Sullivan Leading MDOT Traffic Division

Civil engineering alumnus worked his way up ranks of organization

Jim Sullivan

James S. Sullivan

Since James S. Sullivan began working for the Mississippi Department of Transportation 11 years ago, the University of Mississippi civil engineering alumnus has continued to rise through the organization’s ranks. The state traffic engineer, he stays busy overseeing all aspects of the traffic engineering division.

“The Traffic Engineering Division is responsible for providing technical guidance on the use of traffic control devices – signs, signals and markings – on the state’s highways,” said Sullivan, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 1986. “The division is also responsible for administering the Highway Safety Program and the Intelligent Transportation Systems program, the latter of which focuses on strategies to improve operational efficiency and traveler information.”

Sullivan’s area manages the website, traffic alerts via email and social media, MDOTTraffic mobile apps, the 511 traveler information phone service and other ITS deployments. The division also manufactures highway signs, maintains the interstate highway signs and provides traffic signal maintenance for certain districts.

Sullivan said he enjoyed his days on campus.

“My most memorable civil engineering classes at Ole Miss were those with Dr. Stead, Dr. Abdulrahman, and Dr. DeLeeuw,” he said. “Each of these professors, in addition to providing instruction, challenged and encouraged me in their own unique ways – and at times entertained. Times of study with fellow students provided many fond memories as well.”

MDOT’s Traffic Engineering Division has been a leading supporter of the transportation engineering program within the Department of Civil Engineering. Several other alumni serve with Sullivan in the division, including Acey Roberts, Kevin McMillon, Celina Sumrall, Amrik Singh, Brian Hovanec, Eames Henley and Wes Dean, the deputy chief engineer in operations.

“My direct interaction with James was through the MDOT-funded Oxford roundabout project,” said Waheed Uddin, UM professor of civil engineering and CAIT director. “This project received the AASHTO “Sweet Sixteen” Award for MDOT, putting it among the nation’s top 16 state DOTs.”

Sullivan was the contract supervisor of this research project and Uddin was the project principal investigator from 2008 to 2010.

“I appreciate the timely feedback and continuous encouragement that James and other engineering alumni provide to enhance our academic program,” Uddin said. “They frequently lecture civil engineering students at ITE chapter meetings organized by the student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.”

Yacoub “Jacob” Najjar, chair and professor of civil engineering, agreed.

“James has had a great career since graduating from Ole Miss,” he said. “He is a great role model for our students and recent graduates.”

Among his stellar career, Sullivan consider finding MDOT employment to be among his greatest achievements.

“I was fortunate to have been able to work on a number of interesting and significant transportation projects throughout the state,” Sullivan said. “My time with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, all of which has been in Traffic Engineering Division, has proven both professionally and personally rewarding.”

The state of Mississippi adopted a new Strategic Highway Safety Plan earlier this year and along with it, its vision, “Toward Zero Deaths.”

“It’s rewarding to team with a staff dedicated to work daily with the goal in mind to implement highway traffic safety countermeasures, traffic control devices and ITS strategies in an ongoing effort to reduce the number of highway related fatalities and crashes until the ultimate goal of zero is reached,” Sullivan said.

He was thrilled to have been recognized as part of a team that won the Best of ITS Award presented by ITS America for Best New Innovative Practice for Partnership Deployment for the Mississippi River Bridges: Incident Management, Freight Movement and Security ITS Project. The project involved adding multiple ITS deployments at each of the four Mississippi River crossings in Mississippi, using ITS strategies that improve operations at the Mississippi River Bridges through traffic cameras and other sensors and dynamic message boards and other means to convey traveler information.

“This project required close coordination with each of the border states with which Mississippi shares river crossings,” Sullivan said. “The project also includes a traffic incident management component whereby the states build local coalitions designed to improve traffic incident response and clearance times in an effort to minimize congestion related to traffic incidents at each of the river crossings.”

