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, they 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

Engineering Senior Led UM Team in College BattleFrog Competition

Jack Coffin spurred teammates to second place in rigorous nationally televised challenge

Christopher “Jack” Coffin

Christopher ‘Jack’ Coffin

When four University of Mississippi students placed second in the first-ever BattleFrog College Championship in Orlando, Florida, Christopher “Jack” Coffin couldn’t have been more proud.

That’s because the 22-year-old senior general engineering major from Ruckersville, Virginia, led his three teammates in the ESPN2-televised completion. BattleFrog is an obstacle race that was inspired by U.S. Navy Seals training.

Kim Duff, 24, a 2015 graduate from Greensboro, North Carolina; Josh Brenc, 19, a sophomore from Chicago; and Emily Lewis, 20, a senior from St. Louis, also represented the university. The collegiate tournament featured a 400-meter relay, which accompanied more than 20 challenging obstacles for contestants to overcome. The Ole Miss team was among 16 teams competing in a single-elimination tournament in hopes of winning a collegiate title, a $10,000 grand prize and the Trident Cup.

“I had heard about the competition through my twin sister, who is the female elite captain of the BattleFrog race team,” Coffin said. “I asked Josh through training together in Navy ROTC, and I had met Emily our freshman year and was impressed with her work ethic and enthusiasm for crossfit. Kim and I have been great friends since sophomore year, and as a strong performer on the Ole Miss women’s soccer team, I knew she still had that competitive and athletic edge. It was hectic getting the team together at the last minute, but everyone was excited to give it a shot.”

The Ole Miss contingent was not even on the original 16-team roster for the tournament, which was staged March 12-15. The University of Texas team dropped out last minute, thus opening a spot for the Ole Miss squad to enter the competition as first alternate.

“I remember when Jack told me about it I, thought it sounded super-cool,” Lewis said. “Leading up to forming the team and then being accepted to the tournament, it was all so sudden. We did not really have a clue how the competition would be structured. We only had a description of obstacles that would be featured at the race.”

“I didn’t think twice about joining the team,” Duff said. “The experience turned out to exceed my expectations. Not only did we compete well with this team we threw together in two weeks, but it was a blast.”

The tournament structure over that March weekend allowed teams to go through the course on Friday for time trials that would affect seeding for the rest of the weekend. The Saturday and Sunday events featured matchups of seeded teams until only two teams remained. Obstacles included rope climbs, monkey bar courses, wall climbs and more, all designed to test the physical limits of participants.

“Most teams didn’t know what to expect when they entered the competition,” Coffin said. “The race was a sprint, but many schools brought their triathlon teams expecting a longer course. We brought a strong team, allowing us to move through the obstacles more quickly, and Emily and Kim were some of the strongest females in the competition.”

Coffin took the reins as team captain, helping strengthen the group’s bonds and taking the necessary steps to enter them into the competition.

“It takes everyone on the team to succeed and only one person to fail,” Coffin said. “That is how these type of races work. But we didn’t have a weak link, and we worked extremely well together. We all felt honored to represent our school in such an exciting competition.”

Coffin chose to major in general engineering with an emphasis on naval science because it increased his chances of picking up a Navy scholarship.

“Eighty percent of Navy scholarships are awarded to engineers, and the emphasis on naval science allowed me to use my ROTC classes towards my major and graduate on time, without spreading myself too thin,” Coffin said. “As an ensign in the United States Navy, I will be reporting to Coronado, California, for Basic Underwater Demolition school, where I will begin training as a naval special warfare officer.”

Mighty Marni Makes Military Mark

Assistant engineering dean completed Army ROTC boot camp in July

Kendricks repelled down 64-foot wall during camp.

Kendricks repelled down 64-foot wall during camp.

Marni Kendricks, assistant dean for undergraduate academics in the University of Mississippi School of Engineering, recently represented the university’s Army ROTC Program at the U.S. Army Summer Cadet Training Leadership Symposium in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Kendricks was among 40 people from across the nation, identified as “persons of influence” or representing “centers of influence,” to spend a few days with the cadets and cadre to learn more about how the Army is training the next generation of military officers. Participants have opportunities to endorse or recommend this program to potential future officers and leaders.

