UM Physicists Celebrate Advance in Search for Gravitational Waves

Seven years in making, international collaboration yields futuristic technology

Photo Illustration

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OXFORD, Miss. – An international collaboration of scientists, including those at the University of Mississippi, is thrilled with a major equipment upgrade that will greatly aid the search for gravitational waves, black holes and other interstellar phenomena.

The Advanced LIGO Project increases the sensitivity of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatories instruments by a factor of 10 and provides a 1,000-fold increase in the number of astrophysical candidates for gravitational wave signals. The system was officially dedicated May 19 in a ceremony at the LIGO Hanford facility in Richland, Washington.

“We’ve spent the past seven years putting together the most sensitive gravitational-wave detector ever built,” said David H. Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Project and a scientist at the California Institute of Technology. “Commissioning the detectors has gone extremely well thus far, and we are looking forward to our first science run with Advanced LIGO beginning later in 2015. This is a very exciting time for the field.”

Marco Cavaglia, UM associate professor of physics and astronomy and Ole Miss LIGO Project director, concurred.

“The LIGO Team at UM would like to express heartfelt thanks to all LIGO Lab and LIGO Scientific Collaboration colleagues who have worked so hard to make Advanced LIGO a reality,” Cavaglia said. “The success of LIGO to date is a remarkable accomplishment and a major milestone for our field. The next few years will no doubt be quite exciting.”

For a complete review of LIGO research at Ole Miss, visit

LIGO was designed and is operated by Caltech and MIT, with funding from the National Science Foundation. Advanced LIGO, funded by the NSF with important contributions from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council, the Max Planck Society of Germany and the Australian Research Council is being brought online, with the first searches for gravitational waves planned for the fall of 2015.

The ceremony featured remarks from speakers, including Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum, the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics; Professor of Physics B. Thomas Soifer, the Kent and Joyce Kresa Leadership Chair of Caltech’s Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy; Kirk Kolenbrander, MIT vice president; and France Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation.

“Advanced LIGO represents a critically important step forward in our continuing effort to understand the extraordinary mysteries of our universe,” says NSF director Córdova. “It gives scientists a highly sophisticated instrument for detecting gravitational waves, which we believe carry with them information about their dynamic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot be obtained by conventional astronomical tools.”

Several international partners provided significant contributions of equipment, labor and expertise:

The UK partners supplied the suspension assembly and some optics for the mirrors whose movements register the passage of the gravitational waves; this has been funded via Britain’s STFC.

The German contribution was the high-power, high-stability laser whose light measures the actual movements of the mirrors; this has been funded via the Max Planck Society in Munich and the VolkswagenStiftung. The laser system was developed at the Albert Einstein Institute and the Laser Zentrum Hannover.

An Australian consortium of universities, led by the Australian National University and the University of Adelaide, and supported by the Australian Research Council, contributed the systems for initially positioning the optics and then measuring in place the optics curvature to nanometer precision.

The University of Florida and Columbia University assumed specific responsibilities for the design and construction of Advanced LIGO. Other members of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, with NSF and/or other funding, participated in all phases of the effort.

Predicted by Albert Einstein in 1916 as a consequence of his general theory of relativity, gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space and time produced by violent events in the distant universe, for example, by the collision of two black holes or by the cores of supernova explosions. Gravitational waves are emitted by accelerating masses much in the same way as radio waves are produced by accelerating charges, such as electrons in antennas. As they travel to Earth, these ripples in the space-time fabric bring with them information about their violent origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot be obtained by other astronomical tools.

Although they have not yet been detected directly, the influence of gravitational waves on a binary pulsar system (two neutron stars orbiting each other) has been measured accurately and is in excellent agreement with the predictions. Scientists therefore have great confidence that gravitational waves exist. But a direct detection will confirm Einstein’s vision of the waves and allow a fascinating new window into cataclysms in the cosmos.

For more information about the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, including Advanced LIGO, visit

Seven UM Employees Receive Outstanding Staff Awards

Personnel recognized for excellence in service categories

Outstanding staff members with Chancellor Jones.  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Outstanding staff members with Chancellor Jones. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Custodial Services employee Nora M. Ingram was all smiles Friday (May 15) after being named the University of Mississippi’s 2015 Overall Outstanding staff member.

The custodian was presented a plaque, $1,000 and two season football tickets by Chancellor Dan Jones during the annual Staff Appreciation Awards program in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“The overall award winner this year has been with us since April of 2013, but the contribution she is making is already significant,” Jones said. “She is a role model for her peers and has proven herself to be one of the best custodians on her team. She takes pride in all that she does and is an outstanding employee. She loves her job, and it shows in her performance.”

