50-in-5 Faculty Honored for Major Grant Awards and Patents

Nearly 150 UH faculty members recognized at Wortham House on Feb. 7


The University of Houston hosted its second 50-in-5 celebration event at the Wortham House on Monday, Feb. 7, honoring faculty members with major grant award and patent achievements.

President Renu Khator, Provost Paula Myrick Short and Vice President for Research Amr Elnashai recognized 148 faculty who received a major grant award or patent in Year 2 and Year 3 of UH’s 50-in-5 Program. The program was launched in 2018 to increase research and scholarly activity by 50% over the course of five years, aligning UH with other top research universities in the Association of American Universities (AAU) and supporting the University’s rise to become a Top 50 public university.

“You are the engine that drives the University,” said Elnashai to the event’s honorees, noting many major accomplishments over the last decade, including a nearly 100% increase in research expenditures and a 255% increase in proposal funds requested, putting UH at the nearly $1 billion mark. “We are doing very well, but the best is yet to come.”

Some 113 principal investigators and co-investigators received a grant award of $1 million plus in fiscal years 2020 and 2021. UH received 32 major awards during both reporting periods. Along with single-PI awards, UH saw a growing number of interdisciplinary teams across the University these two years, demonstrating UH’s commitment to building strong institutional teams to solve societal problems. Out of the faculty honored, 22 investigators were part of more than one major award effort.

The top major research award during the reporting periods was a $12.8 million grant from NIH’s National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities to establish UH’s 7th national center: HEALTH Center for Addictions Research and Cancer Prevention. One of the largest research awards in UH’s history, the effort is led by Professor Ezemenari Obasi in the College of Education. Obasi is the director of UH’s HEALTH Research Institute and the Associate Vice President of Research Administration.

The team of investigators include:

  • Lorraine Reitzel (Education)
  • Olivera Nesic-Taylor (Medicine)
  • Matthew Gallagher (CLASS)
  • Fatima Merchant (Technology)
  • Ann Chen (HEALTH Research Institute)
  • Anka Vujanovic (CLASS)
  • Michael Zvolensky (CLASS)
  • Lorra Garey (CLASS)

“Out of the faculty honored for major awards tonight, a dozen are assistant professors and 26 faculty serve in non-tenure-track positions,” said Elnashai. “It is so promising to see a growing number of early career professors among our top performers and that we have faculty at all ranks driving us toward our goal.”

Faculty were also honored for U.S. patents issued during fiscal years 2020 and 2021. Of the 43 faculty honored in this category, 12 faculty received multiple patents for technologies invented. Engineering’s Venkat Selvamanickam, director of UH’s Advanced Manufacturing Institute, received seven patents during the reporting periods, more than any other UH inventor.

“Excellence has no finish line,” said Provost Short. “Your work demonstrates that you continue to reach higher and higher in your scholarly pursuits and in doing so, raise the reputation of the University of Houston. I want to extend a heartfelt thank you for the amazing work that you do.”

Faculty members celebrated for major grant awards and patents at Monday’s event are listed on UH’s 50-in-5 website. The site also recognizes faculty who were celebrated for high-impact publications, national recognition and single-author books in November.

View Year 2 Scholars

View Year 3 Scholars