Sullivan serves on a technical committee of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which serves to provide input to the Federal Highway Administration related to the content of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. He is also on the Traffic Control Devices Committee of the Transportation Research Board.

Sullivan and his wife, Suzanne, enjoy being involved with their church, playing golf, fly fishing, photography and following Ole Miss sports.

Amrita Mishra Joins Mechanical Engineering

New assistant professor excels in teaching, materials research

Amrita Mishra

Amrita Mishra

Amrita Mishra’s research interest in computational materials science has made her an in-demand scholar in the field. The newest faculty member in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, she’s helping produce future graduates who will one day have careers of their own.

“I was looking for an opportunity to utilize my teaching and research skills,” said Mishra, who joined the faculty as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering over the summer. “Having taught undergraduate and graduate students at UNR and ISU, I have a broad perspective of students and their individual needs.”

Courses Mishra teaches include Introduction to Materials Science, Properties and Selection of Materials and Materials lab. Her future course offerings are Electronic Properties of Materials, Ceramics, Nano-materials and Materials Thermodynamics.

Mishra came highly recommended and has already earned the respect of her UM colleagues.

“She has tremendous potential to collaborate with other researchers across the campus working on fundamental material science research area driven by the thermodynamics of the complex systems,” said A.M. Rajendran, chair and professor of mechanical engineering. “I see great opportunity for the department to expand in new research areas through Dr. Mishra.”

Before joining the faculty, Mishra was a graduate teaching assistant and postdoctoral scholar at the University of Nevada at Reno and at Iowa State University.

An accomplished scholar, she has co-authored more than a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles. She is also a reviewer of scientific journals such as ThermoChimica Acta, Acta Materials and Calphad. Her professional memberships include the Society of Women Engineers, the Materials Research Society, the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, and Women in Science and Engineering.

“In association with different student bodies and academic chapters, I want to encourage minorities and women in engineering,” Mishra said. “I want to advise them with grants, scholarships and other opportunities to improve their academic success.”

Mishra collaborates with her husband, Gautam Priyadarshan, who is a senior scientist at the university’s National Center for Physical Acoustics.

“Though we are both materials scientists, we complement each other and our work,” she said. “I can predict materials with my theoretical and computational approach, while he can confirm the predictions and models with his research and experimentations.”

Hobbies she enjoys include being outdoors, running trails in Oxford, reading and yoga.

“My husband and I were looking for programs which would allow us to grow in our careers and continue with our research ideas,” Mishra said. “Along with its academic ambience and preceding history, the University of Mississippi fit right into my aspirations and provided me with this exceptional opportunity.”

Chemical Engineering Alumnus Gives Back to Alma Mater, Profession

Russ Alexander is Woods Society member, serves on Advisory Board



James “Russ” Alexander’s career and personal life have been characterized by service to his country, the U.S. Army, his family and his alma mater. For the latter, this means donating his finances, counsel and time to the University of Mississippi School of Engineering.

“As my career matured, the desire to give something back to those responsible for any professional successes that I may have enjoyed became compelling,” said Alexander, who earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1983. “I joined the Woods Society as a way to give back to the School of Engineering and also to stay in touch with its people.”

A native of Flowood, Alexander also has a master’s degree in business administration from Texas A&M University at Texarkana, another master’s degree in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a doctorate in operations research from the University of South Africa.

As an undergraduate, Alexander remembers walking by the plaques of Woods Order members on the walls of Carrier Hall and thinking that these were people who had made a difference.

“It was an honor to be asked to serve on the Engineering Advisory Board,” he said. “I felt that I was at a point in my career where I may have something useful to offer in the way of experience that may be of service to the school. It has also been a two-way street in that I feel I have benefitted much from being on the board and interacting with its members, faculty and students.”

A School of Engineering official praised Alexander’s philanthropy.

“Russ Alexander is a shining example of the kind of alumni produced by the Ole Miss School of Engineering,” said Kevin Gardner, development officer for the school. “His willingness to give back to the program and people that gave him his start makes him a vital member to our success for both present and future students.”

