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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

University aims to expand research opportunities with new leadership appointments

Article Originally Published by Ryan Cantrell on North Texas Daily

Article Originally Published by Ryan Cantrell on North Texas Daily

The university’s Research and Innovation department announced three new appointments to its leadership team with hopes of expanding research opportunities for students and faculty. 

“Opportunities like this at a tier one research institution don’t come along every day,” said Aaron Roberts, professor of environmental toxicology and one of the appointees. “I’m honored to have been chosen and am excited about the new challenge.” 

Alongside Roberts, Amie Lund and Chandra Carey were tapped for leadership roles in the department. All three appointees hope to expand the university’s research capabilities as a tier one institution. Roberts will be succeeding Pamela Padilla, who was recently appointed the new College of Science dean, as associate vice president of Research and Innovation. Before his appointment, Roberts served as director of the university’s Advanced Environmental Research Institute. 

“I have been fortunate enough to work with Dr. Roberts as my research advisor for the past three years,“  said Rachel Leads, doctoral student in biological sciences. “Dr. Roberts is an excellent scientist and administrator. He advocates for students, maintains a productive research program and provides invaluable guidance.”

Corey Green, a Ph.D. student studying under Roberts, said Roberts is not afraid to apply for grant opportunities that seem unattainable.

“[Roberts] and his lab have always been well funded because he puts in a massive effort to get grant money and isn’t afraid of straying away from what he has always done,” Green said. “His diverse experience and knowledge of research gives him a unique perspective and allows him to connect dots that I think others would have trouble connecting.”

Lund will serve as the director of AERI, succeeding Roberts. She has been a member of AERI since joining the university in 2012 and hopes to provide students with a mentor-oriented experience in research projects. 

“One of my goals as AERI director is to create more mentored-based opportunities for undergraduates who would like to be involved in research within AERI,” Lund said. “I plan to establish a ‘pilot grant’ type of funding to help support undergraduate researchers in AERI faculty laboratories. My hope is that the pilot grants can help offset some research-related costs and allow faculty to provide more mentored research experiences.”

Dannielle Phillippi, a Ph.D. candidate studying under Lund, said the new AERI director is an extraordinary leader and a strong communicator. 

“[Lund] is one of the most intelligent, benevolent [and] passionate people I have ever had to the pleasure knowing and working for her has been one of my greatest honors,” Phillippi said. “As a mentor, she has an incredible way of building you up and making sure your scientific curiosity never fades. She has always welcomed undergraduate researchers into our lab to gain experience and learn fundamental laboratory skills.”

Carey is a professor of rehabilitation and health services at the College of Health and Public Service and was appointed a faculty fellow for Research and Innovation. Carey joined the university as a faculty member in 2009 and hopes to generate easier access to resources that can move forward with research into critical areas such as mental health, health equity and rehabilitation.

“As a tier one [hispanic and minority serving] research institution, I have great faith in the ability of UNT to be at the forefront of issues surrounding racial and ethnic equity in research,” Carey said. ” In order to maintain our focus on [moving to the top half of R1 ranked universities], social scientists have to be included at every level of the research apparatus at UNT. I’m hoping that my role as a faculty fellow will contribute a new perspective into social science research and amplify the value of a social science lens at every level.”

Carey said she is also currently awaiting the status of a grant proposal from the National Science Foundation to examine the psychological and social repercussions of police violence. Carey and fellow faculty members Tony Carey and Jody Sundt are working on a study on this subject.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

Source: North Texas Daily

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