Thursday, January 4, 2024

UTSA Academy of Distinguished Researchers inducts two faculty members

UTSA Academy of Distinguished Researchers inducts two faculty members

SEPTEMBER 20, 2023 — The UTSA Academy of Distinguished Researchers (ADR) has announced two new inductees: Joycelyn Moody, a professor in the UTSA Department of English, and Astrid Cardona, professor and chair of the UTSA Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology.

Chaired by Hamid Beladi, the Janey S. Briscoe Endowed Chair in Business and professor of economics in the Carlos Alvarez College of Business, the academy is comprised of 26 faculty members who represent a variety of disciplines in the arts, humanities, social sciences, engineering, business and sciences.

“Research excellence adds to our student’s knowledge base and allows the next generation of leaders to build on the intellectual discovery. The research conducted by our faculty brings the recognition and reward to our students in the classroom and reinforces the value of a world class education. Research excellence acts as a magnet that attracts more top scholars from across the world,” Beladi said.

“We are inducting two outstanding faculty scholars from across the university in 2023.”

Through a rigorous nomination process, the ADR selects members who foster the highest quality of research and scholarly activity. 

“The UTSA Academy of Distinguished Researchers received several nominations from across our colleges this past year,” Beladi explained. “We are inducting two outstanding faculty scholars from across the university in 2023. The Academy is dedicated to fostering a culture of exceptional research practices at UTSA and creating a collective of faculty advocates for research excellence who also serve as an inspiration and resource for their colleagues.”

Beladi welcomed the new members, stating, “On behalf of the Academy and the entire research community at UTSA, congratulations on your scholarly achievements. We thank you for your dedication to excellence in research and for your continued commitment to UTSA.”

Moody joined UTSA in 2007 as the Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature. Her research interests encompass African American literature and culture. In 2010, she developed the African American Literatures and Cultures Institute (AALCI) at UTSA to pursue these interests and foster them in future generations of underrepresented students.

For 12 years, the three-week summer residency program has prepared over 75 promising college juniors for graduate school. Many of the students mentored in this program are now graduate students in programs all around the country. Several have earned PhDs, and, of these, a few are now in tenure-track positions.

Moody’s research contributions have contributed to UTSA’s attainment of the Carnegie R1 designation. For nearly four decades, she has researched African American literary and cultural studies. She is one of the nation’s leading experts on nineteenth century Black American personal nonfiction, including diaries, journals, narratives of enslavement, biographies and memoirs. She keynoted at the biennial conference of the Society of Early Americanists in 2021 and served as editor of “A History of African American Biography” and as chief editor of the encyclopedic Cambridge University Press series “African American Literature in Transition,” which has become the standard resource on African American literatures from 1750 to the present. 

Most recently, Moody was the recipient of the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Society and Culture from the University of Alberta (2022-2023). Additional accolades include the American Literature Association’s Octavia E. Butler Award for Outstanding Contributions to Scholarship on Black Women Writers (2023) and the UTSA Alumni Association Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award (2013). She is also a three-time awardee for the UTSA Presidential Diversity Award (2012, 2016 and 2019).

Moody’s Fulbright project allowed her to examine how to establish a formal research center dedicated to literature, specifically transnational Black life writing, with a focus on slave narratives and life writing. Moody also investigated global forms of Black self-representation to design and establish this institutional research site in the U.S.

Cardona joined UTSA in 2009 as a researcher in the field of innate immunity and neuroimmunology, and she has since received numerous awards and recognitions in her career, including her recent appointment as the Jane & Roland Blumberg Professor in Biology. She is also known for her intense dedication to training the next generation of scientists.

Cardona’s lab is focused on understanding the mechanism of tissue damage in diseases such as multiple sclerosis and diabetic retinopathy, which may lead to breakthrough discoveries in therapeutics. Her scholarly achievements reflect her excellence in collaboration. Her cutting-edge research ideas are recognized by leaders in her field, international societies and her colleagues at UTSA.  She has built a noteworthy publication and citation record, served on journal editorial boards and received sustained funding.

As a complement to her research success, Cardona is a key leader and head of the newly formed UTSA Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI). In this role, she leads more than 30 faculty members and researchers to growing the microbiology and immunology academic programs and broadening the department’s research portfolio to address the most pressing challenges in the fields of infectious disease, immunology and vaccine development.


Today, MMI is a growing enterprise in the College of Sciences and continues to gain national recognition, including for innovative research programs like Cardona’s.

The ADR was established in 2015 to honor outstanding faculty scholars, to share UTSA’s commitment to research excellence and to promote the institution’s growth as a premier public research university. The Academy is dedicated to fostering a culture of exceptional research practices at UTSA and creating a collective of faculty advocates.

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