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For the Record, Friday, Nov. 3, 2023

Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson

University of Delaware community reports new presentations, awards and publications

For the Record provides information about recent professional activities and honors of University of Delaware faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Recent presentations, awards and publications include the following:


Kimberly Blockett, chair and professor of Africana Studies, spoke about her new scholarly edition of Memoirs of the Life, Religious Experience, Ministerial Travels, and Labours of Mrs. Elaw in a virtual book talk for The Society for the Study of American Women Writers SSAWW Reads series on Thursday, Oct. 26. The talk focused on how racism and sexism have obscured the literary histories of Black women, how those influences have been counteracted and the complicated relationships between intersectional identities, respectability and the politics of print. 


Gonzalo Arce and Jamie Phillips of the College of Engineering’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering were named as members of the 2024 Fellows Class of Optica (formerly the Optical Society of America). This year’s class includes 129 fellows from 26 countries who were selected based on their outstanding contributions in advancing optics and photonics research, business, education and engineering as well as for their service contributions to Optica. Arce, Charles Black Evans Professor and JPMorgan-Chase Senior Faculty Fellow, was recognized by Optica “for pioneering contributions in the area of coded aperture computational imaging.” As an expert in computational imaging, graph signal processing and machine learning, his interdisciplinary research contributions have been applied to a number of domains including biomedicine, lithography and earth science. Phillips, professor and department chair, was recognized by Optica “for pioneering contributions to optoelectronic materials and devices for infrared detectors and photovoltaics.” His research program is focused on devices for advanced infrared detection, photovoltaics, energy harvesting and biomedical sensors, with the goal of addressing challenges in the fields of energy, security, health and sustainability. Founded in 1916, Optica is the leading organization for scientists, engineers, business professionals, students and others interested in the science of light. Optica’s newest class of fellows will be honored at conferences and events throughout 2024.

Jean Pfaelzer, professor emerita of English, East Asian studies, and women and gender studies, received the 2023 Heyday History Award for her book, California, A Slave State. The book reveals the untold history of California as a slave state and rewrites the understanding of the West from its founding to today. The forgotten history of slavery and indentured and incarcerated laborers in the state of California is uncovered, and contemporary victims of human trafficking are explained. Pfaelzer celebrated her award alongside Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Joan Baez at a virtual ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 26. 

Mary Webb, a second-year student in the Nutrition Science PhD Program in the College of Health Sciences, won an Early Career Lightning Talk Competition at the 2023 Obesity Week conference held in Dallas, Texas, in October. Webb, who’s working alongside Melissa Melough, assistant professor of health behavior and nutrition sciences, explained their research focuses on environmental chemicals known as phthalates and their impact on obesity and cardiometabolic health. In examining the connection between phthalates and body fat, they determined some phthalates are associated with higher body fat percentages and more fat around internal organs in adolescent boys and adult women and men. Next, they’ll explore the associations between exposure to these chemicals during pregnancy and early childhood obesity.

“I am honored and grateful to have won the Early Career Lightning Talk Competition at the annual ObesityWeek conference,” Webb said. “This was an amazing event that provided me with the opportunity to effectively communicate my research to an audience in three minutes. I am encouraged and excited by the interest and enthusiasm the audience showed towards the important work I’m completing with Dr. Melough.”

Other authors on the poster presentation included Jillian Trabulsi, associate professor and chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Nutrition Sciences; Jee Won Park, assistant professor in the Epidemiology Program, and Drew Day, epidemiologist at Seattle Children's Research Institute.


Margaret Stetz, Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies and professor of humanities, continues her career as a poet with another publication related to her scholarly and teaching interests in late-Victorian literature: "The Importance...(for Oscar Wilde),” which appears in NOON: Journal of the Short Poem. In addition, two other poems have been published recently online in electronic literary journals: "A/Trophy," in Magnets and Ladders and "Talkin' 'Bout My (Re)Generation" in Tangled Locks Journal.

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