Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson
September 29, 2023
For the Record provides information about recent professional activities and honors of University of Delaware faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
Recent presentations, awards, and publications include the following:
Zoe Harper, a dietetic intern in the University of Delaware’s Department of Health Behavior and Nutrition Sciences, presented an abstract for her research titled “Impact of FVRx Programs on Fruit and Vegetable Intake, Cardiovascular Risk Factors and Food Security: A Systematic Review” at the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) Conference in Washington, D.C. Under the guidance of Shannon Robson, associate professor, Harper conducted a review of all existing research on produce prescription programs throughout America and analyzed how they impacted food security, cardiovascular risk factors, and intake of fruits and vegetables. The review discovered mixed results on the benefits of these programs, suggesting the importance of federal staff to provide better funding and assistance in these programs for improved impact on overall health outcomes. Harper aims to develop her career into a role where she can help connect people to these programs and influence public policy, ultimately reducing the risk of cardiovascular health problems throughout communities.
Kevin Solomon, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, has won the 2023 Lloyd Ferguson Young Scientist Award for Excellence in Research from the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). The Lloyd Ferguson Award recognizes young scientists for their technical excellence and documented contributions to their field. It is named after Lloyd N. Ferguson, an accomplished chemist who established the first chemistry doctoral program at a historically black college, served as chair of the American Chemical Society, and founded NOBCChE. Solomon’s lab researches microbial technologies that accelerate the sustainable production of fuels, medicines, materials, and other value-added chemicals to address challenges in sustainability, human health, and food safety. Current projects range from accelerating the degradation of plastics wastes via microbial communities to engineering novel viral delivery platforms for vaccine development. Solomon was presented with the award during the NOBCChE annual conference during the 50th Anniversary Gala held on Sept. 14, 2023, in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Kate Habegger, an academic program manager of Advising and Academic Services in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Student Success Center, has been selected as the 2023 University of Delaware Delaware Ace Women’s Network (DAWN) Rising Star Award recipient. The DAWN Rising Star Award is presented annually to a woman in higher education in Delaware whose potential to achieve more is evident. Habegger began her first professional advising position in the College of Arts and Sciences at UD in June 2019, serving students through the completion of 60 credits or in their first semester as a transfer student. She then became an academic program manager in August 2022 and now co-manages that same team of 11 professional academic advisers serving nearly 4,000 students. She is a true leader who demonstrates her commitment to higher education, student success, adviser success, and the field of academic advising every day. She is also very engaged in her community and has been a volunteer on the Choir School of Delaware’s Board since September 2017.
Esther Biswas-Fiss, professor and chair of the Department of Medical and Molecular Sciences (MMSC), has received an Individual Investigator Research Award in the amount of $300,000 from the Foundation Fighting Blindness, a global leader in retinal degenerative disease research. Sam Biswas, professor of medical and molecular sciences, Barry Bodt, senior biostatistician in the College of Health Sciences, and Shawn Polson, associate professor of computer and information sciences and director of UD’s Bioinformatics Core Facility, are co-investigators on the project. The grant will support Biswas-Fiss’ research on the ABCA4 gene, which has over 3,000 genetic variants. The gene is the leading cause of Stargardt disease, an inherited retinal disease affecting one in 8,000 people worldwide, often resulting in blindness. According to Biswas-Fiss, “The onset of visual impairment in individuals with these variants can occur as early as childhood or adolescence, and some may progress to blindness shortly afterward. In other instances, ABCA4-linked disease may have a gradual onset, with some individuals not experiencing issues until middle age or even later.” Biswas-Fiss aims to enhance understanding of the gene’s variants. “Through a novel approach using computational modeling and experiments, our lab seeks to understand the functional significance of ABCA4 variants of unknown significance. We want to learn what’s happening at the protein functional level and compare that with clinical patient phenotypes to make a connection with better predictive value,” Biswas-Fiss said. “It’s a very exciting opportunity. I’m honored to be funded by the Foundation Fighting Blindness and hopeful this research will make an impact for the betterment of patients.” In October, Biswas-Fiss will travel to Málaga, Spain, for the 20th annual International Symposium on Inherited Retinal Degeneration to moderate a panel and present her research alongside medical sciences doctoral students Jazzlyn Jones and Senem Cevik.
David Shearer, Thomas Muncy Keith Professor of history, has published a summary essay in the collection Social Control under Stalin and Khrushchev: The phantom of the well-ordered state, edited by Immo Rebitshchek and Aaron Retish. University of Toronto Press, 2023. Shearer’s critical summary is titled “Soviet Socialisms from Stalin to Khrushchev,” pp. 325-344.
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