UM Physics Student Wins Prestigious Research Award

Wanwei Wu headed to FermiLab to further study particle physics

UM physics grad student Wanwei Wu conducting research in one of the departmental labs.(Submitted photo)

UM physics graduate student Wanwei Wu conducts research in one of the departmental labs. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – As scientists worldwide continue delving into the secrets of the universe, a University of Mississippi graduate student joins the ongoing exploration of particle physics, studying the most infinitesimally tiny pieces that comprise matter.

Wanwei Wu of China has been selected to receive a Universities Research Association Visiting Scholar Award of $25,920 for his proposal, “Beam Dynamics in the Muon g-2 Storage Ring.” The prestigious honor from the consortium that manages Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will fund 12 months of on-site research at the facility starting Nov. 1. This award is for the reimbursement of salary and university fringe benefits.

In the three years since the university joined URA, the research group led by Breese Quinn, associate professor of physics, has received two URA Visiting Scholar awards (postdoctoral researcher Jim Kraus also received the honor in 2013) and a FermiLab Intensity Frontier Fellowship (given to Quinn, also in 2013). Several other URA members have yet to receive an award.

“Wanwei’s proposal was selected in competition with postdocs and professors from the top universities in the nation,” Quinn said. “This record for Mississippi demonstrates that we are benefiting greatly from membership in URA, and the U.S. particle physics program is benefiting from the quality researchers that Mississippi is sending to work at FermiLab.”

Wu, who applied for the fall 2016 URA Visiting Scholars Program Award in August, said he was glad when he heard his proposal was approved at the end of September.

“I am glad that the URA offered me this award,” Wu said. “I will work hard and make sure the project completed on time.”

Wu’s work is based on the FermiLab Muon g-2 Experiment, which could produce important advances in particle research, Quinn said.

“We are measuring how much the muon precesses, or wobbles, when it moves in a magnetic field,” he said. “If we find that the amount of wobble is different than what we expect, it will be a discovery that there are definitely other particles in the universe that we have never seen before.

“Wanwei’s specific work is to produce an extremely high-quality and well-understood muon beam to measure.”

A graduate of Sichuan University in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, Wu said his intrinsic love with physics leads him to keep studying and exploring the amazing secrets of nature. He came to Ole Miss because he said attending here is the best way for him to pursue such a goal.

“The courses on physics I took at UM are important and helpful to start my research,” Wu said. “The academic spirits I learned from professors at the department really encourage me and my research with belief.

“The theoretical training on particle physics I got from Dr. (Alakabha) Datta (associate professor of physics and astronomy) is extremely useful to understand the phenomena on experimental particle physics. I really appreciate all the professors, as well as graduate classmates, at the department for their help.”

Wu’s award attests to the strength of the department and the quality of its faculty, said Luca Bombelli, chair and professor of physics and astronomy.

“All three of our URA Awards demonstrate that the University of Mississippi is leading the way in finding answers to the most complex questions everyone has about the universe and its origins,” Bombelli said. “As our reputation for excellence grows, I feel confident the department’s faculty and students will continue to attract researchers who excel in their studies.”

By building some of the largest and most complex machines in the world, FermiLab scientists expand humankind’s understanding of matter, energy, space and time. The organization is at the forefront of research into neutrinos, ubiquitous but hard-to-catch particles that might point to a better understanding of the first moments after the Big Bang.

The proposed international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, to be based at FermiLab, will be the world’s largest experiment for neutrino science and proton decay studies.

FermiLab is also heavily involved in research at the Large Hadron Collider and serves as the U.S. headquarters for the CMS experiment there.

FermiLab scientists are at the cutting edge of research in dark matter and dark energy, which helped shape the universe and will continue to guide its evolution into the future. Fermilab is a base for exploration of the fundamental particles and forces that govern our world on the smallest scales.

For more information about the UM Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit For more information about Fermilab, go to

UM Creative Writing Program Ranked Among Nation’s Top 10

Award-winning authors, talented students, unique opportunities key elements in latest recognition

The UM Department of English and its MFA in Creative Writing Program, housed in Bondurant Hall, has just been ranked in the "Top 10 University for Aspiring Writers" by Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The UM Department of English and its MFA in Creative Writing Program, housed in Bondurant Hall, has been ranked among the 10 vest programs for aspiring writers by Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Less than a decade ago, the University of Mississippi was ranked as one of five “Up-and-Coming” Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing programs by The Atlantic magazine.

