Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson
August 18, 2023
Amy Slocum is the newly appointed director of the Delaware Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research.
EPSCoR is a federal-state partnership sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) that engages Delaware’s academic institutions in cutting-edge research and training activities that address critical needs of the state. Delaware was designated an EPSCoR state in 2003, and the program supports activities at its partner institutions — the University of Delaware, Delaware State University and Delaware Technical Community College.
The statewide appointment, headquartered at UD, was announced by Kelvin Lee, UD interim vice president for research, scholarship and innovation. It is effective August 15.
Slocum previously served as associate director of EPSCoR and as assistant director of the Delaware Environmental Institute (DENIN). She succeeds Don Sparks, Unidel S. Hallock du Pont Chair in Plant and Soil Sciences at UD, who served in the role from 2012-2023.
“EPSCoR has been a critical force for Delaware, building research infrastructure, fostering collaborations across campuses and preparing new generations of students for the workforce,” said Lee. “Dr. Slocum brings a national reputation in program development and administration, competing for and managing large-scale, interdisciplinary grants at the federal level. As my colleagues at DSU and DelTech and I look forward to working with her, we also want to express our deepest gratitude to Don Sparks for his leadership and dedication over the past 11 years.”
With a background in public administration, Slocum has managed hundreds of millions of dollars in grant funding over the last 25 years. She is well-known for working with state partners, faculty and federal and state funding agencies, such as the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense, to empower research in the First State.
“Amy understands EPSCoR, its goals, expectations and processes better than anyone in Delaware,” said David Small, chair of the State EPSCoR Committee. “In her role as associate director, she has provided invaluable support and innovative leadership for a wide array of EPSCoR stakeholders, including researchers, private and public sector partners, students, administrations of our participating academic institutions and the state committee. EPSCoR has been a significant force in helping Delaware achieve its science and technology goals, and Amy is absolutely the right person to lead the program to future success.”
While housed within DENIN, much of Delaware EPSCoR’s work centered around the environment, including advanced research on complex environmental systems, ecosystem health, sustainability, water and energy. Now a unit of the University’s Research Office, the program, Slocum hopes, will expand its focus to include engineering and agricultural sustainability, in alignment with the state’s current science and technology needs. She also looks forward to developing new initiatives as the national program refines its mission and to supporting other large interdisciplinary grants across UD’s campuses.
Slocum earned her doctorate in educational leadership, administration and policy and a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Delaware. She is a member of the National Council of University Research Administrators and a frequent panel reviewer for NSF funding proposals related to accelerating research translation, research infrastructure improvements, manufacturing innovation and more.
Bringing multiple minds — and voices — together to solve large-scale challenges facing Delawareans is one of the things Slocum enjoys most.
“Issues are multifaceted, and you could miss something if you don’t have the right people at the table,” Slocum said. “EPSCoR is a connector. We create opportunities to reach out to the stakeholders, have conversations and engage communities and members of industry, businesses and academia to understand what research can do and how it can help. This contributes to a brighter future by putting Delaware and the United States on the map in terms of leading-edge science and solutions.”
To date, Delaware’s EPSCoR program has resulted in $101 million in direct EPSCoR funding to the state and $139 million through leveraged EPSCoR funds and 293 additional research, education and innovation awards to EPSCoR faculty. This work has led to the development of 75 patents, 17 new products and 5 new businesses, as well as 25 new faculty hires.
Developing the workforce of the future is another key part of the EPSCoR program. Through multi-level mentoring, best-practices are passed along from faculty to next-generation scientists — postdoctoral researchers, graduate and undergraduate students — to help meet the needs of today, while seeding scientists to address the needs of tomorrow. Since the program’s inception, Delaware EPSCoR has engaged over 1,600 students with the potential to become future environmental leaders, including 45 graduate fellows that have gone on to positions as university faculty, start-up business owners and as scientists in government agencies and foundations, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.