UM Named Among ‘Mississippi’s Healthiest Workplaces’

Designation honors campus efforts to create a 'culture of wellness'

The University has been named one of the healthiest places to work for in Mississippi.

The University has been named one of the healthiest places to work for in Mississippi.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi, which has aggressively implemented many health and wellness initiatives for its nearly 2,900 employees, has been named one of Mississippi’s Healthiest Workplaces for 2015.

The Mississippi Business Journal, the Mississippi Business Group on Health and the Mississippi Department of Health hand out the designation each year. The university will be honored at a banquet Friday (July 31) in Jackson along with other recipients of the award. 

“The University of Mississippi is pleased to be recognized for its efforts in improving the health and well-being of our faculty and staff,” Acting Chancellor Morris Stocks said. “This is a great achievement and could not have been done without the joint efforts of many throughout our university who have worked to improve the health and quality of life for all of us.”

The recognition honors the UM community’s hard work on health issues, said Andrea M. Jekabsons, UM assistant director of employment and training and project manager with RebelWell.

“The recognition as one of the ‘Healthiest Workplaces’ is an honor,” she said. “The RebelWell team is working to create a culture of wellness. This includes physical activity opportunities, health screenings, general wellness education and nutrition services, as well as constant visual reminders to encourage healthier habits.”

The university benefits from healthy employees for several reasons, Jekabsons said. 

Healthy employees are likely to be more productive, actively engaged and fully present when at work, and may experience improved job satisfaction and organizational commitment,” she said. “These may seem like benefits to the university, but more importantly, an improved health status is a benefit to the individual.”

Campus health programs have benefited from a $250,000 wellness grant from the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation. The American Heart Association has also consistently recognized UM as a “Fit Friendly” employer, either at the gold or platinum level since 2009. The university has also made the Chronicle of Higher Education’s “Great Colleges to Work For” list, which measures employee overall satisfaction, seven of the eight years the list has existed.

The university developed the RebelWell program, which provides a range of opportunities for employees to become educated about living a healthy lifestyle and also offers group fitness classes, cooking demonstrations and nutrition counseling, among other services.

Last year, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Brandi Hephner LaBanc joined the RebelWell team, representing the university’s senior leadership. LaBanc is chair of the RebelWell Campus Committee.

“This is such a critical organizational initiative as evidenced by its inclusion in our strategic plan,”LaBanc said. “Efforts like these reinforce the Ole Miss way – we are a place that cares about one another and wants faculty, staff and students to have a positive and rewarding life experience. I believe the work of the RebelWell has contributed to employee wellness and happiness, and in turn, contributes to a more engaging academic environment for students.”

The university has also updated its employee policies to allow more flexibility and time for employees to work on their health.

University leaders created the UM2020 strategic plan with specific wellness objectives. They included developing and implementing a multiyear plan for promoting and advancing health, nutrition, exercise and individual wellness among all workers. UM also set itself as a beacon of leadership on health issues across Mississippi by educating and fostering a community that is committed to healthy and sustainable lifestyles and campus environment. The vision also included developing and integrating industry-leading programs and initiatives that will transform nutrition, health promotion, exercise and employee wellness.

In an effort to enhance the university’s individual health, community well-being and positive work life balance, the university’s leadership has also made changes to two employee policies in 2015 to promote a more healthy work environment.

Department heads are allowed to be flexible with scheduling to let employees participate in physical activity and UM wellness programs. Managers are also allowed to let their employees participate for up to three hours each month in approved wellness-related activities such as university-hosted walks, cooking demonstrations and physical fitness activities on campus. Employees can also be allowed to attend on-campus wellness seminars.

Employees are also allowed breaks twice per day to encourage them to stretch, walk or take short bike rides around campus, which can benefit work performance and individual health.

Each “Healthiest Workplace” honoree will be featured and recognized and will receive their award during the presentation program, said Alan Turner, Mississippi Business Journal publisher. The program is slated for 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Jackson Hilton Hotel. The Mississippi Business Journal will publish a special glossy magazine in August with profiles of all honorees that will be sent to all MBJ print and digital subscribers and will also be available on the website. 

