Mathematical Probability Theory Topic of Spring’s Final Science Cafe

UM algebra professor uses dice to demonstrate unique factorization

UM math professor Sandra Spiroff uses dice to demonstrate theories of probability.

UM mathematics professor Sandra Spiroff uses dice to demonstrate theories of probability.

OXFORD, Miss. – The theory of unique factorization, with an application to mathematical probability, is the topic for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The spring semester’s third and last meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday (April 21) at Lusa Pastry Cafe, 2305 West Jackson Ave. Sandra Spiroff, UM associate professor of mathematics, will discuss “Unique factorization and a roll of the dice.” Admission is free.

“Starting from the familiar factorization of integers into prime numbers, we extend the concept of unique factorization to polynomials and beyond,” Spiroff said. “In particular, we will discuss how unique factorization, or the lack of it, probably jeopardized early attempts to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem.”

Spiroff’s 30-minute presentation will also present an interesting application to the probabilities associated with rolling a pair of dice.

“If time permits, we will run some experiments and play the casino game of craps,” she said. “The mathematical difficulty of the majority of this talk is high school algebra, and many examples will be given.”

Spiroff earned her doctorate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a master’s degree from Saint Louis University and a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University. Her research areas include commutative algebra, with specialization in the topics of divisor class groups and Chow groups.

Undergraduate courses she teaches are linear algebra and abstract algebra. Previously, Spiroff held the position of VIGRE postdoctoral assistant professor-lecturer at the University of Utah.

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

University to Celebrate Green Week April 21-24

Events include lectures, a film and annual Sustainability Fair

2014's Green Week included a "trash cube" located on campus to bring awareness of recycling.

2014’s Green Week included a ‘trash cube’ on campus to spark awareness of recycling.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will observe Green Week April 21-24 with the goal of raising awareness on campus and in the community about the importance of environmental sustainability.

“For me, Green Week is a high point in the academic year, since it offers a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about our environment in a number of different ways, while celebrating the beautiful spring weather,” said Ann Fisher-Wirth, professor of English and director of the UM environmental studies minor. “One of its main events is our Earth Day speaker, highly acclaimed anthropologist Paige West.”

West, a professor of anthropology at Columbia University’s Barnard College, will deliver the Earth Day keynote address at 7 p.m. Wednesday (April 22) in the Overby Center. She plans to discuss the impact of current and future climate changes on the people of New Guinea and the Pacific islands.

Green Week events kick off at 10 a.m. Tuesday (April 21) with a 30-minute walk along a portion of the Ole Miss Tree Trail guided by Nathan Lazinsky, a certified arborist from Landscape Services. At 7 p.m., the Honors College Student Union will host a screening of the film “GMO! OMG!” as part of its Progressive Film Series.

The annual Sustainability Fair takes place on the Student Union Plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday (April 22). It features interactive displays from campus and community groups, an on-campus farmers market and more. Participants will receive tickets, which can be redeemed for prizes, for visiting each table.

“The Sustainability Fair helps illustrate all of the resources that our campus and community has to offer,” said Lindsey Abernathy, project coordinator in the Office of Sustainability. “This year, we’ll have a display where students, faculty and staff can calculate and learn more about their carbon footprints. We’ll also have signage throughout the fair communicating the ways in which each of the different groups at the fair can help reduce that footprint. The focus is on solutions.”

Other Green Week activities include Pedal and Picnic, a group bike ride followed by a free lunch courtesy of Freshii and Ole Miss Dining, and the EcoGala Art Show, a sophisticated and sustainable showing of student artwork. Registration is required for Pedal and Picnic. Email to reserve a spot.

Green Week will conclude on Arbor Day (April 24) with a tree planting celebration in the Circle led by Jeff McManus, UM landscape services director. Attendees will receive free Ole Miss seedlings that were transplanted from the Circle earlier this year, while supplies last.

