UM Physicists Celebrate Advance in Search for Gravitational Waves

Seven years in making, international collaboration yields futuristic technology

Photo Illustration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UM Students Start Coaching for Literacy Chapter

Group focusing its efforts in state, with funding going to three Mississippi-based partners

University of Mississippi students, mostly from Sigma Nu, Phi Delta Theta, and Kappa Alpha fraternities, have started a chapter of a new nonprofit group called “Coaching For Literacy" to raise money for literacy efforts across Mississippi.

University of Mississippi students, mostly from Sigma Nu, Phi Delta Theta, and Kappa Alpha fraternities, have started a chapter of a new nonprofit group called Coaching For Literacy to raise money for literacy efforts across Mississippi.

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students have started a chapter of a new nonprofit group to raise money for literacy efforts across the state by raffling off the opportunity for fans to become an “assistant coach” during an Ole Miss sporting event.

Matt Bolton, an Ole Miss sophomore from Memphis, started the chapter of the nonprofit Coaching for Literacy with fellow sophomores Conner Adkins of Jackson, Tennessee, and Wade Meena of Jackson, Mississippi. Bolton is president, and Adkins and Meena serve as vice presidents. They’ve been working with James-Roland Markos, who is president of the Interfraternity Council and the Associated Student Body cabinet’s director of athletics.

Coaching for Literacy, which also has chapters at Vanderbilt University, Southern Methodist University and Mississippi State University, cites staggering data. The group estimates that 32 million, or 1 in 7, American adults can’t read. They also believe 19 percent of today’s high school graduates are functionally illiterate. They also say two thirds of students who can’t read well by the end of the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

“Illiteracy is a huge problem,” Bolton said. “If you can’t read, you can’t fill out a job application. You’re pretty much stuck. Illiteracy is something tangible we can work on.”

The group describes its mission as being to increase awareness about the number of Americans who are functionally or totally illiterate and the social problems associated with illiteracy. They leverage “the unique power of collegiate and professional sports” to raise money for effective local literacy programs and schools that work with elementary and middle school students. 

Coaching for Literacy was started by SMU basketball player Jonathan Wilfong and Andrew Renshaw, a Vanderbilt student. While in high school at Memphis University School, Wilfong and Renshaw were challenged by a teacher to make a difference in the world. They formed the chapter in August 2013. Bolton was a classmate of Wilfong and Renshaw at MUS. 

The Ole Miss chapter is made up of 16 students, mostly members of Sigma Nu, Phi Delta Theta and Kappa Alpha fraternities. They’ve held one auction already, which gave someone the chance to be with Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy when the Rebels took on Georgia in February at Tad Smith Coliseum.

“Most efforts in life are not successful without the coordination of a great team of individuals, each possessing specific skills and gifts, which they give to support the greater goal of the team,” said Ryan Viner, executive director of Coaching for Literacy. 

“This effort to allocate nearly $15,000 to Mississippi-based literacy programs would not have been a success without the literacy programs, our corporate sponsor, C Spire, Ole Miss Athletics, the administration and the students of the University of Mississippi, the support of the Oxford community and the work of the Ole Miss Coaching for Literacy Chapter.”

That raffle raised more than $17,000 through the sale of $10 raffle tickets, which were mostly bought by Ole Miss students. Of the proceeds, nearly $15,000 was allocated to three Mississippi literacy partners. 

Leap Frog Oxford, an Oxford tutoring and mentoring program for first-, second- and third-graders, received help starting a summer program for students.

“We recently lost a funder, as frequently happens with nonprofits, and were in search of funding to keep the program afloat,” said Teresa Adams, Leap Frog Oxford executive director. “I cannot tell you how much it meant to receive financial support from CFL. We are now able to serve our very deserving students and continue with our plans for a summer program.”

The Barksdale Reading Institute received help with an electronic library project in Quitman County.

The Mississippi Children’s Museum’s summer literacy program, called “Planting Seeds to Read,” also received funds. The program gives reading help and school supplies to children in kindergarten and first grade who are struggling in Jackson public schools. 

“Literacy is one of our key initiatives and our exhibits, programming and outreach efforts all correlate with each other to encourage early language skills development,” said Susan Garrard, Mississippi Children’s Museum president. “Our staff work especially hard planning experiences that encourage children to not only develop reading proficiency but also to discover the delight that stories and reading can bring.”

