Twenty-Two UM Freshmen Named FASTrack Summer Scholars

Award covers tuition for one 3-hour course

OXFORD, Miss. – Twenty-two University of Mississippi freshmen have been selected to receive Foundations for Academic Success Track summer scholarships.

FASTrack is a first-year learning community that helps students make a successful transition from high school to college. Students benefit from smaller and enhanced classes, individualized advising and mentoring and a community of supportive peers.

Participating students earn higher GPAs, go on academic probation less often and return for the sophomore year at higher rates than their peers.

“This scholarship, created to honor the Hill and Landrum families, covers one 3-credit hour course during any summer session,” said Suzanne Wilkin, FASTrack academic mentor. “Recipients are in good academic standing and have demonstrated how FASTrack had a profound and positive impact on their first-year college experience.”

Scholarship recipients are: Tyshionna Benson, of Taylor; LaKymbreya Buckner, Jocelyn Knox and Makayla Scott, all of Jackson; Leona Craig and Mercedes Pride, both of Gulfport; Gabrielle Dunn, Jacelyn Frierson, Isam Orabi and Melissa Presley, all of Oxford; Bettia Hankins and Yakia McKinnie, both of Holly Springs; Jessica Johnson, of Macon; Akeeriyanna Jones, of Greenwood; Delvin Kimmons, of Sardis; Cole Kinnamon, of Alpharetta, Georgia; Kyeisha Mells, of Ruleville; Jonathan Roberts, of Olive Branch; Larry Stokes, of Clarksdale; Caylyn Tate, of Pearl; Eddy Thompson, of Como; and Dajanique Wade, of Lyon.

Recipients represent a variety of majors, including accountancy, biology, biomedical engineering, communication sciences and disorders, dental hygiene, elementary education, exercise science, forensic chemistry, general business, general studies, mechanical engineering, nursing and political science.

For more information about the FASTrack program, go to

UM Doctoral Student, Graduate Named US Fulbright Finalists

Eric Rexroat headed to Belgium, Andrew Hayes going to Spain

Eric Rexroat, a doctoral history student, will study at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi doctoral student and a recent graduate will study in European countries this fall, thanks to the 2018 Fulbright U.S. Student Program.

Eric Rexroat, a Ph.D. candidate in the university’s Arch Dalrymple III Department of History, and Andrew Hayes, a graduate of the Croft Institute for International Studies and Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, are both finalists in the prestigious awards program.

A St. Charles, Missouri, native, Rexroat will be at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, from this September until March 2019. He will conduct research at the Royal Library of Belgium and National Archives of Belgium, both in Brussels, as well as work under the direction of professor Hilde Greefs and some of her colleagues.

Hayes, a Tupelo native who planned to pursue a master’s degree at the London School of Economics before receiving his Fulbright notification, will teach English at a public high school in Madrid, Spain, during the 2018-19 academic year.

The highly selective program chooses undergraduate seniors, and graduate and terminal-degree students from the U.S. to study at select colleges around the globe.

“This year’s University of Mississippi awardees are exceptionally qualified as strong students and researchers,” said Tim Dolan, director of UM’s Office of National Scholarship Advisement. “They also all demonstrated their commitment to language and culture through their civic engagement, study abroad or language study. They had to think through and articulate their qualifications and goals, and to imagine ways to engage with the people and culture in their host community.”

Rexroat, who earned his bachelor’s degree at Southeast Missouri State University in 2012, vividly recalls how he received notification of his award.

“I learned while in Paris doing research that I had been chosen as an alternative (which he said he viewed as an achievement in itself), but my understanding was that there would be little chance of my being promoted to a finalist,” he said. “Obviously something changed, and it was a very pleasant surprise.”

Hayes, who earned his bachelor’s degrees in international studies (with a specialization in Spanish) and economics from UM this past May, said he had a similar reaction upon receipt of his notice.

“I was humbled to have received such a prestigious award and excited for the opportunity to work with students abroad,” he said. “I hope to possibly expand upon my senior thesis, which described trends of youth unemployment in Spain.”

Andrew Hayes, an international studies and economics graduate, will teach at a public school in Madrid, Spain. Photo by Kevin Bain/ Ole Miss Communications

For the past three springs, Rexroat has been recognized for his achievements. He received the Tenin-Alexander Prize from the history department for Best Graduate Student Paper in 2015, the Graduate Achievement Award from the College of Liberal Arts in 2016 and officially passed his comprehensive exams with distinction in 2017.

