Eleven UM Researchers Awarded Competitive Internal Grants

Office of Research and Sponsored Programs issues request for new proposals

Dr. Alice Clark

Alice Clark

OXFORD, Miss. – The research projects of 11 University of Mississippi faculty members were funded recently, thanks to a competitive internal grants program piloted in 2015 by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

The program, known as ORSP-IG, was created to support promising research in its earliest stage of development. The winning proposals were selected on the basis of their strengths in several categories, including intellectual merit, plan soundness, expected impact (at the institutional, state or national level) and the potential for attracting external investment.

“The university’s research enterprise is strong and growing thanks to the dedication of our talented faculty and researchers,” said Alice Clark, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “I congratulate the 2015 award recipients and wish them continued success as they carry out their projects.”

Ranging in value from $2,750 to nearly $10,000, the awards will sponsor projects across campus. Thirty-four faculty members will directly benefit from the studies, while 69 undergraduate and nine graduate students will participate in research.

Additionally, the projects are expected to lead to at least 14 external funding proposals to major federal funding agencies, including the National Institutes for Health, National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense and others.

“We believe that the Investment Grants program has value beyond the sum of the internal dollars awarded,” said Jason Hale, UM director of research resources. “The competition and feedback loop should help to elevate the project narratives to a level that will be attractive to external sponsors.”

Conor Dowling, assistant professor of political science, is the principal investigator of one of the winning proposals, “Collaborative Political Science Survey Research.” Six political science faculty members joined the proposal as co-principal investigators.

The award will allow the faculty members to generate original survey data through participation in the 2016 edition of the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, a survey that reaches 50,000 Americans. The process is expected to lead to scholarly publications, external grant proposals and increased graduate and undergraduate student research involvement.

Dr. Conor Dowling

Conor Dowling

“The funding of the proposal will enable the investigators to generate their own original survey data during the course of the 2016 U.S. elections,” Dowling said. “This unique opportunity, which is a part of a collaborative effort with other institutions, will form the basis of several scholarly publications and external grant proposals.

“Not only will faculty in the department be able to pursue research questions on a national scale, but graduate students and interested undergraduates will have opportunities to take part in this research project as well.”

Other 2015 “ORSP-IG Round 1” winning proposals and principal investigators were:

* “An International Graduate Program in Gravitational Physics,” Emanuele Berti, associate professor of physics and astronomy;

* “Mapping Language and Culture,” Allison Burkette, associate professor of modern languages;

* “Characterizing Gunshot Residue from a Firearm Containing 3-D Printed Components: Feasibility of Collecting and Fingerprinting Polymer Residue Using Thermal Analysis and Mass Spectrometry,” James Cizdziel, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry;

* “Archeology Chemistry: Identifying Migration and Trade in Mesoamerica,” Carolyn Freiwald, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology;

* “Recovering the Lost Library of Chartres: Pioneering the Digital Future of the Past at the University of Mississippi,” Gregory Heyworth, associate professor of English.

* “Toward a Better Understanding of Groundwater Recharge in the Mississippi Delta in Support of Sustainable Aquifer Management,” Andrew M. O’Reilly, assistant professor of geology and geological engineering;

 * “Documenting Mississippi Stories,” Ted Ownby, professor of history, director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture;

* “Visualization and Development for the SHE™ Application,” Phillip Rhodes, associate professor of computer and information science;

* “Identifying Neural Correlates of Increased Fluency Due to Multi-Modal Speech Feedback in a Stuttering Population,” Dwight Waddell, associate professor of electrical engineering;

* “The Effects of Authoritarian Iconography: An Experimental Test,” Yael Zeira, Croft assistant professor of political science and international studies;

The guidelines for the 2016 competition, known as “ORSP-IG Round 2,” have been released. Proposals by eligible researchers are invited on any topic of research, scholarly or creative interest, and special consideration will be given to those addressing issues related to race.

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs received a high volume of proposals during 2015’s Round 1 competition. To evaluate the proposals, ORSP enlisted several Ole Miss faculty and research staff members who responded to a campuswide call for readers.

For Round 2, a similar process will be used, but a pre-proposal will no longer be required and the proposals will be submitted via a new online portal.

To learn more about ORSP-IG, see http://research.olemiss.edu/IG or contact Jason Hale at jghale@olemiss.edu.

