Ten UM Freshman Awarded Prestigious Honors College Scholarships

McDonnell Barksdale and Doris Raymond awards are among the university's most exclusive

Bottom row (L to R)—Megan McLeod, Sidney Scott, Kellie Shannon, Samuel Palmer, Jacob Thrasher; Top row, (L to R)—Hailey Knight, Elizabeth Hasley, Alexis Smith, Sara Porcheddu

Bottom row (L to R)—Megan McLeod, Sidney Scott, Kellie Shannon, Samuel Palmer, Jacob Thrasher; Top row, (L to R)—Hailey Knight, Elizabeth Hasley, Alexis Smith, Sara Porcheddu

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

Of the 10, six were awarded the Doris Raymond Scholarships, and the remaining four received the McDonnell Barksdale Scholarship, which both provide $8,000 per year for up to four years.

Barksdale Scholarship recipients are Hailey Knight of Tupelo, Katarina Pittman of Clinton, Elizabeth Hasley of Myrtle and Alexis Smith of Picayune.

Raymond Scholarships recipients are Sara Porcheddu of Hurst, Texas, Jacob Thrasher of Birmingham, Alabama, Samuel Palmer of Ridgeland, Sidney Scott of Clarksville, Tennessee, Megan McLeod of Littleton, Colorado, and Kellie Shannon of Madison.

“These scholarship students set the bar high for both their peers and for professors,” said Douglass Sullivan-Gonzalez, dean of the Honors College. “It is a joy to teach such high performers.”

“Ole Miss boasts a long lists of accomplishments and offers me numerous academic opportunities,” said Shannon, who said she was surprised to receive her award notification. “However, my biggest reason for coming to Ole Miss is that it feels like home.”

“I believe the Honors College will shape my college experience by affording me unique opportunities to broaden my perspective, providing classroom settings and resources that encourage discussion with peers and more personal attention from professors, and an environment that will push me to grow academically and socially,” McLeod said.

Porcheddu graduated from Grapevine Senior High School. She was the founder and president of the Grapevine High Young Democrats Club and a Parent Teacher Student Association Student Representative. A member of the school golf team, Porcheddu made first team all-district as well as Freshman of the Year. She was also a member of the National Honor Society, Student Council, Arabic Club and the National Charity League. Her volunteer activities include delivering meals to homebound senior citizens through Meals on Wheels, and serving Relay for Life and a local food pantry. She is interested in international studies, Arabic language and political science.

Knight, a homeschooled student, received an award for the top short story at Veritas Press Scholars Academy and the gold cup for her solo piano performance for the Mississippi Federation of Musicians. She also opened for violinist Gil Shaham during a performance at the Canon Center in Memphis. Her community service activities include playing violin for Martha’s Manor and other nursing homes, and her interests include foreign languages, physics and cinema production.

Pittman, also a homeschooled student, was a member of the Ballet Mississippi student company, with a leading role in the annual “Nutcracker” and spring performances. She was also a member of the National Honor Society, placed second in Mississippi Mock Trial Competition and was a participant in the Lott Leadership Institute Summer College Program. A volunteer with the Book Buddy program at local public schools, Pittman is majoring in international studies.

Thrasher graduated from Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School, where he served as vice president of the Jefferson County IBC’s National French Honor Society, president of the National Technical Honor Society and chair of events of the National Art Honor Societies. He was a Questbridge Scholar as well as a Superintendent Super Scholar. A volunteer with Sawyerville Day Camp, he is interested in biology, chemistry and French.

Hasley graduated from West Union School. She is a member of the Beta Honors Club and was recognized for her academic achievements in public speaking, accounting and anatomy and physiology. Her service activities include volunteering at the Betty McNeely Myrtle Library, Baptist Memorial Hospital in New Albany and LeBonheur Hospital in Memphis. She is majoring in psychology with a focus towards medicine.