All Green Week events are free and open to the public. For more information about Green Week, visit or email


2015 Green Week Schedule of Events

Tuesday, April 21

10-10:30 a.m. – Tree Trail Walk, meet at the flagpole in the Circle

7 p.m. – “GMO, OMG!” film screening, Barnard Observatory


Wednesday, April 22 (Earth Day)

10 a.m.-2 p.m. – Sustainability Fair, Student Union Plaza

7 p.m. – Earth Day keynote address by Paige West, Overby Center Auditorium

9 p.m. – Jammin’ for the Planet (Green Fund Benefit Concert), Proud Larry’s


Thursday April 23

11 a.m.-noon – Pedal and Picnic, group bike ride and free lunch from Freshii. Registration required. Email to reserve your spot.

7 p.m. – EcoGala Student Art Show, Bryant Hall


Friday, April 24 (Arbor Day)

11 a.m. – Arbor Day tree planting and celebration, Carrier Hall

12:30-1:30 p.m. – Environmental Law Lecture by Steve McKinney, Khayat Law Center, Room 2094

UM Class Analyzes New York In Film

Honors College class meets with cinema professionals, explores New York movie sites

Elizabeth Romary, a sophomore international studies major from Greenville, North Carolina, met actor Ethan Hawke at St. Bart’s Cathedral in New York where Hawke’s documentary “Seymour: An Introduction” was screened. Romary, who was in New York with her Honors College class, attended the event on her own time.

Elizabeth Romary, a sophomore international studies major from Greenville, North Carolina, met actor Ethan Hawke at St. Bart’s Cathedral in New York, where Hawke’s documentary ‘Seymour: An Introduction’ was screened. Romary, who was in the city with her Honors College class, attended the event on her own time.

OXFORD, Miss. – Few places become the backdrop for films as much as New York, and a University of Mississippi class traveled there during spring break to better understand how the city is portrayed in movies.

The 300-level class, taught by Alan Arrivée, assistant professor of cinema, and Timothy Yenter, assistant professor of philosophy, is made up of Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College students. The class covers the portrayal of the city, from the early days of film in the 1920s to the years since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“The idea was to not only have students watch the films together, but talk about them and read what people from a wide variety of disciplines have to say,” Yenter said. “We want to see what novelists have to say, what film critics have to say and what film scholars and historians of culture have to say. We’re reading widely in order to get a sense of what others have brought to the discussion and also what we can bring to it.”

The class examines why so many films are set in the Big Apple. The representations of race and class in different genres is also part of the curriculum. The professors encourage students to reflect on whether they see themselves represented in the films and whether they see places they recognize.

“The two most obvious things that have come up in class are questions of how is space represented as being in New York City and in what way New York is represented as it was during the time of filming,” Arrivée said. “We also want to know in what way was New York artificially constructed to serve the plot, the theme and the goals of the filmmakers. Then, on top of it all, what incredible changes have taken place in the reality of the city over the course of the films we are studying.”

The Honors College provided funding for the course and the trip. It also funded another class this semester, which explored ethical issues surrounding antiquities and which also went to New York during spring break. The two special topics classes were the fruit of proposals for classes submitted by professors.

The Honors College tried the concept in 2013, and the winning proposal focused on the World Cup. Six Honors College students traveled to Brazil for the event in 2014.

Experiential classes are an excellent opportunity for students, said John Samonds, associate dean of the Honors College. 

“They not only saw New York and screened various films while they were up there, but they also met with film directors and others involved in the industry,” Samonds said. “We’re always so excited to be able to support endeavors like this. This kind of opportunity is one of many characteristics about the Honors College that we think makes this a very vibrant and attractive honors college.”

Rachael Cooper, a junior English major from Olive Branch, said the class has given her the chance to watch and analyze great films such as “On The Town” and “His Girl Friday,” which she might not have seen on her own. And the chance to see the places they were filmed has been invaluable.

“The New York trip allowed me to conduct hands-on research for my final project and also give me free time to explore the city and see some landmarks and locations from film and television,” Cooper said. “I think you develop a new appreciation for the famous and lesser known spaces in the city made famous by the films once you’ve had a chance to stand in those spaces yourself and see how huge, or tiny, they are in reality.”

Sean O’Hara, a junior computer science major from Jackson, said what stood out to him on the trip was the powerful attraction people have to the city and how that force pulls them to move there.

