Monday, June 24, 2024

New leaders to further catalyze UTSA’s growth in research and development

New leaders to further catalyze UTSA’s growth in research and development

JUNE 24, 2024 — The UTSA Office of Research has added two leaders who will be key to streamlining processes, securing resources and bolstering support for the university’s researchers. Lori Schultz is now serving in a new role as senior associate vice president for research administration. Diana Huffaker has been named the associate vice president for research partnerships and strategy. She will join the UTSA research team on July 1.

“These positions are mission critical as UTSA continues to expand its knowledge enterprise and establish itself as a Tier One research university,” said JoAnn Browning, UTSA interim vice president for research. “Lori and Diana will manage a range of essential functions, from pursuing new funding sources to overseeing research integrity at our institution. I’m thrilled to welcome such talented and experienced new members to the team, and I look forward to collaborating with them.”

Schultz’s new role and the addition of Huffaker are representative of the substantial growth of UTSA’s research enterprise.

“These positions are mission critical as UTSA continues to expand its knowledge enterprise and establish itself as a Tier One research university.”

Research expenditures at UTSA reached an all-time high in 2023, with the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute, Brain Health Consortium, South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute collectively accounting for 50.7% of that spending. UTSA houses 30 centers and institutes dedicated to research, innovation and economic development.

UTSA has also received numerous prestigious inductions and recognitions in the past year, including National Research University Fund (NRUF) eligibility and membership in the Universities Space Research Association.The UT System ranked number three in the NAI list, Top 100 U.S. Universities Granted Utility Patents in 2023. The faculty at UTSA includes 13 AAAS Fellows, nine Fulbright Scholars and 12 NAI Senior Members.

Lori Schultz

Schultz brings extensive experience in higher education and research operations leadership to her role. She joined UTSA from the University of Arizona, where she worked in research-related positions for nearly 30 years. Most recently, she served as assistant vice president for research intelligence. She is an experienced leader with a proven track record of intelligence and research security, capacity building, and pandemic response. She has also produced 23 publications and presentations on research, strategy and funding.

Schultz will advise senior leadership and partner with faculty and staff to design, refine, implement and highlight the services, programs and policies that are advancing UTSA's position as a leader in world-class research. As the university’s status as a Tier One research university grows, so too will the opportunities to attract and retain additional world-class faculty.

"My role is to support researchers to interpret and comply with federal research policies, which are subject to frequent updates,” said Schultz. “For example, soon federal agencies will release a set of regulations, titled 'Research Security Program Standards,' and this will affect all researchers working with federal funding. I hope to make that transition as seamless as possible."

Schultz added, “These standards impact how faculty disclose information about their activities through the conflict-of-interest process and in their proposal applications to federal agencies. The role of my team is to help translate the changes and help faculty understand their role in compliance. The standards also impact faculty who travel internationally for their research,” she said.

Schultz oversees five offices within the UTSA Office of Research, including Sponsored Projects, Research Integrity and Infrastructure, Contracts and Industrial Agreements, Research Finance and Operations, and Research IT and Business Intelligence.

"This position was created to promote research growth by executing effective, efficient and service-oriented research administration operations and support across the institution,” said Browning. “Lori has the mastery of streamlining complex organizations and the deep understanding of the research landscape to make these improvements a reality.”

Schultz is also developing a strategic plan for research administration, including advising the vice president for research on strategic investments and initiatives and providing data and reports to support research faculty.

She will represent UTSA at the Council of Government Relations and the Federal Demonstration Partnership. She is also a member of the National Council of University Research Administrators, the Society of Research Administrators International, and serves on the board of directors of Open Researcher and Contributor ID.

“I am excited to work with UTSA leadership to continue building a research enterprise that serves our students, community, the nation and the world,” said Schultz. “I want to contribute to the work that makes UTSA a thriving, Tier One research institution.”

Diana Huffaker

Huffaker most recently served as the associate vice president for research at The University of Texas at Arlington. She also served there as the chair of the Electrical Engineering Department from 2020 to 2023. Prior to her time at UT-Arlington, Huffaker worked at Cardiff University in the U.K. for five years.

She attributes much of her leadership, government and industrial relations expertise to this experience, during which time she served as founding director of the Institute for Compound Semiconductors (ICS), a roughly $150 million project. She also held the prestigious EU/Welsh Government Sêr Cymru chair in advanced materials and engineering, overseeing a portfolio of $16 million. 

Huffaker's track record in research leadership began at UCLA where she served as professor of electrical engineering for over nine years. Throughout her career, she has attracted more than $30 million in research dollars, co-authored over 300 refereed journal publications with more than 13,000 citations, and obtained nine U.S. patents and one U.K. patent.

She is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the National Security and Science Engineering Faculty (Vannevar-Bush Faculty Fellowship) and the Humboldt Society. She is an active participant in the technical community, having served in leadership roles for many international societies including the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, the American Society for Engineering Education and Women in Science.

Learn more about the UTSA Office of Research

Huffaker will lead strategic planning for large initiatives and proposals, guide centers and institutes at UTSA and oversee core research labs, specialized research facilities and the new Office of Commercialization and Innovation. She will lead a team of staff focused on growing the funded research portfolio of UTSA and serve as a liaison to external research partnerships at the local, regional and national level to maintain close working relationships with the City of San Antonio, The University of Texas System and key federal and industry partners.

“We see a growing demand for research that is done in partnership. As we expand to meet that demand, it’s critical to have an experienced leader cultivating and managing those relationships with industry and government,” said Browning. “Diana’s experience managing large research projects and collaborating with partners across sectors and national borders aligns perfectly with this role.”

Audrey Gray

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