UM Student Broadens Horizon with Year in Japan

Gwenafaye McCormick wraps up studying abroad as Bridging Scholar

UM student Gwenafaye McCormick spent the 2017-18 academic year studying at Waseda University, a private, independent research university in central Tokyo. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – For the past year, University of Mississippi student Gwenafaye McCormick started her school day about 6,600 miles and 14 time zones from Oxford – in Japan.

McCormick, a rising senior international studies major from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, spent the 2017-18 school year studying at Waseda University, a private, independent research university in central Tokyo.

The distance and time from home meant that while McCormick was headed to Friday morning classes, Ole Miss students were gearing up for a Thursday evening.

“I grew up interested in Japan and Japanese culture, so of course I had some idea of what to expect, but getting to see places in real life that I had only ever seen in photos before was almost breathtaking, even for sort of silly things, like lines of vending machines lighting up a neighborhood street at night,” she said.

“Getting to experience everyday life in Japan has been the best part, in my opinion. I’ve made great friends at my university from Japan and from all over the world, and have had so many wonderful experiences with them.”

The “dream-come-true” experience has ended as McCormick’s Japanese school year came to a close. That means McCormick, the inaugural recipient of the Ira Wolf Scholarship from the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation, will be home for two weeks of “summer vacation” before UM classes start Aug. 20.

McCormick brought back experiences and memories from her Japanese sojourn that stretch beyond the classroom and her studies, such as eating “real sushi” for the first time on her 20th birthday surrounded by new friends, singing karaoke for the first time and playing games such as Janken, the Japanese version of rock-paper-scissors.

A member of both the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Croft Institute for International Studies, she even met U.S. Ambassador to Japan William Hagerty IV at the ambassador’s residence, where McCormick represented the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation at a reception.

McCormick’s year of Japanese studies came through the foundation, a nonprofit organization created in 1998 at the recommendation of the Japan-US Friendship Commission to strengthen the two countries’ relationship.

Her Ira Wolf Scholarship is named after a U.S. trade representative and, most recently, an employee of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America trade group in Tokyo. Wolf died in January 2016 after spending half his adult life in Japan.

Gwenafaye McCormick’s studies in Japan included several cultural opportunities, such as eating ‘real sushi’ for the first time and visiting Japanese temples and gardens. Submitted photo

“Gwenafaye has a global perspective, similar to Mr. Wolf,” said Jean M. Falvey, deputy director of the U.S.-Japan Bridging Foundation. “Gwenafaye has carried on Mr. Wolf’s legacy with poise, intelligence and humility. She was chosen to represent the Bridging Scholars at a reception that U.S. Ambassador William Hagerty IV hosted at his residence in Tokyo, in honor of the Bridging Foundation’s 20th anniversary.

“Her articulate, grateful remarks were a huge hit among the major donor and government officials in attendance, and exemplified the value of study abroad to building the U.S.’s pipeline of next-generation workforce and global leaders.”

Thankful for the foundation’s encouragement and support, McCormick said it has been “incredibly rewarding to know that established members of the field I am entering see me as an active member as well and want to help me succeed.”

McCormick’s studies at Waseda University were focused on Japanese culture and history. Her courseload in Japan included classes such as one on paternalism and Japanese society, which focused on the differences between and complexities within Western and Japanese business cultures.

“It’s been really exciting to learn about Japanese culture and history from a Japanese perspective, especially since I have some background knowledge on events, given previous research and study I did at Ole Miss,” McCormick said. “In some ways, it’s very similar to what I’ve learned through my international studies classes (at UM) since the department I’m in is international studies/relations-oriented, teaches most of their courses in English and is a magnet for international students coming to Japan.

“But given that most of my teachers have been Japanese, I’ve had the chance to hear a real-life and modern-day Japanese perspective on many issues, which has been such a great opportunity.”

McCormick is the daughter of Paige McCormick, an associate professor of English literature at the Stillman College, and Mark McCormick, Stillman’s vice president of academic affairs. While she briefly visited Switzerland, Paris and London in high school, her love for Japan and Japanese culture arose through watching and reading Japanese cartoons, respectively called anime (animation) and manga (comics).

“I was completely enthralled by their variety of artistic styles and the difference in set storylines, humor and focuses,” she said. “I was always interested in the editor’s notes in the back of my manga volumes, where untranslatable jokes were explained, given that they relied on some knowledge of the kanji (Chinese characters) used to write characters’ names, or how two words sounded similar in Japanese but were written/pronounced differently. I wanted so badly to be able to be in on the joke.

“So I knew I had always wanted to learn Japanese, but it wasn’t until high school when a Japanese-American friend of mine encouraged me after I told her about my interest that I decided to really go for it. I’ve always loved learning languages, and Japanese was no different. I fell completely in love with it and knew I wanted to become fluent, so I pursued it wholeheartedly at Ole Miss.”

McCormick’s extended time living, traveling and studying in Japan provides a much deeper understanding of her target culture than the more typical semester stay, said Noell Wilson, chair of the university’s Arch Dalrymple III Department of History and Croft associate professor of history and international studies. Wilson also serves as McCormick’s senior thesis adviser.

“This more complex engagement with all things Japanese – from pop culture to history to food – will make her scholarly analysis of Japan on return to Oxford both more authoritative and more authentic,” said Wilson, whose background is in East Asian studies.

Following a brief vacation, McCormick will turn to her senior year at UM. Her tentative plans following graduation include entering the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, a competitive employment opportunity that allows young professionals to live and work in Japan, whether in rural villages or brightly lit metropolises.

She would like a locale a little more rural than the center of Tokyo but is interested in the challenge of teaching her native language in her chosen, learned language, as well as having more of an immersive Japanese language experience.

Still, with a year left at Ole Miss, McCormick said nothing is set.

“I am keeping my mind open to all possibilities,” she said. “I’ve learned that a lot can happen in just one year.”