Apparently, the program is reaching its full potential, with UM recently being named a “Top 10 University for Aspiring Writers” by

“I am extremely happy for our English department, MFA program and our current and former students,” said Derrick Harriell, assistant professor of English and MFA program director. “A lot of this foundation was laid well before I arrived here four years ago in Barry Hannah’s vision for the program, Beth Ann Fennelly’s dedication as our long-standing director and the full support of Ivo Kamps, our extremely supportive chair.”

At No. 6, the university is ahead of such prestigious rival institutions as the University of Virginia, Emory University, the University of Chicago and New York University. Ranked ahead of UM are Wesleyan University, the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University and the University of Iowa.

“Ole Miss boasts of notable alumni John Grisham and William Faulkner and tries to re-create the literary geniuses their programs housed in the past,” wrote author Isabella Senzamici. “The Creative Writing program admits only a small amount of students so each student receives optimal attention. Their student publication, The Yalobusha Review, an online journal that breaks the traditional norms of mainstream media, is considered one of the best student publications in the nation.”

Acclaimed author Kiese Laymon is one of the newest hires in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Acclaimed author Kiese Laymon is one of the newest hires in the MFA in Creative Writing program. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

UM students transform their passion for writing into a catalyst for social change, Senzamici wrote.

They teach community writing workshops, read at retirement homes and judge writing contests to help budding writers understand the value and impact of their words. Ole Miss equips students with the Oxford Conference for the Book, a program that puts writers and students in contact with an author they admire or helps market their writing collections.”

Kamps said he was excited to read the College Magazine piece because it confirms the upward trajectory of the university’s writing program.

“We have an extraordinary group of creative writers on the faculty, and our students know it,” he said. “Our entire faculty is dedicated to the success of the students. The recent addition of Kiese Laymon and Melissa Ginsburg only confirms that.”

While numbers and rankings aren’t everything, it does mean a lot for UM as a fairly young program, Hariell said.

“To be mentioned in the same breath as long-established programs is something we can hang our hat on,” he said. “Additionally, we can share this information with prospective students in hopes to continue improving our recruitment efforts.”

Renowned poet Melissa Ginsburg is also a new faculty member in the program.

Renowned poet Melissa Ginsburg is also a new faculty member in the program.

The latest news comes as verification that UM’s program is doing everything right, Fennelly said.

“For many years, we’ve believed that what has been happening in our classrooms, with our students, is very, very special,” said the award-winning poet, professor of English and Mississippi poet laureate. “But of course, it’s nice to have the confirmation! All I know is, our mojo is working. And this year, I’m happy knowing in his (Harriell’s) hands, our program will grow even stronger.”

Poets and fiction writing students in the MFA program were also ecstatic to learn about the ranking.

“I’m not at all surprised to find Mississippi ranked so highly, but I’m absolutely thrilled by it, mostly because it’s a recognition of how hard our faculty and staff work to make this an incredible place to be educated as a writer, and of all the remarkable and exciting work my colleagues are doing,” said Molly Brown, a third-year poet from Amherst, Virginia.

“From the moment I arrived in Oxford, this place, and these people, have been on my team in every conceivable way. My colleagues and my teachers have made me want to be better and do better work every day.”

Fellow student Matt Kessler agreed.

“I knew I would receive a great writing education, but I didn’t realize just how much I’d also learn about literature and about how to teach,” said Kessler, a third-year fiction writer from Chicago. “That’s what I’m excited about: the quality of the writing that my classmates and teachers have shared with me.”

Since the Ole Miss program was launched in 2000, it has stayed small and selective, attracted outstanding students, retained its exceptional faculty and been supported financially by generous benefactors such as John and Renee Grisham.

For several years, students in the program have garnered inclusion in “Best New American Voices,” an anthology of the best of fiction workshops across the country. Other student recognition includes the Association of Writing Programs Intro Award for Non-Fiction, the Iron Horse Discovery Award for Poetry, the Best American Poetry award and publication in a number of national magazines.

Locally, the MFA program was also awarded a Graduate Schools Diversity Award a couple of years ago.

For more information about the UM Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, visit

Students Gain Valuable Experience During Summer in Bolivia

Croft Institute, sociology and anthropology faculty start field school as study abroad opportunity

Founded in 2010, the Bolivia Field School is a partnership between the University of Mississippi and the Universidad Catolica Boliviana Social Science Field School in La Paz.