Literally crying tears of joy as she strolled to the stage to accept her award, the Byhalia native said she was truly humbled by it.

“This was a big surprise,” said Ingram, who works the Kinard district and primarily in Howry and Faulkner halls. “I feel undeserving, but if my work makes someone’s day more enjoyable, I’m happy.”

Six other employees were equally surprised to be presented Outstanding Service Awards, including a $500 stipend, in their respective EEO categories. Winners were Linda Chitwood, associate provost for outreach, for EEO 1 (Executive and Managerial); Prelmalatha Balachandran, research scientist in the National Center for Natural Products Research, for EEO 3 (Professional Non-faculty); Steven Rideout, procurement assistant in Procurement Services; for EEO 4 (Secretarial/Clerical); Jeffrey Hannah, performing arts technical coordinator in the Department of Theatre Arts, for EEO 5 (Technical/Paraprofessional); Willard Frazier, senior carpenter in the Carpentry Shop; for EEO 6 (Skilled Crafts) and Jerry Harden, senior custodian in Custodial Services; for EEO 7 (Service Maintenance).

More than 240 UM employees were recognized during the ceremony. Those hired since May 1 were asked to stand in the assembly. Afterwards, 77 5-year, 71 10-year and 39 15-year employees were called. Each received a certificate and lapel pin in recognition of their service.

A plaque and keepsake was presented to 17 20-year, seven 25-year, six 30-year and 23 30-plus-year employees for their dedicated service to the institution. Among these was Katherine Tidwell, manager of contractual services and director of the University ID center, who received a lengthy standing ovation for her 46 years here. Having served under four chancellors, Tidwell has been a UM employee longer than anyone.

Near the program’s end, two surprise awards were presented. The first was the inaugural Daniel W. Jones M.D. Outstanding Team Service Award, which went to 34 employees known as “The A Team.” Recognized for their contributions to consistently record-breaking fall enrollments, the recipients represented the offices of Admissions, Student Housing, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, Continuing Studies, Registrar, Bursar, International Programs, Leadership and Counselor Education and the Department of Mathematics.

The second award was the Staff Council Distinguished Service Award, presented to Jones for his outstanding leadership as chancellor. Hired in 2009, the outgoing senior administrator’s tenure ends in mid-September following a decision by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’s board of trustees not to renew his contract. While acknowledging a failed effort to reverse the board’s decision, Jones was upbeat as he accepted the honor.

“I’ll always be a member of the University of Mississippi family,” Jones said. “As the search begins for my replacement, my sincerest desire is that this institution keeps moving forward.”

The outstanding staff awards were created in 1990 as a way to honor staff members for their contributions to the university.

“Staff members can vote for other staff members in their respective EEO categories through myOleMiss,” said Carl Hall, project coordinator of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies and president of the UM Staff Council. “The person with the most votes in their respective EEO category is recognized at our awards day ceremony.”

Anyone can nominate someone for the overall outstanding staff member, regardless of EEO category.

“Individuals wishing to nominate a staff member for the overall outstanding award submit a narrative explaining why they believe their nominee should be recognized,” Hall said. “These nomination forms then go before a committee of staff council members who choose the overall outstanding staff member.”

Congratulations to all this year’s winners! I’m look forward to celebrating a decade of employment at UM in 2016.

Awards Ceremony Highlights UM Staff Appreciation Week

Annual celebration May 11-15 recognizes employees for years, excellence in service

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Most of us University of Mississippi employees anticipate the arrival of annual Staff Appreciation Week. It’s somewhat like an extended break from the regular routines we all engage in daily.

Starting Monday (May 11), staff members can enjoy a variety of events at their leisure. Of all the activities, perhaps the Friday (May 15) awards ceremony is what honorees find most gratifying.

The program begins at 9 a.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. All UM staff members hired within the past year will be announced in the assembly. Afterwards, long-term employees will be presented either a certificate, lapel pin, plaque or keepsake in recognition of their 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 30-plus years of service to the institution.

Before the program ends, Chancellor Dan Jones will present a select few employees with Outstanding Staff Awards. Carl Hill, Staff Council president, will also present Service Awards and give closing remarks. Recipients of these honors get monetary rewards as well as the traditional plaque.

