J.D. Williams Library Offers New Archive Exhibit

Showing includes look at literary, historical, blues and political collections

The J.D. Williams Library features a new exhibit available to the public in their Department of Archives and Special Collections. 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. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – An untitled play by William Faulkner, a Civil War soldier’s diary and  promotional materials for several famed blues artists are among dozens of artifacts in “Hot Off the Press: New and Newly Available Archive Collections” at the University of Mississippi’s Archives and Special Collections in the J.D. Williams Library.

The exhibit, which is open in the library’s Faulkner Room through Dec. 16, features items from the library’s literary, historical, blues and political collections, some of which have never before been displayed.

“This display is a new twist on the treasures exhibits done in previous years,” said Jennifer Ford, head of Archives and Special Collections. “The showcased items are from recent collection gifts to the department, as well as newly processed collections now available for use by researchers.

“Special Collections is greatly indebted to all its donors and our staff thought it was an opportune time to feature items from several new acquisitions and recently opened collections.”

One literary case boasts an untitled play written by Faulkner early in his life. It also contains a letter about Faulkner’s great grandfather’s, Colonel William Clark Falkner, written by attorney Thomas Spight regarding Falkner’s murder.

Other literary pieces are featured include works by Mississippi author Eudora Welty and contemporary pieces by UM English professors Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin.

Several historical pieces are showcased. One antebellum piece documents a lawsuit filed by Native Americans against white men over land. The lawsuit waited 30 years before having its day in court. Another piece is a plantation ledger, with references to slaves from a plantation in Oxford.

Other historical pieces include a revealing diary from a soldier in the 15th Mississippi Infantry Regiment, as well as documents relating to the final days of the Civil War in Mississippi.

Blues archivist Greg Johnson has highlighted a number of music collections, including that of the Rosebud Agency, which represented artists such as Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Luther Allison and Trombone Shorty. The agency was in operation from 1976 to 2014, and founder and owner Mike Kappus donated materials to the library’s permanent collections.

Arthur Kreutz, a composer, conductor, violinist and professor of music composition at Ole Miss from 1951 to 1965, is the subject of another display that includes several of his compositions, including his opera “The University Greys.”

The Modern Political Archives has installed eight cases that explore the congressional collection of U.S. Sen. James O. Eastland, who represented Mississippi in 1941 and 1943-1978. Eastland also chaired the Judiciary Committee from 1956 to 1978.

Included in the exhibit are campaign materials, legislation and memorabilia, including presidential documents and letters from notable individuals such as Apollo 13 astronaut and Mississippi native Fred Haise, actor John Wayne and Mississippi artist Theora Hamblett.

“Although congressional collections such as Eastland’s might at first seem only useful to biographers and political historians, they actually have a much wider application,” said Leigh McWhite, political papers archivist and associate professor. “The papers are a great resource on local history and public works projects within the state, and researchers can examine correspondence for grassroots opinions on a wide array of national, state and local topics.”

The library will host a series of brown bag luncheons with guest speakers to provide more information about the items on display. The first brown bag session will be at noon Sept. 1, with Ed Meek discussing “A Day with Mr. Faulkner and His Horses.”

At noon Sept. 13, Katrina Sims will give insight on her use of the James O. Eastland Collection in her doctoral dissertation to examine the history of the Taborian Hospital in the African-American community of Mound Bayou. And at 3 p.m. Sept. 21, Harry Bolick will discuss Mississippi fiddle tunes and songs from the 1930s.

All brown bag events are set in the Faulkner Room. Other events will be added as the fall semester approaches, Ford said.

Visitors can view the exhibit from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays. Beginning July 5, the exhibit will be open 8 a.m.- p.m. Mondays-Fridays.

For more information, contact Jennifer Ford at 662-915-7639 or at jwford@olemiss.edu.

Peddle Gift Supports Women’s Council Scholarships

Bequest to help change lives by providing opportunities to come to UM

Marjorie and Frank Peddle

Marjorie and Frank Peddle

OXFORD, Miss. – Marjorie Peddle’s daughters describe their mother as a woman of grace whose intense love for the University of Mississippi was matched by her interest in the success of young people.