Professor Studies Public Education’s YouTube Portrayal

Study of video-sharing site finds negative depiction of public education

Burhanettin Keskin, UM associate professor of early childhood education, has published a paper examining how public education is portrayed on YouTube. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – YouTube is the second most popular website in the world, nestled right behind Google and ahead of sites such as Facebook, Baidu (a Chinese language internet search engine) and Wikipedia.

The video-sharing site states it has more than a billion users worldwide – almost one-third of all people on the internet – and every day those users watch a billion hours of video.

But what exactly is all that video watching telling viewers about the world, specifically when it comes to public education? That’s a topic recently explored by Burhanettin Keskin, a University of Mississippi associate professor of early childhood education. The result is his paper, “What Do YouTube Videos Say About Public Education?” which was published as an Editor’s Choice article in SAGE, a leading independent, academic and professional publisher of innovative, high-quality content.

Keskin’s study shows that the content of selected, English-language YouTube videos examined portray public education in a mostly negative light.

“As an educator, I’m worried about the future of public education and how it is portrayed in media,” he said. “Oftentimes I see blunt attacks on public education. I will be the first to say that public education is not perfect. I will say that, but I think it is something we need to protect.”

For his study, Keskin typed the term “public education” into the YouTube search bar and analyzed the top 60 search results provided by the site. (YouTube uses a non-disclosed algorithm to display its user-generated content.)

Keskin and a graduate student then independently coded the videos (59 were evaluated because one video repeated itself in the search results) as portraying public education as negative, neutral or positive. The videos were coded on the thumbnail cover image, title and content, which involved Keskin watching enough YouTube videos to give him “dreams at night of YouTube.”

When Keskin and the graduate student disagreed on nine videos, an opinion from a third coder – a professor from another university – was obtained.

The study showed that 67.8 percent of the selected videos’ content portrayed public education negatively, 22 percent of the cover images portrayed public education negatively (64.4 percent were found neutral) and 45.8 percent of the titles were negative (44.1 percent were neutral).

“I was troubled by the findings of Dr. Keskin’s research,” said Susan McClelland, UM chair of teacher education. “Public perception is important to any career as it often reflects the level of respect and value the public places on that career.

“Today, public education is under an increasing amount of public scrutiny, which places educational systems in a position to create effective school public relations campaigns. … I do believe positive perceptions begin at the local level, and teachers and administrators must learn to be action-oriented in sharing positive information about themselves, the successes of all children and the impact education is having on their communities – a role perhaps we have not been comfortable doing.”

Some of the titles from Keskin’s May 31, 2016, search (8.2 million videos were found) were bluntly, if not outrageously negative, of public education, with titles such as “Public ‘Education’ Has Become Indoctrination and Distraction” and “Common Core: UN Agenda 21, Communitarianism & The Public Education Plan to Destroy America.”

While some videos only had a few thousand views, others had been viewed more than a million times.

“Perception in recent years regarding public education is down,” said David Rock, dean of the School of Education. “Unfortunately, negative stories fuel strong sentiment, especially on social media and therefore seem to be heard like a roar. This fire can spread into an ugly fight at times on social media.

“Positive successes are shared but seem to be heard like a normal, friendly conversation. We seem to be more likely to share positive news in a friendly manner.”

With many educators using YouTube in their classrooms, Keskin points out that the danger is that both reputable and impartial sources, and untrustworthy and biased sources share the same platform with YouTube. Also, anyone can upload videos to YouTube, and some of the unreliable videos are professionally rendered, which is confusing to children and teens, who are a large YouTube audience.

A May survey from the Pew Research Center on teens, social media and technology reports that 85 percent of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 say they use YouTube, more than Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.

Since YouTube is a teaching tool in today’s classrooms, young children might think all YouTube videos are credible, especially subjective material placed at the top of search results.

“Pretty much anyone can post anything,” said Keskin, who joined the UM faculty in 2013. “Some academics, some doctors, some professionals can post it. So can someone who has some really bad intentions. They can just post it and bend truths.

“The danger is (YouTube) is a mixture of things. For a young mind, it might be really hard to distinguish if this is reputable, especially if you are not very good with media.”

Even after viewing the results of his research, though, Keskin, who has a personal YouTube cooking channel called KeskinCookin, said YouTube can be a valuable teaching tool. Others agree.

“I certainly believe YouTube videos are an effective tool for teaching,” said McClelland, who also serves as an associate professor of leadership and counselor education. “You can learn to do just about anything by watching a YouTube video – from tying a bow tie to changing a tire to improving your writing skills, YouTube has videos on how to be successful.

“YouTube is a powerful source of information – all the more reason we need images and videos reflecting the positive, innovative and successful work public school educators are doing.”

The study also reinforces the importance of teaching critical thinking, especially when it comes to social media, Keskin said.

“When you teach critical thinking to students – young students or college students or the general public – then you have a better chance of not falling into the hands of the people who are posting very negative, false information out there,” he said. “Informed citizens is what we want. Who can think for themselves. Who can look for things to find out if the information is true or not.”

$60 Million Gift Launched Croft Institute onto Global Stage

Donation from Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund endowed institute 20 years ago

Before the Croft Institute for International Studies called the ‘Y’ Building, or the old chapel, home, the building, constructed in 1853, underwent about a $3.5 million renovation funded by the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund. In June 1998, the Croft board of directors toured the ongoing renovations with Chancellor Robert Khayat (third from left), Provost Carolyn Staton (right) and others. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Croft Institute for International Studies celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, but before that first cohort entered in August 1998, the institute’s story began with a man walking into an office.

The man was Gerald M. Abdalla, CEO and president of Croft LLC and chairman of the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund. The office, located in the Lyceum at the University of Mississippi, was occupied by then-Chancellor Robert Khayat.

A native of McComb, Abdalla had graduated from the UM School of Law in 1973 (where Khayat was a professor of his), earned a master’s in taxation from New York University and joined Croft Metals as corporate counsel after five years in private practice. He had been promoted to lead the McComb-based company, founded by Joseph C. Bancroft, in 1996.