“My career goals include teaching European history at a college or university, as well as continuing my research and eventually publishing on 19th-century Europe,” Rexroat said. “Receiving this Fulbright award will enable me to work closely with and benefit from the feedback of my adviser at the University of Antwerp, as well as to expand my research by providing the opportunity to spend further time in Europe. The experiences I have during this stint abroad will be invaluable to my development as a scholar and a person.”

Hayes’ previous achievements include memberships in both Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi academic honorary societies.

“I plan to become a professor of economics,” Hayes said. “I hope that this opportunity will give me some experience in working with students across cultures.”

UM administrators and faculty members said both finalists deserve their awards.

“Andrew was a hardworking student who excelled in all the areas of the international studies curriculum: writing, critical thinking, quantitative analysis and language learning,” said William Schenck, associate director of the Croft Institute, who worked with Hayes on his senior thesis as a member of his committee. “The written thesis and his defense demonstrated the breadth and depth of his intellectual curiosity as well as his sense of humor.”

“Eric came as an M.A. student and has excelled ever since he stepped foot on campus, impressing faculty and colleagues alike with his seriousness of purpose and focus,” said Marc Lerner, associate professor of history and director of Rexroat’s dissertation.

“His dissertation research on free trade as ideology and political controversy in the mid-19th century is fascinating and important work. The comparative and international perspective is what makes this a particularly challenging and powerful dissertation topic. I am excited to see the results of his research.”

Hayes and Rexroat are the second and third UM students to be named Fulbright finalists during the 2018-19 academic year. Maria Mulrooney, a graduate student in higher education, was selected for the prestigious Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program to serve as an English teaching assistant in South Africa next year.

Established in 1946, the Fulbright program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

The primary source of funding for the Fulbright program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected based on academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields.

Fulbright awards allow the Croft Institute and the other participating units on the Oxford campus to deliver on the university’s commitment to educating and engaging global citizens and supporting experiential learning, two cores established in the university’s new strategic plan, Flagship Forward.

Students interested in applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program award are encouraged to contact the Office of National Scholarship Advisement at


DéLana R.A. Dameron is UM Summer Poet in Residence

Brooklyn resident working on latest collection of poetry

De’Lana R.A. Dameron

OXFORD, Miss. – An award-winning poet is coming to the University of Mississippi this summer to work on her next collection of poetry.

DéLana R. A. Dameron, a writer and arts and culture administrator, is the 2018 Summer Poet in Residence in the university’s Department of English.

Dameron’s second collection of poems, “Weary Kingdom” (2017), is part of the University of South Carolina Palmetto Poetry Series. Her debut collection, “How God Ends Us” (2009), was selected the 2008 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize and was a finalist for the 2009 Foreword Review Book of the Year.

“Only lately have I been able to articulate, or understand, that I moved away in order to know how to love the South – and myself – better,” said Dameron, a South Carolina native who moved to Brooklyn, New York, a decade ago. “I’d like to know what my writing would look like in an extended time in the South, and this opportunity would provide such a chance.”

Dameron’s residency dates are June 15 to July 16. Her last such experience was in 2009.

Her plans include continuing to write “My ___ is Black” poems, which are meditations on what it means to be black and American. She also will work on a long poem about her paternal grandparents in Charleston, South Carolina, and go through another round of edits for her latest novel.

“Most of my writing for the last eight years has happened in the interstices of full-time work, full-time family and other pursuits,” Dameron said. “I felt immediately a sigh of relief and gratitude that there will be a place for me to read, breathe, write and be in a community of writers for an extended period.”

She also anticipates going fishing, an activity she hasn’t done since she was a child.

“I am looking forward to having the weight of a rod and reel in my hands, casting out into the water and seeing what comes back,” Dameron said. “Writing is not unlike this process.” ​

Dameron earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina and a master’s degree in poetry from New York University. She has conducted readings, workshops and lectures all across the United States, Central America and Europe.

“DéLana’s poems are filled with arresting imagery and narrative arcs that are concerned with home, migration, black Southern life, history and traditions,” said Nadia Alexis, a graduate instructor and MFA candidate in creative writing who judged applications and is the SPiR administrator.

