Arkansas Research Alliance, Governor Recognize Five Scientists For Excellence

Aug 4, 2017

Jerry Adams, president of the Arkansas Research Alliance, speaks with the media

Governor Hutchinson and the Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) gave recognition to five university researchers in the state by awarding them an ARA fellowship that comes with a $75,000 grant.

The ARA Fellows program supports distinguished researchers already working at one of the five research universities in the state, including Arkansas State University, University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

It also supports researchers at the federal Food and Drug Administration’s National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson.

The awards will fund research efforts in areas ranging from the growth and health of baitfish in Arkansas to measuring the effects chemical exposures can have on the brain.

Jerry Adams, president of the Arkansas Research Alliance, says it's an effort to retain and support some of Arkansas's best scientists.

He added that he thinks that's especially important given concerns about the future of research funding. 

"The federal budget that was proposed in May cuts university research by 17 percent across the federal agencies, and that's devastating. I think what's happening now is Congress is normalizing that so the cuts will be in the area of one percent, up to two percent gain. I think that's not firm yet but it is a relief the direction it's going there," said Adams. 

Both Adams and the governor emphasized the large impact science has on the health of the state's economy.

"These five new Arkansas Research Alliance Fellows will be an incredible asset to our state in the area of scientific research and progress," Hutchinson said.

"And in today's continuously evolving economy, more people are recognizing the massive influence science and innovation have on our economy. Arkansas Research Alliance continues to serve the state well with its commitment to economic prosperity through science and technology based jobs."

The ARA also has a Scholars Program aimed at attracting researchers from outside the state. Today's announcement brings the ARA Academy of Scholars and Fellows to 23 researchers. 

L to R: Jerry Adams, Dr. Mark Smeltzer, Dr. Merle Paule, Dr. Rebecca Lochmann, Governor Asa Hutchinson and Dr. Tansel Karabacak. Not pictured is ARA fellow Dr. Laurent Bellaiche, who was unable to attend.

The five researchers who have become ARA fellows are:

Laurent Bellaiche, Ph.D., a distinguished professor in the Department of Physics and Institute for Nanoscience & Engineering at the University of Arkansas. He came to UA in 1999 and is a visiting professor at Ecole Centrale in Paris, France, and Xi'an Jiaotong University in Xi'an, China. He is researching the properties of ferroelectrics, magnetic compounds, multiferroics, semiconductors, nanostructures and graphene.

 Tansel Karabacak, Ph.D., a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He has worked at the university since 2006 and serves as the graduate coordinator of its applied science physics Ph.D. track. Karabacak's research focuses on the properties and applications of nanostructured and thin film materials, and he is well known for his pioneering work on glancing angle deposited nanostructures.

 Rebecca Lochmann, Ph.D., interim chair/director of the Aquaculture & Fisheries Center of Excellence at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. She began working at UAPB in 1993. Lochmann researches how diet affects the growth, health, product quality and reproductive performance of several species of fish. Cost-effectiveness of ingredients is also assessed when possible, to estimate the effects of diet manipulations on production profitability.

 Merle G. Paule, Ph.D., director of the Division of Neurotoxicology and senior biomedical research scientist at the National Center for Toxicological Research. He joined NCTR, part of the FDA, in 1983. Paule helped develop an automated system for monitoring multiple complex brain functions in nonhuman primates, children and rodents. The functions are used as measures for determining the effects of drug and other chemical exposures.

 Mark Smeltzer, Ph. D., a professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and director of the Center for Microbial Pathogenesis & Host Inflammatory Responses at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. He has been a faculty member at UAMS since 1993 and also serves as program director of a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence. Smeltzer's research focuses on infections caused by the bacterial pathogen Staphylococcus aureus, with a particular emphases on those infections involving bone and indwelling orthopaedic devices.