Three faculty members from the University of Delaware Graduate College of Marine Studies (CMS) recently were appointed to named professorships by University President David P. Roselle and Provost Melvyn Schiavelli. Marine biologists David Kirchman and J. Herbert Waite now hold the title of Maxwell P. and Mildred H. Harrington Professor of Marine Studies. Named after the Delaware couple whose bequest made the appointment possible, the Harrington professorship is bestowed on the basis of distinguished teaching and scholarship.
Kirchman received the honor in recognition of his significant achievements in marine microbiology -- in particular, for his revelations on the critical functions performed by marine bacteria, the most abundant life form on Earth, in plant nutrient and carbon cycles. This information is critical to our understanding of the ocean’s role in global climate change.
A member of the CMS faculty since 1986, Kirchman serves on the editorial boards of the scientific journals Limnology and Oceanography, Aquatic Microbial Ecology, Biofouling, and FEMS Microbiological Ecology. He also serves on an advisory board for the publisher John Wiley & Sons. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Lawrence University and his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in environmental engineering from Harvard University. He is based at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes.
J. Herbert Waite was recognized for his authority on the adhesive proteins found in mussels, tubeworms, and other marine organisms. Waite has conducted internationally acclaimed research on the proteins found in the byssus, the bundle of threads rooted at the base of the mussel’s foot. The adhesive at the end of these threads enables the mussel to anchor itself to solid surfaces in water. Understanding the structure-function relationships of the mussel’s adhesive molecules may ultimately lead to the development of “waterproof” glues and other materials with broad applicability in the dental and biomedical fields.
Waite received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in zoology and biochemistry from Duke University. He joined the CMS faculty in 1986 and is based at the Newark campus.
Kirchman and Waite join one other Harrington professor at CMS. In 1991, the honor was bestowed on oceanography professor Richard Garvine for his discovery of the Delaware Coastal Current. Garvine currently is interim director of the new Physical Ocean Science and Engineering Program at CMS.
The third CMS recipient of a named University professorship was oceanography professor Jin Wu, who retired earlier this year. In recognition of his many years of distinguished service, he was named H. Fletcher Brown Professor Emeritus of Marine Studies and Civil Engineering.
Wu’s career at CMS began in 1974 and included establishing and directing the college’s Air-Sea Interaction Laboratory in Lewes. This facility contains one of the largest tanks in the world for the study of breaking waves, marine aerosols, and other phenomena occurring at the interface between the ocean and the atmosphere. In recognition of his research accomplishments, Wu was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In 1994, Wu took a leave of absence from the University to serve as president of his undergraduate alma mater, National Cheng Kung University, in Tainan, Taiwan, and subsequently, as Taiwan’s Minister of Education. Currently, he is a distinguished professor of hydraulic and ocean engineering at National Cheng Kung University.