With challenges facing the military, the U.S. Army is serious about recruiting the best and brightest to lead. Military leaders are particularly interested in increasing the number of officers with engineering and technical backgrounds.

“I had the pleasure of spending a few days with provosts, deans, chancellors, athletics directors and associates from all across the U.S. representing a variety of Army ROTC universities,” Kendricks said. “We interacted with senior military officers, professors of military science and cadets in summer training. They invited the academics to participate in several activities to experience some of the Army training firsthand.”

As part of her training experience, Kendricks practiced loading a magazine and shooting enemy threats on an electronic rifle range.

“We participated in a computer-simulated attack and a virtual training activity in heavy protective gear,” she said. “I will never forget rappelling from a 64-foot tower and going through the full-scale ropes course.”

She quickly developed a great deal of trust and confidence in the professionals who were teaching those events.

“As I ended my high-adrenaline week with a few bruises and scrapes, I thought about the power of a program that could coach even a bunch of nutty professors through those challenges,” Kendricks said. “It was obvious the U.S. military has the ability and experience to transform fit, focused, young, capable 22-year-olds into great leaders to serve our country in a critical role.”

The Ole Miss unit is proud of how well Kendricks performed at Fort Knox, said Scott Caldwell, UM Army ROTC recruiting operations officer. “She represented both the engineering program and the University of Mississippi well during all of the challenging events,” he said.

UM has about 100 active Army ROTC cadets in its program and is expecting seven National Scholarship Award winners as part of the incoming freshman class. In addition to these, the unit anticipates an incoming freshman class of about 30 students who will be competing for Campus Based Scholarships or Guaranteed Reserve Forces Duty Scholarships.

UM Student Appointed to ASHP Student Executive Committee

Gabe Hinojosa of Picayune among five students nationally named to panel

Clinical assistant professor Joshua Fleming (left) and student Gabe Hinojosa at ASHP’s summer meeting.

Clinical assistant professor Joshua Fleming (left) and student Gabe Hinojosa at ASHP’s summer meeting.

OXFORD, Miss. – The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has appointed Gabe Hinojosa, a University of Mississippi pharmacy student, to its Pharmacy Student Forum Executive Committee.

“The executive committee is responsible for advising the ASHP board of directors and staff on the overall direction of the Pharmacy Student Forum,” Hinojosa said. “In everything we do, our overarching goal is to provide students around the nation with the information and tools they need to be successful leaders in their communities and advance the profession of pharmacy.”

ASHP’s president appoints five students from across the nation to the Student Forum Executive Committee each year.

Hinojosa, a Picayune native in his fourth professional year of pharmacy school, has served in various leadership positions within ASHP at local, state and national levels. He served as the president of the pharmacy school’s Student Society of Health-System Pharmacists and on ASHP’s Leadership Development Advisory Group this year.

Hinojosa was recently given the Bruce Parks Memorial Mississippi Society of Health-System Pharmacists Student Award. The award is presented to a student who exemplifies “outstanding integrity, leadership and a strong desire to enhance the mission of health-system pharmacy in Mississippi,” according to MSHP.

Joshua Fleming, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice and newly inducted chair of ASHP’s New Practitioner Forum Executive Committee, will advise Hinojosa in his new role.

“I am very excited about Gabe’s appointment,” Fleming said. “Throughout his tenure at the School of Pharmacy, he has exhibited exemplary leadership. I look forward to working with him in a mentoring relationship for his new role in ASHP.”

Hinojosa, who was installed at ASHP’s summer meeting in June, said he is excited to serve students across the country.

“The thing I am looking forward to the most during my appointment is the relationships I will build and the people I will meet,” he said. “I love meeting new people and hearing about the amazing things they are doing for our profession in their home state.