Bancroft died in March 1996, but his will set up the fund, with an eye toward funding educational pursuits. And Abdalla had an idea for using some of the money, so he called his former professor, set up a meeting and soon walked into Khayat’s office in September 1996.

“He came in and we had a little conversation preceding ‘the conversation,’ and I said, ‘Well, Jerry, what can I do for you?'” Khayat recalled.

I want to give Ole Miss some money, Khayat remembered Abdalla saying.

Good, because we need it, Khayat replied.

I want to give $60 million.

What did you say? Khayat asked.

$60 million.

“It got very quiet for a moment because I’d never heard of that before – or since,” Khayat said. “I said, ‘What would you like us to do with that money?’ He said, ‘What do you want to do with it?'”

Abdalla said when he first met with Khayat, he mentioned establishing an institute incorporating majors he had studied, such as accounting, law and taxation. After he met more with Khayat, Associate Provost Carolyn Ellis Staton and other university officials, the decision was made to use the $60 million for an international studies program.

“That was foreign to me, but as far as myself and the other members of the board, we figured if that’s what the university wanted, and they were going to be there to be involved in it, we’d go ahead and do that one,” Abdalla said. “That’s what we did.”

About a year later, on Sept. 18, 1997, after negotiations and drawing up contracts, the $60 million gift – largest in the university’s history – was publicly announced, with Khayat stating the gift would create a premier international studies institute, the Croft Institute for International Studies.

“The University of Mississippi and the state of Mississippi will be forever changed by the work of the Croft Institute,” Khayat said during a press conference announcing the gift.

Twenty years later, no one can argue with the foresight of that statement. Since the institute’s inception in 1998, the program has sent its graduates out into the world, placing both UM and its graduates on the global stage.

“We have just completed a survey of our alumni, and it shows that a Croft degree opens doors to a broad range of exciting jobs all over the world,” said Oliver Dinius, Croft executive director and an associate professor of history. “This confirms that the original vision for the Croft Institute was right on target, and it is rewarding to hear directly from graduates of Croft how well its educational model prepared them for their careers, often in fields that one may not associate with international studies.

“The generous support of the Bancroft Fund and the dedicated work of Croft faculty and staff over two decades have created something unique. Croft offers an education that is at the same time specialized – command of a foreign language and knowledge about world affairs – and general by emphasizing strong writing and research skills. Prospective employers value that, and Croft truly has become a brand.”

Following this year’s Commencement, the institute has more than 500 graduates. Every year, between 40 and 50 students are expected to graduate from the institute with a bachelor’s in international studies, developing a growing network of Croft alumni that support one other and spread the reputation of the institute.

Though it was Abdalla who walked into Khayat’s office that day, plans for an international studies program had been floated earlier, by people such as Robert J. Haws, former chair of the UM Department of History, who joined the university in 1969; and Staton, who joined the university in 1977 and served as a professor and interim dean in the School of Law, associate provost and provost before her retirement in 2009. Staton died in May 2017.

When campus members begin hearing of the plans for the institute and the generous gift from the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund that would make it possible, a palpable energy began spreading on campus.

“There was tremendous excitement,” said Kees Gispen, who served as executive director of Croft from 2007 to 2016 and who has taught in Croft since its inception. “This was a dedicated program in international studies, which is something the university sorely lacked.

The announcement of the $60 million gift from the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund to the university to endow the Croft Institute for International Studies made headlines around the state and nation. Submitted photo

“It has historically been a pretty inward-looking school and concerned with Mississippi, and we’re always measuring ourselves in Mississippi, and the whole idea of looking beyond the boundaries of the state and, more than that, beyond the borders of the country was very innovative and exciting and electrifying.”

The students entering Croft in 1998 were educated in the George Street House, as the “Y” Building or the old chapel (built in 1853), where Croft calls home, underwent about a $3.5 million renovation, a project also funded by the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund.

Those first students entered Croft in a changing world, one shaped by globalization spreading via new trade agreements, the internet, increasing free trade, imaginative technologies and more. Croft was designed to prepare students for this new world.

Douglass Sullivan-González, dean of the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, was in 1998 an Ole Miss history professor who was selected to teach in Croft. He also was part of the Croft organizing team.

The Croft planners knew the importance to the institute and international studies of students learning a foreign language.

“Any diplomat will tell you that once you can understand and express yourself in the native language, you have an inside; you’re not on the outside always,” Sullivan-González said. “We envision our students obtaining positions at the highest levels in the nation as an outgrowth of this program, which would include the diplomatic corps. …

“Language carries our students farther. I would say our experiences have borne this out, especially beyond our wildest expectations. We have one of the best teaching corps in the nation here, and our students are catching prize possessions of jobs, given their language proficiencies.”

Another key decision early on required Croft students to spend at least a semester abroad in a country that speaks their chosen language, said Peter Frost, who was interim Croft director during its planning year and taught in the program for 15 years.

“I do not remember any debate over this wise decision,” he said. “Here Ole Miss faculty instantly understood what living abroad in a qualified program could do for a student’s maturity, let alone language fluency.”

Class sizes also were purposely kept small, Frost said, as “a small, carefully guided discussion group is much better at training students to think, participate and retain information than a faculty member droning on in a large, often sleepy, lecture hall.”

Also, students are required to write an honors thesis, Frost said. That senior honors thesis “is an amazing, tough and super-beneficial part of Croft that develops a close bond between the director and the student,” he said.

Jeremy Mills was an early Croft student, graduating from the institute in 2002. He works as the military program manager for the Winchester Division of Olin Corp. in Oxford.

Between the foreign language component, studying abroad and more, Mills’ Croft education distinguished him from his peers by making him adaptable, he said.

“The diversity of experiences I had and people I met while a student at the Croft translates today into me being able to adapt to pretty much any situation with relative ease,” he said. “Many people get uncomfortable and nervous with new places and people; for me, I crave those experiences.