Peddle, who died in November 2015, left the university $125,000 to create an endowment that will support scholarships awarded by the Ole Miss Women’s Council. Helmed by an accomplished cadre of female leaders and philanthropists, the OMWC provides scholarships for tuition and books for students, as well as guidance and training in leadership skills, career development and personal growth throughout their tenure at the university.

“I would think, knowing mom had such a big giving heart, that she would just feel blessed by giving to young men and women who will be leaders of the country someday and by knowing she had a part in that,” says Ginny Peddle Moss of Germantown, Tennessee.

“She was such a woman of principle and grace and has such a giving heart. Any time she had an opportunity to give in a way that would benefit others, she would do it.”

Marge Peddle was driven by her generous nature. Laura Peddle Sale, of Oxford, remembers her mother volunteering to fund a bell tower for the university’s Paris-Yates Chapel even before she knew the full scope of the project. Marge and her husband, the late Frank Peddle, contributed the funds for the Peddle Bell Tower, which features 36 bronze bells and a clock; its carillon provides a daily selection of songs at 5 p.m.

In 2013, Marge Peddle gave $150,000 so the University Museum could expand its 2,000-piece David M. Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman antiquities objects – the largest collection of antiquities held by a university museum in the South. And with an earlier gift, the couple encouraged the university to install a flagpole at Swayze Field.

“Mother grew up in Brooklyn going to New York Yankees games and she said, ‘We are going to have a flagpole!'” Sale recalls. “Now we have one.”

Sale says it’s fitting that her mother’s bequest supports Women’s Council scholarships because of the opportunities they will give the recipients – new beginnings similar to those received by Marge when Frank moved her to Oxford.

“There’s sort of a parallel there for these students receiving a scholarship in our mother’s name,” Sale said. “Daddy gave Mother the opportunity to come to Oxford and do something with her life other than what might have been.

“Mother would be honored to know that these young people have this opportunity to come to Ole Miss. It’s like a stepping stone for them. There’s no telling what they’ll do in their lives and what they’ll do for the university because of what somebody did for them. It’s remarkable what people can do if somebody motivates them and gives them an opportunity.”

OMWC Chair Mary Donnelly Haskell of Los Angeles and Oxford knows well the truth of Sale’s statement. An accomplished actress, recording artist and philanthropist, Haskell herself has experienced success because of the doors that were opened for her throughout her life.

“That’s the beauty of a program like the Women’s Council,” Haskell said. “Our students have this amazing opportunity to be shaped by strong, accomplished women who are successful because of the guidance they were given by their own mentors.

“It’s just an outstanding model and really an extension of Marge Peddle’s own philosophy. We are extremely grateful for her generous gift and we believe it will change countless lives going forward.”

While not an OMWC member, Marge Peddle was a mentor in her own right. She was an active member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Oxford, an adviser to the Pi Beta Phi sorority at Ole Miss and very involved with the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“She was a great role model to young people in just the way she lived her life,” Moss said. “She always cared about seeing young men and women succeed. What more can you give to somebody than to help them grow and graduate and become leaders. That’s a really great thing to give.”

For more information on providing support to the Ole Miss Women’s Council, contact Angela Barlow, development officer, at 662-915-3181 or ambarlow@olemiss.edu.

Construction Begins this Week on University Avenue Bridge

The University Avenue bridge will undergo construction beginning Wednesday. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The University Avenue bridge will undergo construction beginning Wednesday. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Beginning this week, the University Avenue bridge on the University of Mississippi campus will be partially closed.

On Wednesday, a project will begin to increase the bridge’s load capacity in preparation for additional construction traffic next summer, while the Chucky Mullins Drive roundabout is being built.

During construction, the bridge will remain open to pedestrians and passable to vehicles through one traffic lane in each direction.

Gertrude Ford Boulevard will be completely closed beneath the bridge from July 6 to Aug. 20 during the project construction. The closure barricades will be placed southbound at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts parking lot and northbound at the Ole Miss Athletics building parking lot.

Construction is to be completed the first week of September.

Join the UM Museum for a ‘Night of Whimzy’

Event will allow adult participants to create their own masterpieces

SW_headerOXFORD, Miss. – Join the University of Mississippi Museum and Studio Whimzy for a Night of Whimzy at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday (June 21).

