Eleven UM Researchers Awarded Competitive Internal Grants

Office of Research and Sponsored Programs issues request for new proposals

Dr. Alice Clark

Alice Clark

OXFORD, Miss. – The research projects of 11 University of Mississippi faculty members were funded recently, thanks to a competitive internal grants program piloted in 2015 by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

The program, known as ORSP-IG, was created to support promising research in its earliest stage of development. The winning proposals were selected on the basis of their strengths in several categories, including intellectual merit, plan soundness, expected impact (at the institutional, state or national level) and the potential for attracting external investment.

“The university’s research enterprise is strong and growing thanks to the dedication of our talented faculty and researchers,” said Alice Clark, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “I congratulate the 2015 award recipients and wish them continued success as they carry out their projects.”

Ranging in value from $2,750 to nearly $10,000, the awards will sponsor projects across campus. Thirty-four faculty members will directly benefit from the studies, while 69 undergraduate and nine graduate students will participate in research.

Additionally, the projects are expected to lead to at least 14 external funding proposals to major federal funding agencies, including the National Institutes for Health, National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense and others.

“We believe that the Investment Grants program has value beyond the sum of the internal dollars awarded,” said Jason Hale, UM director of research resources. “The competition and feedback loop should help to elevate the project narratives to a level that will be attractive to external sponsors.”

Conor Dowling, assistant professor of political science, is the principal investigator of one of the winning proposals, “Collaborative Political Science Survey Research.” Six political science faculty members joined the proposal as co-principal investigators.

The award will allow the faculty members to generate original survey data through participation in the 2016 edition of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a survey that reaches 50,000 Americans. The process is expected to lead to scholarly publications, external grant proposals and increased graduate and undergraduate student research involvement.

Dr. Conor Dowling

Conor Dowling

“The funding of the proposal will enable the investigators to generate their own original survey data during the course of the 2016 U.S. elections,” Dowling said. “This unique opportunity, which is a part of a collaborative effort with other institutions, will form the basis of several scholarly publications and external grant proposals.

“Not only will faculty in the department be able to pursue research questions on a national scale, but graduate students and interested undergraduates will have opportunities to take part in this research project as well.”

Other 2015 “ORSP-IG Round 1” winning proposals and principal investigators were:

* “An International Graduate Program in Gravitational Physics,” Emanuele Berti, associate professor of physics and astronomy;

* “Mapping Language and Culture,” Allison Burkette, associate professor of modern languages;

* “Characterizing Gunshot Residue from a Firearm Containing 3-D Printed Components: Feasibility of Collecting and Fingerprinting Polymer Residue Using Thermal Analysis and Mass Spectrometry,” James Cizdziel, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry;

* “Archeology Chemistry: Identifying Migration and Trade in Mesoamerica,” Carolyn Freiwald, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology;

* “Recovering the Lost Library of Chartres: Pioneering the Digital Future of the Past at the University of Mississippi,” Gregory Heyworth, associate professor of English.

* “Toward a Better Understanding of Groundwater Recharge in the Mississippi Delta in Support of Sustainable Aquifer Management,” Andrew M. O’Reilly, assistant professor of geology and geological engineering;

 * “Documenting Mississippi Stories,” Ted Ownby, professor of history, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture;

* “Visualization and Development for the SHE™ Application,” Phillip Rhodes, associate professor of computer and information science;

* “Identifying Neural Correlates of Increased Fluency Due to Multi-Modal Speech Feedback in a Stuttering Population,” Dwight Waddell, associate professor of electrical engineering;

* “The Effects of Authoritarian Iconography: An Experimental Test,” Yael Zeira, Croft assistant professor of political science and international studies;

The guidelines for the 2016 competition, known as “ORSP-IG Round 2,” have been released. Proposals by eligible researchers are invited on any topic of research, scholarly or creative interest, and special consideration will be given to those addressing issues related to race.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs received a high volume of proposals during 2015’s Round 1 competition. To evaluate the proposals, ORSP enlisted several Ole Miss faculty and research staff members who responded to a campuswide call for readers.

For Round 2, a similar process will be used, but a pre-proposal will no longer be required and the proposals will be submitted via a new online portal.

To learn more about ORSP-IG, see http://research.olemiss.edu/IG or contact Jason Hale at jghale@olemiss.edu.

Gravitational Waves Topic for February Science Cafe

UM physicists to discuss recent developments in search for proof of Einstein's theory of relativity

A UM physicist and graduate student making sure that the Laser Inferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) equipment is working properly.

A UM physicist and graduate student make sure that LIGO equipment is working properly.

OXFORD, Miss. – Gravitational waves and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory experiments are the topic for the monthly Science Cafe organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The February meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 16) at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd. Katherine Dooley, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, and Marco Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy and assistant spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, will discuss “Gravitational Waves: 100 years after Einstein.” Admission is free.

“Gravitational waves are ‘ripples in the fabric of space-time,’ arriving at the earth from cataclysmic events in the distant universe,” Cavaglia said. “They carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained.”

The 20-minute presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session, will include discussions of how LIGO works and how gravitational waves are generated.