“It is even more rewarding when you meet someone who is facing a problem you have already overcome and you are able to provide (that person) with ideas and resources to do the same.”

Cliff Nash is an Aeronautical Industry ‘Top Gun’

UM alumnus is executive director of Tupelo Regional Airport, president of Mississippi Airports Association

Cliff Nash

Cliff Nash

University of Mississippi engineering alumnus Cliff Nash is among the “top guns” in aeronautics these days.

Previously elected president of the Mississippi Airports Association, Nash was recently named executive director of the Tupelo Regional Airport. Selected from a pool of about 100 applicants, he had served as director of Tunica Airport since 2002.

“My job is to oversee the day-to-day administration, operations and maintenance of a commercial service airport,” said Nash, who also directed the Greenville Airport from 1995 to 2002. “Another responsibility is to develop and coordinate capital improvement plans along with available funding sources and work with engineering consultants and contractors.”

Nash also interacts with airfield tenants, pilots, passengers and prospective users and companies.

“Airport management, especially at smaller airports where you wear many different hats, is tremendously exciting,” he said. “There is never a dull or routine day.”

A certified member of the American Association of Airport Executives and life member of the Air Force Association, Nash helped start air operations in Tunica, which opened its airport in 2003 with a 3,500-foot runway. It was expanded a year later to 7,000 feet and again in 2006 to 8,500 feet. The $50 million airport was the first new commercial-service, federalized airport built after 9/11.

He acknowledges his UM engineering education as having been fundamental to his career success.

“Simply put, it instilled confidence, fostered determination and provided analytical thinking,” Nash said. “Basically, given the opportunity, I believe I can be productive and a valued asset anywhere. Tempered with my riverboat and military experiences, the three have certainly shaped my capabilities, work ethics and management style.”

An Oxford native, Nash literally grew up on the Ole Miss campus. His father served as director of student housing and the family lived in Sam Hall. He vividly recalled being in first grade when James Meredith enrolled and lived in nearby Baxter Hall.

“The National Guard was camped on and around the intermural field where the old athletic dorm is now,” Nash said. “I spent a lot of time hanging around and talking with the soldiers. That experience, and with my father being in the Naval Reserves, influenced me tremendously.”

The Nashes also lived in Kincannon Hall and the Twin Towers residence halls when they were built, all three on Rebel Drive.

“Someday, I’m going to write a book about growing up on the campus and call it, ‘My Life Experiences at Ole Miss: All Downhill,'” he jokingly said. “Seriously, the campus landscape has changed dramatically since 1959. However, it has remained Ole Miss and has grown more beautiful, beloved and renowned.”

Attending UM after high school on a faculty-staff scholarship was a simple decision for Nash. He first enrolled in 1974 for two years, then left college to work on the Mississippi River for Magnolia Marine, serving on riverboats carrying bunker oil to power plants in Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. In the summer of 1979, he returned to Ole Miss and changed his major from law enforcement to civil engineering.

“I worked three part-time jobs, got married, had my first son, graduated with a BE degree and was commissioned in the Air Force, all by August 1982,” Nash said.

Taking a lot of courses in a very short time, Nash didn’t get to know his professors very well. A couple of engineering faculty and staff do stand out in his memory though.

“Although I only had Dean (Karl) Brenkert for two classes, I admired him for his character and resolve,” Nash said. “The one person I owe my entire experience and degree to was Mr. Damon Wall, who was the adviser for the School of Engineering. Had it not been for his counseling and support, I would not have completed my degree in three years and been commissioned in the Air Force.”

Keeping the Tupelo airport viable is important, and Nash is the right fit, said Fred Cook, chairman of the Tupelo Airport Authority.

“He definitely knows the ins and outs of the airport business with his experience, and we think we have a great candidate for director,” Cook said. “His experience, not only with the airports, but with the communities, stood out for the committee.”