“We’re delighted to see Ole Miss participating in this event and taking the lead in providing a healthy working environment for staff, as well as students,” Turner said. “We’re excited and hope this will translate to many other employers, agencies and institutions, as the importance to our state of improving the physical health and well-being of our citizens can hardly be overstated.”

UM Honors College Names Scholarship Recipients

Outstanding students awarded four prestigious awards to fund Ole Miss studies

Photo by Robert Jordan

Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Photo by Robert Jordan

OXFORD, Miss. – Fourteen standout incoming freshmen accepted into the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi have been awarded four of the university’s most prestigious scholarships.

Of the 14, four were awarded the McDonnell-Barksdale Scholarship, six were awarded the Doris Raymond Scholarship, two were awarded the Harold Parker Memorial Scholarship and two were awarded Annexstad Family Foundation Leaders for Tomorrow Scholarships.

Barksdale Scholarship recipients are Dylan Devenny of Pass Christian, John Ross Graham of Hernando, Galina Ostrovsky of Madison and Jessica Tran of Hattiesburg.

Raymond Scholarship recipients are Anna Beavers of Gainsville, Florida, Taylor Bentley of Amarillo, Texas, Kaci Crawford of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Raven Francomano of Bay, Arkansas, Thomas McFann of Arlington, Tennessee and Mikaela Sarkar of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Parker Scholarship recipients are Devna Bose of Philadelphia, Mississippi, and James Long of Olive Branch.

Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship recipients are Tan Le of Gulfport and Francisco Santos of Southaven.

“We are proud of our Honors scholarship winners! They will teach us by their example of what it means to be both citizen and scholar in today’s challenging world,” said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, Honors College dean. “I look forward to four great years with each of them.”

Devenny graduated from St. Stanislaus College Preparatory School, where he received the Star Student award and the Character Cup. A member of the band, he received the John Philip Sousa Award, the Patrick S. Gilmore Band Award and the Excellence in Music Award. An Eagle Scout, he has worked on numerous service activities through his Boy Scout troop. He is majoring in computer science.

Graham is a graduate of Hernando High School. The valedictorian of his class, he was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” and inducted into the Hernando High School Hall of Fame. He received the Commercial Appeal Academic All Star in English Award and the Mississippi Economic Council Star Student Award, and served as a National Society of High School Scholars Ambassador. A member of the tennis team, he won the 2013 men’s singles district championship and received the Lindy Callahan Scholar Athlete Award. He co-chaired the program Backpack Angels, providing food relief local elementary schools. He plans to major in English.

Ostrovsky is a graduate of St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. The winner of the AP Spanish Language and Culture Class Award, she is the co-founder and president of the National Spanish Honor Society and served as the president of the Spanish Club. Her service activities include working as a tutor in various programs and working with adults with disabilities at both the Mustard Seed and St. Catherine’s Nursing home. She is a Guillot Global Studies fellow and received a grant to participate in an exchange program to Hyderabad, India. She plans to major in chemical engineering with a minor in Spanish and pre-med.

Tran, a graduate of Oak Grove High School, was the salutatorian of her class. Voted “Most Intellectual”, she is the Pride of Oak Grove recipient and in the Oak Grove Hall of Fame. In 2013, she was named the 6A state champion in archery. Her service activities include volunteering at the Hub City Animal Shelter and All Animal Clinic, serving as a tutor and working with nursing homes and Operation Christmas Child. She is majoring in chemistry.

Beavers graduated from Lakeview Academy, where she served as senior class president. A recipient of the University of Georgia Certificate of Merit, she also received the Piedmont College Junior Fellows Award, Wesleyan College Award and the Golden Lion Award. She is a member of Key Club and also volunteers with the Helping Hands Foreign Missions Uganda. She plans to major in criminal justice.