Gravitational Waves Topic for February Science Cafe

UM physicists to discuss recent developments in search for proof of Einstein's theory of relativity

A UM physicist and graduate student making sure that the Laser Inferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) equipment is working properly.

A UM physicist and graduate student make sure that LIGO equipment is working properly.

OXFORD, Miss. – Gravitational waves and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory experiments are the topic for the monthly Science Cafe organized by the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The February meeting of the Oxford Science Cafe is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 16) at Lusa Bakery Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd. Katherine Dooley, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, and Marco Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy and assistant spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, will discuss “Gravitational Waves: 100 years after Einstein.” Admission is free.

“Gravitational waves are ‘ripples in the fabric of space-time,’ arriving at the earth from cataclysmic events in the distant universe,” Cavaglia said. “They carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained.”

The 20-minute presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session, will include discussions of how LIGO works and how gravitational waves are generated.

“LIGO research is carried out by a group of more than 1,000 scientists from more than 90 universities and research institutes in 15 countries,” Dooley said. “LIGO was originally proposed as a means of detecting these gravitational waves in the 1980s by Rainer Weiss, professor of physics, emeritus, from MIT; Kip Thorne, Caltech’s Richard P. Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics, emeritus; and Ronald Drever, professor of physics, emeritus, also from Caltech.”

A LIGO team member inspecting the detector portion of the technology inside the laboratory.

A LIGO team member inspects the detector portion of the technology inside the laboratory.

Dooley earned her bachelor’s degree from Vassar College and a doctorate from the University of Florida. Before joining the Ole Miss faculty, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology and Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, also known as the Albert Einstein Institute, in Hannover, Germany.

Awards Dooley has received include the 2010 Tom Scott Award for distinction in research at Florida and a LIGO student fellowship from Cal Tech. Having worked directly with both the original and Advanced LIGO projects, Dooley spent four years at the LIGO Livingston site, first installing new hardware to upgrade the initial LIGO detectors and then commissioning the observatory’s interferometer. Dooley’s research interest is experimental gravitational-wave physics.

Cavaglia earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Turin, Italy, and a doctorate in astrophysics from the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy. Before coming to UM, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Tufts University, the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, in Potsdam, Germany, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a lecturer at the University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom.

Over his career, Cavaglia has authored more than 120 publications in peer-reviewed, scientific journals and has received several research awards. Since January 2012, he has served as assistant spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Cavaglia’s research interests are LIGO data analysis and theoretical astrophysics.

For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit http://www.physics.olemiss.edu/.


UM Professor’s TEDx Talk is a Hit

Ole Miss professor Gregory Heyworth, a textual scientist, recently gave a TED Talk filmed at the university.

Ole Miss professor Gregory Heyworth, a textual scientist, recently gave a TED Talk filmed at the university.

“Imagine worldwide how a trove of hundreds of thousands of previously unknown texts could radically transform our knowledge of the past,” said University of Mississippi professor Gregory Heyworth during a recent TED Talk filmed on campus.

“Imagine what unknown classics we would discover, which would rewrite the canons of literature, history, philosophy, music or, more provocatively, that could rewrite our cultural identities, building new bridges between people and culture.”

Heyworth, a textual scientist, is on a journey to save medieval texts that have been damaged by war, water damage, mold and chemical reagents using a process involving multispectral imaging. Working beside other professors and pioneers in the digital imaging field, Heyworth has traveled to libraries both in the U.S. and aboard in an effort to preserve and reclaim numerous historical texts.

His work is known as the Lazarus Project.

You can view Heyworth’s TEDxUM talk here to learn more about the process of multispectral imaging.

Heyworth’s TEDxUM talk is proving to be popular with TEDx viewers. Within hours of being posted, the video had garnered more than 38,000 views.

Heyworth shares his research with students through his classes at the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. Ole Miss students interested in the Lazarus Project can vie for positions on the imaging teams. You can see the work that they are able to do using the portable multispectral imaging lab below:

For more information about the Lazarus Project, visit http://www.honors.olemiss.edu/lazarus-project.

Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years After Einstein’s Prediction

UM scientists join colleagues in celebration of historic achievement

Members of the University of Mississippi LIGO Team include (from left) Camillo Cocchieri, visiting scholar; Mohammad Afrough, graduate student; Marco Cavaglia associate professor of of physics and astronomy; Katherine Dooley, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; Jared Wofford, undergraduate researcher; and Hunter Gabbard, undergraduate research assistant. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Members of the UM LIGO Team include (from left) Camillo Cocchieri, visiting scholar; Mohammad Afrough, graduate student; Marco Cavaglia associate professor of of physics and astronomy; Katherine Dooley, assistant professor of physics and astronomy; and Jared Wofford and Hunter Gabbard, both undergraduate research assistants. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – For the first time, scientists have observed ripples in the fabric of space-time called gravitational waves, arriving at the earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. This confirms a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and opens an unprecedented new window onto the cosmos.

Gravitational waves carry information about their dramatic origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists have concluded that the detected gravitational waves were produced during the final fraction of a second of the merger of two black holes to produce a single, more massive spinning black hole. This collision of two black holes had been predicted but never observed.

The gravitational waves were detected at 4:51 a.m. Sept. 14, 2015 by both of the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory detectors in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington. The LIGO Observatories are funded by the National Science Foundation and were conceived, built and are operated by the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The discovery, accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters, was made by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which includes the GEO Collaboration and the Australian Consortium for Interferometric Gravitational Astronomy, and the Virgo Collaboration using data from the two LIGO detectors.

“Using sophisticated algorithms and data analysis techniques, we estimate that the black hole collision took place about 1.3 billion years ago,” said Marco Cavaglià, University of Mississippi associate professor of physics and astronomy and assistant spokesperson of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. “The two black holes had a mass of about 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun.”

The black holes collided with each other at nearly half the speed of light, said Katherine Dooley, UM assistant professor of physics and astronomy and senior member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration.

“The explosion released so much energy that about three times the mass of the sun was converted to gravitational waves in only a fraction of a second,” Dooley said. “These are the gravitational waves that LIGO has observed.”

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

UM has been a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration since 2007. Cavaglià founded the group at UM and has contributed to understanding artifacts of the instrument data that come from sources other than gravitational waves, a critical component for being able to positively identify a gravitational wave signal. Since 2012, Cavaglià has served as the collaboration’s assistant spokesperson.

Dooley joined UM this past fall after having worked for over nine years on building and improving the LIGO and GEO600 detectors. The detectors use laser light to measure infinitesimal changes in the distance between mirrors mounted 2-1/2 miles (4 kilometers) apart.

“The detected gravitational waves changed this distance by one-billionth of a billionth of a meter, about one-thousandth the diameter of a proton,” Dooley said. She designed techniques to control the angular pointing of the laser beam, helping push the limits of the precision measurement technology that was needed to make this detection possible.

Cavaglià, Dooley, UM post-doctoral research assistant Shivaraj Kandhasamy and three doctoral students from the UM-LIGO team are among the authors of the discovery paper. The UM LIGO team also includes a master’s student, an undergraduate and three undergraduate exchange students from Italy.

“LIGO’s detection opens a new way to look at the cosmos,” Cavaglià said. “I think LIGO will go down in history in the same way as we now remember Galileo’s telescope.”

The entire university community shares in the excitement of this extraordinary achievement, UM Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said.

“This astounding breakthrough is the result of decades of international collaboration by a talented team of scientists and engineers,” Vitter said.  “Everyone at UM congratulates our colleagues in the physics department for their role in this historic discovery. The University of Mississippi is committed to pursuing research and scholarship that helps us understand and improve our world.”

The discovery was made possible by the enhanced capabilities of Advanced LIGO, a major upgrade that increases the sensitivity of the instruments, compared to the first-generation LIGO detectors, enabling a large increase in the volume of the universe probed – and the discovery of gravitational waves during its first observation run.

LIGO was originally proposed as a means of detecting these gravitational waves in the 1980s by Rainer Weiss, MIT professor emeritus of physics; Kip Thorne, Caltech’s Richard P. Feynman Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Physics; and Ronald Drever, Caltech professor emeritus of physics.

The LSC detector network includes the LIGO interferometers and the GEO600 detector. The GEO team includes scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), Leibniz Universität Hannover, along with partners at the University of Glasgow, Cardiff University, the University of Birmingham, other universities in the United Kingdom and the University of the Balearic Islands in Spain.

