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DSU and OSCAR Host 1st-ever Regional Optics Symposium

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DSU President Harry L. Williams and OSCAR Director Dr. Noureddine Melikechi (l-r to the right of the sign) pose with representatives of nine companies that took part in the Optics Symposium.

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Delaware State University's Optical Science Center for Applied Research (OSCAR) recently hosted the first-ever Delaware Optics Symposium, bringing together businessmen and scientists from nine companies, several institutions of higher education and three federal agencies. DSU optics Ph.D. candidate Harry Burton (r) explains his research poster to an attendee of the symposium. Held Oct. 8-9 in the MLK Student Center parlors, it was the first time such a symposium took place in the six-state Mid-Atlantic region (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia). The participants heard cutting-edge presentations on emerging topics in optics as well as the wide-ranging applications of optics in military defense and security, medical diagnostics, biological sciences, energy and environmental science. Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, OSCAR director, said it was a timely year to hold the symposium, as 2015 has been proclaimed by the United Nations as the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies. “The aim of this symposium was to provide a forum for interaction among scientists engaged in optics-related research in the Mid-Atlantic region,” Dr. Melikechi said. “With this being the first-ever regional symposium, we are looking forward to creating a regional force in optics and photonics that will spur economic development.” The symposium was attended by representatives of the following companies: SPIE, Zurich Instruments, Leica Microsystems, Coherent Inc., FEI, Ophir Photonics, Praxair, B&W Tek, Axiom Optics and Nikon Instruments. Also participating in the two-day event were researchers, scientists and officials from the Army Research Lab, the National Science Foundation, Old Dominion University, Princeton University, Hampton University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Delaware.

"Colorful China" at DSU -- Photo Slideshow

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The "Colorful China" performance took place on Sept. 30 in DSU's Education and Humanities Theatre.

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DSU was enriched with “Colorful China,” a wonderful presentation of Chinese ethnic culture in a performance on Sept. 30 in the Education and Humanities Theatre. For images of the performance, click on https://www.flickr.com/photos/48216028@N03/sets/72157659176331728/show. “Colorful China” is a cultural exchange program organized by the Chinese National Museum of Ethnology under the guidance of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission.  Focusing on displaying Chinese ethnic custom culture of 56 ethnic groups in that Far East nation, the critically acclaimed presentation has been performed in numerous countries around the world.  

DSU, Gov. Markell Formally Dedicate OSCAR Building

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With the OSCAR Building behind him, Gov. Jack Markell speaks during the dedication ceremony, noting that Delawareans "have a collective obligation to let people know about the research going in this building."

