New UM Academic Adviser Enjoys Building Structures and Futures

BGS program counselor helps students construct an academic pathway to successful careers

Christie Rogers (right), an academic adviser for the UM Bachelor of General Studies program, enjoys building Lego structures with her sons "D" (left) and Currie. She began her new position working with students in the BGS program this month in Oxford. Photo courtesy Don Rogers

Christie Rogers (right), an academic adviser for the UM Bachelor of General Studies program, enjoys building Lego structures with her sons “D” (left) and Currie. She began her new position working with students in the BGS program this month in Oxford. Photo courtesy Don Rogers

OXFORD, Miss. – Putting together 1,000-piece Lego displays is a regular occurrence at the home of Christie Rogers. Her dining room table is home to Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, an entire cityscape with three-story buildings, a police station, Avengers characters and Scooby-Doo’s Mystery Machine.

“The feeling of accomplishment you get when you’ve struggled, tried every possible solution and finally get the right fit; that’s why I love building projects with Legos,” Rogers said.

Rogers began working a different type of puzzle this month as she steps into her new role as an academic counselor for the University of Mississippi’s Bachelor of General Studies program.

“I’m excited to help students put together the pieces of their academic journey,” Rogers said. “I hope I can help them set goals and make plans for their future.

“I want to encourage them to look at what’s working for them academically and what might not be. I hope to talk through the challenges and set them up for success.”

Originally from Martin, Tennessee, Rogers completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Tennessee at Martin, and went on to complete her master’s degree in community counseling there in 1997.

In 1994 she began her first job in the higher education field with the office of UT-Martin’s associate vice chancellor for student affairs and affirmative action. There, Rogers was able to advise students and also work with university entities to make sure programs and classes were compliant to American Disability Act standards.

In 1998, she and her husband, Don Rogers, moved to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and both began working for Southeast Missouri State University. She became the academic coordinator at the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center, a partnership between Southeast and Three Rivers Community College.

“Working at the Sikeston Center was a great learning experience,” Rogers said. “It was my job to look out for our students and help them navigate transfer credits so they were on the path to graduate.”

In July 2001, the couple moved to Oxford when Don accepted a position as a residence hall area coordinator with Ole Miss.

“We lived in an apartment in Garland Hall,” Rogers recalled. “I brought our first-born son, Donald, home to that dorm in May 2002. So, I guess he has literally been an Ole Miss kid his whole life.”

The family later moved to faculty housing at Northgate Hall when their second child, Currie, was born in 2004.

“Some of the college kids would stop by when we were outside and play with the boys,” Rogers said. “One time a student brought us a big box of Legos he didn’t want anymore, and that is when our new hobby began.”

Rogers said that for Christmas and birthdays, her two children begged for new Lego sets.

“The more we built, the more we enjoyed it, so we kept going,” Rogers said. “I would love to be a Lego master builder one day.”

From 2007 to 2012, Rogers worked as a 4-year-old preschool teacher at Oxford-University Methodist Church. She then transitioned to a teaching assistant and office staff member at Bramlett Elementary within the Oxford School District.

“I really enjoyed my time teaching fundamentals to the younger children because those early building blocks are so important,” Rogers said. “But I also enjoy working with college students who are nearing the end of their formal education and need just a little guidance to put all of their hard work into a career plan.”

Within just a few weeks of Rogers starting, her impact on students was apparent, said Terry Blackmarr, the BGS program’s assistant to the dean.

“Within the first week, we received an email from a student thanking Christie for helping her,” Blackmarr said. “The student was so grateful. She just helped calm the student and take her nervousness away.”

Rogers said that when she saw the position open within the BGS program, she thought it seemed like a very interesting degree with potential for great student success stories.

“I liked that this degree was not a cookie-cutter program,” she said. “It made room for individuality. I have seen people making some really creative choices in order to gain the knowledge they need to do something special with their career.

“I’ve also seen folks who have taken a winding path in their career, and this degree can help get them where they ultimately want to be. Paths in your life can be a puzzle sometime, I hope I can be of assistance to our BGS students and really incorporate their goals and navigate their career journey.”

Rogers’ experience in advising and counseling has reinforced her love for students and academic advising, Blackmarr said.

“She develops an instant rapport with everyone she meets,” she said.

Rogers will continue getting to know UM students this fall as she advises some of the 350 BGS majors on the Oxford campus.

“Priorities do change, and people change their minds about their career,” Rogers said. “A degree like this is perfect for today’s generation who want to be individuals and want to choose their own path.

“There are a lot of pieces out there, and I want to help them put together the right ones their own personal and academic success.”

The BGS academic program is found within UM’s Division of Outreach and Continuing Education. For more information, visit

CMSE Staffer Receives International Award for Robotics Work

Mannie Lowe honored for growth, impact of FTC Robotics Challenge statewide

Mannie Lowe is recognized as the FIRST Tech Challenge Volunteer of the Year. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Mannie Lowe (left), pictured with John O’Haver, is recognized as the FIRST Tech Challenge Volunteer of the Year. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Mannie Lowe, a staff member at the University of Mississippi, is the 2016 recipient of the International Volunteer of the Year Award from FIRST, an organization that promotes an interest in STEM fields among students, with programs such as the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics competition for middle- and high-schoolers.

