The University of Delaware has 1,131 full-time faculty.
In spite of the economic downturn, the University of Delaware has been fortunate to be able to hire outstanding faculty in critical areas — 42 faculty and 5 department chairs in the past year alone. UD Research invited a half dozen of these newbies to submit brief profiles about themselves. Why did they decide to come to UD? What studies will they undertake here? And what else should we know about them? A hearty welcome to all!
Why did you decide on UD? Two reasons: (1) Willett Kempton — he and I collaborated on a paper in 2007 and have been in touch since then. He’s inspired, advised and supported me and strongly advocated for UD in the past. (2) The research opportunities in offshore wind energy.
Hometown: Como, Italy
Major areas of research/scholarship: Meteorology, wind power, renewable energy, climate science, air pollution, pretty much anything that has to do with the atmosphere!
One of your biggest (academic) accomplishments: I was instrumental in making Airborne Wind Energy more accepted in the scientific community and in the public arena in general. Before my paper was published in 2009, AWE, which captures wind power high in the air using kites, gliders and other mechanisms, was almost science fiction to most people, and even AWE startups did not know about one another. I organized the first conference on AWE in 2009 in Chico, Calif., and within a few months the first consortium of AWE companies was born, and they are now at their fourth worldwide conference.
Current projects: I’m exploring the effects of kinetic energy extraction via wind turbines at the large scale on the global climate.
Greatest inspiration: Believe it or not, I never thought about this question before and find it very hard ... I am such a nerd! I thought about it for a day, and I think that this is what inspires me in a general sense: beauty, intelligence and math.
What else should we know about you? Another classic question that has left me and still leaves me speechless ... I love: my family of course, food made with love and reading fiction. Friends make me happy, and challenges make me feel alive. Beauty makes me feel good, and therefore I tend to like modern, essential, pure designs in all objects that I need, from wall clocks to forks. My favorite noise is that of wine when it's first poured in the glass, and I hate air conditioning. I have a hard time not saying what I think, and I think you have probably had enough of this!!
Why did you decide on UD? After almost two decades at Occidental College, I left L.A. to avoid traffic, “the big one” and the stasis that sometimes results from being in one place for too long. I came to Delaware because it’s an exciting time. With a mandate from the top, the University is expanding in crucial directions as many universities are constricting. My colleagues across the College of Arts and Sciences are incredibly accomplished, as well as generous and down to earth. That’s a powerful combination.
Hometown: I grew up between Chicago and Los Angeles. I claim one over the other depending on whether the Bulls or the Lakers are having a good season.
Major areas of research/scholarship: African American literature, American studies and nineteenth century American literature.
One of your biggest (academic) accomplishments: My biggest accomplishment has been to maintain a national profile as an intellectual committed to educational and social justice issues and community partnerships without having to trade one in for the other.
Current projects: I’m currently working on a project that examines serialized novels about transnational resistance in nineteenth-century black newspapers.
Greatest inspiration: I’m inspired by how many people who have come before us have “made a way out of no way.” I try to honor their spirit and sacrifice.
What else should we know about you? I like great fresh food and beautiful places to walk and hike. Recommendations are appreciated!
Why did you decide on UD? I joined UD as Chair of the Department of Psychology last summer. I was most excited by the opportunity to help expand an already strong department. Especially, I was (and am!) impressed by the college leadership and the department faculty. The college and the department share a vision of how that growth will serve UD’s goals in undergraduate education, graduate education and national prominence and how it’s feasible given what’s already in place. I was honored to be asked to help achieve that.
Hometown: No one place — born in St. Louis, grew up in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts
Major areas of research/scholarship: I study brain mechanisms in psychopathology, such as what depression and anxiety share, and what differentiates them, in neural function. I also write about philosophical issues in the relationship between psychology and neuroscience.
One of your biggest (academic) accomplishments: Using a combination of neuroimaging methods, EEG and MRI, we identified a functional disconnection in the brain associated with depression and not with anxiety. This helps us in understanding the nature of depression psychologically and biologically.
Current projects: Various projects — follow-ups to that finding [above], follow-ups to a recent successful demonstration of a new cognitive training program for schizophrenia and studies examining the mutual effects of emotion and cognition.
Greatest inspiration: Scientists throughout history who made a difference; brilliant, hard-working collaborators and students with high standards.
What else should we know about you? Happy to be back on the East Coast; appreciative of the harmony and goodwill and optimism of UD; committed to promoting diversity, very broadly defined, in and beyond the university community; my clinical research is informed by being a long-time, part-time clinician myself, while focusing on my research.