Other activities scheduled during the week include:

  • Monday (May 11): a lecture at 10 a.m. in the Ole Miss Student Union Ballroom, an 11 a.m. kickoff in front of the Lyceum, bicycle maintenance at the Ole Miss Bike Shop starting at 4 p.m. and aqua aerobics at the Turner Center pool at 5:15 p.m.
  • Tuesday (May 12): a 9 a.m. blood drive on the Ole Miss Student Union Plaza, a noon bicycle ride starting at the Lyceum, a 4 p.m. Zumba class in front of the Grove Stage and aqua aerobics again at 5:15 p.m.
  • Wednesday (May 13): the blood drive continues at 9 a.m., a 10 a.m. music and meditation service in Paris-Yates Chapel and a 2 p.m. introduction to belly dancing in the Yerby Center auditorium.
  • Thursday (May 14): a 10 a.m. plant swap on the porch of the Ole Miss Student Union, a 12:30 p.m. yoga and yogurt session  in Room 405 of the Union and aqua aerobics at 5:15 p.m.
  • Friday (May 15): bike to work beginning at 7 a.m., the awards ceremony, an 11 a.m. staff lunch in the Paul B. Johnson Commons and fun time beginning at 1 p.m.

As one who received my 5-year certificate in 2011, I urge everyone to attend Friday’s awards ceremony. Whether you’re being honored or not, showing support for your fellow employees will make both you and them feel great! Don’t miss all the other great events either. Hopefully, I’ll see you around campus during the week!

Charles Hussey Named 2015 UM Distinguished Researcher

Chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry honored for achievement, creativity

Dr. Charles Hussey accepts the University of Mississippi's Distinguished Research Creative Achievement Award. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Charles Hussey accepts the University of Mississippi’s Distinguished Research Creative Achievement Award. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Whether or not it’s true that good things comes in threes, that’s certainly been the case for Charles L. Hussey, who received the University of Mississippi’s 2015 Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award on Saturday (May 9).

The UM chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry was presented the prestigious honor, which includes $7,500 and a personal plaque, during the university’s annual Commencement ceremonies in Tad Smith Coliseum. Hussey also received the Electrochemical Society’s Max Bredig Award in Molten Salt and Ionic Liquid Chemistry last October and the Southeastern Conference’s Faculty Achievement Award in April.

“I think this is the most important of the three because it recognizes a lifetime of scientific achievement at UM resulting from hard work, sacrifice, as well as a bit of good luck,” Hussey said upon learning of his third accolade this academic year. “There are many deserving researchers/scholars on this campus, and I was very fortunate and humbled to be chosen from this pool of very accomplished people.

“I have been very privileged to work with a number of outstanding colleagues across the U.S. and Europe, as well as great doctoral and postdoctoral students. And most importantly, I have a very tolerant family who put up with my extra hours at work, many business trips and military reserve duty, too.

Alice Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, said Hussey is most deserving of the award.

“In Dr. Hussy’s prolific career, he has produced more than 150 peer-reviewed publications, including several that have been cited more than 100 times and a seminal article leading to the birth of ionic liquids that has been cited more than 1,500 times,” Clark said. “He has an impressive track record of extramural competitive funding and his lab was recognized recently by R&D Magazine for developing a novel aluminum plating system that was considered to be one of the 100 most technologically significant products in 2014.

“His many accomplishments demonstrate his leadership in the field, his scientific creativity and his instinct for innovative thinking.”

Hussey, who holds a doctorate in chemistry from UM, joined the faculty in 1978 after serving a four-year active duty term as a military scientist at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Frank J. Seiler Research Lab. For more than 30 years, he has researched the electrochemistry and transport properties of ionic liquids and molten salts, an outgrowth of the work he began at the Seiler Lab.

He has authored or co-authored more than 140 refereed journal articles, book chapters, patents and government technical reports. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Alcoa, U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Defense. He is technical editor of the Electrochemical Society journals.

“Dr. Hussey’s research record is truly impressive, and he is a model for other faculty in the college,” said Rich Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of political science. “Chuck is a leader in his field of electrochemistry, and our chemistry department has flourished under his leadership.”

Hussey said he already has plans for how he will spend funds that come with his award.

“My three grandchildren, Olivia, Charles and Maddie, have requested another trip to Disney World,” he said. “This trip should take care of the stipend money.”

Created in 2008, the annual honor recognizes a faculty member who has shown outstanding accomplishment in research, scholarship and/or creative activity. Much like Hall of Fame inductions, recipients can receive the honor only once. Nominees must be an associate or full professor (including research associate professors or research professors who are not tenure-track faculty) and must have been continuously employed full-time by the university for at least five years.