Studio Whimzy, an Oxford business, offers acrylic painting and ceramic workshops for adults. This partnership with the UM Museum will allow participants to paint their own masterpieces inspired by Marie Hull’s magnolia painting or Gulf Coast scene, with step-by-step instructions provided.

The two-hour event will include painting, mingling and refreshments. Pre-registration is required, and the fee is $30, which includes all paint and materials.

Email Studio Whimzy at Studiowhimzyoxford@gmail.com to reserve your space.

This is the museum’s second partnership with Studio Whimzy. Rebecca Phillips, the museum’s communications and events coordinator, said she looks forward to many more partnerships with this business and other area art studios.

For more information about the event and the UM Museum, visit http://museum.olemiss.edu/.

Ignite Ole Miss Continues to Benefit University

Crowdfunding site has generated nearly $2.1 million to date

Alumni and friends helped raise more than $2.1 million dollars for univeristy projects through Ignite Ole Miss. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Alumni and friends helped raise more than 2.1 million dollars for university projects through Ignite Ole Miss. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – To date, the University of Mississippi has received almost $2.1 million through the UM Foundation’s online grassroots fundraising site, Ignite Ole Miss, enabling students and faculty to continue to improve their world.

In the past fiscal year, Ignite Ole Miss has supported the following projects:

  • The Charles Reagan Wilson Student Support Fund honors retired UM professor Charles Reagan Wilson by supporting research projects of graduate students in the departments of History and Southern studies. More than $28,300 was contributed by 186 donors.
  • The UM Compost Program converts campus food waste into nutrient-rich garden soil. Financial support keeps this environmentally friendly program in operation. More than $2,000 was contributed by 49 donors.
  • The MBA Cups Program is a student-created initiative that provides funding to the UM Horizons children’s learning program. More than $1,100 was contributed by 52 donors.
  • The Rebels for Haiti 2016 initiative supported the Ole Miss football family’s return to Haiti to distribute clean water to those in need. More than $24,300 was contributed by 135 donors.
  • The Pamela E. Hamilton Memorial Fund honors the late writer and editor of The Daily Mississippian by supporting a Meek School of Journalism and New Media lecture and scholarship. Future students in the Meek School will benefit from this project for which more than $31,900 was raised by 190 donors.
  • The Jackelyn K. and Christopher F. Byrd Memorial Scholarship will support students in the Patterson School of Accountancy. The Kulzer and Byrd families created the endowment to honor Jackie and Chris, a young married couple who died with other family members in a plane crash on their way to watch Chris’ brother graduate from Ole Miss last year. More than $81,200 was contributed by 342 donors.
  • Ole Miss for Togo helped send Ole Miss Engineers Without Borders to West Africa, where they completed a water supply project for a children’s hospital in the Akoumape Village of Togo. More than $36,500 was raised by 101 donors.
  • The Ole Miss Class of 2016 Legacy Gift is a senior class project designed to fund the installation of three flag poles and an enclave on the plaza of The Pavilion at Ole Miss. More than $10,700 was raised by 851 donors.
  • The Army ROTC Third Annual Egg Bowl Run helped the Ole Miss Army ROTC program fund future projects and provide scholarships to Army officers in need. More than $5,300 was contributed by 30 donors.
  • The Fenton Kottkamp Memorial Scholarship will support students in the School of Business Administration and the Patterson School of Accountancy. The John Schnatter and Archie Manning families created the endowment to pay tribute to the life of Fenton Kottkamp, an Ole Miss student who died last year while sledding near campus. More than $80,600 was contributed by 261 donors.
  • The Ole Miss Food Bank initiative helped the organization raise the funding needed to start stocking fresh produce and frozen meats for members of the UM community. More than $3,200 was contributed by 46 donors.
  • The Ole Miss Family Emergency Fund provides micro-grants to students facing unexpected personal crises and who are in need of financial support. More than $32,200 was raised for this program by 122 donors.

To see how you can help, visit http://www.ignite.olemiss.edu

Two UM Graduate Students Selected for Prestigious Writer’s Conference

Participants to spend two weeks studying under veteran authors at University of the South

Molly Brown

Molly Brown

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi graduate students have been selected to participate in the 27th session of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference this summer in Tennessee.

Molly McCully Brown and Jan Verberkmoes are John and Renee Grisham Fellows in the university’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. Both were nominated by faculty members for the highly competitive conference and will attend on scholarship.