The UM chapter of Coaching for Literacy has purposely focused its work on Mississippi, which often ranks low in national literacy studies.

“It stays in Mississippi,” Markos said. “We do what we can locally, but it also has an impact statewide. It’s not just Oxford. We care about the whole state.”

They believe their efforts can grow exponentially and they’ve received support for the idea from the UM Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. 

“We are excited to once again partner with Coaching for Literacy in order to bring attention and support to a very worthy cause,” Ole Miss head basketball coach Andy Kennedy said. “The ability to read and write at a productive level is the foundation from which all success is achieved. Coaching for Literacy’s mission is to aid in this fundamental skill and we wanted to be involved in that pursuit.”

Miss University Delivers 1,600 Books to Delta Schools

Miss University France Beard and James C. Rosser Elementary School Principal Angela Winters.

France Beard and Angela Winters, principal at James C. Rosser Elementary School, look over some of the books Beard delivered to the school.

Miss University France Beard visited the Mississippi Delta earlier this week to deliver more than 1,600 books to schools in need.

Beard organized book drives in her hometown of Madison and in Oxford, the latter through the service honor society Gamma Beta Phi at the University of Mississippi. After research and several phone calls, she determined that Moorhead Middle School, James C. Rosser Elementary School, Quitman Elementary School and Quitman County Middle School had the greatest need for new books.

Miss University France Beard reads to a second grade class at Quitman Elementary School.

France Beard reads to a second-grade class at Quitman Elementary School.

“I think the best way to overcome illiteracy in Mississippi is to provide the tools the students need,” Beard said. “Stocking libraries makes a lasting difference. That’s the first step to take, especially in schools that need it.”

Beard plans to deliver more books later this month to Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson.

English Instructor Wins Statewide Poetry Prize

Poet Tim Earley credits state's literary influences with shaping his work

UM English Instructor Tim Earley is the 2015 recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters poetry award.

Tim Earley is the 2015 recipient of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters poetry award.

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi English instructor and former graduate student Tim Earley is among the 2015 honorees in the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters‘ awards program.

The organization honors the state’s best writers, artists and musicians in seven categories with its MIAL Awards. Earley is the recipient of this year’s poetry award for his book “Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery” (Horse Less Press, 2014).

Living in Mississippi has greatly influenced his work, said Earley, who moved to Oxford in 2007.

“Interacting with the wonderful young writers the university’s M.F.A. program brings to Oxford, closely engaging with the work of Mississippi writers like Barry Hannah and Larry Brown, taking Friday night sojourns down to Red’s Lounge in Clarksdale, and teaching both in Oxford and at our outreach campuses in Grenada and Tupelo have brought me into close contact with the abiding creative and cultural energy this state breeds,” Earley said. “Living here has allowed me to write about my own postage stamp of native soil, the former textile mill communities in the foothills of North Carolina, with more clarity and intensity.”

Poetry competition judge and acclaimed poet Jason Koo had high praise for Earley’s work.

“Part Henry Miller, part Rimbaud, part Whitman, part Joyce, all swirled into the ‘poor, rude clown’ of mad John Clare resurrected and rampaging through the ‘post-natal slime’ of the American South, Tim Earley reinvents or damn near obliterates the prose poem in ‘Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery,'” Koo said. “Every sentence in this book is alive and creepy-crawly with creation, belying the book’s title, because there is nothing ‘descriptive,’ but detonating, about what these poems do to the language and landscape. … This is a book like no other.”

Earley is a strong member of Oxford’s literary community, said Beth Ann Fennelly, UM associate professor of English and director of the M.F.A. program.

“This award is our most important statewide award, and we are very proud that one of our former M.F.A. students has won this,” Fennelly said. “Tim makes a big impact on the University of Mississippi in many different ways and the book for which he won the award is deserving of the highest praise.”

Earley will be presented his award during a ceremony June 6 in Hattiesburg.

UM Economics Instructor Wins Excellence in Teaching Award

Yan Li honored for dedication to students, curriculum and instruction

Yan Li

Yan Li

OXFORD, Miss. – Yan Li is the recipient of the University of Mississippi’s 2015 Graduate Instructor Excellence in Teaching Award.

Li was recognized during the doctoral hooding ceremony Friday (May 8) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to being presented a trophy and $1,000, Li’s name is being added to the perpetual plaque displayed in the J.D. Williams Library and posted on the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning website.