As this year’s honoree, Lowe, a program manager at UM’s Center for Mathematics & Science Education, was selected from more than 200,000 volunteers in 80 countries worldwide for his more than 12 years of service to the organization. He received an honorary certificate from FIRST at a surprise ceremony in July at Ole Miss.

“I’m touched by this award because I hold other people who have won this honor in such high admiration,” he said. “People who have won this in the past have done some truly amazing work with FIRST and with students. I didn’t realize I was held in such high esteem.”

As the manager for FIRST Tech Challenge robotics, Lowe, who previously ran FTC programs as a volunteer in Georgia, has spent the past five years carving out an infrastructure to allow Mississippi middle and high school students, as well as home-schooled children, the opportunity to design and build their own robots and compete in tournament-style competitions at the local, state, regional and even international level.

The competitions allow students to learn and apply knowledge in such disciplines as engineering, computer science, physics and mathematics. Many students participating in FTC programs go on to earn valuable scholarships to study STEM fields at colleges and universities around the world.

Under Lowe’s leadership, FTC programs in Mississippi have grown from just four robotics teams in 2012 to more than 40. Lowe spends about two days a week on the road, working with students and teachers to help FTC teams with their robot designs, a task that requires countless hours of travel and work after hours.

“First and foremost, Mannie has a passion for what he does,” said John O’Haver, CMSE director. “He loves what he does and is loved for it. He will use his vacation time and weekends to drive across the state to work with students and teachers. He will tell you himself that he feels like he is living the dream.”

Lowe also helps plan other events related to the robotics competitions, such as regional qualifying tournaments in communities across the state. Each February, the CMSE hosts a statewide competition at UM. This year, the event attracted more than 450 students.

Besides his work in Mississippi, he serves on the FIRST game design team, which brings together an international group of robotics mentors and volunteers who design a new challenge for students each year. This year, the FIRST Res-Q challenge required robotics teams to design a robot that can simulate a mountain rescue mission by lighting beacons, clearing debris and climbing an uphill rack made to simulate a mountain ascent.

“One of the things that amazes me is that we will come up with an idea and say, ‘There’s no way the students will be able to do this,'” he said. “But every year they find a way to top our challenge. It really is amazing to see.”

Lowe said he hopes to help FTC robotics programs continue to grow across the state and to see the number of participating teams rise to 50 in 2017.

UM Biology Professor Aims to Reduce Shark Deaths

New device could help commercial fishermen to avoid bycatch

University of Mississippi Professor of Biology Glenn Parsons is researching ways to reduce shark deaths from accidental catches.

UM biology professor Glenn Parsons is researching ways to reduce shark deaths from accidental catches.

OXFORD, Miss. – Fishermen unintentionally catch millions of sharks each year, and many don’t survive the physical stress of being reeled in, but University of Mississippi biology professor Glenn Parsons is designing a device that could prevent them from ever being hooked.

Accidental catches, referred to as “bycatch”, are a nuisance for commercial and recreational fishermen who are usually after tuna, swordfish and other seafood instead. The problem threatens to upset the ocean’s ecosystem, in which sharks play a major role but are dying in large numbers.

Parsons recently began testing a prototype and expects to make several trips into the Gulf of Mexico to fine-tune it. If his “entangling leader” device is successful, fisherman may not have to handle sharks, which have roamed the ocean mostly unchanged for some 400 million years.

“Commercial fisherman don’t want to catch these sharks,” Parsons said. “It’s dangerous to handle them. It takes time away from fishing and they also damage their gear. They’d rather not hook them at all.”

Some experts estimate that as many as 100 million sharks are killed each year. Many of them are larger, open ocean-dwelling sharks such as hammerheads, makos, tigers, great whites and others.

The deaths prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is working on a National Bycatch Strategy for sharks and other species, and the National Marine Fisheries Service to award research funds to find solutions. Parsons has received a $120,000 federal grant to develop his device and has an online crowdfunding campaign for his graduate students’ research. 

The problem with bycatch isn’t that fish are simply hooked; rather it’s that the physical stress of fighting the reel, or being on the line for as long as six hours and then being hauled into the boat, that can kill them. Even if they’re released after many hours on the line, the outcome usually still isn’t good.

“Mostly everyone agrees that a huge percentage of those sharks die,” Parsons said.

Parsons’ entangling leader has several of loops of line near the hook. The design is based on the idea that the way sharks eat their food is much different than tuna or swordfish.

Sharks have larger, sharper teeth that they use for slicing prey into manageable pieces before swallowing them. Tuna, which have small teeth, and swordfish, which only have a rough a gripping surface along the edges of their mouths, both hold their food only long enough to swallow it whole.

The theory is that the loop design allows tuna and swordfish to take the bait and be hooked, but sharks would be prevented from doing the same. 

“When a typical fish, one without sharp, cutting teeth, takes it, those loops will just spool out and hopefully the fish will be captured,” Parsons said. “When a shark takes it, the teeth entangle in the loops and that either breaks it immediately or it compromises the integrity of the line, so when they pull on it – and a big shark can pull like the dickens – it pops and they swim away.”