“For our M.F.A. program to have two students receiving funding says a lot about the quality of work that both Molly and Jan are producing,” said Derrick Harriell, the program’s interim director.

The conference, held each summer at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, allows selected writers to teach and work with up-and-coming writers during the 12-day event, from July 19 to 31.

“I’ve heard about the conference from writer friends for years and I’m thrilled to be able to participate, to talk and study with a host of great writers I admire enormously and to have the chance to meet so many other writers working all over the country,” Brown said. “A community of fellow writers has been one of the biggest gifts that graduate school has given me, and I hope my time at Sewanee will only expand that community even further.”

Brown, from Amherst, Virginia, earned her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University. Several of her poems and essays have appeared in various publications.

Distinguished faculty from across the country will provide instruction and criticism through workshops and lectures focused on poetry, fiction writing and playwriting.

Jan Verberkmoes

Jan Verberkmoes

Verberkmoes, a Roseburg, Oregon, native who earned a bachelor’s degree in German at the University of Oregon, said she is eager for the conference to begin.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with writers whom I admire and I’m looking forward to meeting and getting to know other workshop participants,” she said.

The conference experience is invaluable, said Beth Ann Fennelly, a UM English professor and renowned poet.

“I had a scholarship to this same conference when I was young and the lessons I learned and friends I made are still a big part of my writing life, so I am very excited for two of my students to have this amazing opportunity,” Fennelly said.

“I also am proud of how their selection reflects on the M.F.A. program as a whole. It’s very unusual for a program to have two students so honored.”

Recent Ole Miss M.F.A. graduate Corinna McClanahan Schroeder also will be attending the conference on a fellowship.

“Our program is well represented at one of the most prestigious summer conferences,” Fennelly said.

UM Graduates Selected for Prestigious Business Development Program

Developers of Curtsy dress rental app headed to Silicon Valley to expand venture

Students listed left to right; (back row) Sara Kiparizoska, Manuel Cubillo, William Ault, Eli Allen, Jake Johnson, Mary Margaret Tardy (front row) Clara Agnes Ault, Haley Vassios, Allie Seay

The full Curtsy team listed left to right; (back row) Sara Kiparizoska, Manuel Cubillo, William Ault, Eli Allen, Jake Johnson, Mary Margaret Tardy (front row) Clara Agnes Ault, Haley Vassios, Allie Seay

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi graduates have landed major support from a Silicon Valley business incubator as they work to expand their mobile platform that helps college students rent formalwear to and from fellow students.

Sara Kiparizoska, of Laurel, who graduated earlier this month with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, and William Ault, a 2015 graduate in computer science from Charlotte, North Carolina, created an app called Curtsy that helps university students rent their formalwear or other clothes.

Curtsy is among 100 startups chosen for a summer program at the Y Combinator, one of the country’s best-known and successful business incubators and accelerators. Companies such as Dropbox and Airbnb have their roots there. This is the first time a Mississippi company has been chosen by the investment group.

“We are thrilled to be accepted and now will be moving to California,” Ault said. “Y Combinator has the most successful model in starting high-impact, high-growth companies. We are excited for the opportunity to refine our product and grow as fast as possible.”

Y Combinator will provide seed funding of $120,000 in exchange for 7 percent equity in each startup company that satisfactorily completes the three-month program.

Ault, Kiparizoska and their team are moving to California for the summer to immerse themselves in the entrepreneurial and technological culture of Silicon Valley. They’ll exchange ideas and experiences with similar companies, learn all they can and work to build Curtsy into the premier platform in their market.

Eli Allen,David Oates and William Ault

Eli Allen,David Oates and William Ault

Curtsy’s story began in early 2015, when Kiparizoska was going to a formal social event but found herself without a dress that matched the occasion. She’d previously borrowed dresses from friends but this time couldn’t find one she liked.

“I thought, ‘Wow, I wish there was a way to see everyone’s closets in Oxford,'” Kiparizoska said.

She initially thought she would create a website, but when she mentioned the idea to Ault, her roommate’s brother, he had an idea that would make the platform more accessible.

“William, being the entrepreneurial mind that he is, said, ‘Everyone has their phone with them all the time. Let’s make an app instead,'” she said.

Curtsy iOS LLC was born.

