Newsletter Issue 15
From the Founding Director
The Hagler Institute is designed to bring exceptional scholars to collaborate at Texas A&M University on frontier research with our outstanding faculty and students.  These scholars, known as Hagler Fellows, get to know well A&M’s research and educational environment, as well as the College Station community. About 20% of Hagler Fellows have become a permanent member of Texas A&M’s faculty. In this newsletter, we highlight two Hagler Fellows that have recently become permanent members of the Texas A&M faculty as a result of their affiliation with the institute.  Moreover, we are pleased to introduce you to University Distinguished Professor Karen Wooley, the Hagler Institute’s first faculty liaison. We would be remiss if we did not also share a few of the recent accomplishments of our Hagler Fellows. The Hagler Institute’s pursuit of excellence does not happen in a vacuum, and we are proud to honor some Hagler Heroes who help support this rare Institute’s mission of distinction and merit. To our readers, I extend my thanks to you for being a part of our journey to make Texas A&M University a recognized world-academic leader.

Best wishes to all,
Hagler Fellow Updates
William G. Unruh
Physicists struggle to comprehend some of the most difficult and profound aspects of our existence, from the “smallest of small” to the “biggest of big,” the understanding of which has profound implications for our vision of ourselves and the universe. William G. “Bill” Unruh, 2018-2019 Fellow of the Hagler Institute, is one of the world’s most renowned scholars addressing the mathematical representation of physical cause/effect mechanisms using quantum theory and the theory of relativity. Professor Unruh is also the latest addition to the permanent faculty of Texas A&M University.

Professor Unruh was brought to A&M through the Hagler Institute by Marlan Scully, Director of the Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering (IQSE). Professor Unruh’s credentials are impressive.  He is a member of the Royal Society of both London and Canada, and is a foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He holds the Rutherford Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, which is awarded in physics and chemistry for outstanding research. He has been awarded the Herzberg Medal for "research contributions characterized by both excellence and influence," and the Medal of Achievement from the Canadian Association of Physicists. His impressive scientific contributions include a collaboration with Stephen Hawking leading to new insights and relating quantum mechanics to modeling the behavior of black holes, as well as contributions to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Some of his contributions to physics bear his name– the Unruh Effect - predicting conditions under which blackbody radiation can be observed in the universe, and the prediction of radiation phenomena known as Unruh radiation.

The IQSE has brought some of the worlds’ greatest physicists, including two Nobel Prize winners, to Texas A&M through the Hagler Institute. The impact of the Hagler Institute is enhanced when such scholars choose Texas A&M as their new home. Professor Unruh will be half time at Texas A&M and half time at his current institution, the University of British Columbia. He is working with faculty and students on issues of quantum physics in the IQSE at Texas A&M.
Edwin L. “Ned” Thomas
Professor Edwin L. “Ned” Thomas, 2019-2020 Fellow of the Hagler Institute, has chosen Texas A&M as his new academic home, and he is, indeed, a fine addition to our university. He is the former Dean of Engineering at Rice University, a former head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also founded MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and a former head of the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering at the University of Massachusetts. His effectiveness in these diverse leadership positions and his research portfolio are clear evidence of his exceptional technical competence and the truth that Professor Thomas is widely respected as a leader in his profession. His memberships in the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, among others, are consistent with his game-changing and seminal contributions at the frontiers of his field. Among his many other honors are the High Polymer Physics Prize of the American Physical Society and the Creative Polymer Chemist Award from the American Chemical Society. He has co-written more than 450 papers and holds twenty patents. 

At Texas A&M, Professor Thomas will be working in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSEN), which was formed jointly by the College of Science and the College of Engineering in 2013 when Alan Needleman, a 2012-2013 Hagler Fellow, member of the National Academy of Engineering, and world-renowned materials scientist, joined the faculty of Texas A&M. The department has since added George Pharr, also a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Ned Thomas, who received his PhD degree from Cornell University, is joining a department with great synergy, and he adds significantly to it. Both Needleman and Thomas first came to Texas A&M as Hagler Fellows before joining MSEN. This department has rapidly emerged as a top materials science and engineering program.