Recently, Parsons and his graduate assistants left from Destin, Florida, and ventured into the Gulf of Mexico to test the leader. Using a GoPro camera submerged near the hook, the Ole Miss team observed that for every shark that took the bait, about 10 looked at it and swam away. The ones that actually took the bait also broke the leader, Parsons said.

“The initial tests were really good,” Parsons said. “We have caught the larger sport fish, but the sharks break off.”

Further testing could determine if the bait is still attractive to other fish with the loop device in place. Parsons’ team will make trips from the Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi coasts into the Gulf later to continue the research.

The team caught four different shark species on the recent trip to Destin, said Lauren Fuller, a biology graduate student from Cabot, Arkansas, who is helping with the research.

“We had many entangling leaders break as they were supposed to,” Fuller said. “After looking at the GoPro video, we’re pretty certain these were sharks and we know one was for sure. The research looks promising but, of course, we’ll have to wait until we analyze all of the data to know more.” 

Fuller’s graduate research focuses on finding ways to reduce the stress on caught sharks. She is examining whether using clove oil to sedate them could help.

“It is my hope that this will lead to higher chances of survival after release,” Fuller said.

Ehlana Stell, a biology graduate student from Booneville, studies fish biology and has been working with silver carp, but is also helping with the shark project. She has hope Parsons’ device can greatly reduce shark deaths. 

“The preliminary data for the entangling leader is looking very promising and hopefully this summer’s work will continue to allow Dr. Parsons to improve his design,” Stell said.

This project received funding under award NA15NMF4720378 from NOAA Fisheries Service, in cooperation with the Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program. The statements, findings, conclusions and recommendations are those of the investigators and do not necessarily reflect the views of NOAA Fisheries.

Isom Center Director Grayzel Returns to Full-Time Teaching

History faculty member says she is proud of accomplishments during her tenure

Susan Grayzel

Susan Grayzel

OXFORD, Miss. – Susan Grayzel, director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies for four of the last five years, will soon step down to return to teaching history full time.

Grayzel became the Isom Center’s director in 2013 after having served as interim director since 2011. Having been awarded an American Council of Learned Societies Collaborative Fellowship, she was on leave during 2014-2015 and came back to finish up a four-year term. That is up and the time for a new leader is right, she said. 

“When I came on, I said I thought this position should rotate,” Grayzel said. “I think an interdisciplinary program needs different voices and different visions. I think it is really important that different people have an opportunity to lead at our university.”

Grayzel said she’s proud of the center’s work during her tenure. Leading the center is a rewarding job, and she expects the next director will also find the work fulfilling.

“There are not that many opportunities faculty can have to learn from the experience of engaging with something that is academic, but also has programming functions that are interdisciplinary and put you in touch with so many different parts of the campus,” Grayzel said.

Kirsten Dellinger, chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, is an Isom Center-affiliated faculty member and has served on the center’s advisory board since 1998. She said the university was fortunate to have Grayzel leading the center.

Dellinger is tasked with finding a new director and hopes to find someone with some of Grayzel’s qualities and her dedication to lead the center. 

“She is a brilliant gender scholar with an international reputation and she is dedicated to making this campus a better place,” Dellinger said. “As a longstanding member of the Isom Center-affiliated faculty, I appreciate Sue’s dedication to a democratic approach to leading the center and for all of her efforts to achieve gender equality for a broad range of groups on campus and in the community.”

Grayzel’s accomplishments include increased work on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers, a trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner on campus, high-caliber guest lecturers, a mechanism for applying for conference travel funds for affiliated faculty and graduate students, and increased student involvement, Dellinger said.

Grayzel said she’s proud of creating the center’s assistant director position, which could be redefined going forward as an associate director job. She credits Theresa Starkey, gender studies instructor, for excelling in the new role for the center.

Expanding programming, including helping create two “Rethinking Mass Incarceration in the South” conferences in 2014 and 2016, working with stakeholders on issues of sexual violence and child care and parenting, and also instituting an annual “queer studies” lecture were other major achievements. Expanding the gender studies minor to include an emphasis on sexuality was another important project, and Grayzel said she is proud of the first sets of students in the graduate certificate in gender studies who have completed that program.

Susan Grayzel, director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, is stepping down to return to teaching history full time.

Susan Grayzel, director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, is stepping down to return to teaching history full time.

Moving forward, the center is poised to continue offering multidisciplinary programming that includes art and film and music, as well as academics.

The center faces some challenges to overcome to raise its profile at Ole Miss. Many students aren’t aware the Isom Center moved to the Lyceum basement a few years ago when renovations at Johnson Commons began, Grayzel said. The center needs a permanent home, she said.

“Our lack of visibility is really an issue,” Grayzel said. “Students can’t find us.”

Grayzel joined the Department of History in 1996 after receiving her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. She is a scholar of modern Europe, the cultural history of war, and women’s and gender history.

She looks forward to returning to the classroom to focus on teaching about modern warfare, gender and sexuality, and 20th-century Europe, and also to working on a book project examining how in the 1920s and 1930s, European countries such as Britain and France imagined and prepared for the prospect of the first war using weapons of mass destruction, namely chemical arms.

