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CAS faculty members Shafi, Thorpe appointed

Qaisar Shafi has been named the inaugural Bartol Research Institute Professor of Physics.

Two faculty members in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Delaware have been appointed to named professorships, effective Sept. 1.

Qaisar Shafi, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been named the inaugural Bartol Research Institute Professor of Physics, and Colin Thorpe, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has been appointed the Willis F. Harrington Professor of Biochemistry.

"I am pleased to announce these distinguished appointments," Provost Tom Apple said. "Both are deserving of this recognition for their achievements as scholars and educators."

Qaisar Shafi

Shafi, who is widely considered a trailblazer whose research decisively shaped particle physics and cosmology, was selected as the first Bartol Professor because of his contributions in theoretical high-energy physics and cosmology.

His research interests include the origin and nature of the Higgs Boson, often referred to as the "God particle," which is the current focus of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, the world's largest "atom-smasher." Shafi also has worked extensively on dark matter, which makes up about 25 percent of the mass of the universe.

Shafi, who joined the UD faculty in 1983, teaches upper-level undergraduate and graduate courses in high-energy physics and cosmology and has taught and mentored numerous graduate students and postdoctoral researchers at the University and worldwide. An early advocate of global educational exchanges, he has been a leading figure in building institutions and networks for young scientists in developing countries.

The recipient of many national and international awards, his honors include the Humboldt Research Prize, given by a German foundation to a researcher "whose fundamental discoveries, new theories or insights have had a significant impact."

The Bartol Research Institute was established in the will of Henry W. Bartol, who died in 1918, and its first Fellow was appointed in 1925. The institute moved to its current location on the UD campus in 1977, became part of the College of Arts and Sciences in 2000 and merged with the Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2005. Its mission is to carry out leading scientific research, primarily focused on physics, astronomy and space sciences.

The funding for the Bartol professorship comes from the institute itself, with the faculty voting to allocate some of its resources to support such a position.

Colin Thorpe has been named the Willis F. Harrington Professor of Biochemistry.

Colin Thorpe

Thorpe, whose 33 years of research as a UD faculty member have been distinguished by uninterrupted funding from the National Institutes of Health, is widely known for his scholarship that has had significant impacts on the knowledge of how living systems work and that may help lead to new medicines and other solutions to human health issues.

His research, focused on disulfide bonds, has led to the discovery of a new enzyme family that has changed the study of oxidative protein folding. Known for engaging in numerous collaborations, Thorpe and his research group work with scientists in a variety of disciplines, from synthetic chemistry and physical chemistry to structural biology, cell biology and drug development.

Thorpe has taught and mentored numerous graduate students and postdoctoral researchers as well as junior faculty members in the department. He teaches courses including Elementary Bioorganic Chemistry for nursing majors, Introductory Biochemistry and graduate courses in biological oxidation reactions and enzymatic catalysis.

A reviewer for numerous academic journals, Thorpe also is the author of more than 130 articles in top-quality, peer-reviewed publications and has chaired scientific meetings and lectures at conferences and universities worldwide.

In a letter nominating Thorpe for the Harrington Professorship, Prof. Tatyana Polenova wrote, "His scientific and personal integrity serve as an example to everyone in our department, and Colin is a role model for many of us. He continues to be a boundless source of support and help to everyone."

Willis F. Harrington, Sr., whose memory is honored by named professorships in chemistry, graduated from UD in 1902 and received another degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before entering the chemical industry, where he was involved in the manufacture of dyes. He and his brother, Chancellor William Watson Harrington, an 1895 graduate of UD and a trustee for 59 years, were longtime friends of the University.

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College of Arts and Sciences faculty members Qaisar Shafi and Colin Thorpe have been appointed to named professorships.

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  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • 102 Brown Laboratory
  • University of Delaware
  • Newark, DE 19716, USA
  • Phone: 302-831-1247
  • Undergraduate Program Inquiries 302-831-2465