Chucky Mullins Remembered at Drive Dedication

Courage, character of deceased Rebel No. 38 recalled

Chancellor Dan Jones, Carver Phillips and family, and Coach Billy Brewer pose with plaque that will be posted along Chucky Mullins Drive.

Chancellor Dan Jones, Carver Phillips and family, and Coach Billy Brewer pose with plaque that will be posted along Chucky Mullins Drive.

OXFORD, Miss. – Twenty-five years ago, Roy Lee “Chucky” Mullins was a rising University of Mississippi football star whose time on the team ended abruptly following a paralyzing injury on the field. Mullins, who wore jersey No. 38, was warmly remembered Friday (Sept. 26) as Coliseum Drive was renamed in his memory.

Chucky Mullins Drive, which connects Highway 6 to campus, officially opened on a warm, partly sunny afternoon. UM administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni joined family members and friends of the famed and fallen Rebel in the Robert C. Khayat School of Law courtyard for the ceremony.

Mullins, who was paralyzed on the football field in 1989 and died in 1991, was inducted posthumously into the M-Club Hall of Fame during the night before Saturday’s game against the University of Memphis.   Several persons in the audience were emotionally moved to tears as podium participants paid tribute to Mullins.

“We are extremely blessed to be influenced by the life and values of Chucky Mullins each and every day,” said Ole Miss Athletics Director Ross Bjork. “The impact he made during his time at Ole Miss is without measure. Chucky continues to serve as a spiritual hero and a rallying point for the passion, spirit and energy that define the university.”

The Ole Miss football team will also honor Mullins by wearing commemorative helmets with Mullins’ No. 38 on them. All former Chucky Mullins Courage Award winners, along with the newest members of the M-Club Hall of Fame, will be recognized on field on Saturday.

20,000 commemorative Chucky Mullins' buttons will be given out prior to the Ole Miss vs. Memphis football game on Saturday, Sept. 27.

20,000 commemorative Chucky Mullins’ buttons will be given out prior to the Ole Miss vs. Memphis football game on Saturday, Sept. 27.

“Learning I was a recipient of the Chucky Mullins Scholarship was one of the happiest days of my life,” said Acacia Santos, a sophomore biochemistry and mechanical engineering major from Southaven. “By following his example and doing my best, I hope to show Chucky my gratitude.”

These ceremonies culminate a week of racial reconciliation activities on the Ole Miss campus. For the second consecutive year, the Ole Miss athletics department and William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation partnered to sponsor a week of events dedicated to promoting racial equity and encouraging dialogue on the topic.

“Chucky means so much to our university,” said former head football coach Billy Brewer. “With every new recognition of his life, his story grows and grows. He absolutely loved Ole Miss and to this day Ole Miss loves him.”

Each year, the Rebel football team awards the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, which is presented to a defensive captain who shows as much heart and passion as Mullins did both on and off the field. That player wears No. 38 in Mullins’ memory.

“I am truly humbled to be wearing his number,” said senior Deterrian “DT” Shackelford, who has held the honor the last two years and is the first player to earn the distinction twice. “As I faced my own injuries and surgeries, I needed everything he stood for. I truly believe I’ve made it this far because of him. He’s been a blessing.”

Carver and Karen Phillips (who were Mullins’ guardians) were also in attendance.

“After he was paralyzed, many people in the community thought my wife and I were crazy for taking Chucky and his brother into our home,” Phillips said. “But it was a godsend that Chucky came into our lives. May all that has been done to honor him so far continue for many more years to come.”


Pianist Garrick Ohlsson at Ford Center Sept. 23

Renowned musician's repertoire includes classical and contemporary music

American pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays during rehearsal at Warsaw Philharmonic

American pianist Garrick Ohlsson plays during rehearsal at Warsaw Philharmonic

OXFORD, Miss. – American pianist Garrick Ohlsson is coming to the University of Mississippi Sept. 23 for a concert of classical and contemporary music.

The event begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $35.50 for seating in the orchestra and parterre sections and $28 for the mezzanine and balcony. UM Box Office hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

“Since his triumph as winner of the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition, Garrick Ohlsson has established himself worldwide as a musician of magisterial interpretive and technical prowess,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “Although long regarded as one of the world’s leading exponents of the music of Frédéric Chopin, Mr. Ohlsson commands an enormous repertoire, which ranges over the entire piano literature.”

A student of the late Claudio Arrau, Ohlsson has come to be noted for his masterly performances of the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, as well as the Romantic repertoire. To date, he has at his command more than 80 concertos, ranging from Haydn and Mozart to works of the 21st century, many commissioned for him.

