UM Students Get Hands-on Experience Digging in Rome

Classics department takes seven students on five-week dig at site dating to circa 600 B.C.

UM students Shiloh Spears, a junior English major from Olive Branch (left); Laura Dona, sophomore anthropology and classics major from Monroe, Louisiana; and Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo, work at the S. Omobono field school in Rome. Photo by Hilary Becker.

UM students Shiloh Spears, a junior English major from Olive Branch (left); Laura Dona, sophomore anthropology and classics major from Monroe, Louisiana; and Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo, work at the S. Omobono field school in Rome. Photo by Hilary Becker.

OXFORD, Miss. – A group of seven University of Mississippi students recently participated in an educational trip of a lifetime, five weeks of learning in Rome and helping with an archaeological dig at a site that dates to about 600 B.C.

Hilary Becker, UM assistant professor of classics, took the students to the Area Sacra di S. Omobono archaeological field school.

The multi-year excavation project is organized by the University of Michigan and the University of Calabria, under the aegis of the Sovraintendenza ai Beni Culturali di Roma Capitale. During the program, UM students were introduced to the methods of field archaeology, including excavation techniques, artifact processing and the latest in documentation technology, including three-dimensional modeling.

“I’m very proud of their contributions,” Becker said. “It’s a testament to their abilities that they arrived with basically no knowledge of field archaeology, but during the program they developed the skills and experience that allowed them to understand all the different facets of work at an archaeological excavation and also how to handle the different jobs. Sometimes, it’s hard to learn these skills out of a textbook, but being on site allows students to make lasting connections between the technique and the materials.”

The students dug near the Roman Forum and Capitoline Hill. The excavation site, which dates to 600 B.C., was utilized as a Roman sanctuary that remained in use for more than 800 years. It was eventually transformed into Christian churches, the latest of which still stands.

Since the site has been active for such a long time, there is a rich accumulation of artifacts and remains of many building phases. As a result, excavators have to dig to a depth of about 21 feet to reach some of the earliest materials.

“To able to see remains of the sixth century B.C. in Rome is difficult because the city is a continually occupied place,” Becker said. “Millions of people still live there and one cannot simply destroy what’s on top in order to see what lies beneath. There are only a few areas where archaeologists have been able to go that deep. We were extremely lucky to be working there.”

This is the first year the UM classics department has conducted any faculty-led trips abroad, said Molly Pasco-Pranger, associate professor and chair of classics who also brought six students to Rome for a 10-day course earlier this summer.

“We can give them a very strong foundation in the languages and in the history and the art and archaeology here on campus, but both getting to the site in Rome and seeing its topography and the remains in person is incredibly valuable,” she said. “Learning the theory of archaeology is one thing, but getting the dirt under your fingernails is another.”

Several students received financial support for their trip from the Mike and Mary McDonnell Endowment in Classics. They kept an Internet blog that chronicled their work in words and photos.

Laura Dona, a sophomore anthropology and classics major from Monroe, Louisiana, said being there was like “being able to reach behind the glass in a museum.”

“We were able to learn hands-on how archaeology is performed alongside amazing teachers,” Dona said. “It was an irreplaceable experience that taught me more in five weeks than I have learned in years.”

Zack Lawrence, a junior classics major from Tupelo, said, “S. Omobono taught me to understand what lies just below our feet and to probe what evidence there is in search for context, and I brought away a willingness to explore the unknown and to be unafraid to explore new ideas in search of answers.”

Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo, said she learned more about the different areas of archaeology, including stratigraphy, zooarchaeology, topography, bioarchaeology, surveying and other skills. But the trips around Rome to other important excavation sites, as well as museums, were also inspiring.

“Overall, it was an unforgettable experience that I’m very glad I participated in,” Norton said. “Not only did I learn a lot more about archaeology and Roman history than I ever could in a classroom, I was able to get some real experience working in the archaeological field and found out it’s something I would like to continue doing.”

Andersen Marx, a senior history and classics major from Oxford, said the experience opened his eyes to possibilities in the field.

“The dig at S. Omobono taught me that one can interpret history not only through primary literary sources, but also through actual physical evidence,” Marx said. “After our stint at the excavation, I came to realize there is still more archaeological work available in Italy. There are still ruins and artifacts left to discover.”

