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Ángela Bohórquez Oviedo earned the 2021 George Herbert Ryden Prize
in the Social Sciences for her work exploring the 2016 peace referendum
The University of
Delaware recognized 10 doctoral students from the graduating classes of
2020 and 2021 with dissertation prizes for outstanding work in their
field of study. The awards were announced during the Doctoral Hooding Ceremony held Thursday, May 27, 2021, on UD’s Newark campus.
Dissertations showcase a student’s original contributions to their
field of study and highlight the potential impact of their work to the
world. Each year, several students distinguish themselves among their
peers for exhibiting the highest scholarly excellence.
These 10 distinguished scholars conducted research spanning a variety
of fields, from preservation studies to computer science, chemistry,
history, English, engineering and more. The honorees were:
Class of 2020--Maria João Petisca (preservation studies), Alexandra Turano (psychological and brain sciences), Ayush Dusia (computer science), Michael Metz (physics) and Kelly Mulholland (bioinformatics and systems biology).
Class of 2021--Carrie Glenn (history), Ángela Bohórquez Oviedo (political science and international relations), Ryan McDonough (biomedical engineering), William Lambert (chemistry and biochemistry) and Matthew Rinkevich (English).
Read on to learn about their work.
Wilbur Owen Sypherd Prize in Humanities
Maria João Petisca earned the 2020 Wilbur Owen Sypherd Prize
in Humanities for her dissertation, Investigations into Chinese Export
Lacquerware: Black and Gold, 1700-1850. Petisca's research combines
material sciences, history of collecting and material culture studies.
She traversed four continents and collaborated with expert scientists
and scholars in multiple countries to evaluate 18th- and 19th-century
Chinese lacquerware spanning 300 years. Her investigation revealed
unknown scientific data in historical manufacturing of lacquerware in
Qing-dynasty China, which in turn allowed her to revise pre-existing
arguments about the rise and decline of Chinese export lacquerware in
the global trade history. Vimalin Rujivacharakul, chair of Petisca’s
dissertation committee and an associate professor of art history, called
her work a true blend of humanities and sciences that “revises our
understanding about Chinese export lacquerware and successfully reframes
the cultural history of Chinese export objects.”
Carrie Glenn earned the 2021 Wilbur Owen Sypherd Prize in
Humanities for her work, titled The Revolutionary Atlantic of Elizabeth
Beauveau and Marie Rose Poumaroux: Commerce, Vulnerability, and U.S.
Connections to the French Atlantic, 1780-1860. Glenn’s research
reorients what is known about inter-continental developments in the
so-called Age of Revolutions, across British, Spanish and French
empires, through compelling stories about intricate family networks
during the commercial and revolutionary turmoil from 1770 to 1810. In
particular, she sheds light on the previously unknown ways that French
and North American women traded goods and information and how
international networks of entrepreneurial women helped each other build
small businesses at the turn of the 19th century. Glenn was advised at
UD by Cathy Matson, Richards Professor Emerita of American History, who
called her work “of great consequence for the field of Atlantic World
Matthew Rinkevich also earned the 2021 Wilbur Owen Sypherd
Prize in Humanities for his dissertation, titled Signs That Save:
Sacramental Matter and Agency in English Literature 1590–1660.
Rinkevich’s research explores the imaginative interplay between
literature and material cultures of religion in Reformation-era England.
In particular, his work reevaluates what is known about the
relationship between human beings and their material environments, and
focuses on the ways in which sacred objects like communion bread, holy
water and relics acted on and affected people spiritually. According to
Kristen Poole, Ned B. Allen Professor of English and Rinkevich’s
adviser, his dissertation includes a tremendous amount of original
archival work that “helps to reveal that thinking about materiality has
striking consonances and revealing distinctions across human history.”
George Herbert Ryden Prize in the Social Sciences
Alexandra Turano won the 2020 George Herbert Ryden Prize in
the Social Sciences for her dissertation, Examining the Impact of
Neuroimmune Dysregulation on Social Behavior of Male and Female Juvenile
Rats. Turano’s thesis examined the effects of mild activation of the
immune system on the development of age-appropriate social behaviors and
whether there are differences between males and females in these
outcomes. Advised by Jaclyn Schwarz, associate professor of
psychological and brain sciences, Turano found that immune system
activation around the time of birth can disrupt the development of
appropriate play behavior later in life. The work is relevant to human
health as many neurodevelopmental disorders, like autism, are associated
with early-life immune activation or infection.
