Professors elected to Academy of Distinguished Scholars

Ramon Lopez and Mike Nelson receive prestigious UTA award

Tuesday, May 14, 2024 • Katherine Egan Bennett : contact

Michael Nelson
Michael Nelson, right, with colleagues

The University of Texas at Arlington has elected two longtime professors to the Academy of Distinguished Scholars, considered the University’s most prestigious research and scholarship honor.

Ramon Lopez, professor of physics, and Michael D. Nelson, associate professor of kinesiology, are being recognized for their sustained and significant contributions to research and creativity.

“Members of the Academy of Distinguished Scholars exemplify UTA’s commitment to quality research and creative activity,” said Kate C. Miller, vice president of research and innovation. “Mike and Ramon have both achieved significant international recognition in their fields. They both continue to act as role models by serving as mentors and fostering creativity among their peers and students alike.”

Ramon Lopez
Ramon Lopez

An internationally recognized space physicist and science educator, Lopez was nominated by his colleagues in the College of Science for his scholarship documenting how space weather affects Earth. He has published more than 150 papers, including one journal article that has been cited more than 500 times. His work has been recognized with more than $10 million in external funding during the last 10 years, including major grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA.

“Beyond his individual research efforts, Ramon has been key to creating a robust physics program at UT Arlington,” said Todd Castoe, professor of biology and head of the College of Science committee that nominated Lopez. “He personally recruited many top faculty and graduate students to UTA, and he has served as a mentor by providing them guidance, especially when helping other faculty secure grant funding. In addition, he has been instrumental in training other science educators through his innovative program that gives teachers the tools to teach quantum information science in K-12 education.”

Lopez completed his undergraduate education at the University of Illinois before getting his Ph.D. at Rice University.

“I’m humbled to receive this distinction from my friends and colleagues,” he said. “It is a testament to the great support available in UTA’s Physics Department that I have been able to accomplish so much since arriving here in 2007.”

As director of an internationally recognized research program that uses clinical imaging to study cardiovascular health, Nelson has published more than 110 peer-reviewed research papers. His work has earned more than $20 million in extramural grants, primarily from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association. Nelson also was recently tapped to lead UTA’s new Clinical Imaging Research Center.

“Mike is internationally recognized for his use of state-of-the-art imaging approaches to study questions related to cardiovascular disease,” said R. Matthew Brothers, professor of kinesiology and head of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation committee that nominated Nelson. “In addition to his collaborations with other researchers, Mike has mentored many students. One of his key contributions has been the co-creation of a program that exposes undergraduate students to careers in science and technology research.”

“It’s an honor to receive this recognition,” said Nelson, who completed his graduate work at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and the University of Alberta in Edmonton. “This award is a testament to the incredible support I have received from my colleagues and collaborators since arriving at UTA in 2016.”