Xiaozhou Zhou receives his doctoral hood from Babatunde Ogunnaike, interim dean of the College of Engineering, and his dissertation adviser, Prof. Liyun Wang. The topic of Zhou's dissertation was modeling solute transport in loaded bone -- research that is critical to understanding osteoporosis.

Doctoral hooding

Grads join elite group of less than 1 percent of population

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2:52 p.m., Jan. 9, 2012--Less than 1 percent of the U.S. population holds a doctoral degree. And now, 161 freshly minted University of Delaware doctoral recipients -- full of perseverance and passion for their work -- can call themselves members of that prestigious group. 

On Sunday, Jan. 8, in the Roselle Center for the Arts, UD’s graduating doctoral students took the stage, one by one, to receive academia’s highest degree, with family and friends cheering them on.

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As Mary Martin, assistant provost for graduate and professional education, introduced each student, University President Patrick Harker extended his congratulations, and the student’s dissertation adviser and college dean bestowed the royal-blue velvet doctoral hood.

“The University of Delaware puts a premium on exceptional graduate education,” Harker said, “because we believe the University has an obligation to contribute to the advancement of knowledge, and to marshal that knowledge for the benefit of humanity.”

Harker noted that the University believes its doctoral recipients are obliged to be creators of knowledge and “thought leaders” who will drive national and global conversations on society’s most pressing problems. 

He asked the graduates “to live their education every day” and “to pursue truth and prioritize compassion, improve the lives of others and the world in which they live, and to contribute doggedly to a body of knowledge that will help perfect us as a people.”

In the convocation address, Roberta Golinkoff, H. Rodney Sharp Professor in the School of Education, urged the doctoral graduates to “Think BIG” about their future--with “BIG” the acronym for “Balance, Interdisciplinary and Give back.” 

To achieve “balance,” Golinkoff urged the graduates to remember to leave the building where they work, take time for friends and family, go to their kids’ soccer games and recitals, exercise and patronize the arts. 

For “interdisciplinary,” Golinkoff pointed out that new interdisciplinary academic fields are emerging, and “amazing discoveries and synergies” will continue to arise as researchers come out of their “knowledge silos.” Communications lies at the heart of interdisciplinary work, she noted. 

For “give back,” she encouraged the graduates to contribute to the advancement of society by such means as mentoring others, joining boards and speaking to school groups. 

Golinkoff pointed out that the doctoral graduates are in the crème de la crème not only because of their intellect and passion for their work, but their perseverance.

Shannon Green, who received her doctorate in marine studies, had a baby the day before her dissertation defense in September. But that didn’t deter her from completing her degree. She came through both childbirth, and the defense of her dissertation focusing on ecosystem-based fisheries management, with flying colors. She will teach a course in marine studies at Duke University this summer.

Andrew Lynch has now completed two doctorates at UD in eight and a half years. The recipient of a doctorate in biomechanics and movement sciences for his dissertation research on restoring knee function after anterior ligament injury, Lynch previously earned a doctorate in physical therapy. 

Rosalind Kotz, from Schenectady, N.Y., lived in Newark, Del., to complete her doctorate in urban affairs and public policy. She was attracted to the interdisciplinary nature of UD’s program.

“I’m so excited, just thrilled,” said Kotz, whose dissertation topic was the geographic concentration of subsidized housing. She plans to pursue a research career back home in New York focusing on housing, homelessness and reducing poverty.

Although 161 doctoral degrees officially were conferred, a number of graduating students were not in attendance because they are already in their places of work, Charlie Riordan, vice provost for graduate and professional education, said. The ceremony included students graduating at both the end of the 2011 summer and fall semesters.

Riordan urged UD’s newest doctoral recipients to take their great gift of knowledge and now put it into action. Quoting John Quincy Adams, Riordan said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Article by Tracey Bryant

Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson and Lane McLaughlin

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