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
Ángela Bohórquez Oviedo received the 2021 George Herbert
Ryden Prize in the Social Sciences for her dissertation, Weaponizing
Gender: The Campaign Against ‘Gender Ideology’ in the Colombian Peace
Plebiscite. Bohórquez Oviedo’s research illuminates the role of
traditional and social media in shaping how right-wing elite movements
seek to shape the public and sway events by any means necessary. While
her dissertation focuses specifically on the 2016 peace referendum in
Colombia, the work is globally applicable and explains several “missing
links” in today’s discussion of big data and misinformation in shaping
elections and public votes. Bohórquez Oviedo is co-advised by Kara
Ellerby, associate professor of political science and international
relations, and Pascha Bueno-Hansen, associate professor of women and
Allan P. Colburn Prize in Engineering and Mathematical Sciences
Ayush Dusia earned the 2020 Allan P. Colburn Prize in
Engineering and Mathematical Sciences for his dissertation,
Software-Defined Architecture and Routing Solutions for Mobile Ad Hoc
Networks. Dusia was advised by Adarshpal Sethi, professor of computer
and information sciences. Dusia’s research centered on advancing
off-the-grid networks called mobile ad hoc networks (MANET) that don’t
require existing infrastructure, such as cell towers, satellites or
internet routers, to operate. These networks have the potential to
improve wireless communications in disasters, smart cities and more.
Dusia has designed a software-defined architecture for these networks
that is flexible and can be managed centrally with minimal resources in
extremely low-data rate environments.
Ryan McDonough won the 2021 Allan P. Colburn Prize in
Engineering and Mathematical Sciences for his dissertation, Controlled
Calcium Activation via Chemogenetic Signaling Platforms for Tissue
Engineering of Articular Cartilage. Advised by Christopher Price,
associate professor of biomedical engineering, McDonough explored novel
synthetic control strategies to understand how calcium signaling
regulates musculoskeletal cell function. In this work, McDonough
developed a novel way to activate and control calcium signaling within
chondrocytes, the cells responsible for development, homeostasis and
adaptation of the articular cartilage within our joints. His promising
approach adds important insights to what is known about cartilage
biology and osteoarthritis. It also lays the foundation for future
novel, safe and on-demand approaches to overcome existing barriers to
tissue engineering/regeneration for joint repair.
Theodore Wolf Prize in Physical and Life Sciences
Michael Metz was awarded the 2020 Theodore Wolf Prize in
Physical and Life Sciences for his dissertation, Fitted Models for
Intermolecular Interactions from First Principles. Quantum mechanics
(QM) can determine essentially exact forces between atoms, but is too
expensive to be used in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations that enable
scientists to predict the structure and properties of materials. Metz
developed a method to efficiently leverage QM calculations for a small
number of atomic configurations to create inexpensive force fields valid
for arbitrary configurations. QM-based force fields are expected to
replace those currently used, which are based on empirical input and
often require manual adjustments in actual applications. His adviser,
Krzysztof Szalewicz, professor of physics and astronomy, said Metz’s
pioneering approach could revolutionize this field of science and
engineering, “opening new avenues in material science” to design novel
materials through computer simulation or modeling, especially for drug
discovery and in processes involving DNA, proteins and other biological
William Lambert received the 2021 Theodore Wolf Prize in
Physical and Life Sciences for his dissertation, Development of New
Tools for the Tetrazine Ligation: Installation of Minimal Tetrazines
Through Silver(I) Mediated Cross-Coupling and Development of a
Hydrophilic Trans-5-oxocene for Bioorthogonal Labeling. Lambert’s
research focused on developing new tools and catalytic methods to
improve access to molecules that can participate in tetrazine ligation, a
lightning-quick reaction used to produce targeted chemical reactions
inside living systems that would not naturally occur. The work has
potential to facilitate drug discovery and improve nuclear medicine and
cell imaging. His adviser, Joseph Fox, professor of chemistry and
biochemistry, called Lambert “a highly productive, creative and
insightful organic chemist,” adding that several of Lambert’s methods
are now commonly used in chemical-biology laboratories in academia and
in the pharmaceutical industry.
Interdisciplinary Research Prize
Kelly Mulholland was awarded the 2020 Interdisciplinary
Research Prize for her dissertation, BIOMESEQ: A Quantitative Approach
for the Analysis of Animal Microbiomes and Its Application in
Characterizing the Microbial Ecology of Avian Species. In her work,
Mulholland developed open-source computational tools and techniques to
identify the bacteria, animal viruses, bacterial viruses and fungi that
are found in a chicken’s respiratory tract. She further demonstrated
that these bioinformatics tools could be applied to study the
respiratory and intestinal microbiomes of ducks, turkeys and quail. Her
adviser, Calvin Keeler, interim dean of the College of Agriculture and
Natural Resources and professor of animal and food sciences, said her
accomplishments have had “significant impact [in helping] researchers
study complex ecological communities in animal systems.”
Article by Karen B. Roberts; photo by Evan Krape
Published June 11, 2021