“For me, it was the interplay between the magnetic and idiosyncratic qualities of the city,” O’Hara said. “Almost everyone I met on the trip was from somewhere other than New York, but some unifying thread seemed to have brought them all together. I relate to that in many ways, and I think it’s just an innate quality of New York in that it embodies this perfect mess of society. It’s this ultimate icon for America’s beautifully random hodgepodge of people and culture.”

Amy Sara Carroll Chosen as Summer Poet in Residence

Author to work with M.F.A. classes, conduct public reading of her poetry

Amy Sara Carroll will be this year's Summer Poet in Residence.

Amy Sara Carroll is this year’s Summer Poet in Residence.

OXFORD, Miss. – Amy Sara Carroll will be this year’s Summer Poet in Residence at the University of Mississippi.

Carroll is an assistant professor of American culture, Latina/o studies and English at the University of Michigan.

Throughout her residency from June 15 to July 15, Carroll will visit with Master of Fine Arts classes in creative writing and English to discuss literature and poetry. She said she is also hoping to learn more about the culture of the South.

“I’ve only driven through Mississippi before, so I’m excited to learn more about a place that’s so important to American history,” Carroll said.

Beth Ann Fennelly, UM associate professor of English and director of the M.F.A. program, wants students to learn from Carroll’s unique poetry style.

“Amy’s work is very interesting to us and very different,” Fennelly said. “Her work tends to be more of a hybrid, using text and visuals that are grounded in politics. We feel she will enrich our summer school classes as she meets with M.F.A. students.”

Carroll’s published work includes two collections, “SECESSION” (Hyperbole Books, 2012) and “FANNIE+FREDDIE/The Sentimentality of Post 9/11 Pornography” (Fordham University Press, 2013). In 2012, she received the Poets Out Loud Prize for the latter collection.

Carroll is working on art and poetry to raise awareness of migrant deaths at the United States-Mexico border.

During the first week of her residency, Carroll will have a reading at Off Square Books, set for 5:30 p.m. June 18, following a book signing at 5 p.m.

For more information about the Summer Poet in Residence Program, click here.

D.T. Shackelford and Darryail Whittington Win 2015 Sullivan Awards

UM McLean Institute honors student-athlete and alumnus alongside Chancellor Dan Jones

University of Mississippi Chancellor Dan Jones, student Deterrian Shackelford and alumnus Darryail Whittington were named 2015 recipients fo the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

UM Chancellor Dan Jones, student Deterrian Shackelford and alumnus Darryail Whittington were named 2015 recipients fo the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi has named student-athlete Deterrian Shackelford and alumnus Darryail Whittington the winners of its 2015 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award.

They were honored with Chancellor Dan Jones on Tuesday (April 14) afternoon at the Celebration of Service at the Inn at Ole Miss.

The Sullivan Award is the university’s highest honor in recognition of students, alumni and community members who distinguish themselves with selfless service to others.

“Recognizing and celebrating service is crucial to the mission of the McLean Institute, which supports transformation through service,” said Albert Nylander, McLean Institute director. “The Sullivan Award is an opportunity to honor students and community members who have made our community a better place because of their humble service to others.”

Shackelford, a graduate student from Decatur, Alabama, is active in the community, often speaking to community, school and church groups. He has also helped locally in fundraising for cancer research and helped lead efforts to fight hunger.

A linebacker for the Ole Miss Rebels football team, Shackelford has led two mission trips, one to Haiti and another to Panama. He has been a two-time member of the SEC Community Service Team and was the 2014 recipient of the Wuerffel Trophy, an award given to the FBS football player exhibiting exemplary community service.

Shackelford said he lives his life by trying to put other people before himself.

“It is always good to look at others before you look at yourself,” he exlpained. “That’s often missed in today’s society.”

Shackelford added that he returned from his mission trips with a new perspective.

“When you realize what America has, it’s a blessing,” he said. “I was able to see those people smile in the midst of despair and place value on the little things in life. Their joy system is on a whole other level. Now, I try to look at the joy in every situation. I expected to encourage them, but they encouraged me.”

He has a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in higher education from UM and continues to take graduate courses.

Whittington has provided decades of service to the Lafayette-Oxford-University community, but helping others was ingrained in him at a young age.