Several of the key technologies that made Advanced LIGO so much more sensitive have been developed and tested by the German UK GEO collaboration. Significant computer resources have been contributed by the AEI Hannover Atlas Cluster, the LIGO Laboratory, Syracuse University and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Several universities designed, built and tested key components for Advanced LIGO: The Australian National University, the University of Adelaide, the University of Florida, Stanford University, Columbia University in New York and Louisiana State University.

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

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

“This is a momentous event,” Dooley said. “LIGO has opened our ears to the universe. For the first time ever, we can now listen to the cosmos.”

For more information on the UM LIGO team, go to http://ligo.phy.olemiss.edu/.

FDA Expert in Product Quality to Give Waller Lecture

Mansoor A. Khan selected as distinguished lecturer for Feb. 12 event

 Mansoor A. Khan

Mansoor A. Khan

OXFORD, Miss. – Mansoor A. Khan, professor and vice dean at the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Pharmacy, is slated to deliver the 2016 Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecture at the University of Mississippi.

The Feb. 12 lecture, “Pharmaceutical Product Performance after Approvals – Need for Clinical Observations and Connection,” will be presented at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at 11 a.m.

The School of Pharmacy and its Department of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery are sponsoring the free event.

Khan serves as director of the Formulations and Drug Delivery Core Laboratory at Texas A&M’s College of Pharmacy. In addition, he has served the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as director of the Division of Product Quality Research Programs for more than a decade.

A registered pharmacist, Khan earned a Ph.D. in industrial pharmacy from St. John’s University. He has published more than 275 peer-reviewed manuscripts, five texts and 25 book chapters; given 200 poster presentations; and has been invited to present at more than 200 conferences and meetings worldwide.

Khan has also served in leadership positions for the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists and has received numerous achievement awards, including the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research 2015 Outstanding Abbreviated New Drug Application Reviews Award.

The Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecture series was established in 2004 to recognize the former Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences director’s contributions to the field of pharmaceutics and to the pharmacy school. Each year, a department within the school hosts the lecture, and lecturers are selected for their contributions to the host department’s discipline.

Michael A. Repka, chair of pharmaceutics and drug delivery and director of the Pii Center for Pharmaceutical Technology, is looking forward to Khan’s presentation.

“We are thrilled to host Dr. Khan as our 2016 Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecturer,” Repka said. “He is extremely well-known in his field, and I am excited to hear more about his work during his lecture.”

Innovate Mississippi’s Startup Weekend Returns to Oxford

Workshops help participants move from ideas to viable business plans

Volunteer coaches and professionals help advise emerging entrepreneurs throughout the course of the weekend.

Volunteer coaches and professionals help advise emerging entrepreneurs throughout the course of the weekend.

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Insight Park and School of Business Administration are co-hosting Startup Weekend Oxford, set for Feb. 12-14.

The weekend will feature Innovation Boot Camp, Discovery Luncheon and Startup Weekend activities. The beginning of the weekend will give participants experience with assembling business models, with the end of the weekend resulting in pitching these business models to potential investors.

Innovation Boot Camp is a two-hour workshop beginning at 3 p.m. in Holman Hall, Room 38, designed to help students develop viable business and product ideas. Students are able to have one-on-one communication with faculty and brainstorming sessions with other participating students. The boot camp is the Startup Weekend kickoff event for students.

The Discovery Luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 12 at the Oxford Conference Center and features guest speaker Garret Gray, president and CEO of Next Gear Solutions of Oxford.

Later that evening, the Startup Weekend activities commence. Over the course of 54 hours, participants have an opportunity to create a viable business. Powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, this three-day event brings together entrepreneurs, programmers, coders, developers and other business-minded individuals to form ideas and create business plans.

“Startup Weekend is an opportunity for startup enthusiasts to collaborate and go from concept to creation over a weekend,” said William Nicholas, UM director of economic development and organizer of the event. “It is a real pleasure to be surrounded talented people with a passion for entrepreneurship.”

Participants begin by taking 60 seconds to pitch their ideas to the group of attendees. All attendees vote for their favorite ideas, and the winning ideas are selected to build upon for the weekend. The group then divides into smaller teams, and each team spends the remainder of the weekend focusing in on a single business idea to develop.