“LIGO research is carried out by a group of more than 1,000 scientists from more than 90 universities and research institutes in 15 countries,” Dooley said. “LIGO was originally proposed as a means of detecting these gravitational waves in the 1980s by Rainer Weiss, professor of physics, emeritus, from MIT; Kip Thorne, Caltech’s Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus; and Ronald Drever, professor of physics, emeritus, also from Caltech.”

A LIGO team member inspecting the detector portion of the technology inside the laboratory.

A LIGO team member inspects the detector portion of the technology inside the laboratory.

Dooley earned her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and a doctorate from the University of Florida. Before joining the Ole Miss faculty, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology and Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, also known as the Albert Einstein Institute, in Hannover, Germany.

Awards Dooley has received include the 2010 Tom Scott Award for distinction in research at Florida and a LIGO student fellowship from Cal Tech. Having worked directly with both the original and Advanced LIGO projects, Dooley spent four years at the LIGO Livingston site, first installing new hardware to upgrade the initial LIGO detectors and then commissioning the observatory’s interferometer. Dooley’s research interest is experimental gravitational-wave physics.

Cavaglia earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Turin, Italy, and a doctorate in astrophysics from the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy. Before coming to UM, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Tufts University, the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, in Potsdam, Germany, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a lecturer at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom.

Over his career, Cavaglia has authored more than 120 publications in peer-reviewed, scientific journals and has received several research awards. Since January 2012, he has served as assistant spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Cavaglia’s research interests are LIGO data analysis and theoretical astrophysics.

For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit http://www.physics.olemiss.edu/.


UM Professor’s TEDx Talk is a Hit

Ole Miss professor Gregory Heyworth, a textual scientist, recently gave a TED Talk filmed at the university.

Ole Miss professor Gregory Heyworth, a textual scientist, recently gave a TED Talk filmed at the university.

“Imagine worldwide how a trove of hundreds of thousands of previously unknown texts could radically transform our knowledge of the past,” said University of Mississippi professor Gregory Heyworth during a recent TED Talk filmed on campus.

“Imagine what unknown classics we would discover, which would rewrite the canons of literature, history, philosophy, music or, more provocatively, that could rewrite our cultural identities, building new bridges between people and culture.”

Heyworth, a textual scientist, is on a journey to save medieval texts that have been damaged by war, water damage, mold and chemical reagents using a process involving multispectral imaging. Working beside other professors and pioneers in the digital imaging field, Heyworth has traveled to libraries both in the U.S. and aboard in an effort to preserve and reclaim numerous historical texts.

His work is known as the Lazarus Project.

You can view Heyworth’s TEDxUM talk here to learn more about the process of multispectral imaging.

Heyworth’s TEDxUM talk is proving to be popular with TEDx viewers. Within hours of being posted, the video had garnered more than 38,000 views.

Heyworth shares his research with students through his classes at the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Ole Miss students interested in the Lazarus Project can vie for positions on the imaging teams. You can see the work that they are able to do using the portable multispectral imaging lab below:

For more information about the Lazarus Project, visit http://www.honors.olemiss.edu/lazarus-project.

Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein’s Prediction

UM scientists join colleagues in celebration of historic achievement

Members of the University of Mississippi LIGO Team include (from left) Camillo Cocchieri, visiting scholar; Mohammad Afrough, graduate student; Marco Cavaglia associate professor of of physics and astronomy; Katherine Dooley, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; Jared Wofford, undergraduate researcher; and Hunter Gabbard, undergraduate research assistant. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Members of the UM LIGO Team include (from left) Camillo Cocchieri, visiting scholar; Mohammad Afrough, graduate student; Marco Cavaglia associate professor of of physics and astronomy; Katherine Dooley, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; and Jared Wofford and Hunter Gabbard, both undergraduate research assistants. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.

Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.

The gravitational waves were detected at 4:51 a.m. Sept. 14, 2015 by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory detectors in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The LIGO Observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation and were conceived, built and are operated by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy, and the Virgo Collaboration using data from the two LIGO detectors.

“Using sophisticated algorithms and data analysis techniques, we estimate that the black hole collision took place about 1.3 billion years ago,” said Marco Cavaglià, University of Mississippi associate professor of physics and astronomy and assistant spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. “The two black holes had a mass of about 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun.”

The black holes collided with each other at nearly half the speed of light, said Katherine Dooley, UM assistant professor of physics and astronomy and senior member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

“The explosion released so much energy that about three times the mass of the sun was converted to gravitational waves in only a fraction of a second,” Dooley said. “These are the gravitational waves that LIGO has observed.”

LIGO research is carried out by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, a group of more than 1,000 scientists from universities around the United States and in 14 other countries. More than 90 universities and research institutes in the LSC develop detector technology and analyze data; approximately 250 students are strong contributing members of the collaboration.

UM has been a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration since 2007. Cavaglià founded the group at UM and has contributed to understanding artifacts of the instrument data that come from sources other than gravitational waves, a critical component for being able to positively identify a gravitational wave signal. Since 2012, Cavaglià has served as the collaboration’s assistant spokesperson.

