COVID-19 Research & Faculty ExpertsApril 22, 2020
Several UTSA faculty are conducting innovative research on topics related to COVID-19. Their areas of expertise are below, and all are available to discuss the impacts of the virus.
News media requests for interviews with faculty members should be directed to Joe Izbrand, Chief Communications Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Infectious Disease and Drug Discovery
The South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases
Karl E. Klose, Ph.D.
Professor, College of Sciences, Biology
Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg College of Sciences Professorship
Expertise: Bacterial pathogenesis; Microbiology and Immunology, Francisella tularensis, Vibrio cholera
Dr. Klose is interested in bacterial pathogenesis – how bacteria cause disease. He has worked most extensively with Vibrio cholerae, the bacterium that causes cholera, and is also researching Francisella tularensis, the bacterium that causes tularemia, or rabbit fever. He is the Director of the South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID), and host of microTalk.
Bernard Arulanandam, Ph.D., MBA
Professor and Vice President for Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise
Jane & Roland Blumberg Professorship in Biology
Expertise: Chlamydia; Infectious Diseases; Microbiology and Immunology; STEM Education; Vaccine Development and Commercialization; cellular immunology; microbial pathogenesis; mucosal immunity.
Dr. Arulanandam’s lab studies the basic mechanisms of immune defenses at mucosal sites. Mucosal surfaces form the major interface between the host and the environment, and constitute the first line of defense against bacterial pathogens.
Jose L. Lopez-Ribot, Pharm.D., Ph.D.
Professor and Associate Dean for Research
Margaret Batts Tobin Distinguished Chair in Biotechnology
Expertise: antifungal drug development; high throughput screening; immunopathogenesis of fungal infections; medical mycology; microbial biofilms.
Dr. Lopez-Ribot provides important insights into the manner of development of candidiasis (type of yeast), the main fungal infection affecting an increasing number of immune- and medically-compromised patients.
The Center for Innovative Drug Discovery
Stan McHardy, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, College of Sciences, Chemistry
Director, Center for Innovative Drug Discovery
Expertise: Medicinal chemistry; Small molecule drug discovery in cancer, infectious disease, and neuroscience areas; Synthesis of natural products; Synthetic methodology
Dr. McHardy focuses on various small molecule approaches to cancer, psychotherapeutic and neurodegenerative diseases, and infectious disease. He is the director of the Center for Innovative Drug Discovery.
Doug Frantz, Ph.D.
Professor, College of Sciences, Chemistry
Max and Minnie Tomerlin Voelcker Distinguished Professorship in Chemistry
Expertise: Drug discovery and development; GMP and GLP large-scale synthesis; medicinal chemistry; IND-enabling studies; formulation development; infectious diseases; cancer; chronic pain;
Dr. Frantz research interests include the rational design and efficient synthesis of small molecule pre-clinical candidates in a range of therapeutic areas including infectious diseases, cancer, chronic pain and neurodegeneration. He has over 20 years of industrial and academic experience in the pharmaceutical sciences.
UTSA Genomics Core
Brian Hermann, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, College of Sciences, Biology
Director of Genomics Core
Expertise: Single-cell transcriptome stem cells genomics gene regulation development
Dr. Hermann primarily focuses on male germline stem cells and spermatogenesis, and male fertility. He has built a strong reputation utilizing cutting-edge single-cell genomics to address experimental needs. As director of the Genomics Core, he can leverage this expertise in combination with STCEID’s expertise to address immunogenetic questions emerging in COVID-19 patients.
Artificial Intelligence, Analytics and Disease Modeling
Amina Qutub, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, College of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering
Expertise: systems biology human daily behavior brain health neurology biomarkers computational modeling, AI mathematical modeling
Dr. Qutub focuses on the development of new computational methods and experimental analyses to uncover design principles of human cells during growth and regeneration and transform the treatment of hematological cancers and neurovascular diseases.
Hongjie Xie, Ph.D.
Professor and Department Chair, College of Sciences, Geological Sciences
Expertise: GIS mapping, spatial data science, remote sensing, climate change, hydrosphere and cryosphere
Dr. Xie applies his technical expertise to address spatio-temporal patterns and processes through quantitative analysis and modeling in various disciplines, by integrating remote sensing, GIS, field measurements to geology, agriculture, surface hydrology, terrestrial ecosystems, hydrometeorology, urban development, cryosphere, and environmental studies.
Juan B. Gutierrez, Ph.D.
Professor, College of Science, Mathematics
Expertise: Multi-scale modeling of infectious disease, from between-host (epidemiology) to the within host dynamics (bioinformatics) of infectious disease. Harmonization of large and heterogeneous data sets. Foundations and applications of neural networks.
Dr. Gutiérrez conducts transdisciplinary research at the point of convergence of mathematics, computer science, statistics, and biomedical sciences. His lab builds continuous analysis pipelines that integrate data across multiple scales. His work ranges from the theoretical realm to applied research in public health.