Palmer graduated from Ridgeland High School, served as president of Mu Alpha Theta and was the drum captain of the RHS Marching Band and Indoor Percussion Ensemble. A member of the National Honor Society, he was selected as one of Portico’s 25 Students Who Will Change the World and a Blitz 16 Scholar. Palmer’s community service includes Operation Christmas Child, Webster Animal Shelter and Stewpot Ministries. His interests include biology, chemistry and molecular biology.

Scott graduated from Clarksville High School. A Tennessee Scholar, she received the highest academic honors award, graduating with distinction and on the All-A Honor Roll. A member of the cross-country/track and field, she participated in the Hope Club and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She volunteered as a translator with Pennies from Heaven and was a youth leader with Back Yard Bible Club. Her interests are secondary education, mathematics and Spanish.

Smith graduated from Picayune Memorial High School as a Superintendent Scholar on the All-A Honor Roll. She served as president, vice president and representative in the Student Council and was a member of the National Honor Society and Future Business Leaders of America. Her community service includes senior mentoring, service projects for the elderly and helping with cleanup after Hurricane Isaac. Her interests include international studies, Spanish and sociology.

McLeod graduated from Heritage High School and was a member of the National Honor Society and Key Club. She received the academic excellence award and was selected as a National Merit recommended Scholar and student of the month in English. A member of the Liberty Belles varsity dance team, she was selected as the Universal Dance Association Drill Down Champion and All-American. Her volunteer activities include working at Littleton Adventist Hospital NICU and Pediatric Emergency Car and as a Race for the Cure volunteer. She plans to pursue a career in medicine.

 Shannon, a National Merit Finalist, graduated from Madison Central High School, where she was recognized as an AP Scholar with Distinction for having the highest average in AP chemistry, AP English III, AP U.S. History, AP World History, Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus. A member of the National Honor Society, Interact Club and Beta Club, she was selected as a National Merit Semifinalist and she received the Citizenship Award and the Scholastic Art & Writing Award. Her community service activities include Relay for Life, Angel Tree and His Heart turkey delivery. Her interests include engineering, pharmacy and business.

For more information about the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, visit http://www.honors.olemiss.edu/.

Pharmacy Students Organize Flu Shot Drive

Event is part of national immunization campaign

Last year, pharmacy students immunized more than 305 people on campus.

Last year, pharmacy students immunized more than 300 people on campus.

OXFORD, Miss. – Students in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy are making it easier than ever to get a flu shot on campus.

The local chapter of the American Pharmacists Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists has coordinated multiple opportunities in September and October for faculty, staff and students to receive their shots. The drive is in conjunction with Operation Immunization, a national awareness campaign sponsored by APhA.

“The purpose of our project is to promote flu vaccinations on campus,” said Kelsey Stephens, president of APhA-ASP. “Last year, Ole Miss pharmacy students immunized more than 305 students and faculty through this event. This year we hope to increase awareness of the drive among students and faculty.”

The organization kicked off the campaign by partnering with the UM Department of Athletics.

“Our students are passionate about promoting the health of their fellow students, as well as the health of our faculty and staff,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “It was fitting that they began their flu shot drive by offering immunizations to student-athletes.”

According to Joseph A. Dikun, a graduate assistant in the Department of Pharmacy Administration and co-adviser of the organization, the flu vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against the virus.

“The School of Pharmacy and APhA-ASP want to do our part educating and assisting faculty, staff and students on ways to avoid this preventable and costly illness,” Dikun said. “Let’s keep the University of Mississippi a healthy and productive community.”

This year’s event is larger than ever, Dikun said.

“The student leadership of APhA-ASP has gone above and beyond the call of duty to assist Ole Miss in being a healthy campus this flu season,” he said. “The drive has grown from three days to more than two weeks.”

Immunizations will be given:

  • Sept. 23, 1:15-4:15 p.m. at Residential College South
  • Sept. 23, 5-8 p.m. at the Turner Center
  • Sept. 24, 2:30-5:30 p.m. at Ridge North Residence Hall
  • Sept. 29, 2:30-5:30 p.m. at the Lyceum
  • Sept. 30, 10-11:50 a.m. and 1:15-2 p.m. at the Student Health Fair in the Student Union
  • Oct. 1, 8 a.m.-noon in the Circle
  • Oct. 2, 8-9 a.m. in the School of Law
  • Oct. 3, 12:30-4:30 p.m. in the Student Union

The flu shots normally cost faculty, staff and students $25. University employees can bill the cost directly to their insurance by bringing their ID number and insurance card.