Past honorees include Sam Shu-Yi Wang, F.A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering; Larry Walker, director of the National Center for National Products Research; Charles Reagan Wilson, the Kelly Gene Cook Chair of History and professor emeritus of Southern studies, Dale Flesher, Arthur Anderson Lecturer in the Patterson School of Accountancy; Atef Elsherbeni, professor of electrical engineering and associate dean of research and graduate programs in the UM School of Engineering; and Robert Van Ness, Bruce Moore Scholar of Finance and director of the Doctor of Finance program.

UVA President Challenges UM Graduates to Become Problem-Solvers

Teresa A. Sullivan shares trials and triumphs during university's 162nd Commencement

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Acknowledging national and global crises, University of Virginia president Teresa A. Sullivan challenged University of Mississippi graduating seniors Saturday (May 9) to remain engaged, improve themselves and their communities and shoulder responsibilities.

“In a world full of problems, this University of Mississippi Class of 2015 is a well-educated, highly-trained team of problem-solvers,” Sullivan said during her address at the university’s 162nd Commencement ceremony in C.M. “Tad” Smith Coliseum. “In fact, we expect spectacular, groundbreaking, earth-shattering things from you. We expect you to solve the difficult problems that have confounded us in our time.”

Since taking office in 2010, Sullivan has led UVA through a period of significant progress. In fall 2012, she launched an effort that produced a new strategic plan for the university, the Cornerstone Plan. Sullivan also oversaw completion of a $3 billion capital campaign that will help ensure the institution’s stability and spur innovation in a period of significant financial pressure in higher education.

“Dr. Sullivan is perhaps best known nationally for her leadership on two key issues in higher education,” said Chancellor Dan Jones, who introduced the speaker. “First, the relationship between the publicly appointed boards of public universities and the institutional academic leadership and, second, the merging issues of sexual assault, alcohol use and Greek life on university campuses.”

After Rolling Stone published an account of an alleged sexual assault at a UVA fraternity house last year, sparking a national scandal, Sullivan demonstrated remarkable leadership in her measured, but firm, response and her dedication to providing a safe environment for all students, Jones said.

“Though Rolling Stone has since withdrawn the story and apologized publicly for misreporting, Dr. Sullivan did not dodge the opportunity to evaluate campus policies and practices to assure student well-being,” he said.

Sullivan, in turn, praised Jones as one of the strongest models of values in action.

“Through his ethical leadership, through his personal integrity, through his commitment to pursue the best interests of the University of Mississippi – even at considerable cost – Chancellor Jones has provided a living lesson for all of you,” Sullivan said. “I hope that you will remember his model of exemplary leadership and exceptional humanity as you prepare to assume positions of leadership in your own careers and communities across the nation and around the world.”

Showers forced university officials to move Commencement from its planned location in the Grove. Individual school ceremonies were also shuffled to the coliseum and other rain locations across campus. This is the last graduation for the coliseum, which will be replaced late this year by the new Pavilion at Ole Miss, under construction nearby.

Before Sullivan’s speech, Grady Lee Nutt II of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the 2015 senior class, announced the creation of the Chancellor Dan Jones Endowed Service Scholarship. Following a lengthy standing ovation, Jones, visibly moved by the many supportive remarks, said serving as UM chancellor for the past six years has been the highest era of his professional career. His tenure ends in mid-September per a decision by the State Institutions of Higher Learning board of trustees not to renew his contract.

Referencing humanitarians such as Robert F. Kennedy, Walt Whitman and Martin Luther King Jr., Sullivan acknowledged the progress that has been made in human equality and envisioned future evolution in societal attitudes.

“We have come a long way from the days of segregation and the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, but we still have a long way to go, as recent crises in cities across the nation have shown us,” Sullivan said. “I hope you will apply the knowledge and training you have acquired here to continue bending the arc of history toward justice, and equality and harmony among people of all races.

“As you leave here, remember to carry with you the values that you have learned – values of honor, hard work, respect for others, civility and reconciliation. In those moments when you are put to the test, you may be tempted to compromise your values. Resist that temptation.”

This year’s graduating class included nearly 2,800 spring candidates for undergraduate and graduate degrees, plus more than 1,200 August graduates.

Among the attendees, William and Angela Dykeman of Forest came to watch their son, Matthew, graduate with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science.

“This is a great experience for us,” William Dykeman said. “Thirty years ago, I earned my degree in electrical engineering from here. Our daughter, who is graduating from high school later this month, is planning to enroll here this fall.”