The professionalism the UM students displayed while working at the site made an impression, said Mahmoud Samori, a doctoral student in ancient history at Brown University who was the field school’s area supervisor.

“I realized one morning towards the end of the field school that I’d felt all for the last hours as if I’d been digging with colleagues instead of students,” Samori said. “The student-teacher dynamic had evaporated, leaving only a handful of archaeologists excavating with a deadline. It was a great pleasure to excavate with the team from Ole Miss and I was proud to watch them transform from cautious students into confident archaeologists.”

Rome Group shot

UM students, from left: William Hudson, a junior chemical engineering and classics major from West Point; Andersen Marx, a senior history and classics major from Oxford; Juliana Norton, a junior classics and linguistics major from Tupelo; Zack Lawrence, a junior classics major from Tupelo; Shiloh Spears, a junior English major from Olive Branch; Mackenzie Breeland, a junior international studies, French and classics major from Ocean Springs; and Laura Dona, sophomore classics and anthropology major from Monroe, Louisiana. Photo by Hilary Becker.



Ross Garners Third Medal for Scientific Collaboration

Award presented by Kazakhstan's top medical university

OXFORD, Miss. – Samir Ross, professor of pharmacognosy and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Mississippi, has been awarded a Bronze Medal from Kazakh National Medical University in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

The honor was presented to Ross for scientific collaboration with the university’s pharmacy school, which includes giving seminars and supervising graduate students. Ross traveled to Kazakhstan in April to accept the prestigious award.

Besides his work in Kazakhstan, Ross frequently supervises Kazakh University students in Mississippi.

“A number of Kazakh students have visited the National Center for Natural Products Research for research training under Dr. Ross, with support from the Kazakhstan government,” said Larry Walker, NCNPR director. “This is an important collaboration, and I congratulate Dr. Ross on being recognized for this work.”

Ross has produced more than 220 publications over the course of his career and owns 11 patents related to his research.

“I was also recognized for my research in the area of natural products,” Ross said. “I have been working in this area for almost four decades.”

This is not the first time Ross has been recognized by Kazakh University. In 2012, he received a Gold Medal from the institution – its highest honor. His other awards include a Silver Medal from the University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno in the Czech Republic in 2013 and the UM School of Pharmacy’s Faculty Research Award in 2009.

Ross said he is thankful to Kazakh University for the award and credited UM for supporting his work.

“It is such an honor to receive an award from the top medical university in Kazakhstan,” he said. “This recognition means a great deal to me. I would not have received it without the support and encouragement from my colleagues at the School of Pharmacy and National Center for Natural Products Research.”

Kazakh National has been recognized as the No. 1 medical institute in Kazakhstan. The medal honors S.D. Asfendiyarov, the university’s first rector.

UM Recognized Among ‘Great Colleges To Work For’

Chronicle of Higher Education surveys university employees across the nation, finds high employee satisfaction at Ole Miss

Staff members are treated to a free "desk yoga" class sponsored by RebelWell as part of Staff Appreciation Week.  Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

Staff members are treated to a free ‘desk yoga’ class sponsored by RebelWell as part of Staff Appreciation Week. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – For the sixth time in seven years, the University of Mississippi has been recognized as one of the nation’s “Great Colleges To Work For” by the Chronicle of Higher Education.

UM was cited for excellence in collaborative governance, employee confidence in the university’s senior leadership, workers’ job satisfaction and also on the availability of professional and career development programs. Chancellor Dan Jones said employees are deeply committed to the university’s mission, which unites the workforce.

“We are fortunate to have a great spirit among our faculty, staff and leadership,” Jones said. “I believe it is our common commitment to our mission that is the driving force. Offering transformation of individual lives and the broader community through education, research and service binds us together.”

The full results of the survey of employees at universities and colleges across America will be featured in the Chronicle’s Academic Workplace Special Issue, which comes out July 25.

The Chronicle has recognized “Great Colleges To Work For” for the last seven years, and UM has been recognized in six of those years. In 2013, the university was recognized in nine different categories, including collaborative governance, availability of professional career development programs, quality of the teaching environment, job satisfaction and confidence in senior leadership, among others.

This year, 92 colleges across the country were recognized for having good employment environments.

Earlier this year, the university participated in the survey, which is designed to recognize institutions that have built great workplaces. The surveys designed specifically for higher education were sent to a sample of each institution’s full-time faculty, staff, administrators, and exempt and non-exempt staff. The survey answers were submitted anonymously by the employees. The questionnaires were processed by an independent third-party company, ModernThink LLC.