Stephens said she hopes this project will allow her fellow students to become more actively involved in increasing the number of people who receive their yearly flu vaccination.

“We also want to teach the public that providing flu shots is only one of the ways pharmacists can impact their patients’ lives,” she said. “I challenge everyone that gets a flu shot to ask about the ways pharmacists can help patients make the best use of their medication and assist them in achieving healthy behaviors.”

For more information about the campaign, contact Stephens at kcstephe15@gmail.com.

Incoming Freshmen Survive Biology Boot Camp

bio_2bio_1bio_4bio_5bio_3Biology Boot Camp is a five-day intensive program for incoming freshman enrolled in BISC160 at the University of Mississippi. The program is designed to prepare students for the rigor of collegiate courses. In these photos, Boot Camp Director Lucile McCook and Laura Cline, junior and recruiting coordinator for the UM American Medical Student Association chapter, gave students interested in medical school a glimpse of what to expect.

Scholar to Discuss Civil Rights and Why They Matter

Author, researcher Jacquelyn Down Hall to lecture Sept. 24

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall

OXFORD, Miss. – Exploring the civil rights movement’s importance to continuing efforts for social justice is the focus of this year’s Gilder-Jordan Lecture in Southern History at the University of Mississippi.

Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, the recently retired Julia Cherry Spruill Professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, speaks at 7 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 24) in Nutt Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

She will lecture on “How We Tell About the Civil Rights Movement and Why It Matters Today,” after spending the day with UM history and Southern studies students and faculty.

Ted Ownby, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, which organizes the lecture, said he is delighted to have Hall as this year’s Gilder-Jordan Lecturer because she has helped show how to incorporate gender issues into history.

“She was the leading author in a big collaborative labor history project ‘Like a Family,'” Ownby said. “That book was a project of the Southern Oral History Project, which Hall directed. She has written about the relationship between oral history and autobiography, and she encouraged historians to rethink our basic chronology in an essay with the term Long Civil Rights Movement.”

Hall’s research interests include U.S. women’s history, Southern history, working-class history, oral history and cultural/intellectual history. She is the founding director of the Southern Oral History Project and has served as a leader or member of the Organization of American Historians, the Southern Historical Association, and the Labor and Working Class History Association. In 1997, she received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and was awarded a National Humanities Medal in 1999 for her efforts to deepen the nation’s understanding of and engagement with the humanities.

Hall is working on a book about women writers and intellectuals and the refashioning of regional identity in the 20th century South, and another project explores the social movements generated by civil rights activism.

Jessica Wilkerson, UM assistant professor of history and Southern studies, was a student of Hall’s at North Carolina.

“Hall oversaw the collection of more than 5,000 interviews, available through the Southern Historical Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill,” Wilkerson said. “One of the hallmarks of the Southern Oral History Project is its digital oral history collection on civil rights history. In 2008, Hall was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to support the ‘Long Civil Rights Movement Initiative,’ a collaboration with UNC Press and the university library to conduct and preserve oral history interviews and to disseminate civil rights scholarship through print and digital media.”

Organized by the center and the UM African-American Studies Program, Center for Civil War Research and Department of History, the Gilder-Jordan Speaker Series is made possible through the generosity of the Gilder Foundation Inc. The series honors Richard Gilder of New York and his family, as well as his friends, Dan and Lou Jordan of Virginia.

Past Gilder-Jordan lecturers have been Barbara J. Fields of Columbia University, David Blight of Yale University, Grace Elizabeth Hale of the University of Virginia and Walter Johnson of Harvard University.

Ole Miss Research Headed into Space

Supervised by John Kiss, project continues study of plant growth in microgravity

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi research into the potential of farming in space continues early Saturday (Sept. 20) with the launch of more seedlings headed to the International Space Station.