Nash earned his Master of Aeronautical Science degree from Embry-Middle Aeronautical University. He also served in the U.S. Air Force as an air traffic control officer in both fixed and mobile facilities and performed airspace management duties that included redesigning the airspace used by the Joint Readiness Training Center in Louisiana. He also served on the AAAE’s U.S. Contract Tower Policy Board.

Nash and his wife, the former Ellen Crouch of Oxford, have two sons, Tyler and Lee, both of whom are married. They also have two granddaughters. He is a certified lay speaker in the United Methodist Church.

Nash is proud to acknowledge the impact UM has had on their family.

“In my immediate family, there are eight Ole Miss alums,” he said. “This is what I think makes Ole Miss so special – being cared for like family.”

Clint Williford Says Goodbye to Faculty Life

After 33 years, chair and professor of chemical engineering retiring

Clint Wilford

Clint Williford

When Clint W. Williford Jr. joined the University of Mississippi School of Engineering faculty more than 33 years ago, he had no idea his academic career would culminate in such a long list of achievements.

During his tenure, Williford served as an associate professor and professor before becoming chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering eight years ago. He also served on the Faculty Senate and several committees, including selection of Taylor Medalists. After more than three decades of dedicated service, Williford retired June 30.

“While I had the opportunity to continue in industrial R&D, I was more motivated to teach and have the flexibility to work on projects of my own,” he said. “My association with the university has been a deeply enjoyable one. I hope to continue some engagement.”

Williford said he has found Ole Miss chemical engineering students to be among the strongest academically and has derived great satisfaction in helping them learn and mature.

“They are multidimensional – pursuing Chinese, building a school in Africa and enthusiastically competing in soccer and volleyball,” he said. “On a personal level, they are so positive, friendly and appreciative. It was just fun spending my summers working with students in the lab. And they have gone on to productive careers, contributing to society as professionals, citizens and caring people.”

Over the past three decades, Williford has taught almost all courses in UM’s chemical engineering curriculum, including those on thermodynamics, transport phenomena, reaction kinetics/reactor design, unit operations, numerical methods, process control, technical communications and laboratory instruction. He also developed and taught courses in environmental remediation and bioprocessing at the graduate level.

Outside the university, Williford taught a short course to personnel at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, and to students through the graduate institute with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“I particularly enjoyed this work, and they expressed appreciation for what I did for them,” he said.

Williford has been engaged in many projects, including coal conversion, environmental studies and biofuels. He has performed and managed research projects for multiple funding agencies, including the U.S. Department of Energy. Williford also served as the coordinating PI on a multi-institution grant on biomass conversion.

“Our component focused on microbial conditioning and pretreatment as they affected glucose/xylose liberation and lignin properties (as potential co-products),” he said. “Previously, I served as a PI and UM lead investigator for our DOE-EPSCoR biomass conversion project.”

Williford earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Christian Brothers College in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from Tulane University. He joined UM as an assistant professor of chemical engineering in 1982, after working as a visiting assistant professor of chemical engineering at Louisiana State University and a research engineer at Exxon R&D Labs in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

His sabbatical and summer appointments included the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Waterways Experiment Station, Environmental Laboratory and Cold Regions Research and Engineering Lab.

“My experience with statistical methods includes research, instruction and contractual sample analysis,” Williford said. “I have performed site investigations and experiments, made depositions to opposing attorneys and have testified in court. This has been one of the more interesting aspects of my career.”

While recognition from the university, the School of Engineering and the Department of Chemical Engineering have been rewarding, Williford said his family is the most fulfilling part of his life.

“As a retired home health and hospice nurse, my wife, Sharyn, brought such comfort, guidance and healing to so many in our community,” he said. “Our older son, Josh, joined an organization providing wilderness therapy for troubled youth. Our younger son, Jake, served in the Navy for six years, attended a community college in San Diego studying criminal justice and will happily will continue this fall at Ole Miss. And my dad, Clint Sr., just turned 93 and drives a mean mowing machine.”

John O’Haver, newly-appointed chair and professor of chemical engineering, commended Willford’s service to the university.