“We found her project incredibly compelling, and we’re excited about having her here for a month – writing poems and engaging with undergraduates, the MFA community and local community through class visits, an MFA salon and a reading at Square Books.”

Dameron’s June 28 appearance at Square Books begins with book signings at 5 p.m. and reading at 5:30. The event is free to the public.

“Graduate students in the English department are excited about the opportunity for undergraduate students from their summer courses to learn from DéLana,” said Helene Achanzar, a colleague of Alexis who is assisting with logistics and setting up class visits for Dameron. “During her class visits, DéLana will share her poetry, answer questions about the craft and content of her work, and deliver short presentations related to the course material.”

As a culture maker and arts administrator, Dameron founded Red Olive Creative Consulting in 2013 and brings over a decade of experience in nonprofit fundraising and program development in the areas of arts and culture and education. Besides consulting for small and mid-sized arts and culture organizations on building capacity and sustainability, she is the founder of Black Art Futures Fund and serves on the board of directors of Alice James Books.

“My relationship to the South has remained complicated and loaded, but there will always be reverence and love,” Dameron said. “I had to put distance between us to know how to love it, to appreciate what it gave me and to understand what it might have taken away.”

Beth Ann Fennelly, professor of English and Mississippi’s poet laureate, said that “it’s a blessing that the English department has been given the house formerly owned by John and Renee Grisham to support literature in Mississippi.

“Summers can be slow in Oxford, but because of this great house and the generous funding from the department, (Division of) Outreach and College of Liberal Arts, we’re entering our 11th year of inviting a promising young poet to live in Oxford for the month, visiting classes and meeting with students,” said Fennelly, founder of the SPiR program.

“We’re especially excited to have DéLana Dameron and grateful to our talented MFA student, Nadia Alexis, who did the hard work of bringing her here.”

For more about the UM Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, visit

UM Film Nominated for Regional Emmy

'Shake 'Em on Down' was produced by the Southern Documentary Project

Blues musician Fred McDowell (seated) plays guitar and sings at a house party in the Southeast Emmy-nominated documentary ‘Shake ‘Em On Down: The Blues According to Fred McDowell.’ Photo by Chris Strachwit

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi filmmakers have been nominated for a 2018 Southeast Emmy Award for their documentary chronicling the life and music of a regional bluesman.

“Shake ‘Em on Down: The Blues According to Fred McDowell,” a 55-minute film produced as part of the Southern Documentary Project, housed in the university’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, is among four films nominated in the Documentaries category. The winner will be announced June 16 during ceremonies at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead Hotel in Atlanta.

“We were all elated to receive such great recognition from our peers,” said Scott Barretta, a sociology and anthropology instructor who co-produced the film. “It’s a wonderful feeling when your friends praise the film, but to be judged so positively by people who are assessing the film simply on its own merits is another thing altogether.”

Scott Barretta

Barretta and Andy Harper, Southern Documentary Projects director, learned of the nomination from Joe York, a former Ole Miss faculty member, freelance director and the film’s other co-producer, who spotted it on the Southeast Emmy Award website.

“Shake ‘Em On Down” tells the story of Fred McDowell, who was first recorded by Alan Lomax in 1959, mentored Bonnie Raitt and served as the cornerstone of the unique and enduring north Mississippi style of blues music.

Building on the longevity, success and devoted audience of “Highway 61 Radio,” a production of the Southern Documentary Project, York and Barretta feel that a dedication to visual storytelling about the musical heritage of the South, with a primary focus on the blues, will greatly enhance SouthDocs’ ability to meet its goals of documenting and educating the region.

Joe York

“If the film wins, I think it will be a testimony to the power of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s music and the compelling nature of his life story,” Barretta said. “It would also be a great boost to further promote the film, which was so well received on the festival circuit and aired nationally on PBS through the Reel South series.”

Barretta is the longtime host of “Highway 61 Radio,” and York its former producer.

If the film wins, it would be the second Emmy for the Southern Documentary Project. The first award was for “The Toughest Job: William Winters’ Mississippi,” an hourlong film that chronicles the life and career of the state’s 57th governor and his fight to pass the 1982 Education Reform Bill.

