Dr. Sumana Datta has been named as the new executive director of the Honors Programs, which will combine with the Office of Undergraduate Research to become Honors and Undergraduate Research.
As the former Honors Programs office expands, Dr. Datta’s leadership will enhance honors experiences, including undergraduate research opportunities, for many Texas A&M students. Her responsibility as executive director is to envision and implement rigorous, exciting, and innovative honors and research experiences for Texas A&M undergraduates. In partnership with colleges and departments, as well as other offices, she will articulate and support a vision for honors students and faculty that integrates undergraduate research for all students, including those students who are not otherwise involved in honors programs. Dr. Datta will oversee an office staff that coordinates mentoring for national and international awards and recognitions, residential programming and advising, among other activities.
Dr. Datta received two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Michigan, one in chemistry and one in cellular and molecular biology, both with honors. After receiving a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, San Diego, and serving as a postdoctoral fellow in biology at Yale University, she joined the Texas A&M University faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, with a joint appointment in the Department of Biology and membership in the interdepartmental faculties of genetics and neuroscience. She has numerous publications and presentations that contribute to our knowledge of brain development and prostate cancer, and many of her publications include undergraduate student coauthors. Forty-one undergraduate students and three high school students have conducted research in Dr. Datta’s laboratory.
The search committee, chaired by Dr. Ann Kenimer, associate dean for academic operations in the college of Agriculture and Life Sciences, praised Dr. Datta’s experience and vision in undergraduate research, her charisma, her creative ideas, and her commitment to honors at Texas A&M University.