The scope of Professor Thomas’ work is broad; his historical work includes development of photonic materials and determining the morphology of block copolymers, studying the mechanical behavior with microtrusses and hybrid organic-inorganic nanocomposites, and the fabrication of polymeric photonic crystals by using self-assembly. His current research focuses on using 2D and 3D lithography, direct-write, and self-assembly techniques to create metamaterials with unprecedented mechanical and thermal properties. Metamaterials are remarkably versatile and can be tailored to be used in medical devices, optical filters, aerospace applications, sensors and event detection, with other diverse applications including infrastructure monitoring, smart solar power management, crowd control, high-frequency battlefield communication, and lenses for high-gain antennas. 
Professor Thomas’ transformation from Hagler Fellow to a senior permanent hire on our faculty is an important outcome of the Hagler Institute which elevates our already strong program in material science and engineering. Welcome Ned!
Sharon Donovan
Sharon Donovan, 2019-2020 Fellow of the Hagler Institute, contributes to basic research, but she also answers the call to help with critical issues facing Americans. Every five years the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture collaborate to evaluate nutrition-related research and develop guidance for Americans on healthy eating patterns to reduce chronic disease. These guidelines are known as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Dr. Donovan was one of 20 nationally recognized experts in nutrition chosen to work on those guidelines and recently completed her 17-months of service on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee. Among other contributions, she chaired the subcommittee that made recommendations for Pregnant and Lactating Women. The Scientific Report of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, from which the final guidance will be written, is available for review and comment:

Recently, Dr. Donovan and her colleagues summarized the early evidence about the risk of COVID-19 to breast feeding infants. They published a manuscript “SARS-CoV-2 and human milk: What is the evidence?” in the journal Maternal & Child Nutrition, 2020 May 30. In the paper they write that nearly all studies have reported that COVID-19 is not present in human milk. Moreover, milk from moms infected with COVID-19 contains antibodies against COVID-19, so may actually offer some protection for the nursing infant. 

Professor Donovan holds the Melissa M. Noel Endowed Chair in Nutrition and Health at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Society for Nutrition, for which she has served as President. As a Hagler Fellow at Texas A&M, she collaborates on research with faculty and students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as in the College of Engineering and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences. Every two weeks during the pandemic she has participated in conference calls about her collaborative research at Texas A&M.
Maryellen Giger
Early detection and therapies specifically designed for particular people would be major steps forward in fighting the COVID-19 virus. The National Institute of Health (NIH) is calling upon 2016-2017 Fellow of the Hagler Institute and The University of Chicago professor, Maryellen Giger, for assistance in making these steps a reality.

According to the NIH, judicious imaging of the human body along with modern image processing of the type done by Professor Giger can help measure disease severity, predict response to treatment, and improve patient outcomes. By providing funding for Dr. Giger’s work, the NIH hopes for development of fast and accurate methods of diagnoses by combining artificial intelligence and medical imaging. To accelerate progress at this crucial time, NIH funded a new center at the University of Chicago called the Medical Imaging and Data Resource Center (MIDRC), and it is operated under the leadership of Dr. Giger.

The work of Maryellen Giger, the A.N. Pritzker Professor of Radiology, Committee on Medical Physics at the University of Chicago, has been highlighted in the Hagler Institute newsletter several times before. Her work demonstrated that combining artificial intelligence with imaging provides significantly more accurate diagnoses for breast cancer. Her product, QuantX, is the first FDA-cleared, machine learning system to aid cancer diagnoses, for which in 2020 Dr. Giger won the gold medal Edison Award, the world’s most revered innovation award.

Dr. Giger’s group is collaborating with other organizations and societies, to which the vast majority of radiological scientists and clinicians belong. The project will create a large database of medical images of lungs and other relevant body areas for COVID-19 patients as well as healthy individuals. These many images will be used to train algorithms to accurately analyze any new image quickly and accurately. This use of computers and advanced artificial intelligence algorithms will soon allow doctors to provide faster and more accurate diagnoses, assessments of severity, and timely monitoring of the effects of treatments. The results of this research will be available nation-wide. As Dr. Giger states on a University of Chicago site (,

“Through the MIDRC Data Commons Portal, investigators will be able to access images and data to expedite research that will provide solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will speed up the sharing of new research on COVID-19, answering questions about COVID-19 presentation in the lungs, the efficacy of therapies, associations between COVID-19 and other co-morbidities, and monitoring for potential resurgence of the virus.” 

