Cohen Named Dean of UM College of Liberal Arts

The former Texas Tech psychologist will lead university’s largest academic division beginning Aug. 1

Lee Cohen

Lee Cohen

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has hired Lee Cohen, professor and chair of Texas Tech University’s psychological sciences department, to become the next dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He is set to begin his new post Aug. 1. 

Cohen, who will also teach psychology, said he’s excited and humbled by the selection and looks forward to beginning his work at UM.

“I know that the appointment of a new dean is an important decision and I very much appreciate being given the opportunity to lead the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi,” Cohen said. “I am excited to get to work and learn all I can about the college as well as the traditions, legacies and history of Ole Miss.

“I am also very much looking forward to building upon existing relationships and forging new ones within the college and across the university and local community.” 

Cohen has demonstrated exemplary personal and professional qualities as a leader and an educator, and the university’s faculty and administration look forward to his arrival, said Morris Stocks, UM acting chancellor. 

“We are extremely pleased that Dr. Lee Cohen will be joining the University of Mississippi,” Stocks said. “He has excellent qualifications that will serve him well as he leads the College of Liberal Arts into the future. Dr. Cohen will bring a deep understanding of the values of a liberal education, as well as focused energy and enthusiasm for the continued transformation of our university.”

Acting Provost Noel Wilkin touted Cohen’s success as an administrator and also his distinguished career as a faculty member. 

“Dr. Cohen understands the important roles that faculty play on our campus and brings with him valuable experience that will serve him well as he assumes leadership of our largest academic unit on campus,” Wilkin said. 

Cohen holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of California at San Diego. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Oklahoma State University. For the past 15 years, he’s been a faculty member at Texas Tech. There, he has also served in administrative roles, which includes director of the nationally accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology, in addition to serving as chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences.

He has taught both undergraduate and graduate-level classes, and also has been involved in important research on nicotine addiction. He established a research program that explores the mechanisms that contribute to nicotine use, withdrawal and dependence. He said he has mainly been interested in identifying healthy alternative behaviors that complement smoking cessation efforts.

His wife, Michelle, is an occupational therapist and an assistant professor at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. The couple has three children: Ross, 12, Rachel, 9, and Rebecca, 3.

UM History Professor Named Distinguished Lecturer

Jarod Roll is third UM faculty member chosen for honor by the national organization

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi history professor Jarod Roll, who teaches about modern America, the South, religion and the working-class experience, has been named a 2015-2016 distinguished lecturer by the Organization of American Historians.

Jarod Roll

Jarod Roll

“The distinction came as a complete surprise to me,” said Roll, an associate professor at UM. “It is certainly an honor to be listed among so many terrific historians, and also very humbling. I look forward to sharing my work and insight into the historian’s craft with the audiences this program is intended to reach.”

The OAH Distinguished Lectureship Program is a speaker’s bureau dedicated to American history, which helps groups identify and contact leading historians who can share their expertise. The lecturers speak across the country each year, visiting both college campuses and undergraduate and graduate student conferences. They also appear at public events sponsored by historical societies, museums, libraries and humanities councils. The group named 48 OAH Distinguished Lecturers for 2015-2016.

Ted Ownby, UM professor of history and director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and UM Professor of History Emeritus Sheila Skemp previously served as OAH distinguished lecturers.

Roll wrote “Spirit of Rebellion: Labor and Religion in the New Cotton South,” which won the Herbert G. Gutman Prize, the Missouri History Book Award, and the C.L.R. James Award. He’s also coauthor of “The Gospel of the Working Class: Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America,” which received the H.L. Mitchell Prize from the Southern Historical Association.

His current project, “Poor Man’s Fortune: America’s Anti-Union Miners,” explores the long history of working-class conservatism in base metal mining.

Some of Roll’s lectures are “The Other Lost Cause: Southern Labor and Working Class History,” “Missouri Miners Breaking Bad: How the ‘Show-Me-State’ Got Its Name,” “Labor’s Southern Prophets in New Deal America” and “The Alchemy of America’s Lead Rush: When Miners Turned Hard Rock into Gold.”

Joseph P. Ward, professor and chair of the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History at UM, said the honor for Roll is no surprise. 

“This is a fantastic honor for Professor Roll, who in his short time on our faculty has already built upon his strong reputation as a scholar and teacher of modern American history,” Ward said. 

