As a curatorial assistant for a recent University Gallery exhibition, doctoral student Meredith Soles traveled from Delaware to Alabama, where she spent days poring over photographs and archival documents at Tuskegee University. Later, she surveyed images of weathered sharecroppers and cotton pickers, comparing these rustic works with startling images of the late scientist, George Washington Carver, as well as dazzling portraits of middle-class African Americans.
With guidance from Belena Chapp, director of museums, Soles assembled these diverse images into a compelling and cohesive exhibition-"Through These Eyes: The Photographs of P.H. Polk." She also co-edited a catalog, wrote labels and prepared an essay for the exhibition.
Provided primarily by Atlanta collector Paul R. Jones, the photographs in the exhibition were created by influential African-American artist Prentice Herman Polk. Born in 1893, Polk served as Tuskegee's official photographer, and later, as chair of its photography department. An influential and talented image-maker, Polk also operated a prestigious portrait studio for many years until his death in 1984.
For Soles, a graduate student in the Department of Art History and an American art major pursuing a minor in the history of photography, curating the exhibition proved to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The Charlotte, N.C., native says she "really loves working with students, as well as objects," and so her career plans include balancing teaching with curatorial work.
The Polk exhibition gave her a good head start. "This particular show fits especially well with the gallery's educational mission to serve both the campus and the surrounding community," Soles explains. "I've offered two gallery talks already."
Soles is among a growing number of graduate students who have assisted for at least the past two decades with exhibitions of works loaned or donated by private collectors, Chapp reports. Graduate students within UD's art history program-one of the nation's top 20-help curate many ambitious exhibitions, she notes, such as "Brandywine to the Bay," a 1991 display of 93 paintings from 38 private collections in Delaware and southern Pennsylvania. Each year, the gallery provides support for another graduate curator, making it possible, for instance, for a student to visit Hungary in connection with one project to work on an exhibition of Byzantine icons.
These graduate opportunities complement the gallery's undergraduate curatorial apprenticeship program, Chapp says, and all student research "dovetails with the curriculum to provide experiential learning and teaching opportunities, so that our graduates walk away with scholarly publications and having curated a professional, public program."
UD's art history graduates are especially well prepared for careers, according to Damie Stillman, chairperson of the Department of Art History. To prove his point, he offers a lengthy "who's-who" list of graduates, including George Gurney, '78, museum curator at the National Museum of American Art; Lewis Sharp, '80, museum director at the Denver Art Museum; Christopher Johns, '85, formerly a professor at the University of Virginia who this year became a distinguished professor at the University of Memphis; and many others. Two 1985 graduates, for example-Nancy Kay Anderson and Franklin Wood Kelly-are both museum curators for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., where Wilford Wildes Scott, '83, serves as a staff lecturer.
Stillman attributes such success, in part, to UD partnerships with the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, Bryn Mawr College and the University of Pennsylvania. UD also offers "an extraordinary number of opportunities for students to become involved," Stillman adds. And, he says, art history students can take advantage of UD's doctoral-track art conservation program, which owns one of only three proton-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) spectrometer instruments for non-invasively analyzing the chemical composition of great works.
We have an excellent art history department, in terms of the quality of our faculty and the real-world opportunities we provide for our students," Stillman says. "A student with a graduate degree from our institution can compete quite effectively for some of the best curatorial and teaching positions in the world."
Learning by teaching
In many ways, Meredith Soles exemplifies the UD graduate experience, says John C. Cavanaugh, vice provost for academic programs and planning. Whether students work beneath the umbrella of UD's many American culture and humanities programs-from art history to foreign languages and literatures-or within the science and engineering fields, graduate research at UD is inextricably linked with teaching.
"If graduate students don't teach," Cavanaugh says, "they don't learn to teach."
Teaching extends the roots of knowledge, too, according to Jennifer Sterner, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Sterner, a native of Benton, Pa., recently received an Elizabeth Dyer Excellence-in-Teaching Award from her department, along with graduate students Wilmin Bartolini of Randallstown, Md., and Stephen Theberge of Lewes, Del.