The spirit of UM employees also helps create a great work environment, said Clay Jones, UM assistant vice chancellor and director of human resources.

“The university is honored to once again be mentioned among other elite universities as being a great place to work,” Jones said. “We believe we offer a fantastic environment that is conducive to learning, sharing and helping others, which leads to many individuals thriving in the workplace.”

The rewarding nature of working at the university and helping with its mission of preparing the nation’s future leaders is a definite employee mood booster, Provost Morris Stocks said.

“Our dedicated faculty and staff foster an environment of excellence, creativity and respect,” Stocks said. “Our work is more than a job. It is an opportunity to have a truly rewarding professional career and a chance to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our students. The gratification that our faculty and staff experience as they fulfill the mission of the University of Mississippi is manifested in the quality education that our students receive.”

The recognition comes at a time when many universities across the nation are dealing with budget struggles, while at the same time trying to keep tuition costs as low as possible for students. The head of the company that handled the Chronicle survey said those institutions that were able to keep employees happy during tough times deserve extra credit.

“It’s easier to be a great workplace during good times, but it’s when times are tough that the commitment to workplace quality really gets tested,” said Richard K. Boyer, principal and managing partner of ModernThink. “And those institutions that measure up during times of economic hardship reinforce their already strong cultures and put even more distance between them and their peer institutions for whom they compete for talent.”

Grant to Fund Research on Poverty, Education and Health Care

Hearin Foundation provides support for McLean Institute efforts in rural communities

OXFORD, Miss. – A $1.6 million grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation for the University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement will fund research aimed at increasing economic development in Mississippi communities.

The grant was awarded to the McLean Institute for four years to support UM student and faculty research on poverty, education, asset building and health care within these communities.

Albert Nylander, director of the McLean Institute, will serve as principal investigator for the Catalyzing Entrepreneurship and Economic Development program.

“We are thankful for the Hearin Foundation’s support,” he said. “The wonderful folks at the Hearin Foundation have a remarkable record of supporting university students through fellowships.”

Through this grant, the McLean Institute will sponsor four graduate students and 10 undergraduate students each year for up to two years. These will be exemplary undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in entrepreneurship and economic development in Mississippi’s rural communities. The two-year period for each project will be used to research a community and economic development problem and to develop solutions for social problems including poverty, education, asset building and health care.

“This grant gives us the opportunity to support approximately 30 UM students through fellowships,” Nylander said. “In turn, UM students will partner with Mississippi communities to develop entrepreneurship and economic development projects that will improve the quality of life for its citizens.”

The first cohort of students will work in Calhoun, Coahoma, Lee and Tallahatchie counties. Summer grants also will be provided to UM faculty members seeking to conduct research in Mississippi, with projects that focus on entrepreneurship and economic development. Preference will be given to research aimed at finding innovative solutions for some of the state’s critical concerns.

“UM faculty members already lead important research throughout the state, so this grant will provide summer funding for faculty to focus even more on some of our pressing challenges,” Nylander said.

Applications for these scholarships are being accepted. Review of applications will begin July 18, with additional requests accepted on a rolling basis. Read more about the program at the McLean Institute website,

For more information about the McLean Institute Scholars/Fellows, contact Albert Nylander, director, at McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, 311 Howry Hall, University, MS 38677; by phone at 662-915-2052; or email

UMMC Faculty Member to be Inducted into Prestigious Nursing Academy

2014 AAN Fellow Inductee Dr. Deborah Konkle-Parker

2014 AAN Fellow Inductee Dr. Deborah Konkle-Parker

JACKSON, Miss. – The American Academy of Nursing fellows elected one person from the state of Mississippi into its prestigious ranks in 2014. It should be no surprise that she is a faculty member at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Deborah Konkle-Parker, a professor for the Division of Infectious Diseases/Department of Medicine at UMMC, will be inducted at the Academy’s 2014 Transforming Health, Driving Policy Conference on Oct. 18 in Washington, D.C.

Her selection required her to demonstrate significant contributions to nursing and health care as well as sponsorship by two current Academy fellows. Konkle-Parker was reviewed by a panel comprised of elected and appointed fellows, and selected, in part, on how her nursing career has influenced health policies and the health and well being of all.