Bentley is a graduate of Amarillo High School, where she was the 2015 salutatorian. A National Merit Commended Scholar, she received the calculus departmental award and the hospitality and tourism departmental award. As a member of the varsity track and field team, she was a regional qualifier in 100-meter hurdles and the pole vault. She served as Wesley Community Center and VA Hospital volunteer. Bentley plans to major in mechanical engineering.

Crawford graduated from Hillcrest High School. Recognized as HHS Top Senior and Academic All-Star, she received the Tuscaloosa County Star Senior and Champion of Character Awards. She served as the National Honor Society president, student government vice president and student government historian. Having worked as at Center Ridge Outpost as an autism camp counselor, she organized an autism awareness week wristband fundraiser, raising $1,200. She plans to major in chemical engineering.

Francomano graduated from Bay High School. An Arkansas Scholar, she received the highest academic honors, graduating as Class of 2015 Valedictorian. A member of student council, she also served as a member of student government, Family Career and Community Leaders of America, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Her community service includes Bay After School Program tutor, Bay United Methodist Community Outreach Committee and March of Dimes Prom Fashion Show model. She is majoring in public policy leadership.

McFann is a graduate from Arlington High School. The valedictorian of his class, he was named Science Olympiad Winner and the AP Scholar with Distinction and received Performing Arts Excellence awards in piano and drums. He served as a student ambassador, class leader and mentor for Bellevue Middle School Youth. The president of National Honors Society, he was a member of Mu Alpha Theta, Key Club and the Science Olympiad Team. He is majoring in computer science.

Sarkar, a homeschooled student, has lived in seven states and two foreign countries. For the past decade, she received her education travelling across the country and abroad with her mother and sister “globeschooling.” She is a National Merit Scholar and the Tennessee 4-H Essay Contest Winner on county, regional and state levels. Founder of the environmental blog, she has volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club of Blount County and Millar Park Afterschool Program. Sarkar is majoring in public policy leadership.

Bose is a graduate of Philadelphia High School. The valedictorian of her class, she received numerous awards in math, Spanish and world history and was named the 2015 STAR student of Philadelphia High School. A member of the PHS band, she received the Band Leadership award. She served as vice president of Leadership Neshoba and Crown Club and was a member of the National Spanish Honor Society and Beta Club. A co-founder of Students Against Destructive Decisions, she also founded the annual PHS Book Drive. Bose is majoring in journalism.

Long, a graduate of Olive Branch High School, received awards in math, debate, chess and computer programming competitions. He served as vice president of Mu Alpha Theta and lettered in soccer and tennis. He is majoring in mathematics and plans to attend medical school to become a surgeon.

Le is a graduate of Harrison Central High School. He led the HCHS marching band as head drum major. Le is a first-generation Asian-American and is the son of Ba Le and Duyen Ngo. He has an older sister who also attends Ole Miss.

Santos graduated from Southaven High School, where he participated in band and drama. He is majoring in computer science and has an interest in studying music. He is the son of military veterans Francisco and Paula Santos.

For more information about the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, visit

Steadfast Retiree Continues to Have Impact on Pharmacy School

Robert Bishop reflects on nearly 50 years of memories

Robert Bishop

Robert Bishop

OXFORD, Miss. – When looking back over his nearly 50 years at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, Robert Bishop remembers his friends the most.

“I made some very good friends at the pharmacy school,” he said. “I’ve had a really wonderful time here. Time really does fly when you’re having fun.”

Bishop, who was hired in 1968 as a stockroom clerk and eventually promoted to buyer, performed a variety of tasks to support the school.

“Basically, I took care of the stockroom,” he said. “I kept up with the school’s vehicles, set up seminars and worked with solvents. There were 3,000 gallons of solvents in bulk 55-gallon drums that we had to pour in 1-gallon bottles for our researchers. It took four hours to pour them.”

Bishop worked under five deans, each of whom had different personalities, he said. One memory that comes to his mind is a prank pulled on Ken Roberts, who served as dean in the ’90s.