"Every student should teach at least once," contends Sterner, who helps guide Department of Nursing majors through general chemistry and elementary biochemistry courses. "You learn a great deal about yourself, as well as the subject matter. You learn how to be in a supervisory position, and how to translate information so that it's understandable."
Bartolini also teaches elementary biochemistry, and he helps undergraduates prepare to explore the laboratory. Working with undergraduates accelerated his own learning curve, he says. "I've learned much more biochemistry by teaching an elementary course than I have by taking graduate level courses," he adds, "because I have to be ready to answer questions, and that means staying ahead of my students."
Sterner's goal is to pursue forensic chemistry, ideally coupled with teaching opportunities, while Bartolini reports an interest in pharmaceutical research and development. Theberge says his career plan will emphasize teaching. But, he says, his graduate teaching experience would prove handy in any field. "Even if I decided to take a position in industry, I would need to be able to talk with people who don't have a chemistry background," he notes. "I would need to talk with people in sales and to managers and customers."
While veteran UD faculty like John L. Burmeister, Alumni Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, routinely teach freshman courses for undergraduates, Cavanaugh says, they also work closely with teaching assistants to broaden the learning experience at the graduate level. Indeed, Sterner says: "When I'm teaching, it's not slave labor. Dr. Burmeister handles most of the preparation for his courses, and he's always available to offer advice whenever I need it." Moreover, Bartolini notes, faculty allow graduate students to teach the same course more than once. "I was glad about that," he says, "because then I was able to get good at it."
Burmeister, author of more than 100 scholarly articles and his department's associate chair, says well-trained graduate teaching assistants like Bartolini, Sterner and Theberge help him provide personal attention to undergraduates. With support from graduate teaching assistants, for example, a class of 60 undergraduates quickly turns into four intimate groups of 15, he notes. "UD is a major research institution, and so our faculty must stay at the cutting-edge of their disciplines," Burmeister says. "If it weren't for my teaching assistants, I simply could not keep pace with my responsibilities as a teacher, researcher and campus citizen. I rely on bright, motivated apprentices to put a human face on larger courses that might otherwise be a fairly impersonal endeavor. Graduate teaching assistants also add to the diversity of the campus environment and expand my undergraduates' horizons."
In addition to close faculty supervision, UD's graduate teaching assistants benefit from the ongoing, campus-wide effort to improve classroom learning, Cavanaugh says. The Center for Teaching Effectiveness (CTE), for instance, provides orientation and ongoing training services, including a teaching handbook for graduate students, which also is available to faculty. Dating back to instructional improvement grants awarded to faculty in the late 1950s, the center's newsletter and consultation services were established in the early 1970s to encourage the exchange of ideas about teaching. In 1996, the center was cited by the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education for its "impressive record of 31 years of service," and for the program's impact on teaching and learning, CTE Director Judy Greene reports. Approximately 40 percent of UD faculty and all new teaching assistants participate in CTE programs each year, she says.
In fact, UD's strength in teaching services for graduate students recently helped two UD departments win a major grant from the U.S. Department of Education (USED), according to Henry R. Glyde, chairperson of the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The department had applied several times for a grant through the USED's Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN), Glyde says, but success remained elusive. After visiting USED in Washington, D.C., to learn more about the awards, however, Glyde, a Rhodes scholar, and Jerold M. Schultz, UD's C. Ernest Birchenall Professor of Chemical Engineering, submitted additional information on the University's teaching services.
Awarded to UD in 1995, the three-year GAANN prize provides full fellowships to eight graduate students annually. "The Department of Education wanted to be certain that our graduate education program would teach students to teach," says Glyde. He and Schultz, therefore, described courses developed by Barbara J. Duch, a UD educator and a national leader in problem-based learning. The USED was "very impressed to learn that UD educators actually videotape graduate students as they teach, then offer feedback and guidance," Glyde notes.
Most recently, Greene says, University faculty and administrators took part in a Teaching, Learning and Technology Institute focusing on strategies for teaching with technology. To effectively reach the so-called MTV generation, Cavanaugh notes, today's teachers must supplement blackboard lectures with such new tools as multi-media presentations, incorporating World Wide Web text with music, video and animation. After all, "today's students grew up with TV sets, VCRs and computers in their bedrooms, and we're simply not going to reach them with teaching techniques from the early 1900s," says Duch, associate director of the Mathematics and Science Education Resource Center.