The group, which was founded in 1907 and is headquartered at the historic Raintree House on Indiana University’s Bloomington campus, is described as the world’s largest professional association dedicated to American history and scholarship. It has more than 7,800 members from the United States and abroad.

UM Students Land Fulbright and Boren Scholarships

Prestigious awards will allow three recipients to travel and study abroad

OXFORD, Miss. – Three University of Mississippi students, members of both the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies, have been awarded prestigious scholarships to teach and study abroad.

Joseph Troisi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Jordan Troisi. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Jordan Nicholas Troisi of Wasilla, Alaska, and Colby Woods of Olive Branch were awarded Fulbright U.S. Student Awards to teach English as a second language, and Steven James Mockler of Ocean Springs received a Boren Scholarship to fund his capstone year in the Chinese Language Flagship Program.

The awards are not surprising because the University of Mississippi prepares students to pursue their ambitions outside the United States, said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Honors College.

“These successes are evidence that the University of Mississippi nurtures students who are not afraid to test themselves at a global level, and that, here at UM, they will learn skills they’ll need in order to succeed in meeting those challenges,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said.

Troisi, a graduate student seeking a master’s degree in modern languages, also is the coordinator of recruitment and admissions for the Honors College. He plans to spend a year, and possibly more, in Kahramanmaras, Turkey, teaching English and conducting research on Turkish higher education. During his time at UM, he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and an honorary inductee into Order of Omega. He plans to pursue a doctorate in international education upon his return from Turkey.

Troisi said he would have not applied or been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship had it not been for the faculty, staff and students of the Honors College.

“Receiving the Fulbright is not an end but a beginning, an unwritten book in which all of the Fulbright Scholars will write chapters,” Troisi said. “Ultimately, one year from now, as I am boarding a plane back to the United States, I want to be able to say that I made a difference in Turkey and that Turkey made a difference in me.”

Colby Woods. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Colby Woods. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Woods, a 2014 UM graduate in international studies and German who studied abroad as an undergraduate, plans to return to Germany to teach English and take classes at local university. As an undergraduate, he was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the Chancellor’s Leadership Class and Freshman Focus, and received a Taylor Medal. Woods developed a passion for teaching while working with the Sunflower County Freedom Project, a nonprofit organization that uses education to empower middle and high school students in the Mississippi Delta.

The Fulbright Scholarship presents an opportunity to continue what he has already started, Woods said.

“When I left Germany, there was still so much I wanted to see and accomplish,” Woods said. “Every day in Germany will present new challenges, especially with my high expectations for the year, but I’m really looking forward to it. I hope to use this opportunity to its fullest potential.”

Steven Mockler

Steven Mockler

Mockler, a 2015 graduate in Chinese and international studies, will use the scholarship to complete his capstone year in China. A member of Phi Kappa Phi and Order of Omega, he spent the fall of 2014 studying at Middlebury C.V. Starr School in Kunming, China. Upon his return from China, Mockler plans to fulfill his commitment to government service and give back to his community by volunteering with AmeriCorps VISTA.

The goals of the Boren Scholarship complement the work Mockler has done at UM and his career goals, he said.

“For a group that’s never met me, that doesn’t know me like my family, friends and professors do, to say they believe in me and trust me to be cultural ambassador for the United States and a future federal servant; well, it’s a huge vote of confidence and immensely satisfying, to say the least,” Mockler said.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between Americans and people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Boren Scholarship recipients receive up to $20,000 to study abroad in areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and underrepresented in study abroad, including Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. In exchange for funding, Boren award recipients agree to work in the national security arena of the federal government for at least one year.

Students interested in applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Award or a Boren Scholarship or Fellowship are encouraged to contact the Office of National Scholarship Advisement at

Doctoral Students Win Prestigious Fellowships

Brian Cook and Helen Davies will study medieval literature this summer in Britain

 Brian Cook and Helen Davies

Brian Cook and Helen Davies, recipients of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, head to Britain this summer to study medieval literature.

OXFORD, Miss. – Two doctoral students from the University of Mississippi Department of English are studying medieval literature this summer in Britain, thanks to fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Helen Davies and Brian Cook will have firsthand access to medieval archaeological sites, sculptures, manuscripts and texts, and a rare opportunity to extend beyond their curriculum at UM to work with top scholars in Celtic studies across the Atlantic.