“You never really get rid of the nervous part, but as someone told me, ‘It isn’t about getting rid of the butterflies; it is about making them fly in formation.'”

Blair McElroy also graduated from Croft in 2002 as part of the first cohort who started in 1998. As a high school student, she loved language and math and knew she wanted to study abroad, hence her decision to study at Croft.

She studied in China as part of her Croft education, and that exposure of studying and living in a different country – along with her other Croft experiences – has influenced her career.

McElroy is director of UM’s Study Abroad program and senior international officer.

“Majoring in international studies was incredible preparation for working in the field of international education,” she said. “The ability to communicate in another language, the intercultural communication skills gained through study at UM and abroad, and the knowledge imparted by the Croft program has given me the tools to facilitate programs in many disciplines, encourage partnerships around the world, and connect with faculty and staff on campus.”

Nearing its 20th anniversary, the Croft Institute has helped the university, the state of Mississippi and its people become players on the international stage. Powering that journey has been the Joseph C. Bancroft Charitable and Educational Fund, including a new $5 million commitment to the institute in 2016.

“Mississippi is part of the global economy just as much as any other state in the United States,” Abdalla said. “Large multinationals – such as Nissan and Toyota – and many smaller multinational companies operate in the state, and their management is looking for employees who have an understanding of the global connections in today’s economy.

“Even if they do not require command of a foreign language skill, employers like the fact that our students have experienced a different culture and know how to adapt to different practices at the workplace and beyond.

“If the United States wants to remain a world economic leader, it needs people who are truly international. … Every time a U.S. company wants to go global or expand its worldwide reach, it will be looking for employees willing to relocate to a foreign country. Students trained at Croft are ready to do that.”

Beyond moving the boundaries of the university internationally, the Croft Institute also has made UM a global destination for students.

“Having it in Mississippi is another wonderful thing … because it brings students from all over the world,” Gispen said. “People from other states have these perceptions of our state, and the more you can mix that up and bring people here and let them see with their own eyes, the more you gradually whittle down the stereotype of Mississippi.

“We’ve worked on that, and I think all of us continue to work on that. That’s a very important endeavor.”

Croft students are bright, motivated, inspired and grasp opportunity, Khayat said, and no matter where they go, they move forward as ambassadors of the university and the state, opening up a world of possibility.

“It’s become one of the stellar programs in America,” Khayat said. “Really a leading, cutting-edge international studies program.

“Croft … gets you focused on the larger world and gives you a chance to be a part of it.”

New UM Program Funds Summer Undergraduate Research

23 students to conduct mentored summer research projects

Twenty-three University of Mississippi students are involved with the Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, an inaugural program to expand and enhance undergraduate research and creative achievement at UM.Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Twenty-three University of Mississippi undergraduate students are participating in the Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience, an inaugural program to expand and enhance undergraduate research and creative achievement.

In May, the UM Office of Research and Sponsored Programs announced that 15 Undergraduate Research Grants, including two Faculty Group Grants and 13 Individual Student Grants, were being awarded from among 45 competing proposals submitted this spring by faculty and students. The grants, totaling $51,000, will provide funding for student living stipends, faculty mentorship stipends, travel, lab materials and other costs associated with these student research projects.

The 15 grants are being funded by the Office of the Provost with assistance from several other schools and departments.

“Undergraduate students can use these research experiences to help really make sense of what they are learning in their different classes and help them put it all together,” said Jason Ritchie, who is an undergraduate research development fellow in the Office of Research. He also serves as an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

“Getting them involved in research early is fantastic for the students, and I think they’ll get a lot more out of their undergraduate experience when they are very integrated into their department and integrated into their discipline and working one-on-one with faculty members. They get just a much richer experience out of this.”

Each of the two Faculty Group Grants funds up to five faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects within a disciplinary theme proposed by a faculty team. They are titled “Undergraduate Research in Data Science” and “Decision Making in the Delta: An Investigation of Community Resilience, Nutrition and Health for a Brighter Future.”

These Faculty Group Grants are intended not only to give students a quality summer research experience but also to give faculty experience running a summer student research program – an experience they can leverage in submitting proposals to funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation. The NSF’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, for instance, supports active research participation by undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by the foundation.

While summer undergraduate research has existed on the UM campus for years, the Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience is a new, organized program.

“Undergraduate research experiences add an important dimension to the undergraduate curriculum for many majors,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “These projects give students practical experience and the chance to work through the details of a problem related to their chosen discipline. These experiences are increasingly important for both prospective employers and admissions for graduate and professional schools.”

Adam Jones, an assistant professor of computer and information science at the University of Mississippi, talks to students and faculty involved in the Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

The 13 Individual Student Grants fund student-proposed, faculty-mentored research by students in majors ranging from exercise science and international studies to geology and physics. The projects are intended for each undergraduate student to work closely on his or her research with a faculty member over the summer.

“Research and creative achievement are critical elements of our mission,” Provost Noel Wilkin said. “Undergraduate students gain tremendous experience and intellectual benefits by working with faculty to discover, create and expand knowledge. This should be an opportunity afforded to undergraduate students by every discipline on campus.”

All of the grants are expected to result in a student-led creative product, such as a manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed scientific journal, a student presentation at an academic conference or even a creative performance.

To enable these outcomes, the program also includes travel grants to help undergraduate students who have completed research to present their work at regional or national conferences. Applications from students are accepted year-round for these grants.

“Every discipline has scholarship expectations, and there are opportunities for students to be involved in undergraduate research and scholarship in their discipline,” Ritchie said. “I think we are establishing undergraduate research and scholarship experiences during the summer as a normal and desirable thing for students to want to participate in, and hoping to stimulate those opportunities across campus.”

The projects were selected by committees that include research fellows in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs and various other members of the UM research community.

Baseline funding for the Ole Miss Summer Undergraduate Research Experience has been provided by the Office of the Provost. Year one co-funding is being provided by the College of Liberal Arts, the schools of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the departments of Computer and Information Science, Geology and Geological Engineering, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics and Astronomy, and Biology.