Dhireesha Kudithipudi, Ph.D.
Professor, College of Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering/Computer Science
Expertise: AI modeling, machine learning for classification and prediction, neuro-inspired AI for human well-being, domain-specific ML systems.
Dr. Kudithipudi focuses on the development of next generation AI algorithms and systems that are inspired by the neural processes. Her team develops end-to-end stack of AI & ML solutions for a wide range of application domains, in healthcare, defense, prediction, and artificial agents.
Adel Alaeddini, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, College of Engineering, Mechanical Engineering
Expertise: Big Data Analytics in Healthcare and Manufacturing, Statistical Learning in Systems Modeling and Control
Dr. Alaeddini focuses on optimizing the learning process in artificial intelligence and machine learning models to enable them to learn complex/new tasks more efficiently and effectively.
David Han, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, College of Business, Management Science & Statistics
Expertise: Bayesian inference, data analytics, epidemiology, network stochastics, risk management, spatio-temporal modeling
Dr. Han works on statistical modeling, data analytics and operations research in the areas of reliability, survival analysis, failure and degradation analyses with applications to biomedicine, renewable energy and engineering. He is currently focused on the development and implementation of a dynamic covariate-modulated network-based epidemics model under the stochastic Bayesian framework for forecasting and risk mitigation.
National Security and Cyber Security
Gregory White, Ph.D.
Professor, College of Sciences, Computer Science
Director, Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security
Expertise: Cybersecurity Cyber Attacks Phishing Ransomware Hoax
Dr. White is the director of the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security, with more than three decades in computer and network security, including 30 years in the Air Force and Air Force Reserves. He helped build the nation’s first undergraduate information warfare laboratory at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Howard Grimes, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President and Associate Vice Provost for Institutional Initiatives
Expertise: cybersecurity, manufacturing, supply chains, resilient cybersecurity
Dr. Grimes is focused on the U.S. Air Force’s resilient and pandemic-tested supply chains; continuing and expanding cybersecurity R&D in response to pandemic; and using of AI and machine learning to harden supply chains and manufacturing.
Mental Health and Wellness
Public Health, Public Policy and Societal Impact
Amy Chanmugam, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, College for Health, Community & Policy, Social Work
Expertise: Intimate partner violence; Family interventions and support services; Family systems & psychological trauma; Child abuse & neglect; Parent-child relationships; Adoption & foster care; School social work & school-based interventions
Dr. Chanmugam is researching the role of peer support for residents of domestic violence shelters and has conducted studies with child and adult shelter residents; and help-seeking for children's mental health care among domestic violence survivors. Working with Dr. Kellie Lynch (Criminology and Criminal Justice), they are examining threat appraisal, help-seeking and health among domestic violence survivors. Both serve on the Domestic Violence Adult Fatality Review Team of Bexar County (IPV homicides).
Monica Lawson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, College for Health, Community & Policy, Psychology
Expertise: Developmental psychology -At-risk youth and families; Child abuse and neglect; Family conflict and violence; Interviewing children about stressful experiences -Interventions promoting healthy development
Dr. Lawson focuses on the transactional nature through which interactions within families contribute to children’s behavioral, psychological, and physiological development, and examines how parent-child interactions within at-risk contexts, such as among maltreating families, families with conflict and violence (including domestic violence), and families living in chronic poverty, contribute to children’s developing autobiographical memory and self.
Leslie Neely, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA
Assistant Professor, College of Education and Human Development, Educational Psychology
Expertise: Telehealth Applied Behavior Analysis Training others in Telehealth Early Intervention for infants/toddlers at-risk for autism Treatment of Problem Behavior
Dr. Neely researches the use of telehealth to provide continuity of medically necessary applied behavior analytic therapy. She also has expertise in the treatment of severe behavior for individuals with autism and developmental disabilities. She currently is investigating the integration of artificial intelligence into the very early diagnosis and treatment of autism and has recently pivoted to telehealth modality for this project (Project PLAAY www.projectplaay.org).
Thankam Sunil, Ph.D.
Professor, College for Health, Community & Policy, Public Health
Expertise: Non-pharmaceutical interventions, threat perception, perceived vulnerability, vaccination, influenza, preparedness
Dr. Sunil is currently working on knowledge, threat perception and non-pharmaceutical interventions among college youths in San Antonio
Zenong Yin, Ph.D.
Professor, College for Health, Community & Policy, Public Health
Expertise: Chronic disease prevention and management, lifestyle modification, health promotion, health disparities, obesity, diabetes
The UTSA Mobile Health Laboratory (Dr. Yin, Director), a 38-foot customized mobile home is equipped to conduct data collection for surveillance and health screening and perform community outreach activities. Dr. Yin’s team currently is examining the impact of a mind-body exercise program on the quality of life and perceived stress induced by COVID-19 pandemic compared to attention control in older low-income community-dwelling adults. .