Mastering diverse new teaching technologies presents a challenge for graduate students and veteran educators alike. Fortunately, UD has "a long history of weaving technology into the academic fabric," information technology experts Janet R. de Vry and Paul Hyde reported in last fall's issue of the trade journal, CAUSE/EFFECT.
A winning gamble
Doctoral student Thomas M. Arnold says he "took a gamble and won" when he first approached his mentor, Nancy M. Targett, associate dean of UD's College of Marine Studies-one of the nation's top 10 marine graduate programs. "I had an idea of what I wanted to do in the laboratory," Arnold says. "It was sort of risky. She gave me one year to make it work, and I was very lucky that it did."
Few graduate advisers would have been so trusting, Arnold says. Fortunately, the idea proposed by Arnold and Targett- that a specially prepared isotope, or group of atoms, could be used to track how quickly brown algae synthesizes protective chemicals known as phlorotannins-proved to be true. This was good news for Targett's research team, says Arnold, winner of the merit-based Paul R. Austin Fellowship as well as two Sigma Xi research grants and an International Society of Chemical Ecology student travel award.
The new technique for measuring phlorotannin synthesis makes it possible to more accurately assess how the plant's growth rate is affected by its defense mechanisms, explains Arnold, a native of Pasadena, Md. Phlorotannins are polyphenolics-long-chain molecules produced by various plants to ward off predatory herbivores. When brown algae is threatened by herbivores, Arnold says, the plant devotes most of its energy to cranking out more phlorotannins, which often slows down its growth rate. Targett's research has shown that phlorotannins discourage herbivores by preventing them from assimilating and digesting nutrients in brown algae.
"We're using brown algae as a model for studying a host of plant systems that use these chemicals to keep herbivores from eating them," Arnold says. "We want to understand the balance between how quickly plants can grow and how they defend themselves. In the past, researchers have proposed a number of theories to predict growth rates, and we believe that they have made some assumptions that aren't correct." The UD studies may, therefore, help researchers develop higher-yielding food crops, based on a better understanding of the various factors affecting growth rates, Arnold says.
To study the defensive tactics of plants, Arnold and Targett feed a stable isotope-carbon 13-to brown algae. Stored in incubation chambers, the algae begins to photosynthesize, transforming the carbon dioxide in water to long-chain molecules, including sugars, starches and polyphenolics. "If the carbon component of that carbon dioxide is labeled with this isotope," Arnold notes, "then it's taken into the plant and converted, and we can measure the end result."
Already, Arnold has presented his findings at several scientific conferences, and he and Targett will describe their phlorotannin-tracking technique in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Chemical Ecology.
For graduate students in the College of Marine Studies, Targett notes, scholarly publications are par for the course. In 1997, Targett notes, 32 core faculty members presented no less than 135 papers and published more than 150 peer-reviewed journal articles, technical reports and book chapters.
College facilities reflect this emphasis on quality research, she says. In addition to the usual array of biochemical analysis and characterization instruments, the college features a laboratory for safely storing radioactive research materials. And, though Arnold's research doesn't require cruising to sea, his classmates routinely make use of the research vessel, Cape Henlopen, as well as remote sensing technologies for coastal studies.
Graduate students like Arnold also benefit from UD's emphasis on multidisciplinary research, Cavanaugh says. If he wanted to study the genetic differences between different algae samples, for example, Arnold could make use of high-speed, automated gene sequencers, by collaborating with researchers from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
"Students pursuing graduate degrees at UD are never limited to the boundaries of a particular discipline," Cavanaugh adds. "Our chemical engineers have been known to help art conservationists analyze paintings, and English professors routinely become involved with information technology specialists."
UD's multidisciplinary approach to graduate education proved fortuitous for Michele Suzanne Shauf, a 1997 graduate and an expert in "hypermedia"- communication methods that combine images, sound, music, text, animation and video. To earn her doctoral degree in English, Shauf submitted the first CD-ROM dissertation ever accepted by University Microforms Inc., the nation's leading academic cataloging company, reports Ann L. Ardis, director of graduate studies in the English department.