Physical Acoustics Summer School Hosted by UM

School explores acoustics, from bubbles to bottle rockets

Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs at the University of Mississippi, leads a demonstration at the National Center for Physical Acoustics during the 2018 Physical Acoustics Summer School. Photo by Kevin Bain/University Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Sometimes the quickest introduction to cutting-edge physical acoustics is questioning why a whistling bottle rocket whistles.

That’s why Greg Swift, a member of the Condensed Matter and Magnet Science Group at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, held a bottle rocket – unlit – in a ballroom at The Inn at Ole Miss earlier this month (June 3-8) during the 2018 Physical Acoustics Summer School, or PASS.

The summer school included 43 physical acoustics students and lecturers from around the country as well as the United Kingdom and China, who gathered on the University of Mississippi campus to discuss various physical acoustics subjects, from thermoacoustics to active noise control. During the week, graduate students got the chance to meet with experts and discuss physical acoustics topics they rarely encounter at their own colleges and universities.

“PASS is an intensive week where graduate students from around the world get exposed to a wide variety of fundamental topics in physical acoustics taught by world-class experts,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs.

“In addition to the broad technical knowledge, [the school] provides a wonderful opportunity for the graduate students to form relationships with their peers and professionals in the field. As a PASS 2000 graduate, I still keep in touch with my classmates.”

While Swift’s presentation on thermoacoustics kicked off the week of physical acoustics subject matter, the school also included six more presentations, covering topics such as the acoustics of bubbles and bubbly fluids, biomedical ultrasound and active noise control.

Later during his demonstration, Swift pulled out a blowtorch and heated a glass tube, recreating the “singing tube,” an invention by Charles T. Knipp. A longtime University of Illinois physics professor who died in 1948, Knipp was well-known for his experiments in rainmaking and the conduction of electricity through glass.

The tubes are useful in demonstrations to showcase the conversion of heat energy into sound through a vibrating air column.

Throughout his demonstration, even while going over complex acoustical physics problems such as Fourier’s law of heat conduction, Swift kept the students – from 16 U.S. and two international universities – and lecturers enthralled.

Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs at the University of Mississippi, leads a tour of the National Center for Physical Acoustics during the 2018 Physical Acoustics Summer School. Photo by Kevin Bain/University Communications

Early on, he told the group members that he expected them to participate and peppered his presentation with questions such as “Why do some of these bottle rockets whistle?” “What’s the meaning of the question: Why does it whistle?” “What’s the scientific approach to a puzzle like this?” “What is still missing from our explanation here?”

Swift even showed a cutaway of a whistling bottle rocket that he cut out himself, which was why the cuts were so jagged, he joked.

Students gradually worked through an explanation of why a whistling bottle rocket whistles that involves the bottle rocket’s pyrotechnic composition, shape and combustion dynamics.

During a session on active noise control, Scott Sommerfeldt, a professor in the Brigham Young University Department of Physics and Astronomy, posed more questions to the students.

“Where did the energy go?” he asked. “Are we violating physics here?”

Sommerfeldt is researching methods for reducing unwanted sounds by matching sound against sound to create silence. The research has practical applications from quieting noisy propeller-driven aircraft to hushing air-conditioning systems and office equipment. His talk ranged from an introduction to inventor Paul Lueg, a German generally credited with beginning active noise control in the 1930s, to modern research into noise-cancellation methods.

One afternoon, the students and lecturers toured the National Center for Physical Acoustics, which serves as the Physical Acoustics Archives for the Acoustical Society of America and coordinates the biennial school.

The group toured labs and learned more about the center’s research in areas such as aeroacoustics and porous media, including the study of how to use acoustic waves to detect buried objects and structures such unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devises, and tunnels, and how to use acoustics to measure the sediment payload carried by rivers and streams.

The 2018 edition of the Physical Acoustics Summer School received high marks from attendees, said Gladden, who recently was elected as a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America for his service to and leadership in the field of physical acoustics.

“Having PASS on the Ole Miss campus gives us the chance to show off our physical acoustics facilities right here in Oxford,” he said. “Students got to see cutting-edge acoustics research and ask senior scientists detailed questions.”

This year’s school was supported by the Acoustical Society of America, National Center for Physical Acoustics at UM and Applied Research Laboratories at the University of Texas.

UM ‘Corpse Flower’ Will Soon Bloom with Smell of Death

School of Pharmacy offering live stream of rare blooming event

A titan arum, a flowering plant known as the ‘corpse flower,’ is soon to bloom at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Faser Hall. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Just keep watching – that’s the best advice for witnessing the soon-to-blossom, towering titan arum housed in the atrium of the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s Faser Hall. The odd-looking plant, which has the largest unbranched flower cluster in the world, is expected to bloom any hour now.

When it does, the 5-foot-tall flowering plant (Amorphophallus titanum) will appear even more otherworldly, with its now-lime-green spathe unfolding to display a dark burgundy. The species also emits a decomposing flesh odor when it blooms, a smell intended to attract pollinators but a putrid smell nonetheless that has earned titan arum the nickname “corpse flower” or “corpse plant.”

Lal Jayaratna, a research and development botanist with the Maynard W. Quimby Medicinal Plant Garden of the National Center for Natural Products Research, where the plant is usually housed, said he believes the plant will blossom Thursday or Friday.

On Thursday morning, a steady stream of onlookers viewed the titan arum in person in the UM School of Pharmacy, some even posing for pictures. A live stream of the titan arum is also available at the Ole Miss Pharmacy YouTube page

The plant, native solely to western Sumatra and western Java in Indonesia, is grown at the garden as a collection and also for research by NCNPR scientists on the chemistry of different parts of the plant. The garden is home to three mature titan arums and a few others.

The blooming of the plant is a rare sight, with the titan arum taking about five or more years to start flowering. It then subsequently blooms infrequently, once in three or four years, and even more rarely in cultivation. In 2014, UM housed two plants that bloomed within weeks of each other.