“When we get nominated or win awards, it serves primarily as an indicator that we’re on the right path,” Harper said. “With the launch of our new M.F.A. in Documentary Expression this year, it’s another thing we can point to for folks who want to know what they can expect from their time here.”

To view “Shake ‘Em on Down,” visit To watch “The Toughest Job,” go to

Liberal Arts Dean Named Fellow in Society of Behavioral Medicine

Psychology professor Lee Cohen joins prestigious group of scholars

Dean Lee M. Cohen

OXFORD, Miss. – Lee M. Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of psychology at the University of Mississippi, has been named a fellow in the Society of Behavioral Medicine.

Fellow status is a distinction conferred by SBM on full members in recognition of outstanding contributions to the advancement of the science and practice of behavioral medicine. Among the considerations for this distinction are academic, professional, clinical, legislative or other meritorious accomplishments.

“It is an honor to be recognized by prominent individuals in the field of behavioral medicine,” said Cohen, who is also a fellow in three divisions of the American Psychological Association. “SBM is one of the primary professional societies that I have most identified with as an academic, so this acknowledgement from this organization means a great deal to me.”

Cohen’s research program has focused on the behavioral, cognitive and physiological mechanisms that contribute to nicotine use, withdrawal and dependence. He is identifying healthy alternative behaviors that may complement smoking cessation efforts and has examined relevant individual differences that may help maintain tobacco use, including personality traits, emotional regulation and affective states, such as depression and anxiety.

In considering Cohen’s nomination, the society’s board of directors considered his entire body of work.

“Throughout my career, I have tried to combine the areas of research, teaching, mentoring and service,” Cohen said. “I have never thought of these domains as independent components.

“So, while I have been fortunate in my own research, I am most proud of the successes of the faculty and doctoral students I have had the pleasure to work with over the years who have gone on to be productive in their own right and contribute significantly to the field.”

UM administrators congratulated Cohen on the recognition.

“Being acknowledged as a fellow by one’s national association clearly communicates the quality of a faculty member’s work in and influence on his field,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

“All who are affiliated with our institution benefit from this national validation. I am most happy for Dean Cohen, as this is clearly the result of a career filled with hard work and valuable contributions.”

Rebekah Smith, chair and professor of psychology, said Cohen’s honor is good for the entire department.

“Fellow status is initiated by the awards committee, not through application, making this an especially prestigious recognition of the important contributions Dean Cohen has made in the areas of smoking cessation and the mechanisms underlying nicotine use,” she said.

“SBM is the premier organization devoted to behavioral medicine and health psychology. Having a fellow of SBM on our faculty also brings valuable visibility to our department.”

Cohen holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California at San Diego. He earned his master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Oklahoma State University.

For 15 years, Cohen was a faculty member at Texas Tech University, where he also served in administrative roles, including director of the doctoral program in clinical psychology and chair of the Department of Psychological Sciences.

Cohen’s achievement further advances the university’s strategic plan, which seeks to value and emphasize excellence in scientific discoveries and scholarly research, foster collaborative and innovative approaches, drive discovery and creativity, and enhance undergraduate and graduate education.

American Legion Boys State Returns to UM

Largest group of participants ever arrives Sunday to develop leadership and political skills

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter speaks to the 2017 particpants of Boys State. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – For the third consecutive year, the University of Mississippi will host the American Legion Boys State beginning Sunday (May 27), bringing young men from across the state to campus for a week of events designed “to develop tomorrow’s informed, responsible citizens.”

The university was chosen to host Boys State for three years, beginning in 2016. As many as 400 delegates will stay on campus and have access to the many resources of UM departments and programs. Here, they will perform the functions of state and local governments to develop their leadership, political skills and understanding of governing and citizenship.

The university is dedicated to nurturing leaders, and the campus community is particularly pleased to host Boys State again this year, Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

Hosting events like Boys State on the Ole Miss campus greatly contributes to our strategic goals of fostering a vibrant student environment and nurturing future leaders,” Vitter said. “This outstanding educational and leadership program provides exemplary opportunities for young men to further develop their academic potential and leadership skills.

“We at Ole Miss highly value our partnership with Boys State over the last three years.

The young men learn how city, county and state governments function through simulating those jobs. They also conduct debates and give speeches ahead of the Boys State elections.

The election results will be announced at 7:30 p.m. June 1 in Fulton Chapel.