“We had a big meeting in the Y building, where they were serving lunch,” Bishop said. “Most people who knew Dean Roberts at the time knew he would only drink Diet Coke. We took all the Diet Cokes out of the cooler and waited for him to come by. You should have seen his face. It was all in good fun, though – we hit it off really well.”

Outside the pharmacy school, Bishop was a tank commander in the Mississippi National Guard for almost 30 years. He credits the school with giving him the flexibility to serve when duty called.

An avid outdoorsman, Bishop hunts and fishes regularly – he’s even hunted elk in the Tetons. This could be the reason for his levelheadedness the time a deer ended up in the stockroom.

One of Smith's favorite pastimes is crappie fishing.

One of Smith’s favorite pastimes is crappie fishing.

“There are often deer on campus, but I didn’t believe it when they first told me there was one in the stockroom,” Bishop said. “Then I heard it hit the shelves. It was a mess. We finally managed to lure it out.”

Bishop has been described as honest, hardworking and dedicated. According to Don Stanford, assistant director for the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, these descriptors couldn’t be more accurate.

“Robert always puts the School of Pharmacy first,” Stanford said. “He’s truly concerned about the certain aspects of the school that he’s involved with. He wants to see things done properly and efficiently, and takes it upon himself to see tasks through.”

One example of his commitment to the school was on a recent snow day, Stanford said.

“I woke up that morning and got a RebAlert text stating that the university wouldn’t open until 10 a.m.,” Stanford said. “The first thing I did was call Robert. He was just a few minutes away from driving to Oxford. He had no intentions of even asking anybody if the university was closed or open.”

Bishop officially retired from the school in 2009 but has continued working part time and is still going strong. While working for the school full time, he said the key to his success was his effort to go “above and beyond” as much as possible.

“I tried to give the school the best service that someone could possibly give,” Bishop said. “I thought if I could do that, I’d be respected. I also tried to make everyone enjoy working here.”

Stamps Scholar Recognized by Autism Science Foundation

Dylan Ritter completes second summer conducting brain development research at Texas A&M

Scoot Dindot,left and Dylan Ritter, right.

Scoot Dindot,left and Dylan Ritter in Dindot’s lab.

OXFORD, Miss. – Dylan Ritter, a junior majoring in biochemistry at the University of Mississippi, has been recognized by the Autism Science Foundation as one of the top five undergraduates in the nation working on groundbreaking projects in the field of autism.

Ritter, a Stamps Scholar and member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, is spending two months at Texas A&M University this summer working on an independent project to study brain development in mice with chromosome 15q11.2-13.1 duplication syndrome, a type of autism commonly known as Dup15q. It’s a condition that hits close to home for Ritter.

When Ritter was just 4, his youngest brother, Travis, was diagnosed with Dup15q. While Ritter had an interest in learning more about the condition, he never really considered the possibility of pursuing autism research. Coming to Ole Miss with his eyes set on medical school, Ritter read an article on research being done to analyze Dup15q syndrome in mice being conducted by Scott Dindot at Texas A&M.

Inspired by what he read, Ritter contacted Dindot and was offered a summer job in Dindot’s lab after his freshman year. After working with Dindot, Ritter consulted with his UM mentors, Nathan Hammer, UM associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Honors College, who gave him the assistance and encouragement needed to change his major.

“Dr. Hammer has helped me figure out where I wanted to go, leading me towards the biochemical track of the chemistry degree and offering any help I needed,” Ritter said. “DSG helped me become interested in UM since my first visit on campus and has helped me explore the world outside Ole Miss by encouraging me to pursue opportunities I might usually be hesitant to.”

“Dylan Ritter breaks the mold,” Sullivan-Gonzalez said. “An incredible problem has gripped his soul and he is pouring his life into its solution. Dylan demonstrates how we should live as citizen scholars in our world today.”