Founded in 2010, the Bolivia Field School is a partnership between UM and the Universidad Catolica Boliviana Social Science Field School in La Paz.

OXFORD, Miss. – Eight University of Mississippi students immersed themselves in the culture and history of Bolivia this summer as they explored ethnography, the study of the customs of people groups and cultures, and social scientific methods, all against the backdrop of the Andes Mountains.

Victoria Burrow, a junior from Pascagoula; Allie Gersdorf, a senior from Grossenaspe, Germany; Andrew Hayes, a senior from Saltillo; Caroline Malatesta, of Lyon, who graduated in August; Sarah Meeks, a junior from Madison; Thomas Moorman, a senior from Madison; Lizzy Pitts, a senior from Indianola;  and Alexis Smith, a junior from Picayune, spent four weeks in the South American nation.

Their time there included intensive hands-on training in the social scientific and ethnographic fields under the supervision of Kate M. Centellas, Croft associate professor of anthropology and international studies, and Miguel Centellas, Croft instructional assistant professor of sociology

“Bolivia is a fascinating place, very dynamic and diverse, so there are plenty of opportunities for a range of interests,” Kate Centellas said. “We also strongly value service learning and international experience, and we were particularly happy that a partner NGO, Fundación Suyana, took us to visit some of the families in the rural Altiplano that had benefited from their health promotion projects.

“This visit was powerful for our students and made the importance of social science research real for them in terms of how it can be applied to impact peoples’ lives for the better.”

The Bolivia Field School allows students to travel to La Paz, conduct individual research and study the politics, history and culture of the Andes through active and experimental learning.

The UM students used the Bolivia culture as a case study. Specifically, they studied the impact and implications Spanish colonization had on the culture and languages of South America.

The experience was particularly fulfilling for Pitts, who is majoring in Spanish and liberal studies with majors in society and population health, biology, and chemistry. Because Pitts is from the “flatlands of the Mississippi Delta,” she always found mountains appealing, and that is what initially drew her to the Bolivia program, she said.

The campus culture at Ole Miss prepared her well for studying abroad, Pitts said.

“It taught me to love strangers more than I thought was possible; to embrace others for who they are despite our differences in political views, race, gender identification, sexual orientation or religion,” she said. “It taught me how to find joy in the difficult times when we blew big football games; it taught me to listen when others are speaking; it taught me to deal with adversity and move forward confidently.

“All of my experiences helped prepare me because Ole Miss prepares you for life outside of school and our quaint bubble of Oxford.”

Kate and Miguel Centellas founded the Bolivia Field School, which they co-run, in 2010. The school is in partnership with UM and the Universidad Católica Boliviana Social Science Field School in La Paz, where Miguel Centellas serves as the co-director of the joint program.

“The field school in La Paz, Bolivia, is an excellent study abroad opportunity for students who wish to gain hands-on research training in a range of social scientific research methods,” said Kirsten Dellinger, UM chair and professor of sociology and anthropology. “This program reflects our dedication to in-depth methodological training, engaged learning and global citizenship.”

The program’s goal is to provide students with firsthand experiences with archives, nongovernmental organizations and research institutions while developing a research project, Kate Centellas said.

The work “is a shining example the role faculty should be playing in university efforts to internationalize our curriculum,” Dellinger said.

The Croft Institute for International Studies, where both professors work, is a rigorous undergraduate program geared for students majoring in international studies and who are interested in developing an understanding extending beyond the borders of the United States.

Students choose a foreign language to specialize in, then a corresponding region and finally a focus, such as economics, politics or culture. Students in Croft are required to study abroad in their country of study for a semester.

Both Kate and Miguel Centellas are working to return to Bolivia in summer 2017 and include new opportunities for students, such as working in a rural health clinic.

Any undergraduates interested in the Bolivia Field School should contact Kate or Miguel Centellas at or Information can also be found at the Study Abroard office in Martindale Hall.

Population Studies Center Advances Understanding of Post-Recession Era

Researchers met recently to address demographic, socioeconomic issues facing rural America

John J. Green, CPS Director Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

John J. Green

OXFORD, Miss. – Recognizing that the seeds of many social ills were planted after the Great Recession, the Center for Population Studies at the University of Mississippi is collaborating with researchers across the country to share findings and examine courses of action.

A group of scholars associated with the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Directors recently held its 2016 meeting in Mississippi, co-hosted and co-sponsored by the Center for Population Studies and the UM Department of Sociology and Anthropology and McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement.