Kenny Lindsay of Cape Girardeau, Missouri said he and his wife, Roxie, were excited to watch their granddaughter, Megan Lynn, graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English.

“We’re as proud as we can be that she’s graduating from Ole Miss,” said Kenny Lindsay, who was in Oxford with other family members. “Neither one of us ever had more than a high school education, so this is a huge achievement within our family.”

Louis Shivers of Natchez came to see his friend, Lewis Bridges of Grenada, receive his specialist degree in curriculum and instruction.

“I’m so proud of him for his diligence which led to this accomplishment,” Shivers said. “As an older student, he had to financially support himself. Even through his illness, he really did wonderfully.”

Following the general ceremony, the College of Liberal Arts and the Oxford campus’ eight schools held separate ceremonies to present baccalaureate, master’s, Doctor of Pharmacy and law diplomas. Sports talk broadcaster Paul Finebaum was the speaker for the Khayat School of Law, Federal Express executive Rose Jackson Flenorl addressed the Meek School of Journalism and New Media, and entrepreneur Edith Kelly-Green spoke at ceremonies for the Patterson School of Accountancy.

Recipients of doctoral degrees were honored at a hooding ceremony Friday evening in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, where three awards were presented by the Graduate School. The Group Award for Excellence in Promoting Inclusiveness in Graduate Education went to the Department of Civil Engineering. Chancellor Jones received the Individual Award for Excellence in Promoting Inclusiveness in Graduate Education. John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry, was presented the Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring.

During Saturday’s ceremony, Robert Brown, professor of political science, was honored as the recipient of the 2015 Elise M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, presented annually to the campuswide outstanding teacher.

Charles L. Hussey, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, was named the recipient of the university’s eighth Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award.

The university also recognized the winners of this year’s Frist Student Service Awards: Anne McCauley, assistant director of the Office of Sustainability, and Luca Bombelli, associate professor of physics and astronomy.

Celebration of Achievement Honors Minorities, People of Color

Annual event begins at 5:30 p.m. May 8 in Tad Smith Coliseum

Students are honored with medals at the 2014 Celebration of Achievement

Students are honored with medals at the 2014 Celebration of Achievement

OXFORD, Miss. – As part of University of Mississippi’s Commencement activities, the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement is honoring more than 230 minority graduates who have excelled during their tenure as students.

The annual Celebration of Achievement is set for 5:30 p.m. May 8 in Tad Smith Coliseum. The free event is open to the public.

“This event is an opportunity for family, friends and the university community to come together and honor graduating students of color and other underrepresented populations,” said Courtney Pearson, a graduate assistant and program co-coordinator. “Each honoree is invited to have an escort who will have the privilege of presenting them with a medal that honors their achievements here. We would like to increase the number of attendees that come out and support these graduates that are being honored.”

Program participants include Brandi Hephner Labanc, vice-chancellor for student affairs; Valeria Ross, associate dean of students; Charles Ross, chair and professor of African-American studies; Donald Cole, special assistant to the chancellor for multicultural affairs; and Julia Bussade, instructor in Spanish and Portuguese.

Chase Moore, former director of the UM Gospel Choir and associate director of the Student Activities Association, will sing the university alma mater. Student reflections will be given by Camila Versaquez, president of the Latin American Student Organization, and Briana O’Neil, president of the Black Student Union.

Begun by Valeria Ross years ago, the Celebration of Achievement program has become very meaningful to students who have been honored.

“To a first-generation college student coming from a family who thought they would never be able to afford to put their child through college, the Celebration of Achievement ceremony means everything,” said Cedric Garron of Winona, a 2014 recipient. “As a minority student, my decision to attend the University of Mississippi was questioned by my community, my classmates and sometimes by my friends. For an extended period of time I began to doubt my own choice, but I entered in the fall of 2009 with very high hopes.”

Garron said his tenure at UM was never a perfect, stress-free journey.

“I struggled academically and socially during my freshman and sophomore year, but with the help of the amazing faculty and staff members I was able to eventually fill out the first of hopefully many degree applications,” he said.

As graduation approached, Garron found himself thinking of how he wasn’t going to be recognized as an honor graduate or be the person wearing multiple cords from those prestigious honor societies so many of his classmates had joined. What he did have to look forward to was the Celebration of Achievement ceremony.

“Seeing how proud my mother was to escort me to the front of hundreds of my fellow minority graduates and place a medal of achievement around my neck created an indescribable amount of emotion,” he said. “We as a family were able to take a minute to reflect on just how large of an accomplishment my graduation was. Celebration of Achievement was not only a chance to celebrate my success, but the success of hundreds of my brothers and sisters in the Ole Miss family. That is a memory I will cherish forever.”

