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Research Development Academy Launches First Class

Five faculty members from across the UT campus have been selected to participate in the inaugural class of the Research Development Academy (RDA). The RDA focuses on empowering each participant to advance their research, scholarship, and/or creative activities, especially those activities identified in departmental promotion and tenure guidelines. Funding for the program comes from the Office of Diversity and Engagement and is co-hosted by the Office of Research and Engagement.

Elizabeth D. Barker, assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering. Barker’s research leverages interdisciplinary knowledge of device design, biomaterials engineering, and polymer characterization. She plans to design and develop novel polymer materials for implant devices and drug delivery that can be used by physicians to improve patients’ lives, serving as a link between engineering and medicine.

Stefanie Benjamin, assistant professor of retail, hospitality, and tourism management. Benjamin’s research focuses on social and cultural issues of sustainable tourism including marginalized and unrepresented voices within tourism, informed by critical race theory. She uses novel methodologies to understand how power and politics shape tourism, the lived experiences of underrepresented and marginalized groups, and how tourism is marketed.

Lyndsey M. Hornbuckle-Lampkin, assistant professor of kinesiology, recreation and sport studies. Hornbuckle-Lampkin, an exercise physiologist, works to make a positive impact on health disparities in underserved populations, with a particular focus on African-Americans. Her research focuses on the influence of physical activity and exercise on cardiometabolic disease risk, as well as factors that facilitate long-term exercise adherence.

Anchalee (Joy) Panigabutra-Roberts, head of cataloging and associate professor for UT Libraries. Panigabutra-Roberts will address critical research areas needed in cataloging metadata, focusing on a knowledge mapping project and ontologies, identity management, and linked data, which have applications beyond libraries, including popular internet resources such as IMDb. Coupled with artificial intelligence, this research can further transdisciplinary research.

Jason L. Scott, assistant professor of kinesiology, recreation and sport studies. Scott is a social scientist with an interest in the health and wellness of professionals and marginalized populations. His research delves into three primary areas: professional issues in therapeutic recreation, leisure behavior of marginalized populations, and adaptive sport participation for individuals with disabilities.

“These researchers are committed to maximizing their potential with the training the RDA will provide,” says Kimberly Eck, assistant vice chancellor of research development.

Eck encourages other faculty who self-identify as underrepresented by virtue of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or other factors, and who have the potential to contribute to the university’s discovery mission, to consider applying to the program next year.

The RDA was created to empower faculty from diverse backgrounds to advance their research, scholarship, and/or creative activities. The one-year program, commencing in January 2020, offers one-on-one coaching sessions with Eck, discussions with department heads, support from research development staff, and internal funding to pursue a research development activity or small project.

For more information on this or other ORE programs that seek to empower faculty, please contact Eck at