Konkle-Parker wanted the designation as a fellow for the value it would have on her goals as a leader in nursing. There are an estimated 3,063,162 registered nurses in the United States according to the Health Resources and Service Administration. She will be joining an elite group of 2,200 nurse leaders from around the world in education, management, practice, policy and research.

“I’ve realized that people with FAAN after their names are definitely nurse leaders, and I wanted to be part of that group,” said Konkle-Parker.

One of the most important aspects of this achievement to Konkle-Parker is the impact on her research, which is helping those living with HIV. It is an area of study she believes carries certain stigmas, and she looks forward to getting to know other fellows who will help her get the recognition needed to help gain considerations for research funding, especially in a climate where such subsidies are challenging.

“There is a stigma about HIV in the South, in the general community as well as in the clinical and scientific community, which slows research that is conducted and in clinicians’ willingness to embrace the field,” said Konkle-Parker.

The American Academy of Nursing announced the new inductees on June 23. An excerpt from their press release said “as clinicians, researchers, educators, executives, and leaders in all sectors of our society, the new fellows are joining the nation’s thought leaders in nursing and health care.”

Konkle-Parker’s bio is available here

The American Academy of Nursing ( serves the public and the nursing profession by advancing health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis, and dissemination of nursing knowledge. 

Miss University Looks to Become Miss Mississippi

Anna Beth Higginbotham heads to Vicksburg for pageant

Miss University 2014 Anna Beth Higginbotham.  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Miss University 2014 Anna Beth Higginbotham. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – This week, Miss University 2014 will compete in the Miss Mississippi Pageant. The pageant will take place July 9 at 8 p.m. at the Vicksburg Convention Center.

Anna Beth Higginbotham, who was crowned Miss University at the University of Mississippi last November, will take her classical vocal skills and her platform, “Power Up and Play Hard!,” which promotes healthy lifestyles for kids, to compete against 16 other women at the state pageant.

Higginbotham, a Hattiesburg native and UM senior broadcast journalism major, has been trying to achieve this ambition since she arrived at Ole Miss.

“I’ve always wanted to compete for Miss Mississippi, so I started my freshman year,” said Higginbotham. “Since then, it has always been a goal to go to Vicksburg.”

After she was crowned Miss University, her next step was to showcase her attire and talent for the Miss Mississippi competition at a trunk show at the Farrington Gallery.

Higginbotham said she would not be where she is today without the support of the university.

“I know that my university has helped me tremendously this year,” she said. “People have volunteered to help me with mock interviews and my talent rehearsals, and I would not be nearly as prepared if it wasn’t for Ole Miss.”

For Higginbotham, the opportunity to win a state pageant is more than just about looking beautiful in a dress, she said. It is about representing her university and her state as well as helping others, such as when she led a team of 391 people to raise $113,093 for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

“I believe I am the girl next door,” she said. “I’m the all-American girl. I’m someone who has been involved [in] my community.”

Higginbotham said she’s excited to represent the Ole Miss community at Miss Mississippi 2014, but she does not limit herself to pageant preparation; she plays a role in many facets of the university. She is the Associated Student Body director of health promotions and a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority, where she has served as philanthropy chairman and public relations chairman. She is also a NewsWatch 99 anchor and a Meek School of Journalism and New Media recruiter.

“I don’t put everything into pageants,” Higginbotham said. “I enjoy many things. I am a student who tries to be involved in a lot of different areas and not just focus on one aspect.”

This experience has laid the groundwork for her to have success when she graduates and begins her career in broadcast journalism. She encourages any student interested in pageant competitions to do them mainly for personal development.

If she is crowned Miss Mississippi, then she will move on to the Miss America competition.

The Miss Mississippi pageant will be broadcast on television statewide in Mississippi. Check local listings. For tickets and other information about the event, go to

To find out how Higginbotham and other UM students did in the competition, check Ole Miss News next week.


Raising the Bar

UM's chief research officer champions excellence, competitiveness

Toni Scarpa, director of NIH's Center for Scientific Review, poses with Alice Clark after presenting her with the center's 2010 Marcy Spear Outstanding Reviewer Award for her 20-year commitment to reviewing NIH grant proposals.