For more information, contact the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement at 662-915-1689 or

Seven Seniors Get Inaugural Hall of Fame Recognition

Students represent the best in academics, research, service and leadership

The University of Mississippi School of Engineering has inducted seven seniors into its new Student Hall of Fame.

The honor was established to recognize students who have shown dedication to the School of Engineering, the university and the profession of engineering as a whole. A committee of engineering faculty, staff and students selected the first group of honorees, whose names were made public during the annual Engineering Honors Banquet in April.

The inaugural School of Engineering Student Hall of Fame members are: Erin Dyer and Abdul Hamid, both of Oxford; Jeremy Roy of Abbeville; Corey Schaal of Paris, Tennessee; Colin Wattigney of Waggaman, Louisiana; Charles Rainey of Jackson; and Haley Sims of Ridgeland. Each inductee reflected on their experiences.

“I am grateful for the education and opportunities provided by the School of Engineering at Ole Miss.” Wattigney said. “The experience has been better than I could have imagined. I have always strived to give back to the School of Engineering by serving it to the best of my abilities and will continue to do so as an alumnus.”

Schaal said he has had an excellent undergraduate experience in the school.

“I believe the greatest strength of the program is the outstanding instructors that are willing to take a special interest in the students’ success and studies,” he said. “Their help and guidance have significantly shaped my academic and career goals.”

Erin Dyer

Erin Dyer

Dyer, a member of the Chinese Language Flagship Program, and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, is studying chemical engineering. A Barksdale Scholar, she also earned a Marcus E. Taylor Medal and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society.

She has combined her education in Chinese and engineering to serve as a research assistant at Shanghai University’s School of Environmental and Chemical Engineering in addition to serving as student representative to the Language Flagship National Meeting in 2014. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers and the Ole Miss Club Tennis team and participated in the Honors College’s sophomore service trip. Dyer is applying to medical school in the next year.

A member of the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence, Hamid is studying mechanical engineering with an emphasis in

Abdul Hamid

Abdul Hamid

manufacturing. He is an Honors College student and received the John A. Fox Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Student Award for 2014. He is also received a Taylor Medal and has earned membership in Phi Kappa Phi, Order of Omega and Omicron Delta Kappa.

He serves on the CME Student Advisory Board, the Big Event Executive Committee and has served as an Ole Miss Ambassador. Hamid is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, where he has served as president. He also was selected to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges this year. With two internships at General Electric Aviation in Batesville and Ellisville to his credit, Hamid is interviewing for full-time positions with a variety of companies.

Charles Rainey

Charles Rainey

Rainey is a chemical engineering major with minors in business and accountancy. He has been named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, Order of Omega and Mortar Board, and served as secretary of Omicron Delta Kappa. He has also served as an Associated Student Body senator and on the Executive Committee for the Big Event and was a winner in the PriceWaterhouseCoopers Accountancy Case Competition.

Rainey has held a number of leadership roles within the engineering school, including vice president of the Engineering Student Body, vice president of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and School of Engineering Ambassador. He is pursuing opportunities for full time employment.

A mechanical engineering major, Roy is a member of the Honors College and the CME. He has held a co-op with Caterpillar in Oxford and an internship with Hol-Mac Corp. in Bay Springs. A member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, he has served as co-chair of the CME Advisory Board and as a CME ambassador.

Jeremy Roy

Jeremy Roy

Roy has also served on the executive council of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi, and participated in its 2015 Journey of Hope cycling project. He is a member of Tau Beta Pi, Order of Omega, National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Gamma Beta Phi and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class. He has volunteered with the Lafayette County Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter and as an emergency medical responder. His honors thesis will involve exploring firefighter accountability systems. Roy has accepted a full-time position as a reliability engineer with ExxonMobil in Beaumont, Texas.

Schaal, a geological engineering major, is the recipient of the Outstanding Freshman and Junior Awards from the geological engineering department. A member of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, he has interned with Geotechnology Inc. during the summers of 2013 and 2014. He received national scholarships from the Underground Construction Association and the Women’s Auxillary to the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers.

Corey Schaal

Corey Schaal

Schaal has been recognized with membership in Order of Omega, Phi Kappa Phi, Tau Beta Pi and Alpha Lambda Delta. He is also the recipient of a Distinguished Senior Scholarship and was a finalist for the School of Engineering’s Outstanding Senior Award. He has been an active member of Beta Upsilon Chi fraternity, serving as social chair and pledge trainer. Schaal will enroll in graduate school at Virginia Tech and continue to pursue a career as a professional engineer and professional geologist.

