|NSF’s Rita Colwell to Receive
Honorary Degree from the University at Albany
By Lisa James Goldsberry
As part of the celebration
of the 50th anniversary of the National Science Foundation (NSF), the University
at Albany will present Rita R. Colwell, director of the NSF, with an Honorary
Doctor of Science Degree.
The special convocation will be held on Monday,
April 17, at 2 p.m. in the Campus Center Ballroom. All are invited.
Colwell will also speak at
the convocation. Those who would like to attend may R.S.V.P. by calling
442-5373. Faculty interested in marching in the processional, which will
include full regalia, should contact the Special Events Office at 442-5310.
The University is the first
academic institution in New York State to host a celebration of the NSF
anniversary. The day of events planned for the occasion will include a
luncheon for Colwell at noon in the Campus Center Assembly Hall.
A reception and dinner will also take place,
beginning at 5 p.m. in the new library atrium. Colwell will deliver the
keynote address, titled “Where Discoveries Begin: A Vision for the 21st
Century.” To R.S.V.P. for the dinner, call 442-5373.
On August 4, 1998, Colwell
took office as Director of the National Science Foundation, an independent
agency of the federal government that provides support for research and
education in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.
Immediately prior to becoming
NSF director, she was president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology
Institute and Professor of Microbiology at the University of Maryland,
positions she had held since 1991 and 1972 respectively. While at the University
of Maryland, Colwell also served as director of the Sea Grant College and
vice president for academic affairs.
Born in Beverly, Mass., Colwell
holds a B.S. in bacteriology and an M.S. in genetics from Purdue University,
and a Ph.D. in marine microbiology from the University of Washington.
Since its inception in 1950,
the NSF has served the nation by investing in research and education in
all aspects of science, mathematics, and engineering. Over the years, NSF's
investments in research and education have helped the nation achieve an
unmatched competence in scientific and technical fields.
Santiago Named Interim Provost,
Effective July 1
|NSF Fuels Research and Economy
of the Future
By Vinny Reda
Like many very successful teachers
and scholars, Vice President for Research Christopher F. D’Elia has benefited
from the support of the National Science Foundation for much of his academic
life. In turn, he has tried to give something back to the NSF so that others
will continue to benefit.
It began when, as a Ph.D.
student in zoology at the University of Georgia, he was awarded an NSF
National Defense Education Act Title 4 graduate fellowship. While still
at Georgia, D’Elia was part of a 2.5 month, 30-scientist research expedition
to the Enewetak atoll in the Marshall Islands funded by the NSF. His graduate
studies were supported thereafter by NSF grants to his major professor,
R.E. Johannes. And his first major research grant as a faculty member was
also NSF funded.
“I am not a unique case,”
said D’Elia. “Many in my cohort of graduate students had NSF support -
supporting our studies and our research. I tell people that I cut my teeth
on NSF research.”
Since then, D’Elia has been
honored to give back to the agency’s efforts as it seeks to aid newer generations
of researchers. He has reviewed “countless” NSF proposals, either as a
mail reviewer or through his service on numerous NSF review panels, evaluating
research grant proposals. From 1987 to 1989, he took a leave of absence
from his professorship at the University at Maryland (where he would later
become director of its Maryland Sea Grant College for a decade), to serve
as program director of the NSF’s Biological Oceanography Program in Washington,
“I’ve had a wonderful experience
with the National Science Foundation, and an added bit of irony is that
my boss of a nearly a decade at the University of Maryland Biotechnology
Institute, Rita Colwell, is now the NSF’s very dynamic director,” he said.
The leadership of Colwell,
who will visit the University April 17 as part of NSF’s 50th anniversary
celebration, may bear its greatest fruits by year’s end, as the Congress
weighs the President’s request for a 17 percent increase in the funding
agency's budget. According to D’Elia, the hike is long overdue.
“NSF’s funding is not nearly
what it needs to be,” he said. “Compare it to the National Institutes of
Health (NIH), which at $18 billion is funded more in accordance with its
needs, and the NSF, at just under $4 billion, is woefully under-funded.
“People tend to overlook the
scope of the NSF’s research projects in the physical sciences and computing.
Yes, the NIH does critically important health-related research, but the
underpinnings of everything done in the health sciences are done through
basic science such as has been supported by NSF.”
“The proposal for a 17 percent
increase is indeed a testament to Rita’s ability to use the facts of NSF
success to advocate for the future.”
According to D’Elia, New York
has a particularly high stake in that future.
“I would say that the NSF
means as much or more for New York State as any other state in the nation.
