School of Education Hosts Guyton Fall Festival

UM students plan family-friendly event for Oct. 26

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education and student organization Teachers of Tomorrow are sponsoring the 2018 Guyton Fall Festival from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday (Oct. 26).

Free and open to the public, the festival in Guyton Hall will feature a variety of educational games and activities for children. Children are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes and bring trick-or-treat baskets to collect candy during the event.

Student organizers ask attendees to bring new or used books to donate to the Lafayette Literacy Council.

“As a group of future educators, we love welcoming in families to our little piece of campus,” said Ashley Berry, TOT president. “It is a fun, safe and free event, which is open to all families. We are also hoping to give back to the community further through the book drive.”

The event will include a face painting station, bowling lane, photo booth and several game booths, such as a “witch hat toss.” Snacks, including popcorn and cotton candy, will be provided.

“We look forward to this event each year,” said Alicia Stapp, assistant professor of health and physical education and the group’s faculty adviser. “It is a wonderful way for our future teachers to serve and interact with the community as hundreds of families come through Guyton Hall on the night of the event.”

The UM Museum will sponsor arts and crafts and other activities, and the Center for Mathematics and Science Education is setting up a science experiment for children.

“We’re so excited for this great event, and we hope everyone can make it out on Oct. 26th,” Berry said.



Ford Center Studio Theatre Dedication Honors Mobley and Collins

Daughter's gift to UM also establishes scholarship in memory of beloved couple

Gary Collins and wife Mary Ann Mobley were among dozens of stars who participated in the 2005 ‘Mississippi Rising’ fundraiser at Tad Smith Coliseum to support Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – The first Mississippian to wear the Miss America crown, the late actress Mary Ann Mobley, and her husband, the late actor Gary Collins, will have their legacies expanded at the University of Mississippi with the naming of a studio theatre in the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts and the university’s first-ever theatre and film scholarships.

Their daughter, Clancy Collins White, of Los Angeles, has directed more than $1.6 million from Mobley’s estate to her alma mater, where she was the inaugural recipient of the prestigious Carrier Scholarship, an Associated State Body officer, majorette in the band, Miss Ole Miss and Miss University.

A public ceremony is set for 6 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 27) in the Ford Center lobby, paying tribute to the lives of the couple, as well as honoring White for her role in the gift. Before the dedication, a reception begins at 5:30 p.m., with the couple’s photos and scrapbooks on display. Theatre arts students also will perform several musical selections following the dedication.

White, a senior vice president with Warner Bros. Television, said her parents would be “incredibly honored” with the scholarship endowment’s and studio theatre’s names linking them to the place they loved in perpetuity, musing that her mom, who “never stopped talking, might even be speechless.”

“At a time when our world is in such disarray and all we’ve held dear seems to be in jeopardy, there is such an incredible power in storytelling – the power to inform, educate and most importantly transform,” she said. “My parents were huge believers in the power of the arts to impact people’s lives and make them feel. And they felt as though performing is the greatest expression of love.

“My mother credited Ole Miss with changing her life. She talked so lovingly and glowingly about Ole Miss as I was growing up that I was convinced I’d be going there too, pledging Chi Omega and telling my own stories to my children. Obviously, I stayed out West but I have always loved Ole Miss.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter expressed his appreciation for the significant gift.

“We are deeply grateful to Clancy Collins White for directing this marvelous gift to the University of Mississippi, enhancing our vibrant cultural arts offerings,” Vitter said. “To have Mary Ann Mobley’s and Gary Collins’ names on the studio theatre and scholarships makes us very proud; they were both such loyal, passionate ambassadors.

“The scholarships will be life-changing to our theatre and film majors.”

The gift reflects the family’s love for Ole Miss, Mississippi and the importance of the arts in everyone’s lives, said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director.

Recognized humanitarians, Mobley and Collins also supported “Mississippi Rising,” the Hurricane Katrina benefit hosted at Tad Smith Coliseum in 2005, as well as countless other events and initiatives designed to build resources for Ole Miss and the state.

“Mary Ann Mobley never forgot her home state as she pursued a career in Hollywood, and Gary Collins adopted Mississippi as his home state,” Aubrey said. “Throughout their lives they gave back to Mary Ann’s alma mater and supported efforts to celebrate the arts and bring attention to the needs of the people of this state.

“They generously shared their talents and influence to help throughout their lives.”

The 130-seat Mary Ann Mobley Collins and Gary E. Collins Studio Theatre will be dedicated inside the Ford Center, which will benefit from half the gift. The Mary Ann Mobley Collins Theatre Arts Scholars – the first endowed scholarships in the department’s history – will assist students who want to pursue careers in the performing arts.

