By Angel Futrel
Scholarship. This seemingly elusive word, best defined as the creation of new knowledge, excites faculty members. It motivates them to further their research. It inspires them to share their findings. It brings the best of the best to Texas A&M University.
Excellence in scholarship is also a commonality among those named University Distinguished Professors, one of the highest honors bestowed by Texas A&M University. This year, two faculty members – Dr. Robert Chapkin and Dr. Jeffrey Savell – from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences have joined this elite group.
Dr. Robert Chapkin
Dr. Chapkin, a Regents Professor and University Faculty Fellow, is a member of both the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences and the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics.
Along with teaching classes on the scientific principles of nutrition and advanced nutritional biochemistry, Dr. Chapkin also oversees laboratory investigations of the impact of dietary fat and fiber on the cellular “signaling cascades” in the colon.
Dr. Chapkin’s research centers on colon cancer prevention by investigating the impact of dietary fat, fiber, and folate status on disease processes. Experiments done by himself and collaborative researchers are designed to examine the effects of nutrients on the inhibition or activation of genes that are involved in the development of cancer in humans.
“Dr. Chapkin’s contributions to the field of the chemoprevention of cancer have been exceptional and merit serious consideration,” wrote Dr. Joanne Lupton, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science, in her nomination of Dr. Chapkin.
In his research, Dr. Chapkin has demonstrated the impact of omega-3 fatty acids on the transmission of information that alters physiological responses that ultimately determine the risk for developing colon cancer.
He also has developed non-invasive methodology for monitoring global changes in intestinal gene expression, which has generated a patent as well as a National Institutes of Health initiated and sponsored clinical intervention trial. He and research collaborators are also investigating the mechanisms by which dietary lipids and phytochemicals affect the immune system, including the role of lipids as mediators of chronic inflammation.
Dr. Chapkin also has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Osborne and Mendel Award from the American Society for Nutrition, NASA Space Act Award and Bio Serv Award in Experimental Animal Nutrition from the American Society of Nutrition.
“Over the past 24 years, (Dr. Chapkin’s) discoveries have had an enormous impact on our understanding of the diet/colon cancer relationship and how changes in the diet can reduce the risk of this pervasive cancer,” Dr. Lupton stated.
Dr. Jeffrey Savell
Dr. Jeffrey Savell is a Regents Professor and E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chairholder in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M and holder of the Cintron University Professorship in Undergraduate Teaching Excellence.
Dr. Savell has been recognized by The American Meat Science Association at the national and international levels, having received the Distinguished Research Award, Distinguished Teaching Award and Signal Service/American Meat Science Association Fellow Award, which is presented to preeminent scientists, educators and professionals in the meat science discipline. He has also received the highest award given by the American Meat Science Association, which is given for “extraordinary and lasting contributions to the meat and livestock Industry.”
In 2001, Dr. Savell was recognized by ISI HighlyCited.com as a “Highly Cited Researcher” for being one of the 250 most cited researchers in the world in the field of agricultural science. At the time, there was only one other meat scientist (a distinguished professor) who received this recognition.
Dr. Savell has an extremely high h-index of 42, which is the highest h-index for an active academic meat scientist in the world, according to Google Scholars. His work has been cited more than 5,725 times and he has published more than 300 articles in peer-refereed journals, as well as hundreds of AgriLife Extension publications and presentations, plus 19 book chapters.
According to his nomination, Dr. Savell’s research led to the production and marketing of leaner beef, meeting consumer demand for beef with less fat that is now marketed as “Select” beef.
His work also demonstrates the role of beef in a healthy diet and provided an economic incentive for the beef industry to produce leaner beef. In addition, he is considered to be a thought leader in the area of food safety and the implementation of programs to ensure the safety of meat products.
“Dr. Jeffrey Savell is truly an exceptional individual, teacher and scientist who is recognized nationally and internationally for seminal contributions to the field of meat science,” Dr. Russell Cross, head of the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M, wrote in the nomination.
“Dr. Savell is known globally as being among the top two percent of scientists in the field of meat science and is responsible for having trained many of the leading meat scientists in the world,” added Dr. Cross. “He is a phenomenal credit to his field of meat science and to Texas A&M University.”
Drs. Chapkin and Savell exemplify what it means to excel in scholarship. Both professors are more than deserving of the honor of University Distinguished Professors. Congratulations!
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Maggie Tucker at email@example.com or (979) 845-1542.