They will embark on a monthlong journey through Belfast, the Isle of Man and Glasgow in a unique, interdisciplinary training environment across such fields as literature, history, linguistics, art and art history, and archaeology.

Davies and Cook are doing innovative work that speaks to the goals of this NEH seminar and they will absorb a myriad of benefits in their fields of study from the experience, said Lindy Brady, UM assistant professor of English.

“This NEH seminar in particular stresses the multicultural nature of early medieval Britain,” Brady said. “It is an under-explored area of study in which Brian and Helen are both doing exciting work.”

Cook, a Chicago native, is working on a dissertation focusing on literary representations of the past in the medieval literatures of the early British Isles. He has worked with literature written in Old and Middle English, Medieval Irish, Medieval Welsh, Old Norse and Insular Latin.

Having the chance to reread and discuss medieval texts such as “Beowulf,” Njáls Saga,” the Táin Bó Cúailnge,” “The Mabinogion” and the works of the “Pearl” poet as part of the medieval culture they existed in and discover aspects of cultural exchange throughout compelled Cook to apply for the fellowship, he said.

“This is the ideal seminar to prepare me for the kind of scholar I see myself becoming,” Cook said. “My primary interest is in the multicultural Middle Ages, specifically the multilingual British Isles where a number of Celtic languages exist alongside Old English, Old Norse, Latin and, after the Norman invasion, Anglo-Norman.”

After the monthlong seminar, Cook plans to stay in Glasgow to present at the 15th International Congress of Celtic Studies hosted by the University of Glasgow before heading off to an intensive modern Irish language immersion program in Galway.

Davies, a Cincinnati native, is just beginning her dissertation project, which combines literary studies and digital humanities methodologies in examining early medieval literary and visual representations of space and place.

She wants to experience medieval texts in conjunction with the surrounding landscape with new scholars, and to acquire a greater understanding and appreciation for medieval documents through intellectual discussions with experts in the field.

“The fellowship presents a rare opportunity to gain a specific knowledge of how medieval texts interacted with each other and the landscape across cultural boundaries throughout the British Isles,” Davies said. “Additionally, it provides a unique chance to witness firsthand the preservation of medieval manuscripts and artifacts.”

Once Davies’ seminar is finished, she also plans to present at the 15th International Congress of Celtic Studies before taking her place in the Mellon-funded York Archbishop’s Registers Revealed Summer Institute, which will keep her studying abroad until early August.

According to Brady, these NEH summer seminars are usually awarded to experienced college and university professors, so Davies’ and Cook’s acceptances as doctoral students speaks to the advanced nature of their research agendas and the strength of their applications.

“Most of the other participants in this NEH seminar will be college or university professors already,” Brady said. “The benefits to Helen’s and Brian’s futures as scholars and teachers will be innumerable, and I could not be more proud of these two exceptional students for this remarkable achievement.”

Ivo Kamps, UM English chair, said he cannot recall an instance in the last 25 years where two grad students were offered an NEH fellowship, which makes their accomplishments even more remarkable.

“It’s incredibly impressive that Helen Davies and Brian Cook are being given the opportunity to travel to Great Britain to study with expert medievalists,” Kamps said. “It speaks to Davies’ and Cook’s advanced level of preparedness, and to the outstanding work done by our medieval studies faculty – Drs. Lindy Brady, Mary Hayes and Gregory Heyworth – to prepare them for this professional opportunity.”

UM, Chinese University Form Educational Collaborative

UM accord with North China University of Technology yields research and study abroad opportunities

University of Mississippi Provost Morris Stocks, left, and North China University of Technology Vice President Luo Xueke, right, sign an educational collaboration agreement.

UM Provost Morris Stocks, left, and North China University of Technology Vice President Luo Xueke sign an educational collaboration agreement.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has signed an agreement with North China University of Technology in Beijing to establish an international partnership for education, research and development, which takes effect this fall.

NCUT Vice President Luo Xueke and NCUT Director of International Programs Jiaquan Xiong met Wednesday (June 3) with UM Provost Morris Stocks and other members of UM’s leadership team in the Lyceum, where the memorandum of agreement was signed.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to join in a collaborative agreement with North China University of Technology,” Stocks said. “This will give us an opportunity to bring 15 to 20 of their students to visit with us each year, and it will also give study abroad opportunities to our students.”