Alexander is chief of the Office of Research and Technology Applications at the Aviation & Missile Research Development & Engineering Center, which supports all the Army acquisition programs in missiles, aviation and unmanned systems.

“We are one of the larger RD&E centers in the Army, with about 2,500 scientists and engineers and an annual budget of about $2.5 billion,” Alexander said. “My role is to manage the technology transfer function for the center. This involves negotiating all noncontract type agreements between the center and any nonfederal organizations.”

Alexander is most involved in cooperative research and development agreements, patent-licensing agreements, test and engineering service agreements, and educational partnership agreements.

“It is interesting work because I get to be involved with state-of-the-art technologies and also get to work with the scientists and engineers from our center as well as outside organizations,” he said. “I also interact heavily with our intellectual property attorneys.”

Alexander and his wife, Minda, have an 11-year-old daughter, Riley Claire. His stepson, Bruce Connor Burley, is an Ole Miss senior majoring in Chinese through the Croft Institute for International Studies.

When he is not working, Alexander’s favorite pastimes usually involve anything outdoors.

“I live on a mountain in Huntsville, so I get to enjoy hiking and mountain biking,” he said. “I also like to sail, travel quite a bit and, of course, follow Ole Miss sports.”

Twelve Freshmen Receive Engineering Scholarships

Students from six states awarded Brevard, Adler fellowships

From left to right: Cameron Koch, William Kalusche, Chase Rydeen, Ethan Luckett, Marin Troike, Philip Thomas, Paige Lohman, Seth Gray, Jake Azbell and Hunter Myers. Not Pictured: Anna Braswell and Jason Stone

From left to right: Cameron Koch, William Kalusche, Chase Rydeen, Ethan Luckett, Marin Troike, Philip Thomas, Paige Lohman, Seth Gray, Jake Azbell and Hunter Myers.

Twelve University of Mississippi students from six states have received scholarships from the School of Engineering. Representing Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Texas and Tennessee, the students are this year’s Brevard and John G. Adler scholars.

“We appreciate the support and legacy of the Brevard Family and Mr. John Adler, who established these scholarships to enable these students to pursue a first class engineering education at the University of Mississippi,” said Alex Cheng, dean of the School of Engineering. “This outstanding group of students posts an average ACT score of 33 and an average 3.98 grade-point average from their respective high schools.”

William Kalusche of McComb received the 2014 Brevard Engineering Fellowship. The top scholarship awarded to an incoming freshman is valued at $28,000 over four years. Kalusche was the salutatorian and a STAR student from McComb High School. A member of the National Honor Society, he was captain of both the soccer and tennis teams. He was also a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council.

“When I received the notification from Mr. Upshaw that I had been selected for a Brevard scholarship, I was ecstatic,” said Kalusche, a general engineering major on a pre-medicine track as part of the Provost Scholars program. “I feel that the School of Engineering at Ole Miss is the best place to help me prepare for my future. My plans are to attend medical school and become a licensed physician.”

Other recipients of the Brevard Engineering Scholarship are Cameron Earl Koch of Metropolis, Illinois, Ethan Edward Luckett of Dyersburg, Tennessee, David Chase Rydeen of Frisco, Texas, and Marin Bell Troike of Collierville, Tennessee.

Koch was valedictorian of his class of 146 at Massac County High School. A participant in UM’s Lott Leadership Institute for High School Students, he served as senior class vice president, National Honor Society President and captain of the football team. The Illinois State Scholar plans to study mechanical engineering as part of the Center for Manufacturing Excellence and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Additionally, he was selected for membership in the Chancellor’s Leadership Class.

The valedictorian from Dyer County High School, Luckett was named to the ACT Wall of Honor and a Choctaw Scholar, the school’s highest academic honor. He earned honors in statistics, calculus and advanced topics in the Tennessee Mathematics Teacher’s Association Math Competition. He plans to study computer science as part of the Honors College.