“The Center for Population Studies is somewhat unique among our peers across the country in focusing on connecting multimethod population studies with community development research, especially in relation to health and local food systems,” said John J. Green, UM professor of sociology and director of the center and the Society and Health minor program in the College of Liberal Arts.

“With ever-increasing access to data online, we are doing more and more work focused on helping organizations to access and utilize population data to inform their work. In addition to filling data requests, providing technical assistance and analysis, we also provide participatory workshops to assist people in accessing, interpreting and actually using data.”

As part of a multistate research project on “The Great Recession: Its Aftermath and Patterns of Rural and Small Town Demographic Change,” 16 scholars from Alabama, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., joined seven of their Mississippi colleagues to present research on demographic and socioeconomic issues of concern.

“We discussed strategies for better disseminating our work to the public and developed plans for the next five years of work together,” Green said. “There is attention being directed toward population health in Mississippi, nationally and globally.

“We are working through the center to help people understand the demographic basis for population health, including attention to population structures, characteristics and composition. In order to improve population health, we have to understand the population.”

Faculty, staff, and students from both the University of Mississippi and the University of Michigan take a break after conducting community interviews for Visions of Hope, Inc. in Biloxi.

Faculty, staff and students from both the University of Mississippi and University of Michigan take a break after conducting community interviews for Visions of Hope Inc. in Biloxi.

The Center for Population Studies is working with Volunteer Mississippi to conduct a series of workshops across north Mississippi to help nonprofit organizations use research to inform their strategic plans and grant proposals. In early November, the center will host the State Data Center of Mississippi’s Annual Affiliates Meeting in collaboration with Planning and Development Districts from around the state.

To better understand issues faced by rural community and health development professionals, the center’s staff also met with representatives from the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center, Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, Delta Directions Consortium, Delta State University Center for Community and Economic Development and DSU Delta Center for Culture and Learning, Green said.

“Building on meetings held in Hernando, an interactive panel session was held at the Coahoma County Higher Education Center in Clarksdale,” he said.

Sannie Snell, who runs the Right! from the Start maternal-child health program and is a longtime partner of the center, said that it was natural that the organization would gravitate toward the center.

“The center has been beneficial, because it takes our ideas and frames them for research and evaluation,” Snell said. “It provides us the expertise needed to develop evidence-based rural models of health care.

“Collaborating with the center also brings in really bright students, who have an interest in the work we’re doing.”

UM student Alex Fratesi and Right! from the Start Director Sannie Snell facilitate a "world cafe" discussion on factors associated with poor birth outcomes.

UM student Alex Fratesi and Right! from the Start Director Sannie Snell facilitate a ‘world cafe’ discussion on factors associated with poor birth outcomes.

The partnership creates a synergy between the university, students and the community that will affect how Right! from the Start does community-focused research in the future, she said.

“This synergistic relationship is not only beneficial for my organization, but also for building groups of future professionals, who understand the plight of our population from a community level and, hopefully, can create more patient-focused health care systems in the future,” Snell said.

Funded through a mixture of sources, including state-budgeted funds combined with external grants and contracts from agencies and foundations in Mississippi and nationally, the center has a long history.

Through its affiliation with the State Data Center Program in conjunction with the U.S. Census Bureau, the Center for Population Studies houses the State Data Center of Mississippi, represents Mississippi in the Federal-State Cooperative for Population Studies and works as liaison between diverse users of data and the Census Bureau.

Additionally, the center houses a program for community-based research through which it works with nonprofit organizations across the state to assist them with research design, data collection and analysis, especially for community development and health-related initiatives.

“This is our fifth and final year hosting the editorial office for the peer-reviewed journal Community Development,” Green said. “Published in association with the Community Development Society and Routledge, Taylor & Francis, this is an international publication focused on connecting research and practice.”

For more information about the organization, contact Green at

UM Alumni, Guests are Among Prominent Freedom Award Recipients

Former Gov. William Winter latest to join list of National Civil Rights Museum honorees

The Honorable Gov. William Winter will receive a 2016 Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis this month. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

The Honorable Gov. William Winter will receive a 2016 Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis this month. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

When former Gov. William F. Winter receives a National Civil Rights Museum’s 25th annual Freedom Award Oct. 20 in Memphis, no doubt University of Mississippi administrators, staff and faculty will take great pride in having the renowned former governor as both an alumnus and founder of the Institute for Racial Reconciliation here that bears his name.

