Donald Sparks and Charles Epifanio
receive graduate advising awards


Donald Sparks

Charles Epifanio

D onald Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Plant and Soil Sciences, and Charles Epifanio, professor of marine studies, received the University's Outstanding Graduate Student Mentoring and Advising Awards, at the doctoral level and master's degree level, respectively.

The first-time awards were presented May 24 at the Doctoral Commencement Dinner by Mary Martin, assistant provost for graduate studies, with each professor receiving a plaque and a $1,000 stipend. Their names also will be added to Mentors' Circle.

Presented by the Office of Graduate Studies, the new awards "honor faculty members whose dedication to graduate students and commitment to excellence in graduate training have made a significant contribution to the quality of life and professional development of graduate students at the University of Delaware." The sole criterion is outstanding advising and mentoring.

Sparks joined the UD faculty in 1979 and has chaired the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences since 1989. He also holds joint faculty appointments in the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Chemistry and Biochemistry.

His research focuses on the kinetics of soil chemistry processes, with emphasis on metal and organic chemical interaction at the soil, mineral/ water interface.

Among his awards, he is a fellow of the Society of Agronomy, the Soil Science Society of America and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. At UD, he was selected for the Francis Alison Award in 1996. He currently serves as president of the International Union of Soil Sciences.

A graduate of Lafayette College with a doctorate from Duke University, Epifanio joined the UD faculty in 1971. He has served as Marine Biology-Biochemistry Program director and as associate dean of the College of Marine Studies, initiating the college's public tour program at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in 1992, which has attracted more than 10,000 visitors. He also has created innovative UD Coast Day activities, focusing on the blue crab and other fisheries.

His research focuses primarily on the blue crab and the factors that affect the crab population, including the biology of marine larvae and early juveniles and the physical and biological factors that drive year-to-year variation in populations of fish and crustaceans. This summer, satellites and sampling will be used to refine a mathematical model of the processes involved in blue crab transport.