“The hand bone’s connected to the...silk worm?”
Lathadeui ‘Karuna’ Chintepenta moved more than 8,000 miles from Hyderabad, India, to Dover, Delaware for her present job as a Post Doctorate Research Associate in the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences.
In Kakinada, a town near Hyderabad, Karuna taught graduate level biochemistry and microbiology for 4 years before moving to Hyderabad, India where she worked as a Research Associate and conducted research for a biotech company. Her research focused on isolation and production of a protein “Serratiopeptidase” that is produced by bacteria “Serratia marcescens” which are present in silkworms, which can ultimately heal bone joints. Though Karuna enjoyed conducting research, her desire to return to academia and student interactions led her to seek her PhD in Biological Sciences.
After obtaining her PhD and working on her continuous research, Karuna decided to travel to the United States in search of new approaches and studies in science and technology. She immediately started looking for jobs and found the Marine Biology position posted by Dr. Ozbay, professor in DSU’s Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “I felt like it was the right thing to do,” Karuna says.
As a post doctorate research associate, Karuna manages the labs, and the work of undergrad and grad students; assists research technicians; and writes grants. Along with those duties, she is also responsible for her own research in Blackbird Creek, Delaware, which includes finding the symbiotic microbes associated with native marsh plants; the microbes may help farmers grow crops in drought and other abiotic stress conditions.
At home, Karuna’s full attention goes to her husband Sridhar Mannem, her young son, Teja Mannem, and infant daughter, Sreeja Latha Mannem. She also enjoys listening to Indian music. When asked what she likes about her job she replied, “Everyone here (CARS) is like family. When I came to the United Sates, I left behind my son and family. I came alone and I became homesick. But everyone is friendly.” She also gives a lot of credit to Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay, who is very supportive of her and also gives her tons of encouragement. Karuna also enjoys the various outreach programs available through Cooperative Extension and having access to Dean Dyremple Marsh via his open door policy.
Man on a Mission
Meet Alex D. Meredith, the recruiter for the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences (CARS) at Delaware State University. Alex is no stranger to the university, having spent time throughout his life on campus—first as a child of an alum and employee, then as a student, and now as an employee himself. Alex comes from a proud Hornet legacy that includes his father (1969), uncle (1982), brother (2008 and 2010), and mother (2013). According to Alex, there’s a purpose for his presence at Delaware State University; he relishes his mission as a strong student advocate.
Alex had no clue he would end up working in agriculture; he thought he would be in education or business. “I thought I was going to be a business major like my father, but looking back as a child, I was always involved in growing plants as a hobby,” says Alex. It was not until he was convinced otherwise by Dr. Kenneth Bell, former CARS dean, and Dr. Ralph Crawford, former USDA liaison. “They truly made me realize the opportunities available in Agriculture not only as a global marketplace (business), but as a necessity for the existence of life.” Alex realized majoring in Agriculture Business would provide him with the best of both worlds.
After earning his B.S. in Agri-Business from DSU in 2004, Alex worked on a M.S. in Ag Economics from North Carolina A&T State University before completing his M.S. in Agricultural Education from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.
“After graduating from DSU, I made a few transitions until, ultimately, finding my niche. Sharing and preparing students for these experiences is what keeps me in the College of Agriculture & Related Sciences.”
As the CARS recruiter, Alex visits with high school students throughout Delaware, the mid-Atlantic region and in key ag feeder markets throughout the country. Additionally, he has served as an adjunct professor; assists Dr. Rich Barczewski in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and is past advisor to DSU’s Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) chapter. He and the DSU MANRRS chapter earned honors in 2011 as MANRRS Advisor of the Year and Educational Organization of the Year. Part of his passion is advising the CARS Ambassadors Program, which he founded. The Ambassadors organization consists of CARS students who help recruit and perform agriculture & related sciences initiatives.
“I love advising the Ambassadors because I am able to utilize my expertise in professional development to help our students develop skills that they will need in the marketplace. It’s a win/win for the student participant and for the College.”
When asked what he enjoys most about CARS, Alex replied, “The students. Without them, there would be no need for me. I enjoy watching students evolve from ‘entry to exit’ or orientation until graduation.”