The seedlings are part of the research of John Z. Kiss, dean of the University of Mississippi Graduate School, who also is the recipient of NASA’s 2014 Outstanding Public Leadership Medal.

The renowned scientist has worked with NASA for nearly three decades, having served as vice chair of the International Committee on Space Research.

As TROPI (an experiment to investigate the growth and development of plant seedlings under various gravity and lighting combinations) spaceflight project director from 2004 to 2010, Kiss supervised 36 scientists and engineers at four NASA centers and two centers of the European Space Agency. These efforts resulted in two successful projects on the International Space Station.

The launch will include Seedling Growth-2, a continuation of this research. According to a release from NASA, “Seedling Growth-2 will germinate and grow seeds of the Arabidopsis thaliana plant, a member of the mustard family, into tiny seedlings in space. Investigators will study these seedlings to gain a better understanding of the cellular signaling mechanisms involved in plant tropisms – plant movement and growth. The major goals of this project are to determine the combined influences of light and gravity on plant development through the identification of changes in the mechanisms and regulation of essential cellular functions.”

This is the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft’s fourth commercial resupply mission to the space station. It is scheduled to lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 1:14 a.m. Saturday. If the launch is postponed, the next launch opportunity is approximately 12:53 a.m. Sunday (Sept. 21).

NASA will host a post-launch briefing about 90 minutes after launch. If launch occurs Saturday, NASA TV will provide live coverage Monday (Sept. 22) of the arrival of the Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station. Grapple and berthing coverage will begin at 4:30 a.m. with grapple at approximately 6:30 a.m. Berthing coverage begins at 8:30 a.m.

For more information about the missions and the Space Biosciences Division at Ames, visit http://www.nasa.gov/ames/research/space-biosciences

For NASA TV schedule and video streaming information, go to http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For launch countdown coverage, NASA’s launch blog and more information about the mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/spacex

For more information about the International Space Station, research in low-Earth orbit, NASA’s commercial space programs and the future of American spaceflight, visit http://www.nasa.gov/exploration

Ole Miss Announces 2014 Racial Reconciliation Week Activities

Second Annual Events Will Take Place Sept. 22-27

The Chucky Mullins statue stands in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

The Chucky Mullins statue stands in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Department of Athletics and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation have announced a slate of activities for the 2014 Racial Reconciliation Week, which runs Monday through Saturday (Sept. 22-27).

Racial Reconciliation Week began in 2013 with a week of events dedicated to promoting racial equity and encouraging dialogue on the topic.

Highlights from the week include the first on-campus screening of the “SEC Storied: It’s Time – Chucky Mullins, ” which details the story of former Ole Miss football player Chucky Mullins, and a campus panel discussion of race and pop culture. Additionally, the Winter Institute will celebrate its 15th anniversary.

The week kicks off Monday with a showing of the movie “Come Hell or High Water: The Battle of Turkey Creek” at 6 p.m. at Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics auditorium. The movie documents the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to coastal Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport. Over the course of a decade, Evans and his neighbors stand up to powerful corporate interests and politicians, and face Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill in their struggle for self-determination and environmental justice.

Several dedications are planned throughout the week, including the Chucky Mullins Drive dedication on Friday. The university is renaming Coliseum Drive as Chucky Mullins Drive in memory of the late Ole Miss football player. The dedication will take place on the School of Law courtyard at 2:30 p.m. All 25 winners of the Chucky Mullins Courage Award have been invited to attend.

“Partnering with the Winter Institute for a week of reconciliation is an honor and privilege for Ole Miss athletics,” Athletics Director Ross Bjork said. “Our commitment to giving back to the community through our core values stands strong each day, and events like this further strengthen our purpose.

“This year has special meaning as we honor the legacy and spirit of Roy Lee ‘Chucky’ Mullins and all that he has contributed to the university and athletics. We are humbled to be a small part of the never-ending crusade of respect and dignity for all humankind.”

The Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement also will have a dedication on Wednesday, and the M-Club Hall of Fame will induct six new members on Friday.

