Arkansas Research Alliance adds 8 new members

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 427 views 

The Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) announced Thursday (Dec. 9) the induction of eight new members to the ARA Academy of Scholars and Fellows. This cohort is a combination of two classes because of the pandemic delay.

The group is comprised of two new ARA Scholars, which is the recruitment of strategic research talent from outside the state, and six ARA Fellows, which is a recognition of outstanding researchers already resident in the state. With the additions, membership of the ARA Academy has risen to 32.

“ARA continues its mission to build the ARA Academy,” said Jerry Adams, ARA President. “The members we’ve added today are truly representative of the enormous scientific talent that ARA is focusing on the future of the state of Arkansas.”

The ARA Academy of Scholars and Fellows is comprised of research scientists from Arkansas’ six major research institutions: University of Arkansas (UA), the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), UA Little Rock (UALR), Arkansas State University (A-State), University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), and the FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR).

“The ARA Academy brings incredible value to Arkansas,” said Bryan Barnhouse, ARA CEO. “The research community in our state is a catalyst for economic, social, and academic growth. We leverage the most from this human resource by working together.”

The ARA Academy is an organization of ARA Scholars and ARA Fellows developed by the Arkansas Research Alliance. Each ARA Scholar receives a $500,000 grant; each ARA Fellow receives a $75,000 grant, with the exception of NCTR members, who are prohibited from accepting outside funding.

This year’s scholars and fellows include:

Philip Massey, ARA Scholar
Associate Professor of Public Health, Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation; Director, Center for Media, Technology and Health, College of Education and Health Professions, University of Arkansas (UA)

Massey is a public health researcher in health communication, media and technology in the U.S. and globally, on topics ranging from social media, cancer prevention, substance use, health literacy and entertainment education.

Edward Yeh, ARA Scholar
Professor and Chair, Department of Internal Medicine; Nolan Family Distinguished Chair in Internal Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)

Yeh is a pioneer in the field of Cardio-oncology, discovering the fundamental mechanism mediating anthracycline-induced cardiotoxicity. He also discovered two ubiquitin-like protein modifiers (Sentrin/SUMO and NEED8) central to gene transcription, signal transduction, and pathogenesis of heart disease, cancer, and seizure-related sudden death.

Hugh Churchill, ARA Fellow
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics; Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences; Assistant Director, Institute for Nanoscience and Engineering, University of Arkansas (UA)

Churchill conducts research in quantum materials and devices.

Mariya Khodakovskaya, ARA Fellow
Professor of Plant Biology and Director of Applied Science Graduate Program, University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock)

Khodakovskaya is working on the improvement of agricultural and industrial plants using advanced methods of biotechnology and nanotechnology, with a focus on the enhancement of plant productivity and stress tolerance by application of carbon-based and biodegradable nanomaterials.

Fabricio Medina-Bolivar, ARA Fellow
Professor of Plant Metabolic Engineering, Department of Biological Sciences; Executive Director of the American Council for Medicinally Active Plants (ACMAP); Chief Scientific Officer of Nature West, Inc; Chair of the Northeast Arkansas Hispanic Professional Network (NEAHPN); Arkansas State University (A-State)

Medina-Bolivar studies bioproduction, biosynthesis and biological activity of plant-delivered natural products with applications in plant and human health.

Laura K. Schnackenberg, ARA Fellow
Branch Chief, Innovative Safety and Technologies Branch, Division of Systems Biology, National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR)

Schnackenberg is developing translational in vitro and in vivo models and imaging modalities to better understand mechanisms of drug toxicity and disease.

Alan Tackett, ARA Fellow
Deputy Director, Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute; Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology; Scharlau Family Endowed Chair in Cancer Research, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS)

Tackett explores why some patients show limited response to immunotherapies and then leverages this information to design new cancer therapies to help all patients realize the lifesaving benefits of immunotherapy.

Karl Walker, ARA Fellow
Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)

Walker conducts research in bioinformatics, data science, artificial intelligence and STEM education.