Why did you decide on UD? I had been serving as commissioner for education research at the Institute of Education Sciences, which is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education, for several years. I’d always planned to return to academia at some point. When President Harker met with me in D.C. to talk about the College of Education and Human Development, he presented an exciting vision for the University and the college. Honestly, at the time, I didn’t know much about Delaware, but I was looking for a new challenge and the more I explored the idea, it seemed like a good fit. The University has great people, a strong community, and is in a time of growth and development, which presents many opportunities to have an impact on the college.
Hometown: San Jose, California
Major areas of research/scholarship: My research has focused on the learning and achievement of students of color. Most recently, I have explored the roles of ethnic identity and bicultural efficacy in the achievement of American Indian and Latino students.
One of your biggest (academic) accomplishments: I established the peer review system for the Institute of Education Sciences and shaped the education research grant programs for 10 years. During this time, we launched major research programs, including the $100M Reading for Understanding program, a research program to evaluate the impact of state and local education programs, and the interdisciplinary pre-doctoral research training program in the education sciences.
Current projects: What day is it? Seriously, as the dean of a newly reorganized college, my primary concern is keeping all of the balls in the air without dropping one that is breakable! We’ve just prepared a strategic plan for the college and a budget that ensures our fiscal sustainability, and are exploring new options for our academic programs, advancing our research capacity and developing a quarterly publication to let our alumni and friends know the great things that are happening in the college.
Greatest inspiration: People who embrace responsibility and take the initiative to engage in projects that ultimately change people’s lives for the better. People who have great ideas and are passionate about their work. Big challenges that need to be met head-on, and developing creative solutions that go beyond solving the immediate problem to making the entire system, organization or whatever, better.
What else should we know about you? A few years ago, along with other members of a choir, I joined with a Ukrainian chorale to sing St. Matthew’s Passion in German in the opera house in Odessa, Ukraine. The Ukrainian singers were really serious singers. Sadly, I am not. Hence, I must confess that there were a couple of very fast sections that I never really mastered, so I resorted to just moving my lips during those sections.
Why did you decide on UD? After nine years in London I was ready to “return home.” The University has a great history and inspiring plans. I am eager to draw on my experience to contribute to the progress of Lerner College.
Hometown: Wellesley, Mass. — 12 miles west of Boston
Major areas of research/scholarship: My academic field is information systems, and within that I study how technology improves the transparency and fairness of financial exchanges, and develop and test models of how trading is being transformed through software and digital markets.
One of your biggest (academic) accomplishments: I co-founded a joint industry-academic conference (GEMS) on business strategy for stock exchanges in 1996. Leading executives come to learn and discuss how to improve their market operations. It has been held in a number of cities including Istanbul, Geneva, Athens Frankfurt, and most recently, in Amsterdam, June 3–6 — that was our seventeenth. Initially, we were uncertain we’d draw an audience at all.
The most exciting project at Lerner College now is to launch an innovative and demanding Online MBA. It covers 16 key management subjects over 18 months, and we will have our first cohort of students in early 2013.
Another activity I look forward to is co-teaching a Fall 2012 version of the “Trading and Financial Market Structure” elective I have taught in New York and London. The course includes 5–6 competitive trading simulations that challenge students to practice what they learn.
Greatest inspiration: My father — he was a senior executive and a regulator in the energy industry and built two successful management consulting firms, but he always made his family his first priority. I lost my mother to cancer at a young age, so it was not easy.
What else should we know about you?
Although I have spent my entire 21-year faculty career in New York City and London, I have relatives that farm in central Ohio, and I spent summers there long ago working very hard.
I am a runner, and was a New England qualifier and raced in the NCAA Division 1 cross-country championships and broke the school record for the 3,000-meter run as an undergraduate at Harvard.
Why did you decide on UD? With the significant investment the University has made in energy and environmental research, it is an exciting time to join UD.
Hometown: Jilin, China
Major areas of research/scholarship: Materials for energy, the environment and microelectronics
One of your biggest (academic) accomplishments: Seeing some of my inventions moving forward with commercial development, such as thin films of zeolite, a porous crystal that remains rigid in the presence of water, as a cheaper, environmentally safer coating for corrosion-proofing aluminum alloys used in commercial aircraft.
Current projects: Development of new catalysts and membranes to reduce the cost and improve the durability of fuel cells.
Greatest inspiration: Unique, simple and outside-the-box solutions to society-impacting energy and environmental problems.
What else should we know about you? I enjoy a daily long and quiet walk.