Clay Dibrell, associate professor of management and holder of the William W. Gresham Jr. Entrepreneurial Professorship, is also the CIE’s executive director. He said he is excited to see members of the campus, community and state entrepreneurial-focused organizations work together to make this event possible.

“It is thrilling to see people who come to Startup Weekend with just an idea, and then over the weekend, you can see these potential entrepreneurs turning the corner from an idea to starting a new venture,” he said.

Stephen D. Johnston, CEO and board member of SmartSynch Inc. in Jackson, is the guest speaker on Friday night. His expertise at leading his company from start-up to a global technology leader for cellular-based smart grid communications will inspire participants in their quest to succeed as entrepreneurs.

During the course of the weekend, volunteer coaches will assist the teams and provide advice. A panel of professionals evaluates each group’s business development and their chances of real-world success.

“It is a highly beneficial partnership between Ole Miss entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship entities outside of the university,” Dibrell said. “Our common goal is to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem which allows Mississippi entrepreneurs to successfully stay in Mississippi.”

Insight Park staff members, the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation and employees of Innovate Mississippi organize Startup Weekend Oxford.

Registration is open to the public. Tickets for students are $25 and $50 for nonstudents. Click here to register.

UM Recognized Among Country’s Elite Research Universities

Carnegie Classification recognizes R&D investment, doctoral degrees granted and faculty achievement

Caleb Ezell (left) and Eleanor Anthony, both students in the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, work with English professor Gregory Heyworth to examine a 15th century Italian manuscript for Oberlin College. The work is part of the Lazarus Project, which uses multispectral imaging technology to analyze old and/or damaged documents and recover faded or erased text. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

Caleb Ezell (left) and Eleanor Anthony, both students in the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, work with English professor Gregory Heyworth to examine a 15th century Italian manuscript for Oberlin College. The work is part of the Lazarus Project, which uses multispectral imaging technology to analyze old and/or damaged documents and recover faded or erased text. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi is included in the elite group of R-1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the definitive list for the top doctoral research universities in the United States.

UM is among a distinguished group of 115 institutions including Harvard, MIT and Johns Hopkins in the “highest research,” or R-1 category. This group represents the top 2.5 percent of institutions of higher education.

The Carnegie Classification analyzes Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS, data from all U.S. post-secondary institutions and evaluates measures of research activity for doctoral universities in making its assessments, which are released every five years.

“As a flagship university, the University of Mississippi is determined to play a key role in the cycle of research and discovery that drives and sustains our community and world,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. “This ranking was achieved thanks to our outstanding faculty and their dedication to research and education.”

The Carnegie Classification’s assignment to categories of highest, higher and moderate research activity is based on research and development expenditures, science and engineering research staff including post-doctoral candidates and non-faculty staff members with doctorates, and doctoral conferrals in humanities and social sciences fields, in STEM fields and in other areas such as business, education, public policy and social work.

Dr. Wael ElShamy, director of the UMMC Cancer Institute’s Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Program, has received a patent on a method to diagnose and treat several cancer types and subtypes. The method may lead to the first targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer and add to therapies for other cancers.

Dr. Wael ElShamy, director of the UMMC Cancer Institute’s Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Program, has received a patent on a method to diagnose and treat several cancer types and subtypes. The method may lead to the first targeted therapy for triple negative breast cancer and add to therapies for other cancers.

Alice Clark, UM vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, applauded the university’s new classification and affirmed the vital economic role that a world-class research institution plays in the state and region.

“Attaining the Carnegie ‘highest research activity’ classification is historic for our university,” Clark said. “It illustrates the value we place on scholarly inquiry and the application of our expertise to understanding and improving our world and educating future leaders. Our faculty, staff and students deserve this recognition of their efforts to create and innovate.”

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine at the UM Medical Center, was elated at the Carnegie distinction.

“We are very pleased and proud to be a part of a university where research and scholarly activity are highly valued,” she said. “From internationally renowned basic science research in physiology to large population studies being conducted through the MIND Center and the Jackson Heart Study, UMMC is leading the way in research on the diseases that impact Mississippians most.”

The university received more than $117 million in sponsored awards, with more than $105 million in research and development expenditures, during fiscal year 2015. Of that total, more than $77 million was in federal grants, more than $16 million was from foundations, about $11 million came from the state of Mississippi, approximately $8 million was from industry and roughly $4 million came from other sources.