This year’s lineup of speakers includes Gov. Phil Bryant, Attorney General Jim Hood, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith and former U.S. Rep. and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy.

The delegates also will participate in a Memorial Day service at 11 a.m. Monday (May 28) at the flagpole in the Circle. The public and local officials are invited to attend.

“Once again this summer, we are honored to host the young men attending the American Legion Boys State,” said Brandi Hephner LaBanc, vice chancellor for student affairs, who led efforts to bring Boys State to Ole Miss. “The University of Mississippi is a perfect partner for the Boys State program as our mission includes ‘transforming lives, communities and the world by providing opportunities for the people of Mississippi.’

“As a Buckeye Girls State graduate, I am personally aware of the transformative impact this program can have on budding leaders. My wish for them is that they leave the experience with a desire to lead through service to others, especially within the state of Mississippi.”

The Illinois American Legion created the program in 1934, and Mississippi’s began in 1938. The program was adopted by the national organization in 1945, with a goal of showing that democracy needs both an intelligent citizenry and also a moral, honest and impartial administration that is responsive to the will of the people.

The nonpartisan program, open to young men who are high school juniors, is conducted each year across the country through each state’s Department of the American Legion. It’s estimated that more than 28,000 young men annually participate in the civic workshops.

The gathering is designed to be a virtual 51st state with a constitution, statutes and ordinances constructed by its citizens to govern themselves. Mississippi’s Boys State is known as the mythical state of Magnolia.

Participants are required to review their knowledge about political workings of state and local government, and they perform the same duties as real-world officeholders.

The group looks forward to the experiences they will share at Ole Miss, said Cortez Moss, this year’s organizer for Boys State.

“We have a record registration of 400 this year, which is the largest in the program’s history,” Moss said. “It’s not a secret that Ole Miss has been critical to our program reaching its largest number of registered attendees.

“We are excited about all the accommodations and the work Bradley Baker (director of the Ole Miss Student Union) and his team have done to make this program a success.”

By week’s end, leaders hope to have developed these young men into Mississippians who understand the structures of governments and can use these systems in effort of realizing their policy goals, Moss said.

“What is more, we hope to inspire some young man to stay and lead in Mississippi.”

Eight UM Professors Honored for Creative Research Projects

College of Liberal Arts faculty recognized during Commencement exercises

UM liberal arts Dean Lee Cohen (left) and Associate Dean Charles Hussey (right) congratulate 2018 Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement Award for senior faculty recipients. The winners are (from left) John Green, Todd Smitherman, Rhona Justice-Malloy and Nathan Hammer. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Eight faculty members in the University of Mississippi’s College of Liberal Arts have been recognized for their creative research and scholarly activity during the 2017-18 academic year.

Four members received the Dr. Mike L. Edmonds New Scholar Award for junior faculty. Another four received the College of Liberal Arts Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement for senior faculty.

The awards, both of which are in their second year of existence, include medals and stipends of $1,000 and $2,000 respectively. They were presented May 12 during the college’s Commencement exercises.

The Edmonds Award is presented annually to untenured, tenure-track professorial rank faculty members who are within six years of their initial academic appointment and who have demonstrated exemplary performance in research, scholarship and/or creative achievement. Recipients of the Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement have achieved scholarly recognition and influence well beyond the university.

“The eight people who were selected for these awards come from a diversity of disciplines,” said Charles Hussey, associate dean for research and graduate education and professor of chemistry and biochemistry who served as chair of the selection committee.

“This fact alone is a testament to the quality and strength of the research, scholarship and creative activities that can be found among the entire faculty community. These award recipients are among the very best scholars at the University of Mississippi, and we celebrate their success.”

Edmonds New Scholar Award honorees are Davita L. Watkins, in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics category; Thomas Allan Peattie, Fine and Performing Arts; James M. Thomas, Social Sciences; and Darren E. Grem, Humanities.

Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement recipients are Nathan I. Hammer, Natural Sciences and Mathematics; Todd A. Smitherman and John J. Green, Social Sciences; and Rhona Justice-Malloy, Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts.

The first African-American female tenure track professor hired in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Watkins received a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award for $499,593 for work she has completed at the university, her creative ideas for future research activities and her strong teaching credentials. Her most recent research endeavors received $95,000 in joint support from the United Negro College Fund and Merck.

