The RUA External Advisory Board

The Research University Alliance External Advisory Board advises the collaborating institutions and the project personnel on efforts to make improvements in the proposed Alliance work. The Board members provide the appropriate expertise to guide and support the project team’s plans for Alliance Model development, implementation, self-study, evaluation, and dissemination.

Photo of Dr. Henry Frierson who is a member of the External Advisory Board
Research University Alliance Advisory Board Member

Dr. Henry Frierson

Dr. Henry Frierson is currently a Professor of Research and Evaluation Methodology in the College of Education at the University of Florida.  Most previously he was Associate Vice President and Dean of the UF Graduate School for 14 successful years.  Before UF, he was at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 33 years where he was a Professor in the School of Medicine in Medical Education and Director of the Learning and Assessment Laboratory to provide academic support for medical and other health professions students, and then an Associate Dean in the Graduate School. Then he moved to the School of Education where he was a Professor of Educational Psychology in the School of Education and for 11 years was the Director of the Research Education Support Program, a large multi-faceted initiative largely funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health that provided support to UNC-Chapel undergraduate minority students to engage in quality research experiences during the academic year, funding for graduate student funding to complete their research and Ph.D. dissertations, and for undergraduate students from other institutions to participate in a large full-time summer research experience program known as the Summer Pre-Graduate Research Experience Program.   Frierson received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology and educational psychology, respectively, from Wayne State University, and his Ph.D. in educational psychology from Michigan State University.  He has had a long professional commitment toward increasing the number of underrepresented students of color entering and graduating from Ph.D. programs.  

Photo of Sara Xayarath Hernández
Research University Alliance Advisory Board Member

Sara Xayarath Hernández

Sara Xayarath Hernández is the Associate Dean for Inclusion & Student Engagement for the Graduate School at Cornell University where she provides vision and strategic management for graduate initiatives and policies focused on advancing diversity and inclusion, addressing inequities, promoting positive systemic change. Hernández works collaboratively with partners within and beyond the Graduate School on initiatives supporting the professional development, academic success, mentoring, and sense of belonging for all graduate students and postdocs, but especially for those from backgrounds historically underrepresented in the academy. Hernández also serves as a member of the university’s Academic Diversity Council led by the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. She is the PI for an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant focused on improving admissions and mentoring practices for graduate students within the Sloan University Centers for Exemplary Mentoring (UCEM) and Sloan Indigenous Graduate Partnership communities. She is a co-PI for the Cornell Sloan UCEM Program and Cornell’s NSF Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Program. Through AGEP, Hernández co-leads efforts focused on preparing future faculty, enhancing the academic climate, and improving graduate admissions and mentoring practices. Hernández is the chair of the Diversity and Inclusiveness Advisory Committee for the Council of Graduate Schools and is a member of the NSF AGEP Advisory Committee for the Southern Regional Education Board, External Advisory Board for the NSF AGEP Research University Alliance, and NSF ADVANCE Advisory Board for the Social Science Research Council. She is a first-generation college student holding a Bachelor of Arts in Zoology from Ohio Wesleyan University and a Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University.

Photo of Theodore Hodapp
Research University Alliance Advisory Board Member

Theodore (Ted) Hodapp, PhD

Theodore (Ted) Hodapp joined the Moore Foundation in 2021 after 17 years at the American Physical Society (APS) as director of project development and earlier as director of education and diversity. While at APS he helped develop and led several programs to address critical issues facing physics and physicists including the APS Bridge Program, which is erasing the achievement gap for underrepresented minorities between bachelor’s and doctoral completion, the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP), the Effective Practices for Physics Programs (EP3), and the Physics Teacher Education Coalition. He received his doctorate in physics at the University of Minnesota in quantum optics, investigating atom-photon interactions and pursued further research in laser cooling and trapping at NIST and optical modeling and design of commercial products at the 3M corporation. Prior to working at APS he served as professor and ultimately chair of the physics department at Hamline University, and served as a program officer at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Undergraduate Education. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the AAAS.

Photo of Sarah Hokanson
Research University Alliance Advisory Board Member

Dr. Sarah Hokanson

Dr. Sarah Hokanson is responsible for postdoctoral affairs, professional development programming and resources for doctoral students and postdocs across the University, as well as supporting the development of University policies related to postdoctoral scholarship. She also provides resources for faculty mentors and is the Director of Boston University’s Responsible Conduct of Research program. Dr. Hokanson is the multi-PI of the Postdoc Academy, a $1.8m NIH project focused on providing digital and in-person professional development opportunities for postdocs nationwide. She is also co-PI of an NSF AGEP Alliance (CIRTL AGEP) focused on improving the research climate for graduate students and postdocs. Dr. Hokanson serves in leadership positions nationally, including most recently on the AAMC Postdoctoral Leaders Steering Committee. Prior to joining Boston University, Dr. Hokanson was US Deputy Director of Science and Innovation at the British Consulate-General, Boston. She holds a BA in Chemistry from Boston University and a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Hokanson’s graduate research was supported by the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, and she completed a NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship at Cornell University in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology.

Photo of Dr. Sumun L. Pendakur
Research University Alliance Advisory Board Member

Dr. Sumun L. Pendakur

Dr. Sumun L. Pendakur is a scholar-practitioner, an activist-educator, a skilled facilitator, and a mom. With nearly 20 years in the field of higher education and a decade as a DEI speaker and trainer, Sumi's work and research focuses on helping organizations build capacity for social justice and racial equity by empowering individuals at all levels to be transformational agents of change in their spheres of influence. Most recently, Sumi was the Chief Learning Officer at the USC Race and Equity Center, dedicated to advancing racial justice in higher education and other sectors. Prior to that position, Sumi held roles as the Assistant Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Harvey Mudd College, serving on the President’s Cabinet and directing the Office of Institutional Diversity, and as the Director for USC Asian Pacific American Student Services. Pendakur is a graduate of Northwestern University with a double major in Women’s Studies and History and a Minor in Spanish. She holds an M.A. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Michigan. She received her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from the USC Rossier School of Education. Sumi is serving her second term on the Board of Directors for NADOHE, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education. She has served as Faculty Coach for the AAC&U’s multi-year TIDES (Teaching to Increase Diversity and Equity in STEM) Institute. She is also the co-editor, with Dr. Shaun Harper and Dr. Stephen Quaye, of Student Engagement in Higher Education: Theoretical Perspectives and Practical Approaches for Diverse Populations (3rd edition) (2020). In 2019, she was named one of the top 35 women in higher education by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine.

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