Rydeen, who graduated from Ballard High School, was a member of Mu Alpha Theta, National Honors Society, varsity tennis team and was accepted to the Governor’s Scholars Program. He plans to study electrical engineering as part of the Honors College.

A Collierville High School graduate, Troike was a member of the Youth Leadership Council, National Honor Society and the Cum Laude Society and served as a Senior Ambassador. She was captain of the varsity volleyball and golf teams. She plans to study civil engineering as part of the Provost Scholars program.

Recipients of the John G. Adler Scholarship include Jacob Skyler Azbell of Riddleton, Tennessee, Anna Elizabeth Braswell of Mobile, Alabama, Seth Brian Gray of Jonesboro, Arkansas, Paige Lohman of Moline, Illinois, Hunter Myers of Mountain Home, Arkansas, Jason Matthew Stone of Union City, Tennessee, and Philip Bradford Thomas of Galveston, Texas.

Azbell was salutatorian of his class of 153 at Smith County High School. Treasurer of the Beta Club and president of the Math & Science Club, he participated in both Smith County Youth Leadership and Tennessee Boys State. He plans to study electrical engineering as part of the Honors College.

A graduate of St. Paul’s Episcopal School, Braswell received academic awards in AP chemistry and calculus and was a four-year member of the Student Government Association. The state finalist for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award also served as captain of the cross country team and was a member of the National Honor Society. She plans to study geological engineering as part of the Honors College. Additionally, she will be a member of the Ole Miss women’s track and field team.

Gray, a graduate of Valley View High School, served as a student council officer, National Honor Society president and Interact Club president and attended Arkansas Boys State. He received the DAR Good Citizen award and was a member of the March of Dimes Youth Council. He plans to study chemical engineering as part of the Honors College.

A Moline High School graduate, Lohman was an Illinois State Scholar and a four-year member of the Student Congress and served as senior class president and captain of the varsity cheerleading squad. She plans to study mechanical engineering as part of the Honors College and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

Myers, a summa cum laude graduate from Mountain Home High School, served as state treasurer of Future Business Leaders of America and attended Arkansas Boys State. He is an Arkansas Distinguished Governor’s Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society. He plans to study chemical engineering as part of the Honors College and the Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

Union City High School graduate Stone was a member of the varsity football team, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Beta Club. He also received the Jackson, Tennessee, area Ole Miss alumni club scholarship. He plans to study computer science as part of the Provost Scholars program.

Thomas, salutatorian at Ball High School’s STEM Academy, served as Mu Alpha Theta president and founding president of the Diverse Views of Current Events Alliance organization. The National Merit Commended Scholar and AP Scholar with Distinction was a member of the National Honor Society. He won first place in the Junior Laser Security System Project Based Learning Competition and second place in the Freshman Alternative Energy Project-Based Learning Debate. He plans to study chemical engineering as part of the Honors College.

Jay Watson to Deliver Annual Humanities Lecture

Teacher of the year to discuss Faulkner's observations on speed of modern life Nov. 3

Dr. Jay Watson speaking at the opening of the Faulkner Books Exhibit.  Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Jay Watson speaks at the opening of the Faulkner Books exhibit. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Jay Watson, the Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies at the University of Mississippi, has been named the university’s Humanities Teacher of the Year and will deliver an annual lecture Nov. 3 at Bondurant Auditorium.

Watson’s lecture, titled “William Faulkner on Speed: What the Humanities Can Teach Us about the Velocity and Tempo of Modern Life,” it will explore Faulkner and the phenomenon of modern speed. The 7 p.m. event is free and open to the public.

Faulkner’s works illustrate how the humanities can provide a window into meaningful social issues that link our era with earlier ones, Watson said. Though speed has taken new forms since Faulkner’s day, the social consequences and challenges of speed remain with us today, and many of those challenges can already be glimpsed in Faulkner’s novels and stories.