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Gov. Jack Markell joined DSU administrators, board members and scientists on Sept. 25 to formally dedicate the Delaware Institute for Science and Technology’s Optical Science Center for Applied Research (OSCAR) Building on campus. (L-r ) State Rep. Charles Potter Jr., DSU President Harry L. Williams, Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen, OSCAR scientist Dr. Matthew Bobrowski, Gov. Jack Markell and OSCAR Founding Director Dr. Noureddine Melikechi watch as the Delaware governor controls the laser that cuts the ribbon on Sept. 25, symbolizing the completion of the Optical Science Center for Applied Research at DSU. The $18 million OSCAR Building houses the University’s robust optics research program, which investigates a diverse range of novel applications of laser technologies. The research facility was made possible through the support of Gov. Markell, who persuaded the General Assembly to agree to contribute $10 million in state funding toward the building’s construction. “The state’s investment in this OSCAR Building will help to build on the years of progress made by the students and faculty of DSU’s Optics Program,” Gov. Markell said. “With this unique infrastructure in place, we are hopeful that OSCAR researchers will be better able to find solutions to some of the scientific challenges facing us today.” Much of the OSCAR work involves research that seeks to improve upon the use of current laser technologies and create new ones that can speed up the early diagnosis of many diseases, upgrade the ability of military soldiers in the field to detect dangerous threats, provide analysis of the Mars environment to understand its potential to sustain life, and be applied in many other areas.   The construction of the OSCAR Building began in November 2013 and was completed on June 1 of this year. The 28,000-square-foot, three-story building provides DSU Optics scientists and faculty with a facility specifically designed for optics research. As such, the laboratory side of the building sits atop a deep concrete foundation that eliminates the ground vibrations that can disrupt the accurate use of laser technology. The building’s completion highlights the 20-year work of Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, director of OSCAR, who founded DSU’s involvement in optics research in 1998 with the Center for Applied Optics Research. Through the diligent research of Dr. Melikechi and other optics scientists at DSU over the years, the program has attracted tens of millions of dollars in research grants from sources such as the National Science Foundation and NASA. In reflecting on the tremendous progress that DSU has made in the sciences and technologies of light, Dr. Melikechi said he is “hopeful and humbled” by the possibilities that the Optical Science Center for Applied Research Building will present.    DSU Optics Ph.D. candidate Alissa Mezzacappa (l) fields a question from Delaware Gov. Jack Markell as he takes a tour of the OSCAR Building. “This spectacular building is a convergence point where interdisciplinary science, technology, education and innovation will flourish together for the benefit of all.  OSCAR is about light,” Dr. Melikechi said. “Light is life. Light is in our past and present and I have no doubt that its impact on our lives will be even more profound in the future.”   DSU President Harry L. Williams said that visionary thinking and pursuits are what transformed optics into the prolific research program it has become at DSU. “Just as we have witnessed the development of optics research here over the last 20 years, DSU has other science disciplines such as neuroscience, chemistry and others that appear to be on a similar trajectory,” Dr. Williams said. “The mentality of limitless possibilities is a mindset that is being adopted by more and more of our faculty and portends an exciting future for this institution.” Among some of the research projects currently underway in the OSCAR Building: Dr. Noureddine Melikechi’s research focuses on developing sensitive optical techniques for the early detection of cancer, including prostate cancer and epithelial cancer. Dr. Yuri Markushin is working on the use of nanoparticles that can be used to tag specific proteins and help detect tumors that are smaller than one centimeter. The laboratory of Dr. Amir Khan is working with lasers and optics designs to develop a greenhouse gas sensor for methane and nitrous oxide. Dr. Tripathi and her team are developing next generation optical imaging systems such as LADAR – a remote sensing technology that measures distance and properties of an object by illuminating it with a laser and analyzing the reflected light. Dr. Deborah Santamore is working to resolve experimental problems that nanodiamond-based sensors currently face, and therefore help advance the development of ultra-high resolution imaging magnetometry. A team of researchers under Dr. Gour S. Pati is studying the interaction of light with matter in atomic vapor to explore a wide variety of atomic phenomena including slow and superluminal high propagation for sensing, detection and precision measurement applications. Dr. Sokratis Makrogiannis and his team are working on the development of mathematical techniques and computer algorithms for tissue identification and computer-aided diagnosis using MRI and CT imaging data. Dr. Qi Lu and her team are using an atomic force microscope to research how gold nanoparticles  affect the adhesive and elastic properties of cell membranes. Dr. Hacene Boukari and his team are utilizing a variety of high-resolution microscopes to assess changes in the shapes of sickle cells with the goal of developing an optical diagnostic tool. Dr. Thomas Planchon’s research group is working to develop novel instrumentation using the numerous properties of light. One of the projects focuses on developing novel optical microscopes for imaging of live specimens. Dr. Wafa Amir is working to develop novel optical imaging tools for biomedical applications.

Two New DSU Alumni Scholarship Endowments are Established

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(L-r) DSU President Harry L. Williams, Laurie Bickham Gray and Bryant Bell hold a display check symbolizing the $134,000 Scholarship Endowment established by the late Jane Virginia Waters Bickham (Ms. Bickham mother and Mr. Bell Aunt).

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DSU recently recognized two separate endowments that have been established by alumni during the Sept. 19 President’s Pre-Game Reception. (L-r) DSU President Harry L. Williams; Kristin Brinkley and Anthony Brinkley (daughter and husband of Peggy C. Brinkley) and Michael Miller, director of Major Gifts, all hold a display check for the endowed scholarship and named scholarship established in Mrs. Brinkley's name. A $134,000 endowed scholarship has been established  by the late Jane Virginia Waters Bickham, who made the decision to make a lasting gift to her alma mater prior to her death in December 2014. Mrs. Bickham, a native of Greenwood, Del., earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 1961 from then-Delaware State College. Afterwards  she found joy in teaching and remained in the profession for 36 years, mostly as a kindergarten teacher in California’s Covina Valley School District. The Jane Waters Bickham Endowed Scholarship will benefit students majoring in education. A $10,000 endowed scholarship as well as an additional $5,000 scholarship, have both been established in the name of the late Peggy Cuffee Brinkley by her family. She passed away in June 2015. Mrs. Brinkley graduated with honors in 1979 from then-Delaware State College with a degree in Economics and Business Administration. She went on to enjoy a career with Pepco Holdings. According to her family, Mrs. Brinkley often credited the preparation she received at DSC as a key factor to her success in corporate America. The $5,000 scholarship will benefit Delmar High School students matriculating to DSU. The family of Brinkley – a 1975 Delmar High School graduate – said that it wanted to ensure that any intellectually gifted students from that school would have the opportunity to attend DSU. The $10,000 Peggy Cuffee Brinkley Memorial Endowed Scholarship will be available to any student attending DSU.