Though studying hypermedia required instruction within a variety of disciplines, Shauf says UD faculty readily helped her design an appropriate course of study. "Early on in my undergraduate work," she says, "I realized that my interests were decidedly interdisciplinary, and so I designed independent courses through Liberal Studies, while also working closely with two cultural theorists in the Department of English. Later, as a graduate student in English, I became interested in technology through free workshops each semester."
Shauf also learned to teach because, she says, "not only were graduate students given opportunities to teach, we were taught how to teach and received careful guidance." Before finishing her dissertation, she accepted a three-year appointment in the English department at Central Missouri State University. In February, she accepted a tenure-track position at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Working with faculty luminaries
As Arnold investigates the biochemical mechanisms that limit crop growth and Shauf puts her UD degree to work as a teacher, graduate student Wayne Westerman is designing computer technologies to help prevent repetitive-use injuries. Growing up in Belton, Mo., a suburb of Kansas City, Westerman quickly picked up an interest in electronics, thanks to his dad, a high school science teacher.
He earned an undergraduate degree from Purdue, where he was a Presidential Honors Scholar, then informed faculty mentor Neal C. Gallagher Jr. that he wanted to make a move to complete graduate work. Gallagher argued against leaving Purdue-until he was offered a job as chair of UD's rapidly expanding Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Westerman recalls with a laugh. Soon, Gallagher recruited a number of outstanding faculty and students, including Westerman, to help launch a second major for the UD program, which experienced a 200 percent increase in enrollment in 1997.
"Growth in the department has been tremendous, just in the short period of time that I've been here," Westerman reports now. "The program is very competitive, and students can work with some of the top researchers in the field." Faculty luminaries within ECE and its sister unit, the Department of Computer and Information Sciences, now include Guang R. Gao, a key architect of the national effort to create the world's first "petaflops" computer, capable of processing 1 million billion commands or "floating point operations" per second; and Daniel W. van der Weide, winner of a 1997 National Science Foundation Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.
When he arrived at UD as a National Science Foundation fellow, Westerman says he was thrilled, but he soon had a problem. "I came here in February," he explains, "and by summer, I wasn't able to use a computer. I had to ask people to do typing for me." As an undergraduate, Westerman had begun hammering out endless lines of code to create computer programs. By the time he reached UD, he says, all that repetitive work had taken a toll on his wrists. He had developed tendonitis, an enlargement and inflammation of his tendons.
He tackled the problem as an engineering challenge. "To reduce repetitive injuries," he says, "you have to reduce repetition and force, while also spreading the activities to different muscle groups and taking plenty of rest breaks." Software,
for example, can be programmed to recognize an entire segment of typed code or text based on the first three characters in the string. A computer mouse equipped with an optical sensor makes it easier to activate a button without tensing up, Westerman notes. And a specially designed keyboard eases finger strain, while a foot pedal can handle the <shift> function for an overloaded pinky.
With faculty member John G. Elias, Westerman plans to patent a specially designed computer workstation featuring a host of injury-fighting functions. In the meantime, he works in UD's Neuromorphic Systems Laboratory, where researchers are developing electronic models of biological systems. Specifically, Westerman helps create electrical versions of neurons atop silicon platforms.
The work may someday shed light on neurophysiology problems, which have traditionally been explored only by probing a single neuron at a time. Neuromorphic systems also should support the development of self-organizing computers capable of handling non-regular tasks, such as speech recognition, by mimicking animal intelligence and adaptation techniques. Such innovations are still at least "10 or 20 years away," Westerman concedes, but today's simple neuromorphic exercises could eventually pave the way for more flexible computers. "Right now, we are running simple exercises," he reports. "We might say, 'We want this system to create the same movement patterns as a spider.' This way, we can work on a richer set of problems than if we simply say, 'Let's see what happens when we make this system oscillate.'"