“Clint did a nice job as department head, helping us during a very difficult time of growth and through one accreditation cycle,” O’Haver said. “During his tenure as chair, we grew from approximately 70 to 220 undergrads, earned a six-year (the maximum) reaccreditation, helped increase the average ACT score of our students, represented the department’s needs and increased the number of faculty from six to eight, negotiated much-needed increases in departmental research space and helped navigate us through all of this growth in a time of near-flat departmental budgets.”

Williford’s leisure activities include carpentry, gardening and walking the family dog. And while he recently completed an eLearning course for creating online courses, his post-retirement plans are most inclusive.

“My bucket list is long and includes travel, photography and scuba diving,” he said. “My advice is don’t wait to retire to start doing these.”

‘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.”

Ole Miss Alumnus Achieves Success on Capitol Hill

Ole Miss alumnus Stephen Worley is working on Capitol Hill as the deputy communications director of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Ole Miss alumnus Stephen Worley is working on Capitol Hill as the deputy communications director of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

An education from the University of Mississippi can lead to success anywhere, and Ole Miss graduate Stephen Worley is a perfect example.

Worley is deputy communications director for the Senate Appropriations Committee, a committee chaired by another Ole Miss alumnus, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, in Washington, D.C.

The Jackson native works daily to provide the external communications of the committee’s operations. This is no easy task, as the committee handles all the financial expenditures from the federal treasury.

But Worley has been preparing for this career since he arrived at Ole Miss. He was a member of both the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies. During his time at Ole Miss, he was involved in the Associated Student Body, interned on Capitol Hill as a student for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and was inducted into the 2010-11 UM Hall of Fame.

“I had a lot of great experiences with students and professors that taught me more than just textbooks ever could,” Worley said. “My education at Ole Miss taught me to think critically and apply thoughtful reasoning to a wide range of problems.”

He graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in both international studies and Spanish, which led to careers in government relations and directing communications for a Texas congressman.

Earlier this year, he moved up to Capitol Hill for this phase of his career, which he reached thanks to the education he received at Ole Miss.

UM to Honor First Doctoral Recipient in English

Kenneth Holditch slated to present lecture at annual Faulkner conference


‘Galatoire’s Biography of a Bistro’ by Marada Burton and Kenneth Holditch

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will honor its first doctoral recipient in English, Kenneth Holditch, during his presentation at this year’s Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference.

Holditch, a professor emeritus of English at the University of New Orleans who earned his doctorate at UM in 1961, is coming to Oxford for the 42nd annual conference to present a lecture on “Growing Up in Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha Country.” During the program, Jay Watson, the UM Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies and professor of English, will unveil the Holditch Scholars Award, which will be given annually to a graduate student in the Department of English.

Holditch’s lecture is slated for 12:30 p.m. Wednesday (July 22) in the Faulkner Room on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library. It is free and open to the public.

“The creation of the Holditch Scholars Award is exciting news indeed for the English department,” Watson said. “This award will be an important source of support for deserving graduate students in our program, and a lovely way to honor the distinguished career of the man who received the very first Ph.D. granted in English at the University of Mississippi.”

Ivo Kamps, UM chair of English, praised the efforts of Holditch and the university for the timely announcement.

“The English department is proud and pleased to recognize its first Ph.D. graduate, Dr. Holditch, with the creation of a graduate student award in his name,” Kamps said. “We are equally pleased that Dr. Holditch will be on campus for the announcement later this week, and that he will be sharing his work during the annual Faulkner conference.”

Watson asserted the fittingness for Holditch to attend and present his lecture at this year’s conference.

“That the announcement of the award fund will come during the summer’s Faulkner conference is another wonderful bit of serendipity, since Professor Holditch pursued his Ph.D. studies at a time when Faulkner was still living in Oxford and since he went on to become an accomplished scholar of Faulkner’s works in his own right,” Watson said.

To contribute to the Holditch Scholars Award, contact Angela Barlow Brown, UM director of development for special projects, at 662-915-3181 or