The business got off the ground at Insight Park, the university’s research park, where Ault had interned, working with other student-led startups in the facility’s incubator. He knew Insight Park could provide the resources and entrepreneurial atmosphere to help their young company grow.

By honing their idea through the university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship student competitions and receiving seed money from the Rebel Venture Capital Fund, Ault and Kiparizoska put together a team and successfully launched Curtsy in January 2016.

The app is widely used in the Oxford area. Some 3,100 people have signed up for it and 2,100 dresses have been posted, generating 300 rentals in the last 100 days.

Expansion has already begun to the Southeastern Conference towns of Starkville; Athens, Georgia; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and Columbia, South Carolina. Plans call for Curtsy to expand to the rest of the SEC this summer.

With the app’s increasing popularity and user base, the developers knew they were ready to take the next step. They applied to Y Combinator, knowing that Curtsy’s application was far from a sure thing. Of roughly 6,000 applicants, only 100 startups were chosen for the summer program.

Although the company is moving and Ault is excited about the program and opportunities for guidance under Y Combinator, Curtsy’s roots are at Ole Miss, he said.

“We went from students with an idea to a company raising venture capital from large firms in California,” Ault said. “We’re two years into our overnight success. There were plenty of points when we could’ve turned away, but we’ve poured our lives into this project, and the hard work is just starting.”

University and Insight Park officials are confident of the group’s success.

“William and Sara are outstanding entrepreneurs,” said William Nicholas, UM director of economic development and Insight Park. “Both of them are very bright and high achievers, but they are also quick to seek and accept advice when necessary. They demonstrate many of the key characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, and I am confident they will be very successful.”

After the summer program concludes, Kiparizoska plans to continue working with the team this fall while attending medical school at the UM Medical Center in Jackson.

UM Graduate Wins Elizabeth George Foundation Fellowship

Rachel Smith plans to use time to complete book of stories about interconnected characters

Rachel

Rachel Smith

OXFORD, Miss. – Rachel Smith, a 2012 graduate of the University of Mississippi’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, has received an Elizabeth George Foundation fellowship, which will allow her to move to a mountain cabin to work on a collection of stories.

The Seattle native who lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, said the couple plans to move to the Cascade region of Washington so she can work on her stories in a peaceful, isolated setting. She thinks the spot will be perfect for writing.

The best part about the grant is that it gives her a chance to be there and just focus on her craft, something that is rare for a budding author, she said.

“It’s kind of a dream,” Smith said. “If you are a writer you just want time to focus on your book and that’s what I got. It doesn’t happen very often. It’s a very big gift, and I’m hugely excited about it.”

Her stories involve many different female protagonists and are set in years spanning from the early 1980s through the present. Many different cities provide the backdrop, and her tales are often connected by characters who may appear as major players in some stories and secondary characters in others.

Though Smith said she isn’t really focused on themes, complicated romantic relationships often are present in her writing. 

“A lot of the characters are grappling with relationships or attractions that exist outside the boundaries of what is socially acceptable,” Smith said.

“I think we’ve probably all experienced emotions that we can’t act on without doing damage to our lives or relationships, and I’m interested in exploring those sorts of situations imaginatively. I want to present my characters with emotional obstacles to grapple with or surmount.”

The Elizabeth George Foundation, which is named for the New York Times bestselling author, makes artistic grants to unpublished fiction writers, poets and emerging playwrights, and also to organizations benefiting disadvantaged youth. Smith’s fellowship is worth $33,600.

She previously received a competitive two-year Wallace Stegner Fellowship for the Creative Writing Program at Stanford University, which she started in 2013. The university offers only 10 two-year fellowships each year, five in fiction and five in poetry.

That fellowship program is named after Stegner, a novelist and the creative writing program’s founder. Smith received a living stipend of $26,000, plus tuition and health insurance. She was the first graduate from UM’s MFA program to receive the fellowship at Stanford.

Smith also directed a documentary “MINUSTAH Steals Goats,” which deals with her time in Haiti. There, she was an outsider trying to understand a strange situation involving United Nations peacekeepers. The film was screened at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam in 2010 and was picked up by 7th Art Releasing.