DSU's Leah Williams Introduces VP Biden at HBCU Conference

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Leah Williams (l) chats with Vice President Joe Biden off-stage before she introduced him at the HBCU Week Conference in Washington, D.C.

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Leah Williams, DSU College of Business graduate student, represented Del State greatly on Sept. 22 at the HBCU Week Conference in Washington, D.C., where she was selected to introduce Vice President With Vice President Joe Biden to her left, DSU College of Business graduate student Leah Williams introduced him before he spoke at the HBCU Week Conference in Washington D.C. In her introduction, she told the gathering that Vice President Biden "is a very family-oriented and charismatic man, and through all of his accolades has always remembered to build others up along the way, to help them live with purpose, live to inspire and live to elevate others for generations to come." Joe Biden, who spoke on the last day of the event. In addition to introducing Vice President Biden, Ms. Williams also shared with the conference gathering her appreciation of DSU with the conference attendees. “I have had an awesome HBCU experience thanks to my DSU president, Dr. Harry L. Williams; my College of Business dean,  Donna Covington; my band director Randolph J. Johnson, and all members of the esteemed Delaware State University family,” said Ms. Williams. “I believe that HBCUs give students the chance to enhance themselves as they find themselves while working toward their dreams.” Ms. Williams was presented with the prestigious opportunity at the conference as the result of her induction as a 2015-2016 HBCU All-Star Ambassador. The conference – held at the Washington Marriott Hotel –  was sponsored by the White House Initiative on HBCUs. Afterwards, Ms. Williams said she was blown away by the conference. “The Class of 2015-2016 All-Stars is so inspiring and powerful; I had a wonderful time and left so excited about the future,” Ms. Williams said. “The attorney for the Trayvon Martin case actually spoke to us and told us his story with the message of making sure you make the right choice when no one is looking and when God puts you in the situation to do so.” Ms. Williams, who in May graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management, was the 2015 recipient of DSU’s Presidential Academic and Leadership Awards. She has chosen to remain at DSU to earn her MBA. She is also working for SAP, a global technology company, on a new SAP-DSU initiative called Project Propel, to provide HBCU students with opportunities in the corporate sector.

DSU Receives $2.6M First in the World Grant

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The funding supports DSU's Access to Success initiative that seeks to increase the applications, enrollments and retention in higher ed of at-risk and underrepresented students who are from low-income families. DSU was one of 17 recipients of the First in the World grants; and those grant awardees were selected out of more than 300 applicant institutions.

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The U.S. Department of Education announced this week that Delaware State University has been selected among 17 colleges and universities to be awarded funding under the First in the World grant program. As part of that program, DSU will receive $2,647,764 that will be used in support of its Access to Success initiative, which seeks to increase the applications, enrollment and retention in postsecondary education of at-risk and underrepresented students who are from low-income families and would be first-generation college students. "A major part of the land-grant legacy of Delaware State University is to provide access to underrepresented students," said DSU President Harry L. Williams. "This grant demonstrates that DSU and the Obama Administration are on the same page when it comes to better preparing first-generation and at-risk students for higher education, as well as helping them to stay in school and graduate." DSU was one of 17 recipients of the First in the World grants; and those grant awardees were selected out of more than 300 applicant institutions. DSU’s Access to Success program partners the University with the American College Application Campaign, ACT (a nonprofit education organization), and the National Student Clearinghouse. The partnership will develop a college match and fit tool and implement a postsecondary enrollment model that high school guidance counselors can use to assist at-risk students in determining a list of institutions from which they are most likely to be enroll and graduated following high school. Delaware's Congressional delegation -- U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and U.S. Sen. Chris Coons and U.S. Rep. John Carney -- helped DSU get the grant through letters of support for the Access to Success initiative. "As a parent and as someone who has had the honor to serve Delawareans at both the federal and state level, few issues have been more important to me-and continue to be more important to me-than raising student achievement," said Sen. Carper. "Outside factors, including the cost of higher education, can force students to give up on their dreams of a diploma. While I believe education is a shared responsibility among the student, parents, schools and government, this federal grant will go a long way toward keeping our students on track to graduate." U.S. Rep. John C. Carney, Jr., agrees that improving access to higher education is one of the most critical challenges facing our country today. “DSU has long been a leading force in our state for providing educational opportunities to disadvantaged students,” Rep. Carney said. “Through the Obama Administration’s First in the World program, DSU will have the chance to build upon their efforts and to implement new, innovative ways to expand access to young people who need it most.” The First in the World grant program is part of the Obama Administration’s ambitious agenda to drive innovation and keep a higher education within reach for all Americans. “We all know that innovation can take many forms and as a key part of the Administration’s goal to promote college access and affordability, the First in the World program aims to support a wide range of innovation to improve student outcomes,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "We are pleased to support these educational leaders who are driving exciting innovations to achieve those goals.”