Dooley joined UM this past fall after having worked for over nine years on building and improving the LIGO and GEO600 detectors. The detectors use laser light to measure infinitesimal changes in the distance between mirrors mounted 2-1/2 miles (4 kilometers) apart.

“The detected gravitational waves changed this distance by one-billionth of a billionth of a meter, about one-thousandth the diameter of a proton,” Dooley said. She designed techniques to control the angular pointing of the laser beam, helping push the limits of the precision measurement technology that was needed to make this detection possible.

Cavaglià, Dooley, UM post-doctoral research assistant Shivaraj Kandhasamy and three doctoral students from the UM-LIGO team are among the authors of the discovery paper. The UM LIGO team also includes a master’s student, an undergraduate and three undergraduate exchange students from Italy.

“LIGO’s detection opens a new way to look at the cosmos,” Cavaglià said. “I think LIGO will go down in history in the same way as we now remember Galileo’s telescope.”

The entire university community shares in the excitement of this extraordinary achievement, UM Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said.

“This astounding breakthrough is the result of decades of international collaboration by a talented team of scientists and engineers,” Vitter said.  “Everyone at UM congratulates our colleagues in the physics department for their role in this historic discovery. The University of Mississippi is committed to pursuing research and scholarship that helps us understand and improve our world.”

The discovery was made possible by the enhanced capabilities of Advanced LIGO, a major upgrade that increases the sensitivity of the instruments, compared to the first-generation LIGO detectors, enabling a large increase in the volume of the universe probed – and the discovery of gravitational waves during its first observation run.

LIGO was originally proposed as a means of detecting these gravitational waves in the 1980s by Rainer Weiss, MIT professor emeritus of physics; Kip Thorne, Caltech’s Richard P. Feynman Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics; and Ronald Drever, Caltech professor emeritus of physics.

The LSC detector network includes the LIGO interferometers and the GEO600 detector. The GEO team includes scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), Leibniz Universität Hannover, along with partners at the University of Glasgow, Cardiff University, the University of Birmingham, other universities in the United Kingdom and the University of the Balearic Islands in Spain.

Several of the key technologies that made Advanced LIGO so much more sensitive have been developed and tested by the German UK GEO collaboration. Significant computer resources have been contributed by the AEI Hannover Atlas Cluster, the LIGO Laboratory, Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Several universities designed, built and tested key components for Advanced LIGO: The Australian National University, the University of Adelaide, the University of Florida, Stanford University, Columbia University in New York and Louisiana State University.

The NSF leads in financial support for Advanced LIGO. Funding organizations in Germany (Max Planck Society), the U.K. (Science and Technology Facilities Council) and Australia (Australian Research Council) also have made significant commitments to the project.

Virgo research is carried out by the Virgo Collaboration, consisting of more than 250 physicists and engineers belonging to 19 different European research groups: six from Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France; eight from the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Italy; two in The Netherlands with Nikhef; the Wigner RCP in Hungary; the POLGRAW group in Poland and the European Gravitational Observatory, the laboratory hosting the Virgo detector near Pisa in Italy.

“This is a momentous event,” Dooley said. “LIGO has opened our ears to the universe. For the first time ever, we can now listen to the cosmos.”

For more information on the UM LIGO team, go to http://ligo.phy.olemiss.edu/.

UM Recognized Among Country’s Elite Research Universities

Carnegie Classification recognizes R&D investment, doctoral degrees granted and faculty achievement

Caleb Ezell (left) and Eleanor Anthony, both students in the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, work with English professor Gregory Heyworth to examine a 15th century Italian manuscript for Oberlin College. The work is part of the Lazarus Project, which uses multispectral imaging technology to analyze old and/or damaged documents and recover faded or erased text. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Caleb Ezell (left) and Eleanor Anthony, both students in the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, work with English professor Gregory Heyworth to examine a 15th century Italian manuscript for Oberlin College. The work is part of the Lazarus Project, which uses multispectral imaging technology to analyze old and/or damaged documents and recover faded or erased text. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is included in the elite group of R-1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list for the top doctoral research universities in the United States.

UM is among a distinguished group of 115 institutions including Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins in the “highest research,” or R-1 category. This group represents the top 2.5 percent of institutions of higher education.

The Carnegie Classification analyzes Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, data from all U.S. post-secondary institutions and evaluates measures of research activity for doctoral universities in making its assessments, which are released every five years.

“As a flagship university, the University of Mississippi is determined to play a key role in the cycle of research and discovery that drives and sustains our community and world,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. “This ranking was achieved thanks to our outstanding faculty and their dedication to research and education.”

The Carnegie Classification’s assignment to categories of highest, higher and moderate research activity is based on research and development expenditures, science and engineering research staff including post-doctoral candidates and non-faculty staff members with doctorates, and doctoral conferrals in humanities and social sciences fields, in STEM fields and in other areas such as business, education, public policy and social work.

Dr. Wael ElShamy, director of the UMMC Cancer Institute’s Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Program, has received a patent on a method to diagnose and treat several cancer types and subtypes. The method may lead to the first targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer and add to therapies for other cancers.