Jennifer Saxon, assistant athletics director for student-athlete development who has played a huge role in helping spearhead the second annual slate of Racial Reconciliation Week events, said she is pleased with the ability to engage in positive conversation regarding the issue of race.

“I am thrilled that for a second year we can continue this week of impactful activities that showcases our relationship with the William Winter Institute,” Saxon said. “The institute’s work, not only locally, but nationally, speaks volumes about the progress we have made as we continue to educate in an effort to heal. We were able to create programming opportunities for the campus and Oxford community that highlight campus resources while engaging positive conversation.”

The observance culminates with the Ole Miss vs. Memphis football game on Saturday. During the game, both Racial Reconciliation Week and the Winter Institute will be recognized on the field, and the Nathaniel Northington Groundbreaker in Athletics Award will be presented to former Ole Miss head football coach Billy Brewer and former Vanderbilt football player Brad Gaines.

Northington, who participated in the inaugural Racial Reconciliation Week in 2013, was the first African-American football player in the SEC. Northington broke the “color barrier” by becoming the first African-American to play any sport in the SEC when Kentucky played Ole Miss in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1967.The author of “Still Running,” Northington received the inaugural Groundbreaker in Athletics award.

“I cannot express what a great symbiosis is being created between athletics and the Winter Institute,” said Susan Glisson, executive director of the institute. “We’re already doing so much good work together, both on campus and off, and we’ve only just begun.

“Ross Bjork had a great idea to launch Racial Reconciliation Week last year and it lifts up our partnership to a level that folks can see. I’m thankful that we’re having a second Racial Reconciliation Week this year and I look forward to many more, symbolizing a long and fruitful partnership. ”

The university’s Winter Institute works in communities and classrooms, in Mississippi and beyond, to support a movement of racial equity and wholeness as a pathway to ending and transcending all discrimination based on difference.

The week’s full schedule includes:

Monday, Sept. 22

  • Movie: Come Hell or High Water: The Battle of Turkey Creek
    • Location: Overby Center Auditorium
    • Time: 6 p.m.
    • Moderator: Reilly Morse, president and CEO, Mississippi Center for Justice

Tuesday, Sept. 23

  • Campus Panel Discussion: Race and Pop Culture
    • Location: Overby Center Auditorium
    • Time: 6 p.m.
    • Moderator: Melody Frierson, youth engagement coordinator, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation

Wednesday, Sept. 24

  • Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement Dedication & Reception
    • Location: Stewart Hall (Center)
    • Time: 2 p.m.
  • Integrated Community Service (Optional)
    • Location: Paris-Yates Chapel
    • Time: 7 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 25

  • Redefining the Welcome Table: Inclusion and Exclusion in American Foodways

Southern Foodways Alliance and William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation

2014 Graduate Student Conference

  • Location: The Depot
  • Time: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • SEC Storied: It’s Time – Chucky Mullins
    • Location: Weems Auditorium, School of Law
    • Time: 6 p.m.
    • Moderators:
      • Deano Orr, Ole Miss linebacker (1990-1993) and executive director of IP Foundation
      • Micah Ginn, associate athletics director for sports production and creative services, Ole Miss Department of Athletics

Friday, Sept. 26

  • Redefining the Welcome Table: Inclusion and Exclusion in American Foodways

Southern Foodways Alliance and William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation

2014 Graduate Student Conference

  • Location: The Depot
  • Time: 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
  • Chucky Mullins Drive Dedication
    • Time: 2:30 p.m.
    • Location: School of Law courtyard
  • Winter Institute 15th Anniversary Celebration & Open House
    • Time 4 p.m.
    • Location: Lamar Hall, Third Floor, Suite A
  • M-Club Hall of Fame Induction Reservations Required
    • The Inn at Ole Miss, Gertrude C. Ford Ballroom
    • Time: 6 p.m.

   Saturday, Sept. 27

  • Ole Miss vs. Memphis Football Game
    • Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
    • Time: 6:30 p.m.


Media Contact:

Jessica Poole



UM Chemistry Professor, Postdoc Win R&D Magazine Top 100 Award

Collaborative research with ORNL yields breakthrough aluminum plating technology

Dr. Hussey with one of his students.