“I was ecstatic,” Li said upon learning of her recognition. “When I teach and help students to make progress, it’s like I make a difference every single day. Hence, I find teaching to be very fulfilling.”

A native of China, Li earned her bachelor’s degree from Nanchang University in China and her master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati. A fifth-year economics doctoral candidate at UM, she graduates this summer.

“I have taught principle of microeconomics for six semesters at the University of Mississippi,” she said. “My passion for teaching not only comes from the content of the course, but mostly stems from the interaction with students. I believe all my students, with effort, can make great achievement.”

Li is considering multiple job offers after graduation, including one from the Mississippi Department of Education.

“I have given this offer a lot of consideration,” she said. “It would be an exciting experience joining the MDOE to continue my passion for students and education. It would be very rewarding to impact the younger generation on education by utilizing my Ph.D. training in economic research.”

Colleagues said she is most deserving of the accolade.

“Ms. Li is a highly regarded and effective instructor that is always willing to go an extra mile for her students,” said Joe Moen, chair and professor of economics. “She consistently obtains some of the highest teaching evaluations in the department.”

“Approximately 90 percent of her students recently ranked her as superior or excellent,” said Walter Mayer, professor of economics and graduate program coordinator. “Her effectiveness is also supported by department faculty who have attended and reviewed her classes.”

For more information about UM’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, go to or call 662-915-1391.

Six Freshmen Honored for Leadership, Academic Excellence

Omicron Delta Kappa honor society presents annual awards

(Left to Right) Olivia Dear, Christopher Feazell, Dillon Hall, Alexis Smith, Loden Snell

This year’s honorees include (left to right) Olivia Dear, Christopher Feazell, Dillon Hall, Alexis Smith and Loden Snell.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society has honored six students for their academic performance, leadership and community involvement.

This year’s recipients of ODK Freshman Leader Awards are Olivia Dear of Madison, Seth Dickinson of Mantachie, Christopher Feazell of Mendenhall, Dillon Hall of Saltillo, Alexis Smith of Picayune and Loden Snell of Ridgeland.

“These six students are among many outstanding freshmen here at the university,” said Ryan Upshaw, ODK adviser and assistant dean for student services in the School of Engineering. “Our society is excited to be able to recognize their outstanding contributions during their first year on campus. We also look forward to their potential membership in our society later in their college career.”

Dear, a graduate of Madison Central High School, is president of ASB Freshman Council and serves on the Chi Omega sorority philanthropy committee. A member of Lambda Sigma honor society, she is a Provost Scholar and on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll. An English and journalism major, she volunteers with Leap Frog, Hermitage Gardens and the Oxford Humane Society.

“I’m really grateful to receive the ODK Freshman Leader Award,” Dear said. “It was a really motivating award to get, and now I am excited to spend the next three years engaging in activities that serve the student body even more.”

Dickinson attended Mendenhall High School. He is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Trent Lott Leadership Institute and is an Honors College Freshman Senator. A public policy leadership major, he is a recipient of a Lott Scholarship and is an Ole Miss Ambassador, member of Delta Psi fraternity and on the Dean’s Honor Roll. He volunteers with Brookdale Oxford retirement community.

Seth Dickinson

Seth Dickinson

Feazell, an accountancy major, attended Mendenhall High School. He is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Luckyday Success Program, National Association of Black Accountants, Undergraduate Black Law Students Association and Lambda Sigma honors society. He is a LuckyDay Scholar, on the Chancellor’s Honor Roll, a Rebel Quest counselor and a volunteer tutor for business calculus.

A graduate of Saltillo High School, Hall is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Center for Manufacturing Excellence, Engineering Student Body Leadership Council, Engineers Without Borders Design Committee, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and Delta Psi fraternity. A mechanical engineering major, he is a CME ambassador and a volunteer with Green Grove Initiative and Oxford City Market.

Smith, a graduate of Picayune Memorial High School, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies, and is an Honors College Freshman Senator and community service co-chair for International Justice Mission. She is a recipient of an Honors College scholarship and a member of the Chi Omega scholarship committee. An international studies major, she is a writer for the Daily Mississippian and a volunteer with Oxford Humane Society and More than a Meal.

A graduate of Saint Joseph Catholic School, Snell is a public policy leadership major in the Trent Lott Leadership Institute and recipient of a Lott Scholarship. He is also a member of ASB Freshman Council, Residence Hall Association, College Republicans and the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, an ASB senator and Stockard Hall Council President. He volunteers with the Big Event and Green Grove Recycling.

