9 Current And Former Texas A&M University System Faculty Members Earn Spots On Black Scientists List
Texas A&M University has nine faculty members listed among “1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America,” compiled by Cell Mentor, a publication of Cell Press.
The list highlights the accomplishments and contributions that Black scientists continue to make to the world’s scientific community.
According to the publication, “We are here to compel and imbue the next generation of Black scientists and other minoritized individuals to enhance and empower our culture’s dignity. We also emphasize the need for continued appropriation of resources and the removal of obstacles and racial barriers to continue to amplify Black culture and talent.”
Texas A&M faculty members from several academic fields and disciplines made the list.
“We are very proud of the outstanding faculty members who have been named among the 1,000 inspiring Black scientists in America,” said Texas A&M Interim President John L. Junkins. “In the future, the challenges we face – scientifically, technologically and socially – will be increasingly complex. To solve those challenges, we will need to draw on the experiences and perspectives from every culture, every generation and every great mind.
“We are currently working on ways to better retain and recruit a more diverse array of faculty, who will help bring a greater variety of viewpoints to help us solve our most significant problems.”
Added Annie S. McGowan, interim vice president and associate provost for diversity: “Representative faculty are important to campus climate and student success. Research shows that representation can improve campus climate and address pervasive safety and belonging issues.
“In turn, improved campus climate positively influences the success of historically underrepresented students and faculty,” McGowan said. “Diversity is the foundation that fuels creativity and innovation. The Texas A&M faculty named among the top 1,000 Black Scientists of America exemplify the Aggie Core Values and serve as a reminder to others that achievement is within reach. The impact of their leadership, scholarship and excellence in the science field are noteworthy. There are real rewards when we put diversity, equity and inclusion first.”
The honored faculty members include:
Adjei is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering whose research areas include biomaterials, micro/nanotechnology, tissue engineering, drug delivery and cancer immunotherapy. He leads the Translational & Innovative Nanomedicine Laboratory, which has the mission of employing engineering approaches to understand human diseases and developing novel therapeutic strategies. Its primary focuses are analyzing cancer; metastasis to lymph nodes, lungs, and bones; neurological diseases; spinal cord injuries; and traumatic brain injuries.
He also studies the mechanisms of tumor immune evasion using three-dimensional tumor models, with the goal of developing novel strategies to reactivate the immune system against tumors.
“It is an honor to be recognized among such eminent scientists,” he said. “The recognition also impresses on my mentees, especially underrepresented minorities like myself, that diligent, smart-hard work is recognized and celebrated irrespective of who they are. It motivates them to strive to achieve their goals.”
Daniels is director of the Undergraduate Medical Academy and a professor of epidemiology at Prairie View A&M University. He also holds a joint appointment in the Department of Humanities in Medicine within the College of Medicine at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center. He has held several research and graduate school administrative positions and has served as the director of the Texas Undergraduate Medical Academy since 2004. Daniels joined the faculties at Prairie View A&M and the Health Science Center in March 2004. Daniels’ primary research focus is the use of epidemiological methodology in the control and prevention of chronic diseases (diabetes and hypertension) that are responsible for end stage renal disease and HIV/AIDS. Recent research has examined the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS among older Americans.
“This honor demonstrates in a tangible manner the awareness of the need to engage students irrespective of gender, or race/ethnic identification,” Daniels said. “The efforts to introduce and prepare students in the area of STEM fields and career opportunities is on the radar of a number of persons at universities and science institutes across the United States. It also recognizes the many people who have supported me along the way, especially my grandparents.”
James E. Hubbard Jr.
Hubbard is the Oscar S. Wyatt Jr. ’45 Chair and director of the Morpheus Laboratory in the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering. He has made significant contributions to the field of aerospace engineering throughout a career spanning more than four decades in academia and industry.
Hubbard is considered a pioneer in the field of adaptive structures and developed systems for suppressing vibration and noise, surface morphing and other applications. Hubbard has published more than 100 technical papers and three books in the areas of adaptive structures and photonics. He co-founded three companies and has received 24 U.S. and worldwide patents, leading to technological advances benefiting the aerospace, medical, defense and other industries.
Hubbard was the first Black student to earn a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a Hagler Institute for Advanced Study Fellow at Texas A&M. He is also involved in the RELLIS Campus Starlab facility.
“It’s always a rare and great honor for your life’s work to be recognized by your peers,” Hubbard said. “It is particularly fulfilling to honored by this community. It inspires me to continue and sustain my search for excellence and to motivate and generate scholarship in young Black scientists.”
Judy A. Perkins
Perkins is a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Prairie View A&M and Regents Professor of engineering at Texas A&M. She is also a retired Army Lt. Col. and a state-licensed engineer.
Perkins joined the faculty at Prairie View A&M in 2004 as the first woman and first African American to serve as head of the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department, where she introduced higher academic standards for both graduate and undergraduate education in the department. Many of her former students have received their professional engineering licenses and completed master and doctoral degrees.
“Being one of the 1,000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America is an honor and excellent career achievement that affirms that I am truly walking in my calling,” she said. “Joining this elite pool of recipients who have distinguished themselves as modern-day trailblazers, who have succeeded despite the ‘glass ceiling’ and have overcome career challenges and pitfalls is a positive testament to those we mentor and nurture.”
Lisako Jones McKyer
McKyer is a Chancellor’s EDGES Fellow, and full professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences at the Texas A&M School of Public Health. She serves as the school’s senior associate dean for Climate and Diversity, and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Humanities in Medicine, College of Medicine.
