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Alumni briefs

Better research, better data make for better schools

Atnreakn Alleyne

Atnreakn Alleyne, AS09M, a doctoral candidate in political science, has been selected as a Strategic Data Project Fellow by Harvard’s Center for Education Policy Research.

A group of fellows is selected each year by the Harvard center, which places them in partner education agencies around the country to bring high-quality research methods and data analysis to bear on strategic management and policy decisions. Alleyne has been placed in a two-year fellowship in the Delaware Department of Education, working with the Teacher and Leader Effectiveness Unit to evaluate education reform efforts pioneered through federal Race to the Top funding.

“This is a great opportunity to promote a culture that uses data to drive decision making, especially in education, where the lives of children are at stake,” Alleyne says.

Through the fellowship, he will analyze data related to various innovative reform efforts, as well as set up data systems for the state.

Candidates for the fellowship must hold an advanced degree and have a strong background in quantitative analysis, proven leadership and management experience, excellent communications skills and a demonstrated passion for education reform.

Alleyne, of Camden, N.J., holds a master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University in addition to his master’s degree in political science from UD. He and his wife are the founders of TeenSHARP, a college-access program that provides underrepresented students with quality preparation, advising, resources and leadership development to attain higher education.

Recently, Alleyne was awarded a first-place prize of $2,500 from the “Be Big in Your Community” contest sponsored by the publisher Scholastic to train high school students to promote higher education in schools that lack a culture of going on to college.

A game-changer for girls in Afghanistan

Awista Ayub

Awista Ayub, AS09M, has been recognized by ESPN as one of 40 women who have changed the way sports are played.

Ayub, who founded the Afghan Youth Sports Exchange a decade ago at age 23 and brought eight Afghani girls to America to teach them soccer, chronicled her experiences in her 2010 book, However Tall the Mountain. She earned her master’s degree in public administration in 2009 from UD’s School of Public Policy and Administration.

She was honored by ESPN The Magazine with its “Peacemaker” title.

“Today, thanks in large part to Ayub’s efforts, there are 15 girls soccer teams administered by the Afghanistan Football Federation, and the Afghanistan Olympic Committee has formed a national women’s team,” the magazine said in announcing the award.

“Now, in her role [as director of South Asia Programs] with Seeds of Peace, Ayub uses basketball, soccer and tennis to introduce conflict resolution to children in many regions around the world, including India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

Ayub was born in Afghanistan and immigrated to the U.S. as a child. Her efforts to bring soccer to youngsters, especially girls, in her native county have been recognized by ABC News, which named her a “Person of the Week,” and Glamour magazine, which featured her as a “Hero of the Month.” In 2006, she received ESPY’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

Alumnus tracks his Blue Hen connection

Frank Vanderslice and Ben Sahd

Over the years, Frank Vanderslice, EH77M, of Newark, Del., has run into other UD alumni in such far-flung places as Canada’s Yukon Territory and Hollywood, Calif.

He boosts his odds of finding fellow Blue Hens by wearing a UD cap or shirt while traveling.

Vanderslice’s most recent encounter was with the parent of a current student he met while at Zion National Park in Utah last summer. In this photo are Vanderslice, left, and Ben Sahd, whose daughter Laura is a College of Health Sciences student set to graduate in 2015.

Computer scientist honored for research on image-recognition capability

Deva Ramanan
Photo courtesy of the University of California Irvine

Deva Ramanan, EG00, an associate professor of computer science at the University of California Irvine, has been named one of Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10” young scientists of 2012.

The designation places him on the magazine’s annual honor roll of the 10 most promising scientists.

Ramanan is working to improve a computer’s image-recognition capability or, in simpler terms, a computer’s ability to see people. He has devised a computational algorithm that allows computers to recognize three-dimensional flat photography through software that “teaches” the computer to identify body parts and match them to a flexible human template.

“Face-recognition software, which pinpoints the classic eyes-nose-mouth configuration, has been in use for years,” Popular Science wrote about Ramanan’s research. “But detecting a human body—any human body—is much more challenging for computers due to the endless variety of possible poses, angles, sizes and outfits.”

Ramanan believes his work could lead to advances in future computer vision systems, particularly in pedestrian-detection systems for self-driving cars, videogame systems enhancements and even home monitoring for patients undergoing long-term rehabilitation.

Future dentist creates artwork that rocks

Topaz with rhyolite from Utah's Thomas Range, acrylic on canvas
Topaz with rhyolite from Utah's Thomas Range, acrylic on canvas

Ed Bayley, AS10, collected minerals as a childhood hobby and then moved on to other pastimes in high school, including painting in the genres of photorealism and hyperrealism.

Later, while a student at UD, he visited the University’s Mineralogical Museum in Penny Hall on campus and found that his interest in the subject continued. He also realized that he could combine that passion with his love of art and, in 2011, began painting minerals.

“It was a natural progression to mineral illustration,” he told the magazine Rocks & Minerals, which featured him in its May/June issue last summer. “I had to ask myself, ‘Why didn’t I think of this earlier?’”

Today, Bayley is a dental student at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his degree in biological sciences at UD and never seriously considered formally studying art or becoming a professional artist. Why? The short answer, he says, is that dentistry is an art form of its own.

“The long answer is that I never really wanted painting to become work,” he says. “I think that when an avocation becomes a vocation, it loses its freedom and ceases to be there as an escape. While dentistry is art on a schedule, I prefer to keep my painting a hobby; that way the process of inspiration and painting can occur on its own terms.”

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