Omicron Delta Kappa is a 100-year old leadership honor society that has initiated more than 300,000 members at since its founding. The society has more than 285 active chapters at colleges and universities across the United States.

Three Faculty Members Receive Liberal Arts Teaching Awards

UM announces annual honors at graduation ceremonies

2015 College of Liberal Arts Teaching Award Recipients.  (from left): Cora Lee Graham Outstanding Teacher of Freshman: Hilary Becker, Outstanding Teacher of Year: Kathryn McKee,Outstanding Instructor of Year  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

2015 College of Liberal Arts Teaching Award Recipients. (from left): Cora Lee Graham Outstanding Teacher of Freshman: Hilary Becker, Outstanding Teacher of Year: Kathryn McKee,Outstanding Instructor of Year Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The College of Liberal Arts at the University of Mississippi recognized three faculty members Saturday (May 9) for their excellence in teaching.

The Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher of the Year award went to Kathryn McKee, McMullan associate professor of Southern studies and associate professor of English. Hilary Becker, assistant professor of classics, was given the Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen. The Liberal Arts Outstanding Instructor of the Year honor was presented to Karen Forgette, core instructor for the Department of Writing and Rhetoric.

Each recipient was recognized at the college’s commencement ceremony and received a plaque and $1,000. Their names were also added to an award plaque in the dean’s office.

“We commend this year’s recipients for their outstanding dedication to teaching and service to our students,” said Rich Forgette, interim dean of liberal arts. “These awards symbolize the importance of teaching excellence to the college’s mission.”

Each recipient reflected upon the meaning of her selection for the prestigious honors.

“I was delighted,” McKee said. “Many fine colleagues and good friends have won it in the past, and I’m humbled to join their company. Teaching well is the most important part of my job; class is the most important part of my workday.”

Becker said she is pleased and honored that her students and the college had chosen to recognize her commitment to teaching.

“While at the University of Mississippi, I have been able to create many opportunities for students to learn about the ancient world in context, whether that is taking students to Rome to excavate, taking students to museums and galleries in New York City or providing opportunities in different classes for students to work with Greek and Roman objects from our University Museum,'” Becker said. “Whether those encounters take place locally, nationally or internationally, they contribute to what’s happening in the class but also contribute to the students’ intellectual growth.”

Winning her teaching award makes Karen Forgette, who joined the faculty 10 years ago, feel more connected than ever to the university and those who have walked its halls in the past two centuries.

“UM has so many outstanding teachers, and I am delighted to be associated with them,” she said. “This honor is especially gratifying to me because I truly enjoy my job. Working with young writers is like having a window into the future, and I am continually delighted and often amazed at the creativity and innovation of the next generation.”

All three honorees have degrees from the University of North Carolina. Becker was a 2004 Fulbright Scholar and received a research fellowship at Ohio State University last summer. McKee won the Cora Lee Graham Award and the Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher of the Year award for the UM campus in 2001.

Criteria for the awards include excellence of class instruction, intellectual stimulation of students and concern for students’ welfare. Administrators praised the commitment and expertise of all the honorees.

“Dr. McKee is a consummate English professor who received the highest accolades from her students, and who has the respect and admiration of her colleagues in the English department,” said Ivo Kamps, chair and professor of English. “She is well-known for teaching rigorous, well-organized classes in 19th- and 20th-century American literature that inspire graduate students and undergraduates alike.”

Molly Claire Pasco-Pranger, chair and associate professor of classics, said Becker is one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated teachers she’s ever worked with.

“She is unstintingly generous in giving extra attention to those who are struggling, but spends just as much time encouraging and mentoring those who are thriving to push themselves to places they didn’t know they could go,” Pasco-Pranger said. “It goes without saying that she knows her stuff, and knows it well. She has taught at least a dozen different classes in her three years at the university and is as strong a teacher of Latin as she is of her specialty courses in Roman and Etruscan art and archaeology.”

Similar praises for Karen Forgette came from Robert E. Cummings, director and associate professor of writing and rhetoric.

“Students are asked to work hard in her classes, and she pushes them to find new writing capabilities,” Cummings said. “But the fact that they see the benefit and realize their gains quickly enough to record their gratitude at the end of the semester is a testament to her dedication and effectiveness. Students leave her classroom motivated and inspired to continue their development as college writers.”