Obviously, Winter is most deserving of the prestigious honor. Both in and out of office, the Grenada County native has accomplished a long list of achievements advancing education, civil rights and economic growth for the state of Mississippi and beyond. Of course, his UM education has contributed to his legendary career.

Yet a quick look at past years shows that Winter is not the first Freedom Award recipient to have connections to the university. At least six others have spoken or performed on campus.

For starters, fellow 2016 recipient Soledad O’Brien delivered the keynote address during UM’s 2014 Black History Month observances. The former CNN anchor’s lecture and presentation preceded the #BlackLivesMatter movement and helped advance conversations about race and race relations.

NBC News veteran Tom Brokaw received the Freedom Award in 2014. He has broadcast live from campus, delivered the 2016 commencement address and been a visiting lecturer in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

Civil rights activist Myrlie Evers-Williams also delivered the commencement address from the Grove in 2014. The widow of slain activist Medgar Evers received her Freedom Award in 2009.

Known as “King of the Blues,” Mississippi-born guitarist and singer Riley “B.B.” King was given the Freedom Award in 2008. Before his death, King appeared in concert here several times and donated his record collection and memorabilia to the J.D. Williams Library’s Archives and Special Collections.

Legendary actor and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte is a 1999 recipient of the Freedom Award. Like O’Brien, he delivered the keynote address during Black History Month observances in 2015.

Lastly, author Elie Weisel, who won the Nobel Prize for his autobiography “Night,” was a Freedom Award recipient in 1995. The late author gave the keynote address during the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College‘s annual Fall Convocation in 2013.

Several other Freedom Award recipients have had significant connections to Mississippi history.

A 2014 honoree, Robert “Bob” Parris Moses is an educator and civil rights activist whose name is synonymous with the Mississippi Freedom Summer Project. As a leader in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, Moses traveled to counties in Mississippi to educate and register voters, facing relentless violence and intimidation. By 1964, he had become co-director of the Council of Federated Organizations, an umbrella organization for the major civil rights groups working in Mississippi.

The Rev. Ed King, 2011 recipient, worked closely with Mississippi Movement leader Medgar Evers and was a key leader in the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party with Fannie Lou Hamer.

A 2005 honoree, native Mississippian Oprah Winfrey has created an unparalleled connection with people around the world. As supervising producer and host of the top-rated “Oprah Winfrey Show,” she has entertained, enlightened and uplifted millions of viewers for more than two decades.

In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voters’ registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. Forty years later, he received a Freedom Award in 2004.

The Freedom Award is an annual event for the National Civil Rights Museum. Presented each year in the fall, the Freedom Award honors individuals who have made significant contributions in civil rights and who have laid the foundation for present and future leaders in the battle for human rights. Since 1991, the Freedom Award has served as a symbol of the ongoing fight for human rights both in America and worldwide.

The event will be held at the Cannon Center for the Performing Arts and the Memphis Cook Convention Center. Sponsors of this year’s awards are the Ford Motor Co., The Hyde Family Foundation, FedEx Corp. and International Paper. The event will be hosted by Michael Eric Dyson, who delivered the keynote address during UM Black History Month observances in 2015.

Besides Winter and O’Brien, this year’s honorees include Benjamin Crump, a civil rights attorney who has represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice; Tawakkol Karman, a Yemini journalist and the second youngest person ever awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; Damon Jerome Keith, the longest serving judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Court; and Brian Stevenson, a clinical professor at the New York University School of Law and an attorney who works for equality for the poor and minorities in the U.S. criminal justice system.

Charles Hussey Named Associate Dean for UM College of Liberal Arts

Respected professor of chemistry to lead research and graduate education

Charles L. (Chuck) Hussey, chair and professor of chemistry, is the new associate dean of graduate research in the College of Liberal Arts. Here he shares a moment with research associate Li-Hsien Chou.Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Charles L. Hussey, the new associate dean of graduate research in the UM College of Liberal Arts, shares a moment with research associate Li-Hsien Chou. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Every time Charles “Chuck” L. Hussey thinks he’s achieved the last height in his storied career, the University of Mississippi professor takes another step up the ladder.

The multiple award-winning chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, who received the 2015 UM Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award, is the new associate dean for research and graduate education in the university’s College of Liberal Arts.

Hussey will assume his new duties sometime between Oct. 1 and Jan. 2, 2017.

