Campus Life

Texas A&M Announces First Round Of Research Leadership Fellowships

Twelve faculty researchers earn one-year seed grants to assemble interdisciplinary teams and pursue groundbreaking research.
By Texas A&M University Research Communications and Public Relations May 11, 2023

Research Leadership Fellowships


Texas A&M University has selected 12 faculty researchers to receive seed grants totaling $900,000 in the first round of Research Leadership Fellowships (RLF), the Division of Research announced today.

The program is part of the collaborative research seed grant initiative ASCEND, which President M. Katherine Banks announced in her 2022 State of the University address.

The grants will provide initial funding for fellows and their interdisciplinary research teams to pursue knowledge and innovation that target lymphatic cancer, extreme weather, substance abuse, food shortages, viral pandemics, vascular disease, cyberattacks, supply-chain disruptions, virtual environments and other global challenges.

The new fellows represent 12 of the university’s 16 colleges and schools: agriculture and life sciences; architecture; arts and sciences; business; education and human development; engineering; medicine; nursing; performance, visualization and fine arts; pharmacy; public health; and veterinary medicine and biomedical sciences.

Designed to develop Texas A&M’s junior faculty into its future research leaders, RLF will distribute up to $1 million in seed grants annually. The university launched RLF in January 2023.

“The future of world-class research belongs to universities that build interdisciplinary teams of talented scholars and scientists and launch pioneering projects that address society’s greatest problems,” Banks said. “The Research Leadership Fellowships represent a strategic commitment to advance our research enterprise, further solidifying Texas A&M’s reputation as a top-tier research university.”

In addition, RLF is designed to enhance Texas A&M’s ability to secure research funding from external sources.

“Congratulations to these 12 outstanding researchers for becoming our first class of RLF fellows,” Vice President for Research Jack G. Baldauf said. “We look forward to the long-term impact their work will have on society and on the Texas A&M research enterprise.”

The following faculty members were selected as 2023 fellows:

  • Sanjukta Chakraborty, assistant professor, School of Medicine, will apply a chemical-biology approach toward developing new classes of therapeutics that selectively target metastatic cancers in lymph nodes.
  • Manish Dixit, associate professor, School of Architecture, will launch an institute that will apply innovations in artificial intelligence to make buildings more friendly to the environment and more resilient during disease pandemics or extreme weather.
  • Jodie Gary, assistant professor, School of Nursing, will study whether peer-support-specialist programs improve access to treatment and recovery services for substance-use disorder in rural communities.
  • Robert Hardin, assistant professor, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, plans to use data from robotic platforms to develop new ways of managing crop production and processing throughout the supply chain.
  • Sai Koka, associate professor, School of Pharmacy, will study the therapeutic potential of two small-molecule inflammasome inhibitors for treating atherosclerosis, stroke and other vascular diseases.
  • Yuming Lei, assistant professor, School of Education and Human Development, will study whether a customizable blend of transcranial ultrasound stimulation and neuroimaging techniques may improve functional-motor recovery in patients with subcortical stroke.
  • Meg Patterson, assistant professor, School of Public Health, will explore how social connectedness within The Phoenix, a non-profit organization that provides free group-based exercise programs to anyone in recovery from substance-use disorders, may influence and enhance the organization’s results.
  • Jeyavijayan Rajendran, assistant professor, College of Engineering, plans to develop comprehensive cybersecurity for industrial-control systems found in power plants, gas pipelines, oil refineries and nuclear facilities.
  • Edgar Rojas-Muñoz, assistant professor, School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts, will explore the artificial generation of virtual environments from real-life scenes by combining semantic-scene reconstruction with real-time parametric modeling in virtual reality.
  • Andres Jola-Sanchez, assistant professor, Mays Business School, will study how warfare affects the efficiency of supply chains and how companies respond to disruptions.
  • Xin Yan, assistant professor, College of Arts and Sciences, will develop a technological platform for analyzing large datasets of lipid profiles across different cells, tissues and organisms, which will aid in the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
  • Zhilong Yang, associate professor, School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, will advance the fundamental understanding of how the monkeypox virus replicates, which should contribute to developing novel antivirals for the pathogen.

Application for RLF is open to all tenured or tenure-track Texas A&M faculty at the levels of advanced assistant professor (four years in their position at time of submission) or early associate professor (within two years of promotion at the time of submission). To be considered, each applicant must receive a nomination from their dean or their dean’s delegate.

Media contact: Lesley Henton,

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