Chinese students will study at UM, with their tuition being funded through a scholarship from the Chinese government. The agreement also provides opportunities for UM students to study at NCUT. UM faculty will be able to teach in Beijing during intersessions or summer terms, and NCUT faculty could also teach at UM. On Wednesday, the two parties also discussed the establishment of an international education center at NCUT to serve both universities.

The memorandum is another important step in UM’s effort to grow its international student population, Stocks said. The university has set a goal of doubling the current international student enrollment of nearly 1,000 from 92 countries in five years. Officials from the UM Office of Global Engagement have ventured into India and China to recruit freshman students from high-performing secondary schools.

The UM Office of Global Engagement is also partnering with schools, universities and media, as well as government and private agencies in target recruitment countries, with the goal of promoting the UM brand and its reputation for academic excellence.

“NCUT already knew about our university when we contacted them,” said Nosa O. Egiebor, UM senior international officer, executive director of the Office of Global Engagement and professor of chemical engineering.

Egiebor notes the new accord is aimed at facilitating international collaboration and partnership between the two institutions on all aspects of global education, research and development. Its provisions are as follows:

  • Enabling NCUT students to study at UM as exchange students for two years with full sponsorship provided through the Beijing Municipal Government Study Abroad Scholarship award. The first batch of 15 to 25 students will begin their two-year study in the fall 2015 semester.
  • Allow NCUT undergraduate students to transfer to UM to seek degrees in various academic disciplines. The students will be required to meet all UM admission conditions before commencement of their studies.
  • Facilitate study abroad and possible student exchange opportunities for UM students wishing to study at NCUT for international academic and cultural competencies.
  • Facilitate exchange of faculty members as research and visiting scholars between the two institutions.
  • Facilitate other possible international exchange and collaborative programs that are of mutual interest to both institutions as agreed upon.
  • Cooperate in the further development of the two institutions as international universities.
  • Broaden the experience of faculty and students of both institutions by providing them with opportunities for increased cultural understanding.

Jiaquan Xiong said following the signing that he believes the agreement can provide many long-term benefits for both universities.

“We’re very glad to sign the agreement between our universities,”Jiaquan Xiong said. “It now means we have established the formal relationship and in the future, we can develop a long, long collaborative with programs that will be beneficial to both our universities’ students and faculty members.”

William Winter Documentary Wins Emmy

Film examines political life and achievements of former governor

matthew emmy2

Matthew Graves

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi film that chronicles former Gov. William Winter’s role as a leader in education reform, economic development and racial reconciliation has won an Emmy for best historical documentary by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

“The Toughest Job: William Winter’s Mississippi” was made by Matthew Graves, a filmmaker at the Southern Documentary Project, an institute of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Winners of the 2015 Southeast Emmy Awards were announced Saturday (June 6) in Atlanta.

Utilizing materials from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and interviews with Winter, Elise Winter, Vernon Jordan, Dick Molpus, Myrlie Evers-Williams, Ray Mabus, Reuben V. Anderson, Charles Overby, President Bill Clinton and others, the film examines the political life and policy accomplishments of one of Mississippi’s most progressive leaders.

“It’s been a remarkable challenge attempting to condense a whole life’s worth of passion, bitter defeats, and momentous victories into an hourlong documentary but I feel very satisfied with what we’ve created,” Graves said. “To me, it’s a thrilling story of perseverance and leadership and is truly a testament to what is possible in this state.”

Winter, born in Grenada in 1923, earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from UM. He entered politics in 1947 when he was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives. He served as state tax collector and state treasurer before serving as governor from 1980 to 1984. He was also appointed to then-President Bill Clinton’s advisory board on race.

UM is home to the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation. Founded in 1999, the institute “builds more inclusive communities by promoting diversity and citizenship and by supporting projects that help communities solve local challenges.”

Andy Mullins, a fixture in Mississippi education circles for decades, praised his longtime friend’s leadership and dedication. Mullins, assistant director of the Mississippi Teacher Corps at UM, served as chief of staff or special assistant to former UM chancellors Gerald Turner and Robert Khayat, as well as chief of staff to Chancellor Dan Jones, and worked with Winter over the years.

“William Winter is and has been for seven decades the quintessential leader,” Mullins said. “During his long life of service, he has had all the qualities a leader needed to be successful in a state like Mississippi. The main attribute that he had to have that politicians often find daunting was courage. He put his political career on the line for the sake of Mississippi’s children.”

