Advanced science.  Applied technology.


74th Annual Meeting of Advisory Trustees and Board of Directors of Southwest Research Institute

The 74th Annual Meeting of Advisory Trustees and Board of Directors of Southwest Research Institute held on May 23, 2022, included presentations on key SwRI research programs conducted during the 2021 fiscal year. Contact Joanna Quintanilla, +1 210 522 2073, or Jesús Chávez, +1 210 522 2258 for more information or to interview the researchers.

Press release: SwRI Announces Record Levels of Research, Development Activities

View SwRI's 2021 Annual Report.


Protecting Deepwater Environments from Spills

SwRI has created an important program for safeguarding the environment from oil leaks. The timely detection and mitigation of leaks and spills can have life-saving consequences for flora and fauna while also allowing energy to be delivered in a safe and responsible manner.

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For more information, visit Fluids Engineering.

Press Release: SwRI engineers create decision-making tool for oil spill clean-up

Shane Siebenaler, Director, Mechanical Engineering Division

The Future of Recycling is Now

A computer model of a plastics recycling pyrolysis unit

Despite great efforts to recycle waste materials, piles of plastic waste end up buried underground or dumped in oceans, harming wildlife and the environment. A new SwRI method aims to recycle mixed plastics into useful chemicals and fuels.

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For more information, visit Process Engineering & Fuels.

Technology Today Podcast Episode 30: Recycling Plastic for Fuel

Image and caption:

Hsiang Yee Hoekstra, Program Manager, Chemistry & Chemical Engineering Division

Advanced Fluids for Electrified Vehicles

White 2017 Toyota Prius Prime undergoing vehicle stressors testing

While the drive toward electric vehicles continues its upward trend, the automotive industry is working to better understand the role of lubricants in these electrified environments. A new SwRI program brings together industry competitors to research so-called “e-fluids” to assess how they need to change to perform optimally in electric powertrains.

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For more information, visit Advanced Fluids for Electrified Vehicles (AFEV) Consortium

Press Release: SwRI launches consortium on advanced fluids for electrified vehicles

Image and caption:

Terry Alger, Ph.D., Director, Powertrain Engineering Division & Cole Frazier, Research Engineer, Fuels and Lubricants Research Division


Drug and Vaccine Development

In light of the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps no other time in recent memory have we recognized the importance of vaccines and drug therapeutics and their ability to minimize or eliminate contagions and other threats. SwRI’s rapidly expanding vaccine and drug development program is working to advance vaccines and therapeutics to tame illnesses in homes, hospitals, and even the battlefield.

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For more information, visit Pharmaceutical Testing Laboratories.

Press Releases: SwRI leads $18 million DOD project to develop tularemia “rabbit fever” vaccine for military

SAPPT Awards $200,000 for COVID-19 Vaccine Project

Joe McDonough, Ph.D., Director, & Norma Cantu, Program Manager, Chemistry & Chemical Engineering Division

The COVID-19 Exposure Assessment Tool (CEAT) for Assessing and Managing Risk

SwRI’s Austin-based wholly owned subsidiary, Signature Science LLC, focuses on research and development that solves scientific and technological challenges. Signature Science has developed a new tool for determining the risk of exposure to COVID-19 at workplaces, events, and other facilities.

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For more information, visit

Molly Isbell, Ph.D., Signature Science

Imaging the Wind and Weather in Outer Space

PUNCH Microsatellites

Southwest Research Institute is leading the Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere, or PUNCH, a NASA Small Explorer (SMEX) mission that will integrate understanding of the Sun’s corona, the outer atmosphere visible during total solar eclipses, with the “solar wind” that fills the solar system.

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For more information, visit Heliophysics.

Press Releases: SwRI-led PUNCH mission advances toward 2025 launch

SwRI-led PUNCH mission passes important milestone

SwRI-led PUNCH mission launches associate investigator program

Image and caption:

Craig DeForest, Ph.D., Program Director, Space Science & Engineering Division






CubeSats and Space Weather

NASA is collaborating with SwRI to provide big science from small satellites called CubeSats. The CubeSat for Solar Particles, or CuSP, mission, seeks to understand the sources and acceleration mechanisms of solar particles that create space weather, which can affect astronauts and technology on Earth and in space.

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For more information, visit Heliophysics.

Press Release: SwRI-designed miniature spacecraft selected to fly on rocket’s test flight in 2018

Mihir Desai, Ph.D., Director, Space Science & Engineering Division

The Chemistry Between Stars and Their Planets

Artist impression of star-exoplanet systems

Although extreme distances make the exploration of exoplanets difficult, researchers are still able to glean important information by studying the relationship between stars and their planets. SwRI is examining exoplanets and determining whether they are truly Earth-like.

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For more information, visit Astrophysics.

Press Releases: SwRI scientist searches for stellar phosphorus to find potentially habitable exoplanets

SwRI scientist develops novel algorithm to aid search for exoplanets

SwRI scientist develops database for stellar-exoplanet “exploration”

Image and caption:

Natalie Hinkel, Ph.D., Sr. Research Scientist, Space Science & Engineering Division