Dr. Rupa Iyer Named Tarleton’s First-ever AAAS Fellow

STEPHENVILLE, Texas — Dr. Rupa Iyer, Tarleton State University Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Development, has been recognized as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society.

“AAAS is excited to announce the newest class of fellows from across the scientific enterprise in a tradition dating back nearly 150 years, and to honor their broad range of achievements,” said Sudip Parikh, AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals.

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Dr. Rupa Iyer

Dr. Iyer is among the more than 500 scientists, engineers and innovators who have been elected 2022 fellows for their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements. She is the first AAAS fellow from Tarleton.

“I am incredibly honored to be elected as a fellow of AAAS,” she said. “I am humbled by this recognition and proud to be included in this distinguished group of individuals. I am most grateful to my colleagues and my mentors, who have guided and supported me, and my students who have inspired me to continue my commitment to science and public impact research.”

Dr. Iyer began her career at Wharton County Junior College before joining the University of Houston, where she served as Professor of biotechnology, Founding Director of biotechnology programs, and Director of the Center for Life Sciences Technology.

“It’s no surprise that Dr. Iyer has been named Tarleton’s first AAFS fellow,” said university President James Hurley. “Her accomplishments as a scientist and forward thinker make her an ideal choice. We have aspirations to be the foremost university in faculty-led student research at the national level, and this honor further solidifies our confidence that she has the experience to get us there.” 

The Gulf Coast/Houston chapter of the Association for Women in Science gave Dr. Iyer its Outstanding Women in Science Award in 2020 in recognition of her leadership, mentoring and commitment to STEM education, research and careers. She is a Research Leader fellow of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities Council on Research. She served as National Science Foundation Program Director in Alexandria, Va., in 2017-19 and has received numerous teaching, research and service accolades, including the University of Houston’s highest teaching honor, the Distinguished Leadership in Teaching award.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in life sciences from St. Xavier’s College in India, a master’s in biotechnology from the University of Mumbai (India) and a PhD from Michigan State University. She conducted postdoctoral research at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston through the University of Texas. Her research is in soil microbiome exposure and adaptation to xenobiotic compounds, and its implications and applications in biotechnology. 

Election as an AAAS fellow is a lifetime honor. Distinguished past honorees include W.E.B. DuBois, Ellen Ochoa, Steven Chu, Grace Hopper, Mae Jemison and Ayanna Howard.

Joining the fellows ranks last year were roboticist Ayanna Howard, actor and science communicator Alan Alda, and molecular biologist Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado.

To learn more about AAAS, see www.aaas.org.

A founding member of The Texas A&M System, Tarleton State is breaking records — in enrollment, research, scholarship, athletics, philanthropy and engagement — while transforming the lives of more than 16,000 students in Stephenville, Fort Worth, Waco, Bryan and online. True to Tarleton’s values of excellence, integrity and respect, academic programs emphasize real world learning and address regional, state and national needs.