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UTSA announces 2020–2021 faculty endowed fellowship recipients

UTSA announces 2020–2021 faculty endowed fellowship recipients

SEPTEMBER 3, 2020 — UTSA Academic Affairs today named five faculty members who have been awarded endowed fellowships for the 2020–2021 academic year.

Whitney Chappell, Jackie Cuevas, Nikolaos Gatsis and Alexis Godet were selected to receive Lutcher Brown professorships and Peyman Najafirad (Paul Rad) was selected to receive a Peter T. Flawn professorship. These one-year, nonrecurring appointments, effective September 1, 2020, through August 31, 2021, come with substantive funding to accelerate the success of their research programs.

Earlier this summer a new competitive process was established by which recently tenured faculty were considered for one-year, universitywide honorific appointments to advance academic excellence. Each of these university-designated fellows were nominated by academic leadership and selected by the provost based on demonstrated excellence in research, unique contributions to their academic discipline, their service as a role model to students and fellow faculty, and their promotion to associate professor within the past two years.


“These competitive fellowship funds will allow the recipients to gain greater visibility and accelerate their path toward additional future success.”



“It is my distinct pleasure to be able to recognize these outstanding faculty members and support their rich and diverse scholarship,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “I hope that these competitive fellowship funds will allow the recipients to gain greater visibility and accelerate their path toward additional future success.”

Whitney ChappellChappell [←] is an associate professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. Her research focuses on the intersection of language and society with a particular focus on Spanish-speaking communities. She plans to use the funding from this fellowship for an oral history project to document the ways in which the coronavirus pandemic has altered lives within San Antonio’s Hispanic community.

Jackie CuevasCuevas [→], an associate professor and assistant chair in the Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality Studies, conducts research examining how Latinx writers imagine the relationship between race and gender. She teaches interdisciplinary courses on Latinx literary and cultural studies, gender studies and feminist theory. She also coordinates the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and directs the Women’s Studies Institute. She has proposed launching a virtual video podcast with Latinx writers to share her research in progress.

Nikolaos GatsisGatsis [←] is an associate professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. His research focuses on optimal and secure operation of smart power grids and other critical infrastructures, including water distribution networks and the Global Positioning System. Gatsis is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award.

Alexis GodetGodet [→], an associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, conducts research involving carbonate sedimentology and diagenesis to determine what the climate and its impact on shallow-marine ecosystems were like at a particular time and place in the past. He plans to use the funding from the fellowship to advance his research into two topics: (1) the mechanisms that favored the development of reservoir units in Late Cretaceous carbonate rocks of Texas, and (2) terrestrial analogs for the formation of sodium carbonate minerals described on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres by the Dawn Mission.

Paul RadNajafirad (Rad) [←], an associate professor in the Department of Information Systems and Cyber Security and Department of Computer Science, serves as director of UTSA’s Secure AI and Autonomy Laboratory, and co-founder and assistant director of the Open Cloud Institute at UTSA. He specializes in artificial intelligence and data analytics, with particular research interests in inference and causality using graphical and probabilistic deep models in applications such as computer vision, natural language understanding and cybersecurity. Since joining the UTSA faculty in 2016 from a senior leadership position at Rackspace, Rad has consistently been among the university’s top 10 faculty with regard to sponsored research awards each year.

The Lutcher Brown professorship was established in 2016 with funds from the Lutcher Brown Endowment for Academic Excellence. The Peter T. Flawn professorship is an honorific title with accompanying institutional support.

UTSA has 77 endowed chairs and professorships that recognize the scholarship and research of the institution’s most high achieving faculty scholars. The funding made available to each endowed faculty member is used to support existing and new scholarly activities and student academic success.

Matthew Boerger



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The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

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UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.

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The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.