A civil engineering major, Sims is a graduate of Holmes Community College. She served as president of Chi Epsilon civil engineering society, vice president of the Phi Theta Kappa alumni organization, treasurer of Tau Beta Pi engineering society and secretary of Engineers Without Borders. She also traveled to Togo, Africa, with EWB in 2014 to aid in the construction of a school building.

A Taylor Medalist, she was the recipient of the Outstanding Junior Award for the Department of Civil Engineering and was named to Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Sims was also instrumental in the coordination of the American Society of Civil Engineers Deep South conference that was held on campus in March.

Haley Sims

Haley Sims

“I will be working, conducting research in the Geotechnical Engineering and Geoscience Branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering Research and Development Center,” Sims said. “While at ERDC, I will be actively seeking graduate and doctoral degree programs in the field of Environmental Engineering at various schools across the United States.”

A member of both the Honors College and the CME, Wattigney is a mechanical engineering major. He has served as president of Tau Beta Pi and as chairman of the CME Student Advisory Board. He has been recognized with membership in Alpha Lambda Delta and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

Colin Wattigney

Colin Wattigney

Wattigney has also held a number of internships, including work with Accenture in Southfield, Michigan, Borg-Warner in Water Valley and General Electric Aviation in Batesville. He has also assisted in a number of recruitment efforts on behalf of the School of Engineering. He will remain at Ole Miss to pursue a Master of Business Administration beginning in August.

Ray Ayers Lands Lifetime Achievement Award

Civil engineering alumnus has 48 patents and numerous professional accolades

Ray Ayers

Ray Ayers

Winning professional honors and awards is nothing new to Ray R. Ayers, but getting the 2015 Offshore Technology Conference Heritage Award was still a thrill for the successful University of Mississippi alumnus.

Still achieving technical breakthroughs in his 51st year as a professional engineer, Ayers has enjoyed a career filled with multiple contributions in a number of areas that have contributed greatly to the safety and viability of the offshore technology industry. It is for the whole of this work that he was awarded the lifetime recognition.

“I was overwhelmed,” said Ayers, who earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1963. A prolific inventor with 48 U.S. patents, he has earned the Silver Patent Award by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and major professional honors from the American Gas Association, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Ocean Energy Center.

Ayers considers his greatest career achievements to be his work on deepwater pipeline design and repair, technology to help clean up oil spills on water and a polyester rope mooring system. He worked more than 50 years for such companies as Brown Engineering Co., NASA’s Saturn V program and Shell Oil Co. He has worked in a range of positions from engineer to research adviser, and is a staff consultant for Stress Engineering Services.

“I can remember back when I was working full-time during the day while going to graduate school at night,” Ayers said. “My young kids would see me working at the breakfast table, and they would ask me, ‘Daddy, are you working on work-work or school-work?’ Of course, my answer changed each day.”

The Brookhaven native grew up in Biloxi. After graduating from UM, he completed the master’s program in engineering mechanics from the University of Alabama at Huntsville in 1968 and the doctoral program in civil engineering from the University of Houston in 1973. Though pleased to have earned those advanced degrees, Ayers credits Ole Miss with having given him his start.

“I decided on Ole Miss because they offered me a Forest Land Scholarship, the only scholarship offered me from anywhere,” Ayers said. “UM provided an excellent general civil engineering education and the motivation to succeed. And I will never forget the smiling ladies at the cafeteria who fed me the best food in the state of Mississippi.”

Ayers remembers C.C. Feng as his favorite UM engineering professor.

“Dr. Feng would start a class session with the chalk in the right hand and the eraser in the left,” he said. “He would say, ‘So far to now, we have covered (topic). Then, he proceeded to write on one side and erase on the other, making it difficult to take notes. So I would say he was challenging!”

Ayers’ mentors included Dean R. Malcolm Guess, “who encouraged me to study harder so that I would not lose my scholarship,” and the Rev. Don Anderson of the campus Wesley Foundation. “He made it possible for me to have a rent-free room to live in at the Wesley Foundation House. He also provided short-term loans (lunch money) until additional funds arrived.”

Ayers is married to his college sweetheart, the former Carolyn Kerr, who earned her bachelor’s degree in music at UM. They have two sons, Tom and Andy, and a daughter, Cheryl Sauls. He enjoys singing choral music at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in West Houston, Texas.

