“Students are what the U of A is all about. If we want the students of Arkansas to have the best opportunities possible, then we need a top-notch faculty that is appropriately paid.”
– Ted (B.Arch. ’81) and Leslie Belden (B.Arch. ’79, Ph.D. ’05)
An Investment in Innovation
Jorge Almodovar is the head of the Almodovar Lab, a polymeric biomaterials lab at the University of Arkansas, that uses natural polymer-based materials in pursuit of methods to regenerate damaged nerves and tissue repair and even culture stem cells to be used as a therapeutic agent.
Almodovar came to the University of Arkansas in 2018 from the University of Puerto Rico, where he began his career as an independent researcher after earning degrees at Iowa State University and Colorado State University. At the U of A, he is the holder of the Ray C. Adam Chair in Chemical Engineering and says the endowed position was a strong motivator in his decision to come to the U of A. Thanks to his chair, he can offer student stipends to help with his research, travel to conferences and pay for the materials and equipment needed for his lab. Several students from the University of Puerto Rico followed Almodovar to Fayetteville to continue their research and work with him and a team of seven other chemical engineering students at the lab.
“The University of Arkansas has the necessary infrastructure to foster my research,” he said. “I have the facilities I need, and I’ve formed collaborative relationships with faculty in other colleges. The U of A is a good size, and it’s easy to meet people. There are many activities available to encourage participation with other faculty.”
Almodovar is an example of how faculty support enhances the student experience through life-changing opportunities through participation in cutting edge research. Thanks to his chair, students are given the opportunity to conduct their own research in his lab and contribute to his life-changing discoveries.
“It makes a significant difference to have this support,” he said. “To be successful in research, you have to have an investment. And this investment encourages me to do my best work and seek additional investments, so I can become successful in my field.”
Attract Talented Faculty
- To attract –and retain –key researchers, it is important to invest in our faculty, especially in the form of endowed chairs or fellowships.
- Scholarships often entice students to come to the University of Arkansas, and endowed faculty positions are incentives for faculty to join the university.
- The research being done by professors like Almodovar puts the University of Arkansas in the national spotlight and brings in critical research dollars. Their research is also inspiring and educational for the undergraduate and graduate students who work alongside them.