National Science Foundation Funds Further Lightning Research

UM professors studying the mysteries of how lightning starts

Thomas Marshall (pictured) and Maribeth Stolzenburg, a pair of University of Mississippi professors of physics and astronomy, have been granted two National Science Foundation awards to study lightning initiation.Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Science has revealed several fascinating things about lightning. For instance, a lightning flash can heat the surrounding air to temperatures around 50,000 degrees – five times hotter than the sun’s surface.

Lightning bolts roar toward the ground at speeds of 200,000 mph. And an American has about a one-in-14,600 chance of being struck by lightning during an 80-year lifetime.

Questions remain about lightning, though, including how lightning starts, and that’s a secret two University of Mississippi professors are working on unraveling.

Two recent National Science Foundation awards will assist the scientists – Thomas Marshall, professor of physics and astronomy, and Maribeth Stolzenburg, research professor of physics and astronomy – as they pursue the mysteries of lightning initiation.

Knowing how lightning begins could lead to a better understanding of where it might strike and being able to better warn people of approaching weather conditions conducive to lightning strikes. Marshall and Stolzenburg are not working on predicting lightning strikes, as the first question to answer is: How does lightning initiate?

“We’re going to try to get a better understanding about how lightning starts, and then how it moves through the cloud,” Marshall said. “But the starting part is especially interesting because air is not a conductor and when you see the big, bright … return stroke of a lightning flash, that’s a big current and it needs a good conductor.

“How a lightning flash can change a thin path of air from a non-conductor to a conductor has eluded explanation for a long time.”

Stolzenburg said scientists have to have puzzles, and “one of those puzzles is that we’ve known that lightning has existed forever, but all the detailed physics of what has to happen to get that started … is really poorly understood.”

“In terms of why should society care about this research, the answer is: Better understanding of lightning processes may allow us to better predict when lightning will happen or at least understand where it’s going to happen,” she said. “Being able to do that means we may eventually be able to give better warnings about when to get off the golf course or the soccer field.”

Marshall is principal investigator of an award that is for $154,222 for its first year and titled “Lightning Initiation and In-Cloud Electromagnetic Activity in Mississippi Thunderstorms.” Stolzenburg is the co-principal investigator for the award, No. 1742930. Expected future NSF support for the award is $95,419 each year in 2019 and 2020.

The second award is titled “Collaborative Research: High-Speed Slitless Spectroscopy Studies of Natural Lightning Flashes” and is for $154,476 for its first year. Stolzenburg is principal investigator for the award, No. 1745931, and Marshall is co-principal investigator. The award is a continuing grant with an estimated total award amount of $440,314. 

The second project is a collaboration between Ole Miss and Texas A&M University professor Richard Orville and will collect new lightning data, including high-speed video data and lightning spectra.

Thomas Marshall, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Mississippi, captured this lightning strike in New Mexico. Two new National Science Foundation awards are allowing Marshall and Maribeth Stolzenburg, research professor of physics and astronomy at UM, to further study lightning initiation. Photo courtesy Tom Marshall

“Lightning is one of the most dramatic natural events, observed through countless generations, but it’s still not fully understood,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs. “Drs. Marshall and Stolzenburg have deep expertise in lightning initiation, and this NSF grant will help them take our knowledge to the next level.”

The first award allows the duo to analyze data collected in the spring and summer of 2016 in north Mississippi, also funded by the NSF. That award was granted after Marshall and Stolzenburg conducted lightning studies at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in 2010 and 2011.

In the summer of 2016, lightning data was collected at seven sites in north Mississippi. One of the sites was at the UM Field Station, and another was on the Ole Miss campus.

The data collected is some 20 terabytes of computer memory, enough to max out the storage capacity on about 312 iPhone Xs with 64-gigabyte storage capacities.

The lightning data is on a time scale of less than one-millionth of a second.

The second award will collect new data on lightning initiation using three high-speed video cameras and the seven sensors. The data collection will focus on the initial sparks (with durations of only 5- to 60-millionths of a second) that occur during the time needed to form the lightning channel, roughly the first 3- to 10-thousandths of a second of a lightning flash.

The video cameras will record the initial pulses as they develop.

“Essentially, we are trying to understand all this fine detail in the lightning data to see if it fits with the theories of how lightning starts,” Stolzenburg said. “Or, if it doesn’t fit, then there is something wrong with the theory, so we need to modify the theory.

“Eventually, we need to understand how a flash is able to go from initiation to a conducting channel that travels to ground. Fortunately, we have a lot of lightning data collected in 2016, including data from traditional lightning sensors and from new lightning sensors, to help us investigate how lightning initiation works.”

According to the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, from 2006 through 2017, 376 people were struck and killed by lightning in the U.S., with almost two-thirds of the deaths involving outdoor leisure activities such as fishing, being on the beach, camping, boating, or playing soccer or golf.

UM Signs Agreement with Science and Innovation Consortium

Alabama-based association expands regional academic engagement

Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, and Chris Crumbly, executive director of the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, sign a memorandum of understanding between the university and the center. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has joined the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation-University Consortium to help create a collaborative environment that channels the power of university innovation to tackle challenges in the areas of space and national defense.

Representatives from UM and the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation, or VCSI, recently signed a memorandum of understanding. Established in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2006, VCSI is a nonprofit organization specializing in research and development that works to further the mission of key governmental stakeholders through a regional consortium of academic institutions.

The consortium, a team of academic institutions offering unique capabilities in advanced technologies, engineering prototyping, and research and analyses, connects academia thought leaders to the needs of the federal government.

“The University of Mississippi is always looking for better ways to partner with our sister research institutions, so we are excited to join the consortium,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs.

“Robust partnerships are critical in today’s academic research environments, and this group is committed to building a strong coalition of universities. Ole Miss is pleased to become one of the inaugural members of VCSI.”

UM was the first of several universities to join the consortium. The consortium is extending invitations to any and all research universities in the region surrounding Huntsville and recently has added the University of Alabama, Auburn University and Alabama A&M University to the consortium.

