From the Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation
Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation, University of Delaware
Ihope you and your loved ones are safe and well in these unprecedented times. As the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, we honor those who have fallen to this disease. I also want to thank the scientific community around the world working non-stop, the front-line workers who are keeping our society going, and all who with spirit and resilience are putting one foot in front of the other each day to keep moving forward.
Science and scientists are bringing remarkably effective vaccines and therapeutics to the fore. Until vaccinations become widespread, please be vigilant — physically distance, wear your mask and wash your hands.
UD researchers have been contributing to the COVID fight in so many important ways. Our leading epidemiology program and renowned Disaster Research Center have been sharing their expertise with policymakers on state to international levels. Our biochemists are analyzing the molecular structure of the virus to determine how it functions. Our engineers have created new face mask designs and methods for cleaning them. Our experts in psychology are providing the public with advice for maintaining good mental health amid the greater isolation and disruptions to daily life. And the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals (NIIMBL), a public-private partnership headquartered at UD’s Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus and part of the Manufacturing USA Network, is helping to develop approaches to accelerate manufacturing once a vaccine has been approved for use.
At UD, we ramped down research activities in March, and then gradually began resuming work in the lab, in the field and at partner facilities a few months later. Our faculty, students and staff have been phenomenal throughout this multi-phase process — UD’s research operations have returned to nearly pre-COVID levels now, thanks to vigilance in following health and safety protocols.
While our faculty are doing a remarkable job winning major grants, our graduate students also are keeping UD’s research engine humming with their hard work and ingenuity. UD has 60 doctoral and 145 master’s degree programs, and we are poised for future growth with the recent launching of our Graduate College. We are pleased to introduce you to several of our graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in this issue. As they pursue projects across the sciences and humanities, I hope their commitment and character will fill you with unshakable confidence that we will move beyond these difficult days toward a brighter, more equitable future.
We look forward to engaging you in this first digital-only issue of UD Research — be sure to check out our graduate student and robotics features for deeper interactivity and drop us a note at UDResearch@udel.edu to let us know what you think.
Research will help us overcome this pandemic and the challenges beyond. As a research-intensive university, UD is training new generations to deliver facts, innovations and answers for society. We will keep moving forward. At UD, research never stops.
Charles G. Riordan, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Innovation
Check out our COVID-19 research, a virtual visit with the editor-in-chief of Science, and undergrads at work on the Frontiers of Discovery.
UD faculty and students have won major recognition for their expertise and contributions.
This issue of the University of Delaware Research magazine introduces you to a critical creative force at UD — our graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. Their ingenuity is lighting new routes to discovery and solutions.
It all began with a Joseph Conrad novel. Doctoral student Pablo McConnie-Saad discusses his journey to better understand democracy, as the first Whittington Graduate Fellow at the Biden Institute.
Doctoral student and Graduate Scholar Nefetaria Yates is examining school discipline and the tactics Black girls have developed for dealing with the pressures they face. Her ultimate goal is to elevate voices that have been silenced.
Entrepreneur Ahad Behboodi wants to see kids with cerebral palsy move more freely. He plans to commercialize a robotic foot device with the power to help them.
Lexie Tabachnick, in her fifth year of doctoral studies, helps to mentor other grad students and undergraduates while she studies the powerful impact a UD-developed family intervention program is having on vulnerable kids.
Sanchita Balachandran, associate director of Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum and doctoral student in preservation studies at UD, is uncovering the forgotten makers of ancient Greek ceramics, and in so doing, changing our understanding of the past.
Elvis Ebikade thinks potato peels hold a lot of promise. He’s working on converting the food waste to valuable chemicals and fuels that can power an environmentally-friendly future.
As a postdoctoral researcher, Liz Coward collected samples of permafrost from the icy walls of a research tunnel in Alaska to study the carbon stored within it.
Researchers at the University of Delaware are leveraging robotic systems to gain traction on tough problems. Learn how they are driving forward transformative solutions in agriculture, precision medicine, health care, cybersecurity, marine ecology and more.
University of Delaware researchers Matthew Oliver and Katherine Hudson think that some biological hotspots in Antarctica may operate less like local farms and more like grocery stores. If they are correct, it could provide new information about how this ecosystem will be affected under climate change.
Brain-swarm technology is meant to connect minds and machines. For Associate Professor Panos Artemiadis such robotics research has one purpose: To make life and work better for humans.
Sambeeta Das is forging into an exciting world you can see only with high-powered microscopes, where sci-fi meets reality. Welcome to the world of microrobots!
Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability, but UD Professor Jennifer Semrau is working to change that. With the help of a robot, she’s uncovering a critical sixth sense that gets sidelined with stroke.
Adam Stager is working on chemical-free ways to help strawberry farmers improve yield using an autonomous field robot.
Children have grown up with interactive technologies like Siri, Google and Alexa, but they don’t always know how to stay safe online. UD researchers are working on ways to help them.
A class helps preserve the precious stories of a little-documented time in Jewish life.
To reduce stress and strengthen our immune systems, experts often point us to the outdoors. So let’s get moving! There’s lots to see and hear, absorb and appreciate in nature.