Watkins also helped cultivate several close collaborations with internal research groups at UM and with external groups at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Oak Ridge National Laboratories and the University of California at San Diego.

UM liberal arts Dean Lee Cohen (left) and Associate Dean Charles Hussey (right) congratulate recipients of the 2018 Mike L. Edmonds New Scholar Award for junior faculty. Winners are (from left) Darren Grem, Thomas Peattie, J.T. Thomas and Davita Watkins. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Peattie, an assistant professor of music, is an internationally recognized expert on the music of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. His distinguished publication record includes a monograph, a book on Mahler, four peer-reviewed articles and a review in some of the most respected journals in the field of musicology.

He is completing a second book on Italian composer Luciano Berio and two book chapters on Mahler. Pettie is also a frequent speaker at peer-reviewed national and international music conferences.

Described by sociology colleagues as a “rock star,” Thomas has written three academic books and seven articles accepted or in print in peer reviewed journals. The assistant professor of sociology and anthropology has received funding from the prestigious Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline Program, College of Liberal Arts Summer Research Grants and an Office of Research and Sponsored Programs Investment Grant.

An invited panelist at national, regional and local conferences, Thomas also serves as an editorial board member for two important journals in the field: Contexts and Sociology of Race and Ethnicity.

An assistant professor of history and Southern studies, Grem is the author of a celebrated monograph, a co-edited volume and six peer-reviewed articles. A panel chair at the 2017 national Business History Conference, he oversaw two hires in the Department of History and is working on his second manuscript.

Hammer, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has served as principal investigator on five grants from the National Science Foundation totaling more than $7 million. These include an NSF CAREER Award, a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site and a major instrumentation award. He served the state’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR program as Track 1 senior personnel and program architect and Track 2 program director.

A UM research development fellow, Hammer developed and directs his department’s summer research program. He also co-organized the 50th annual Southeastern Undergraduate Research Conference in 2018 and has delivered three invited talks at national American Chemical Society meetings.

With collaborators at Wake Forest School of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital, Smitherman, an associate professor of psychology, has led the way in debunking myths about the factors that trigger headaches. His publication record includes more 65 peer-reviewed articles, a book, a lead-authored book and nine book chapters.

Smitherman is a fellow of the American Headache Society, associate editor of Headache and a consultant to the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke of National Institutes of Health. The only psychologist on the Medical Advisory Board, he has been supported in his research by the Migraine Research Foundation, American Headache Society and Merck Pharmaceuticals.

Director of the university’s Center for Population Studies and a professor of sociology, Green has held many elected positions, including serving as the current president of the Southern Rural Sociological Association, and he is the former editor-in-chief of the Community Development Society’s official publication. Green has secured 11 grants and contracts, increased the center’s staff, added undergraduate and graduate research assistants and added 10 affiliated researchers from within and outside the university.

Last year, he became a team co-leader and steering committee member of the Community Wellbeing Flagship Constellation, one of four priority research areas selected by the university for investment and further development as part of Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter’s strategic vision.

A professor of theatre arts, Justice-Malloy is a member of the National Theater Conference, which has only 150 members selected through a strict nomination process. She served as president of the Mid-America Theater Conference and was recently inducted as a fellow.

Justice-Malloy’s record of research spans many years and includes articles in Continuum:  The Journal of African Diaspora Drama, Theatre and Performance, and in Theatre History Studies. She co-edited and contributed a chapter to the book “Enacting History.” Besides her strong publication record, Justice-Malloy also has s significant record of presentations both domestically and internationally.

This year’s honorees are exceptional, and their work reflects the goals for which the awards were created, said Lee M. Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of psychology.

“As a Carnegie R1 university, it is important that we publicly recognize and reward our most productive faculty for their sustained efforts in research, scholarship and creative achievement,” Cohen said. “I hope the recent establishment of these awards will help us to elevate our productivity moving forward.”

UM Geologists Study Impact of Bonnet Carré Spillway on Mississippi Sound

Research findings offer insights into new water levels' effects on oyster production along Gulf Coast

Jarett Barnett, a UM geology and geological engineering graduate assistant, retrieves sensory landers from the Mississippi Sound as part of a study being conducted. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi scientists who are studying the Mississippi River’s ebbs and flows are trying to find out how changing water levels in the river can affect fishing and seafood industries in Mississippi.