This film fits perfectly into the Southern Documentary Project’s mission of Mississippians telling Mississippi stories, said Andy Harper, the program’s director.

“I think it is vitally important that we document the stories of leaders like William Winter,” Harper said. “Gov. Winter felt a moral obligation to provide all Mississippians an adequate education and he worked tirelessly towards that end. It is our obligation to tell his story.”

The film, executive produced by Harper and David Crews, had its broadcast premiere in October 2014 on Mississippi Public Broadcasting. It has since been screened at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and at the Overby Center for Journalism and Politics at UM.

View a trailer on the film’s website.

UM Alumnus is First Mississippian to Land German Chancellor Fellowship

Deeneaus Polk plans to use yearlong opportunity to study workforce and vocational educational systems

OXFORD, Miss. – Deeneaus Polk, a 2011 University of Mississippi graduate and Pascagoula native, has been selected for an exclusive German Chancellor Fellowship that will take him to Germany for a year of study and research on a project of his own creation.

Pascagoula native Deeneaus Polk is the first Mississippian to be the recipient of the German Chancellor’s Fellowship.

Deeneaus Polk is the first Mississippian to receive a German Chancellor Fellowship.

 The fellowship is a program created by the German chancellor and is managed by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The opportunity is available to individuals from Brazil, Russia, India, China and the United States interested in leadership in the areas of politics, economics, media, administration and culture. Polk is among 50 fellows worldwide this year and is the first Mississippian to be chosen for this fellowship.

“To be the first to receive this fellowship from Mississippi is an honor and a pleasure I can’t quite put into words,” Polk said. “It’ll be my job to ensure that I’m not the last Mississippian to receive this fellowship.”

Polk is a graduate of Pascagoula High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies at UM and was a member of both the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Also in 2011, he was awarded a yearlong Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Germany.

“I have always been very interested in bringing the world to Mississippi in ways that will change lives,” Polk said. “This opportunity represents a way for me to do that.”

He added that his previous experience in Germany changed his life and allowed him to experience a different culture.

Polk’s selection is a triumph for both the university and for the entire state, said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Honors College.

“The SMB Honors College takes a great deal of pride in nurturing the citizen scholars who will be changing Mississippi and the world, for the better,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “Deeneaus Polk has courage, intelligence and a bone-deep commitment to that change. What a great coup for him and for all of us at the University of Mississippi!”

Polk said his motivation for applying for the program is to make a difference in Mississippi.

“The time I spent at Ole Miss really exposed me to a side of Mississippi I’d never seen before,” he explained. “I came to realize that Mississippi, where magnolia trees sway gracefully to the silent whisper of gentle morning flurries, is also heavily defined by gaps. These gaps come in many shapes and sizes.

“There are racial gaps that continue to persist long after the end of slavery. There are wealth gaps within which the divide between the rich and poor continues to grow. An education gap also exists, which calcifies the cyclical nature of poverty. It was during my Fulbright year in Germany that I came to believe that Mississippi is capable of much more and decided to endeavor to make these hopes and dreams a reality as well.”

Polk will be researching the German workforce and vocational education systems, hoping to return with knowledge of concepts and principles to develop a similar system in Mississippi through the analysis of agriculture, manufacturing, logistics and transportation.

“I am absolutely delighted for our 2011 alumnus Deeneaus Polk and very proud of this fantastic award, one of the most prestigious and competitive fellowships in the world for young leaders,” said Kees Gispen, executive director of the Croft Institute. “It is a great honor for him – and also for us – that he was selected for the German Chancellor Fellowship. Deeneaus is an exceptional individual with superb leadership potential.”

Gispen said Deeneaus has been recognized before for his potential. In 2008, he was the recipient of a Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship and received a fellowship from the Institute for International Public Policy while studying at Croft.

“Anyone who really knows him won’t be too surprised by this latest recognition of his talents, for Deeneaus has not only a great deal of charisma but also the vision and determination to help move the state forward,” Gispen said. “This is great news for Deeneaus, for the university and, most importantly, for Mississippi as a whole.”

Computer Science Student Part of Nationally-Recognized Chapter

Chapter works to foster good cross-cultural relationships on campus

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi student-led organization that strives to improve Sino-American relations was awarded the most outstanding chapter of its kind at Yale University’s Global China Connection World Fair.