Dr. Wael ElShamy, director of the UMMC Cancer Institute’s Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Program, has received a patent on a method to diagnose and treat several cancer types and subtypes. The method may lead to the first targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer and add to therapies for other cancers.

Alice Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, applauded the university’s new classification and affirmed the vital economic role that a world-class research institution plays in the state and region.

“Attaining the Carnegie ‘highest research activity’ classification is historic for our university,” Clark said. “It illustrates the value we place on scholarly inquiry and the application of our expertise to understanding and improving our world and educating future leaders. Our faculty, staff and students deserve this recognition of their efforts to create and innovate.”

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at the UM Medical Center, was elated at the Carnegie distinction.

“We are very pleased and proud to be a part of a university where research and scholarly activity are highly valued,” she said. “From internationally renowned basic science research in physiology to large population studies being conducted through the MIND Center and the Jackson Heart Study, UMMC is leading the way in research on the diseases that impact Mississippians most.”

The university received more than $117 million in sponsored awards, with more than $105 million in research and development expenditures, during fiscal year 2015. Of that total, more than $77 million was in federal grants, more than $16 million was from foundations, about $11 million came from the state of Mississippi, approximately $8 million was from industry and roughly $4 million came from other sources.

UM researchers submitted 876 proposals and 546 research projects were funded in the last fiscal year.

Among the university’s most prestigious and longstanding research projects is the Jackson Heart Study. UMMC researchers are collaborating with Tougaloo College and Jackson State University on the world’s largest long-term study of cardiovascular risk factors in African-Americans.

In 2013, the university joined the American Heart Association and Boston University for “Heart Studies v2.0,” which will expand upon the landmark Framingham and Jackson studies to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular ailments.

The population study has followed the health of 5,000 participants, producing data that continues to yield insights into the underlying causes of cardiovascular disease. In 2013, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, each a part of the National Institutes of Health, announced renewed funding for the JHS.

Other long-term prestigious projects are the marijuana research project conducted by the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research, jet noise reduction studies at the National Center for Physical Acoustics, known as NCPA, and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory collaboration through the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Faculty and postdoctoral researchers in the physics department played major roles in the search and discovery of the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle thought to be responsible for all mass in the universe. The discovery was announced July 2012 by scientists at CERN, a multinational research center headquartered in Geneva.

Most recently, two faculty members within the physics department and NCPA received a $3 million Department of Energy grant to study nuclear fuel storage safety and stability.

Three Ole Miss professors received Faculty Early Career Development Awards from the National Science Foundation within the past eight months. Patrick Curtis, assistant professor of biology, is the seventh CAREER award recipient at the university in the last eight years. Sarah Liljegren, associate professor of biology, received the award last November and Jared Delcamp, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, earned a similar award in June 2015. This marks the first time three UM faculty members were selected in the same academic year.

From its first class of 80 students in 1848, UM has grown to a doctoral degree-granting university with 15 academic divisions and more than 23,800 students. Located on its main campus in Oxford are the College of Liberal Arts; the schools of Accountancy, Applied Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Journalism and New Media, Pharmacy and Law; and the Graduate School. The Medical Center in Jackson trains professionals in its schools of Medicine, Nursing, Health Related Professions, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Graduate Studies.

In all, more than 100 programs of study offer superior academic experiences that provide each graduate with the background necessary for a lifetime of scholastic, social and professional growth. Strengthening and expanding the academic experience are the acclaimed Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies and Lott Leadership Institute.

For more information about research at UM, visit http://research.olemiss.edu/.

New Fund Honors Pam Hamilton’s Lasting Impact

Endowment pays tribute to late journalist, supports lecture series and scholarship

Pam Hamilton

Pam Hamilton

OXFORD, Miss. – Gifts to a new University of Mississippi fund will honor the life of alumna Pamela E. Hamilton while also establishing a lecture series and scholarship in her name.

A successful journalist with a passion for using words and media to change the world around her, Hamilton died Aug. 10, 2015, due to complications associated with lupus, an autoimmune disease she had battled since February 2006.

Friends and family are requesting support for the fund via an online campaign launched by the UM Foundation on Tuesday (Feb. 2), when Hamilton would have celebrated her 36th birthday.

The Pamela E. Hamilton Memorial Fund will help continue Hamilton’s legacy at Ole Miss by supporting an annual lecture series on social justice and media, as well as an annual academic award to a student in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. The inaugural Pamela E. Hamilton Memorial Lecture will be held April 1 during the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Spring Convention on the Oxford campus.

“Whether you knew Pam as a friend, classmate or loving family member, we encourage you to support this fund as a memorial in her name,” said Hamilton’s sister, Melissa Hamilton of Atlanta. “Much of Pam’s success was possible due to scholarships and the love and support of her family and community. She would be proud to know that other students will receive similar support as a result of the impact she made.”

Hamilton, who graduated from Ole Miss in 2002 with degrees in journalism and English, began her career as a reporter for the Lion’s Roar newspaper staff at Raleigh (Miss.) High School, where she was a member of the Class of 1998. A dedicated scholar, she also was a National Achievement Finalist, a varsity cheerleader captain, dance captain and class president. She won first place in the state History Day competition and first place in the NAACP Creative Writing Contest. She was elected homecoming queen, Miss Raleigh High School and Most Likely to Succeed.