Smith is one of the MFA program’s most talented recent graduates, said Ivo Kamps, chair of the UM Department of English. Her thesis, written under the direction of famed authors Richard Ford and Tom Franklin, included a collection of short stories that Kamps called “superb.”

“Upon graduation (from UM), she traveled for a year in China and returned to the U.S. after obtaining a prestigious two-year Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, where she worked with Tobias Wolff and Adam Johnson,” Kamps said. “Winning the Elizabeth George Foundation fellowship is only the most recent of Rachel’s impressive successes, and it will allow her to continue on her fiction uninterrupted.”

Smith’s eagerness to learn has always set her apart, said Franklin, a celebrated novelist and UM associate professor of fiction writing.

“Rachel is one of the best students we’ve had because she wasn’t afraid to admit what she didn’t know,” he said. “Add a dazzling talent to that openness and you’ve got something special, which she is.”

Smith said she won’t be satisfied unless she completes her book of stories by the end of the fellowship.

“It’s really a privilege to have received the grant,” Smith said. “It is great, as a reflection on the MFA program at Ole Miss that I have this opportunity, but as great as it is, I won’t consider something like this a success until I really have done something with it. Hopefully, I can report that I have a year from now.”

Gravitational Waves Detected from Second Pair of Colliding Black Holes

UM physicists part of team working with data from Advanced LIGO detectors

Massive Bodies Warp Space-Time. Image Credit: T. Pyle/Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab

Massive bodies warp space-time. Image Credit: T. Pyle/Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi researchers are among scientists worldwide elated that gravitational waves – ripples in the fabric of space-time – have been observed for a second time.

The gravitational waves were detected Dec. 26, 2015, by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, or LIGO, detectors, in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The discovery has been accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the LIGO facilities were conceived, built and are operated by Caltech and MIT. The discovery was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration – which includes the GEO Collaboration, the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy – and the Virgo Collaboration using data from the two LIGO detectors.

Gravitational waves carry information about their origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained, and physicists have concluded that these gravitational waves were produced during the final moments of the merger of two black holes – 14 and 8 times the mass of the sun – to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole that is 21 times the mass of the sun.

“The black holes producing the gravitational waves were about three times smaller in size than the black holes we observed in September,” said Marco Cavaglia, UM associate professor of physics and astronomy and assistant spokesperson of the LSC. “Their size is closer to what astronomers observe in galactic X-ray binaries.

“LIGO data also show with very high confidence that at least one of the black holes was spinning before it collided with its companion. This is the first detection of a spinning black hole in a binary system which does not rely on X-ray observations.”

During the merger, which occurred some 1.4 billion years ago, a quantity of energy roughly equivalent to the mass of the sun was converted into gravitational waves. The detected signal comes from the last 27 orbits of the black holes before their merger.

Based on the arrival time of the signals – with the Livingston detector measuring the waves 1.1 milliseconds before the Hanford detector – the position of the source in the sky can be roughly determined.

“In the near future, Virgo, the European interferometer, will join a growing network of gravitational wave detectors, which work together with ground-based telescopes that follow up on the signals,” said Fulvio Ricci, the Virgo Collaboration spokesperson. “The three interferometers together will permit a far better localization in the sky of the signals.”

The first detection of gravitational waves, announced Feb. 11, was a milestone in physics and astronomy; it confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and marked the beginning of the new field of gravitational-wave astronomy.

“It is very significant that these black holes were much less massive than those observed in the first detection,” says Gabriela Gonzalez, LIGO Scientific Collaboration spokesperson and professor of physics and astronomy at Louisiana State University. “Because of their lighter masses compared to the first detection, they spent more time – about one second – in the sensitive band of the detectors. It is a promising start to mapping the populations of black holes in our universe.”

“The LIGO detectors are the most precise measurement devices ever built,” said Katherine Dooley, a UM assistant professor of physics and astronomy. “The gravitational waves create phenomenally small changes in the distance between two points in space, and we use laser light to measure that change in distance.”

The second discovery “has truly put the ‘O’ for Observatory in LIGO,” said Caltech’s Albert Lazzarini, deputy director of the LIGO Laboratory. “With detections of two strong events in the four months of our first observing run, we can begin to make predictions about how often we might be hearing gravitational waves in the future.

“LIGO is bringing us a new way to observe some of the darkest, yet most energetic, events in our universe.”