“I grew up in a small community in south Mississippi,” he said. “When we saw or heard of anyone in our community who needed help, or drove by and saw that they were involved in a big project, we would stop and lend a hand.

“When my Dad was building our home, all of my uncles, cousins and neighbors would simply arrive, without being asked, ready to work. Not only were they ready to work, but when the lunch hour arrived, there would be food waiting for all, provided not only by my family, but by neighbors from around the community. There was always hard work to do, but it was working together that made our small community better.”

Whittington was a member of the Kiwanis Club of Oxford for more than 20 years, receiving the Kiwanian of the Year Award and the Legion of Honor Award. He has been a member of the board of trustees for the Oxford-Lafayette County Library for more than 30 years and a founding member of the Oxford-Lafayette Long-Term Recovery Committee, a group that provides assistance to families after natural disasters. Whittington is also a member of a similar organization, the Lafayette County Medical Reserve Corps, which provides training and education for health and environmental emergencies.

He began volunteering with Habitat for Humanity 30 years ago and has been involved in the construction of seven of the 14 Habitat homes in Lafayette County. Following his retirement from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality in 2007, Whittington also helped as local facilitator of Mothers Against Drunk Driving by scheduling speakers and volunteers to register participants who are ordered by the court to attend meetings. He was also named Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year in 2005, is an active member of Oxford-University United Methodist Church and is a volunteer with Interfaith Compassion Ministry.

A Jackson County native, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1967 to 1971. Following his service, he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree in freshwater biology from UM. He and his wife, Joyce, have lived in Oxford for more than 40 years.

Whittington said he is honored to receive this award and encourages others to get involved.

“If you want to become involved in our community, to feel more like you are a part of what the community is, and even to show people how important an issue is to you, you are in a perfect place to do it,” he said, adding that just talking to people can present opportunities. “You can volunteer one hour, one time, or you can volunteer consistently. Volunteering is easy. Everyone has a gift, and there are plenty of people in our town and university who can help you find it.”

Chancellor Dan Jones also was honored at the event for his vision of transformation through service and lifelong example of enhancing the well-being of others.

Thirteen UM Students Selected for Chinese Program’s Capstone Year

Ole Miss places more students in the program than any other university

Ole Miss student Hattie Fisher, left, pictured with Co-Director of the Chinese Flagship Program Henrietta Yang, will enter the Capstone program this Fall to complete a semester of studies and an internship in China.

Ole Miss student Hattie Fisher, left, pictured with Henrietta Yang, co-director of the Chinese Flagship Program, will begin her capstone year this fall to complete a semester of studies and an internship in China.

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students have once again ranked top in the nation, this time for placement in the Chinese Language Flagship Program‘s capstone year.

Thirteen UM students were among the 63 applicants selected from 12 universities to study in China beginning this fall. That’s more than any other university. Participating students were selected in March, and UM students rose to the top in the selection process. Three of the top five applicants are from Ole Miss.

“I was ecstatic to receive my letter of acceptance,” said Hattie Fisher, an Oxford resident majoring in international studies and Chinese. “It was a validation of the Chinese language skills I have worked for four years to acquire, as it showed that all my hard work had indeed paid off, and I was good enough to be accepted into this exclusive program to compete with the best of the best Chinese (language) students.”

The capstone year is a national program that allows students to immerse themselves in native culture by spending two semesters in China. The first semester puts participants in two classes with Chinese students. During the second semester, capstone students complete an internship at a Chinese company.

Fisher will begin her capstone year in Nanjing this fall and is eager to achieve native-speaker proficiency.

“I eagerly anticipate the internship portion of the program, which will give me an opportunity to experience Chinese workplace culture and simultaneously gain professional experience, which will ultimately make me competitive in both the Chinese and American job markets,” she said. “Capstone will allow me to continue my exploration of China and its culture and people, which I have fallen in love with over these four years.”

Erin Dyer, a chemical engineering and Chinese double major from Oxford, was ranked No. 1 among students accepted for the capstone year. She plans to join Fisher in Nanjing beginning in August.

“It is a huge honor to be chosen to participate in the Chinese Language Flagship capstone program,” Dyer said. “I’m so excited to be part of a group made up of outstanding Flagship students from all over the country. The capstone year is the culmination of my Chinese studies, and I’m really looking forward to polishing my language skills and using Chinese in a real work environment.”