The scholarship resources will have a significant impact on students, said Michael Barnett, chair of the Department of Theatre and Film.

“This assistance will enable students who are chosen as recipients to focus on their education so they can entertain and enrich audiences around the world,” he said. “They will be able to fully dedicate themselves to their craft.

“The department, the faculty, the staff and students – everyone who touches theatre and film at Ole Miss – is deeply grateful for the support Clancy Collins White has shown to this university and especially to our students, who are the next generation of those who will be able to shape our culture through the arts.”

The studio theatre in the UM Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts is being named in honor of actors and humanitarians Gary Collins, who died in 2012, and Mary Ann Mobley, who died in 2014. The university has received a major gift from Mobley’s estate that will benefit the Ford Center and endow the university’s first-ever theatre arts scholarships. Submitted photo

Mississippians gathered around their TV sets on Sept. 6, 1958, to watch with pride as their native daughter won Miss America 1959. Mobley, a native of Biloxi who later lived in Brandon, went on to achieve success in film, television, Broadway, personal appearances and as a documentary filmmaker.

The Golden Globe winner appeared in countless TV series, including “Diff’rent Strokes,” “Fantasy Island,” “The Love Boat,” “Falcon Crest” and “Hearts Afire.”

Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat was a lifelong friend of Mobley’s, beginning with their freshmen and sophomore years at Ole Miss.

“Mary Ann became Mississippi’s most popular citizen, before Archie and Eli Manning,” Khayat said. “After she brought such positive attention to her home state, no child was raised in Mississippi without knowing who Mary Ann Mobley was.

“She had a great career, and she made a movie with Elvis. If that doesn’t give you standing, I don’t know what would.”

Mobley was the first woman to be voted into the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame. The group inducted with her included her friend William Faulkner, the Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning author.

“Wherever Ole Miss hosted an event – Oxford, Washington, D.C., or California – Mary Ann and Gary were there lending their support,” Khayat said. “Gary was one of the most likeable individuals you would ever meet. Mississippi people claimed him as much as he claimed us.”

White agrees with that description of her father, a native of Venice, California, who made his motion picture debut in “Cleopatra,” starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. He acted in a number of movies, Broadway productions and TV series.

He also was host of “The Home Show” and “Hour Magazine,” for which he won an Emmy. Additionally, he hosted the Miss America Pageant from 1989 to 1994.

“My parents were married in Mississippi in 1967 and from then on, my father’s love for Mississippi only grew and grew,” White said. “By the time I was a child, I think he loved it as much, if not more, than mom!

“He felt so welcomed and embraced by everyone in Mississippi and Ole Miss, something he’d never had before in his life.”

In fact, that was part of the inspiration behind the gift.

“My parents wanted to repay all that Ole Miss had given to them and provide an opportunity for others to achieve their dreams,” White said. “My mother would be overjoyed. You have to understand, she was a girl from a small town of 2,500 people who never thought she would achieve what she was able to accomplish.”

Mobley and Collins were active volunteers with the March of Dimes for more than three decades and traveled around the globe with relief organizations to end world hunger. They were involved with the Crohns & Colitis Foundation and other groups. Collins was dedicated to raising awareness about breast cancer in support of his wife, who was diagnosed with cancer twice.

Sam Haskell III – a philanthropist, author, producer and the former Worldwide Head of Television at the William Morris Agency – and his wife, actress and singer Mary Donnelly Haskell, were close friends of Mobley and Collins. Both couples lived in Los Angeles and were enthusiastic ambassadors for Ole Miss and Mississippi.

Mobley and Collins appeared in every show Sam Haskell produced to secure funding for student scholarships, academic programs and disaster relief.

“As I think of the careers of many, and I was involved in so many, I think about Mary Ann Mobley and Gary Collins and the amount of national and international exposure they had,” Haskell said. “I’ve always believed the best way to make a difference is to use whatever position God has blessed you with to do that.

“Mary Ann and Gary did a lot of good for a lot of people, whether in Hollywood, Mississippi, New York or beyond.”

Fun, Frights and Food Set for Annual ‘Spooky Physics’ Night

UM Department of Physics and Astronomy hosts hands-on event Oct. 26

An Oxford Elementary School student lies on a bed of nails as a volunteer places a weight on her while other ‘Spooky Physics’ participants observe. Photo by Nathan Latil/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – New frights and fresh takes on old delights are the order of the evening when the University of Mississippi Department of Physics and Astronomy presents “Spooky Physics Demonstrations” from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 26 in Lewis Hall.

