditures as tabulated by the National Science Foundation and go hand-in-hand with its teaching programs at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.


        “Texas A&M is a major player in research activities that have regional, national and international influence,” noted Richard Ewing, vice president for research, following the first round of national media coverage of Texas A&M research earlier this year.


        “Research is a fundamental part of our mission, and as evidenced by these high-profile projects, it is a fundamental part of our lives.”


            The most recent examples of Aggie research that have attracted major attention revolve around statistical results from bullet-lead analysis that calls into question the validity of the lone-gunman theory about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and a shipwreck excavation in the Gulf of Mexico.


            The bullet-lead analysis project is directed by statistics professors Cliff Spiegelman and Simon Sheather and chemist William James.  Stories about results of the study have appeared in the Washington Post, USA Today, the Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle and others via the Associated Press and Reuters, on CNN and MSNBC and dozens of other media outlets throughout the world. The university’s news release about the project can be viewed at


            A Gulf of Mexico expedition, called the Mardi Gras Shipwreck Project, is headed by Professor of Oceanography William Bryant and involves attempts to recover artifacts and other objects from a ship that is believed to have sunk about 200 years ago in more than 4,000 feet of water, making this the deepest excavation effort ever attempted in the Gulf. The project was given front-page attention in the Houston Chronicle and was the subject of a widely distributed AP story.  For the full story, go to


        A team of 10 Texas A&M researchers from the Department of Oceanography and the Center for Maritime Archaeology is still on the ship and will conclude their work by mid-June, and in that time, they expect to retrieve hundreds of items off the ocean floor.  A documentary film will be made about the event and a news conference discussing their findings will be held in New Orleans at the end of the month.


            Earlier this year, Michael Waters, director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans, shed new light on the first people to inhabit North America.  It was always believed that the Clovis People were the first to populate the area, but his research indicates new theories about the time frame. His findings show that Clovis may not be as old as previously thought, perhaps arriving thousands of years earlier. 


        His work landed on the cover of Science magazine, one of the world’s most prestigious academic journals and a leading authority on international research, plus was carried by most wire services, the Washington Post, USA Today, the BBC and many others. His work can be viewed at


        Atmospheric scientist Renyi Zhang made numerous national and international headlines recently when he proved conclusively that severe pollution from China and India is affecting America’s weather, and likely much of the world’s weather, too. His study, funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, showed that huge factories and industrial plants in those countries are emitting immense quantities of pollution – much of it soot – into the atmosphere, which is then carried by the prevailing winds over the Pacific Ocean to the U.S. and eventually worldwide.


      It could mean a faster-than-believed melting of the polar ice caps, Zhang says, adding, “There is no doubt that this pollution from human activity is affecting the world’s weather.”


        His work can be seen at


        Research by Texas A&M biologists Brian Perkins and graduate student Bryan Krock has focused on a rare form of early blindness and identified the cells involved, perhaps paving the way for possible therapies or even ways to prevent vision problems.  They studied hereditary degenerative diseases of the retinas of the zebrafish.


        Their work appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and other outlets.


        These are just a few of the many projects being conducted by Texas A&M researchers – work that could literally be life-changing for Americans and perhaps for all humankind.



Related Stories