Two HCAP faculty awarded Lutcher Brown Fellowships
Two HCAP faculty awarded Lutcher Brown Fellowships

The Lutcher Brown Fellowship was established at UTSA in 2020 with funds from the Lutcher Brown Endowment for Academic Excellence to help recently tenured faculty accelerate the success of their research. The fellowship is a one-year, nonrecurring honorific appointment. Fellows are nominated by academic leadership and selected by the provost through a competitive process.

Endowed faculty members use the funding they receive from these appointments to support their existing and new scholarly activities as well as student academic success.

Eunhee ChungEunhee Chung, Ph.D.

Lutcher Brown Fellowship
Associate Professor, Kinesiology

Eunhee Chung’s research focuses on understanding cardiac and metabolic adaptations in various stimuli including pregnancy, exercise, diet and obesity.

Since joining UTSA in 2016, Chung has collaborated with both colleagues and students to study how maternal exercise modifies cardiac structure, mitochondrial function, and overall heart function under stress conditions in mice. The results of the study could provide new insight into preventing heart disease associated with childhood obesity.

With an h-index of 20 and over 1300 citations to date, Chung has made significant contributions to her field. Her peer-reviewed work has been featured in publications such as Cardiovascular Research, Scientific Reports, and the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. She also serves as a reviewer for several academic journals and for the American Heart Association Fellowship Committee.

Chung’s work has been recognized by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), and the organization has awarded her nearly $1.5 million in funding to support her research.

“I am deeply honored to receive the prestigious Lutcher Brown Fellowship. I believe this award is a recognition of all the hard work of my students, the laboratory staff, and collaborators. Our lab has been expanding the scope of the research to understand how obesity negatively affects the heart during cardiac stress (e.g., hypertension) and find the therapeutic means to alleviate it. The fund will help us to expand the scope of the research on obesity and related diseases.”

Her involvement at UTSA goes beyond her extensive research as well. She has served on multiple committees within her department, including the faculty tenure promotion review committee and the exercise science undergraduate curriculum task force. She also works as an academic advisor for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Chung earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Kinesiology from the University of Wisconsin—Madison and received postdoctoral training in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Megan PielMegan Hayes Piel, Ph.D.

Lutcher Brown Fellowship
Associate Professor, Social Work

Megan Hayes Piel’s research interests include child welfare and foster care systems, youth and family resilience, and mental health and trauma. Much of her work focuses on supporting youth that are transitioning to adulthood from the foster care system, and how they navigate postsecondary education and the mental health system as they age out of care.

Since 2019, Piel has worked as the principal investigator for the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project (BCFES). The project aims to improve graduation rates and promote postsecondary academic success for those with a history of foster care. The pilot program has provided San Antonio youth with comprehensive support services, and now serves as a national model.

“I’m deeply honored to receive the Lutcher Brown Fellowship. I look forward to utilizing this support to accelerate my research and improve outcomes for youth and families involved in the foster care system. Understanding the impact of trauma and fostering resilience through individual, community, and systems response is critical to improving long-term outcomes and preventing future experiences of trauma, child abuse, and neglect.”

In addition to her research, Piel serves on various committees within her department at UTSA, including the faculty search committee, the research and development committee, and the graduate program committee. She also supports her students as a graduate research advisor and faculty student mentor.

Outside of the university, Piel is a member of multiple committees in the San Antonio region that promote the welfare of children and the homeless. She is currently a fellow with the Doris Duke Child Well-Being Research Network and the National Conference for Engaged Scholarship on Foster Alumni and Other Traditionally Hidden College Populations.

Piel earned her Ph.D. in social work from Arizona State University and was a Doris Duke Fellow for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment/Promotion of Child Well-Being with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago.

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