Watson added the topic directly ties into his research about Faulkner and tempo, noting that it demonstrates how the humanities can offer a window into some of these interesting social problems.

The Humanities Teacher of the Year Award is given each October, which is National Arts and Humanities Month, to faculty members who make outstanding contributions to the humanities. The award is presented in the spring at the Mississippi Humanities Council’s awards ceremony.

Watson said he is honored to receive the award.

“It was an unexpected honor and a real delight, and it’s an award that brings with it a responsibility to stay focused on students and the classroom as the real intellectual and human center of the teaching life,” he said.

Watson is deserving of the award, said Richard Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“The Humanities Teacher of the Year Lecture is a celebration of the humanities,” Forgette said. “Professor Watson is being recognized for his outstanding work and significant contributions to teaching.”

Watson has been a member of the UM faculty for 25 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Georgia and his master’s and doctoral degrees, both in English and American literature and language from Harvard University. He is also the recipient of the 2012 Faculty Achievement Award and nominee for the SEC Faculty Achievement Award. His articles on Southern literature and humanities have been featured in several publications, including American Quarterly, American Literature and Modern Fiction Studies.

The event is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and the Mississippi Humanities Council.

The Mississippi Humanities Council sponsors, supports and conducts a range of public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines designed to promote understanding of our cultural heritage, interpret our own experience, foster critical thinking, encourage reasonable public discourse, strengthen our sense of community and thus empower Mississippi’s people with a vision for the future.

The College of Liberal Arts is the university’s oldest and largest division. Visit for more information.

Alumna Reflects on Half-Century Pharmacy Career

Former drugstore owner remembers World War II, Hurricane Camille

Louise Chadwick Lynch

Louise Chadwick Lynch

OXFORD, Miss. – Louise Chadwick Lynch remembers her uncle Cornelius Herlihy’s pharmacy in Waveland as “a mystical place.”

“As a young child, I couldn’t go in the pharmacy itself where the prescriptions were filled,” said Lynch, 91. “I always wondered what was written on that little paper. That piece of paper was so important.”

Lynch soon learned the significance of those pieces of paper. After graduating from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy in 1944, she eventually owned and operated Herlihy’s store for 49 years, becoming a Waveland icon.

Ole Miss was a different place during World War II, when Lynch began pharmacy school. Living on campus, she woke up to morning reveille and heard taps in the evening, she said.

“When the war started, the number of students dropped drastically,” she said. “Empty male dormitories were filled with soldiers who received special training at Ole Miss. We had maybe 18 pharmacy students when I was a freshman, and only two of us were women. By the time I graduated, there were only three males left in our class because of the draft.”

Pharmacy students had a reputation on campus for being especially studious, Lynch said.

“There were no backpacks like today, and students didn’t use cars for travel,” she said. “We had to carry all the pharmacy textbooks we needed for the day because we couldn’t get back to the dormitory for breaks. The books were quite heavy and cumbersome; the hills on campus seemed like mountains when carrying all the books. The curriculum was very tough.”

Tougher still were the effects of the war on campus. The university would often post the names of students who were killed in action, Lynch said. Rationing was frequent, and items such as leather, sugar, gas and rubber tires were scarce.

In 1944, Ole Miss did not hold a graduation ceremony, so Lynch’s diploma arrived by train.

Upon completing pharmacy school, Lynch and her husband, Harry Lynch, who graduated from the pharmacy school in 1941, took over Herlihy’s Waveland Drugstore. Following her uncle’s tradition, the store was a place for prominent locals to discuss the news, the first stop for mothers with their newborns and a place to get an exceptional soda, root beer float, milkshake or Coca-Cola.

“It was the first air-conditioned building in Waveland,” Louise Lynch said. “I had two tables in the back with chairs and a soda fountain for a time. We made all our syrups from scratch. They were special – people still ask about our recipes.”

The Lynches raised seven daughters in an apartment above the drugstore. After Harry Lynch died in 1963, the daughters helped their mom run the store. They stocked shelves, filled coin drink machines, made home deliveries and waited on customers, among other tasks. One daughter, Amy Lynch, said that the customers were “like a big family.”

