This week, a group of twelve University of Houston faculty traveled to Washington D.C. to visit with the Department of Defense and Capitol Hill offices.
The researchers met with members of the Texas delegation on the Hill to learn about defense priorities and to promote research currently underway at UH that is relevant to national defense, specifically in the areas of materials sciences, biosensors and cybersecurity.
"My highlight was sitting in the bustling offices of our representatives and sharing how their support for basic research funding has made an impact on Houston and the United States," said Aaron Becker, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. "Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee and Senator John Cornyn’s staff were well read and were aware of the current issues UH research is tackling, from countering drone swarms to educating the public about deep fake videos."
Megan Robertson, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, agreed.
"I greatly enjoyed engaging conversations with our hosts at ONR and AFOSR, along with congressional staff, which were highly informative on topics of national interest and helped us to identify the ways in which University of Houston strengths can meet these unmet needs," she said.
The visit was a joint effort among the UH Division of Research, Office of Governmental Relations and colleges. Colleges identified faculty with high potential of securng DoD funding, while Governmental Relations worked with Husch, Blackwell Strategies, a D.C.-based consulting firm, to put together an agenda for visiting offices on the Hill. The Division of Research worked with McAllister & Quinn, another consulting firm, to identify DoD offices that are of particular relevance to participating faculty.
“Bringing faculty to D.C. to visit agencies really helps them make connections and learn about the needs of an agency," said Claudia Neuhauser, associate vice president for research. "Combining this with a visit to the Hill brings home the purpose of federal funding, namely to meet the needs of our nation. It allows us to show members of the Texas delegation first-hand how UH contributes to this purpose.”