Faculty recognized for teaching, research, community engagement

Levi T. Thompson, Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Delaware, has selected three faculty members to receive Dean’s awards in 2019. “At the University of Delaware, our students are fortunate to learn from faculty who truly care about the success of students, conduct cutting-edge research, and utilize their expertise to benefit the community,” said Thompson. “These faculty embody the excellence of engineering at UD.”

The University of Delaware’s Faculty Senate also recognized Jack Puleo, professor of civil and environmental engineering, with an Excellence in Teaching Award and David Burris, associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering, with a Mid-Career Faculty Excellence in Scholarship.

About Heather Doty, recipient of the Excellence in Teaching award
In the mechanical engineering department, Doty, who joined in 2012, teaches classes that apply physics concepts such as thermodynamics and classical mechanics to engineering applications.

“Dr. Heather Doty has been an outstanding instructor in our department, year after year,” said Ajay Prasad, Engineering Alumni Distinguished Professor and Department Chair in mechanical engineering. “Her student evaluations are uniformly excellent. Students compliment her on her ability to explain difficult topics well, expertly answering questions, and respecting and listening to them. Even in large classes, she is able to challenge the most high-achieving students while simultaneously keeping the rest completely and effectively engaged. I am thrilled that she has been recognized with this honor. She truly deserves it.”

Doty’s impact on students also extends beyond the classroom. Doty advises the Graduate Steering Committee of Women in Engineering (WIE) at the University of Delaware, an organization that aims to promote, mentor and enable the participation of women students and faculty in engineering studies and the workplace. WIE provides activities that bring together female and male engineering students, faculty and administrators as well as representatives from industry, government agencies and other academic institutions with the goal of promoting a healthy institutional climate for all members of UD’s engineering community. Doty is a member of the College of Engineering’s Diversity Committee and the 2017 recipient of UD’s Trabant Award for Women’s Equity.

Doty is a co-principal investigator of UD ADVANCE. Through funding from the National Science Foundation, UD ADVANCE has worked to recruit and retain an increasingly diverse pool of talented faculty to UD. Through UD’S NSF ADVANCE Institutional Transformation grant, Doty’s research explores the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women faculty in STEM fields. As a member of the UD ADVANCE leadership team, she oversees activities that directly impact faculty (e.g., faculty workshops, panels, mentoring programs).

About Abhyudai Singh, recipient of the Outstanding Junior Faculty award
Singh’s research interests are in the area of dynamical systems and control with applications to systems biology and neuroscience. He has spent more than a decade using tools from these diverse fields to address emerging medical problems, such as, cancer drug resistance, HIV dormancy and viral phage therapy. This innovative interdisciplinary research has led to over 100 peer-reviewed publications.

Singh has made seminal contributions in developing new mathematical tools to capture the stochastic dynamics of complex interconnected circuits of genes and proteins inside living cells. These tools have fueled a systems-level understanding of regulatory mechanisms that cells use to sense, process information and perform complex decision-making in spite of the inherently stochastic nature of biochemical processes.  Working closely with experimental researchers, he has characterized genetic circuits in viruses ranging from the bacterial virus, lambda phage, to pathogenic viruses such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Since joining UD in 2011, Singh has developed and taught an undergraduate class, Biomedical Instrumentation, and he teaches a graduate-level class, Computational Systems Biology, to students drawn from different majors. The project-based learning approach taken in the Systems Biology class has proved very successful, resulting in several papers with undergraduate researchers as lead authors.

Singh is also actively involved in outreach activities, such as giving research talks at local high schools and exposing students to interdisciplinary research through UD’s K‐12 summer internship program.

About John Slater, recipient of the Excellence in Service and Community Engagement award
Since joining UD in 2013, Slater has made a substantial impact as the founder and director of UD’s Art in Science Program, which aims to educate the local public about the research performed at UD and its impact on local, national, and international communities and to spark interest in STEM disciplines in elementary school students from low-income and underrepresented populations in STEM. More than 800 members of the local community attend UD’s Annual Art in Science Exhibit Opening Night event that occurs each spring.

Slater has also sparked interest in STEM disciplines in elementary students via a tour of the art exhibit in UD’s Harker Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory and through hands-on art in science modules that have engaged more than 160 students. Student surveys indicate a significant increase in students displaying an interest to either learn science or to become a scientist after participating in the program. The artwork is also used as a traveling display to many other events, including events by the Boys and Girls Club of America, Girl Scouts of the USA and UD’s Agricultural Day.

Faculty College of Engineering Announces Dean’s Awards