The program will include a stage show at 7:30 p.m. New demonstrations planned include a virtual reality simulation that will allow people to see a particle detector in 3D. New demonstrations on electricity, magnetism, lasers and optics also will be on hand.

“As in the past years, there will be shows and a lot of hands-on science demonstrations with a Halloween ‘twist’ to experience weird physics phenomena, from electricity to heat and pressure to the ultra-cold,” said Marco Cavaglia, professor of physics and coordinator of the evening’s activities. “And to make the evening ‘sweeter,’ guests will be able to taste our world-famous liquid nitrogen ice cream.”

Activities throughout the evening include freezing objects in liquid nitrogen (at minus 320 degrees), generating sound waves with Bunsen burners and tubes, and levitating magnets with superconductors. Other fun hands-on experiences include optical illusions with mirrors, a Van de Graaff generator (a “hair-raising” electrical device), a bed of nails and other contraptions.

Physics department personnel also will prepare ice cream with liquid nitrogen and award prizes for the most original, scariest and cutest costumes to kids 10 and under.

“Prizes will be cool physics demonstration toys,” Cavaglia said. “Winners will be able to impress their friends by repeating some of the cool demonstrations they will see at the show.”

The annual event is the department’s way to give something back to the community, said Luca Bombelli, chair and professor of physics and astronomy.

“We, as scientists, feel that outreach and education is an important part of our work,” he said. “Many people are often intimidated by science, and children often do not pursue a career in STEM because they have not been exposed to it.

“We want to show cool science while having fun. And, who knows? Maybe one day one of the children at our ‘Spooky Physics’ night will win a Nobel Prize.”

Parking will be available along All American Drive, in the Circle, areas alongside or behind the Turner Center and the Intensive English building (just west of the Turner Center), in the Pavilion garage or in the Tad Smith Coliseum parking lot after 6 p.m.

For more information or for assistance related to a disability, call the Department of Physics and Astronomy at 662-915-5325.

First Student Graduates in MFA in Documentary Expression Program

Susie Penman channels personal experiences with crime and punishment into revealing films

Susie Penman, the university’s first graduate of the Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Expression program, visits the Isle of Man in Scotland. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Support from fellow students and faculty proved invaluable for Susie Penman, the first graduate in the Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Expression program at the University of Mississippi.

Penman, who also earned two other degrees from the university– a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2007 and a master’s in Southern studies in 2012 – received her latest degree in August. She said she made good use of the resources at UM and its Center for the Study of Southern Culture, where the new MFA program is housed.

“For someone who is thinking about it, it’s a very supportive program,” Penman said. “There are people here to help you not just pursue what you are already interested in, but certainly in my case because I had never done film before, there were people who were patient and who taught me what I needed to know.

“That’s what I got out of it most, just learning this whole new skill set, which is working with film.”

Her film, “The Knowing of People,” is about juvenile crime and punishment in New Orleans. She took a personal experience she had while living in the city and brought it to life onscreen.

“I was carjacked a couple of years ago, and the people who did it were three teenagers who were tried as adults,” Penman said. “When I found that out, before I even knew about the MFA program, I just got interested in it because I was not part of the process at all; I just got a letter saying they’d been sentenced.

“I didn’t know anything about how the justice system worked and I wanted to explore that, and then I applied for the program and it just seemed like a natural fit because it was the thing I found myself thinking about and talking about more than anything else. I was upset about it and I wanted to do something.”

Penman started reaching out to people in New Orleans, asking questions about how the criminal and juvenile courts worked, and getting a better understanding the role of the district attorney and other players in the process.

“Things I’d been oblivious to because I’d been lucky enough not to have been involved with crime before – whether as a victim or living in a community affected by crime – so it’s a combination of personal experience and field work,” Penman said.

“I asked people who either work in the criminal justice system or have been affected by violence in the community somehow and pieced together a story about the bigger picture of juvenile crime in New Orleans told through by what happened to me.”

When she arrived last fall to begin the MFA program, Penman thought she would work on an audio-based project, such as a podcast or an oral history, or photography.

“I didn’t think I’d be doing film, and then I saw that Andy Harper was teaching a class and became interested and just thought I would do it to learn it,” Penman said. Although she was at first reluctant to commit to filmmaking for her thesis, she ended up loving the work and took full advantage of the support.

“If someone is thinking about getting their MFA, there are just wonderful people here who are helpful,” Penman said. “There is a good mix of people – you know, historians – but also a good balance of scholarship and technical tools that you need to learn.

“We were all there to bounce ideas off of each other, and I never felt alone, I always felt like there were people within reach I could ask questions of. I liked the feedback I would get from people.”