Ritter completes his summer at Texas A&M as one of the top undergraduate researchers in his field. The prestigious honor from the Autism Science Foundation is accompanied by a grant to help fund his research. He received grants from the Honors College to fund his first trip and said they played an important role in his return this summer.

A native of New Jersey, Ritter plans to take a break to go home and visit with friends and family before returning to UM in a few weeks for his junior year.

Volunteers Needed for ‘Groovin’ at Move In’

Move in

‘Groovin’ at Move In’ will take place August 15-20

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Department of Student Housing is seeking faculty, staff and other volunteers to welcome new students and help them move into residence halls beginning Aug. 15.

Both groups and individuals who are interested in helping need to register here by noon Aug. 3, organizers said. Those volunteers will help on scheduled move in days, Aug. 15-20.

Volunteers are an essential part of the move-in day experience for students, and the warm welcome and helping hands are most appreciated, said Jennifer McClure, assistant director for marketing for student housing. The volunteers help students unload their vehicles and carry their belongings to their rooms.

“Having volunteers to welcome our students and assist them in moving in helps to set the tone for these students’ experiences at Ole Miss,” McClure said. “They get to see from the start what a welcoming and spirited atmosphere we have on our campus. It’s so exciting when members of the L-O-U community come out to greet and support the newest members of the Ole Miss family.”

Each volunteer receives a Comfort Colors T-shirt and also the gratitude of new students and their parents. Within the week before move in, volunteers will receive their assigned locations, as well as T-shirt pick-up locations and times, McClure said. At move in, volunteers report to the volunteer tables in their assigned areas to get name tags and sign in.

Here are a few requirements volunteers should be aware of before signing up:

  • All volunteers must be 18 years of age or older.
  • All volunteers must wear the provided move-in T-shirt. (Volunteers who wish to advertise their organizations or groups are encouraged to do so through the use of accessories such as stickers, headbands, fanny packs, socks, etc.)
  • Volunteers may not distribute materials or give out promotional items during move in.
  • All volunteers must wear nametags.
  • Volunteers may not accept compensation of any kind

For more information, visit UM Student Housing’s move-in page. 

Scholarship Donation to Assist Study Abroad Students

Gift honors UM alumnus and provides help for Mississippi students to learn through travel

Morgan Martin, right, and his father, Benjamin Martin.

Morgan Martin, right, and his father, Benjamin Martin.

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi students wanting to study abroad in Germany have a new opportunity to obtain financial assistance. Each year, a qualifying student can receive just over $1,000 to assist in the cost of the program.

Morgan Martin, of Alexandria, Virginia, has provided a donation to the university in honor of his father, Dr. Benjamin Franklin Martin III, for use as a study abroad scholarship. Morgan said he wanted to give back to the university that meant so much to his father.

“I wanted to honor my father’s memory by setting something up where he could have a lasting impact on other peoples’ lives,” Morgan said. “I hope this will provide an opportunity for people from Mississippi to venture out and explore the rest of the world while attending the university that meant so much to him.”

The Dr. Benjamin Franklin Martin III Memorial Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment will become available during the German Intensive Summer Program of 2016. Full-time undergraduate and graduate students with a major or minor in German are eligible, with first priority going to Mississippi residents.

“The Intensive Summer Program offers German majors and minors the unique opportunity to become more confident and capable speakers of German through immersion in the vibrant, metropolitan setting of Berlin,” said Dylan Goldblatt, instructor of German. “Morgan’s generous financial support of study abroad to Germany helps us grow and enhance the Berlin program and ensures that the Department of Modern Languages can train many more promising scholars in the years to come.”

During his time at Ole Miss, Benjamin Martin was involved with the German program as a student and grading assistant. It was his belief that learning a second language was the first step to a greater appreciation of the world around him. He also believed that traveling the world was an important and integral part of learning.

Benjamin Martin received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1960 from UM, where he was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity. He earned his M.D. at the UM Medical Center in Jackson and performed his specialty training in pathology at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis.