She’s fulfilling one of her long-term goals this fall by teaching the first UM stand-alone class on the global history of World War I during the 100th anniversary of its fighting in 1914-1918. She and Susan Pedigo, a UM biochemistry professor, also plan to teach a course they developed on “science and war in the 20th century” for the second time.

The Isom Center is named for UM faculty member Sarah McGehee Isom, who was also the first female faculty member at a coeducational institution of higher learning in the Southeast. She taught here from 1885 until her death 20 years later. The Sarah Isom Center was established in 1981 with the goal of providing a forum for the study, discussion and advancement of women and gender studies.

When UM opened its doors to women in 1882, 11 female students registered for classes. Today, women constitute half the student body. But, the campus, state and nation will continue to confront sexism, racism, homophobia and other problems, and the Isom Center will always have a vital role in the university’s response to those issues, Grayzel said.

“Our work is not going to go away anytime soon,” Grayzel said. “I know Isom will continue to fight against intolerance generally and fight for gender equality with all of our allies on campus who want this truly to be a welcoming, inclusive space where everyone is safe and valued. That’s the core of what I think this job is.”

Derek and Kelly King Honored with Inaugural Mullins Scholarship

Mississippi Teacher Corps alumni pursue graduate degrees with help from new scholarship

Derek and Kelly King stand with Andy Mullins in Lyceum at UM. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Derek and Kelly King stand with Andy Mullins in Lyceum at UM. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Just ask University of Mississippi alumni Derek and Kelly King about their students in the North Panola School District in Sardis, and the husband and wife team light up with excitement.

As the instructional coach for North Panola High School (Kelly) and the assistant principal at North Panola Middle School (Derek), the Kings can personally name more than 710 students between their two schools this year – just ask them.

“Both of us love teaching and being in the classroom,” said Kelly, who provides instructional leadership to more than 32 faculty members at her school. “Once you get into teaching, it’s really addictive. I’ve directly taught at least three-fourths (of those students) myself.”

The Kings are UM’s inaugural recipients of the Andrew P. Mullins Jr. MTC Alumni Scholarship, which supports Mississippi Teacher Corps alumni who wish to pursue advanced graduate study.

The endowed scholarship is available to Teacher Corps alumni with at least three years’ of teaching experience in K-12 education and may be awarded twice to individuals. Recipients may pursue an advanced degree in any field of their choosing on the Ole Miss campus.

Founded in 1989, the Teacher Corps has placed more than 630 new teachers in critical-needs school districts throughout the state. The alternate-route teaching program is highly competitive and has attracted recruits from 216 colleges and universities around the country. All participants receive job placement and two years of funding to earn a master’s degree in education from UM.

Derek and Kelly were selected for the honor by a committee of administrators within the School of Education and will each receive $1,500 per semester toward tuition throughout the next academic year.

“It’s an honor to receive anything with Dr. Mullins’ name on it,” said Derek, who has also served as head coach for men’s track and football at North Panola. “I think (Dr. Mullins) is proud to see Teacher Corps people who are still working in education here in Mississippi. It’s an honor to just to be a small part of what he originally envisioned for the program.”

In addition to their full-time jobs at North Panola, Derek and Kelly – who met during their first year in the Mississippi Teacher Corps – are enrolled in UM graduate programs in K-12 leadership. Derek hopes to finish a doctorate within the next two years, and Kelly is on track to claim her second Ole Miss diploma in December when she finishes a Specialist in Education degree that will grant her a state school administrator’s license.

“It warms my heart to see this scholarship awarded to two such worthy recipients,” said Mullins, Mississippi Teacher Corps co-founder and former chief of staff to the chancellor. “They have both been valuable resources to the school districts in which they have served.”

As 2010 recruits for the Teacher Corps, the Kings came from very different parts of the country before joining the program and landing their first teaching jobs at Byhalia Middle School.

Kelly, a Boston native, received a bachelor’s degree in black studies from Amherst College. Derek, a native of Fairfield, Alabama, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rhodes College, where he played football and baseball and even began his coaching career as an undergraduate while working for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Memphis Grizzlies Preparatory Charter School.

Back then, the Teacher Corps offered opportunity for the two aspiring educators to enter the classroom after college. After an intensive summer training program, Kelly took a job teaching social studies. Derek taught English and coached men’s track and football.

They did not, however, expect that it would lead to a whole new life. After dating for four years, the couple found themselves both working at North Panola High School and soon married. The couple, alongside numerous other current and former Teacher Corps members, played key roles in the school’s drastic graduation rate turnaround. Between 2010 and 2014, the school increased its graduation rate by nearly 30 percent and rose from failing to “B” status.

“This is my sixth year in education,” Kelly said. “I have been able to see how Teacher Corps has transformed (North Panola) over the years. It’s as close as you can get to a ‘Teacher Corps School.’

“There are several other Teacher Corps people at my school. One in her seventh year of teaching and one in her fifth, and before that we had other people who stayed at least four or five years. The program has made a strong lasting impact in that district.”

After their graduate studies, the Kings hope to continue pursuing opportunities in education. Kelly hopes to pursue a leadership position at the district level, helping teachers develop and coordinate curricula, and Derek hopes to one day serve as a full principal or perhaps a career in academic development for student-athletes.