Dr. Giger continues to be active in the Hagler Institute, as she has spread her in-residence visits over several years. She has weekly conference calls with her Texas A&M collaborators. Her rapid re-focusing of her research to help address COVID-19 is very admirable, and she and her team are making significant contributions to the national mobilization to this help defeat this virus.
Hagler Institute Faculty Liaison:
Karen Wooley
Dr. Karen L. Wooley has accepted an appointment as the inaugural Hagler Institute Faculty Liaison. In this capacity, Karen will work hand-in-hand with the staff of the Hagler Institute, learning its procedures, absorbing accomplishments of the Institute, providing insights and feedback to the staff, being an internal advocate and a go-between among the Institute and A&M’s faculty.  Karen will attend monthly meetings with Dr. Junkins, Director of the Hagler Institute, where they will share their insights, and she will be a prominent attendee at the Institute’s induction gala. Karen’s appointment with the Institute spans the 2020-2021 academic school year. 

Karen will offer insights and suggestions to enhance the Institute, particularly as regards encouraging nominations of Fellows from various colleges and institutes within the university and enhancement of the mutual benefits enjoyed by the Hagler Fellows, their faculty hosts and the collaborating graduate students.  

Karen is an accomplished scholar, research scientist, and educator. She graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 1988 and from Cornell University with a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 1993. Since then, she has contributed greatly to her profession, earning membership in the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.  She teaches in the areas of organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, industrial chemistry, and nanomedicine. In the Wooley Research Group, she oversees frontier research projects at Texas A&M, and she supervises many advanced students toward completion of their Ph.D. requirements.

Karen is a University Distinguished Professor and holder of the W.T. Doherty–Welch Foundation Chair. She is housed in the Department of Chemistry, but she is also a Professor of Chemical Engineering, a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Director of the TAMU Laboratory for Synthetic-Biologic Interactions. Karen’s expertise has also has earned her the title of Superiority Researcher in Texas A&M’s Institute for Preclinical Studies Research, an institute that provides translational researchers with unique access to expertise in all major medical and scientific disciplines.  In addition, Dr. Wooley is a current member of the Hagler Institute Faculty Advisory Board which evaluates nominations for potential fellows.

The staff of the Hagler Institute looks forward to working with Karen to enhance the successes of the Institute and to continue elevating the quality of scholarship at Texas A&M. 

Trisha and Chaz Neely:
Hagler Heroes
The Hagler Institute for Advanced Study is proud to designate Patricia “Trisha” and Charles “Chaz” Neely ’62 our latest Hagler Heroes. The Neely’s are true Texas A&M heroes, so we follow many others to the “admiration table.” 

To our knowledge, Chaz first heard about the Hagler Institute and its mission of excellence for Texas A&M during a presentation at the San Antonio A&M Club where Chaz once served as president. Shortly thereafter, the Neely’s gifted $1.5 million, matched by the Hagler Institute, to establish a $3 million endowment for Mays Business School. The endowment is of a special kind, for its earnings will be used solely to support outstanding scholars and businessmen who are active Fellows of the Hagler Institute working in the Mays Business School. The Neely’s significant gift to the Mays Business School has ensured that a continuous stream of outstanding visionaries will be coming to Mays Business School for the life of Texas A&M. Such visionaries satisfy the high standards of the Hagler Institute, bring frontier ideas and often offer career changing opportunities for students, while they also enrich research and the academic environment for A&M’s already outstanding Mays Business School faculty.  

Chaz was not born holding a silver academic spoon. In fact, he does not mind telling you that due to being short on money and, importantly, grade points, he had to leave A&M for a while, only induced to try again by his love for his Corps buddies and Aggieland.
 “Your plan doesn’t always work out,” he has been quoted as saying. “You think, what do I need to change to make this work?” 

That is a prescription by someone who does not give up in the face of challenge! In fact, it is the prescription of a very successful person. Chaz purchased the San Antonio Steel company in 1979, and he built it into the largest wholesale distributor of agricultural fencing and related products in the United States.
Chaz is an A&M Distinguished Alumnus, a Mays Business School Outstanding Alumnus, and a member of the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor. Chaz has devoted considerable time to Texas A&M through his service in leadership positions with Mays Business School, The Association of Former Students, the 12th Man Foundation, the President’s Board of Visitors for the Corp of Cadets, and the Lead by Example campaign. 

Trisha and Chaz have established student scholarships, contributed to the Memorial Student Center renovations, the John D. White ’70- Robert L Walker ’58 Music Activities Center, the Slocum Nutrition Center, and the Kyle Field and Blue Bell Park renovations.

The Hagler Institute is proud to be affiliated with Trisha and Chaz Neely, who exemplify excellence, which is also the mission of the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M. The Neely’s are true Hagler Heroes.
If you have news to share, please send articles, suggestions, or other information to:
Dr. Clifford L. Fry, Associate Director
Hagler Institute for Advanced Study at Texas A&M University