At Ole Miss, students complete double majors during their first four years, one of those majors being Chinese language.

“The goal is to train students to be global professionals,” said Henrietta Yang, co-director of the Flagship program and Croft associate professor of Chinese. “Our students are exceptional.”

Upon completion of the capstone year, students who achieve a superior level in their language proficiency receive certificates confirming that they no longer need testing to apply for government jobs requiring Chinese language skills.

UM has participated in the program for 13 years, and its students have dramatically improved their performance over that span. In the last two years, 22 Ole Miss students have been accepted into the capstone-year program, and all are expected to reach the superior level.

Other students accepted into the program this year are Connor Burley of Huntsville, Alabama; Henry Chen, Madison; Emily Chew, Memphis, Tennessee; Taylor Malcolm, Huntingdon, England; Mazie Merriman, Birmingham, Alabama; Steven Mockler, Ocean Springs; Callan Mossman, Collierville, Tennessee; Delton Rhodes, Demopolis, Alabama; Holly Smith, Austin, Texas; Maggie Spear, Kingwood, Texas; and Zach Whitehead, Belmont.

The Language Flagship is a national initiative to change foreign language teaching and learning in the United States, producing graduates with professional-level proficiency in their chosen language. The initiative offers programs in 10 languages across 22 colleges and universities.

UM is one of 12 Chinese Language Flagship institutions, along with Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, Hunter College, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Indiana University, University of Minnesota, University of North Georgia, University of Oregon, University of Rhode Island, San Francisco State University and Western Kentucky University.

For more information on the Chinese Language Flagship Program at UM, go to

Gifted Middle School Students Probe Faux Crime Scene on UM Campus

Field trip to forensic chemistry program allowed seventh- and eighth-graders to examine evidence, present case

Oxford Middle Schoolers attend a special program presented by the Forensic Chemistry faculty.  These young students learned about analyzing a crime scene using DNA, toxicology and bullet analysis before having a mock trial.  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Oxford Middle School students attend a special program presented by UM forensic chemistry faculty. These young students learned about analyzing a crime scene using DNA, toxicology and bullet analysis before having a mock trial. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A dead body, blood spatter, guns, bullets and DNA samples – all fake – offered gifted Oxford Middle School students a unique opportunity to test their forensic skills Wednesday (April 8) at the University of Mississippi.

About 80 seventh- and eighth-graders in the OMS Launch program visited the campus as part of a two-week unit on forensics they’re studying.

Led by Murrell Godfrey, UM forensic chemistry program director, and his students, the group spent the morning honing their detective skills while examining the “evidence” throughout select classrooms and labs in Coulter Hall. Graduate and undergraduate forensic chemistry students demonstrated the proper procedures for analyzing the staged evidence recovered from the mock crime scene.

“Our mock crime scene contained murdered dummies with fake blood for DNA and toxicology analysis,” said Godfrey, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “We also had real spent bullets and pretend guns for ballistics analysis, along with fingerprints, hairs and fibers for trace analysis.”

UM students emphasized the importance of preventing contamination, as well as keeping the chain of custody intact from the time evidence is collected at the crime scene through the analysis process.

Divided into five smaller groups, the OMS students rotated through the different forensic stations. At each station, they analyzed their samples and collected data.

“Fake blood was collected and analyzed to develop a DNA profile and toxicological report,” Godfrey said. “Finger prints were lifted from the gun to determine who touched the gun.  Bullets were analyzed with a comparison microscope to determine what gun fired the bullets found at crime scene.”

The event culminated with a moot court (mock trial) where the students defended their analyses as expert witnesses.

“This has been in the planning stages since January,” said Brenteria Travis, a UM computer and information science doctoral student from Canton and co-coordinator of the event with Godfrey. A Mississippi Space Grant Consortium fellow, Travis is required to volunteer in a local K-12 school program. She has been working closely with OMS Launch teacher Pat Kincade on a weekly basis for the past two years.

“This is the second time we’ve coordinated a visit day for her students,” Travis said. “The first involved both forensic chemistry and computer science in 2013. Our goal is always to encourage these gifted young minds to go into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) majors once they enter college.”