For more information, visit

PADS Makes the List

Charles Hussey with postdoctoral research associate Li-Hsien Chou.

Charles Hussey with postdoctoral research associate Li-Hsien Chou.

Say the word “pads” and most people will immediately think of absorbent materials used for bandaging wounds or scrubbing hard-to-clean surfaces. Baby boomers might recall living quarters from the ’60s and ’70s. But the term means something much different for Charles “Chuck” Hussey, chair and professor of chemistry at the University of Mississippi.

Hussey, his postdoctoral research assistant and others co-developed the Portable Aluminum Deposition System, or PADS. The technology made R&D Magazine’s 100 Awards, a prestigious list of the year’s best new technologies.

“As basic scientists studying fundamental process and phenomena, so much of what we do is not immediately useful or obvious to society,” Hussey said. “Here, we’ve made something unique and obviously useful. This is very satisfying.”

To read more about PADS, click here.

Origin of Universe Topic of Sept. 23 Science Café

Postdoctoral researcher working at LIGO is speaker

Science Cafe

The September Science Cafe is set for Sept. 23.

OXFORD, Miss. – The origins of the universe is the topic for a monthly public science forum organized by the UM Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The fall semester’s second meeting of the Oxford Science Café is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 23 at Lusa Pastry Cafe, 2305 West Jackson Ave. Shivaraj Kandhasamy, a UM postdoctoral research associate working at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, facility in Louisiana, will discuss “The Big Bang and Its Cosmic Messengers.” Admission is free.

“If the universe started with a big bang, traces of the primordial explosion should be observed in the form of electromagnetic radiation, gravitational waves and neutrinos across the sky,” Kandhasamy said. “The next generation of gravitational wave ground- or space-based detectors may directly detect these gravitational waves.”

Kandhasamy’s 30-minute presentation will review the beginning of the universe’s expansion, or “explosion,” often called the big bang.

“In 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered that most of the galaxies are receding with velocities proportional to their distances from the Milky Way,” he said. “This observation suggests that the universe was once very small in size and has expanded ever since.

“The cosmic (microwave) background of electromagnetic radiation was first observed by Penzias and Wilson in 1964. Recently, the BICEP2 experiment reported some indirect evidence for the presence of cosmological primordial gravitational waves.”

Kandhasamy earned his doctorate in physics from the University of Minnesota, master’s from Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, and bachelor’s from the Vivekananda College of MK University in Madurai, India.

His research interests include the detection of gravitational waves using LIGO data. Particularly, his research focuses on the search for stochastic signals, the combination of gravitational waves from sources across the sky that are too faint to observe individually, as well as long-duration transient gravitational wave signals, which may last longer than 10 seconds.

For more information about Oxford Science Café programs, go to For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit or call 662-915-5311.

Parking Possibilities Presented

New lot, phone apps, bus rides and meters among options available

New commuter lot located at Jeanette Phillips Drive.

New commuter lot on Jeanette Phillips Drive.

As parking continues to evolve at the University of Mississippi, several options offer new and improved possibilities to commuter students, alumni and the public.

A new commuter parking lot on Jeanette Philips Drive, adjacent to Ole Miss Track and the Office of Procurement, has 248 spaces.

The new free iPhone and Android app, called “Parker,” allows commuters to find parking spots quickly. With Parker, motorists can easily see the location of available student parking in real time.

“Simply follow the easy-to-use color scheme of green, blue and red,” said Michael Harris director of UM Parking Services. “Green lots have plenty of parking available, blue some parking available and red/orange lots have little to no parking available. In order to easily find a space, head straight to the green and blue lots.”

To see more information about a lot, tap on the [P] icon to punch out to full lot details, Harris said. Tap and hold on a [P] icon to launch turn-by-turn voice directions to that lot.

To download the Parker app, go here: iPhone


Parking meters have been installed at the new Manning Lot, conveniently located near the Grill at 1810 restaurant. Alumni and friends returning to campus for home football games can park there and dine in.

Finally, Oxford University Transit has an iPhone and Android app called “NextBus.” The app tracks routes, times of incoming and outgoing OUT buses. Most buses now have GPS locators installed allowing riders to track their travel.

With 8,301 passengers, OUT set a new record of riders on first day of classes.

For a complete guide to Ole Miss Athletics Game Day parking, go to




Thomas Clancy Retires from UM Law School

Director of National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law served 10 years

Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy

OXFORD, Miss. – After a decade of dedicated service and leadership, Thomas Clancy has retired from the University of Mississippi School of Law.