“To the class of ’98, Pam was our president, a prize student to her teachers and a friend to everyone who knew her,” said Hamilton’s cousin and Raleigh High classmate, Perez Hamilton. “She loved to see everyone succeed and was our biggest cheerleader. Watching Pam break barriers and strive to accomplish goals inspired us all to do the same. Pam’s impact is continuously felt in the Raleigh-Smith County community.”

Hamilton continued to pursue her passion for journalism at Ole Miss, where she began writing for The Daily Mississippian student newspaper her freshman year and served as editor in 2000-2001. During her tenure, she opened the paper’s ranks to student writers from across campus while encouraging the free exchange and reporting of ideas from all groups.

She used her position as editor to bring people together and promote social justice. While an Ole Miss student, she also completed an editorial board internship at The New York Timesprimarily covering higher education issues.

“Pam was easily one of the finest journalists and editors at The Daily Mississippian,” said Ralph Braseth, Hamilton’s UM faculty adviser and now a Loyola University professor. “She was a leader for sure, and anyone who worked with her knew that.

“But most impressive, year after year, I watched how much she cared for others. When Pam Hamilton spoke with you, she zeroed in like no person I know; she made you feel like you were the only person in the world. That’s one reason why she was such a remarkable journalist. … I miss Pam and I always will.”

At Ole Miss, Hamilton was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, Mortar Board, Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and the National Association of Black Journalists. She was inducted into the Ole Miss Hall of Fame in 2002, one of the highest honors awarded to graduating seniors.

After college, Hamilton worked as a reporter for the Associated Press, covering education in South Carolina. In 2007, she earned a master’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her stellar career continued as she accepted various positions at The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN and Thomson Reuters news service.

In Raleigh, Hamilton was a member of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, and in Atlanta she actively served as a data entry volunteer with the Assimilation Ministry at Elizabeth Baptist Church.

Contributions to the Pamela E. Hamilton Memorial Fund can be made through the campaign website at https://ignite.olemiss.edu/PamsImpact. Additionally, gifts can be made by mailing a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677-0249.

UM Gospel Choir Sings with Praise

Donor creates endowment to support 'premier student organization'

Members of the UM Gospel Choir perform during the Black History Month Kick-Off Celebration. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Members of the UM Gospel Choir perform during the Black History Month Kick-Off Celebration. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi Gospel Choir members shouted “Hallelulah!” at the Monday kickoff event of Black History Month upon learning that an anonymous donor has given  $27,000 to establish the first endowment to support their contributions to campus life and provide leadership activities.

Brandi Hephner LaBanc, UM vice chancellor for student affairs, made the surprise announcement right before the choir was set to perform.

“I was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of this donor and knew immediately that this would be a transformational gift for the Gospel Choir,” Hephner LaBanc said. “In all honesty, I welled up a bit.

“Aside from the beautiful voices and inspiring gospel lyrics, this choir is one of our university’s premier student organizations. Choir members have earned this stature and are asked to perform at numerous campus and public events because they represent the University of Mississippi in such a professional artistic manner.”

According to the memorandum of agreement, the funds are to be used to sponsor an annual retreat to explore the purpose and possibilities of the choir and its members as leaders on campus. Other support is to be directed to inviting a distinguished choir director to be in residence for a short period, as well as to hire musicians to accompany practice and performances, help develop its repertoire and project its image at the university and beyond.

Founded in 1974 as the Black Student Union Choir (later changing its name to the UM Gospel Choir), this “no-audition” group steadily consists of 100-plus students, including 20 who run its operations. Choir advisers are Danielle Sims and E.J. Edney.

The anonymous donor, who has admired the student organization for years, said the university has often called upon the Gospel Choir to be “its face and voice.” The donor also found it noteworthy that the choir experience provides a nurturing environment for its members.

“According to the experiences of founding students and current student members, the Gospel Choir has always served as a place for individuals from underrepresented backgrounds – most of whom have been and continue to be African-American – where they can feel they belong during their educational journey at the university,” the donor said.

“This call underlies the initiative to support Gospel Choir members during their educational experiences, providing ample resources to nurture their successes in the choir and as enrolled students at the university. Hopefully, this endowment will encourage choir members to explore fully the leadership role of the Gospel Choir and to focus on their own development as students and leaders.”

The “unexpected gift” is welcomed and appreciated, said Shawnboda D. Mead, director of UM’s Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement.

“I am beyond excited for the choir,” Mead said. “This generous gift is a testament to the impact the choir has had and continues to have on our campus. I’m confident this gift will allow the choir to continue expanding its reach and serving the university community.

“To see and hear the UM Gospel Choir perform is always a special experience. The choir continues to attract an amazingly talented group of students and provides them with a family atmosphere.”

It is important for college students to participate in extracurricular activities, Hephner LaBanc said, encouraging donors to consider making investments in student organizations.

