STEPHENVILLE — Following a rigorous national search,Dr. Rupa Iyer has been appointed the first Vice President for Research, Innovation and Economic Development at Tarleton State University, effective Feb. 2, 2021. A veteran higher education administrator and scholar, she will expand research opportunities while developing strategic partnerships to meet workforce demands and spur business activity statewide.
“Dr. Iyer’s accomplishments as a scientist and forward-thinker make her the ideal leader to take Tarleton’s commitment to research and innovation to the next level,” said university President James Hurley. “We aspire to be the foremost university in faculty-led student research at the national level, and she has the experience to get us there.”
Iyer will head the new Center for Research, Innovation and Economic Development. As founding director of biotechnology programs at the University of Houston in 2005, she generated millions of dollars in state and federal funding to develop research and education programs and to design laboratories.
She was selected one of eight rising national research leaders by the Association of Land Grant and Public Universities for 2019-21 and received the Outstanding Woman in Science Award from the Association of Women in Science in 2020 and the University of Houston’s Distinguished Leadership in Teaching award. She also served as program director for the National Science Foundation in Alexandria, Va., in 2017-19.
“I am thoroughly impressed by Tarleton’s level of commitment to research and creative expression,” she said. “What excites me most is the opportunity to help build the university’s research enterprise to foster scholarship and discovery at the second largest school in The Texas A&M University System.”
Tarleton is one of 119 colleges and universities nationwide to receive the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s prestigious 2020 Community Engagement Classification. Iyer said that presents an “opportunity to engage in collaborative partnerships and seek solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges facing rural communities through applied research and community outreach.”
Iyer began her career at Wharton County Junior College before joining the University of Houston, where she serves as Professor of Biotechnology, Founding Director of Biotechnology Programs, and Director of the Center for Life Sciences Technology.
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.