“We were interested in them, and they were interested in us,” she said. “We probably spent as much time in the drugstore as we did in our home. In fact, the drugstore felt like an extension of our home. The well-being of townspeople and serving customers became an integral part of our lives.

“When we were growing up, our family talked about health and medicine around the dinner table. When my aunt and uncle, who also were pharmacists and drugstore owners in a neighboring community, came to visit on Sundays, the topic of discussion always veered to health, pros and cons of medical treatments, and interactions of medicines. We were very fortunate to be exposed to these conversations.”

Subtle and not-so-subtle changes have ensued since Louise Lynch began her pharmacy career.

“Pharmacy was primarily a male profession when my mother began her career,” Amy Lynch said. “Most women at the time were homemakers. At first, the townspeople looked to my father for assistance, but gradually they realized that a woman pharmacist was as educated and as competent as a male. The war helped people recognize women’s roles in the workforce – a new breed of skilled professionals.”

In the 1940s and ’50s, compounding was an important part of pharmacy, Lynch said.

“It was a very time-consuming task that had to be done with precision,” she said. “The scale and weights were a pharmacist’s most prized possessions since they measured ingredients we used in compounding. It was a very exact science.”

Lynch was the go-to pharmacist for hundreds of patients. She would fill prescriptions at all hours of the night and often on holidays. She helped ease the pain of sea nettle bites, insect stings, infant teething and skin rashes. She offered credit without interest, often not knowing if the account would ever be paid.

Waveland Drug Store weathered a significant storm in 1969, when Hurricane Camille hit the Gulf Coast. Lynch participated in the relief effort by coordinating and distributing medicine brought in by state and federal agencies.

After the hurricane, the building remained, though the only thing left inside was a penny scale too heavy to be washed away. The drugstore gradually reopened, though the soda fountain closed and business slowed because a nearby medical clinic was destroyed.

Lynch decided it was time to close her doors in 1993. That year, the Waveland board of aldermen proclaimed Dec. 31 “Louise C. Lynch Day” to honor her extraordinary service to the community.

“I think pharmacy is a very good profession for a female,” Lynch said. “It was a wonderful time in my life.”

UM Biologist’s Research Makes News

Ryan Garrick studying tortoises in Galapagos Islands

photo credit: Yale University

photo credit: Yale University

A University of Mississippi biology professor’s study of giant tortoises in the Galapagos Islands is being published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Ryan C. Garrick is the lead author of the paper “Lineage fusion in Galápagos giant tortoises,” which will appear in Molecular Ecology (one of the top journals in the field of population genetics and evolutionary biology). It will be accompanied by a “News and Views” perspective article, used to draw attention to high-profile research that is likely to be of interest to the public.

“The findings are of broad interest because it focuses on a geographic region central to Charles Darwin’s synthesis of ideas about evolution and natural selection,” Garrick said. “We also present unusually clean genetic data on a phenomenon occurring in nature that is rarely caught in the act: the fusion of two long-isolated lineages, one of which is very likely doomed to extinction.”

The paper was written in collaboration with researchers from Yale University, State University of New York at Syracuse, the University of British Columbia in Canada, the University of Florence in Italy and the Galapagos National Park Service in Ecuador. Chaz Hyseni, a UM doctoral student in biology, is among the co-authors.

Undergraduates Participate in Advanced Research Internship

Projects centered on computational chemistry

Ashlee Colbert (front row, center) and Michael Concepcion-Santana (front row, right) with Robert Doerksen (back row, far right) and his research group.

Ashlee Colbert (front row, center) and Michael Concepcion-Santana (front row, right) with Robert Doerksen (back row, far right) and his research group.

OXFORD, Miss. – Two students received a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity this summer to work with Robert Doerksen, associate professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Mississippi, as part of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program.

