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Gov. Markell Appoints DSU's Dr. Heckscher to Natural Areas Council

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Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has appointed Dr. Christopher Heckscher, DSU assistant professor of the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences, to serve as a member of the Delaware Natural Areas Advisory Council (DNAAC).   As an eight-member council created by state law, the DNAAC advises the cabinet secretary of the Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) on the administration of nature preserves and the preservation of natural areas.   As a governor’s appointment, Dr. Heckscher had to go through a state Senate confirmation hearing on March 26, during which time he received the legislators’ approval to serve on the council.   “In the field of conservation and the environment, it is a prestigious appointment,” Dr. Heckscher said, adding that he believes he is the first DSU faculty member to be appointed to the DNAAC.   Dr. Heckscher is both an entomologist (one who studies insects) and an ornithologist (one who studies birds).  Last year, he gained some notoriety within the entomology science community when he discovered a new species of firefly – Photuris mysticalampas –  which he substantiated in a published peer-reviewed paper.   In addition to his firefly research, he has also broken new ground in the study of the previously unknown migration patterns of the Veery songbird.   Dr. Heckscher has been a DSU faculty member since 2008.

DSU Dean and Doctoral Student Recognized by NASA

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(L-r) Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, and optics doctoral student Alissa Mezzacappa have been included in NASA's Group Achievement Award in recognition of the ChemCam Team's work on the Mars Curiosity Rover mission.

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As members of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory ChemCam Instrument Development & Science Team, DSU’s Dr. Noureddine Melikechi and doctoral student Ms. Alissa Mezzacappa have received one of NASA’s Highest Honor Awards – the Group Achievement Award.    The ChemCam team has received this award “For exceptional achievement defining ChemCam’s scientific goals and requirements, developing the instrument and investigation, and operating ChemCam successfully on Mars.”   This NASA Honor Award is presented to a number of carefully selected teams who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the NASA mission.   Dr. Melikechi, dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, as well as vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development, along with Ms. Mezzacappa, a Ph.D. candidate in optics, have been active members of the ChemCam team and have assisted in the analysis of data sent back from the Curiosity Rover that has been on Mars since August 2012.   The ChemCam (Chemistry and Camera suite), one of 10 instruments on the Curiosity, is being used to study the soil and rocks at each place the rover stops. The ChemCam shoots an infrared laser – more than a million watts of power – at various rock surfaces on the planet. The resulting light is read by the unit’s spectrometer and the data is sent back to earth.

2014 OSLA Awards & Appreciation Ceremony -- Photo Slideshow

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Shashanna Simeon (l), recording secretary of the 2013-14 SGA, gives the installation oath to the 2014-2015 executive SGA officers, "The Family" -- (2nd from left to r) Edward Doxen, president; Kimani Robinson, vice president; Christen Thomas, treasurer; Donametria Stallings, recording secretary; and Kalea Phelps, corresponding secretary.

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The Office of Student Leadership and Activities held its 2014 Student Organization Awards and Appreciation Ceremony on April 30 in the MLK Jr. Student Center. For images of ceremony and the award recipients, click on the below photo slideshow, followed by the list of awardees: The following organizations and individuals were honored during the ceremony: Outstanding Student Leader – Anna Kay Davis, Allied Health Organization Student of the Year – Jonnie Lonon, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Student Volunteer of the Year – Quira Parker Outstanding New Organization – iStep Organization of the Year – DSU Theater Society Fraternity of the Year Highest GPA – Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. Sorority of the Year Highest GPA – Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Outstanding Student Organization Program – HBCUs vs. PWIs Part 2, Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc. Advisor of the Year – Tina George, Culture Exchange Program Best Organization Portfolio – Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. Fraternity of the Year – Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Sorority of the Year – Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. During the ceremony, the incoming 2014-2015 SGA executive officers – The Family – as well as other SGA student leaders all took their installation oaths. The ceremony was emceed by the incoming 2014-2015 Mr. and Miss DSU – James L. Jones and Jamila Mustafa.  

DSU Engineering Students to Benefit from Software Donation

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Lennea Davis and Brandon Davis (l-r at computers), engineering physics majors, with Dr. Mukti Rana, assistant professor of engineering and physic, will get hands-on experience in electrical power supply analysis.

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The Department of Physics and Engineering has received an in-kind donation of computer software valued at $430,750 from Operation Technology Inc. that will help DSU engineering students get hands on training in electrical power analysis. The ETAP electrical power systems design and analysis software will be used to train the engineering students in electrical power system analysis. This will be used as a Laboratory Simulation Software in a newly developed senior course “Power System Analysis” in the Department of Physics and Engineering. It will also be used in future courses that will be taught in the area of electrical power.   ETAP is a fully integrated electrical power system analysis tool for both direct and alternating currents. Engineers use ETAP in thousands of companies and electric utilities worldwide in the design, analysis, maintenance, and operation of electrical power systems. ETAP software can be used to perform network analysis, real time monitoring, protective device design, transient analysis, user defined dynamic modeling, cable thermal analysis, fault analysis, load shedding, stability analysis and many others to simulate and design the electrical power system. Dr. Mukti Rana, assistant professor of physics and engineering, facilitated the development of the department's relationship with Operation Technologies, resulting in the software donation. Dr. Rana noted that Dr. Noureddine Melikechi, dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, was also helpful in the endeavor.