“When two people are doing graduate school at the same time, it’s definitely a big investment,” Derek said. “So, it is amazing to receive this first scholarship. Any amount of scholarship helps, but to have one named after Dr. Mullins makes us both very proud.”

Ikhlas Khan Receives UM Distinguished Researcher Award

Associate director of National Center for Natural Products Research excels in leadership, scholarship

University of Mississippi Interim Vice Chancellor of Research and Sponsored Programs Josh Gladden presents Ikhlas A. Khan with the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award during Commencement 2016. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

University of Mississippi Interim Vice Chancellor of Research and Sponsored Programs Josh Gladden presents Ikhlas A. Khan with the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award during Commencement 2016. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – External recognition is always appreciated, but being honored internally by peers is far better. So says Ikhlas A. Khan, who received the University of Mississippi’s 2016 Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award on Saturday (May 14).

The UM research professor of pharmacognosy and associate director of the National Center for Natural Products Research was presented the prestigious honor, which includes $7,500 and a personal plaque, during the university’s annual Commencement ceremonies in the Grove.

“I was humbled and honored to be considered for this prestigious award,” Khan said upon learning of his latest accolade. “I have received many awards before, but getting recognition at home always has special meaning and is a feeling which is hard to describe.”

Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs, said Khan is most deserving of the award.

“The University of Mississippi is fortunate to have had a very qualified pool of outstanding candidates for this year’s award,” Gladden said. “Each candidate is evaluated by a panel of distinguished researchers from across the UM research community, and Dr. Khan quickly rose to the top.

“Dr. Khan’s prolific and impactful work has been well recognized on a national and international level, and we are pleased to recognize his accomplishments on his home campus.”

Khan also recently received the IAMSTAM Zandu International Award for Excellence in the Field of Ayurvedic and/or Natural Products and the Outstanding Contribution in Natural Products Research/Water’s Corp.

He holds a doctorate in pharmacy from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology in Munich, Germany, and joined UM as a research scientist in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1992. Because of his valuable contributions and potential for leadership, he was appointed as a research assistant professor in the university’s Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Department of Pharmacognosy three years later.

In 2001, Khan was promoted to associate professor and in 2002 became NCNPR assistant director. Within three years, he was again promoted to professor, and promoted to his current position in 2015. Khan also serves as director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Center for Excellence, Sino-US TCM Research Center and Center for Research of Indian Systems of Medicine at UM.

During his tenure at the university, Khan’s scientific achievements have gained him international recognition as a scholar, leader and innovator. He is renowned for his collaborative work with the U.S. FDA to ensure quality and safety of botanical dietary supplements worldwide.

His other honors include the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Director’s Special Citation Award, Varro E. Tyle Prize from the American Society of Pharmacognosy and ABC’s Norman R. Farnsworth Excellence in Botanical Research Award.

Khan has authored or co-authored more than 600 refereed journal articles, served on dissertation committees for 29 graduate students and trained more than 100 post-doctoral associates and visiting scholars. He serves/served as an editorial or advisory board member for more than 15 international research journals and has presented over 100 invited lectures globally.

As a principal or co-principal investigator, he has generated more than $30 million in external funding for NCNPR research in the last 15 years. Khan serves as PI in UM’s cooperative agreement with FDA and as a co-PI in the NIDA Marijuana Project.

His professional memberships include the International Society of Ethnopharmacology, New York Academy of Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, American Society of Pharmacognosy, International Society for Horticultural Science, American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and many more.

“It is very gratifying to us in NCNPR to see Dr. Khan’s career research contributions recognized in this way by the University community,” said Larry A. Walker, NCNPR director and research professor. “The laboratory pursuits in his group have greatly contributed to scientific reference standards and methods for botanical identity, purity and safety.

“Just as importantly, his interface with industry, regulatory groups, scientific and trade associations, government health agencies, and research collaborators worldwide have framed a robust dialog and raised awareness for higher quality and greater accountability in the marketing and regulation of herbal and medicinal products.”

Khan already has plans for how he will spend funds that come with his award.

“I’m going to celebrate with the people who contributed through their hard work to achieve this award,” he said.

Khan and his wife, Shabana, a principal scientist at NCNPR, have a son, Farjad, a third-year pharmacy student at Ole Miss, and a daughter, Sariya, who is graduating from Oxford High School and has been accepted into the university’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

Created in 2008, the annual honor recognizes a faculty member who has shown outstanding accomplishment in research, scholarship and/or creative activity. It is sponsored by Pharmaceutics International Inc., whose CEO, Syed Abidi, is a UM alumnus. 

Much like Hall of Fame inductions, recipients can receive the honor only once. Nominees must be an associate or full professor (including research associate professors or research professors who are not tenure-track faculty) and must have been continuously employed full-time by the university for at least five years.

UM College of Liberal Arts Honors Faculty Members for Excellence

Three professors noted for inspiring students and peers with their passion for teaching

College of Liberal Arts Dean Lee Cohen, second from left, with award recipients Gerard Buskes, Matthew Murray and Joshua Brinlee. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

UM liberal arts Dean Lee Cohen, second from left, with award recipients Gerard Buskes, Matthew Murray and Joshua Brinlee. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi College of Liberal Arts recognized three faculty members Friday (May 13) for their outstanding work in educating students.

