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The University of
Delawares interdisciplinary faculty cluster-hiring initiative is moving
forward with the launch of new searches in the areas of
biopharmaceutical discovery, disaster research and education, and
coastal water security.
In November, President Dennis Assanis and Provost Robin W. Morgan
invited faculty members to submit ideas for areas of focus for cluster
hiring, and more than 60 summary proposals were received. Full proposals
were solicited during the spring semester, and after two rounds of
review by a committee that included the provost, deans and other senior
academic leaders, three proposals were selected for cluster searches to
be launched during the 2018-19 academic year. New hires from these
searches will be brought to UD over the next two to three years.
We were thrilled to have such an incredible response to our request
for proposals, and narrowing the many excellent options to just three
was very difficult, Morgan said. I look forward to these searches,
which will help us attract top-tier faculty in strategic areas of
research, diversify our faculty, and enhance the impact and reputation
of our research enterprise.
Each cluster search has been assigned faculty leaders. Professor of
Public Policy and Administration James Kendra and Professor of Sociology
and Criminal Justice Tricia Wachtendorf are leading the search for new
faculty in disaster research and education. Unidel S. Hallock du Pont
Chair of Soil and Environmental Chemistry Don Sparks and Associate
Professor of Geology Holly Michael are leading the search for new
faculty in coastal water security, and Professor of Chemistry Joe Fox
and Professor of Biological Sciences Melinda Duncan are leading the
search for faculty in biopharmaceutical discovery.
The search centered on water security in a changing coastal
environment builds on UDs considerable strength in environmental
sciences, but also seeks to address new dimensions of coastal
environmental security. The current plan is to hire five faculty members
focused on the areas of water and soil remediation, environmental
toxicology and epidemiology, and systems modeling.
The interdisciplinary disaster science and education cluster search
proposes five hires in the areas of public health, social science,
environmental risk, crisis informatics, and civil engineering as related
to disasters. Hiring in these areas dovetails with the Universitys
commitment to civic engagement, environmental sustainability and public
The biopharmaceutical discovery cluster search will enhance graduate
and undergraduate programs across UD, and promises to intersect with the
National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals
(NIIMBL), the Manufacturing USA institute headquartered at the
University. This search will result in six new faculty members in areas
such as biopharmaceutical design, disease mechanisms and models, and
imaging, diagnostic and analytical methods. These new cluster-hire
initiatives will augment disciplinary hiring at the University, which is
Morgan said proposals for cluster searches that were not selected in the latest round may have another chance.
We are giving them considerable attention because they contain many
exciting and relevant ideas that will contribute immensely to UDs
future if we can accommodate them, she said.
Two cluster searches were held during 2017-2018. The African-American
Material Culture cluster search, which arose from efforts in the
College of Arts and Sciences, resulted in two new hires who will join
the UD faculty for the upcoming academic year. Monica Coleman,
professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at the
Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California, will join UD for
the fall semester as professor of Africana studies, and Cheryl Hicks,
associate professor of American History at the University of North
Carolina at Charlotte, will start in the spring semester as associate
professor of Africana studies and history.
A second cluster search in Data Sciences was launched in winter 2018
as a University-wide pilot for the new initiatives that have now been
approved. To date, five offers have been accepted involving four
departments/schools and two colleges. These data science cluster hires
will be part of the new Data Science Institute led by Unidel Edward G. Jefferson Professor Cathy Wu.
In the general area of applications of data science, Federica Bianco,
currently a research assistant professor at New York University, will
join the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Greg Dobler, a research
assistant professor at New York University, will have a primary
appointment in the School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA),
Austin Brockmeier, at the University of Manchester, will have a primary
appointment in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Rahmet Beheshti,
a post-doctoral researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg
School of Public Health, will join the Department of Computer and
Information Sciences. In the applications area, Xiugang Wu, a
post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University, will join the Department of
Electrical and Computer Engineering.
We are indebted to the committee chairs and co-chairs and to many
faculty members from across the University as well as to support staff
who worked diligently across the usual University borders to recruit
great applicants and attract them to UD, Morgan said. Considerable
groundwork has been laid for future cluster and interdisciplinary search
Article by Kate Bailey
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