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DSU establishes new agriculture-focused doctoral program

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DOVER – Delaware State University’s Board of Trustees recently approved the establishment of a new doctoral program – a Ph.D. program in Integrative Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences.

The new doctoral program will develop researchers and teachers who are capable of conducting scholarly, independent research, acquire multidisciplinary skills, and become efficient decision makers who contribute original and novel information to various bodies of scientific knowledge in the areas of agriculture, food and environmental science.

A multidisciplinary team of faculty in various department of the College of Agriculture, Sciences and Technology (CAST) will provide mentorship and training to the Ph.D. candidates. By making the doctoral program integrative, it also will be inclusive of all research faculty in CAST, whose research disciplines are not currently providing doctoral-level research and training to students.

Another aspect of the interdisciplinary nature of this program is that each student will be mentored by two advisors, each of whom are from different but related science disciplines.

The interdisciplinary team of CAST faculty members who developed the Ph.D. program were led by Dr. Venu Kalavacharla, professor and associate dean for research in CAST, who said this doctoral program was years in the making.

A unique feature of this doctoral program is students will be required to spend time in other University units such as housing, finance, student services, budget and finance etc., to gain a better understanding how those administrative areas work. Students will also be required to do an internship outside of their dissertation research.

“Our goal is to develop the next generation of Ph.Ds. who not only have expertise in the sciences, but in how the business of the academic institution works,” Kalavacharla said.

Also involved in the development of this new doctoral program were Dr. Charlie Wilson, CAST associate dean for academics; Dr. Marikis Alvarez, CAST associate dean for land grant programs; Dr. Richard Barczewski, retired chair of the Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources (AGNR) and professor emeritus; Dr. Mingxin Guo, interim chair, AGNR; Dr. Sathya Elavarthi, associate professor, AGNR; Dr. Kwame Mathews, associate professor & extension specialist, AGNR; Dr. Gulnihal Ozbay, professor & extension specialist, AGNR; Dr. Kalpalatha Melmaiee, associate professor, AGNR; Dr. Kevina Vulince, professor, AGNR; Dr. Karl Miletti, associate professor of biological sciences; Dr. Young G. Kim, assistant professor, Chemistry; Dr. Tomasz Smolinski, associate professor of the Division of Physics, Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science; and Dr. Jung-Lim Lee, associate professor of human ecology.

Additionally, Kalavacharla and the team have collaborated with Dr. Patrice Gilliam-Johnson, dean of School of Graduate and Adult Continuing Studies, and her team to follow best practices in developing the Ph.D. program. He added that this program has been modeled after the integrative Ph.D. programs at Tuskegee University and North Carolina Central University.

The team member see this as a tremendous advancement for the University.

“The authorization to implement the Ph.D. program in Integrative Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences is a milestone achievement to CAST and the Department of Agriculture & Natural Resources,” Guo said.

“We have put our hearts and late nights to work on this program. I think it makes a big difference when the faculty and administrators volunteer, they really dedicate themselves for something they believe in,” Ozbay added. “The program will help us grow as an institution in research and workforce development.”

The Ph.D. program in Agriculture, Food and Environmental Science will be launched in the fall of 2021. Students can begin applying for enrollment in the program very soon.

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