Natarajarathinam Selfless service is a well-established core value of Texas A&M University, but for Dr. Malini Natarajarathinam, an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University, giving back is more than just a core value, it is a driving purpose.

Natarajarathinam was recently recognized by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) on their "20 under 40" list in Prism, the society’s monthly magazine. Candidates are faculty under the age of 40 chosen globally for their significant achievements and contributions. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state of Texas reportedly had roughly 4.3 million people facing poverty and roughly 1.6 million minors facing poverty in 2016. She was selected for her demonstrated talent for teaching and her real-world research in tackling the widespread epidemic of poverty and hunger. To mitigate these numbers, Natarajarathinam gathered several of her industrial distribution students to help develop a proposal to consolidate food products into a single, more spacious warehouse for distribution. By improving distribution efforts, the Central Texas Food Bank in Austin, Texas, would reach more people through schools and food banks and generate more revenue. This later prompted her to launch a $300,000 university-funded service-learning initiative called “Hunger Free Project" in 2016.

“I love how much I have learned and grown through my service/learning initiatives. Now, I have a unique opportunity to engage my students to experience the same,” said Natarajarathinam. “To get recognized and be honored for these efforts makes me believe in the value of my efforts and the impact of my students.”

Natarajarathinam holds a doctoral degree in operations management and a master’s degree in management science from the University of Alabama and a master’s degree in industrial engineering from Auburn University. She currently serves as the Division of Student Affairs Faculty Fellow to assess a way to increase service learning efforts across Texas A&M. Her previous awards include an Outstanding Service Award from the department and the 2013-2014 College of Engineering Faculty Fellow Award. She has published a variety of works and publications on supply management and her research interests are in coordinated decision making in stochastic supply chains, handing supply chains during times of crisis, optimizing global supply chains, effect of good supply chain practices on company financial health, logistics and inventory management, and simulation/empirical studies.

In addition to her recognition from the ASEE, Natarajarathinam was also recently commended by the Texas A&M University Veteran Resource & Support Center for her influence on a student veteran. The recognition program was created for faculty and staff student veteran support, in which former student veterans are asked who they believe had the greatest impact on their success while at Texas A&M.

“All these recognitions make me reinforce the importance of my responsibility as a teacher,” said Natarajarathinam. “These also show me that whatever I do, as long as I keep my focus and attention on my students, everyone comes out winning.”