UM researchers submitted 876 proposals and 546 research projects were funded in the last fiscal year.

Among the university’s most prestigious and longstanding research projects is the Jackson Heart Study. UMMC researchers are collaborating with Tougaloo College and Jackson State University on the world’s largest long-term study of cardiovascular risk factors in African-Americans.

In 2013, the university joined the American Heart Association and Boston University for “Heart Studies v2.0,” which will expand upon the landmark Framingham and Jackson studies to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular ailments.

The population study has followed the health of 5,000 participants, producing data that continues to yield insights into the underlying causes of cardiovascular disease. In 2013, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, each a part of the National Institutes of Health, announced renewed funding for the JHS.

Other long-term prestigious projects are the marijuana research project conducted by the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research, jet noise reduction studies at the National Center for Physical Acoustics, known as NCPA, and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory collaboration through the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Faculty and postdoctoral researchers in the physics department played major roles in the search and discovery of the Higgs boson, the subatomic particle thought to be responsible for all mass in the universe. The discovery was announced July 2012 by scientists at CERN, a multinational research center headquartered in Geneva.

Most recently, two faculty members within the physics department and NCPA received a $3 million Department of Energy grant to study nuclear fuel storage safety and stability.

Three Ole Miss professors received Faculty Early Career Development Awards from the National Science Foundation within the past eight months. Patrick Curtis, assistant professor of biology, is the seventh CAREER award recipient at the university in the last eight years. Sarah Liljegren, associate professor of biology, received the award last November and Jared Delcamp, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, earned a similar award in June 2015. This marks the first time three UM faculty members were selected in the same academic year.

From its first class of 80 students in 1848, UM has grown to a doctoral degree-granting university with 15 academic divisions and more than 23,800 students. Located on its main campus in Oxford are the College of Liberal Arts; the schools of Accountancy, Applied Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Journalism and New Media, Pharmacy and Law; and the Graduate School. The Medical Center in Jackson trains professionals in its schools of Medicine, Nursing, Health Related Professions, Dentistry, Pharmacy and Graduate Studies.

In all, more than 100 programs of study offer superior academic experiences that provide each graduate with the background necessary for a lifetime of scholastic, social and professional growth. Strengthening and expanding the academic experience are the acclaimed Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Croft Institute for International Studies and Lott Leadership Institute.

For more information about research at UM, visit http://research.olemiss.edu/.

Business Law Network to Host Winter Conference and CLE

State Treasurer Lynn Fitch to deliver keynote at Feb. 12 event in Jackson

Lynn Fitch

Lynn Fitch

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Law‘s Business Law Network will host a conference Feb. 12 at the Fairview Inn in Jackson, offering three hours of CLE credit to attendees. Lynn Fitch, Mississippi state treasurer, will discuss the business law implications of her office.

The Business Law Network’s mission is dedicated to connecting students who have an interest in business law with practicing business law attorneys. The Business Law Network is composed of more than 50 student members from the Ole Miss law school.

“We are very excited to have the state treasurer of Mississippi and University of Mississippi School of Law alum Lynn Fitch featured as the keynote speaker for our winter conference,” said Gregory Alston, CEO of the Business Law Network. “Treasurer Fitch has been a great leader for the state bringing positivity and accountability to the treasurer’s office and we are looking forward to giving her the opportunity to speak in front of students and attorneys from around Mississippi.”

Marie Cope, clinical professor at the UM School of Law, will speak about the roles and responsibilities of advising small business clients. Business Law Newsletter members Marie Wicks and Sam Kapoor also will make presentations.

Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. For CLE credit, a $60 fee, which includes lunch, is payable by cash or check at the door. Attendees are asked to RSVP to Gregory Alston at umbusinesslaw@olemiss.edu.

Past keynote speakers include Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Supreme Court Justice Randy Pierce.

For more information, visit http://law.olemiss.edu/event/2016-business-law-network-winter-conference-and-cle/.

UM Civil Engineers Assist MDOT with Bridges and Highways

Researchers provide expertise, technology for inspections

Civil engineering graduate students take vibration measurements on Ford Center Bridge.

