In a press conference on Tuesday, Congressman Tim Ryan announced Youngstown State University’s acquisition of a $470 thousand grant that will be used to purchase an X-ray diffractometer.
Allen Hunter, a professor in the chemistry department, wrote the grant proposal and explained the power of YSU’s new X-ray equipment, calling the machine “something out of a sci-fi movie.”
“This X-ray instrument that we’re getting will be the highest performing one in the state,” Hunter said. “It allows us to see things that are a trillion times — something like that — smaller than the naked eye can see.”
The X-ray equipment is expected to advance the university’s reputation and provide hands-on research experience to undergraduate students.
“First of all, it builds reputation, and, as you know, reputation matters,” Hunter said. “More importantly, the students come out way better trained. … We have really, really cutting edge stuff, and our students get saturated in it. So, they have way more hands-on experience.”
Michael Hripko, director of the YSU College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, said he is excited about the new research instrument.
“Better equipment leads to better education, better career opportunities, better research opportunities for our students. That has a significant impact for our graduates and for our students,” Hripko said.
In Tuesday’s press conference, Both YSU President Randy Dunn and Congressman Ryan agreed with Hunter and Hripko.
“We are going to have the ability for undergraduates to access this diffractometer to be able to use it, have experience with it — in other places that may just be doctoral students or graduate students,” Dunn said.
Ryan indicated that high-end equipment contributes to the university’s status.
“This is really exciting because we are continuing to build a distinguished research university right here in Youngstown. … We are starting to see the STEM college here at Youngstown State really emerge and distinguish itself — not only in Ohio, but around the country,” Ryan said.
Hunter explained that The National Science Foundation awarded YSU’s grant money. He compared the grant-writing process to a sales pitch.
“You read what it is that [The National Science Foundation] is interested in and you are trying to sell them that your idea is better than everyone else’s,” Hunter said. “You gotta know what’s motivating the customer. Here, the grants program is our customer. In this program, you have to balance scientific merit. You have to have cutting edge science. You also have to have broad impact.”
Hunter said that the acquisition of grant funds validates his work.
“It’s like a validation for everything you do, because they only fund a handful of these every year in the country. And, it means that you beat out MIT and Stanford and places like this,” he said.
While Hunter said he is excited to have secured the grant, he is already looking forward to his next proposal.
“I’m thinking about the next proposals that are out there because that is kind of my specialty is getting grants for this kind of stuff,” he said.
The x-ray diffractometer is expected to arrive at YSU early this upcoming winter.
Additional reporting by Josh Medore.