Kincade prepared her students for the UM field trip by creating a similar mock crime scene in her classroom. While having no advanced forensic equipment, she managed to stage a setting similar to those depicted on popular television shows and film.

“These are our most gifted students,” Kincade said. “Our challenge is to further develop their process skills, such as problem-solving, deductive reasoning and debating.”

Apparently, her smaller scale classroom scene proved a sufficient preliminary to the main event.

“They all are very attentive and inquisitive,” Travis said. “We were surprised by their depth and the types of questions they asked.”

Several OMS students said they learned a great deal through their experience.

“This was almost like real life,” said Lucy Chinichu, an eighth-grader. “Watching them take so much DNA evidence and narrow it down to one person is fascinating and something I think I might like to do as a job one day.”

Seventh-grader Mary Cook agreed.

“I think the DNA testing was very cool,” Cook said. “This looks like it would be very interesting to do on a daily basis.”

“It’s definitely more than using goggles and gloves,” said Donald Rogers, another eighth-grade student. “I learned that while shows like ‘CSI’ show only one barrier around a crime scene, there are actually two barriers. I also discovered it actually takes much longer to process evidence and solve a case in real life than it does on television.”

A UM faculty member discussed cyber security and digital forensics in Kincade’s classroom Thursday. The forensics unit began Monday (April 6) and runs through next Friday (April 17).

By allowing the students to visit the department and experiment with the equipment, UM faculty members said they hope to pique their interests in forensic chemistry and possibly recruit them to the university after high school.

“Many of my students’ parents teach at the university,” Kincade said. “I’m an Ole Miss graduate and so are our two daughters. We’re red-and-blue all the way.”

Honors Convocation to Include Taylor Medals, Outstanding Teacher Award

Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa inductions also scheduled

The guest speaker for 2015 Honors Day Convocation is the 2014 Hood Award recipient, Ann Fisher-Wirth, professor of English.

The guest speaker for 2015 Honors Day Convocation is the 2014 Hood Award recipient, Ann Fisher-Wirth, professor of English.

OXFORD, Miss. – Outstanding students from all academic disciplines and the campuswide top teacher are to be recognized Thursday (April 9) at the University of Mississippi’s 72nd annual Honors Day Convocation.

The convocation begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Seventy-two students are to be presented with Marcus Elvis Taylor Memorial Medals, the university’s highest academic award, and one faculty member will receive the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award.

Guest speaker for the event is the 2014 Hood Award recipient, Ann Fisher-Wirth, professor of English.

At separate events, new members are to be inducted into the university’s top two student honor societies. The Phi Kappa Phi ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. Thursday at the Ford Center. Phi Beta Kappa holds its ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday (April 10) in Paris-Yates Chapel.

The Taylor Medals, established in 1904, are the university’s highest academic award and recognize no more than 1 percent of the student body each year. The Hood Award was first given in 1966 and allows faculty, staff, students and alumni to nominate a deserving professor for superior classroom teaching.

Around 170 students are to be inducted into Phi Kappa Phi, the university’s highest academic honor across all disciplines. The speaker is David Rock, dean of the School of Education and professor of curriculum and instruction.

Sixty-eight students are slated for induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the university’s highest academic honor in the liberal arts. Ted Ownby, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and professor of history, will speak at the ceremony.

Hussey Honored With SEC Faculty Achievement Award

UM chemistry professor and administrator honored for teaching, research and scholarship

Charles Hussey

Charles Hussey

OXFORD, Miss. – Charles Hussey, professor and chair of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Mississippi, is a 2015 recipient of the Southeastern Conference’s Faculty Achievement Award.

The conference announced Wednesday (April 8) that Hussey has received the award, which honors one faculty member from each SEC university who has excelled in teaching, research and scholarship. Hussey, who has been widely recognized for his lifetime of research in molten salt and ionic liquid chemistry, said he is honored.

“I am very humbled to learn that I was chosen for this recognition from the list of many very qualified scholars on the University of Mississippi campus,” Hussey said. “As an alumnus of UM, this is a special honor to me.”

Chancellor Dan Jones said Hussey is very deserving of all the recognition he has received.