To help students visualize the transition from college to career, Alex encourages students to seek employment and internships within their fields of study. Working alongside professionals in their fields gives students the professional experience needed to transition into gainful employment.
“I am proud to say, since I was a student, Delaware State University has grown tremendously in preparing and linking students to internship and employment opportunities,” said Alex.
In his down time, Alex serves as a behavioral interventionist with New Behavioral Networks Group working with adolescent youth. He also enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, reading, church, cooking, and his new found love, jogging. When he is gracious enough to cook for the college, it’s dirty rice or smothered pork chops; for himself?
“It’s Jamaican ox tails, red beans and rice and potato casserole.”
We’re hungry, Alex…
Head, Heart, Hands, Health
Meet Beverly C. Banks, 4-H & Youth Development agent, and 2014 Jefferson Award winner! The award is a way to honor “Unsung Heroes"— ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition. Beverly, a native of Bridgeville, Delaware, attended Delaware State College, now Delaware State University (DSU)—the same institution her mother attended when DSU was The State College for Colored Students. Beverly graduated from DSU with a degree in Business Education.
After graduation, Beverly transitioned from DSU student to DSU employee by working in the Jason C. Williams library as a librarian assistant for 6 months. While there, she helped organize library resources and assisted patrons. Beverly left campus employment for other opportunities, but returned to DSU in 2005 as a part-time employee for Cooperative Extension in the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences; she eventually became a full-time employee where she remains to this day.
Beverly is a spark of creativity. On any given day, you will find Beverly engaged in planning innovative activities for the young people. Her work includes organizing community afterschool programs in underserved communities. A few of the programs Beverly has been responsible for include establishing 4-H Afterschool program sites. During each session, Beverly and the volunteers she recruits teach children citizenship, healthy living, public speaking and life skills. Beverly augments her programs by inviting colleagues to present on agriculture and nutrition topics. These skills, she knows, will help young participants gain the poise, self-discipline and self-confidence needed to compete in the global arena.
Additionally, Beverly organizes weeklong celebrations for youth each summer. Both the Boys Retreat and Juneteenth activities introduce participants to educational themes that are life enriching. Beverly says her primary goal is to provide activities and events that keep children engaged.
When asked what is it that she enjoys most about her job she simply stated, “servicing as a resource.” Beverly enjoys being a mentor that helps with youth development. She believes that in today’s society, getting back to the basics is essential and builds for a much stronger foundation. She promotes DSU 4-H on national, state, and local levels. Beverly involves the youth in many conferences, competitions, challenges, and exposes her recruited volunteers to forums and state recognition opportunities.
Having the Right Attitude
Before Joseph Morton began working in the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences (CARS), he started his career at Delaware State University in the Office of Financial Aid. When asked by Dr. Kenneth Bell, former CARS dean, to work in the college, Joseph readily accepted.
Joseph first served as secretary for the Department of Family and Consumer Science, now Human Ecology, for four years, and Cooperative Extension for two years. For the last four years, he has worked as the senior secretary for Center for Integrated Biological & Environmental Research (CIBER).
Based on his varied experience in departments across campus, Joseph believes that the CARS community is tight knit and more family oriented than elsewhere on campus.
“The attitude of people within CARS is relaxed,” he said. “It might have something to do with agriculture and the fact that we also have outreach and deal with the community more than other colleges on campus.”
Joseph starts his day in CIBER by creating a “to do list,” to prioritize projects. Before he begins his daily work, Joseph checks in with personnel in the CIBER lab to see what administrative needs and supplies they may need.
A typical day for Joseph may include preparing purchase orders, reviewing credit card expenses, scheduling student employment, updating reports, working with faculty across campus who have seed grants from CIBER, filing electronic documents and following up on programs for the students. He also coordinates meetings and records minutes.
Along with those duties, he also corresponds with faculty from other colleges that are a part of CIBER. Besides DSU, CIBER—a regional, network hub that promotes collaborative research—also includes Wesley College, Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) and University of Delaware.