McKyer’s career is full of “firsts.” She was the first Black woman to earn a Ph.D. in health behavior from Indiana University, the first to earn tenure in the Department of Health & Kinesiology and in her present department at Texas A&M. She is the first Black woman to achieve rank of full professor in the School of Public Health. She is also president of the American Academy of Health Behavior; the first Black person elected to the position.
“If I am to glean some personal importance for this recognition, it would be in how it might inspire others, and how it reveals our impact on other people even if we are unaware,” McKyer said.
“Professionally,” she said, “there are so many people who helped me but the person probably most responsible for my ending up on this list is Dr. Lovell A. Jones who is also on the list. He is a living legend.”
Lovell A. Jones
Jones is the founder of the Health Disparities, Education, Awareness, Research & Training (HDEART) Consortium, adjunct professor in the Department of Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences at the Texas A&M School of Public Health and research professor at Texas A&M University Corpus Christi.
Upon on his retirement, Jones became the first African American to be awarded emeritus professor status at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center as well as at the University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston, making him the first African American in the University of Texas System to hold dual emeritus status.
He is the former director of the joint UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center/University of Houston Dorothy I. Height Center for Health Equity & Evaluation Research. Jones has more than 35 years of experience in addressing minority health and the health of the underserved. As a molecular endocrinologist, he has also conducted extensive research into the relationship between hormones, diet and endocrine responsive tumors and has presented his work both nationally and internationally.
“It truly came as a surprise to be listed among a number of notable Black scientists, including Dr. E. Lisako McKyer of Texas A&M as well as many of Black scientists I have mentored over the years,” he said.
“As my mentor, Dr. Howard Bern once said, ones’ greatest legacy to science is not the work that you do, or the honors you receive, but the people you leave behind to continue the work needed. It is truly an honor to have this honor recognized by the institution(s) you are affiliated it with. It goes a long way to illustrate that you are valued by that institution and that future Black faculty will be valued. In that way, you have enhanced your chances of attracting and maintaining minority faculty. The key is maintaining. It is only through a diverse and respected faculty will we be able eliminate health inequities.”
Dr. Roderic I. Pettigrew
Pettigrew serves as chief executive officer of Engineering Health (EnHealth) and executive dean for the Engineering Medicine (EnMed) program at Texas A&M University, in partnership with Houston Methodist Hospital. He also holds the endowed Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry and is a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
An internationally recognized leader in biomedical imaging and bioengineering, Pettigrew served as the first director for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at National Institutes of Health. Prior to his appointment at the NIH, he joined Emory University School of Medicine as a professor of radiology and Georgia Institute of Technology as a professor of bioengineering. Pettigrew is well-known for pioneering four-dimensional imaging of the cardiovascular system using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In addition to his numerous achievements, he is an elected member to both the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering and is the 2020 recipient of the National Science Board’s prestigious Vannevar Bush Award.
“I have always been driven by problem solving with the goal of advancing the well-being of people,” Pettigrew said.
”The more challenging the problem and more impactful the solution, the more exciting and satisfying. At the end of the day, it’s all about improving the lives of all who live on this planet.”
Dr. Yava Jones-Hall
Jones-Hall joined the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ (CVM) Department of Veterinary Pathobiology as an associate professor. She earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine and completed her veterinary anatomic pathology residency at Michigan State University. She went on to obtain her Ph.D. at Michigan State through the National Institutes of Health’s Comparative Biomedical Scientist Training Program.
She previously served in the U.S. Army Veterinary Corps and commanded all veterinary operations for the capital city of Kabul when her unit was deployed to Afghanistan in 2006.
Jones-Hall came to Texas A&M from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University, where she was a tenured associate professor.
At Texas A&M, she serves as director of the Histology Core Laboratory where she works in digital and experimental pathology. She conducts research on colitis and inflammatory bowel disease. She has a variety of research collaborations within the college and across campus.
“It is both surprising and amazing to be selected; it was nice to see veterinary medicine represented,” she said. “Diversity in veterinary medicine as an important concept. The reality is, the world is not homogeneous; once you have diversity within any program, you get diverse ideas. We need our students to be exposed to working with different types of people to have cultural sensitivity and understand that not everybody is like you.”
Guiseppi-Elie, formerly of Texas A&M, was named founding dean of the Anderson University College of Engineering in August of 2020. He also serves as vice president of industry relations and as University Distinguished Professor.
He joined Anderson University following his service as the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) professor of engineering in the College of Engineering. He also is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
At Texas A&M, Guiseppi-Elie was head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and associate dean of engineering innovation. He holds degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology and the University of the West Indies. His previous honors include being named a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), where he served as vice president of the Industry Council and as chair-elect and chair of the College of Fellows.
His teaching and research interests include bionanotechnology, interfacing of biology and engineering from the molecular to the tissue scale, and applications of semiconductor fabrication techniques to biomedical engineering and academic entrepreneurship, all applied to solving health problems such as neurostimulation, neuroregeneration, chronic wound healing, and hemorrhaging trauma management. He has been involved in three separate startups that have licensed his technologies.
“I am honored to have played a role in advancing the College of Engineering as department head of biomedical engineering and later as founding associate dean of innovation for Engineering Medicine (ENMED),” he said. “I am deeply honored to be named alongside some of our nation’s most accomplished scientist/engineers.”