“We are excited to sign our first agreement with the University of Mississippi,” said Chris Crumbly, the center’s executive director. “This demonstrates our renewed emphasis for expanding our region of academic engagement with the Huntsville technology community and adds more opportunity to showcase the exciting research ongoing at Ole Miss.”

As a nonprofit, the Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation created the consortium to facilitate communications between federal government agencies and universities. Also, the center integrates the universities to add synergy for solving complex problems, Crumbly said.

“This understanding recognizes a mutual relationship of our organizations such that the VCSI will provide actionable information concerning research opportunities in the Huntsville region and represent the University of Mississippi as a contributing member of our consortium,” he said.

Marc Slattery Receives Top UM Research Award

Researcher known for work with marine ecosystems, from coral reefs to Antarctica

Josh Gladden (left), UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, presents the2018 Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award to Marc Slattery during the university’s Commencement ceremony Saturday morning in the Grove. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Marc Slattery was a little conflicted about being honored for his research achievement at the University of Mississippi.

Slattery, a professor of biomolecular sciences in the School of Pharmacy and research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was named the 2018 recipient of the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award during the university’s 165th Commencement ceremonies Saturday (May 12) in the Grove.

“It came as a shock, a very pleasant surprise,” Slattery said. “I’m incredibly honored to be amongst the group of past honorees – there are tremendous scientists there.

“When I think about my colleagues here who have never won this award, I have to wonder, ‘What brings me above them?’ There are so many solid scientists here, so it was a very pleasant surprise.”

Created in 2008, the annual honor recognizes a faculty member who has shown outstanding accomplishment in research, scholarship and creative activity. Applicants are nominated by peers and reviewed by a committee of past recipients.

Winning the award is not a solo endeavor, however, Slattery said. Science is interdisciplinary and collaborative, and he has “tremendous collaborators and colleagues (at UM), within the School of Pharmacy and across campus.”

“I also work with several (people) off-campus at different universities who collaborate with me on grants and papers,” he said. “In many ways, I hope that people recognize that this honor is really for a team. I’m lucky enough to stand up for that.

“Everybody has really contributed to my being able to successfully do the work that I’ve done.”

Slattery said that in the broadest sense, he’s a marine biologist, but further efforts to pigeonhole him would be difficult as he has many interests, including a focus on coral reef ecology. His research interests also include pursuing drug discovery efforts in marine invertebrates, algae and microbes.

Slattery’s research has included work in extreme environments, from deep-sea reefs and marine caves to polar ecosystems in Antarctica and kelp forests off the coast of California.

He also said he’s interested in ecosystems and their processes, along with how resources in these ecosystems might ultimately become the next drug and with the conservation of these ecosystems.

Marc Slattery

“Dr. Slattery is an international leader in the fields of environmental ecology and marine biotechnology,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, when presenting the award. “While artfully balancing his teaching, research and service responsibilities, he’s contributed to many discoveries in his field, brought recognition to the university and created fantastic opportunities for our students.”

Slattery earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Loyola Marymount University in 1981, a master’s degree in marine biology from San Jose State University in 1987 and his doctorate in biological sciences from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1994. He joined the Ole Miss faculty in 1995.

While at UM, Slattery has served as executive director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology and as research coordinator for the university’s Environmental Toxicology Research Program. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, and has two patent applications and a book chapter in review.

He also has given close to 200 invited presentations, including presentations before the United Nations and U.S. Senate. He was among 10 faculty members selected to participate in the university’s first TEDx conference.

“Marc is a dynamic scientist, not only because of the groundbreaking research he contributes to, but because he truly embodies the ‘creative’ element of this award,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “Many of his students go on to conduct their own influential research, attesting to the enthusiasm and dedication he brings to his work.

“The School of Pharmacy is home to some incredible scientists and faculty, many of whom are preeminent in their fields. We are fortunate to be home to five winners of this award, and are thrilled that this honor recognizes the breadth, caliber and originality of the some of the research coming out of our school.”

Slattery has received more than $30 million in funding from a range of federal agencies as either a principal investigator or co-principal investigator, and has been recognized with several honors, including serving as president of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences, earning the Cumberland Pharmaceuticals Inc. Faculty Research Award at UM in 2010 and serving as chief scientist on four NOAA research cruises.

He has advised or served on thesis or dissertation committees for 27 Ph.D. students, 25 master’s students and eight Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College students.

“At the University of Mississippi, we greatly value and emphasize excellence in scientific discoveries and scholarly research,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “This award recognizes those who curate bold ideas and foster collaborative and innovative approaches. As this year’s recipient, Marc Slattery lives up to the exceptional standard we’ve come to expect of honorees.”

Born in California, Slattery moved to Jamaica at age 5 and lived there for about a decade. Fascinated with the outdoors from an early age, Slattery remembers going to the beach in Jamaica, throwing on his diving mask and exploring the vibrant turquoise waters until being hauled out of the water by his parents, who instilled in him a passion for learning and exploring his interests.

In turn, Slattery has spent his career inspiring his students to investigate their interests to the fullest.

“You have to do what you’re passionate about,” said Slattery, who is married to Deborah Gochfeld, a principal scientist in the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research and a research professor of environmental toxicology.

“A career is a long time. You have to work hard and when you are in school, you have to study hard. There are a lot of people competing for the same jobs, but if you are doing what you love, it makes it so much easier.”

This year’s Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award was sponsored by GlobalStar, a Covington, Louisiana-based company that is a leading provider of mobile satellite voice and data services. The sponsorship is just one example of several collaborations between UM and GlobalStar, including an agreement to establish a second-generation ground station on campus, which will give Ole Miss students and faculty unique learning and research experiences.

Previous winners of the award are Sam Wang, Larry Walker, Charles Reagan Wilson, Dale Flesher, Atef Elsherbeni, Mahmoud ElSohly, Robert Van Ness, Charles Hussey, Ikhlas Khan and Alice Clark.