“I am very excited about the chance to serve in this role and anxious to get started,” said Hussey, who also received both the Electrochemical Society’s Max Bredig Award in Molten Salt and Ionic Liquid Chemistry and the Southeastern Conference’s Faculty Achievement Award in the 2014-15 academic year.

“The appointment of Dean (Lee) Cohen gives us new direction, because he is very interested in improving research/scholarship and graduate education in the college. I want to be a part of helping him move the college forward in these areas.”

Cohen said Hussey brings much to the the position.

“I am delighted that Dr. Hussey has agreed to assume this very important new role in the College of Liberal Arts,” Cohen said. “I believe Chuck is ideal for this position given that he has significant administrative experience serving as the chairperson of a large and complicated department, has an exemplary research record, and he has a great deal of knowledge, involvement and success working with graduate students.”

Hussey said his short-term goals are to study the various departments and disciplines in the college to learn about the roadblocks they face when trying to engage in research, scholarship and graduate education, as well as the opportunities they have.

“Once I have a sense of the issues, then we will work together with departments to develop long-range strategies that make use of our available resources to attack these roadblocks,” he said. “I also see potential for the growth of new graduate programs in the college.”

Hussey’s new duties will end his longstanding tenure as chair of chemistry and biochemistry, a position he said he has thoroughly enjoyed. Still, he doesn’t plan to completely leave his discipline.

“As the associate dean for research and graduate education, I think it is imperative that I continue to pursue my own research as much as practicable,” Hussey said. “I find research to be engaging, relaxing and enjoyable. Besides, this is what we should be doing as faculty at an R-1 university.”

Hussey, who holds a doctorate in chemistry from Ole Miss, 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 35 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 150 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 also served as the technical editor of the Journal of the Electrochemical Society, the world’s top electrochemistry journal, since 2000.

Anthropology Class Digs for Evidence of Slave Life

Public invited to see progress on Rowan Oak excavations Oct. 15

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The public is invited to see archaeological work going on at Rowan Oak on Oct. 15. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi research group and the Center for Archaeological Research are conducting an archaeological investigation on the grounds of Rowan Oak in a search for evidence of slave life.

The public is invited to see the progress at the site Saturday (Oct. 15) during Public Archaeology Day.

The UM Slavery Research Group is interested in the pre-Faulkner era of the property, which was built in the late 1840s by Oxford settler and slaveholder Robert Sheegog. A census in 1850 showed nine slaves lived on the Sheegog Estate, yet there is no evidence of how they lived.

The archaeological excavation is being conducted this semester by UM students under the direction of Tony Boudreaux, associate professor of anthropology and director of the center, and Maureen Meyers, assistant professor of anthropology. It examines seven acres of cleared land surrounding the house at Rowan Oak.

“We want to build a context of the university during the 19th century,” Boudreaux said. “We know a little about the big stuff, but the day-to-day aspects of living falls away. My hope is this adds more information to Rowan Oak’s story during the period of time before the Civil War.”

Students began their research by surveying the land and performing shovel tests, digging shallow holes to find intact deposits before further excavations, every 10 meters. These tests have resulted in several findings, including pieces of glass, ceramic, coal and brick.

In the coming weeks, areas of artifact concentrations will be excavated intensively to try to identify remains of structures. Students will then sort, identify and analyze their findings, which also includes archival research at the Lafayette County Courthouse of land deeds and Sheegog’s will.

“You get a different level of education across the board,” said Allie Smith, a UM graduate student from Fort Payne, Alabama. “All the students are getting a taste of the different aspects of archaeology.”

The public can learn more about the excavation and the search for slave quarters from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday on the Rowan Oak grounds. The admission fee to the house will be waived for visitors that day, but donations will still be accepted.

“This project is an opportunity to better understand the role of slavery in Oxford and beyond, and it is the first systematic attempt to archaeologically identify the remains of slavery on university grounds in the Deep South,” said Chuck Ross, the group co-chair, director of African-American studies and professor of history.

“UM has the potential to be the first school in the Deep South to take on this important work.”

In conjunction with the archaeology event, the University Museum will host a Let’s Move Family Activity Day, where children of all ages can explore art and nature by making their way through the museum and to Rowan Oak by way of the Bailey Woods Trail. The free activity runs from 10 a.m. to noon, and no pre-registration is needed.

Parking at Rowan Oak is limited. To accommodate overflow, shuttle transportation will be available from the Old Taylor Lot. Restrooms will also be available onsite.