Toni Scarpa, director of NIH’s Center for Scientific Review, poses with Alice Clark after presenting her with the center’s 2010 Marcy Spear Outstanding Reviewer Award for her 20-year commitment to reviewing NIH grant proposals.

OXFORD, Miss. – Before becoming the University of Mississippi’s vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, Alice Clark spent 22 years working in the university’s School of Pharmacy, where she helped establish one of the longest continually funded antifungal research programs in the history of the National Institutes of Health.

She also achieved several professorial, research and administrative milestones, becoming one of UM’s elite Frederick A.P. Barnard Distinguished Professors and director of the National Center for Natural Products Research, one of the university’s internationally renowned research institutes.

After becoming UM’s chief research officer, Clark began using what she learned while working in the pharmacy school to benefit the entire university and is credited with expanding its research infrastructure and competitiveness, and reputation as a player in addressing issues confronting our state, nation and world.

“We are fortunate to have a person of her ability, commitment, character and national stature in science leading research at our university,” Chancellor Dan Jones said.

One key to Clark’s successes is her commitment to what she envisioned her job to be when first becoming the university’s CRO in 2001: serve as the chief advocate for all researchers on campus, no matter what their discipline, rank or status. That steadfastness has resulted in a faculty-focused Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, a campuswide technology transfer program, a 10-acre research park with an Innovation Hub and a far greater awareness of UM’s research enterprise in the Statehouse, on Capitol Hill and elsewhere.

Championing the university’s diverse pool of researchers harkens back to the early days of Clark’s career, when the Graduate School dean and associate vice chancellor for research, the late Joseph Sam, supported her efforts to obtain competitive funding for her research, despite the notion that investigators from smaller schools such as Ole Miss couldn’t compete with those from larger universities.

“He believed in me and what I could do,” Clark said. “Back then, I was a novice, and I had the naiveté to apply for a contract from the National Institutes of Health to screen compounds for activity against opportunistic infections common among AIDS patients. Joe Sam put resources behind me and threw in some needed cost shares.”

So Clark, then an assistant professor of pharmacognosy, and Charles Hufford, professor of pharmacognosy and co-principal investigator, submitted an application in 1984 that received nearly $500,000 from NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Because of progress made with that first NIAID award, Clark and Hufford received a $1 million contract renewal in 1987 and a $372,000 grant from NIAID in 1989. With Clark as its principal investigator, that competitive grant (RO1-AI-27094) has been renewed four times, pushing total funding for the antifungal research program to $7.4 million.

As CRO, Clark said, “I want to help other researchers, so they can enjoy the same kind of experience.”

Her first step toward that goal was staffing and organizing ORSP into divisions responsible for such elements as sponsored programs administration, integrity and compliance, technology management, and research and economic development.

In addition to routinely alerting faculty, staff and students to internal and external funding opportunities, Clark and her staff help investigators develop, polish and submit their proposals; manage fiscal and other aspects of their awards; and ensure that all their activities are conducted responsibly and with the utmost integrity. They also help investigators protect and transfer intellectual property they develop to the private sector by helping them license such innovations to companies or start businesses based on them.

“From the moment she stepped into the ORSP, Dr. Clark has committed herself to expanding the culture of scholarship of all kinds at the university and stimulating the state’s economy,” said former pharmacy school dean Barbara G. Wells, who worked with Clark to secure funding for several of the school’s major research and construction projects. “She pursued those goals on several fronts and never relaxed her pursuit of them. As a result, the number of successful research programs within the university has greatly expanded, many UM faculty members have developed into world-class researchers, and the funding for research has increased remarkably.”

Besides setting up the ORSP to “deliver what the faculty needs,” Clark has been working with the Mississippi Legislature and Institutions of Higher Learning “to accomplish good things” for the state, said ORSP technology management director Walter G. Chambliss.

“She led the state’s four research universities in their involvement in Blueprint Mississippi (an extensive one-year research project focusing on how public and private sectors can strengthen and expand the state’s economy and competitiveness) and, as chair of the Mississippi Research Consortium in 2010, led their response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”

After the Deepwater Horizon explosion spewed millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, a multi-institutional National Institute of Undersea Science and Technology team was the first academic group to conduct sampling missions in the area, which helped scientists and government officials understand the spill’s extent and severity. That helped cement NIUST’s leadership in this type of research and resulted a year later in a $20 million award to a UM-led consortium for studying the spill’s lingering effects.