“Dr. Hussey represents all that is positive about academic leaders at the University of Mississippi,” Jones said. “He has an impressive research and scholarly record that has been recognized with a number of awards. He has a passion for teaching, which benefits students at all levels in our chemistry department. And he has given years of service to the university as chair of his department, building a strong undergraduate and graduate program in chemistry that is nationally recognized.”

Hussey, who holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from UM, joined the faculty in 1978. For more than 30 years, he has researched the electrochemistry and transport properties of ionic liquids and molten salts. He has authored or co-authored more than 140 refereed journal articles, book chapter, patents and technical reports. His work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Alcoa and the U.S. Department of Energy. He is associate editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.

Last year, Hussey was awarded the Electrochemical Society’s Max Bredig Award in Molten Salt and Ionic Liquid Chemistry, an international award recognizing his work in the field.

“The chemistry department has flourished under his leadership,” said Rich Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of political science. “We are very proud of his many accomplishments and grateful to have him as a colleague.”

Each SEC Faculty Achievement Award winner will become his or her university’s nominee for the 2015 SEC Professor of the Year Award and receive a $5,000 honorarium from the conference. The SEC Professor of the Year, to be named later this month, receives an additional $15,000 honorarium and will be recognized at the SEC Awards Dinner in May and the SEC Symposium in September.

“The SEC Faculty Achievement Awards give us a unique opportunity to not only showcase the work of our outstanding faculty members, but to also support their future research and scholarship,” said Nicholas Zeppos, chancellor of Vanderbilt University and SEC president. “These 14 men and women are some of the most accomplished and influential leaders in their disciplines, and I offer each of them my sincerest congratulations.”

To be eligible for the SEC Faculty Achievement Award, a professor must be a teacher or scholar at an SEC university, have achieved the rank of full professor, have a record of extraordinary teaching and a record of scholarship that is recognized nationally and/or internationally.

“This year’s SEC Faculty Achievement Award recipients are to be commended for their unwavering dedication to higher education,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. “The SEC is pleased to recognize 14 individuals who have made such a positive impact on our students.”

The SEC Faculty Achievement Awards and the SEC Professor of the Year Award are both selected by provosts at the member universities, and the program is administered by SECU, the conference’s academic initiative. SECU serves as the primary mechanism through which the collaborative academic endeavors and achievements of SEC students and faculty are promoted and advanced.

American Mathematics Institute Director is UM Dalrymple Lecturer

University of Bristol math professor Brian Conrey speaks April 9 at Overby Center

The Dalrymple Lecture in Mathematics starts at 6:30 in the Overby Center.

The Dalrymple Lecture in Mathematics is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Overby Center.

OXFORD, Miss. – A prime number is an integer greater than 1 whose only positive divisors are 1 and itself. In 1859, G.F.B. Riemann proposed a way to understand how the prime numbers are distributed among the natural numbers.

Riemann’s hypothesis, still unproven after 156 years, is the focus of the 21st Dalrymple Lecture in Mathematics, set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday (April 9) at the University of Mississippi. Brian Conrey, executive director of the American Institute of Mathematics and professor of mathematics at the University of Bristol in England, is to deliver the address.

The event in the Overby Center Auditorium is free and open to the public.

“For more than 150 years, primes and zeroes remain a million-dollar mystery for mathematicians,” Conrey said. “The stature of this problem has continued to rise so that today, it is widely regarded as the most important unsolved problem in all of mathematics.”

An internationally renowned mathematician, Conrey was awarded the Levi L. Conant Prize from the American Mathematics Society for outstanding expository writing for an article he wrote on this problem in 2008.

“This year’s topic, the Riemann hypothesis, is one of the seven $1 million Millennium Prize Problems stated by Clay Mathematics Institute in 2000,” said James Reid, UM professor of mathematics. “Professor Conrey plans to discuss some of the colorful history that surrounds this question.”

Established to bring distinguished speakers to campus to discuss mathematics and mathematics research, the Dalrymple Lecture series was endowed by Mr. and Mrs. Arch Dalrymple II of Amory. Arch Dalrymple attended Cornell University, Amherst College and UM, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1947.

For more information on the Department of Mathematics, go to