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ARA Academy of Scholars & Fellows Adds A-State's Jianfeng Xu to Research Group


LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Research Alliance (ARA) today announced the addition of seven new members to the ARA Academy of Scholars and Fellows, including Dr. Jianfeng (Jay) Xu, research professor in the Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI) and College of Agriculture at Arkansas State University. 

“We are so excited to have another member of our research faculty recognized as a member of the ARA Academy. The potential impact of Dr. Xu’s research is tremendous and we are so proud of all he has accomplished. His work and the recognition by ARA greatly enhances the reputation of research work being done by our faculty here at A-State,” noted A-State Chancellor Todd Shields, who represents the university as a member of the ARA board.

Each Fellow receives a $75,000 grant to advance their research vision. 

Xu earned his Ph.D. in biochemical engineering and a bachelor’ degree in environmental engineering from Dalian University of Technology in China. Prior to joining the A-State faculty in 2008, he was a senior research associate at Cornell University and a research scientist/postdoctoral fellow at Ohio University and State Key Laboratory of Biochemical Engineering in the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

“I am honored to be appointed as a Fellow of the ARA Academy and to be recognized for my research in this way. This award is a testament to the hard work and dedication of my research team, especially many undergraduate students from A-State, and I am grateful for their support,” Xu said.

“The fellowship will provide me with the opportunity to further advance my research and contribute to the field of plant-based production of biopharmaceuticals and biofuels. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues at A-State and in the ARA Academy and continuing to make significant contributions to the field.”

Xu’s research focuses on the genetic engineering of plants and plant cells to produce therapeutic proteins and biofuels. He has been successful in securing research funding, having been awarded approximately $3 million for his work since joining A-State, most notably from federal agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Energy (DOE).

As the author of 80 papers in peer-reviewed journals and seven book chapters, Xu also has developed eight patent applications. He was awarded the British Petroleum (BP) Young Scientist Award at the 13th International Biotechnology Symposium and Exhibition (IBS) in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of plant biotechnology and plant cell wall engineering.

With the new group, membership in the Academy of Scholars and Fellows is increased to 36 research leaders. Six of the new members are ARA Fellows, which recognizes scientists and engineers already resident at a university or institution in Arkansas for their ongoing, exemplary contributions to the state’s core research focus areas. The seventh is an ARA Scholar.

“Each ARA Scholar and Fellow is a research powerhouse in their own right,” said Bryan Barnhouse, ARA president and CEO. “Combined in partnership with the state and the researchers’ host institutions, the ARA Academy represents a collaborative juggernaut of research talent pursuing bold, interdisciplinary ideas to support statewide economic development.”

ARA partner research institutions include the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University (A-State), the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and the National Center for Toxicological Research.

The ARA Academy was founded in 2016 to facilitate meaningful collaboration among some of the most prolific research leaders in Arkansas. ARA is a non-profit economic development organization governed by a board comprised of chancellors from Arkansas research universities and chief executives from leading companies across the state. Operating as a public-private partnership, ARA invests in research that stimulates innovation, encourages collaboration, and strengthens economic opportunity in areas in which Arkansas possesses core competencies.

Photo of Dr. Jianfeng (Jay) Xu

Dr. Jianfeng (Jay) Xu