DSU Receives $400,000 NSF Grant for Mathematics Initiative

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This team -- (seated l-r) Dr. Sharon Smith, director of the Quantitative Reasoning Center and Integrated Academic Support Services; Dr. Rebecca Fox-Lykens, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning: (standing) Anna Cortese, tutorial supplemental instruction coordinator; Dr. Nicola Edwards-Omolewa, interim chair, Dept. of Mathematics; and Dr. Delayne Johnson, asst. professor of Mathematics -- will implement the Cyber Infused Mathematics Initiative.

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The National Science Foundation has awarded DSU a $400,000 Targeted Infusion grant in support of the Cyber Infused Mathematics Initiative (CIMI).  The three-year grant will be used to redesign the teaching and learning environments in introductory mathematics courses.  Faculty members in the Department of Mathematical Sciences will partner with colleagues in the STEM fields to create active learning classrooms infused with online mastery learning. The initiative will focus on student-centered instruction in technologically equipped classrooms. Students will also be supported by trained supplemental instruction (SI) leaders in class and in SI sessions. The initiative is also designed to establish a foundation for sustained professional development that utilizes inquiry and collaboration, as well as to develop a cadre of interdisciplinary faculty committed to implementing best practices in mathematics teaching.  The goals of the initiative are to transform mathematics instruction at DSU, to improve students’ learning outcomes and engagement with STEM topics, and to reduce the number of non-credit bearing mathematics classes offered at the university. “The CIMI team will introduce various instructional strategies in the preliminary mathematics courses.  These strategies are intended to increase student understanding of mathematics and its applications.  In the long run, we hope to contribute to an increase in retention and graduation rates at Delaware State University,” said Dr. Nicola Edwards-Omolewa, interim chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences and the principal investigator of the grant. Co-principal investigators include Dr. Delayne Y. Johnson, assistant professor of the Department of Mathematical Sciences; Dr. Rebecca Fox-Lykens, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning; and Dr. Sharon Smith, director of the Quantitative Reasoning Center and Integrated Academic Support Services.  Ms. Anna Cortese, Tutorial and Supplemental Instruction Coordinator, serves as senior personnel on the project.  

2015 Employee Recognition Awards -- Photo slideshow

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The 2015 Employee Recognition Awardees: (l-r) LaShawne Pryor, Charity Shockley, Pamela Adams, Evita Oldenburg, Dr. David Pokrajac, Dr. Mukti Rana, Kendrick Joyner, Wanda Curry-Brown, Marquita Thomas Brown, Randolph Johnson, Kendra Greene, Eric Hart and Erin Hill.

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Thirteen DSU employees were honored for their work ethic and professionalism at the Sept. 17 Employee Recognition Ceremony. For images of the event, click on the below link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/48216028@N03/sets/72157658790790345/show DSU President Harry L. Williams presented the annual Inspire Excellence Award to Erin Hill, assistant vice president for Enrollment Management. The following employees were presented the Vice President Choice Award: LaShawne Pryor, director of Annual Giving, Office of Development Charity Shockley,  grants manager, Office of Development Pam Adams, University chaplain, Office of Student Affairs Evita Oldenburg, residential director, Housing and Residential Education Dr. David Pokrajac, professor, Dept. of Computer & Information Sciences Dr. Mukti Rana, associate professor, Dept. of Physics & Engineering Kendrick Joyner, resource counselor, Office of Admissions Wanda Curry-Brown, assistant VP, Office of Student Accounts Marquita Thomas Brown, director, Graduate Student Services Randolph Johnson, director of bands, Dept. of Music Kendra Greene, Associate AD for Compliance, Dept. of Athletics Eric Hart, senior associate AD for Athletics Development, Dept. of Athletics The event -- which was held in the MLK Jr. Student Center -- was directed by Brenda Farmer, director for University Events & Ceremonies.