In the short time since the first announcement, the observation of gravitational waves has already changed how scientists view information coming from across the universe, said Luca Bombelli, a UM professor of physics and astronomy.

“Scientists have used it to find out about a distant astrophysical event that we would not have detected otherwise, to study the gravity of black holes and even as a tool to learn more about quantum theory and test predictions of theories on the nature of space-time,” Bombelli said.

“From a practical point of view, the detection has increased the chances of funding for future experiments. This second announcement confirms the fact that we are now in a new era in the study of the cosmos.”

Both discoveries were made possible by the enhanced capabilities of Advanced LIGO, a major upgrade that increases the sensitivity of the instruments compared to the first-generation LIGO detectors.

“With the advent of Advanced LIGO, we anticipated researchers would eventually succeed at detecting unexpected phenomena, but these two detections thus far have surpassed our expectations,” said France A. Córdova, NSF director. “NSF’s 40-year investment in this foundational research is already yielding new information about the nature of the dark universe.”

Advanced LIGO’s next data-taking run will begin this fall. By then, further improvements in detector sensitivity are expected to allow LIGO to reach as much as 1.5 to 2 times more of the volume of the universe. The Virgo detector is expected to join in the latter half of the upcoming observing run.

LIGO research is carried out by the LSC, a group of more than 1,000 scientists from universities around the United States and 14 other countries. More than 90 universities and research institutes in the LSC develop detector technology and analyze data; about 250 students are strong contributing members of the collaboration. The LSC detector network includes the LIGO interferometers and the GEO600 detector.

UM has been a member of the LSC since 2007. Researchers in the university’s LSC group include not only faculty, but also many active student researchers at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Ole Miss contributions to LIGO research are in the areas of instrumentation and data analysis.

“We are constantly working on developing new technologies to improve the sensitivity of the gravitational wave detectors, so that we can detect other types of events that are weaker than black hole collisions,” Dooley said. “One such line of work that is researched at Ole Miss is the manipulation of the quantum nature of light.”

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

“The University of Mississippi is thrilled to again be part of the historic developments of the LIGO team,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor of research and sponsored programs and associate professor of physics and astronomy. “This second detection of two black holes merging further demonstrates that gravitational wave astronomy will be a powerful new tool to help us better understand our universe.”

The weaker signal of this event is important because it shows the detector is sensitive enough to pick up not only large events with extreme energies, but also lower energy events, which are more common, Gladden said.

“Every event detected brings new data that can be compared to theory, which pushes our understanding of our universe forward,” he said.

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

“We are all very excited to hear of the LIGO detection of a second gravitational wave event and congratulate the Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, LIGO detectors for this new finding, and the UM team of scientists on LIGO,” said Lucien Cremaldi, chair of UM’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. “A second event discovered in the LIGO 2015 data set seems to indicate that gravitational waves are all around, just awaiting our detection.”

For more information about LIGO, visit http://ligo.org/.

Mississippi-Made Mandarin Recognized as World-Class

UM Flagship Chinese Program draws fevered students, yields fluent alumni

Henrietta Yang teaches students in the Chinese Language Flagship Program.

Henrietta Yang teaches students in the Chinese Language Flagship Program.

OXFORD, Miss. – Offering the immersive experience of any Language Flagship Program is a tremendous plus for any university, but being the country’s best program is far better. And that’s exactly what faculty and students in the Chinese Language Flagship Program at the University of Mississippi have succeeded in doing.

The Language Flagship program began in 2002 and includes intensive programs in languages deemed critical for American government, business and military interests – including Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Russian – at several U.S. colleges and universities. UM was among the first institutions to launch a Chinese Language Flagship Program.

“The Language Flagship began as a small pilot project to challenge a few U.S. universities to build programs of advanced language education,” said Donald Dyer, UM chair and professor of modern languages. “Being one of The Language Flagship’s Chinese programs means this is a program designed to take students to the superior level of Chinese, a program on steroids.”

UM is among a dozen institutions offering the intensive program, and the university’s success in preparing its students for careers involving Chinese language and culture attracts students from across the country.

“Ole Miss has one of the most effective Chinese programs in the country, which is why I chose to come here in the first place,” said Liana Tai, a senior international studies and Chinese major from Arlington, Virginia.