“This project demonstrates the University of Mississippi’s leadership role in addressing challenges affecting our state and nation and in bringing together the best possible minds to address those challenges,” Clark said. “It is also a testament to the high-quality, highly competitive research being done by our scientists.”

Insight Park, UM’s new research park, and its 62,000-square-foot Innovation Hub were designed, constructed and programmed to ensure that the creative products of such researchers serve as an economic catalyst.

“The purpose of Insight Park is to ensure that the outcomes of world-class researchers are put into action, transforming what we know and how we do things,” Clark said. “It’s a place where technology and research-based companies can benefit from being close to the university and work with its faculty, staff and students.”

Such achievements may surprise observers elsewhere but not those familiar with Clark’s history of getting the job done.

Early in her Ole Miss career, she and Hufford found and patented several compounds that killed or inhibited Candida albicans, the culprit behind an opportunistic infection threatening the lives of AIDS patients. They also developed a microbial model for predicting the human metabolites of primaquine, an antimalarial drug that produces hemolytic anemia in some people and to which some parasites have become immune.

Clark also began serving on scientific review panels that evaluate NIH and other grant applications to help the agencies fund the most promising research.

Because of those and other accomplishments, in 1993, the university named Clark one of its Barnard Distinguished Professors, an honor it bestows only on internationally renowned faculty members. Two years later, the pharmacy school needed someone to serve as interim director of its then-new National Center for Natural Products Research. Clark was its choice, as she was a year later, when she became the center’s director.

As director, she helped secure more than $8 million to build the center’s new home, the Thad Cochran Research Center. She also helped negotiate the center’s nearly $1.4 million cooperative research agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, which made the Cochran Center home to the USDA-ARS Natural Products Utilization Research Unit. In addition, she helped secure yet another $1.8 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the drug interaction risks of botanical dietary supplements.

“She got Phase I funded and teed it up for Phase II,” Chambliss said. Phase II, which is under construction and slated for completion later this year, will double the pharmacy school’s research space and complete a two-building complex that Clark and other school leaders envisioned two decades ago.

In 2000, Clark testified at a congressional hearing examining the national and global problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics. A year later, she began serving on a National Academy of Sciences’ task force commissioned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to develop a framework for evaluating the safety of dietary supplements.

By 2001, the year Clark became the university’s vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, NCNPR had become the “go-to-place” for anyone around the world seeking expertise or training in natural products research or dietary supplements.

As vice chancellor, she has heightened awareness of UM’s research enterprise within the state due to her work with the Mississippi Research Consortium – which includes CROs from the state’s eight public universities – and the governor’s office, said NCNPR director Larry Walker.

“She has developed strong relationships with leaders throughout the state and region, and those relationships have very much benefited the university,” he said.

Because of her work with such entities as the NIH, USDA, FDA and CDC, as well as Mississippi’s congressional delegation, Clark has been just as successful raising awareness at the national level.

“She is so well thought of in all those circles,” Walker said. “That’s because she is able to see the entire research landscape and relate our research to their missions. As a result, our work with these agencies was set on a solid foundation.”

Nearly 13 years have passed since Clark became CRO at Ole Miss. While few here find it surprising that a researcher could so smoothly and successfully step into such a highly responsible administrative position, some people are amazed that Clark continues to work one-on-one with faculty members to strengthen their proposals, counsel students about their aspirations, maintain a strong research program of her own and find time for reviewing grant applications for NIH.

Among them is Lainy Day, an associate professor of biology who secured some $470,000 from the National Science Foundation to study the relationship between mating displays and brain evolution in a family of birds native to Guyana and Panama.

“I was amazed that a vice chancellor would take the time to look my application over,” Day said. “She helped me reorganize the proposal and eliminate typos, and she gave me a quick turnaround time.”

Others credit Clark with raising the glass ceiling for women in academia and biomedical research.

“She is a wonderful role model and mentor,” said Ameeta Agarwal, a senior scientist in NCNPR and collaborator on Clark’s antifungal research project. “When faced with a problem, my colleagues and I often ask, ‘What would Dr. Clark do?’ She is a thinker and handles the big picture. She listens, strategizes and offers suggestions, and she does so without being condescending.”

Agarwal, who first began working on Clark’s project as a postdoctoral research associate, said that many times during their 13-year association, she has watched Clark encourage and advance women.