The research professor and director of the university’s National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law partnered with the National Judicial College. During that 10-year period, the collaborators co-sponsored 19 conferences for state trial judges, 14 appellate judge conferences, 10 conferences on Internet crimes against children and dozens of webinars.

“Tom Clancy was an outstanding teacher and is a nationally recognized and highly published Fourth Amendment scholar,” said Richard Gershon, UM law dean. “Under his leadership, the National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law fulfilled its mission of training judges and prosecutors from all over the United States. I wish Tom and his wife, Sally, the best in their new adventures.”

“The contacts made during those events led me and other NCJRL personnel to speaking engagements in many individual states, national conferences held by other organizations, an all-services military conference and numerous conferences organized by the NCJRL in individual states,” Clancy said. “In all, I estimate that almost a third of all the state judges in the country (perhaps 5000-plus) have in some way participated in the various events.”

Clancy thanked William Dressel, president emeritus of the National Judicial College, for agreeing to the partnership and providing years of support along the way.

“The staff of the National Judicial College and, in particular, William Brunson and Kelly Zahara have been integral to our success,” he said. “We have had longtime instructors, such as the Honorable Joseph Troy, (the) Honorable Ilona Holmes, (the) Honorable Mark McGinnis and Professor Jack Nowlin, who year after year provided outstanding presentations, materials and friendship that were irreplaceable.”

The NCJRL staff, including Don Mason, Priscilla Grantham, Marc Harrold, Michael Johnson, Sherry Watkins, Celeste Sherwood and Poindexter Barnes, made material and invaluable contributions over the years, Clancy said.

“Personally, it has been a deeply rewarding opportunity to work with members of the judiciary around the country and with the wonderful people who have contributed to our endeavors,” Clancy said. “As I move on to a new phase of my career, I look forward to continue speaking at judicial conferences. I am gratified that the National Judicial College plans to continue as the sole sponsor of The Fourth Amendment for Trial Judges, scheduled for May, 2015, and look forward to participating.”

“Tom Clancy was an outstanding teacher, and is a nationally recognized and highly published Fourth Amendment scholar,” said Richard Gershon, dean. “Under his leadership, the National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law fulfilled its mission of training judges and prosecutors from all over the United States. I wish Tom and his wife, Sally, the best in their new adventures.”

UM Graduate School Dean Receives NASA Honor

John Z. Kiss to be awarded Outstanding Public Leadership Medal

From left: Ariel Dauzart, Kathy Millar, Dr. John Kiss, Logan Williams, Neel Patel.

From left: Ariel Dauzart, Kathy Millar, John Kiss, Logan Williams and Neel Patel.

OXFORD, Miss. – The dean of the University of Mississippi Graduate School is the recipient of NASA’s Outstanding Public Leadership Medal.

John Z. Kiss is being awarded the prestigious honor, which recognizes nongovernment employees for notable leadership accomplishments that have significantly influenced the NASA mission. The renowned scientist has worked with NASA for nearly three decades, having served as vice chair of the International Committee on Space Research.

As TROPI (an experiment to investigate the growth and development of plant seedlings under various gravity and lighting combinations) spaceflight project director from 2004 to 2010, Kiss supervised 36 scientists and engineers at four NASA centers and two centers of the European Space Agency. These efforts resulted in two successful projects on the International Space Station.

“I have worked with NASA for 27 years and feel humbled and honored to receive this medal,” Kiss said. “We have had seven spaceflight projects, which have been on the space shuttle and now the International Space Station. Thus, this award is shared by the numerous colleagues, co-workers, undergraduates and graduate students who have been part of these exciting projects.”

Kiss’ Seedling Growth-1 experiment was aboard SpaceX-2, which brought the payload to the ISS last year. A professor of biology, he is principal investigator on “Novel Explorations into the Interactions between Light and Gravity Sensing in Plants.” Part of the Fundamental Space Biology program at NASA, the program is designed to study light and gravity signaling in plants, and their effects on cell growth and proliferation. It also has potential for improving crop species on Earth to obtain increased production and sustainability.

“I feel very privileged to contribute, in a small way, to the excitement of space research and to be part of NASA’s broader mission to educate and inspire the next generation,” Kiss said.

The OPLM award honors sustained leadership and exceptionally high-impact leadership achievement in advancing the agency’s goals and image in present and future terms.