With the rising water levels in the lower Mississippi River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway west of Lake Pontchartrain in early March. As the flooding continued, more bays of the spillway were opened and remained open through the month. The spillway is designed to channel water into Lake Pontchartrain and through the Rigolets Pass into Lake Borgne and ultimately into the Mississippi Sound.

“The opening of the spillway lowers the water levels flowing through the New Orleans area and lessens the pressure on the levees, pumps and other flood control structures,” said Greg Easson, UM director of the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute, professor of geology and geological engineering, and a co-principal investigator on the study. “As part of the Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence, we are supporting the redevelopment and restoration of the Mississippi oyster resources as a key action in the restoration of the Gulf Coast.

“Understanding the impact of the opening of the spillway on the water properties in the Mississippi Sound is an important component.”

Easson and Jarett Bell, a UM geological engineering graduate student from Bay St. Louis, have been collaborating on the project since before the student graduated from the university with his undergraduate degree last spring. Sensors are used to gather data about dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature and light from the water. Bell’s responsibilities include preparing, launching and recovering the sensor programs, offloading and interpreting the data.

“Another preparation is that we use hidden buoys so that our platforms stay out of sight for at least a week,” Bell said. “Once the buoys sit for the allotted time, we retrieve the landers, offload the data, return them back to Oxford and clean all the components.”

Preliminary graphs of dissolved oxygen and conductivity show the influence of a large freshwater influx and subsequent recovery.

“This information generated will have significant implications for oyster reef restoration and resilience on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Easson said. “It will provide critical knowledge related to acceptable sites for future oyster reefs that will support sustainable and productive oyster fisheries.”

The results of the study will be shared with MBRACE partners from Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and Jackson State University. It will also be the subject of Bell’s master’s thesis in 2019, and an eventual journal article.

This project was paid for [in part] with federal funding provided through the University of Southern Mississippi under the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality by the Department of the Treasury under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The statements, findings, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Southern Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality or the Department of the Treasury.


Dan Gailey Is Wired for the Future

Electrical engineering alumnus is founder and CEO of Synapse AI

Dan Gailey, founder and CEO of Synapse AI, earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Mississippi. Submitted photo

Like an electrical circuit that makes connections and produces and transfers power, Dan Gailey (BSEE 10) has found a way to do something similar with data.

As founder and CEO of Synapse AI, a decentralized network and marketplace for programmatic access to data and machine learning models, the University of Mississippi alumnus has formed lucrative and powerful partnerships with clients around the globe.

“I’ve had opportunities to work in various startups, venture capital and at Make: magazine,” said the Houston, Texas, native who migrated with his family to Tupelo. “I’m most proud of all the teams I’ve had a chance to know and work with, and the products we’ve launched together. Each venture is a new baby that takes significant love, support and care to grow through good times and bad.”

Through his profession, Gailey has met many makers from all over the world. Based in San Francisco, California, since he graduated, he spends most of his time in Europe and Asia traveling and working.

“My responsibilities are helping to move everyone forward through uncertainty to discovery as fast as possible to build something that has never existed before and making sense of everything while maintaining vision,” Gailey said.

The AI expert’s journey to worldwide success began when he decided to attend the university.

“My family suggested I check out Ole Miss, which I did,” he said. “I really enjoyed the culture, food and environment in and around the campus. I also met some smart and fun people that I really enjoyed spending my time with.”

Among Gailey’s favorite electrical engineering courses were Circuits, taught by associate professor Elliott Hutchcraft, labs taught by adjunct instructor Matt Inman and any class taught by associate professor Richard Gordon.

“Elliott really worked to make complicated topics more approachable,” Gailey said. “Richard was great because he is basically a super genius that knew all the answers to any questions we had. Matt’s labs were always wonderful because he really knew how to inspire everyone to work together and converge on solutions as a team.”

Inman recalled that Gailey was an excellent and innovative student.

“Dan showed a mix of maturity, excitement and inquisitiveness that helped bring others along to interacting in class. From the first day, he exuded that sort of entrepreneurial creativity and was never going to be content without leaving his mark on the world, finding his niche and making his name be known.”

During his junior year in electrical engineering, Gailey learned how to balance challenging workloads under significant time constraints. He also became fearless in leading, planning, prioritizing and delivering results-driven outcomes. The most significant lesson for Gailey was learning how to do all of that as part of a team.