Until his retirement in 2001, he was founder and managing partner of Columbus Pathology Laboratories in Columbus, where he had practiced medicine for more than 30 years. He retired to his hometown of Holly Springs to be closer to family and Ole Miss. He was an avid reader, world traveler and collector of art, notably of Mississippi artists and photographers.

To contribute to the Dr. Benjamin Franklin Martin III Memorial Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment, contact Angela Barlow Brown, UM director of development for special projects, at 662-915-3181 or

UM Prepares Teachers for Emotional Disorder Intervention

Graduate curriculum offers much-needed training for Mississippi teachers

The University of Mississippi School of Education now offers a specialized program to prepare teachers to become skilled interventionists in emotional behavior disorders.

The UM School of Education offers a specialized program to prepare teachers to become skilled interventionists in emotional behavior disorders.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education is offering a specialized program to prepare teachers to become skilled interventionists in emotional behavior disorders, or EMD.

The 12-hour EMD Program includes four graduate-level courses and is designed to help meet a rising demand for educators in this area statewide.

“There is a huge need for teachers who are knowledgeable of emotional behavioral disorders and the support services required for success,” said Denise A. Soares, assistant professor and coordinator of special education at UM. “We’re seeking teachers who have classroom experience and want to help children who display at-risk behaviors. Students with emotional behavior disorders have the poorest educational, behavioral, and social outcomes of any disability group. It is imperative that we train teachers how to provide accommodations, interventions and supports for this group of students.”

According to data from the Mississippi Department of Education, the state has experienced a 57 percent increase in students diagnosed with emotional behavior disorders and an 8 percent decline in EMD-licensed teachers since 2009.

The UM program prepares teachers to promote academic success among students who struggle with emotional disabilities, a general term for any number of disorders that can atypically affect a child’s behavior.

Scholarly research shows that students diagnosed with an EMD often have unfavorable academic, behavioral and social outcomes and are more likely to drop out of school or be incarcerated, Soares said.

By using research-based intervention and teaching techniques, educators can help at-risk students improve behaviors in a constructive and healthy way. Educators who complete the program will qualify to receive an add-on license endorsement in EMD intervention from the state.

“Our university is committed to providing quality teacher preparation at all levels,” said Susan McClelland, chair of the UM Department of Teacher Education. “There’s a growing demand for EMD intervention and our vision is to equip teachers with research-based tools to make a positive impact in this area.”

The new curriculum can be completed independently in one year through night and weekend classes or be applied toward a master’s or specialist degree in education at the university. The EMD Program requires the following three-hour courses:

– Education and Psychology of Individuals with Behavior Problems

– Positive Behavior Support

– Applied Behavior Analysis and Management

– Practicum and Field Experiences with Exceptionalities

Offered at UM’s Oxford campus, the program requires a current Mississippi teaching license and two years’ relevant experience for admission. Those seeking to complete the program outside a graduate degree program must apply to the UM Graduate School as a non-degree-seeking student.

“We believe that teachers can have a positive impact in this area,” Soares said. “By providing them with the resources to intervene in a school setting, it can lead to drastically improved circumstances in later life.”

For more information about UM’s EMD Program visit

Watching Their Steps

UM scientist's patented technology measures changes in walk of elderly, which may help prevent falls

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi-patented sonar technology, which can be used to measure and score the movements of the elderly, may soon become a “game changer” for those concerned about aging parents or patients.

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

The Collie Home Health Walk Signature SystemTM is a smart sensor created by UM research scientist James Sabatier, who began developing sonar technologies in the 1980s. Still in the pre-prototype phase, the small, wireless device can be attached to the wall of any room in a building. Once in place, Collie regularly measures and assesses walking speed, leg and torso motion and other parameters related to balance and gait. This data is used to calculate a person’s “fall-risk” score.

“Collie is the first product of its kind to bring the precision of expensive equipment used in research hospitals to the home in a single, affordable, noninvasive smart sensor,” said John Rogers, Collie Home Health’s chief operating officer. “This is important for seniors, as the National Council on Aging identified lack of preventive treatment and changes in lifestyle as the major factors contributing to falls.”