University Creates Distinguished Professor Honor

Three faculty named inaugural honorees based on research, teaching excellence and reputation

Ikhlas A. Khan, director of the National Center for Natural Products Research and professor of pharmacognosy, has been appointed as a Distinguished Professor at UM. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Three University of Mississippi faculty members were appointed as Distinguished Professors during the spring faculty meeting Friday (May 11) in Fulton Chapel.

The honorees are John Daigle, director of the Center for Wireless Communications and professor of electrical engineering; Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of Russian and linguistics; and Ikhlas A. Khan, director of the National Center for Natural Products Research and professor of pharmacognosy.

The Distinguished Professor is a new designation that recognizes the best faculty with sustained excellence at UM. The award was created in response to the university’s strategic initiative to develop a post-professorial recognition.

“I am thrilled that we now have a way to further recognize our most outstanding faculty members,” Provost Noel Wilkin said. “The accomplishments of the university are really the accomplishments of its people.

“This is an outstanding way for us to properly acknowledge the value of excellence and the contributions made by these faculty members to their disciplines and our community of scholars.”

Daigle joined the faculty in 1994 after earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Louisiana Tech University in 1968, his master’s in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1969 and his doctorate of engineering science in operations research from Columbia University in 1977.

He was named as an Erskine fellow by the University of Canterbury in New Zealand in 2009, was the 2004 recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Communications Society Technical Committee on Computer Communications Outstanding Service Award and was named an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers fellow in 1993.

Daigle also is a member of Eta Kappa Nu, the honor society of the IEEE; Omega Rho, the international honor society for operations research and management science; and Sigma Xi, an international honor society of science and engineering.

Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of Russian and linguistics, has been named a Distinguished Professor. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

A professor who has recently taught undergraduate and graduate classes such as local area networks and applied probability modeling, Daigle conducts research into the analysis and design of communication networks and systems.

“Professor John Daigle has an illustrious career that spans more than 46 years, primarily in academia, but also some years in military and high-tech companies,” wrote Ramanarayanan “Vish” Viswanathan, chair and professor of electrical engineering, in his letter of support to Daigle’s appointment. “Professor Daigle has an exemplary research record and has contributed strongly in teaching, student mentorship and service to (his) profession and the university.

“John holds (a) cherished conviction that a student should graduate from the school with sound fundamentals. He also believes that a strong learning ability need not necessarily be gifted at birth or developed in early childhood, but can be acquired through hard work and perseverance. Hence, he advocates greater access to college education and at the same time upholding rigorous requirements for graduation.”

Dyer earned his undergraduate degree in Russian from the University of North Carolina in 1980, and his master’s and doctorate in Slavic linguistics from the University of Chicago, in 1982 and 1990, respectively. He joined the Ole Miss faculty in 1988.

He served as chair of the Department of Modern Languages from 2005 to 2017 and was awarded the 2017 Thomas F. Frist Sr. Student Service Award, which recognizes a faculty member for going the extra mile in unwavering dedication and service to students. He is the editor of Balkanistica, a peer-reviewed journal of Balkan studies.

He has served as co-director of the Chinese Language Flagship Program since 2005 and has taught classes such as Freshman Honors II in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and topics in linguistics. His teaching and research interests include Slavic and Balkan linguistics and language in contact.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Dyer embodies what we in the College of Liberal Arts have determined (via our guidelines) to merit this award,” wrote Lee M. Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, in his recommendation letter.

“Dr. Dyer has made a significant positive impact at the University of Mississippi over the past three decades, all the while making a name for himself as one of the most distinguished scholars in his field. His work is creative, impactful and has a wide range of influence.”

John Daigle, director of the Center for Wireless Communications and professor of electrical engineering, is one of three UM faculty members appointed as a Distinguished Professor. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

“Effusive praise of his work comes from the Department of Modern Languages and across the nation, and it rings loudly throughout the international scholarly community,” wrote Daniel O’Sullivan, UM chair and professor of modern languages, in his letter of support.

Khan earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Aligarh Muslim University in India in 1980, a master’s in organic chemistry from Aligarh Muslim University in India in 1982 and his doctorate in pharmacy from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology in Germany in 1987.

He has been at Ole Miss since 1992, but worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the university in 1988 and 1989. From 1989 to 1992, Khan worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

He also serves as coordinator for Natural Products Research in the Center for Water and Wetland Resources, among other academic and research appointments.

In 2016 Khan received the UM Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award, and in 2002 he was awarded the UM School of Pharmacy Faculty Research Award. He is a fellow in the American Institute of Chemists and the Royal Society of Chemistry, and is a member of the American Chemical Society.

Earlier this year he received the AOAC International’s 2018 Harvey W. Wiley Award, which recognizes lifetime scientific achievement.

His research interests include efforts related to medicinal plants, drug discovery and applications of analytical tools in evaluation of quality and safety of dietary supplements.

“Dr. Khan’s career at UM is consistent with the expectations of a Distinguished Professor appointment,” wrote Kristie Willett, chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences and professor of pharmacology and environmental toxicology. “He in fact has ‘exemplary accomplishments in research’ and potentially unprecedented amongst UM faculty ‘international recognition in his field.’

“His research productivity and service to the field of pharmacognosy as measured by publications, invited presentations, editorial and advisory boards and international awards are outstanding. Furthermore, he has provided mentorship to nearly 40 graduate students in our department over his career.”

The three professors were officially recognized during the spring faculty meeting.

No more than 5 percent of eligible faculty can be appointed as a Distinguished Professor. Each school and college has their own guidelines for nominating their faculty, but the university requires that nominated faculty have at least six years of service at the highest rank of professor, along with exemplary accomplishments in research and creative achievement, teaching and service.

Also, it is expected that awardees will have achieved a significant degree of national or international recognition.

The recommended appointments are made by a committee of faculty chosen by the Faculty Senate and the provost, and the committee has representatives from across campus.