For more information about the excavation, visit To keep up with the latest information from the UM Slavery Research Group, follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

Deep-Sea Sedimentation Topic of October Science Cafe

Renowned marine scientist Arne R. Diercks is second lecturer for fall semester

Arne R. Diercks is assistant marine research professor at the University of Southern Mississippi.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Arne R. Diercks is assistant marine research professor at the University of Southern Mississippi.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The slow and steady sedimentation processes of the deep sea is the next topic for a monthly public science forum organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The fall semester’s second meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. Oct. 11 at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd. Arne R. Diercks, assistant research professor in the School of Ocean Science and Technology at the University of Southern Mississippi, will discuss “Perpetual Snow: Sedimentation in the Deep Sea.” Admission is free.

“Sedimentation in the deep ocean is a slow and steady supply of material to the deep sea via small particles,” Diercks said. “These individual particles are too small and light to overcome drag, currents and turbulence. However, once glued together by organic matrices into larger aggregates, these aggregates become a main source of energy, food and sediments in the deep sea and the seafloor.”

Diercks’ 30-minute presentation will include talk about how these aggregates, when illuminated by the lights of submersibles, take on the appearance of white spots in the darkness.

“They seemingly resemble slowly settling snowflakes,” he said. “Sedimentation rates in the deep ocean are small, ranging from a fraction to a few milliliters per year. Anthropogenic impacts can alter the sedimentation in even these remote areas.”

Spatial and temporal availability of the source material influences the distribution of these aggregates in the water column, affecting their size, densities and their residue times within the water column and their arrival at the ocean floor, he said. But even after arriving on the seafloor, their journey might not be over as turbulence can stir them back into the water as reshaped, broken up aggregates and particles.

Deep sea sedimentation often appears like snowflakes descending to the ocean floor. (Submitted photo)

Deep-sea sedimentation often appears like snowflakes descending to the ocean floor. Submitted photo

“For example, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico resulted in the anthropogenic oil marine aggregates being deposited as an unprecedented large amount of material on the seafloor,” Diercks said.

Diercks’ research is made possible by a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative to support the ECOGIC-2 research consortium.

UM administrators and professors said Diercks’ appearance should be most interesting.

“Dr. Diercks is one of the most prominent marine scientists in the U.S.,” said Marco Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy. “He has worked on marine snow aggregates specifically in the Gulf of Mexico, collecting size-specific settling speed and abundance data of aggregates using photographic techniques and sediment traps.

“His expertise in the mid-water sedimentation processes resulted in development of the first autonomous Neutrally Buoyant Sediment Trap system and then to his current work with AUVs.”

Diercks earned his doctorate in geological oceanography from USM, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from the University of Hamburg in Germany. His research areas of expertise include marine snow aggregates and autonomous underwater vehicles, geographic information science, marine geology and geophysics and physical oceanography.

For more information about Oxford Science Cafe programs, go to For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit or call 662-915-7046.

UM Presentation Focuses on Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore’s Ties

Literary researchers to examine authors' literary and family connections

The J.D. Williams Library features a new exhibit available to the public in their Department of Archives and Special Collections, including items from Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The J.D. Williams Library features a new exhibit available to the public in their Department of Archives and Special Collections, including items from Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Scholars will explore the literary and family connections shared by Mississippi authors Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore during a brown bag event at the University of Mississippi’s J.D. Williams Library.

The event, set for 11:30 a.m. Oct. 6 in the Faulker Room, features a discussion by literary scholars Suzanne Marrs and Annette Trefzer about Welty and Creekmore, an accomplished poet and author from Water Valley.

The library’s Department of Archives and Special Collections organized the examination of “Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore: Literary and Family Connections.” Selected items from the department’s Welty and Creekmore Collections are featured as a part of the exhibition “Hot Off the Press: New and Newly Available Archive Collections,” which is on display in the Faulkner Room through December.

“We are honored to have two such accomplished scholars speak about the connections between two outstanding Mississippi literary figures,” said Jennifer Ford, head of the department. “The Creekmore Collection is one of the treasures of the department, and the current exhibit offered a wonderful opportunity to display items from it for the first time.

“I hope this lecture will spark even more interest into Welty and Creekmore’s work, as well as draw even more attention to the department’s literary collections.”

Marrs, friend and biographer of Welty, is a retired English professor from Millsaps College. She met Welty in 1983 and they were close friends until the author died in 2001. The two met on nearly a daily basis to discuss literature, travel and politics and to welcome visiting writers and scholars to Jackson.