“Ole Miss brought together some of the best and brightest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, working and growing with,” he said. “For that, I’m grateful.”

Gailey’s family includes his mother, Angie Gailey, and brother Patrick Lee Gailey, both of Tupelo.

His spare moments are spent creating art, visiting museums, hanging out at hacker/maker spaces, experiencing new cultures and people, prototyping with electronics, reading science fiction and thinking about artificial general intelligence, or AGI.









UM Student Lands Summer Internship at Congressional Black Caucus

Jarrius Adams of Hattiesburg will be on Capitol Hill through mid-August

Jarrius Adams, a senior public policy and political science major, will be interning this summer with the Congressional Black Caucus. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi student has been accepted into the prestigious Congressional Black Caucus Foundation summer internship program in Washington, D.C.

Jarrius Adams, a senior public policy and political science major from Hattiesburg, will be in the CBCF Congressional Internship Program from May 29 to Aug. 15. The rigorous program includes a full-time work week, educational seminars, individual and team building projects, and several social and networking events.

Participants become part of a corps of trained, young leaders with the skills, outlook and contacts to work for positive change in Washington and their local communities. Interns serve in Congressional offices, federal agencies and nonprofit organizations.

“I was extremely ecstatic and filled with joy,” said Adams about learning of his selection. “I immediately called Dr. Kristina Phillips (assistant director of the UM Office of College Programs) and shared the news. For a week after, I was in disbelief.”

Adams’ selection came as no surprise to Phillips, who noted that he is also participating in the Division of Outreach’s Washington Internship Experience.

“The CBC Internship program is extremely competitive, but I was always confident that he exceeded the program’s qualifications,” said Phillips, who met Adams in May 2017 as a Study USA participant. “I foresee Jarrius being an incredible asset to the state of Mississippi, as he is deeply passionate about moving his state forward, especially in areas of education and policy.

“I cannot wait to see where this internship leads his career path. He is well-deserving of the honor.”

Shawnboda Mead, director of the university’s Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, also applauded Adams’ selection.

“Jarrius is an exceptional student leader who also cares deeply about social and political issues,” said Mead, who has known Adams since he attended the MPOWER conference before beginning his freshman year in 2015. Mead and Adams also have worked closely through his involvements with the center’s iTeam, a peer diversity educator program.

“It’s been a joy getting to know Jarrius, as he has left his mark on the university over the past three years. I’m confident he’ll be a tremendous asset to the Congressional Black Caucus.”

Adams has been assigned to the office of U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). His administrative duties may include answering phones, opening/dating/coding/logging and distributing mail, running errands, purchasing supplies, escorting constituents on Capitol tours or to the House/Senate visitor’s gallery, pulling newspaper clips, copying material, filing co-sponsorships of bills and delivering notices to other offices.

Among his legislative duties are answering mail, researching issues, tracking down reference material, gathering information on pending bills, developing special legislative projects or initiatives, attending hearings/meetings, following up on correspondence from other congressmen, checking facts and figures for speechs, ordering documents and preparing congressional records.

“All of these tasks need to be done,” said Meco Shoulders, coordinator for Thomas’ office. “Interns must recognize that every job is important and is a vital lesson to learn. They should approach their given assignments with diligence, conscientiousness, attention to detail, good judgment, diplomacy, follow-through, humor, patience and an appreciation of the big picture.”

Adams said he is anticipating a thoroughly enjoyable internship experience.

“I watch the news every day, and I am excited to be in the midst of the things that I see and read about,” he said. “No matter how much we love or hate politics, the reality is it affects every aspect of our lives.”

Adams previously interned at the Democratic National Convention and with CNN. While he appreciates both those experiences, he said being a CBCF intern is a “dream come true.”

A member of the Columns Society and president of the UM Gospel Choir, Adams is also an assistant speech and debate coach at Oxford High School. His other community involvements include serving as a member of the Lafayette-Oxford Democratic Executive Committee and the League of Women Voters, and as a Boys and Girls Club volunteer.

Adams said he is already looking beyond receiving his degree next spring.

“I want to get involved with Mississippi politics,” he said. “One day, I plan to seek office. This experience will give me the opportunity to find my strengths and talents, apply them to my community and, hopefully, ensure the best quality of life for us all.”