Joshua Brinlee, an assistant professor of art and art history, received the Cora Lee Graham Award for Outstanding Teaching of Freshmen. Gerard Buskes, professor of mathematics, was named the Liberal Arts Outstanding Teacher of the Year. The Liberal Arts Outstanding Instructor of the Year award went to Matthew L. Murray, instructional associate professor of sociology and anthropology.

“The College of Liberal Arts has a strong commitment to excellence in teaching,” said Lee Cohen, UM liberal arts dean. “As such, it is an honor and a privilege to recognize Mr. Brinlee, Dr. Buskes and Dr. Murray as this year’s award recipients. I am certain that our students appreciate these outstanding educators.”

Brinlee was awarded the Cora Lee Graham Award because of his commitment to excellence in freshman education, intellectual stimulation of students and concern for students’ welfare. Brinlee earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts at the Memphis College of Art. He arrived at UM in 2012 as an adjunct professor and in 2014 accepted the position of assistant professor and foundations coordinator.

Brinlee said he is humbled and honored to receive this award.

“This award of recognition was totally unexpected,” he said. “To be given the opportunity to teach students how art enriches and informs their daily lives is an award all by itself. The students are the reason I chose to be an arts educator, and why I will always commit myself to helping them achieve their educational goals.

“Every year I see my former freshmen students graduating and moving on with their lives. My hope is that one day they will look back on their college experience and know that there was a teacher that cared, encouraged, challenged and supported them.”

“He has made a terrific and excellent difference in our department in a short time,” faculty member Sheri Reith said in a letter of nomination. “The students he is teaching are attentive and interested in the information he is giving. Josh teaches hands-on problems and calls on his students to produce written work as well.

“At the end of his classes, I see his students talking with him, and he is smiling and so are they. He cares for them.”

Buskes has been at UM since 1985, after receiving advanced degrees in mathematics from Radboud University in the Netherlands. He received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award for his excellence in teaching and dedication to his students.

“He truly cares about his students understanding the material in his class, a trait which unfortunately is a rare find in mathematics,” UM student Maegan Easley said in a nomination letter. “His 50-minute lectures often seem like 10 minutes because he makes his class so fun and engaging! He creates a rapport with his students that is unique in the mathematics department.”

Buskes has also inspired other faculty members. David Fragoso Gonzalez co-taught a calculus course with Buskes for the last three fall semesters.

“To ensure a seamless transition between our classes, we have sat in each other’s lectures many times, which has allowed me to observe the impact that Dr. Buskes has over his students,” Gonzalez said in a letter of nomination. “By example and by mentorship, my experience with Dr. Buskes has also shaped the way that I try to teach my own classes, and the way that I develop a relationship with students.”

However, Buskes said other faculty members continue to inspire him as well.

“I am so honored by this award and the affirming statements of my colleagues and students,” Buskes said. “I certainly had teachers who inspired and guided me, and to be seen in that light is such a thrill.”

Murray arrived at UM as an assistant professor in 2003. He studied at the University of Connecticut and the University of Salzburg in Austria, and was awarded a doctorate from Harvard University in 1995.

“I am delighted to accept the award as Outstanding Instructor of the Year,” Murray said. “In all of my classes, I encourage students to engage personally and collectively with complex ideas and difficult problems, which I hope prepares them to become informed and involved global citizens.”

Kirsten Dellinger, chair of sociology and anthropology, nominated Murray for the award based on his method of teaching and care for students.

“Dr. Murray’s student evaluations and peer observations have consistently ranked him as an excellent or superior teacher,” Dellinger said in a nomination letter.

“The sheer number of written comments for all courses indicates an enthusiasm and engagement in Matthew’s courses rarely seen when reviewing faculty who have been nominated for teaching awards.”

Dellinger said Murray encourages students to “learn by doing” and gives students the resources they need to do that.

“We are fortunate to have such a well-rounded, research-active faculty member in the department introducing students to anthropology and geography as well as providing advanced training for students who will move on in the field of archaeology,” she said. “I am thrilled that he has received this well-deserved honor.”

All three recipients were recognized at the spring faculty meeting and will be honored Saturday during the college’s commencement ceremonies. Each received a commemorative plaque and $1,000.

Accountancy Professor, Violence Prevention Officer Win Frist Awards

Recipients honored for their exceptional service to students

Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick

Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick

OXFORD, Miss. – Each day, University of Mississippi students are affected by the words and actions of faculty and staff members who extend their work beyond classrooms, labs and office space.

Two of them – Brett Cantrell, assistant professor of accountancy in the Patterson School of Accountancy; and Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick, assistant director of the Office of Violence Prevention in the Counseling Center – have been selected as this year’s Frist Student Service Award honorees in recognition of their exceptional service to students.

They were chosen from among dozens of nominees, submitted by students, alumni, faculty and staff. A chancellor’s committee weighed all the nominations and made the picks.