Collie’s fall-risk scores are indicators of stability, with higher scores indicating better stability and a lower risk of falling. If a person’s score dropped over a period of time, it might signal a problem, said Sabatier, Collie Home Health founder, chief executive officer and inventor.

“A fall-risk score is a standardized measurement, like blood pressure,” he said. “It gives a snapshot of a person’s stability. Over longer periods, trends in the score provide insight into changes in a person’s health.”

By responding to these changes with prescribed interventions, such as physical therapy, a cane or walker, patients may improve their walking ability or at least lessen the probability of having a debilitating or deadly fall.

For example, if someone’s parent or grandparent had a fall-risk score of 68, and over time it decreased to 42, clearly preventive intervention would be needed.

“But why wait until it’s 42?” Rogers said. “By measuring fall-risk every day, you see her score drop below 60. And even though you may not see a change in her stability with your naked eye, you know it is time to schedule that doctor’s appointment. Then, through physical therapy or the addition of a walking aid, her score jumps back up to 72 over the next few weeks.”

Sabatier is collaborating with other UM scientists and staff in perfecting Collie. John Garner, interim chair and associate professor of health, exercise science and recreation management, compares Sabatier’s research with similar data yielded by experiments in UM’s Applied Biomechanics Laboratory. The equipment includes eight cameras used to capture all body motions of test subjects in three dimensions.

“Ours is the ‘gold standard’ in motion capture,” Garner said. “So far, the Collie system replicates our standards on a much smaller scale and shows great promise for the health care industry. We’re just glad to provide our ‘toys’ to assist his efforts.”

Jeremy Webster, an engineer at the university’s National Center for Physical Acoustics and a consultant on the software aspects of the project, voiced similar positive findings.

“At this point, we can very accurately measure the strides of people,” he said. “The next requirement on the road to making Collie available to the public will be a better understanding of when these changes begin to take place. Once we have that, we can test the prototype in a small number of homes for several months. By that point, we should have a unit for consumers to purchase.”

Two UM students, Demba Komma of The Gambia and Forrest Gamble of Birmingham, Alabama, also work with Sabatier on Collie testing.

Sabatier was the first tenant of the Innovation Hub at Insight Park, a 62,000-square-foot high-tech center that provides support and infrastructure to startup companies in the knowledge business, including biomedical and pharmaceutical industries. The company is an outgrowth of his life’s work as an acoustical physicist at NCPA. With the Innovation Hub as his base, he was able to take advantage of in-house resources to develop his research into a viable business.

“It was bred into me as a graduate student that this was what I was supposed to do, but I struggled to know how to do it,” Sabatier said. “I’m a university faculty member by career, trying to become a businessman. The Innovation Hub provides all of the pieces I need.”

“Falls are traumatic and when a loved one falls, she desires the best emergency care possible,” he said. “But the best treatment is to avoid the fall by taking preventive action.”

For more information, email with “Collie Launch” in the email subject line or register for the mailing list at

Students Learn About Marine Science Careers at Ole Miss ROV Camp

ROV Camp students watch the ROV as it moves around the tank.

ROV Camp students watch the ROV as it moves around the tank.

ABBEVILLE, Miss. – Six middle school students got a glimpse into what a marine sciences career is like last week at the University of Mississippi’s Seafloor Science ROV Day Camp.

The camp, sponsored by the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology, allowed campers to learn about technology as they built and tested remotely operated vehicles, or ROVs, at the UM Field Station near Abbeville.

“The purpose of this camp is to expose the students to new worlds of biology and engineering,” said Michelle Edwards, assistant to the director of marketing and business development for NIUST. “We want to introduce them to careers that are STEM-oriented.”

Ethan Criddle, Gray Tucker and Briggs Tucker of Tupelo, Anna Grace Kilpatrick and Alex Mobley of  Oxford, and Ezra Marks of Cleveland, Ohio, spent the week building a replica ROV, modeled after actual ROVs that are in use mapping the ocean floor. At the end of the week, they tested the device in a tank of water, controlling it through a computer.