UM civil engineering graduate students take vibration measurements on University Avenue bridge over Gertrude Ford Boulevard.

OXFORD, Miss. – As Mississippi lawmakers continue to examine means to fund a $375 million proposal for state highways and bridges, University of Mississippi civil engineers are developing new ways to assist with inspections and maintenance.

The Mississippi Economic Council and state Chamber of Commerce released a report in December advising that Mississippi needs to invest funds to replace 562 deficient bridges and repave many roads. Though financial sources remain uncertain, the report suggests lawmakers consider higher fuel taxes, license plate fees, rental car taxes and/or general sales taxes.

“For several years now, the University of Mississippi has been a leading contributor in helping MDOT with these infrastructure challenges,” said Waheed Uddin, professor of civil engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Infrastructure Technology at UM. “Through our collaborative efforts with them and researchers at other universities, we have developed programs that have repeatedly proven successful in achieving transportation objectives.”

The university’s researchers have developed ways to use such high-tech tools as computational modeling, laser-assisted measuring devices and more to help MDOT monitor bridges and roads throughout the state.

For example, Uddin’s CAIT lab has conducted two MDOT Research Division studies since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, using ground-penetrating radar to assess the structural integrity of state highways and to check bridges.

UM civil engineering professor Elizabeth Ervin (right) inspects the University Avenue bridge for weaknesses.

UM civil engineering professor Elizabeth Ervin (right) inspects the University Avenue bridge for weaknesses.

Working with the university’s National Center for Computational Hydroscience and Engineering, Uddin and his students also have used extreme flood simulation results and created three-dimensional computational models of bridges to show how catastrophic failures happen. This work is helping improve the resilience of bridges built over streams and rivers.

“When funding is extremely limited, asset management becomes all the more important,” said Uddin, who serves as a member of the Mississippi Transportation Institute board of directors. “By using a Highway Asset Management System, MDOT has been able to monitor existing roads and bridges for maintenance, safety and stability.”

Another project, a partnership with MDOT’s Construction Division and NASA, has yielded a laser technology to conduct aerial surveys for highway and bridge design alignment.

“Most states’ Department of Transportation agencies now use this technology, which was evaluated for accuracy and cost right here at the University of Mississippi,” Uddin said.

The MDOT Traffic Engineering Division worked with Ole Miss professors when deciding to conduct a field performance study of roundabouts on South Lamar Avenue in Oxford.

Following the construction of roundabouts on both ends of the Highway 6 bridge on South Lamar – which have proven highly successful in promoting safety and traffic flow – the roundabout project was selected as one of the Sweet 16 projects for national recognition by American Association of State Highways and Transportation officials.

Roundabouts were later built on Old Taylor Road, easing traffic flow on the Highway 6 bridge on this major link between the Ole Miss campus and new housing developments in Oxford and Lafayette County.

Another important new tool is a software package called Structural Health Evaluation, developed by Elizabeth Ervin, associate professor of civil engineering.

The system measures vibrations on a bridge to locate its weakest points. The measurements can usually be taken in less than a day and do not require roads to be closed. Data collected has the potential to help inspectors better determine which bridges are most likely to fail and how to best address the issues.

“Visual observation alone of bridges is no longer the best way to select and prioritize them for repairs,” Ervin said. “While the vibration sensors can’t make predictions, it can help inspectors know which bridges are weakest and most likely to fail first.”

Chris Mullen, another Ole Miss civil engineering professor, is using computational modeling to help determine which structural parts are most likely to cause critical failure (such as in the case of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis in 2015). Combining Mullen’s modeling technology and Ervin’s vibration sensors could greatly enhance the effectiveness of bridge inspection practices, Ervin said.

UM civil engineering professor Waheed Uddin checks data using his ground penetrating radar system.

UM civil engineering professor Waheed Uddin checks data using terrain laser mapping sensor equipment aboard an aircraft.

“Of course, no one can accurately predict exactly when a structure will fail,” she said. “We can only give our best guesses about when it might occur and, based on that data, determine a plan of action. Lowering truck weight limits alone is not a guarantee. Research and technology offer better alternatives.”

Uddin and Ervin both said they’re hopeful that funding for infrastructure improvements can be found.

“We’re certainly very hopeful that the Mississippi Legislature will pass the MDOT funding proposal,” Uddin said. “We want to continue offering our expertise in partnership with other institutions and agencies for the good of all transportation users.”

