Cristina Archer

New environmental faculty

Multidisciplinary search effort results in environmental cluster hire


9:49 a.m., Nov. 16, 2011--The University of Delaware welcomes four new faculty members for the 2011–2012 year as a result of last year’s environmental cluster faculty search. 

As part of the Path to Prominence, the University supports multidisciplinary efforts to develop solutions to issues in energy, the environment and resource sustainability. The cluster hire invited candidates with interdisciplinary interests in these areas to apply for up to six open positions before the initial review began last December.

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“By searching for several faculty members in broad areas, we have the possibility of creating multi-disciplinary research teams that work across traditional academic disciplines,” UD Provost Tom Apple said. “This also provides students with an opportunity to study in an interdisciplinary environment.”

Daniel Leathers, geography professor and chair of the search committee, said the process of sifting through the hundreds of applications took about eight months.

Leathers suggested that the economic climate at other universities contributed to the number of applicants. “We were out hiring for general environmental areas when most universities were contracting,” he said.

According to Leathers, the selection committee consisted of one representative from each college and two from the College of Arts and Sciences. Committee members were asked to review applicants with similar interest areas.

“These hires help to facilitate interaction across the University, by bringing faculty together and fostering interdisciplinary research,” Leathers said. “With new faculty, there’s the opportunity for more cutting-edge research on campus and a chance to compete for more grants.”

Cristina Archer

As a result of the cluster hire, UD welcomes Cristina Archer as an associate professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.  Archer, originally from Como, Italy, previously worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at California State University, Chico, and as a consulting assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University. 

Archer received a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Politecnico di Milano (Italy), a master’s in meteorology from San Jose State University and a doctoral degree in civil and environmental engineering from Stanford University. Her research interests include renewable energy, wind power, meteorology, climate change, air quality and numerical modeling of the atmosphere. Archer has published articles and spoken about the importance of wind energy.

Andrea P. Sarzynski

Andrea P. Sarzynski joins UD as an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy and Administration.  She previously worked as a research professor for the Institute of Public Policy at George Washington University and as a senior research analyst for the Brookings Institution.  Her research focused on metropolitan growth patterns, consequences and policy solutions. Additionally, Sarzynski worked at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the environmental law practice at Sidley Austin.

Sarzynski holds a doctorate in public policy and public administration from George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in natural resources from Cornell University. In addition to publishing reports for the George Washington Institute of Public Policy and Brookings, she has written academic articles in policy, geography and urban affairs. Her research interest areas include federal policymaking, environmental and energy policy, patterns of land development and urban sprawl and state renewable energy policies.

Angelia Seyfferth

Angelia Seyfferth comes to UD as an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. She previously conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford University under the Department of Environmental Earth System Science. 

Seyfferth received a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Towson University and a doctoral degree in soil and water sciences from the University of California, Riverside. Her research interests span the fields of environmental soil chemistry, plant-soil interactions, analytical chemistry and human toxicology. Seyfferth’s research focuses on understanding the transport of contaminants into plants, with an overarching goal of improving human health by reducing exposure to harmful foods.

Rodrigo Vargas

Rodrigo Vargas also joins Seyfferth as an assistant professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He previously worked as an assistant research professor at Centro de Investigación y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE), a national research center in Ensenada, Mexico. 

Vargas received his doctorate in environmental science at the University of California, Riverside, and completed postdoctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a recipient of a Fulbright fellowship for his doctoral studies.  His research focuses on how biophysical factors regulate carbon and water dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems. He also studies soil-plant-atmosphere interactions to understand the response of terrestrial ecosystems to management, extreme events and climate change. 

In addition to their primary departmental appointments, all four new faculty will be affiliates of the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN). 

DENIN’s director, Don Sparks, S. Hallock du Pont Chair of Soil and Environmental Chemistry, said that the caliber of applicants attracted by the cluster hire was impressive.

“The cluster hire has generated not only a large number of very talented applicants but also a lot of attention to environmental programs at UD,” Sparks said.

According to Leathers, additional environmental faculty members could be hired in the coming semester.

The cluster hire is not the only recent effort the University has made to increase interdisciplinary research. The need for more research space has sparked the construction of the Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Laboratory (ISE Lab), scheduled for completion in 2013.

“We were already a leader in many aspects of environmental research, but the cluster hire shows that we are growing this area here at UD in an aggressive way,” Apple said. “Coupled with the building of the ISE Lab, we are emerging as the place for environmental research and study.”

Article by Brittany Barkes

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