“She has sparked several women’s interest in biomedical research,” she said. “She is able to see people’s potential and provide the support they need to advance their careers.”

“Dr. Clark is an exemplary and complete faculty member, leader and public servant,” Wells said. “Her impact on the university is immeasurable. Her tenure will be remembered as the time when the ORSP and research culture at Ole Miss came to maturity, and as a time when a stable foundation was laid to underpin the remarkable success the university will have in coming decades.”

Changes in Store for UM Student, Visitor Parking

Registration opens Aug. 6, construction and enrollment growth lead to limited number of permits

Parking changes will take place for the 2014-15 school year.

Parking changes will take place for the 2014-15 school year.

OXFORD, Miss. – Unprecedented enrollment growth and ongoing construction at the University of Mississippi mean parking spots will be limited for campus residents and commuters for the 2014-2015 academic year. Officials encourage students to sign up Aug. 6 for first-come, first-served parking passes.

Last year, about 3,999 campus residents bought parking passes. Enrollment is projected to grow again this fall and create a larger need for parking, but fewer spaces are available due to construction. About 3,460 residential parking passes will be sold this year because of the decreased space. Some 821 fewer commuter parking permits are being sold this year. Any students who are unable to purchase the campus parking permits will have an option to purchase permits for the Park-and-Ride lots.

The changes are the most effective way to manage the available spaces while adding flexibility for students, said Mike Harris, UM director of parking and transportation.

“Our job is to manage what we have to get the most out of it and give options to everyone so they can make the decision that’s best for them,” Harris said.

University officials encourage both commuters and students who live on campus to sign up online for a parking pass as quickly as possible Aug. 6, when registration opens at 8 a.m. Once all residential and commuter parking permits are sold, the remaining students will need to purchase Park-and-Ride permits to use one of the designated off-campus lots and take shuttle buses to and from campus.

Residential permits cost $145 per year and commuter parking permits cost $125 annually, while a Park-and-Ride permit is $40 per year. Harris expects some people will voluntarily use Park-and-Ride to save money.

The Park-and-Ride lots are at the Jackson Avenue Center, which is adjacent to Oxford Mall, and the South Lot, which is on the north side of the intersection of Mississippi 6 and Old Taylor Road.

New, expanded brown-route buses will serve the residential area with a stop at the corner of Cross Street and Union Avenue. This will provide service to the Park-and-Ride lots from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. On-call service will be provided from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays.

Parking restrictions are in place 7:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, which means anyone with a permit must park in the correct designated area during those hours. During the hours of 5 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. weekdays and all day on weekends permits are not required to park on campus. However, individuals cannot park illegally, in restricted areas such as fire lines or in handicap spots without handicap designation.

Once the more-than-820-space parking garage is completed near Vaught Hemingway Stadium, more parking options will be available. Some 500 spaces there will be designated as timed parking, but anyone will have the option of parking there for $2 for the first hour and $1 for each additional hour, with a 24-hour period costing no more than $10. Credit card payments will be required at the parking garage.

Visitor parking will also continue to be available in the Lyceum Circle for $2 per day. A monthly visitor permit also will be available for $20, and an annual visitor permit will be sold for $150.

Metered parking is also expected to be installed near the Manning Athletics Performance Center, where spaces will cost $1 per hour. Coins and credit cards will be accepted at those meters.

Faculty and staff who purchased a reserved spot last year will be contacted in early August about renewing the reserved space. Employees who did not purchase a reserved spot last year can add themselves to the reserved waiting list during the registration process beginning Aug. 6 by contacting the parking and transportation office.

More information about parking changes will come as the online registration date approaches. Harris urges students to check their Ole Miss accounts for a series of informative emails on the changes, which will go out starting July 1.

Ole Miss MBA Program Bestows Honors on Alumni, Faculty, Students

Honorees chosen for exemplifying best of MBA program

Dean with

Christopher Thomas and Sam Cousley pictured with Dean Ken Cyree after receiving the Most Outstanding Faculty award.

OXFORD, Miss – A crowd of nearly 100 University of Mississippi students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered June 19 at the M-Club room of the Starnes Athletic Training Center to honor members of the university’s MBA program.