GBC tent

The UM Global China Connection has been named the most outstanding chapter of its kind. Photo courtesy of UM Global China Connection.

The university’s Global China Connection chapter was named the best at the conference, where the quality of 60 active chapters from top-tier universities around the world was evaluated. The UM group bested University of Pennsylvania’s chapter, which placed second, and New York University’s, at third.

“We’ve been holding events on campus to try to foster friendships between Chinese students, whether they be Chinese-Americans or Chinese foreign exchange students, and American students,” said Will Foley, a senior computer science and linguistics major from Petal. “Some of the main things we’ve done are tents in the Grove with Chinese cuisines and had get-togethers, but we’ve also had meetings and more formal gatherings, too. We want to build friendships, but we also want to raise awareness about issues critical to Sino-American relations.”

The group holds an international conference each year. The most recent was in February at Vanderbilt University. In February 2016, UM will host the international conference, which will draw GCC chapters from around the world.

Foley, also a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, helped found the chapter here two years ago with fellow student Frank Anderson. The group has about 25 students involved and focuses mainly on fellowship and important discussions about issues affecting relationships between China and the United States. Foley said he expects the group’s efforts to expand as the chapter grows stronger in coming years.

The chapter has worked hard to foster good relationships between Chinese and American students, said Johnathan Larkin, a junior economics and liberal studies major from St. Louis who is also in the Honors College. The interactions provide an invaluable opportunity for genuine connections, which helps promote greater understanding about the two cultures.

“These relationships on campus are especially important to me because they provide a real experience that you can’t get through a book, online article or history professor,” Larkin said. “That’s the game changer in my mind.”

Mark Chen, chair and professor of the UM Department of Public Policy Leadership, works with the student organization and said the group is very deserving of the award.

“The success of UM chapter as one of the newest chapters of Global China Connection could be attributed to the leadership of the UM chapter, teamwork and their care about the future of the world,” Chen said. “Our UM chapter students surely understand that future starts today with them and it is important for them to connect and network in a communication age and global society.”

Students Present Range of Studies at Neuroscience Research Showcase

First-ever event for UM program raises awareness, provides opportunities for collaboration


The neuroscience research showcase is a tremendous learning opportunity for students.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s minor program in neuroscience recently hosted its first-ever research showcase, which gave about 20 students an opportunity to present their own studies to a panel of faculty judges.

The event also allowed faculty to give presentations and show posters about their research and talk about the overall scope of activities in their respective labs. One goal of the event is to help raise awareness about the neuroscience minor across campus.

“We hope collaborations might form out of these interactions during the event,” said Lainy Day, associate professor of biology and director of the university’s neuroscience program.

Rich Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said the neuroscience research showcase is a tremendous learning opportunity for students.

“The showcase is important since undergraduate research is increasingly valued for graduate school admissions,” Forgette said. “The college is grateful to Professor Day and others for enriching our neuroscience program and supporting undergraduate research.”

Participants came from several university departments, including biology, psychology, communication sciences and disorders, biomolecular sciences, and pharmaceutics and drug delivery. Toshikazu Ikuta, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders; Janet Lambert, associate research development biologist; and John C. Garner, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, all served as judges at the event.

“It was encouraging and exciting to see the depth and passion for neuroscience research from the students,” Garner said. “They all did a very nice job with all aspects of their presentations and the question-and-answer session, making it very difficult to choose the winners.”

The following students won awards at the research showcase:

  • Amy Hribar, a graduate student in biology, won first place overall and first place in the behavioral neuroscience category for a presentation on “Bird on Live Wire: Cued Fear Conditioning in the Zebra Finch.”
  • Goutham R. Adelli, a pharmacy graduate student, won second place overall for a presentation titled “Ex vivo and In vivo Evaluation of Topical Hesperetin Matrix Film for Back-of-the-Eye Delivery.”
  • Glendin Pano, a senior biology major, won third place overall and second place in behavioral neuroscience for a presentation on “The Sexiest Birds Have the Largest Brains: A Positive Relationship between Display Complexity and Brain Volume in Manakins.”
  • Megan Jones, a senior biology major, won third place in behavioral neuroscience for a presentation titled “Male Lays Eggs: Chromosomal and Mate Preference Abnormalities in a Chimeric Zebra Finch Lineage.”
  • Walid Alsharif, a pharmacy graduate student, won first place in applied neuroscience for a presentation titled “Development of Dual Sigma Receptor Antagonist Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor as Potential Treatment for Stimulant Abuse.”
  • Pankaj Pandey, a pharmacy graduate student, won second place in applied neuroscience for a presentation on “Protein Structure-Based Virtual Screening: Identification of Natural Product-Derived Hits as Cannabinoid Receptor 1 Modulators.”