“The college experience at Ole Miss is holistic in nature,” she said. “It extends beyond the classroom and into the full experience of our students while they are enrolled. Student organizations provide the opportunities for our students to put their intellectual and creative talents into action. Through private gift support, organizations are able to expand their capacity for leadership and educational opportunities.”

To finance the choir’s first album in 1999, “Send Up the Praise,” choir members undertook a $14,000 fundraising effort. The successful campaign led to Malaco Records’ support of the live project with a mobile studio and mixing support.

After hearing a copy of the live recording, the label’s executives decided to sign the group. The resulting CD was nominated for a 2000 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance by a Duo or Group.

The donor has directed $2,000 of the gift to an account for immediate use, and $25,000 goes to establish the endowment. Endowed funds are held permanently and managed by the University of Mississippi Foundation. The annual income generated from an endowment is directed to support the program, scholarship, faculty position, etc., named in the endowment’s creation.

Any individual or organization can make a contribution to help build the UM Gospel Choir Endowment by sending a check to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. The fund should be noted in the check’s memo line. Donations also can be made online at http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift. For more information, contact Brett Barefoot, development officer at bmbarefo@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2711.


Southern Studies Spring Brown Bag Lectures Announced

Sessions scheduled for select Wednesdays at noon

Eric Weber

Eric Weber

OXFORD, Miss. – The Brown Bag Luncheon Series sponsored by the University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Southern Culture continues this spring with several diverse topics. All lectures are at noon Wednesdays in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory and are free and open to the public.

On Feb. 3, Eric Weber, UM associate professor of public policy leadership, discusses his latest book, “Uniting Mississippi: Democracy and Leadership in the South.” Weber examines Mississippi’s apparent Catch-22, namely the difficulty of addressing problems of poverty without fixing issues in education first, and vice versa.

Since the approach to addressing poverty has for so long been unsuccessful, Weber reframes the problem.

“These difficulties can be overcome if we look at their common roots and if we practice virtuous democratic leadership,” Weber said. He offers theories of effective leadership in general and of democratic leadership in particular to show how Mississippi’s challenges could be addressed with the guidance of common values.

Other lectures in the series are:

Ralph Eubanks

Ralph Eubanks

– On Feb. 10, publisher, professor, author and editor Ralph Eubanks discusses “Photography and Writing: How Visual Art Influences Narrative.” The Mississippi-born author lauded for works about race, civil jus­tice and South­ern culture is serving as the Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies at Millsaps College.

“I plan to talk about how re-reading and teaching the work of James Agee – along with Walker Evans’s photographs – has been having an impact on my own writing,” Eubanks said. “This has made me think a great deal about how writers turn to photographs to explore the connections between fictional narratives, personal memory and the historical past.”

Eubanks has served as director of publishing at the Library of Congress and editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Dave Tell, who teaches history and the­ory of rhetoric courses on American public discourse in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, discusses “The Emmett Till Memory Project” on Feb. 17.

“I provide a material and intellectual history of this infrastructure, and explain how the digital humanities may revolutionize how we remember Emmett Till,” Tell said.

Since 2005, there has been a “memory boom” in the Mississippi the Delta: granting agencies have in­vested $5.5 million in the production of an Emmett Till commemorative infrastructure. Tell is the author of “Confessional Crises: Confession and Cultural Politics in Twentieth-Century America,” which explains how the genre of confession has shaped some of the 20th century’s most intractable issues: sexuality, class, race, violence, religion and democracy.

– On Feb. 24, Telisha Dionne Bailey discusses “Seeking Social Justice in Unjust Carceral Systems: Women of Color, Mass Incarceration and the Complex History of Class, Race and Gender in the Prison Politics of the American South.”

Bailey explores how African-American wom­en were ma­jor actors in the implementation, development and growth of the notori­ous Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm. She examines the often-overlooked histo­ry of women at Parchman, and she works to give voices to a margin­alized group of women seemingly deemed unworthy of historical analy­sis or consideration.

Bailey earned her Ph.D. in history from the UM Arch Dalrymple III Department of History in August 2015.

Margaret McMullan

Margaret McMullan

– On March 2, Margaret McMullan gives a special Brown Bag at 11:30 a.m. in Archives and Special Collections at the J. D. Williams Library to begin the 23rd annual Oxford Conference for the Book.

McMullan is the author of seven award-winning novels, including her latest, “Aftermath Lounge.” In 2015, she and Phillip Lopate curated “Every Father’s Daughter,” an anthol­ogy of essays about fathers by great women writers such as Alice Munro, Ann Hood and Jane Smiley. During this special lecture and opening session of the Oxford Conference for the Book, McMullan will read from her recent work and talk about books and authors and how they draw people together – as fam­ily, friends and as a community.

McMullan has taught on the summer faculty at the Stony Brook Southampton Writers Conference in Southampton, New York, at the Eastern Kentucky University Low-Residency MFA Program and at the University of Southern Indiana’s Summer and Winter Ropewalk Writers Retreat.

Maude Schyler Clay

Maude Schuyler Clay

– “Mississippi: A Collaborative Project” is presented on March 9. The project is the work of photog­rapher Maude Schuyler Clay and poet Ann Fisher-Wirth.