Flagship programs are results-driven. One factor used to determine just how good a program is involves examining how many students it can send to the Flagship Capstone. To participate, students must fulfill all required courses, apply, pass all qualifying tests and be accepted by the Flagship Chinese Council.

From 2003 to 2013, Ole Miss sent only 12 students to Capstone. From 2014 to 2016, UM has sent 20 students to Capstone.

“For the past two years, the University of Mississippi has had the largest group among the 12 Chinese Flagship Capstone Programs,” said Henrietta Yang, Croft associate professor of Chinese and co-director of the program.

“During the selection process, all students were ranked based on their application packages, which included a personal statement, a Chinese writing sample, a Chinese speech sample, transcripts, three recommendation letters and a Chinese resume. Three of the top five selected and admitted were UM students, and eight of 13 were ranked above 30.”

The Ole Miss CLFP also is the only Chinese Flagship program that operates an intensive domestic summer program before the freshman year and a post-freshman summer program at Shanghai University in China. This program aims to raise students’ linguistic proficiency and cultural knowledge considerably within an eight-week period.

The university’s CLFP Shanghai Program is open to take students from the other 11 flagship programs.

“Establishing our Shanghai program, which is very well-respected and replete with high standards, is another huge success that is very rewarding to me,” Yang said.

Since taking over the program in 2013, Yang has redesigned the curriculum, which has high standards, thematic courses, domain mentoring and cultural preparation. Unlike some Chinese Flagship programs around the country, which offer only upper-level courses, the Ole Miss CLFP allows for entry at various skill levels.

The university also boasts one of the finest language teaching teams in the nation. Joining Yang are two assistant professors and three full-time instructors. Approximately 100 alumni of the program have gone on to successful careers in international business, public policy leadership, medicine and politics, to name a few fields.

Instruction extends far beyond the borders of the Oxford campus.

“We have seeded Chinese instruction at Oxford, Lafayette and Holly Springs high schools,” Dyer said. “More than 10 students from OHS have matriculated into our flagship program. Students come here from all over the country to study Chinese at a high level.”

Students enrolled in the program are singing their praises of the professors’ instruction and the valuable learning opportunities being received.

Prospective job opportunities in the international business arena are what drew Conner Clark, an international studies and Chinese major, to the UM Chinese Flagship program. The senior from Dallas also participated in the Capstone Year Program.

“During the first semester, we were direct-enrolled at Nanjing University,” Clark said. “For the second semester, we applied to whichever organizations that we were interested in and completed a full-time internship for a minimum of 16 consecutive weeks. This second semester was the most fulfilling for me.”

James DeMarshall, a junior Chinese and international studies double major with a minor in mathematics, said he knew that the Ole Miss program would make him proficient in the language.

“The culture of this program is infectious,” said the native of Glassboro, New Jersey. “Everyone is very supportive of each other, almost like a big family. When I visited campus and sat in on classes, I knew I wanted to be part of this special atmosphere the flagship program has cultivated here.”

Having studied consecutive summers in Shanghai and Harbin, DeMarshall recently learned he was awarded a U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship to spend this upcoming summer studying in the city of Xi’an, in China’s Shaanxi province. He is also the incoming president for the UM chapter of a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization called Global China Connection, of which the Chinese Language Flagship Program has been very supportive.

“I recently had the opportunity to travel to New York City to participate in a conference for GCC, and I was one of maybe 10 or 15 non-Chinese people in attendance,” he said. “As the event went on, I realized how far my Chinese had come in such a really short period of time spent here at Ole Miss.

“I was able to comfortably function in Chinese, which made it easier for me to network and connect with all the other young professionals in attendance. In essence, there was no language barrier. I can entirely thank the UM Flagship Program for that capability.”

As a result of the Chinese program’s success, the department applied for an Arabic flagship program in 2015. Although the request was not granted, the university’s Arabic program is good enough to achieve flagship status, Dyer said.

“Our Arabic program is also exceptional, modeled after Chinese, and reaching the same level of productivity and success,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yang is anticipating even greater levels of success for the Chinese program.

“We are preparing for as many as 19 students for Capstone next year,” she said. “Ours has dominated among the 12 Chinese Flagship Programs in the past two years. I would have to agree that UM has the best Chinese Flagship program in the country.”