5th Annual President's Prayer Breakfast -- Photo Slideshow

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(L-r) Dr. Wilma Mishoe, Chaplain Pam Adams, Bebe Coker, Rev. Rita Paige, Rev. Silvester Beaman, DSU President Harry L. Williams, Michael Miller, U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, Dr. Germaine Cheatham and Vita Pickrum stand with a display check that shows the $29,000-plus success of the 2015 Scholarship Sunday campaign among Delaware churches to raise fund to help DSU students.

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The fifth annual President’s Prayer Breakfast was held Sept. 11 in the MLK Jr. Student Center, an event that brought community members from all over Delaware to join the DSU family in intercession on behalf of the First State's only Historically Black University. For images from the President's Prayer Breakfast, click on the below link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/48216028@N03/sets/72157656156337543/show This year’s Prayer Breakfast featured guest speaker Rev. Silvester S. Beaman, pastor of Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, as well as music from nationally known gospel artist Norman Hutchins, who is also the pastor of Frontline Ministries of Dover. The DSU Gospel Choir Alumni Ensemble also sang a gospel selection. The event also featured the presentation of the first-ever President's Faith Partner Award to Rev. Rita Mishoe, pastor of Star Hill AME Church near Camden. She is also the daughter of former Del State President Luna I. Mishoe (1960-1987). More than 350 people attended the Sept. 11 Prayer Breakfast.

$5.9m Del. Airpark Improvements to Benefit DSU Aviation

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(L-r) DRBA Commissioner Rick Downes;  Lori Pagnanelli, Manager, Harrisburg Airports District Office, FAA Eastern Region; DRBA Chairman Bill Lowe; U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons; DSU President Harry L. Williams; Donna Covington, dean of the DSU College of Business; Hans Reigle, DSU Aviation Program chair, and David Harding, UPS pilot and DSU Aviation Program alumnus (1995), all pose next to a rendering of the Del. Airpark improvements.

 

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DSU Aviation Program students will have a safer environment for their flight training as the result of a $5.9 million federal grant for improvements to the Delaware Airpark. Delaware U.S. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons announce the funding alongside DSU President Harry L. Williams, Delaware River and Bay Authority (DRBA) Airport Administrator Stephen Williams, (L-r) President Harry Williams meets Aviation Program alumni Robert Bryant (Class of 2002, Fed Ex pilot), Ryan Padmore, (2000, United Airlines), Willie Gonzalez (2015 Air Wisconsin), Mathu Baynes (2000, United), and Dave Harding, (1995,UPS) who were in attendance at the Del. Airpark funding announcement. alumni of DSU’s Aviation Program who are now working in the aviation industry, along with other officials. The overall project will provide for a runway, taxiway and apron system, capacity for adequate runway length, and airport expansion to meet the current and anticipated demand.  In addition to serving the general aviation needs of central Delaware and the capital city of Dover, the Delaware Airpark is home to DSU’s Aviation Program. As the Airpark’s primary user, DSU bases its flight training and maintains its fleet of aircraft at the facility. President Williams said about 75 current professional pilot students and those who follow them will have a safer airport environment in which to earn their flying certifications. “Our DSU aviation students will benefit greatly from the improvements, especially the longer runway that will eliminate a power line obstacle they have to currently deal with in landing and taking off,” the DSU president said. “As the University continues to produce professional pilots whose proficiencies have resulted in a 100% hiring rate, DSU, the Delaware River and Bay Authority, the Delaware Congressional delegation and the federal government can all share in the credit for helping in its success.” David Harding, a 1995 graduate of the DSU Aviation Program who now flies for the United Parcel Service, spoke at the event and told the DSU Aviation students in attendance that the safer environment will help them in their training. "The assistance  (of the funding) and the improvements are what you are going springboard on to achieve your flying aspirations," he said. Sen. Carper said an improved Delaware Airpark will be impactful in Central Delaware. “The general aviation industry contributes more than $150 billion annually to our economy and employs more than 1.2 million people throughout the country,” Sen. Carper said. “This grant award will help the Delaware Airpark expand and attract new clients to the area, and hopefully businesses in the surrounding area will also reap these benefits.” Sen. Coons said that the great is great news for the Delaware Airpark, the DRBA and the many pilots who use this airport on a daily basis. “The improvements that will be made on the runway and other aspects of the airport will improve pilot safety for years to come,” Sen. Coons said. “This project is also about updating our nation’s infrastructure. When we think about infrastructure, we think roads and bridges, but here we have a great example of what we can achieve when we invest in our airports as well.” Mr. S. Williams, the DRBA administrator, said the project could not have been possible with the instrumental support of the FAA and Delaware’s Congressional delegation. “This important aviation infrastructure project illustrates Delaware’s ongoing commitment to the aviation business sector.”

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