Two NASA officials said Kiss is most worthy of the award.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing John for about 10 years and all during those years, I’ve been impressed with John as a leader,” said Sidney Sun, chief of NASA’s Space Biosciences Division. “He’s been a leader in plant physiology, identifying how plants respond to different lighting and gravitational conditions.”

Kiss is a pioneer in studying plants in fractional (or reduced) gravity, research that is impossible to do on Earth, Sun said.

“His leadership of the American Society for Gravitational and Space Biology was critical during a time when scientific funding became precariously low,” he said. “I’ve also seen him be a tremendous mentor and professor to young scientists, helping them grow in their career paths.”

Marianne Steele, project manager at Lockheed Martin, said Kiss is an excellent researcher in plant biology, well known internationally and nationally for his critical questions and results in exploring and understanding the fundamental behaviors and underlying mechanisms of plants.

“Dr. Kiss is a people person of great integrity who steps-up to challenges, follows through and is accountable,” Steele said. “It has been and continues to be a very positive personal and professional experience for me to work with him.”

Kiss and his colleagues are continuing to work with NASA-Ames on the Seedling Growth-2 project, which is scheduled to launch Sept. 19 on the SpaceX-4 mission to the ISS.

“Since plants will be a necessary part of bioregenerative life support needed to send humans to Mars and beyond, the knowledge obtained from our spaceflight experiments will be critical for developing ways to effectively use plants in these life-support systems,” Kiss said.

Kiss collaborated with F. Javier Medina of Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas in Madrid. UM post-doctoral researchers Kathy Millar and Josh Vandenbrink, and undergraduates Neel Patel of Water Valley, Logan Williams of Collinsville, Tennessee, and Alison Neel of Hattiesburg, assisted Kiss. Private contractor SpaceX is responsible for launching the experiments.

The hypothesis of their research is that positive red-light sensing, which was known in older plant lineages, is masked by normal 1-g conditions in more recently evolved lineages. Through the experiment, the scientists aim to confirm and characterize the red-light-dependent phototropic response (how the seedlings germinate under the deep-space illumination) in flowering plants.

The experiment was conducted with different genotypes of the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana in experimental containers placed in the European Modular Cultivation System, a large incubator that provides control over the atmosphere, lighting and humidity of growth chambers to study plant growth on the ISS. The experiment containers contained white, blue and red lights that can be controlled from the ground to expose the plants to different kinds of light.

“By using the two centrifuges in the EMCS, it was possible to carry out the experiment in microgravity and fractional gravity, along with the 1-g control, within the same space environment,” Kiss said. “Following a six-day time course in the EMCS, the samples were either frozen or chemically fixed and returned to us. Additionally, images were taken throughout the whole experiment and downloaded real time.”

For information, on the latest mission, go to

Hastings’ Donations Support Summer Geology Camps

Gifts were given to support benevolent faculty in creating student programs

The Hastings Family Fund is comprised of John, his wife Sarah, and sons Harrison, and  Andrew '16.

The Hastings Family Fund  was created by John Hastings (left), son Harrison, wife Sarah and son Andrew, a senior at UM.

When it comes to generosity toward the University of Mississippi School of Engineering, the Hastings family of Houston, Texas, is a shining example.

The Hastings (John, his wife, Sarah, and sons Harrison and Andrew) made an initial unrestricted gift of $15,000 for the greatest need within the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering. Recently, the couple donated an additional $5,000. Both gifts were made through their Hastings Family Fund.

With these two gifts, geology department administration and UM Foundation staff collaborated to create the Department of Geology Faculty Support Fund specifically to address anticipated teaching needs and opportunities. The financial support has already enhanced tailor-made classes and programming for the department and the engineering school.

“For more than two decades, we have relied on a consortium of universities organized by the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology to conduct the traditional field camp experience for our students,” said Gregg Davidson, chair and professor of geology and geological engineering. “A year ago, the faculty decided that in order to meet the particular needs of our students, we needed to start our own field camp.”

This decision required two GE faculty members, Terry Panhorst and Robert Holt, to invest several weeks of their own time in Oklahoma and New Mexico to develop field exercises.

“The timing of the Hastings gift was perfect, as it allowed us to offset the cost of their travel and to compensate the instructors for their time.” Davidson said. “They gave $15,000 that has gone toward the development of our own summer field camp program.”

Two camps were held: an introductory one and a more advanced camp.

“The introductory camp (GE 301) required two sessions because of the large number of students needing to take it,” said Panhorst, an assistant professor. “The first session ran the second half of May, and the second session was the first half of June. Both sessions were held in the Arbuckle Mountains of south central Oklahoma, which is about midway between Oklahoma City and Dallas.”