Fisher-Wirth, UM professor of English and director of the environmental studies minor who teaches po­etry workshops and seminars, 20th century American litera­ture and a wide range of courses in environmen­tal literature, will read some of the poems writ­ten to accom­pany Clay’s photographs, and they will talk about the process of collabo­ration. Mississippi pos­sesses great natural beauty and a rich and complex culture, one interwo­ven from the many voices that have made up its identity, and “Mississippi: A Collaborative Project” explores both this degradation and this beauty.

Clay was born in Greenwood and attended UM and Memphis State University; after working in New York, she returned in 1987 to live in the Delta. Her lat­est book of photographs is “Mississippi History.”

– On March 30, Ann Tucker, UM visiting assis­tant professor, discusses “Imagining Independence: International Influences on Southern Nationhood.”

Tucker’s research focuses on how white Southerners made the decision to create an indepen­dent Southern nation, and how they imagined the Confederacy as one of many aspiring nations seeking membership in the international family of nations. She studies the 19th century American South, specifi­cally Southern nationalism in the antebellum and Civil War eras, and analyzes interna­tional influences on the develop­ment of Confederate nationalism.

She earned her master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of South Carolina.

– As part of the Music of the South Symposium, Scott Barretta presents “The Conscience of the Folk Revival: Izzy Young” on April 6. He will discuss his book, “The Conscience of the Folk Revival: The Writings of Israel “Izzy” Young,” about Young, the pro­prietor of the Folklore Center in Greenwich Village from the late 1950s to the early 1970s.

The literal center of the New York folk music scene, the Folklore Center not only sold re­cords, books and guitar strings but served as a concert hall, meeting spot and information kiosk for all folk scene events. Among Young’s first customers was Harry Belafonte; among his regular visitors were Alan Lomax and Pete Seeger. Shortly after his arrival in New York City in 1961, an unknown Bob Dylan banged away at songs on Young’s typewrit­er.

Young would also stage Dylan’s first concert, as well as shows by Joni Mitchell, the Fugs, Emmylou Harris, Tim Buckley, Doc Watson, Son House and Mississippi John Hurt.

Barretta is an Ole Miss instructor of sociology, a writer-researcher for the Mississippi Blues Trail and the host of the “Highway 61” radio show on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

– On April 13 Southern Studies graduate student Amanda Malloy presents “A Guide through William Eggleston’s Souths: A Photographer’s View of a Changing Region.”

Based on her master’s thesis work, Malloy’s lecture looks at the images of Memphis photog­rapher William Eggleston, who is widely credited with increasing the legitimacy of color photography as an artistic medium. In anticipa­tion of an upcoming exhibit at the University Museum, she will ex­plore Eggleston’s interpretations of the South, from the private and per­sonal, to the increasingly commer­cially developed.

Malloy graduated from UM with a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, focusing on art history and classical studies. Her interest in Southern art and histor­ic preservation brought her to the Southern studies program with a growing interest in documentary filmmaking, and she interned with the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Folk and Traditional Arts program.

Visit http://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/ for more information about events at the center.

UM Graduate Named To Forbes ’30 Under 30′ List

Patrick Woodyard honored for social entrepreneurship of shoe manufacturer Nisolo

UM graduate Patrick Woodyard is cofounder of a shoe company that provides fair wages and English and financial literacy classes to its workers in Peru and Kenya. He was recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2016.

UM graduate Patrick Woodyard is co-founder of a shoe company that provides fair wages and English and financial literacy classes to its workers in Peru and Kenya. He was recently named to Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2016.

OXFORD, Miss. – Patrick Woodyard, a 2010 University of Mississippi graduate, is co-founder of a shoe company that provides fair wages and classes in English and financial literacy to its workers in Peru and Kenya. 

Those socially responsible business efforts have landed him a spot on the prestigious Forbes 30 Under 30 list for 2016.

Woodyard, 29, of Nashville, Tennessee, who majored in international studies and Spanish at UM, helped start Nisolo, which makes handcrafted shoes and accessories. Roughly translated, the company’s name means “not alone” in Spanish, which draws on the idea that small decisions can have a big effect on others and also on the global marketplace. 

Nisolo’s success is a team effort, Woodyard said, and he sees making the Forbes list as a victory for his team.

“As an entrepreneur, I am so focused on the future and all that I think we can accomplish down the road that it is difficult sometimes to pause and realize how far we have come,” he said. “Receiving this award is certainly an indication that we are heading in the right direction. I do wish, though, that this were a team award and not one with my name on it.”

The list of people under age 30 is billed as “600 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, breakout talents and change agents in 20 different sectors.”

Some 200 workers help Nisolo turn out its men’s and women’s shoes and accessories. In its most recent fiscal year, the company grew by over 150 percent over the previous year and sold products in all 50 states and more than 50 different countries. The company’s leaders hope to expand their impact further into Peru and also create partnerships with producers in Kenya and Mexico.

“Our hope is to become a household name fashion brand known for its superior product and commitment to social impact in the fashion industry,” Woodyard said.

