I just found out this news article. Very good news for Texas A&M, but also good news for the whole state. I was usually amazed at the fact that Texas, being the largest state in contiguous US (I had written continental US but Wikipedia told me it included Alaska, :S) would have very few large universities and before the 90s, had only two Nobel prize winners in physics or chemistry. It is not the case anymore and you can see more and more articles being published by places other than Univ. of Texas at Austin, Rice and Texas A&M. A sign that having important people in your department definitely helps.
One good thing about Texas is that it has a lot of money: many texans that made a lot of money and are really proud of their state. Obviously, people like George Mitchell, are really good for science and we need more of them. By the way, this is not the first time it happens for A&M in recent years (Think Dudley Herschbach). The Univ. of Texas at Dallas also got Alan MacDiarmid in 2002. Unfortunately for them, and for science, he died in 2007.
Texas also has its own problems when it comes to science, but so far it has managed to not fall for alternative, non-scientific theories, being put in science curricula. Despite these sour incidents, I think we'll be seeing a lot of investments, like the one by Texas A&M , in the coming years in the state of Texas. I do not own a house anywhere in the US (or the world for that matter) but talking to friends that went to grad school in many different states in the US, the ones that have gone to Texas usually feel they can afford more for the same buck. This will probably help recruit talented young scientists and if donors like Mitchell continue to do their part we'll definitely see a lot of scientific competition coming from Texas.
CORRECTION: Initially I wrote "only one" when referring to the number of Nobel Laureates, in either physics of chemistry,working at a Texas university. I made a mistake and there were actually 2 before the 90s. One is at a medical school and I, wrongly, assumed he won it for medicine. You can see the list of the Nobel laureates currently in the state of Texas. A total of 8.
RIP Vern Ehlers
1 day ago