Charles Hussey with postdoctoral research associate Li-Hsien Chou.

OXFORD, Miss. – A revolutionary aluminum plating process developed at the University of Mississippi has been recognized as one of the most technologically significant products of 2014.

The Portable Aluminum Deposition System, or PADS, invented in the laboratory of UM chemistry chair and professor Charles Hussey, is a winner in R&D Magazine‘s 52nd annual R&D 100 Awards. The international competition recognizes excellence across a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, optics, high-energy physics, materials science chemistry and biotechnology. The award is considered to be the “Oscar” for inventors.

The work in Hussey’s lab is part of a larger project and carried out in collaboration with Sheng Dai and other scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the United Technologies Research Center. At UM, Hussey worked closely with postdoctoral research associate Li-Hsien Chou to develop PADS. This aluminum plating technology is expected to replace hazardous coatings such as cadmium, thereby potentially strengthening the competitiveness of American manufacturing companies worldwide and cutting the cost of aluminum plating by a factor of 50 to 100.

PADS allows manufacturers to safely conduct aluminum deposition in open atmosphere for the first time. Aluminum cannot be plated from water or most other solvents, so a special electrolyte that enables the safe plating is a critical part of the device.

“As basic scientists studying fundamental process and phenomena, so much of what we do is not immediately useful or obvious to society,” Hussey said. “Here, we have made something unique and obviously useful. This is very satisfying.”

Chou, who earned her doctorate under Professor I-Wen Sun at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, is Hussey’s “academic granddaughter” because Sun is one of Hussey’s first doctoral graduates, having earned his Ph.D. at UM in 1989.

Winning the R&D award is a dream come true for Chou.

“Every scientist dreams one day to develop a useful product with their name on it, and we did,” Chou said. “I am so happy we can bring this recognition to Ole Miss.”

Hussey said he is pleased with his Chou’s contributions to the project.

“I am very proud of her and hope this will benefit her career,” he said. “After all, this is really what we do or should be doing in academia, developing people and helping them to be successful in their careers and lives.”

The judges were impressed by the development of a process to use air-sensitive ionic liquids in the open atmosphere to make an air-stable plating system.

“The availability of air-stable plating systems allows the technology to be used in the field, giving PADS a competitive advantage,” said Paul Livingstone, senior editor of R&D Magazine. “The technology’s lower cost of use and prospect for displacing toxic corrosion protection alternatives were additional factors that contributed to the selection of this winning technology.”

Research on the technology was stimulated by a research contract from the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense to UM through ORNL. Plated aluminum is a protective coating and offers corrosion protection to any underlying metal.

Hussey has worked on ionic liquid projects for many years, including various U.S. Department of Energy projects involving the development of ionic liquid-based processes for the treatment of spent nuclear fuel.

The 2014 R&D 100 Awards banquet is set for Nov. 7 at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.

For a full list of this year’s winners, visit http://www.rdmag.com/award-winners/2014/07/2014-r-d-100-award-winners. For more information about the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, go to http://chemistry.olemiss.edu.

Inside Science: Astronauts May Grow Better Salads On Mars Than On The Moon

Any explorers visiting Mars and the moon will have to boldly grow where no man has grown before.

Setting up lunar or Martian colonies will require that explorers raise their own food. New research finds that simulated Martian soil supported plant life better than both simulated moon soil and low-quality soil from Earth. But many problems must be solved before astronauts can pick their first extraterrestrial eggplant. The study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.

“Research like this is needed to fine-tune future plans for growing plants on Mars, which I think is going to be a very useful thing if we want to have colonization or even a shorter-term stay on Mars,” said John Kiss, a plant biologist at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, who did not participate in the research. “It’s hard to carry all the food with you.”

Read the entire story.

Origin of Universe Topic of Sept. 23 Science Café

Postdoctoral researcher working at LIGO is speaker

Science Cafe

The September Science Cafe is set for Sept. 23.

