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Wendy Smith (left) and Yushan Yan have been named to Clarivate’s global list of Highly Cited Researchers 2022 for the impact of their research publications on their respective fields.
Wendy Smith (left) and Yushan Yan have been named to Clarivate’s global list of Highly Cited Researchers 2022 for the impact of their research publications on their respective fields.

UD faculty among world’s most influential researchers

Photo illustration by Jeffrey C. Chase

Two named Highly Cited Researchers for 2022

University of Delaware professors Wendy Smith and Yushan Yan have been named to the world’s “who’s who” list of most influential researchers for 2022.

This is the fourth consecutive year that Smith, the Dana J. Johnson Professor of Business in the Lerner College of Business and Economics, and Yan, the Henry Belin du Pont Chair in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the College of Engineering, have been recognized as Highly Cited Researchers.

Each has had multiple papers ranking in the top 1% by citations for field and publication year in the Web of Science citation index over the past decade.

“The Highly Cited Researchers list identifies and celebrates exceptional individual researchers at the University of Delaware who are having a significant impact on the research community as evidenced by the rate at which their work is being cited by their peers,” said David Pendlebury, a UD alumnus (history major, Class of 1979) and head of research analysis at the Institute for Scientific Information at Clarivate, which releases the annual global listing.

“These individuals are helping to transform human ingenuity into our world’s greatest breakthroughs — and it is an honor to celebrate their achievements.”

While publishing research papers can take years of data collection and analysis — over 10 years for some of her papers, Smith said, this painstaking activity is essential to moving society forward.

“While these papers can take a long time, the insights that emerge from them can be quite powerful and impactful on other scholars, and on how people engage with this work in the world outside of academia,” Smith said.

Smith, who also is co-founder and faculty director of the Women’s Leadership Initiative at UD, researches how people navigate our toughest problems, ranging from individual challenges to global crises. Her research finds that a typical approach to navigating tensions resorts to “either/or” thinking that pits one side against another, which is limited at best and detrimental at worst, according to Smith. 

“Instead, noticing the underlying paradoxes of our challenges — the contradictory yet interdependent demands — and applying ‘both/and’ thinking leads to more creative and sustainable solutions to our greatest challenges,” she said. 

Her new book, Both/And Thinking, translates her research for a broader audience and is designed to help people more effectively address an issue or challenge in their lives, from climate change to work-life tensions.

Yan, director of UD’s new Center for Clean Hydrogen, is on a quest to “accelerate the energy transition and avoid the climate crisis,” an effort that requires innovation and collaboration on many levels. 

“We do research by standing on the shoulders of others,” he said. “We publish to provide a shoulder to others who might find our work useful.”

What advice would he give other researchers eager to help drive the innovation engine? 

“Identify big problems whose solutions really matter and then read deeply and widely and as far back as possible to come up with unique yet simple solutions,” Yan said. 

Writing research publications is hard work. How do UD’s 2022 Highly Cited Researchers get it done? A support team is critical.

“No academic is an island,” Smith said. “I work closely with coauthors, collaborators and students to advance this scholarship. I am also grateful to my team at the Women's Leadership Initiative at UD, and the broader team at Lerner that help remind me of why I do this research and the impact of my work. My husband is also an academic. Together, we value the upsides of our field while supporting one another through the difficult parts.” 

Yan added, “I have a team of talented students and postdocs who help me to truly realize the approach I outlined earlier. UD and the College of Engineering have wonderful teams that assist me with proposals and project execution.”

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