Funded by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. CHE-1156713, the program is commonly referred to at Ole Miss as the Physical Chemistry Summer Research Program. The program is directed by Nathan Hammer, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and principal investigator on the grant. Its purpose is to recruit students from other universities who are interested in gaining hands-on experience covering a broad range of topics primarily related to chemistry.

Michael Concepción-Santana, a junior at Universidad Metropolitana Recinto de Cupey in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Ashlee Colbert, a junior at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, worked with Doerksen from May to August.

“I love science research and got a chance to try it as an undergraduate, so I am passionate about giving students like Ashlee and Michael a similar experience while they are at the stage of considering various career paths,” Doerksen said.

Concepción-Santana and Colbert assisted Doerksen with a project that uses computational tools to analyze protein-ligand interactions in the presence and absence of water. The research could potentially lead to new drugs for Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes.

“New medicines are needed for the millions who are suffering,” Doerksen said. “It is essential to channel our funding and energy strategically to recruit a new generation of researchers who dare to invest in the deep understanding of the fundamental sciences needed to be able to make significant contributions to rational design of the next generation of drugs.”

A biomedical engineering major, Colbert said she was immediately drawn to the REU program.

“I was initially interested because I wanted to broaden my experience in medicinal chemistry,” she said. “I wanted to try out different areas of research not necessarily focused on engineering.”

Colbert said she plans to continue research in this subject area and will eventually use the experience to explore thesis topics. Concepción-Santana hopes his experience at Ole Miss will help him pursue a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry.

UM Symposium Focuses on Semiotics of Race

Two-day event features lectures, panel discussions

Joe Feagin

Joe Feagin

OXFORD, Miss. – Multidisciplinary views of race and ethnicity in public arenas will be discussed Thursday and Friday (Oct. 23-24) at the University of Mississippi.

A symposium on “Symbols of Exclusion: The Semiotics of Race in Public Spaces” begins at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Overby Center auditorium. The public is invited to the event, co-organized by UM Critical Race Studies Group and the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Its co-sponsors are the university and the Association for Jewish Studies-Legacy Heritage Jewish Studies Project.

Joe Feagin, the Ella C. Mc Fadden Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University, lectures Thursday on “White Racial Frame: Racializing Racism.” On Friday, James E. Young, distinguished university professor in English and university studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst will address “How Do Nations Remember Their National Shame?” Both keynote lectures begin at 1 p.m. in the Overby Center auditorium.

The symposium also features four panel discussions consisting of scholars, professors and graduate students from the region, across the U.S. and Canada delivering papers about the uses of public space during the Holocaust, in the Jim Crow South and during other historical epochs. The first panel discussion begins at 3 p.m. Thursday; subsequent discussions commence at 8:30 a.m. Friday. All panel discussions meet in the Overby Center conference room, on the second floor.

“This symposium is the result of a unique vision and a tremendous amount of hard work on the part of Willa Johnson, her collaborators, Robert M. Ehrenreich and Krista Hegburg of the USHMM’s Mandel Center and the UM Critical Race Studies Group,” said Kirsten Dellinger, UM associate professor and chair of sociology and anthropology. “It is exciting to have such distinguished keynote speakers and a wide variety of panelists on campus to address the role of symbols in the perpetuation and elimination of racial inequality.”

John Sonnett, UM associate professor of sociology and co-chair of the Critical Race Studies Group, explained the significance of the program.

“The idea of semiotics tells us that symbols don’t inherently communicate meaning, but instead take on meanings given to them by people,” Sonnett said. “Social inequalities and historical contexts shape the kinds of meanings people assign to symbols, however. So to better understand symbols, we need to understand their social and historical contexts, which is what the symposium is focused on.”

Ehrenreich, director of University Programs at the Mandel Center, is equally excited about the program.

“We at the USHMM are pleased to have found such wonderful partners for this interdisciplinary symposium that explores emerging research on the memorialization of histories of racialized atrocities and nurtures collaboration among scholars of the Holocaust and the many other friends that are making significant contributions to this field,” he said.