Thirty-eight students attended the first session, and 21 students were in the second session.

The advanced camp (GE 401) will be operated by Holt, an associate professor. Based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the camp runs during the first half of August. About 35 students attended the inaugural session.

“The camps are designed to give the students experience in the field with basic geologic procedures, such as measuring and describing rock units, creation of geologic maps based on field observations and application of engineering fundamentals to evaluating sites for development,” Panhorst said.

Giving to Ole Miss engineering comes naturally for the Hastings. John is a lifelong geologist and has immensely enjoyed his profession. Both sons are pursuing careers in geology and geological engineering. Andrew is a senior geology and geological engineering major at UM.

“We as a family want to help support Ole Miss and specifically the geology and geological engineering department within the university,” John Hastings said. “We are pleased to be able to help the department in their efforts to produce engineers who will go out into the world and make positive impacts through their professional passion and excellence.”

Hastings worked for Shell Oil Co. from 1984 to 1994 and for Edge Petroleum from 1994 to 2005. He is owner and executive vice president of exploration for Paloma Resources LLC. He graduated from Dartmouth College with a bachelor’s degree in earth sciences and from Texas A&M University with a master’s degree in geology.

The Hastings’ donation has already proven very beneficial to the program, said Panhorst, who spent the week of spring break in Oklahoma attempting to find suitable places for meaningful projects where he and about 40 students could gain access.

“Altogether, I spent about 16 days in the Oklahoma field area, spread between January, March and April, attempting to generate a coherent set of projects,” he said.

Charitable gifts are the foundation for many School of Engineering activities.

“With the impending growth that has steadily become the norm at the School of Engineering, donations of any type are very well-received, especially ones for faculty support such as the gift from John and Sarah Hastings,” said Kevin Gardner, development officer for the School of Engineering. “The Hastings’ timely generosity is helping to accomplish the provision of unique prototype programs for the School of Engineering.”

Matthew Morrison Joins Electrical Engineering

Newest faculty member heading computer engineering emphasis

Matthew Morrison has proven his leadership abilities both in the U.S. Navy and at the University of South Florida. As a new assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Mississippi, the award-winning teacher and researcher is overseeing the department’s new emphasis in computer engineering science.

Matthew Morrison

Matthew Morrison

A three-time alumnus of USF, Morrison will be teaching Advanced Digital Design this fall and CMOS/VLSI next spring. His other courses scheduled later include Low-Power Digital Design, Digital Circuit Synthesis, VLSI Algorithms and Design, Testing and Fault Tolerance, Embedded System Design, Foundations of Hardware Security and Foundations of Engineering.

“The University of Mississippi provided me with a unique opportunity to apply my teaching and research skills toward updating the computer engineering program within the electrical engineering department, and building the graduate program for both master’s and doctoral students,” he said. “I am committed to excellence in both research and teaching, and believe that improving education at all levels will lead toward enhancing the future of Mississippi and its young women and men.”

As a graduate assistant at USF, Morrison taught seven classes totaling 391 students. Awarded the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Teaching by a Graduate Teaching Assistant, he implemented many of the teaching methods developed at Naval Nuclear Power School, which he found engendered greater creativity in students.

“My teaching vision is to develop one of the best computer engineering programs in the world at Ole Miss by imbuing students with world-class study habits by combining Navy teaching methods with modern engineering teaching tools,” Morrison said. “This will allow us to develop students academically, creatively and morally, and to engender ideals of integrity, professionalism and lifelong learning and teaching in order to graduate engineers who are dedicated to a career of utilizing the principles of science for humanity’s benefit.”

Morrison’s research is in the areas of CMOS/VLSI, embedded systems, low-power hardware design and hardware security.

“My vision is to help improve the security, safety, reliability and efficiency of computer architectures, embedded systems and application-specific designs for the benefit of humankind,” he added. “Additionally, I will get to work with outstanding faculty who are cordial and genuinely work well together in a positive environment.”

Ramanarayanan Viswanathan, chair and professor of electrical engineering, said he is pleased that Morrison accepted the position here after completing his doctorate in May.

“Dr. Morrison will take a lead role in revising the BSEE computer engineering emphasis curriculum and in putting together a new computer engineering emphasis within the M.S. engineering science program,” he said. “Matt is very passionate about teaching and research in the broad area of computer engineering. He has a keen interest in K-12 education and its role in preparing students to pursue an engineering major at colleges.”