Another graduate student, Daniel C. Guerin of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is contributing to a research project that may ultimately yield improved materials for prosthetic joints, as well as new flat-panel display systems for ultra-light portable computers and other electronic devices. One of 24 students supported by the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) award, Guerin spends much of his time at the DuPont Co., working with Senior Research Scientist Ismat Shah, an adjunct physics and astronomy faculty member at UD. Because the massive GAANN prize was awarded jointly to the departments of Physics and Astronomy and Chemical Engineering, as well as the DuPont Co. and the National Institute of Science and Technology's (NIST) Cold Neutron Research Facility, it allows Guerin and other fellowship recipients to conduct multidisciplinary, cutting-edge industrial research with immediate practical applications, Shah notes. In fact, UD, DuPont and NIST have signed a memorandum of understanding to support cooperative science and technology initiatives.
Toward that end, Guerin deposits thin diamond films on various substrates, then analyzes the resulting material. To do this, Shah says, Guerin had to master a suite of highly precise laboratory techniques, including the analysis of diffraction patterns emitted by X-rays directed toward a material sample, and plasma-assisted chemical vapor deposition, which involves "growing" thin films, atom by atom, inside a high-pressure chamber.
"Our immediate goals," Guerin says, "are to speed up the deposition process, make it more cost-effective, improve the adhesion of these thin films to the substrate and develop materials with better electronic and mechanical properties."
A year after she left UD with a master's degree in public administration, Amy Droskoski, '96, helped write history-making health-care legislation. The State Child Health Insurance Program allowed the U.S. House of Representatives Commerce Committee to appropriate $24 billion for 10 million uninsured U.S. children, says Droskoski, who earned her undergraduate degree from Wellesley.
Before graduating from UD, Droskoski was offered a position with one of the nation's leading benefits consulting firms with a "top-of-the-line salary," reports Kathryn G. Denhardt, director of the MPA program. But, she chose instead to accept a Presidential Management Internship, described by Denhardt as "a highly competitive program that selects the brightest stars from across the country for fast-track opportunities in the federal government." Because she wanted to work in the health-policy field, Droskoski was assigned to the Health-care Financing Administration, and she is now on assignment as a staff member for the House Commerce Committee.
"I've always been impassioned by government, and I feel that everyone should give something to their country," Droskoski explains. "Everyone should work toward making our world a better place."
To help write the youth-insurance legislation, Droskoski says, she "met with all interested parties- representatives of the state and advocates for children and their families." She also completed research to identify promising legislative strategies. Her career plan, she says, is simply to "keep working in government and try my hardest to make health care accessible and affordable for the people who need it."
Denhardt predicts that Droskoski "will move very rapidly through senior levels of the federal government." Like 90 percent of all MPA students, Droskoski spent at least 20 hours of each week as a research assistant, working for state and local governments and not-for-profit organizations while also completing UD courses. Her experience working with Eric Jacobson of the Institute for Public Administration bolstered Droskoski's interest in health policy. She credits this hands-on work experience with giving her a leg up on the competition for the Presidential Management Internship.
The University's accredited MPA program-ranked by U.S. News and World Report as among the top 15 percent of all such programs nationwide-"integrates public administration theory with real-world practice," Droskoski notes. Indeed, UD's program has become nationally known as "The Delaware Model," reports Jeffrey R. Raffel, director of the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. Around the country, Denhardt adds, "many other programs are trying to emulate what Delaware has been doing for a number of years within its MPA program."
At UD, Raffel says, theory and practice blend within the curriculum, and "the design and operation of the school itself" also reflect the program's emphasis on real-world experience. A multidisciplinary line-up of faculty from all three academic programs and five centers within the school are expected to "fully participate in teaching, research and service," he says.
Campus-wide, direct access to diverse, internationally renowned scholars draws graduate students to UD, to pursue degrees on a full- or part-time basis, or for lifelong learning. The promise of one-on-one interaction with faculty members like William H. Williams, a professor in the University's Parallel Program at Georgetown, was a key selling point for teacher Cynthia Baker, who received a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree in 1995.
Baker, a seventh-grade geography teacher at Sussex Central Middle School, credits Williams with helping her more effectively promote an appreciation for diversity in her classrooms. Bernard L. Herman, an associate professor of art history, "gave me a whole new perspective on how I teach geography," says Baker, who was Delaware's 1993-94 Teacher of the Year from the Indian River School District and winner of the 1995-96 Delaware Council of the Social Studies Excellence in Teaching Award. And, MALS Director Raymond A. Callahan, associate dean of the College of Arts and Science, "takes every student under his wing, as an individual," Baker says.