Nisolo shoemakers have increased their salaries by an average of 161 percent compared to what they made before starting with the company. The company has a savings and loan program and teaches classes on basic financial literacy.

The number of Nisolo shoemakers able to save money for the first time tripled to nearly 70 percent over the last year, Woodyard said. Several shoemaker’s children are attending college, and six of them will be the first college graduates in their families. 

At UM, Woodyard studied global economics and business, Spanish and Latin American studies at the Croft Institute for International Studies, a period he calls a very formative time in his life. He was challenged by his peers and also benefitted from many mentors across campus. He was exposed to many ideas and practices to help him understand how business and the international marketplace can be used as a force for good.

“After working on economic development initiatives in East Africa, rural Mississippi and inner-city Memphis, and throughout South America – all of which, in one way or another, were connected to the university – I found my calling while at Ole Miss,” he said. 

Woodyard’s story is fine example “of what an intelligent, hardworking young man or woman with a global perspective can do,” said Will Schenck, Croft associate director.

“We are happy to have been part of it. I am very impressed by Patrick’s ability to turn his passion for social and economic justice into a self-sustaining and ultimately profitable business. As he has demonstrated, there doesn’t have to be a contradiction between doing good and doing good business.”

Schenck remembers Woodyard’s leadership in international service as an undergraduate. He was involved in visiting and raising money and awareness for programs in Uganda. He studied Spanish for four years and studied in Argentina. He also worked on a micro-finance project in Peru after graduation.

Woodyard realized that there were many highly skilled shoemakers in Peru, but they had no access to global markets and many were poor.

“Patrick founded Nisolo to offer these shoemakers, their families and their communities a chance at economic improvement by marketing their shoes to consumers all over the world,” Schenck said.

The key to Woodyard’s success, and also the most impressive thing about the company, is the way the quality and appeal of their products are intrinsically connected to their model for the economic empowerment of partners in Peru, Schenck said. 

“Some social enterprises market their products by promising to donate goods to those in need; Nisolo pays its partners a more-than-fair wage for practicing the trade that has been passed down for generations,” he said. 

Jeff Jackson, associate professor of sociology, worked with Woodyard in 2009-2010 on his senior thesis examining the Argentinian soybean industry and the political and economic consequences of a soybean tax there. He credits Woodyard with inspiring other students to become involved in social entrepreneurship.

His former student also makes a fine product, he said.

“I bought a pair of his Nisolo shoes and they are among the most comfortable I have owned,” Jackson said. “I get compliments whenever I wear them. I currently have a Nisolo wallet in my pocket, which I also love.”

Woodyard has always worked with an imaginative curiosity and a steadfast determination, which has helped him succeed, said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

“He adjusted to disappointments with resolve and he finished his work with aplomb,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “I watched the creation and growth of Nisolo with amazement. It’s truly an outstanding accomplishment for a gifted young man.”

Free Workshop to Help Students Complete Federal Financial Aid Forms

FASTrack program partners with financial aid office for session

The FAFSA workshop will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 3) in Conner Hall, Room 12.

The FAFSA workshop will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 3) in Conner Hall, Room 12.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi FASTrack Program is partnering with the Office of Financial Aid for a workshop to help students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA.

The FAFSA workshop will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday (Feb. 3) in Conner Hall, Room 12. The FAFSA must be renewed each year, so the workshop is free and open to all Ole Miss students.

Students will be able to ask questions and get immediate answers from FAFSA experts from the Office of Financial Aid, as well as FASTrack staff.

“We want to empower our students by ensuring they understand the full picture of the cost of college,” said Gray Flora, FASTrack academic mentor and coordinator for the workshop. “One way to do that is to develop the habit of filling out the FAFSA early.”

The FASTrack Program prepares and supports freshman students, providing academic mentors and smaller class sizes.

While the event is free for UM students, all participants must RSVP online and receive a confirmation email. This will allow all participating students the time they will need to gather the necessary information to fill out the form, which is critical, said Nataša Novićević, senior financial aid adviser at the Office of Financial Aid.

“Completing the initial FAFSA application as accurately as possible reduces the need for future corrections and the possibility of being selected for the verification process by the U.S. Department of Education,” Novićević said.

Students will need either last year’s tax returns or an estimate of this year’s tax and income information. They will also need personal information for both the student and parents, including birthdates and social security numbers.

“One of the most difficult things for some students to understand is how to complete the parent section of the FAFSA,” Novićević said. “For example, if one’s parents are divorced, whichever parent the student lives with the majority of the calendar year is the primary parent. And if that parent is remarried, both parent and stepparent information is required.”

Another important change all students should keep in mind is that all FAFSA applicants, and their parents, need a Federal Student Aid ID, which is a new form of username and password required to sign the FAFSA. The process to apply for the FSA ID takes about 15 minutes, so all students and parents are encouraged to establish an FSA ID before the workshop.

For more information on the FAFSA, visit https://fafsa.gov. For more information about the FAFSA workshop, contact Gray Flora at egflora@olemiss.edu or Sara Baker at sebaker@olemiss.edu.