DSU's Dr. V. Kalavacharla named DelBio's HE Educator of the Year

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Dr. Venu Kalavacharla, associate professor in the DSU College of Agriculture and Related Sciences, receives the DelawareBio’s 2014 Educator of the Year in Higher Education from Dr. T. Ben Hsu, CFO of QPS Holdings, LLC.

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Dr. Venugopal "Kal" Kalavacharla, director of CIBER (Center for Integrated Biological and Environmental Research) and associate professor of plant molecular genetics and genomics, has been recognized by the Delaware BioScience Association as the 2014 Educator of the Year for Higher Education. The award was presented April 16 at the annual DelawareBio Award Gala at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington. Dr. Kalavacharla was nominated by Lori Maramante and Barbara Wiggins, both instructors at Delaware Technical Community College who are well acquainted with his academic instruction programs. Ms. Maramante said Dr. Kalavacharla was deserving of the award due to “his role in developing undergraduates through the well-designed National Science Foundation Research for Undergraduates summer internship program he has spearheaded and for his leadership in developing an academic pipeline for bioscience students in the state.” Ms. Wiggins noted that Dr. Kalavacharla is the principal investigator of the DSU portion of the Delaware-EPSCoR grants shared by the University of Delaware, DSU, Delaware Tech, and Wesley College. She also noted the benefit gained by students involved in DSU's National Science Foundation-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) in Molecular Genetics and Genomics program. “Delaware Tech students who participate end up transferring to a four-year school to get a bachelor's degree, and some have continued on for graduate programs,” Ms. Wiggins said. “Kal is a professional, knowledgeable, skilled instructor, a great collaborator and a pleasure to work with.” Upon receiving the award, Dr. Kalavacharla -- who has been a DSU faculty member since 2006 -- acknowledged and thanked the collaboration and active participation of faculty colleagues, staff and students from within DSU, as well as Delaware Tech, Wesley College and UD for helping to develop integrated STEM research and education programs that benefit Delaware and the region. Delaware BioScience Association is a unified voice for Delaware’s thriving bio community, dedicated to facilitating growth of the life science industry, advancements in research as well as supporting education initiatives in Delaware and the surrounding region. The mission of the Delaware BioScience Association is to become the catalyst to ensure Delaware becomes a global leader in life sciences by developing a cohesive community that unites the region's biotechnology, pharmaceutical, research, financial and agricultural strengths.

Biomedical Researcher Dr. Hakima Amri to Speak at DSU May 1

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The DSU College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology will present guest speaker Dr. Hakima Amri of Georgetown University who will give a presentation on “From Hippocrates to Avicenna to Biomedicine: Is There a Missing Link?” at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 1 in room 309 of the Bank of America Building on campus. The guest lecture – which is part of the college’s Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series – is free and open to public. A Georgetown University associate professor,  Dr. Amri has done extensive research in systems medicine, cancer biomarkers and biosignature identification. She will explain the historical context of Unani Medicine, describing its concepts and principles while revealing how this ancient medicine applies to modern biomedical frameworks.

The CAHSS Wins Battle of Colleges for 2nd Straight Year

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Representatives of the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences -- Natalie Belcher, Rhonda Thompson, Dr. Donald Becker, Dean Marshall Stevenson, Dr. Adenike Davidson, Karen Robinson, Stephanie Hardwick-Brown -- display the Battle of the Colleges Trophy the college will hold for the second consecutive year.

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For the second consecutive year, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) has emerged at the top of Battle of the Colleges fundraising competition. The CAHSS once again surpassed the other four DSU colleges by raising $8,033.54 – surpassing its 2013 first-place winning total by a little more than $1,000 (7,023.01). While the CAHSS did some fundraising through a spring social gathering and a basketball tournament, the majority of funds its raised came from the personal donations of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends in the community. The CAHSS edged out the second place College of Business, which raised $7,908.00. “I’m sure I speak for all of the faculty, staff and students who are members of the CAHSS that we are proud and privileged to once again be called “The Best of the Best” in the Battle of the Colleges,” said Dr. Marshall Stevenson, CAHSS dean. “I want to thank this year’s Battle Captains Dr. Francine Edwards, Dr. Sam Hoff and Dr. Raymond Tutu and Mr. and Miss DSU, Charles Robinson-Sneed and Chascidy Reeves, who “rallied the donors” via social media, door to door appeals, phone calls, student newspaper ads and other activities such as our ‘Last Week of Class Bash’ and ‘Dollar Days’.” DSU President Harry L. Williams congratulates interim Dean Marsha Horton for the College of Education, Health & Public Policy's recognition as the Participating Challenge winner. The 2014 Battle of the Colleges featured a new competition this year – the Participation Challenge, which recognized the college that had the highest percentage of faculty and staff who made donations in this fundraising contest. The College of Education, Health and Public Policy (CEHPP), which raised the third highest amount ($4,628.12), won the Participation Challenge with 72 percent of its faculty and staff making donations. As the Participation Challenge winner, the CEHPP received $2,500. Rounding out the fundraising efforts, the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences raised $4,563.00; and the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology raised $1,200.00. In its second year, the Battle of the Colleges raised a total $26,332.66. Each college will use the money it raised to benefit its programs.