To register for the panel discussions, go to For a detailed program, visit

Josh Gladden Elected to Two National Leadership Roles

NCPA director brings leadership, experience and vision to professional societies

Josh Gladden

Josh Gladden

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi administrator and associate professor of physics and astronomy has been elected to two national societies’ leadership positions.

Joseph “Josh” Gladden, director of the university’s National Center for Physical Acoustics, is chair of the Acoustical Society of America’s Physical Acoustics Technical Committee. During his three-year term in the role, his primary duties are to represent the physical acoustics community to the larger ASA leadership, work to ensure a broad and robust representation of physical acoustics at the biannual ASA meetings, and to help implement tools and resources to advance and connect the international physical acoustics community.

Gladden is also a “member-at-large” for the topical Group on Instrumentation and Measurement Science, which is a unit of the American Physical Society. The focus of GIMS is to advance the development of new measurement tools and techniques by creating a forum for discussions, collaborations, awareness and recognition of significant achievements.

“I am honored to represent my colleagues in the national and international physical acoustics research community,” Gladden said. “My election to the GIMS came a bit of a surprise, but I am excited to get involved in this group.”

Gladden shared his vision for both groups.

“My primary goals as chair will be to increase and improve tools for physical acoustics researchers to connect and collaborate, as well is to maintain a wide range of topics being discussed at our biannual meetings,” he said. “The primary goal of the GIMS is to promote and provide a venue for dialogue on the development of new instrumentation and measurement techniques in the physics community.

“This is important because often, new breakthroughs in physics and science in general follow the development of a new tool which provides new insight.”

Gladden’s predecessor, Albert Migliori of Los Alamos National Lab, said he is confident the UM professor will make do a great job as chair.

“Josh eats, sleeps, breathes physical acoustics and is in both an intellectual and leadership position to advance the field better than anyone in the U.S.,” Migliori said. “Josh builds high-performance ultrasound measurements systems based on an advanced technology called Resonant Ultrasound Spectroscopy and uses them for cutting edge research.

“Because he builds, not buys, the measurement systems, he has unique research capabilities as well as providing real educational opportunities for budding scientists as students.”

Gladden joined the UM faculty as an assistant professor in 2005 after earning his Ph.D. and working as a postdoctoral fellow at Pennsylvania State University. Before that, he worked three years as a physics instructor at the United World College in Montezuma, New Mexico. The United World College is an international school for gifted students representing approximately 70 countries with a network of 10 sister campuses around the globe.

Gladden holds master’s and doctoral degrees in physics from the University of Montana and Penn State, respectively. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of the South and was a postdoctoral fellow at Penn State in 2003-2005.

Gladden co-authored a paper, “Motion of a Viscoelastic Micellar Fluid Around a Cylinder: Flow and Fracture,” which was listed in “Physics News of 2007″ by the American Physical Society. His other honors and awards include membership on the Emerging Leaders Conference steering committee of promising recent alumni of the University of the South, both the Duncan and Bradock Fellowships for doctoral students at Penn State, the Tandy Technology Scholars Award for Education in Science and the William T. Allen Award in Physics.

Gladden has co-authored 21 juried articles, been an invited speaker at 18 conferences and secured research grants totaling $621,005 over a seven-year period. Gladden’s research areas are resonant ultrasound spectroscopy, wormlike micellar materials, continuum and granular dynamics.

He and his wife, Nicole, have three children: Chase, Camille and Josephine.

Established in 1989, the NCPA has unique facilities and infrastructure, including an anechoic chamber, a Mach 5 wind tunnel, a jet test facility, a resonant ultraspectroscopy lab, Faraday labs and a multimillion dollar machine shop for in-house design. NCPA employs 30 permanent, full-time individuals, as well as 16 graduate students, five research fellows and eight undergraduates. Its research scientists are recognized experts in their fields, bringing experience from government, academia and industry.

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