“Delaware State University’s motto is ‘making our mark on the world.’ I believe in order for us to do that we have to get people to see the bigger picture. We have to realize that we are a part of that picture.”
In his personal time, Joseph enjoys taking day trips. He likes to explore new destinations and meet new people.
What does she see in the sea?
Lori Brown, a Rhode Island native, is no stranger to the bay. She has always wanted to study marine biology. “Growing up by the coast,” Lori says, “I always spent time by the water; I was always environmentally oriented. It’s where my passion has always been.”
Lori graduated from the University of Maine at Machias (UMM), with a double major in environmental science and marine biology. After graduating, she worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for a year developing an experiential learning program for UMM. At the university, she helped develop both classroom and hands-on field experiences for students that also benefited the community. Before coming to Delaware State University, Lori spent a year conducting laboratory research in nuclear cardiology at Yale University’s School of Medicine.
Lori has been with the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources for 11 years. Through her current projects, she uses acoustic telemetry to study Sand Tiger sharks and Atlantic Sturgeon. The study includes tagging and tracking the different species, examining habitat utilization, and movement patterns. She also manages a data-sharing program called the Atlantic Cooperative Telemetry Network. Through this network, researchers use acoustic telemetry along the entire Atlantic coast. Lori’s time is split working with students, in the field, processing samples, managing inventory, and managing all the data that is collected.
When asked what she enjoyed most about her job she simply replied, “I really like working with the students.” She was eager to get a position at a small university because the university she attended was very small, and she appreciated the one-on-one interaction.
In her spare time, Lori loves hiking, biking, running, and kayaking as well as making her own beer and cider.
Ready for your close up, Jana?
CARS has a staff member from Hollywood! Hollywood, Florida, that is! Before working at DSU, Jana Rheaume (Ree–oom) spent two and one-half years as a secretary in the U.S Military Air force—based in the countries of Turkey and England.
Upon arriving in Dover, Jana began working for DSU as a temp in the maintenance department, William C. Jason Library, Center for Teaching and Learning and for the Vice President of Business and Finance. After which, she landed her current position as secretary in the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources—a position she has held for the past 12 years.
From the moment she enters the office each morning, to the time she leaves each afternoon, Jana works tirelessly for Ag and Natural Resources. Besides serving as the face of the department, greeting people in person and via telephone, Jana’s job duties have included maintaining students’ files, registering students for classes and archiving files.
“This is the best place I’ve worked on campus,” says Jana, “considering how long I’ve spent here; cool co-workers, people are great, good boss, good dean and I love the kids; the kids are what keep me here.”
Everyone has a story. Here’s Pablo’s…
An expert in the field of Information Technology (IT), Pablo Mojica has worked for Delaware State University for 12 years. He has spent the last four years in the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences (CARS).
Pablo, a native of Panama, has lived in the United States for 16 years. Prior to his arrival in the U.S., he earned an associate’s degree in programming and a bachelor’s degree in technology from the Technological University of Panama. Prior to his employment with Delaware State University (DSU), Pablo worked for a small private contractor in IT. Because that company held contracts with DSU, Pablo grew extremely familiar with the campus and its staff. In 2006, after finding the solutions to many network issues, he secured a position with the DSU help desk—a position that he describes as the beginning of many opened doors.
Pablo’s move from the help desk to the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences (CARS) in 2010 signaled his desire to explore expanded possibilities.
“It was a great idea to come work for CARS," says Pablo. "It's a great place to grow and accept more responsibilities.”
A typical day for Pablo is making his daily rounds every morning. Opening the labs in the Baker building and Ag Annex. Following that he checks the Dean office to make sure there are no problems. After making his rounds he goes back to his office and checks his email to respond to work orders. Followed by establishing a plan of the day.
“I try to be proactive, instead of waiting around.”
Pablo's greatest responsibility thus far has been establishing an Apple platform to support the faculty and staff using Apple devices. It has proven to be a challenge that requires the full demand of his expertise.
During his free time, Pablo enjoys riding his Honda Shadow motorcycle and exploring new places. He also provides volunteer IT service for his place of worship, Maranatha Christian Church, because he enjoys helping others.