Dean Ken Cyree welcomed guests, including Jeffrey Conley, recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Conley, who earned his Bachelor of Business Administration in 1975 and his MBA in 1977, was also a member of the 1972 Rebels baseball team that competed in the College World Series. Accompanied by his wife, Susan, Conley received his award just hours before this year’s Rebels beat TCU to advance to the final four of the CWS.

“I am humbled by this, as I think there are so many deserving people,” said Conley, who is president of Conley Buick Subaru in Bradenton, Florida. “You certainly make friends for life here at Ole Miss and in this program.”

Lisa Heros Ellis, who received a BBA in marketing in 2001 and an MBA in 2003, received the Outstanding Young Alumnae award. Ellis, who was joined by her husband and parents, serves as senior regional event specialist for ALSAC, the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis. She says she was surprised by the award and hopes “to do more to support the program” that has done so much for her.

Students voted for the Most Outstanding Faculty awards, which were given to Sam Cousley, clinical assistant professor of marketing, and Christopher Thomas, assistant professor of management.

While the event drew in alumni and faculty for recognition, a theme throughout the night was about supporting students, whom Cyree challenged to stay focused on the future.

“Don’t underestimate your power and abilities to influence and to create great opportunities,” Cyree said. “You will be the ones we talk about in the future.”

Two awards based on academic performance were presented to students. Andrew Ritter, of Jackson, received the Outstanding Campus MBA award, and Elizabeth Albers, of Knoxville, Tennessee, received the Outstanding Professional MBA award.

Ashley Mesecke, of Oxford, who served as MBA class president, and William Allen, of Houston, Texas, who served as class vice president of recruitment, were each recognized with an MBA Student Leadership Award.

The Rebel with a Cause award, which is voted on by students, was presented posthumously to Zach McLendon.

In closing remarks, Christopher Daniel, incoming MBA advisory board president, reinforced the purpose and mission of the program to the students. “We are here for you,” he said. “We want to grow with you.”

Second Giant ‘Corpse Flower’ Blooms at UM

Medicinal plant garden contains rare titan arum collection

Natural Product Center researchers Olivia Dale, Katherine Martin and Iffat Parveen photograph the Titan Arum, also known as the corpse flower, that is blooming at the Medicinal gardens greenhouse.

Natural Product Center researchers Olivia Dale, Katherine Martin and Iffat Parveen photograph the Titan Arum, also known as the corpse flower, that is blooming at the Medicinal gardens greenhouse.

OXFORD, Miss. – Visiting the Maynard W. Quimby Medicinal Plant Garden at the University of Mississippi can feel like stepping into a tropical rainforest – the facility’s greenhouse is filled with rare and unusual florae.

One of these species, the titan arum, is among the most extraordinary in the garden’s collection. The plant has the largest unbranched inflorescence – or flower cluster – in the world. One of the garden’s 21 titan arum plants recently bloomed and another bloomed the week of June 8.

This is a rare occurrence for a number of reasons.

“Titan arum (Amorphophallus titanum) is an endemic species, found naturally only in the rainforests of Sumatra in Indonesia,” said Vijayasankar Raman, systematic botanist for the National Center for Natural Products Research. “The plants take about five years or more to start flowering and subsequently bloom infrequently, once in three or four years, and even more rarely in cultivation. Whenever the plants bloom, they make a headline.”

The garden’s first bloom, which occurred in May, grew slightly over 4 feet tall. It was the world’s first recorded bloom of 2014. The new bloom is already 5 feet tall.

The plant has an almost otherworldly appearance. Its inflorescence is composed of the spathe, a petal-like structure, and spadix, the central column. The spathe becomes a dark crimson color as it blooms.

Adding to the bizarre nature of this species, titan arum is commonly known as the “corpse flower.” It emits heat and an odor similar to the smell of decomposing flesh in order to attract flies and beetles that pollinate the flowers. It is “one of the most malodorous plants in the world,” Raman said.

The garden’s staff has taken great care to ensure conditions are suitable for blooming. Ed Lowe, senior research and development horticulturist, has worked extensively with the plants.

“I have repotted these plants at least four times, over a five-year period,” Lowe said. “The last time was the hardest due to the size of the plants and pots. The staff at the garden tries to keep all plants watered, fertilized and repotted to the best of our ability, at all times. We want them all to bloom.”

To visit the garden, contact Lowe or Lal Jayaratna at 662-915-1620.