Mike Peterson of the Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition with award recipient Sherrie Wilcox.

Alumni awards

College of Health Sciences honors professors, clinicians during Alumni Weekend


10:56 a.m., June 11, 2014--The College of Health Sciences at the University of Delaware honored six alumni at a reception on Friday, June 6, held at the Health Sciences Complex on UD’s new Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Campus. 

The group includes an expert in reproductive medicine, two professors, two physical therapists, and one of Delaware’s top nurses. 

Honors Stories

National Medal of Science

President Barack Obama recently presented the National Medal of Science to University of Delaware alumnus Rakesh Jain.

Warren Award

Rosalind Johnson, assistant dean for student success in the NUCLEUS Program in UD's College of Arts and Sciences, was presented the John Warren Excellence in Leadership and Service Award during a May 26 ceremony.

Sherrie Wilcox (Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition)

After her 2008 graduation from UD with a master of science degree in health promotion, Sherrie Wilcox went on to earn a Ph.D. in health promotion and education from the University of Georgia in 2011. In her current position as assistant research professor at the University of Southern California School of Social Work, her work focuses on the physical and psychological well-being of military families. 

Wilcox is currently co-investigator of a $5 million Department of Defense study evaluating the use of innovative technology and evidence-based practices to train behavioral health providers to work effectively with the military population and to monitor adoption and fidelity of evidence-based practices.

She was also co-investigator on a recent study to evaluate post-deployment reintegration strengths and challenges in a National Guard unit after deployment in Iraq.

“While still an early career researcher, Dr. Wilcox has used many of the skills she gained from her experience at UD to contribute broadly to the health promotion field and has achieved many accomplishments along the way,” said Mike Peterson, chair of the UD Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. “She has shown excellence and commitment in research, teaching and service and with active grants, publications and leadership.”

Jean Eckrich (Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology)

Jean Eckrich is the David H. Winton Endowed Chair of Exercise and Sport Sciences at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire. After earning her bachelor of science degree in physical education at UD in 1977, Eckrich went on to earn a master’s degree from the University of Wyoming and a Ph.D. from Purdue University. She is an expert in the role of exercise in lifelong health, the mechanics and development of human motion, the changing role of women in sports, and principles and practices for coaches.

In addition to her teaching and leadership roles, Eckrich founded the Teaching Enrichment Center at Colby-Sawyer in 2009. 

One of her former students credited her with going “beyond the requirements of her position to cultivate our academic, intellectual and personal growth.” 

Another called her an exceptional professor, academic adviser, capstone instructor, mentor and friend. “She always encouraged me to expect more from myself and from my peers,” he said. “It is easy to see that Colby-Sawyer would not be the same without her. It takes a special person to be a great teacher, but it takes a Jean Eckrich to do it with such enthusiasm and genuine interest.”

While at UD, Eckrich won the Robert A. Layton Award and the Honors Day Book Award, and she delivered the baccalaureate address for the then-College of Physical Education, Athletics, and recreation in 1987.

Marc Portmann (Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences)

Marc Portmann is a 1989 graduate of the former Medical Technology Program at UD.  He also holds a master’s degree in health administration from Widener University, and he is certified as an embryology laboratory director.

Portmann started his career as an embryologist at the Delaware Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Newark, Delaware, and then became the laboratory manager of the Reproductive Endocrinology and Fertility Center at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pennsylvania.

He became first the embryology laboratory director and then the director of operations/practice administrator of Reproductive Associates of Delaware, where he worked for 16 years. He now serves as the regional executive director and embryology laboratory director for the Philadelphia Metro region of the Shady Grove Fertility Center.

“Marc has made numerous presentations to the medical laboratory science freshmen at UD over the years,” said interim department chair Michelle Parent. “He is an active member of the advisory committee for the Medical Laboratory Science Program here at UD, and we are proud to call him an alum.”

Nicholas DeBlasio and Nikol Tews (Department of Physical Therapy)

Nick DeBlasio, who graduated from UD in 2006 with his doctorate of physical therapy, is the facility director at the Orefield Facility and area manager of the northern region for St. Luke’s University Health Network. He received his board certification as an orthopedic clinical specialist through the American Physical Therapy Association and is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist. He specializes in the treatment of spinal pathology and pre-post operative rehabilitation.

Nikol Tews, who earned her physical therapy degree from UD in 1990, became a board certified orthopedic specialist in 2000. She is also certified by the McKenzie Institute in mechanical diagnosis and therapy of the spine. Tews is a physical therapist with St. Luke’s University Health Network, working in the system’s Northampton, Pennsylvania, facility.

In introducing the pair at the awards ceremony, Tara Jo Manal, director of physical therapy clinical services and residency training at UD, said, “These two alumni are being honored because they have done what we hope all alumni will do — they have found each other out in the community and together reached heights in their careers. They both have become board-certified specialists in their areas of clinical practice and been involved in the residency training of the next generation of clinical specialists, shining examples of clinical excellence.

“Even more importantly, they have given back to the UD physical therapy program. They were instrumental in securing enough clinical internship spots for a tenth of our students to be trained in their facility. I cannot think of anything more a department could hope for in their graduates but to pursue clinical excellence, all the while giving back to their academic program and influencing the careers of future physical therapy colleagues.”

Maureen Seckel (School of Nursing)

Maureen Seckel completed the master of science degree in nursing and post-master of science in nursing programs at UD in 1994 and 2005, respectively. In the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, she practiced in critical care, specifically as a staff nurse in surgical-trauma, cardiovascular and general intensive care units in hospitals throughout the U.S.

Since 1996, Seckel has been an advanced practice nurse and critical care medicine-pulmonary clinical nurse specialist in Christiana Care Health System. 

“In this role, Maureen has led practice changes, and she is a stellar preceptor for our clinical nurse specialist students, who believe that Maureen walks on water,” said School of Nursing director Kathy Schell.

Seckel has been an advocate for participation in professional organizations, and she has been particularly active in the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, volunteering on research and evidence-based practice workgroups and strategic thinking committees as well as other advisory boards. 

A prolific scholar, she has published more than 60 abstracts, articles, and book chapters on various pulmonary and critical care topics. She has given numerous international, national, regional and local presentations and is an ad hoc reviewer for several critical care and nursing journals.  

“I have known and worked with Maureen for over 20 years,” said Schell. “She is intelligent, hard working, and dedicated to best practice in critical care settings. You can count on Maureen to tell it like it is — a quality much needed when dealing with the delicate balance of life and the professional careers of nurses. She never hesitates to voice her opinion and let you know where you stand. She has a wonderfully dry sense of humor, yet her passion for nursing is consistently evident. She is inspirational to those around her and a role model for the profession of nursing.”

Article by Diane Kukich

Photos by Doug Baker

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