DSU Bands to Present Annual Spring Concert April 29

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The Spring Concert will feature performances by the Delaware State University Symphonic Band and the Delaware State University Jazz Ensemble. It is free and open to the public.

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The DSU Bands will hold their annual Spring Concert at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 29 in the Education and Humanities Theatre on campus. The Concert will be free and open to the public. The Spring Concert will feature performances by the Delaware State University Symphonic Band and the Delaware State University Jazz Ensemble.  Both groups are led by Randolph Johnson, director of bands.

DSU to Host Debate on Brown vs. Board Legacy April 30

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The Debate is free and open to the public.

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In observance of the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision that determined that segregation in public schools unconstitutional, Delaware State University will hold a panel debate at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 30 in the Longwood Auditorium (room 113) in the Bank of America Building. The event – entitled “Debating the Legacy of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education Ruling of 1954” – is free and open to the public. The panel will include: Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal Kimeu Boynton, attorney and DSU adjunct professor Dr. Dolores Finger Wright, DSU associate professor of Social Work and civil rights advocate Jeff Shafer, of the Alliance Defending Freedom Leroy Tice, attorney and DSU Board of Trustees member In addition to a spirited exchange of ideas and thoughts by the participating panelists, there will also be opportunities for perspectives and questions to be shared by audience members. The debate is co-sponsored by the DSU Law Studies Program and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.

Dr. Amir Mohammadi to Assume New Post at Slippery Rock Univ.

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Dr. Mohammadi has held executive administrator posts at DSU since his arrival in 2006.

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Dr. Amir Mohammadi, who has been an instrumental part of the growth of Delaware State University since 2006, will be leaving the institution to assume a new post at Slippery Rock University (SRU) in Western Pennsylvania.   After serving a succession of executive administrator posts at DSU, culminating currently as executive vice president and University treasurer, Dr. Mohammadi will become the vice president of Finance and Administration at SRU, which has an enrollment of 8,300.   Dr. Mohammadi said that it has been a great pleasure to be a part of DSU for the last eight years.   “I am leaving with mixed emotions as my new career chapter means I must leave many friends and colleagues who I have come to deeply appreciate,” Dr. Mohammadi said. “It has been exciting to be part of the institution’s remarkable growth and development. DSU has a solid university infrastructure that is contributing greatly to its success, and I will continue to pay close attention to the ongoing fulfillment of the University’s potential in the coming years.”   He arrived at DSU in 2006 after serving in administrative posts at West Virginia University, where he was promoted 10 times in 15 years. At DSU he was promoted six times in his eight-year tenure. Among his positions, he first served as DSU’s vice president of Student Affairs from 2006 to 2007. He then was appointed as the vice president of Finance and Administration and University treasurer from 2007 to 2011. His title became executive vice president and University treasurer from 2011 to present.    In addition Dr. Mohammadi held other concurrent DSU posts: president of the Student Housing Foundation (2006-present), controller of the DSU Development Foundation (2008-present), board member and treasurer of the DSU Early College High School, and interim dean of the College of Business (2013-present).   “Dr. Mohammadi’s diverse array of responsibilities over the last eight years has resulted in a great number of successes at Delaware State University,” said DSU President Harry L. Williams. “He has been an integral part in increasing and managing DSU’s enrollment growth and has importantly helped DSU become one of the top ranked institutions among America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”   Among the accomplishments that took place under Dr. Mohammadi’s leadership:   Oversaw the development of the latest Campus Master Plan that will guide DSU in its physical infrastructure improvements over the next 20 years. Provided the leadership in negotiating a $12 million lease with an option to buy the 140,000 square foot Sheraton Hotel near the campus, which provides the University with an additional 300 residential beds for its on-campus student population as well as a site for its Early College High School. Created a partnership for energy reduction with the U.S. Department of Energy, resulting in DSU’s selection nationally as one of the nine institutions of higher education to become part of the Obama Administration’s Better Building Challenge in December 2011. Dr. Mohammadi’s finance creativity led him to develop an innovative financing alternative which has received national recognition. Reduced DSU’s energy consumption by $5.3 million, decreasing deferred maintenance by $6.2 million, while reducing the University’s carbon footprint by 26%. This was accomplished through measures that increased efficiency and upgraded important facility systems by using innovative options for financing capital improvements with energy savings. Negotiating three MOUs with China, Malaysia and India, as well as negotiated a DSU presence in Vietnam. Led the acquisition of the Kirkwood Facility – formerly a U.S. Army Reserve Center in New Castle County – resulting in an expansion of the University’s academic offering in the northern part of Delaware. Provided the financial leadership in reaffirming and obtaining an A+ rating from Standard & Poor’s. Led the planning for the construction of DSU’s Strength and Conditioning Facility,  its Wellness & Recreation Center and DSU’s new Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center.   Dr. Mohammadi will begin his new post at SRU on May 19.     -0-  

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