Morrison won the Navy Club of the United States Military Excellence Award in U.S. Navy Recruit Training. The award is presented to the graduating recruit who best exemplifies the qualities of enthusiasm, devotion to duty, military appearance and behavior, self-discipline and teamwork.

“I am proud of this award because I realized during boot camp that I have the potential to lead, give to my community and achieve excellence through hard work and dedication,” Morrison said. “Receiving this award marked a significant milestone in my life, and every achievement since has been the result of the same enthusiasm and discipline that I developed in boot camp.”

While a USF student, Morrison was involved with the Student Bulls Club, which is the student athletics fan group. He attended many home games for football, soccer, baseball, basketball, softball and tennis. He enjoys watching late-night comedy shows and “Doctor Who,” attending blues concerts, running and biking.

His parents, Alfred and Kathleen Morrison, live in North Venice, Florida, and are the chief scientist and chief financial officer, respectively, of Missile Systems Engineering. Morrison’s brother, James, is a project manager for Walsh Group and is working on the new U.S. Embassy in Oslo, Norway.

Morrison has authored several refereed journal articles and holds memberships in the Institute of Electronic and Electrical Engineers and the Association of Computing Machinery.

Engineering Students Shadow at UMMC

Gordji and Vaughnn participated in Honors College summer program


Roya Gordji and Joella Vaughnn

Two students in the School of Engineering took full advantage this summer of an opportunity to closely shadow physicians at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, thanks to the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College’s Physicians Shadowing program.

Juniors Roya Gordji, of Oxford, and Joella Vaughnn, of Rockville, Maryland, spent a month shadowing and observing physicians working in a variety of areas. The program is meant to give prospective medical students, regardless of major, a chance to personally experience the fast-paced environment of a hospital. The Honors College provides stipends to assist students with living expenses in Jackson during their rotations.

“The clinical shadowing program allows potential medical students the opportunity to experience the daily life and rhythms of one or two medical fields,” said John Samonds, associate dean of the Honors College. “It also exposes students to the health issues so prevalent in Mississippi.”

A general engineering major, Gordji became aware of the program through the Honors College’s weekly newsletter when she was a freshman.

“Engineering has a unique curriculum because of the real-world applications that exist in all areas of engineering,” she said. “I think this foundation will be helpful for me because in medicine, every problem is a real-world problem. It is immediate and right in front of you, so learning how to apply the things I’ve learned in the classroom to actual situations will be beneficial.”

Gordji and Vaughnn shadowed in the emergency and anesthesia departments in separate two-week rotations. Both observed a variety of real-life situations and interacted directly with physicians.

“The ER was fast-paced and the cases that came in were really interesting,” Gordji said. “I saw cases that varied in severity from a black eye to a crushed foot. The doctors were also very happy to teach.

“In anesthesia, I spent most of my time in the operating room. I was also able to do a few hands-on things there, like manually ventilating a patient. Although I didn’t know what to expect coming into the program, the entire experience was great.”

A chemical engineering major, Vaughnn learned about the program after seeing it on the Honors College’s website.

“I am going to need the engineering analysis tools to solve problems in medicine because medicine is not about having the perfect answer; medicine is about recognizing similarities between cases in order to help the patient as much as you can,” she said.

“A student can read about pulmonary embolisms as long as they want, but they have to be trained to recognize them in patients, even if they do not present 100 percent of the symptom list.”

Her experience gave her a better sense of the hospital environment and of areas that fit her interests.

“During the first two weeks in Jackson, I spent time shadowing an anesthesiologist in the operating room,” Vaughnn said. “There were several different ORs that I got to visit, including the main OR, day surgery center, maternity OR and the pediatric OR.”

Initially, Vaughnn planned on becoming a neurosurgeon, but after watching three different neurosurgery cases, she quickly changed her mind. Her favorite types of surgery to watch were knee, hip and shoulder replacements.

Before participating in the physician’s shadowing program, Gordji spent last summer doing computational research that involved designing tumor-targeting nanoparticles. She was able to present her research at the 2013 Mid-South Annual Engineering and Sciences Conference.

This fall, she begins research for her honors thesis. She also completed UMMC’s Community Health Advocacy Program and volunteered at Northeast Mississippi Baptist Hospital ER as an ambassador for the School of Engineering.

Vaughnn participated in a medical mission trip to Bolivia, where she organized a handout of reading glasses to a local tribe. She is also actively involved with the American Medical Students Association and her social sorority. Research for her honors thesis combines her interests in engineering, medicine and art.

Both students plan to apply for medical school during the upcoming academic year.