Board to advise Delaware EPSCoR and Critical Zone Center
Members of the research advisory board for Delaware NSF-EPSCoR and the Center for Critical Zone Research met recently at UD. From left: Stephen Borleske, co-director of Delaware NSF-EPSCoR; Jeffrey M. Bross, president of Duffield Associates, Inc.; Alexandra Navrotsky, the Edward Roessler Chair in Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of California, Davis; Michael Hochella Jr., professor of nanogeoscience and biogeochemistry at Virginia Tech; Stephen Sutton, senior scientist at the University of Chicago’s Department of Geophysical Sciences; and Donald Sparks, director of UD’s Center for Critical Zone Research. Not pictured are Kevin Donnelly, director of the Division of Water Resources within the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control; and Thomas Taylor, the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas.
2:19 p.m., April 10, 2007--An advisory board of distinguished scientists and policymakers from across the United States--including two members of the National Academy of Sciences and leaders from academia, national labs, state agencies and industry--has been appointed to help guide Delaware's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the Center for Critical Zone Research. Both programs are administered by the University of Delaware through the Delaware Biotechnology Institute.

Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the state of Delaware, the EPSCoR program is aimed at increasing the state's research competitiveness by building an infrastructure of people, programs, and facilities and a culture of interdisciplinary collaboration.

“The expertise and advice of these environmental leaders will be extremely valuable to us as we continue to develop and enhance our program,” Stephen Borleske said. He and David McCarren co-direct the state's EPSCoR Office.

“The board will provide input on the scientific direction of the broad themes of our EPSCoR program in the area of complex environmental systems and at the same time provide input to the Center for Critical Zone Research on more narrow focus areas to apply our research capability and build a strong center of excellence,” McCarren added.

A major spin-off of Delaware NSF-EPSCoR has been the Center for Critical Zone Research, which was established at UD in October. The center seeks to develop a world-class, leading-edge research capability focusing on the “critical zone”--from the treetops to the groundwater--the fragile area that sustains life on Earth.

The center is directed by Donald Sparks, the S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Plant and Soil Sciences at UD. Sparks is one of the partners in Delaware NSF-EPSCoR and has lead responsibility for the development and execution of the research component of the current grant.

“We are delighted to be able to draw on the insights and advice of such a distinguished group of scientists,” Sparks said. “Their input will be very important to the development of the Center for Critical Zone Research.”

The following are members of the new advisory board:

Jeffrey M. Bross is president of Duffield Associates, Inc., a Delaware-based consulting firm with expertise in coastal engineering, water resources, and environmental, solid and hazardous waste. A fellow of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), Bross has served as president of ACEC Delaware, chaired the board of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, co-chaired the New Castle County Economic Development Council and served on the board of the Associated General Contractors of Delaware. He holds appointments to the state's Workforce Investment Board, Stormwater Management Task Force, Clean Water Advisory Council, Livable Delaware Infill and Redevelopment Subcommittee, and New Castle County Executive's Task Force on Redevelopment. An adjunct instructor in civil and environmental engineering at UD, Bross has authored numerous technical articles and is a national speaker on environmental and construction issues. He was named Delaware's Engineer of the Year in 2006.

Kevin Donnelly is the director of the Division of Water Resources within the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). His responsibilities include wastewater infrastructure planning and financing, the state's environmental laboratory, water supply and allocation, programs addressing discharges into the state's surface and ground waters, wetlands and subaqueous lands and water-quality monitoring and assessment, including the total maximum daily load program. Formerly, he served as the environmental program administrator for district operations in DNREC's Division of Soil and Water Conservation, as a planner in the Delaware Department of Agriculture's Aglands Preservation Section and as a forester with the State Forest Service. He was a Governor's Management Fellow in 1989-90, chaired the Camden-Wyoming Sewer and Water Authority from 1991-92, and served as staff to the Commission on Government Reorganization and Effectiveness in 1993. Donnelly has a B.S. with distinction in forestry with a minor in land-use planning from the University of Maine.

Michael F. Hochella Jr. is a professor of nanogeoscience and biogeochemistry at Virginia Tech. His area of concentration is environmental chemistry. Hochella received his B.S. and M.S. from Virginia Tech and his doctorate from Stanford University. Among his honors, he has been a Fulbright Scholar to Germany, served as president of the Geochemical Society, received the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award and Fellowship and was awarded the Dana Medal by the Mineralogical Society of America. He was named Virginia Scientist of the Year in 2005 by Gov. Mark Warner and elected a fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2006. He has served on the National Science Foundation's Advisory Committee for Geosciences and currently serves on the U.S. Department of Energy's Earth Sciences Council. Hochella has written more than 125 professional publications and edited two books. Currently, he also is the principal editor of the science magazine Elements.

Alexandra Navrotsky is the Edward Roessler Chair in Mathematical and Physical Sciences and director of the Nanomaterials in the Environment, Agriculture and Technology (NEAT) research unit at the University of California, Davis. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Navrotsky's research focuses on relating microscopic features of structure and bonding to macroscopic thermodynamic behavior in minerals, ceramics and other complex materials. A fellow of the American Geophysical Union, the Geochemical Society and the Mineralogical Society (Great Britain), she has published more than 480 scientific papers and served as editor of the journal Physics and Chemistry of Minerals. Among her many honors, Navrotsky has received the Mineralogical Society of America Award, Ross Coffin Purdy Award from the American Ceramic Society, Benjamin Franklin Medal in Earth Science, an honorary doctorate from Uppsala University in Sweden and the Urey Medal of the European Association of Geochemistry. She received her B.S., M.S. and doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago.

Stephen R. Sutton is a senior scientist in the University of Chicago's Department of Geophysical Sciences. His research focuses on X-ray fluorescence microprobe development and applications in the Earth, planetary and environmental sciences, including studies of extraterrestrial materials. In particular, he is working on the development and application of synchrotron X-ray microanalysis instrumentation and methods for trace-element quantification using the X-ray fluorescence microprobe and chemical speciation determinations using X-ray absorption fine-structure spectroscopy. He has been involved in synchrotron radiation research for more than 20 years, currently as co-project leader for the GeoSoilEnviroCARS beamlines at the Advanced Photon Source (Argonne National Laboratory) and as spokesperson for beamline X26A at the National Synchrotron Light Source (Brookhaven National Laboratory). He received his B.S. in physics and his doctorate in Earth and planetary sciences from Washington University in St. Louis.

Thomas N. Taylor is the Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas, where he also is curator of paleobotany at the Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Taylor's research focuses on the biology and evolution of fossil plants and fungi, including Permian and Triassic biotas and the paleoclimate of Antarctica, early land plant/fungal interactions, reproductive systems in early land plants and symbiotic systems through time. He has written more than 360 research papers and two books. His honors include the Botanical Society of America's Merit Award, the Birbal Sahni Centenary Medal in Paleobotany, the International Organization of Paleobotany's Service Award and the Higuchi/Endowment Achievement Award in the Basic Sciences in Kansas. He also was the project director for Kansas EPSCoR. He has served on numerous national committees including the National Research Council's Polar Research Board. He was appointed to the National Science Board in 2006.

Article by Tracey Bryant
Photo by Danielle Quigley