“Eudora Welty and Hubert Creekmore lived just a block or two apart on Jackson’s Pinehurst Street after the Creekmores moved there from Water Valley,” Marrs said. “They read each other’s work, shared an interest in photography and had a family connection: Eudora’s brother married Hubert’s sister.”

Trefzer, an associate professor of English at UM who has taught graduate and undergraduate classes on Welty, has studied American and Southern literature and also has extensive knowledge of Creekmore.

Marrs will discuss connections between the Creekmore and Welty families, and Trefzer will focus on the literary achievements of both authors.

Creekmore, although not as well-known as Welty, was an editor, translator, author, poet and reviewer known as an overall “literary man,” Trefzer said. Besides being the brother of Welty’s sister-in-law, Creekmore served as the aspiring author’s literary adviser when she began writing fiction, Trezfer said.

“When thinking of Mississippi authors, usually William Faulkner comes to mind,” she said. “But Eudora Welty, the award-winning writer from Jackson, also tells fantastic stories about her home state, and she is equally accomplished and prolific with a distinguished achievement of more than five decades of literature.”

Creekmore studied at Ole Miss and graduated in 1927. Welty and Creekmore’s relatives donated some of his works to the Department of Archives and Special Collections. The library is working to digitize Creekmore’s collection, and Ford hopes it will be available online by the end of 2017.

Visitors are welcome to bring lunch to the lecture and can view the “Hot off the Press: New and Newly Available Archive Collections” exhibit from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays through Dec. 16.

For more information, contact Ford at or 662-915-7408.

UM Food Day Celebration Features Day of Service, Pop-Up Market, More

Events scheduled throughout October to educate and get community involved


OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will observe Food Day, a nationwide celebration that focuses on the importance of improving American diets and food policies, throughout October.

Food Day events commence with a composting workshop hosted by Sustainable Oxford at 6 p.m. Monday (Oct. 3) at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center.

Campus events kick off on Thursday (Oct. 6) with the Office of Sustainability’s sixth annual Food Day Festival on the Union Plaza, highlighting food-related resources in Oxford. Set for noon-3:30 p.m., the festival features a farmers market, food samples, educational displays and other activities.

“Through Food Day, the Office of Sustainability aims to engage more people in a topic that involves us all: how we are fed,” said Kendall McDonald, sustainability fellow in the Office of Sustainability. “By empowering university members to be local food heroes through education and service learning, we believe a just, inclusive and resilient food system is possible.”

This year, Food Day will incorporate a service component through the Food Day of Service, a half-day event on Oct. 22. During Food Day of Service, volunteers will complete projects affiliated with local school and community gardens and the UM Compost Program.

Food Day of Service volunteer sites include gardens at the Boys and Girls Club, Oxford School District and Lafayette County Schools, plus the Oxford Community Garden and the UM Compost Program site. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. in the Ole Miss Student Union ballroom for a kickoff ceremony before traveling to the sites. Register to join Food Day of Service here.

On Oct. 25, the Office of Sustainability will host a screening of the film “Food Chains,” followed by a guided discussion led by Catarina Passidomo, UM assistant professor of Southern studies and anthropology. The screening is set for 7 p.m. at Shelter on Van Buren.

The film examines the human cost of America’s food system through the lens of tomato pickers in southern Florida, who work from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., earning just $40 a day – a price dictated by large supermarkets.

“Many of us don’t have a good understanding of labor abuses in the food system or an appreciation for the people whose labor remains relatively invisible,” Passidomo said. “I hope that people will come away from the film with a better and deeper understanding of the politics and processes that underlie our contemporary food system.”

On Oct. 26, a pop-up farmers market in the parking lot of the Oxford Intermediate School will wrap up Food Day activities. The market runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

This year’s Food Day celebration also incorporates educational events for community children, including an activity Oct. 15 at the UM Museum’s Family Activity Day and a scavenger hunt activity for children affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club that will take place during the pop-up farmers market.

“Studies show that introducing children to the process of healthy foods will increase their consumption of these foods,” said Denae Bradley, AmeriCorps VISTA in the Office of Sustainability. “During the pop-up market, children at the Boys and Girls Club will participate in a scavenger hunt, where they will engage with local vendors by asking them questions about their product, as well as try new foods that they may have never tasted before.”

The Food Day activities are organized by the UM Office of Sustainability in partnership with Sustainable Oxford. To learn more about sustainability at UM, visit