For her master's thesis, Baker studied a broad range of literature, historical documentation and sociological art reflecting the culture of the American West. She describes her thesis research as "a riot," but says "it was also grueling." Every MALS student receives intensive faculty supervision, so that the program is "non-traditional but academically rigorous," Callahan says. After Baker's thesis was inspected by a faculty committee, she continued to fine-tune the document. "The final product was still mine," she reports, "but it was a professional document with plenty of polish. I'm very proud of my thesis, because
I worked so hard on it."
A growing number of professionals like Baker are enrolling in the MALS program, attracted by its flexible curriculum and statewide accessibility, Callahan says. The program has grown dramatically, he says-from 14 students in 1988 to 120 in 1997. In concert with faculty advisers, students investigate the humanities as well as the broad social and cultural implications of science by completing 10 courses-at any UD campus location. With most of her courses on UD's Georgetown campus, Baker says she "never had to travel farther than Milford" to complete her degree. "Professors from the Newark campus came to me," she adds, "I didn't have to go to them. That was a big plus in my book."
The University's willingness to meet student needs also has helped boost enrollment for the master of business administration program, which this year climbed 24 spots to be included in the U.S. News & World Report's top 100 listing-a ranking that places UD within the top 10 percent of all 800 MBA programs in North America. Since 1994, the number of full-time students pursuing an MBA degree has jumped from 81 to 130, and 350 applications were submitted in 1997, compared to 280 for the previous year, reports Alexander L. Brown, director of MBA admissions. Enrollment for part-time and on-site participation in the MBA program also is on the rise, he says.
This growth may be attributed, in part, to UD's strategy of leveraging its ties with corporate partners to expand career services for business students, Brown says. "We're located in the middle of the so-called 'chemistry corridor,' and Delaware's banking and financial-services sector is huge," Brown observes. "We're well-positioned to help our graduates get jobs, and we're making the most of that advantage." Most recently, for example, UD launched a Corporate Associates internship program, in cooperation with such leading employers as W.L. Gore & Associates; CSC, The United States Corp.; the DuPont Co.; DuPont-Dow; Peirce Park Group; Fleet Bank; Guardian Companies; Business Dynamics; and the state of Delaware Treasurer's Office.
In addition, the College of Business and Economics recently has begun to parlay UD's national reputation as "The Technology University," by developing an information technologies concentration at the graduate level. And, unique international opportunities, such as a student-exchange arrangement with the University of Lyon in France, enhance the diversity of UD's graduate business programs, says James Mulligan, a professor of economics.
Across campus, Cavanaugh says, an impressive number of UD departments offering graduate degrees are growing rapidly while also moving quickly up the ladder of national rankings. The Department of Chemical Engineering's doctoral-track program continues to rank among the world's top 10, and the Department of Psychology now is "among the top tier, nationwide," he says.
With concentrations in biopsychology as well as clinical, cognitive and social psychology, the UD program is home to such heavy hitters as "world-famous neuroscientist" Seymor Levine, National Academy of Sciences member Frances K. Graham and Unidel Prof. Carroll E. Izard, whose studies of emotional development may result in more effective intervention programs for at-risk children, reports department Chairperson Evelyn Satinoff. The program also claims a lengthy list of younger distinguished scientists doing research in important fields, she adds. Samuel L. Gaertner's pursuit of the origins of racism, for example, and cognitive studies of language development by Barbara Landau, combined with a host of other faculty projects, have placed UD's psychology program on the national map, according to Satinoff.
Given the strength of UD's graduate programs campus-wide, Cavanaugh says, it's not surprising that UD's most recent Rhodes scholar, Douglas Mauro de Lorenzo-the University's ninth student to receive the prestigious scholarship- chose to pursue a master's degree in linguistics while also obtaining his undergraduate degree in cognitive sciences.
"Graduate students at UD really are in the best of all possible worlds," Cavanaugh contends. "We offer a world-class research institution, coupled with intensive teaching instruction and the kind of one-on-one interaction with senior faculty members that you would expect to find only at a small, four-year college. When our graduate students leave UD, they're ready for anything life might toss their way."