DOVER — When Noureddine Melikechi, one of the prominent faces of Delaware State University, left the university two months ago to join the faculty at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, several vacancies were created.
While Dr. Melikechi was the dean of the College of Mathematics, Natural Sciences and Technology, he was also the director and founder of the Delaware Institute for Science & Technology, which includes the touted optics program.
In his absence, several biology professors have been named to temporary posts: Clytrice Watson is the interim dean, while Melissa Harrington is the interim director of the institute.
Founded about a year when the high-tech Optical Science Center for Applied Research opened on campus, the Delaware Institute for Science & Technology focuses on a variety of scientific fields, such as optics, computer science and neuroscience.
“The goal is to put together resources and support to help grow the research portfolio and Delaware State University,” Dr. Harrington said.
It acts as an “umbrella” under which the optics program and other curricula fall, she said.
Some of the work done by researchers in the institute involves lasers, a hallmark of the optics program. In other labs, scientists test air quality and examine living tissue.
Dr. Harrington, the director of the Delaware Center for Neuroscience Research, said she was approached by DSU President Harry Williams to run the institute for the time being. She officially became the interim leader Oct. 1.
When a permanent director is chosen could fluctuate depending on how other proceedings go.
The university is currently searching for a new provost, a process that began more than six months ago. Alton Thompson resigned March 4, and while DSU officials selected Florida A&M University professor James Ammons for the position in May, he informed the university two weeks before he was scheduled to start in July he would not take the post.
“Once the top leadership is settled then it will sort of cascade down,” Dr. Harrington said.
Because it is still relatively new and limited in size, the Delaware Institute for Science & Technology is still being developed, and Dr. Harrington believes the institute has the potential to grow, boosting the university’s prestige and allowing researchers more opportunities.
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