“This proposal, if it passes, is a good start,” Ervin said. “Still, the maintenance of existing bridges and highways, not to mention the possible construction of new ones, is a mind-boggling problem. We still have a long, long way to go.”

New Fund Honors Pam Hamilton’s Lasting Impact

Endowment pays tribute to late journalist, supports lecture series and scholarship

Pam Hamilton

Pam Hamilton

OXFORD, Miss. – Gifts to a new University of Mississippi fund will honor the life of alumna Pamela E. Hamilton while also establishing a lecture series and scholarship in her name.

A successful journalist with a passion for using words and media to change the world around her, Hamilton died Aug. 10, 2015, due to complications associated with lupus, an autoimmune disease she had battled since February 2006.

Friends and family are requesting support for the fund via an online campaign launched by the UM Foundation on Tuesday (Feb. 2), when Hamilton would have celebrated her 36th birthday.

The Pamela E. Hamilton Memorial Fund will help continue Hamilton’s legacy at Ole Miss by supporting an annual lecture series on social justice and media, as well as an annual academic award to a student in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. The inaugural Pamela E. Hamilton Memorial Lecture will be held April 1 during the Mississippi Scholastic Press Association Spring Convention on the Oxford campus.

“Whether you knew Pam as a friend, classmate or loving family member, we encourage you to support this fund as a memorial in her name,” said Hamilton’s sister, Melissa Hamilton of Atlanta. “Much of Pam’s success was possible due to scholarships and the love and support of her family and community. She would be proud to know that other students will receive similar support as a result of the impact she made.”

Hamilton, who graduated from Ole Miss in 2002 with degrees in journalism and English, began her career as a reporter for the Lion’s Roar newspaper staff at Raleigh (Miss.) High School, where she was a member of the Class of 1998. A dedicated scholar, she also was a National Achievement Finalist, a varsity cheerleader captain, dance captain and class president. She won first place in the state History Day competition and first place in the NAACP Creative Writing Contest. She was elected homecoming queen, Miss Raleigh High School and Most Likely to Succeed.

“To the class of ’98, Pam was our president, a prize student to her teachers and a friend to everyone who knew her,” said Hamilton’s cousin and Raleigh High classmate, Perez Hamilton. “She loved to see everyone succeed and was our biggest cheerleader. Watching Pam break barriers and strive to accomplish goals inspired us all to do the same. Pam’s impact is continuously felt in the Raleigh-Smith County community.”

Hamilton continued to pursue her passion for journalism at Ole Miss, where she began writing for The Daily Mississippian student newspaper her freshman year and served as editor in 2000-2001. During her tenure, she opened the paper’s ranks to student writers from across campus while encouraging the free exchange and reporting of ideas from all groups.

She used her position as editor to bring people together and promote social justice. While an Ole Miss student, she also completed an editorial board internship at The New York Timesprimarily covering higher education issues.

“Pam was easily one of the finest journalists and editors at The Daily Mississippian,” said Ralph Braseth, Hamilton’s UM faculty adviser and now a Loyola University professor. “She was a leader for sure, and anyone who worked with her knew that.

“But most impressive, year after year, I watched how much she cared for others. When Pam Hamilton spoke with you, she zeroed in like no person I know; she made you feel like you were the only person in the world. That’s one reason why she was such a remarkable journalist. … I miss Pam and I always will.”

At Ole Miss, Hamilton was a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, the Chancellor’s Leadership Class, Mortar Board, Delta Sigma Theta sorority, Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges and the National Association of Black Journalists. She was inducted into the Ole Miss Hall of Fame in 2002, one of the highest honors awarded to graduating seniors.

After college, Hamilton worked as a reporter for the Associated Press, covering education in South Carolina. In 2007, she earned a master’s degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her stellar career continued as she accepted various positions at The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN and Thomson Reuters news service.

In Raleigh, Hamilton was a member of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, and in Atlanta she actively served as a data entry volunteer with the Assimilation Ministry at Elizabeth Baptist Church.

Contributions to the Pamela E. Hamilton Memorial Fund can be made through the campaign website at https://ignite.olemiss.edu/PamsImpact. Additionally, gifts can be made by mailing a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677-0249.