“Of all the awards we bestow on faculty and staff each year, the Frist Awards are extra-special because they recognize unwavering commitment to serving our students and making sure they are successful,” Chancellor Jeffrey S. Vitter said. “Students are the central reason we are here, and service is part of our core mission. I am grateful for the work of Ms. Mosvick and Dr. Cantrell, and on behalf of the entire university, thank both of them for their dedication and remarkable example.”

The awards, one for faculty and one for staff, were established with a gift from Dr. Thomas F. Frist Sr. of Nashville, a 1930 UM graduate. This is the 22nd year for the awards.

Cantrell and Mosvick each receive $1,000 and a plaque, and are to be recognized May 14 at the university’s main Commencement ceremony. Both recipients expressed surprise upon learning that they had been chosen for the recognition.

Brett Cantrell

Brett Cantrell

“My first thought was, ‘I wonder if this is really correct?'” Cantrell said. “There are just so many professors at the University of Mississippi that go above and beyond in student service, and who have been doing so for so much longer than I have. I certainly see that here in the accounting school.”

Mosvick was equally astonished to receive the award.

“The work I do in the violence prevention office frequently involves confidential information, so I never expected something like this to happen,” she said. “I also thought I have not worked here long enough to deserve the honor. I am starting a master’s program in higher education through the university and I will put this (her stipend) toward those costs.”

Cantrell, who joined the Ole Miss faculty in 2013, received his doctorate in accounting from the University of Texas. His bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting are from UM.

His research examines the quality and usefulness of bank accounting estimates such as the allowance for loan losses. Cantrell’s work has been published in The Accounting Review, and he is a certified public accountant in the state of Mississippi. Before his doctoral studies, he served in the audit practice of KPMG’s Birmingham, Alabama, office.

“This is really the first award I’ve won,” said Cantrell, faculty adviser for the UM chapter of the National Association of Black Accountants. “I am certainly honored to get to serve in that position, and I imagine it had something to do with me winning this award.

“Our chapter works to foster a sense of community for African-American students in the accounting school as well as developing the professional skills of our members.”

One nomination for Cantrell, from a graduate student, stated in part: “Dr. Cantrell not only does his duties as NABA adviser . . . but he goes above and beyond. He has generously opened his home to all of NABA on numerous occasions and is always willing to help us when needed. He has even donated money to start the Patterson School Minority Summer Scholarship.”

In another nomination, a former student wrote: “Dr. Cantrell has worked diligently to always keep our best interest at heart. He has been a voice for our community.”

Mosvick, who earned her J.D. from the University of Virginia law school, has also been employed at the university since 2013. Formerly project coordinator in the Office of Violence Prevention, she also works as adviser of Rebels Against Sexual Assault, the campus student organization that assists in raising awareness about sexual assault and implementing peer education programs.

She previously received the Students First award at the first annual Women’s Empowerment Awards in March 2015.

“That award was also an honor, but this award obviously leaves a greater legacy,” Mosvick said. “Learning about how my name will be on display in Martindale Hall and seeing this list of names I am joining is just as great an honor, as it includes many folks who I admire greatly like, Valeria Ross and Thelma Curry.”

One nomination for Mosvick, from a staff member, stated: “Lindsey is always putting the needs of her students above her own. She works weekends, nights and early mornings to ensure the survivors are getting the care and attention that they deserve. She never complains about the intense workload because she truly cares about the lives of Ole Miss students.”

A student wrote, “The professional support she provides is important, but the emotional support that she is willing to give is what sets her apart from the rest. I am convinced that, if financially able, Lindsey would do this work for free. That’s how much she cares about our students.”

Cantrell and his wife, Stacey, have a 1-year-old daughter, Bronwynn.

“She’s a delight,” he said. “Since having Bronwynn, the concept of leisure time seems pretty foreign to us, but I used to read and play sports.”

Mosvick is married to Nicholas Mosvick, a doctoral candidate in the university’s Arch Dalrymple Department of History.

“If not for him, I would have never joined the university in the first place,” she said. “Outside of the office, I enjoy reading, cheering on my favorite sports teams and spending time with my family, especially my 1-year-old nephew.”

UM’s Granger Wins SEC Faculty Achievement Award

Distinguished professor is active in research and in mentoring next generation of biomedical scientists

Dr. Joey Granger

Dr. Joey Granger

JACKSON, Miss. – Dr. Joey Granger, Billy S. Guyton Distinguished Professor of physiology and biophysics, is the 2016 Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award winner for the University of Mississippi.

“I am deeply honored to have received this recognition and am humbled to be in such a distinguished group of faculty scholars,” Granger said. “I also appreciate the SEC for their recognition of scholarly activity as an integral part of SEC universities.”

To be eligible for the SEC Faculty Achievement Award, an individual must be a teacher or scholar at an SEC university, have achieved the rank of full professor, have a record of extraordinary teaching and have a record of scholarship that is recognized nationally and/or internationally.

A graduate of the UM School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences, Granger joined the faculty in 1990. His research focus has been on preeclampsia, a dangerous but poorly understood complication of pregnancy. His interests include the mechanisms linking placental ischemia and cardiovascular dysfunction in preeclampsia and identifying potential drug targets for preeclampsia treatments. Granger’s research has been continuously funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute since 1985.