Kellie Lynch, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, College for Health, Community & Policy, Criminology and Criminal Justice
Expertise: Correlates and consequences of various forms of victimization; implementation of laws, policies, and criminal justice responses related to such forms of victimization; help-seeking among victims of crime; and psychosocial factors that impact legal decision-making in cases of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault.
Dr. Lynch’s research is focused on domestic violence; intimate partner homicide; gun violence; sexual assault; stalking; and violence law and policy. She has worked with domestic violence shelter victims and community stakeholders on a range of projects investigating the impact and prevention of domestic violence in the community. Working with Dr. Amy Chanmugam (Social Work), they are examining threat appraisal, help-seeking and health among domestic violence survivors. Both serve on the Domestic Violence Adult Fatality Review Team of Bexar County (IPV homicides).
Jon Taylor, Ph.D.
Professor and Department Chair, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, Political Science and Geography
Expertise: Emergency and Disaster Management; Chinese politics; Chinese foreign policy
Dr. Taylor is currently researching COVID-19 deaths in red states versus blue states and whether ideology is playing a role in shelter-in-place orders. He is also investigating the effects of sprawl and COVID-19 to determine if metro area density per square mile/kilometer is impacting the death rate.
Cindy Ermus, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, College of Liberal and Fine Arts, History
Expertise: History of disasters and crisis management; epidemics and pandemics; 18th-century Europe and Atlantic World; Age of Revolutions
Dr. Ermus specializes in the history of disaster and disease in 18th-century Europe and the Atlantic World. She is currently completing a book project examining the 1720 Plague of Provence (the "Great Plague of Marseille"), one of the last outbreaks of plague in Western Europe.
Michael Villarreal, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, College of Education and Human Development, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Direct of the Urban Education Institute
Expertise: Education policy, applied research and program evaluation
Dr. Villarreal is the founding director of the Urban Education Institute, an education-research-practice partnership that includes school districts, policy leaders, philanthropists and educators in the greater San Antonio area. With research interests in the quantitative evaluation of education policies and programs, he has embarked on an evaluation of the San Antonio digital divide as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ann Marie Ryan
Professor and Chair, College of Education and Human Development, Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching
Expertise: History of education, teacher education, and curriculum and instruction
Dr. Ryan is a historian of education and a teacher educator. She researches the history of public and Roman Catholic schooling in the U.S. in the early to mid-20th century. Her focus is on the intersections between Catholic education and public education reform movements. This includes the examination of policy issues such as standardization, accreditation, educational measurement and educational funding.
Vanessa Sansone, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, College of Education and Human Development, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Expertise: Higher education policy and program evaluation
Dr. Sansone, a first-generation college student, studies issues that advance equity and success for diverse student populations in higher education. Her current scholarly interests focus on college affordability, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, governance and the geography of postsecondary opportunity, especially in connection with students from Latina/o, military-affiliated and rural backgrounds.
Shannon Marlow, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, College of Business, Management
Expertise: Leadership; teamwork; team processes; team performance; self-managed teams; team training; leadership training
Dr. Marlow's research focuses on teamwork, training, and leadership in any organizational setting, with a particular focus on expanding theory and evidence related to the influence of team processes and emergent states on outcomes such as team performance.
UTSA Researchers Making COVID-19 News
Chicago Latinos see higher rates of COVID-19 infections
Associated Press, May 22, 2020
Artificial intelligence: why students need to learn digital skills to compete
The Guardian, May 21, 2020
Coronavirus may have caused hundreds of additional deaths in Florida
Tampa Bay Times, May 20, 2020
San Antonio’s population growth ranked second largest in nation
San Antonio Express-News, May 20, 2020
7 ways the workforce might change after the coronavirus pandemic
Rivard Report, May 20, 2020
Research, Economic Development, and Knowledge Enterprise
Corporate and Foundation Relations
The MATRIX AI Consortium for Human Well-Being conducts transformative research in the design and deployment of AI to enhance human life with an emphasis on neuro-AI, machine learning implementation, augmenting human capabilities, and securing AI. Visit the consortium's COVID-19 Research & Recovery website >>
South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases
UTSA’s South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID) focuses on molecular microbiology, immunology, medical mycology, virology, microbial genomics, vaccine development and biodefense. One of the major areas of emphasis is on the pathogenic mechanisms of emerging infectious diseases.
Center for Innovative Drug Discovery
The Center for Innovative Drug Discovery (CIDD), a joint venture between UTSA and UT Health San Antonio, facilitates the translation of basic scientific discoveries into tangible pre-clinical candidate drugs that can be further developed into clinical therapies for human disease. The CIDD provides expertise related to small molecule drug discovery and pre-clinical development.