From the Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation
For many, the term “disruptor” conjures up an unwelcome intervening, an off-key note in the humming along of our daily routines. Recall a friend who was constantly uncooperative in the classroom, drawing your teacher’s ire. The crack of thunder that wakes you in the middle of the night. Or the road work between Newark and Wilmington, creating impossibly long delays along I-95 for tens of thousands of commuters.
As the definition reminds us, a disruptor prevents things from proceeding as usual. But that’s not always bad. In research and education, we’re always turning ideas and methods on their ear in the quest to learn something new, to discover something that works better.
The unflattering phrase—universities move at a glacial pace—reflects the perception that universities are slower to change than other institutions. But under the surface of such a seemingly stable environment, our faculty and students are shaking things up. Universities have the irresistible combination of talented educators and experts, at the top of their fields, pushing into often uncharted territory, and students who want to join them in making their mark on the world.
It’s a combination that delivers. Universities are high-energy intellectual and cultural hubs, preparing students to solve the challenges of the future, from developing more effective medical treatments to protecting the planet’s biodiversity. Such solutions will require a deep understanding in a particular discipline, with complementary skills in critical thinking, communication, collaboration, entrepreneurship—know-how we are equipped to supply in conjunction with our community partners from business and nonprofits.
Increasingly, U.S. universities also are becoming the research and development centers for industry, helping our nation maintain its innovation prowess, which directly translates into economic growth. According to a recent study commissioned by the University, UD is a significant driver of our region’s economy, spurring $2.8 billion in economic activity in Delaware and $4.7 billion throughout the Northeast corridor.
So at UD, you’ll find disruptors and their positive impacts everywhere you go. This issue of UD Research highlights only a few of them. In this issue are the firsthand accounts of what drives these scholars—their aha! moments, how they deal with naysayers, what satisfies them, what terrifies them—to ensure things don’t proceed as usual. I hope you enjoy meeting them.
Although universities may seem like sleeping giants to some, I would argue that here at UD, we are idea giants that never sleep—overcoming challenges once-thought impossible and changing the world for the better.
Charles G. Riordan, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation
UD researchers partner with Reebok to build a “smart” sports bra — a sports bra engineered to actually do its job!
This issue of the University of Delaware Research magazine puts new faces on this idea of disruption, highlighting the innovative way our researchers are tackling complex problems. Learn about their work and what drives them and how the disruption they cause can produce real benefit for our world.
UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus is shining ever brighter with the nationally recognized Tower at STAR.
As a growing research institution, the University of Delaware is a place where you’ll find new ideas constantly sparking solutions to challenges once deemed impossible.The wonder of innovation is all around us, but what do you really know about it? Try your hand at these questions.
Now in its fourth year, this annual exhibit offers a captivating glimpse into a vast world of discovery at the University of Delaware.
Something truly special emerged from a box that no one expected until Julie McGee, associate professor of Africana Studies and Art History, and her University of Delaware students got their hands on the 53 photographs inside.
A professor of management at UD’s Lerner College of Business and Economics, Wendy Smith focuses on how leaders and teams can effectively respond to contradictory agendas.
How does a new supermarket impact people who live nearby? Can healthy options be found in the little store down the street? These are questions that Allison Karpyn ponders regularly.
Jason Gleghorn has held a variety of jobs since college—teacher, firefighter, medic, engineer. Today, he’s an interpreter of sorts, too, deciphering the language that cells use to communicate in hopes of advancing new treatments for congenital birth defects, pediatric diseases and more.
Professor of Africana studies at UD and an ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Monica A. Coleman focuses on the role of faith in addressing critical social and philosophical issues.
With skills in physical therapy, behavioral neuroscience and biomechanics, Anjana Bhat brings expansive expertise to her work developing creative therapies for those living with autism spectrum disorders.
These co-founders of the Robotic Discovery Laboratories in UD’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment manage a growing robotics fleet for use on land, in air and under the sea. They explore questions along the coast, at the poles and in deep regions of the ocean.
So, what do a virologist, botanist and soil physicist have in common? This team from UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is leveraging their collective expertise to ensure that our food supply is safe and abundant, now and in the future.
UD researchers have been recognized recently by the National Institutes of Health, American Political Science Association, TED Fellows program, National Science Foundation, National Academy of Inventors and the Gates Cambridge Scholarship program.
Check out some recent developments, from the launching of major research programs to address environmental and health issues in the First State, to the preservation of a pair of 1909 mittens with a hallowed history.
SUBSCRIBE & CONNECT
The University of Delaware Research magazine, a free publication issued twice a year, showcases the discoveries, inventions and excellence of the University’s faculty, staff and students. Sign up for a free subscription.