Erik Hurlen Finds Home with ME Faculty

Instructor's wealth of work experiences proves beneficial to Ole Miss students

Water skiing is one of Erik Hurlen’s favorite hobbies outside the classroom.

Water skiing is one of Erik Hurlen’s favorite hobbies.

By Erik Hurlen’s own admission, he may have been somewhat of a “rolling stone” before finding a home last fall on the Department of Mechanical Engineering faculty at the University of Mississippi.

“I was really looking for a position where teaching, as opposed to research, was the main focus,” the newest instructor said. “After the interview and meeting the other faculty, I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

Before coming to UM, the Vancouver, Canada, native held adjunct faculty positions at several institutions, including Cuyamaca College, New School of Architecture and Design, City College of San Diego, ITT Tech, Sylvan Learning Center and Huntington Learning Center. He has also been a postdoctoral researcher at Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales in France and a graduate researcher in the Environmental Fluids Research Group at the University of California at San Diego.

“My research interests are mainly in the area of fluid mechanics, although I also am involved in some dynamics and analysis,” Hurlen said.

Hurlen is a welcome addition to the department, said A.M. Rajendran, chair and professor of mechanical engineering.

“When I met him in 2014, it did not take much time for me to realize how enthusiastic and committed to teaching,” he said. “Our students not only appreciate his teaching style, but also his willingness to work with them outside the class in a committed manner. We are indeed fortunate that Dr. Hurlen was ready to leave the weather of Southern California behind him for Oxford, Mississippi.”

Hurlen earned both his master’s degree and Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from UCSD. He also holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematical physics from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada. Hurlen has an Arizona Department of Education substitute teaching certification and a U.S. Soccer Federation National “D” coaching license.

Fluent in both English and French, he also has a basic knowledge of Spanish and Russian.

“The most fulfilling thing for me is the student evaluations at the end of the semester,” Hurlen said. “Seeing that the students not only learned what they needed to learn, but that they also enjoyed it (is deeply satisfying).”

Hurlen was once an environmental engineering consultant at Trinity Consultants Inc. He is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. His extracurricular activities include water skiing and playing and watching soccer.

Hurlen’s parents and brother reside in Vancouver.

Evie Holman Receives Arnold Award

Top honor recognizes student's service, leadership and character

Evie Holman

Evie Holman

University of Mississippi senior Evalyn “Evie” Holman is the 2015 recipient of the David Arnold Engineering Service Award.

Considered to be one of the top honors in the School of Engineering, the recognition is given annually to a student who exhibits the qualities of service, intelligence, character, leadership, creativity and judgment. A native of Herndon, Virginia, Holman is scheduled to earn her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with honors this month.

“I was really shocked,” Holman said when she learned of her award. “I’m really honored just to even be considered among such other talented and great students. David Arnold is an exceptional engineering alum and it means a lot to me that I was considered worthy of his award.”

During her time at Ole Miss, Holman has been an outstanding campus leader and community servant. One of the projects that she is most proud of is her involvement in the Big Event, a program that that has involved thousands of students since its inception in 2011. She has served as chair of the logistics committee and as director of the event.

“The Big Event is something I have been involved with since freshmen year,” Holman said. “It’s one of the most rewarding experiences, not just because you’re serving and giving back to your community, but because of the personal relationships you make with the residents here.”

Bradley Baker, director of the Ole Miss Student Union and Big Event adviser, praised Holman’s leadership and service.

“During Evie’s involvement with the Big Event, I have seen her grow as student, first and foremost, and as a leader as well,” Baker said. “With the help of her strong leadership skills and vision, the Big Event has been pushed to succeed at new levels. Her drive to do well at Ole Miss both inside and outside of the classroom has prepared her for a successful career in the field of engineering.”

Besides her involvement with the Big Event, Holman has served as president of the Columns Society, a group of official hosts for university-sponsored events. She has also served as a School of Engineering ambassador and as a philanthropy committee member for Phi Mu. She was a member of the Ole Miss Women’s Rifle Team and was named to the NCAA Southeastern Conference Honor Roll.

Holman encourages students to find their passion and use it to give back to the community, not only to help others, but also to learn more about themselves.

“I think it’s important for students to be involved in community service because it offers a very different perspective of your community,” she said. “Hopefully, that perspective inspires you to do more, give back and help in any capacity you can. I hope every student carries that inspiration with them and makes it a part of their lifestyle.”

Holman has accepted a full-time position in the Global Services Procurement Department at ExxonMobil this summer to begin her professional career.