Granger is dedicated to training the next generation of biomedical scientists by mentoring graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. He is the principal investigator of the Medical Center’s NHLBI Institutional Training Grant for hypertension and cardiorenal diseases research.

Granger is dean of the UM School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences and director of the Cardiovascular Renal Research Center. He served as the 2012 American Physiological Society president.

“The University of Mississippi community joins me in congratulating Dr. Granger,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “His pioneering work in understanding hypertension is paving the way for life-saving technologies and new treatment approaches. Dr. Granger is a model teacher, mentor and scholar, and a great example of the value of our outstanding faculty and their research to our state and nation.”

“Dr. Granger is not only a distinguished scientist and teacher widely respected by his peers and loved by his students, he has been a strong leader of our School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences for many years,” said Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UM vice chancellor for health affairs. “And the crawfish etouffee, seafood gumbo and bread pudding he makes for his school’s annual holiday party are second to none.”

Selected by a committee of SEC provosts, the SEC Faculty Achievement Awards and the SEC Professor of the Year Award are part of SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference, which sponsors, supports and promotes collaborative higher education programs and activities involving administrators, faculty and students at its 14 member universities.

SEC Faculty Achievement Award winners receive a $5,000 honorarium from the conference and become his or her university’s nominee for the SEC Professor of the Year Award. The SEC Professor of the Year, to be named in April, receives an additional $15,000 honorarium and will be recognized at the SEC Awards Dinner.

Granger is the second UM Medical Center physiology faculty member in three years to win the award. Dr. John Hall, Arthur C. Guyton Professor and chair, was recognized as UM’s SEC Faculty Achievement Award winner in 2014 SEC and was later named SEC Professor of the Year.

Gov. Bryant, UMMC Mark Highpoint in School of Medicine Construction

Officials celebrate 'topping out' of new facility

Artist rendering of the new School of Medicine building.

Artist rendering of the new School of Medicine building.

JACKSON, Miss. – Gov. Phil Bryant today helped celebrate a milestone in the construction of an emerging School of Medicine building during a “topping-out” ceremony at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Touting the economic and health care implications of a more spacious, state-of-the-art medical school, Bryant was among some 100 dignitaries and other attendees who watched as a construction crane hoisted a structural beam to the top of the building, signifying that it has reached its maximum height.

Along with medical students, as well as representatives of UMMC and the construction contractor, Bryant signed the beam before it was lifted, hewing to a construction tradition also meant to express appreciation to the building contractor and crew.

“This new medical school will have a $1.7 billion impact on our state by 2025 and will help create a support system of 19,000 – that’s 19,000 – jobs created,” Bryant said.

The 151,569-square-foot, five-story building will help advance Bryant’s goals of increasing the number of physicians working in Mississippi and boosting the state’s health care economy.

“Bringing one physician into a community has a $2 million impact,” he said. “It is the most effective economic development opportunity we have in the state of Mississippi.”

Dr. LouAnn Woodward, UMMC vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, thanked Bryant for “being a great champion” of the effort to build a new school and ultimately providing greater access to health care for more of the state’s residents, particularly those in rural areas.

“We are on a mission to train Mississippians to take care of Mississippians in this state,” Woodward said.

She also thanked her predecessor at UMMC, Dr. James Keeton, for his dedication to the construction project, as well as to the crew of Roy Anderson Corp. Contractors.

Construction on the building is on track for completion within 12 to 14 months, that is, the spring of 2017, Woodward said. Medical students will start classes in the new facility the following fall.

This new space will enable the School of Medicine to enlarge its incoming class size each year from 135 students to at least 165.

“Down the road, this is a great day for the state of Mississippi,” Woodward said.

Rising in the northeast area of the campus, facing Lakeland Drive, the new school will be similar in size to the UM law school in Oxford. Road work linked to the site has been completed.

UMMC has not had a new School of Medicine facility since the current one opened in 1955 as part of the Medical Center complex on State Street. Medical students have no dedicated medical school building, but use several: the Research Wing, University Rehabilitation Center, the VA Medical Center, Jackson Medical Mall and various other educational buildings and clinical sites on- and off-campus.

“We have classrooms and labs that are not just our space alone,” said Michelle Wheeler of Greenwood, a first-year medical student and one of the students who signed the construction beam.

“Having a new medical school gives me a feeling of gratitude that someone cares enough to give us our own building. We’re going to love it and cherish it.”

The economic impact of the practicing Mississippi physicians who trained at the School of Medicine is $6.3 billion annually. They support an estimated 60,395 jobs and generate about $706 million in annual federal and state tax revenue.

The new school will, among other things:

  • Consolidate most classes and labs into one building, decreasing cross- and off-campus travel by students.
  • Offer flexible, technology-rich classrooms with all-movable furnishings adaptable for lecture-style learning, teamwork sessions and other nontraditional learning methods.
  • Provide a dedicated floor for simulation labs where medical and other health-professions students can learn techniques on software programs and computer-controlled interactive mannequins.
  • Give students space for individual study, group study, congregating and social interaction.
  • Provide large, tiered auditoriums with unobstructed views, room to swivel and work in groups, and wide desktops suitable for laptops, texts and notebooks.