Issuu on Google+

University of South Carolina March 14, 2013 A publication for faculty, staff and friends of the university Aiken Beaufort Columbia USC Times Lancaster Salkehatchie Sumter Union Upstate Survey says, Christine DiStefano By Craig Brandhorst Christine DiStefano may be a trained statistician, but the associate professor of educational research is about more than just collecting data and crunching numbers. DiStefano is applying advanced psychometrics to real-world student populations to help identify young children living in poverty who are also at risk for behavioral disabilities. “Right now in school psychology, and in schools in general, we work on a ‘wait to fail’ model,” says DiStefano, whose research has attracted more than $3.5 million in external funding to-date. “We wait until the teacher sees a number of problems and then builds a case before we refer a child. But what if you could get in there and do something preventative before a child fails?” While DiStefano’s work begins with good survey design, it carries over into the schools, where she reviews results with teachers and school psychologists — in part so that she can improve the surveys themselves and make them even more effective. “You can have the best survey in the world but if it doesn’t fit their needs or it’s too long or too cumbersome, you’re not going to get any information,” says DiStefano. Of course, just being on the front line of elementary education is a reward for DiStefano, who enjoys the opportunity to put a face on the numbers and see her efforts paying off in real ways. “I definitely want to keep a foot in the school realm,” she says. “It’s important and it’s interesting — and it’s a wonderful place to see how results are used.” DiStefano is one of 15 junior professors selected for the 2013 class of Breakthrough Rising Stars by USC’s Office of Research. The program recognizes junior faculty whose research and scholarship demonstrates the best in academe. Look for more profiles here in the weeks ahead. By Liz McCarthy 40 years and counting Chemistry professor finds ‘perfect fit’ at Carolina D an Reger began his career at USC after receiving his doctorate from MIT. That was more than 40 years ago. Reger is one of the longest-serving employees at the university, a distinction he shares with nine other system-wide university faculty and staff members. When Reger first joined the Carolina faculty in 1972 in the chemistry and biochemistry department, he was teaching freshman chemistry classes to about 120 students. Today the introductory chemistry classes can exceed 280 students. That’s just one small thing that has changed through the years. Overall, Reger says teaching chemistry at USC today isn’t much different, although the students are better prepared now. The chemistry department hasn’t changed much either, he says, always focusing on research, teaching and teamwork. Reger and nine other university employees will be recognized in April for their 40 years of service at USC. Every year the Division of Human Resources celebrates USC’s longest working employees with the State Service Award ceremony, honoring individuals with 10, 20, 30 and 40 years of service. “The culture in this chemistry department is unusually good,” he says. “People work hard and are supportive of each other. And teaching is very important to us all.” Through the years, he has taught more than 5,000 undergraduates and had 33 doctoral students graduate. “It’s been neat to continue to work with people who are really interested in science and help them develop into high quality scientists,” Reger says. “I love the science, but what makes it really fun is working with young people as they’re developing their own skills.” What does he remember most about Carolina in the ’70s? When he first arrived in Columbia, he remembers being very eager to set up his research lab. He made his first compound within three weeks, he says. Forty years ago, he didn’t realize he’d found a place — a lab, a university, a department — ­ he wouldn’t want to leave. “It turned out to be the perfect fit for me. I really love to teach and do research,” he says. “This has been a place where I’ve been able to do them both and be successful at both.”

USC Times March 14, 2013

Related publications