LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (News release) – Governor Asa Hutchinson joined the Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) today at the State Capitol building to announce five new ARA Fellows. The ARA Fellows awards are part of ARA’s continued investments in attracting and retaining world-class researchers to the state, specifically supporting research that fuels innovation, encourages collaboration, and strengthens economic opportunity.

“These five new Arkansas Research Alliance Fellows will be an incredible asset to our state in the area of scientific research and progress,” said Hutchinson. “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 Fellows program recognizes university research leaders who are already working in Arkansas at one of the state’s five research universities, while the ARA Scholars program works to recruit new talent to the state’s research institutions: University of Arkansas (UA); University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS); University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock); University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB); and Arkansas State University (A-State). In 2016, ARA added researchers from the National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) in Jefferson, AR – the only Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lab located outside the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

Today’s announcement brings the ARA Academy of Scholars and Fellows to a total of 23 researchers in our state.

2017 ARA Fellows

Dr. Laurent Bellaiche, Distinguished Professor, Department of Physics and Institute for Nanoscience and Engineering – University of Arkansas (UA). Dr. Bellaiche joined UA in 1999. His MS and PhD degrees are from the University of Paris. He is also a visiting faculty professor at Ecole Centrale, Paris, France, and at Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, China. Dr. Bellaiche’s group carries out research in the field of computational condensed matter physics, specifically developing and/or using so-called first-principles methods, first-principles-based techniques and semiempirical approaches to calculate properties of ferroelectrics, magnetic compounds, multiferroics, semiconductors, nanostructures and graphene.

Dr. Tansel Karabacak, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock). Dr. Karabacak came to UA Little Rock in 2006, after earning his PhD in 2003 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He also serves as the graduate coordinator of the Applied Science Physics PhD track at UA Little Rock. Dr. Karabacak’s research focuses on the properties and applications of nanostructured and thin film materials. He is especially well known for his pioneering work on glancing angle deposited (GLAD) nanostructures. He has been awarded the UA Little Rock Faculty Excellence in Research and the UALR College of Science Faculty Excellence in Research.

Dr. Rebecca Lochmann, Interim Chair / Director, Aquaculture and Fisheries Center of Excellence, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). Dr. Lochmann began work at UAPB in 1993. She received her BS degree in Zoology from Louisiana State University in 1981, her MS degree in Marine Biology in 1988, and her PhD from Texas A&M University in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences in 1992. Dr. Lochmann’s research evaluates the efficacy of alternative dietary protein and lipid sources, prebiotics and probiotics, and other feed additives on the growth, heath, product quality and reproductive performance of baitfish, catfish, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass and tilapia. Cost-effectiveness of these ingredients is assessed where possible, to estimate the effects of diet manipulations on production profitability of these species.

Dr. Merle G. Paule, Director, Division of Neurotoxicology and Senior Biomedical Research Scientist, National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR). Dr. Paule joined NCTR, part of the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in 1983. He received his BS degree in Biochemistry and his PhD in Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of California at Davis. Dr. Paule has played a major role in developing an automated system for monitoring multiple complex brain functions in nonhuman primates, children, and rodents. These functions include learning, short-term memory, motivation color and position discrimination and time perception, and are used as measures for determining the effects of drug and other chemical exposures.

Dr. Mark Smeltzer, Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Director, Center for Microbial Pathogenesis and Host Inflammatory Responses, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). Dr. Smeltzer has been a faculty member at UAMS since 1993. He obtained his BS degree from Washburn University, and his PhD from Kansas State University.  He also serves as the Program Director of a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE), which promotes the careers of new investigators and builds the infectious disease research capacity at UAMS and within Central Arkansas. Dr. 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. He has trained many MS, PhD, and MD/PhD students and received numerous awards for his efforts in teaching medical and graduate students.

Current ARA Fellows

Alexandru Biris, Ph.D. – 2015 ARA Fellow, Director and Chief Scientist, Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences; UA Little Rock
Laura P. James, M.D. – 2015 ARA Fellow, Director and Chief Scientist, Center for Integrative Nanotechnology Sciences; UA Little Rock
Argelia Lorence, Ph.D. – 2015 ARA Fellow, Professor of Metabolic Engineering, Co-Lead, Plant Imaging Consortium, A-State
Alan Mantooth, Ph.D. – 2015 ARA Fellow, Executive Director, National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission; Executive Director, NSF Center of Grid-Connected Advanced Power Electronic Systems; 21st Century Endowed Chair, Mixed-signal IC Design and CAD; UA
Bandon Kemp, Ph.D., P.E. – 2016 ARA Fellow, Associate Professor, College of Engineering, A-State
Michael Owens, Ph.D. – 2016 ARA Fellow, Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, and Director, Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Studies, UAMS
Min Zou, Ph.D., FASME, FSTLE – 2016 ARA Fellow, Professor, Mechanical Engineering, UA
Paul Howard, Ph.D. – 2016 ARA Fellow, Director, Office of Scientific Coordination, NCTR
Weida Tong, Ph.D. – 2016 ARA Fellow, Director, Division of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, NCTR

Current ARA Scholars

Ranil Wickramasinghe, Ph.D. – 2010 ARA Scholar, Professor and Ross E. Martin Chair in Emerging Technologies in the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering, UA
Daohong Zhou, M.D. – 2010 ARA Scholar, Deputy Director of the Division of Radiation Health, College of Pharmacy, UAMS
Peter A. Crooks, Ph.D., D.Sc. – 2011 ARA Scholar, Chairman, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Simmons Chair in Cancer Research, UAMS
Gareth Morgan, M.D., FRCP, FRCPath, Ph.D. – 2014 ARA Scholar, Director of the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, UAMS
Carolina Cruz-Neira, Ph.D. – 2014 ARA Scholar, Director of the George W. Donaghey Emerging Analytics Center, UALR
Morten Olgaard Jensen, Ph.D., Dr.Med – 2015 ARA Scholar, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of Arkansas
Jie Xiao, Ph.D. – 2015 ARA Scholar, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arkansas
Hong-yu Li, Ph.D. – 2016 ARA Scholar, Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UAMS
David Ussery, Ph.D. – 2016 ARA Scholar, Professor and Director of ArC-GEM (Arkansas Center for Genomic and Ecological Medicine)