The wide range of research presented at the showcase demonstrates how many academic departments conduct neuroscience research in which students enrolled in the minor program can participate, Day said.

“These posters show you the variability within neuroscience and why we need this interdisciplinary neuroscience minor because people in the field of neuroscience are spread between at least four schools and eight departments,” Day said. “We want people to understand there’s a connection between all the areas of neuroscience, even if on the surface it doesn’t seem that way.”

Blues Legend B.B. King Lives on at Ole Miss

B.B. King continues to inspire through his collection in the Ole Miss Blues Archive

Trailblazer, celebrated Mississippian and blues legend B.B. King passed away in his sleep on May 14. He died peacefully at 89 after a half-century career of moving audiences with his music and live performances. But the thrill isn’t gone, B.B.; it’s just found in a different place.

For those not aware, between 1982 and 1983, King donated 8,000 sound recordings from his personal collection to UM’s Blues Archive, which, including King’s generous donation, features more than 60,000 sound recordings, 20,000 photographs and 1,000 videos housed at the J.D Williams Library. The Blues Archive is one of the world’s largest public collections of blues recordings, publications and memorabilia.

B.B. King performing live, date unknown. Photo courtesy of UM Blues Archive in Special Collections at J.D. Williams Library.

B.B. King performing live, date unknown. Photo courtesy of UM Blues Archive in the J.D. Williams Library.

Greg Johnson, blues curator at J.D. Williams Library and associate professor, has had the unique ability to wade through King’s collection to honor the great musician and witness the lasting footprint of an icon.

“The amount of people he influenced and the reach of his music cannot be diminished,” Johnson said. “B.B. was a lifelong learner. He always tried to better himself. In his collection he had countless records trying to teach himself while constantly on the road performing.”

Brett Bonner, editorial director at Living Blues Magazine, also worked for a short time at the Blues Archive and has seen his fair share of the monstrous collection.

“You can tell a lot about a man by his record collection,” Bonner said. “While working on the radio show ‘Highway 61′ with Bill Ferris (first director of Southern studies and the Blues Archive), I was able to look and pull from B.B.’s collection as far as I wanted. It featured thousands of LPs. I felt I learned more about him looking through his collection; I could figure out what kind of music excited and influenced him.”

King has always been regarded as a kind and gracious man, always treating people the right way, but he was also an avid learner. It is fitting that UM is able to house and chronicle his unique collection since it features not only recordings of other musicians, but also albums, manuscripts and materials signifying how King never stopped learning.

“He always tried to better himself,” Johnson said. “In his collection, I found foreign language albums that he would study to learn common phrases in order to speak to audiences when he would tour around the world.”

“I found a pilot book because B.B. was a trained pilot,” Bonner said. “And you wouldn’t believe it, but I also found a copy of an album detailing how to play the guitar!”

King made it a point to come back to Mississippi. In 2004, the university gave him the title of Honorary Professor of Southern Studies, one of many distinguished titles he had received from numerous universities. Johnson publicly interviewed King for the ceremony.

“It is a testament to the various universities honoring him with degrees and doctorates,” Johnson said. “When I got to publicly interview him, he was such a gracious and kind man, very down to earth.”

“B.B. would always come back to give concerts,” Bonner said. “Whether it was his homecoming concert in Indianola or the Medgar Evers Memorial Blues Concert, B.B. felt it was really important for him to be there.”

King influenced millions of people with his music. Countless musical genres, such as rock ‘n’ roll, R&B, gospel, jazz and more, can thank the work of King and his beloved Gibson guitar, Lucille.

“The amount of people he influenced and the reach of his music is unbelievable,” Johnson said. “Blues is the biggest cultural export of the state, and B.B. truly was an ambassador. He wasn’t one just for the blues or Mississippi, but for the entire United States.”

So whether in Mississippi, California or even Russia, people around the world will still find solace in the music King made, knowing he is in a better place.

For more heartfelt responses from UM and its family on the passing of B.B. King, read Johnson’s blog,