Established 30 years ago by Cora Lee Graham of Union City, Tennessee, the Graham award was established to help retain better professors who teach freshman classes in the College of Liberal Arts. Criteria for this annual award also include excellence of class instruction, intellectual stimulation of students and concern for students’ welfare.

Founded in 1848, the College of Liberal Arts is the university’s oldest and largest academic division. For more information, visit

Charles Hussey Named 2015 UM Distinguished Researcher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

McCauley, Bombelli Win 2015 Frist Student Service Awards

Honorees lauded at Commencement for dedication to helping students

McCauley accepts the Frist Student Service Award on Saturday, May 9, 2015. Photo by Kevin Bain.

Anne McCauley accepts the Frist Student Service Award. Photo by Kevin Bain.

OXFORD, Miss. – All University of Mississippi employees contribute in some way to the overall student experience, but some faculty and staff go beyond the call of duty in their commitment to helping students. The annual Frist Student Service Awards honors those dedicated individuals.

During the university’s Commencement ceremonies Saturday (May 9), Anne McCauley, UM assistant director of sustainability, and Luca Bombelli, associate professor of physics and astronomy, were introduced as the 2015 Frist winners.

Service is a key commitment that is asked of everyone at the university, Chancellor Dan Jones said. For this reason, the Frist award is a special and important honor.

“The Frist award recognizing service to our students is a special honor,” Jones said. “Both of this year’s recipients support the mission of the university in many ways. But the attention to the success of our students and opportunities for student engagement has been noted by many. I congratulate and thank Ms. McCauley and Dr. Bombelli for their remarkable service to students.”

The award was established 20 years ago with a financial gift from Dr. Thomas F. Frist Sr., a 1930 UM graduate from Nashville. Frist is the founder of Hospital Corporation of America.

Since 1995, the Frist Student Service Awards have honored one faculty member and one staff member. The two recipients receive $1,000 and a plaque.

Both of this year’s recipients said they were humbled by the recognition.

Bombelli, who joined the faculty in 1999, said he was surprised to win the award.

“I never saw this coming,” Bombelli said. “I am extremely pleased and honored to be receiving the Frist award. I am also surprised because I know that I am just one of many members of this university whose top priority is making sure that we provide students with the best education and support we can as they prepare for their careers in an open and inclusive environment.”

One international student in the doctoral program said that when he first arrived, Bombelli went to great lengths to help him get connected with another student who became his roommate. He also sent someone to pick up new students at the airport and helped them get hotel rooms once they arrived. He is also very valuable as a mentor. 

“He always has an open office door, as well as an open mind for conversation,” the student wrote in his nomination letter. “He befriends all of the students and is aware of our concerns and passions. He genuinely cares about us as individuals and serves as a life mentor as well as an academic mentor. Students recognize this and go to him in droves for help, guidance and a friendly ear.”

Dr. Brandi Hephner LaBanc presents Dr. Luca Bombelli with the Frist Student Service Award. Photo by Kevin Bain.

Brandi Hephner LaBanc presents Luca Bombelli with the Frist Student Service Award. Photo by Kevin Bain.

Bombelli also listens to students’ opinions. He organized luncheons for students to get to know job candidates for two faculty positions and passed their input on those selections to the department chair.

McCauley, who joined the UM staff in 2008, said the students make her job rewarding.

“I am so honored to receive this award because working with students is the most rewarding part of my job,” McCauley said. “They challenge me and make me want to be my best self. I think I gain from them as much if not more than I give.”

Sustainability efforts on campus require lots of dirty jobs, which include sorting through mountains of recyclable materials after home football games. McCauley often works right beside her student workers to help the university meet its sustainability goals. She also has been a champion of the university’s goal to become more bicycle-friendly. Away from campus, she prepares dinners for graduating student interns.

One student intern sang McCauley’s praises in his Frist nomination letter. He said he wasn’t treated like an intern; rather, he was treated as an important part of the team. This allowed him to learn a lot about the workings of an institution of higher learning, which will serve him well in his career.

“I was most inspired by Anne’s resilience when situations didn’t go as planned,” he wrote. “She never wavered from working hard to achieve her project goals. I am thankful every day for the opportunity to serve as one of Anne’s interns. It taught me countless skills and provided me with real-world experience that I believe would otherwise be rarely encountered by a college undergraduate. I know she will always be there for me with advice as I move forward with my future endeavors.”

UVA President Challenges UM Graduates to Become Problem-Solvers

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

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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