UA Little Rock’s Agarwal named Arkansas Research Alliance Fellow

Dr. Nitin Agarwal, a distinguished professor of Information Science Department and head of the university’s Collaboratorium for Social Media and Online Behavioral Studies (COSMOS), was one of six new Arkansas Research Alliance Fellows announced Thursday, Dec. 13, during a news conference at the Arkansas State Capitol.

The ARA Fellows program, launched in 2014, recognizes research leaders who are currently working in Arkansas at one of the state’s five research campuses: University of Arkansas at Little Rock, University of Arkansas, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Arkansas State University, and also from the National Center for Toxicological Research in Jefferson, Arkansas, the only Food and Drug Administration lab located outside the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. ARA Fellows from university campuses receive a $75,000 grant.

The ARA Fellows program was created to advance the mission of ARA by supporting world-class researchers whose work strengthens the competitiveness of the state through research. ARA Fellows focus on innovations in biomedical engineering, plant biochemistry, nanoscience, microbiology, nutritional improvements, electronics research and more, often resulting in a direct impact on the state’s economy.

The alliance is celebrating 10 years of making research matter in Arkansas.

“ARA impacts our state in so many positive ways, from increasing the amount of federal research funds available in Arkansas to accelerating the commercialization timetable, to connecting research to our established businesses,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said.

Agarwal joined UA Little Rock’s Department of Information Science in August 2009. In 2013, he received early tenure and promotion to associate professor. In July 2015, he was awarded the Jerry L. Maulden-Entergy Endowed Chair Professor of Information Science based on his outstanding contributions to his discipline. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Arizona State University. In 2012, Arkansas Business included Agarwal in its list of “Top 20 Influentials in their 20s,” and in 2017 the Arkansas Times featured Dr. Agarwal in its special issue on “Visionary Arkansas: A Celebration of Arkansans with ideas and achievements of transformative power.”

Agarwal is highly respected for his social media research. He has collaborated with and received funding from influential national and international organizations such as NATO, the U.S. Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Research Lab, the U.S. Army Research Office, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency, and the National Science Foundation. His recent research includes studying how governments and groups such as ISIS use social media to spread deviant messages, conduct propaganda campaigns, and influence opinions, behavior, and media coverage.

For his contributions to industry, academia, and research, Agarwal also was nominated as a fellow to the International Academy, Research and Industry Association in 2017. Earlier this year, he was selected as a member of the U.S. State Department’s Tech Demo program to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation. Agarwal and COSMOS researchers will showcase technologies like Blogtrackers and YouTube trackers, one of COSMOS’ latest applications. These applications track information providers and narratives as misinformation is disseminated through social media networks including blogs, YouTube, and Twitter. The research is the result of projects supported by millions of dollars in federal grants.

The other newly named ARA Fellows include the following:

  • Jingyi Chen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, UA
  • Steven Foley, Ph.D., Deputy Director, Division of Microbiology, NCTR
  • Xiuzhen Huang, Ph.D., Professor of Computer Science, A-State
  • Clint Kilts, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UAMS
  • Mansour Mortazavi, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chancellor, UAPB

The six new ARA Fellows join existing ARA Scholars and Fellows in the ARA Academy of Scholars and Fellows, now 26 members strong.

“ARA Fellows are nominated by their respective institutions,” said Jerry Adams, ARA president and chief executive officer. “We are honored to have these immensely talented researchers join the ARA Academy of Scholars and Fellows.”

In the top right photo,  Dr. Nitin Agarwal and his parents are pictured with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.


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