NIUST marine science technician Trevor Fournier said he wants to teach students that there is much more to marine science that just the study of marine biology.

“Maybe they like to build, maybe they like to work with electronics, maybe they like to do the research.” he said. “If they find their niche in this camp, then that’s the best I can hope for.”

For more information about the camp, visit

‘CSI’ Gets Real at UM Forensics Camp

Students get hands-on experience with technology to help solve simulated crimes

CSI Summer Camp participants look for potential evidence in a staged crime scene. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

CSI Summer Camp participants look for potential evidence in a staged crime scene. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The crime scene was cordoned off. A methamphetamine lab operator there had been killed in an apparent botched robbery attempt. Samples were taken to be analyzed, which helped investigators identify a suspect. The situation played out like the plot in a TV crime drama.

But the blood wasn’t real – it was only barbecue sauce and ketchup – and the corpse was a CPR training dummy. The scenario was all part of a weeklong Crime Scene Investigation Camp and Forensic Teacher’s Conference. The event was hosted by the University of Mississippi Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and its forensic chemistry program in cooperation with the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, or AAFS, and the UM Division of Outreach and Continuing Education.

“By the time the students leave here, they have a good idea of what it’s like to be a forensics expert,” said Murrell Godfrey, associate professor of chemistry and director of the program. “They also understand that ‘CSI’ (the TV show) isn’t real. There’s a lot more that goes into it. You can’t just solve a crime in one hour.”

UM has one of three forensic chemistry programs in the nation that is accredited through the AAFS. The camp put 32 students from across the country and 10 teachers on the case. At UM July 19-24, they participated in crime scene processing, ballistics, gunshot residue testing, DNA and fingerprint lab analysis and other criminal investigation techniques. They also had all the high-tech tools of the trade at their disposal.

“Students get to use equipment and technology that they normally wouldn’t have access to,” Godfrey said.

Students learned about proper chain of custody procedures and the paperwork associated with evidence in a criminal case. They also worked with instructors from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and even had to testify in a mock trial at UM’s School of Law to present their evidence before a jury. Tucker Carrington, director of the Mississippi Innocence Project based at UM, talked to the students about his group’s efforts to use DNA testing to free people who were wrongfully convicted.

Caroline Spencer, a UM doctoral student in chemistry and graduate teaching assistant, helped with the camp. She gave students instructions on the DNA lab work they were doing Monday, which involved using a sophisticated method known as gel electrophoresis to analyze DNA. The method uses an electrical current to separate macromolecules such as DNA, RNA and proteins to be analyzed. Spencer said the camp offers students an opportunity she wishes she’d had at their age.

“They did great,” Spencer said. “They’re learning a lot of techniques that you don’t learn until the college level, like pipetting with gel electrophoresis. I didn’t learn that until my sophomore year of college. They’re getting a really early start with that and they’ll be way ahead of their peers.”

Camp instructors also drive home the importance of studying science, math, engineering and technology.

“The goal here is to show students that you need a strong foundation in science, math, engineering and technology education to go into forensic science or forensic chemistry,” Godfrey said.

Hunter Crane, a seventh-grade science teacher at Oxford Middle School, led a session on ballistics, mainly the different types of bullets and how various guns leave different marks on bullets as they leave the barrel. Crane also helped students perform gunshot residue tests on the hypothetical suspect. Those tests help police determine whether a suspect has fired a gun recently.

Crane said the opportunity to use the camp and the popularity of “CSI” to get the students more interested in STEM fields is incredibly valuable.

“It’s just a great opportunity,” Crane said. “There was already an interest with the ‘CSI’ TV show. But just from what I’ve been involved with, I know the TV show isn’t actually what CSI is. The interest is there and being able to get them involved with the camp here at Ole Miss is a step in the right direction. Science is an important subject that they need.”