New York, because of its aging heavy industries, has had a particular challenge
in transforming to high technology industries of the ‘new economy.’ NSF
funding has been a springboard to modernizing the industry of New York.”
One critical aspect of the
NSF’s importance to the economic well-being of the nation, said D’Elia,
is that “it tends to support basic research, even though the law does not
limit it to. This basic research is absolutely essential, according to
the developers of products on the corporate side, to the priming of the
pump that allows them to develop novel applications of those discoveries.”
Much of the proposed
$650 million increase in the NSF budget would be devoted to information
technology, with another $217 million directed to research on nanotechnology,
which, through the manipulation of chemicals on the atomic scale, seeks
further advances in memory chips, lighter materials, and biotechnology.
The Administration’s emphasis
this year on boosting the “hard sciences,” which will benefit, for example,
mathematics, physics and chemistry, indicates the influence of Colwell.
She recognizes that her own discipline, marine microbiology, depends on
developments in other areas that have not been increasing at a fast enough
pace in recent years.
“In addition, she works very
effectively on a bipartisan basis and is a powerful communicator,” said
D’Elia. “I saw her at the Maryland General Assembly forging good relationships
on both sides of the aisle, and I’m sure she is now doing the same with
the Congress. She works hard to instill in everyone she works with a non-ideological
support for the excitement of science.”
D’Elia looks positively at
the breadth of NSF funding that has touched the University at Albany. “One
of our greatest strengths is in the social sciences, which have had good
NSF support. Atmospheric science has been crucial to us, and the NSF has
been very important to ASRC over the years, such as with research into
cloud formation, global change, and regional climate.”
“Another major NSF project
here, run by Dan Wulff of biology, teaches high school teachers how to
teach science research techniques. This too, like NSF college programs
that provide research experiences for undergraduates, is part of another
key mission of the NSF - to get young people fascinated in science, to
get them interested in the methodologies, to make them understand you don’t
have to be a genius to achieve in science. It gets young people to realize
that your fascination and willingness to work hard in science will get
“NSF also touches lives now
from the earliest stages, such as in the quality children's programming
that it supports on PBS. It is helping to fund the development of better
curricula in K-12 science education, as well.
“And, for many scholars, it
has been an essential part of our careers. It supported our assistantships
as grad students. It funded our research. Past NSF Presidental Young Investigator
awardees at Albany, Caro-Beth Stewart, Alain Kaloyeros and Lenore Mullin,
received wonderful starts to their careers.
“Whether you are young or
old, academic or non-academic, the NSF has positively impacted lives in
America for the last 50 years.”
By Greta Petry
President Karen R. Hitchcock
has named Associate Provost and Professor Carlos E. Santiago as Interim
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, effective July 1. Santiago
will replace Judy L. Genshaft, who has accepted an invitation to be the
next president of the University of South Florida. Santiago will serve
as Interim Provost while a national search is conducted for Genshaft’s
President Hitchcock said,
“We are indeed fortunate to have such an experienced, accomplished and
respected University teacher, scholar, and administrator as Carlos available,
and willing, to assume this critical position as our chief academic officer.
He has both a deep and informed understanding of all the multifaceted activities
and aspirations of our University, a steadfast commitment to our students
and faculty as well as to the mission and those values that distinguish
this institution. Additionally, Carlos will provide the creative and knowledgeable
leadership that will enable the University at Albany to continue its outstanding
progress, a progress to which the Division of Academic Affairs under Provost
Genshaft’s stewardship has so markedly contributed.”
Santiago, who earned a Ph.D.
in economics from Cornell University in 1982, was Associate Provost and
Dean of Graduate Studies from August 1997 until January of this year, when
he returned to the Department of Latin American & Caribbean Studies
as a full professor in addition to retaining oversight of international
education on campus as Associate Provost.
The Office of International
Education now encompasses international student services, the University’s
Study Abroad programs, and the Intensive English Language Program.
Under Santiago’s leadership
in Academic Affairs, the University has enrolled more international students
than ever before. It has reaffirmed several exchange agreements, opened
up new initiatives in the Far East, strengthened the exchange programs
in Cyprus and Russia, and raised substantial external funds to expand opportunities
for UAlbany students to study abroad.
Santiago joined the University
in 1988 and has a joint appointment with the Department of Economics as
well. From August 1993 to December 1995, he was chair of the Department
of Latin American & Caribbean Studies. He is also associate director
of the Center for Latino, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, a position
he has held since 1993, and was special assistant to the Office of the
President from September 1991 to August 1995.