OXFORD, Miss. – The origins of the universe is the topic for a monthly public science forum organized by the UM Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The fall semester’s second meeting of the Oxford Science Café is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 23 at Lusa Pastry Cafe, 2305 West Jackson Ave. Shivaraj Kandhasamy, a UM postdoctoral research associate working at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, facility in Louisiana, will discuss “The Big Bang and Its Cosmic Messengers.” Admission is free.

“If the universe started with a big bang, traces of the primordial explosion should be observed in the form of electromagnetic radiation, gravitational waves and neutrinos across the sky,” Kandhasamy said. “The next generation of gravitational wave ground- or space-based detectors may directly detect these gravitational waves.”

Kandhasamy’s 30-minute presentation will review the beginning of the universe’s expansion, or “explosion,” often called the big bang.

“In 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered that most of the galaxies are receding with velocities proportional to their distances from the Milky Way,” he said. “This observation suggests that the universe was once very small in size and has expanded ever since.

“The cosmic (microwave) background of electromagnetic radiation was first observed by Penzias and Wilson in 1964. Recently, the BICEP2 experiment reported some indirect evidence for the presence of cosmological primordial gravitational waves.”

Kandhasamy earned his doctorate in physics from the University of Minnesota, master’s from Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, and bachelor’s from the Vivekananda College of MK University in Madurai, India.

His research interests include the detection of gravitational waves using LIGO data. Particularly, his research focuses on the search for stochastic signals, the combination of gravitational waves from sources across the sky that are too faint to observe individually, as well as long-duration transient gravitational wave signals, which may last longer than 10 seconds.

For more information about Oxford Science Café programs, go to http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/oxfordsciencecafe. For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/physics_and_astronomy or call 662-915-5311.

Music of the South Concert Series Continues Sept. 17

Cajun French band Feufollet to perform at Ford Center Studio Theater



OXFORD, Miss. – Cajun roots-rock band Feufollet gives listeners a taste of Louisiana Sept. 17 at the Music of the South Concert Series at the University of Mississippi.

The concert is set for 7 p.m. in the Studio Theater of the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The venue has a capacity of 150 people. Tickets are available for $10 through the UM Box Office, 662-915-7411, and at the door.

Feufollet is a Cajun French band deeply rooted in the Francophone soil of their hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana. They first came together and recorded in 1995, when they were all in their early teens or younger. Though famous for their renditions of heartbreaking songs and rollicking tunes, the group features original songs that draw on deep roots tempered by a cutting edge of contemporary life.

“Three members of Feufollet came to the Music of the South Symposium in 2013,” said Ted Ownby, director of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “The topic that year was experimentation and innovation, and the band members told some intriguing stories about how, as children, they played music considered traditionally Cajun, and how they have experimented with those traditions while listening to and feeling the influence of all sorts of music. We’re excited to have them performing at the Ford Center.”

The name Feufollet translates to “swamp fire.” Band members Philippe Billeaudeaux, Kelli Jones-Savoy, Chris Stafford, Mike Stafford and Andrew Toups sing and even compose in French, and their music is a blend of modern sounds and ancient styles, mixing zydeco, rock, rhythm and blues, and country.

Billeaudeaux, who plays bass, said he is looking forward the show.

“At the Music of the South Conference last year, we had a great time talking about our musical influences and our creative process, and had the ability to present examples to an interested audience,” he said. “We’re very happy to be asked back, this time with the band.”

The band has been hard at work on its forthcoming album “Two Universes,” which will be its first with new singer-guitarist-fiddler Jones-Savoy and now-full-time keyboardist Toups.

“With the addition to our new members, our sound has helped us move forward,” Billeaudeaux said. “Kelli is rooted in old-time and country music as well as Cajun and Creole, while Toups’ keyboards add new colors to our repertoire.”

Recently, the group won the 2014 Gambit Weekly’s Big Easy Music Award for “Best Cajun Artist.”

The Music of the South Concert Series, which highlights intimate evenings with Southern performers, is a partnership between the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Ford Center that began in 2012. Previous performers include Caroline Herring, Randall Bramblett, Valerie June, Blind Boy Paxton and John “JoJo” Hermann.