Andy Harper, director of the Southern Documentary Project, said he couldn’t be happier that Penman is the first MFA graduate.

“Susie represents everything we are looking for in adding students to our new program: someone who has a background in documentary work, but more importantly has a desire to learn more about the intersections of cultural studies and documentary arts,” Harper said.

Susie’s MFA thesis film on juvenile incarceration is at once personal and provocative – a great example of advocacy-based documentary work that is so important today. Now that we have one MFA graduate in the books, I can’t wait to see who is next and what stories they will tell.”

One thing that surprised Penman was how much she enjoyed the editing process.

“Filming is hard, and there are so many things that can go wrong,” she said. “I try to remind myself that most people work in teams and they have a camera person and someone doing the interview and a sound person, and this was just me, the whole time.”

Being thrown into the field made her realize there is much more work involved in filming than people understand, Penman said.

“You have to get everything just right, and in most cases, I didn’t,” she said. “I usually got one crucial thing wrong that I had to make up for, but that was part of the learning process.”

Besides her thesis, one of the films Penman worked on for Ava Lowrey’s Advanced Documentary class last spring was “Sister Hearts,” about Maryam Uloho, a woman who was incarcerated for more than 11 years for a crime that she says she didn’t commit. Her sentence was overturned, and she runs a thrift store in New Orleans that aims to help people, mostly women, who have been incarcerated.

Although Uloho’s footage did not end up in Penman’s thesis film, it still informed her work.

“For the past year, I’ve been immersed in all things related to incarceration and trying to understand the various ways the system functions or doesn’t function, and her story was crucial in helping me understand some aspects of that, specifically in regard to women,” Penman said.

“There are so many different stories that revolve around crime and violence and punishment that we really need to listen to people who have been incarcerated before and who have had these experiences. There are so many individual stories, and I feel like that gets forgotten in the whole mess.”

Penman hit the ground running with production of four films during her MFA studies, said Ava Lowrey, Pihakis Documentary Fellow for the Southern Foodways Alliance.

“It’s been a privilege to watch Susie grow as a documentarian, and her success is a reminder of the importance of this program in shaping a new class of Southern documentarians,” Lowrey said. 

Penman is continuing her documentary work with incarceration this fall as a doctoral student in American studies at the University of North Carolina.

“As long as I can talk to people who have stories to tell me, I feel like that’s a way of remembering that this is something that really affects tons of people in so many different ways,” Penman said. “The MFA program helped solidify the idea in my head that I want to keep studying incarceration and using documentary methods to do that.

“It helped reaffirm the importance of people’s voices and storytelling in doing research instead of just going to a library.”

Rudy Kittlitz Remembers Alma Mater through Generous Donation

Successful chemical engineer becomes major donor to School of Engineering

Donor Rudy Kitlitz Jr. (left) meets with Marni Kendricks, associate dean for academics in the UM School of Engineering. Submitted photo

Since he graduated from the University of Mississippi half-a-century ago, Rudolf “Rudy” G. Kittlitz Jr. (BSChE 57) has enjoyed a long and prosperous career. Not one to forget where he came from, the retired chemical engineering alumnus has become a major donor to the School of Engineering at his beloved alma mater.

“For the past several years, I’ve provided a gift so that engineering students, who are otherwise not financially able, may attend the engineering banquet in the spring,” Kittlitz said. “To continue supporting Ole Miss, I’ve included the university in my will.”

The funds tentatively will be used for scholarships and lab equipment.

“Rudy Kittlitz has a deep appreciation for the education he received as an Ole Miss student and has been inspired to assist our School of Engineering students for years,” said Dean Dave Puleo. “Now he has committed a thoughtful planned gift that will strengthen the engineering school and transform students’ lives. We are grateful for his generous gift that reflects his great love for the University of Mississippi and his concern for young people.”

Marni Kendricks, the engineering school’s assistant dean for undergraduate academics, agreed.

“I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Rudy in Waco last fall,” she said. “What a fun, memorable lunch, reminiscing about Oxford and the Ole Miss campus and people we both knew and our common affection for Ole Miss Engineering! His warm emails addressed ‘Howdy Marni’ always make my day better.”

Kittlitz’s connection to UM began when he decided to attend its engineering school in 1953. The Waco, Texas, native chose chemical engineering as his major after he read a novel on space travel by Willy Lee.

“I wanted to major in rocket engineering,” he said. “However, at that time it was not possible.”

As a student, Kittlitz recalled that each of his classes had no more than 10 students. Among his favorite professors was the late Frank Anderson, dean emeritus, and chair and professor emeritus of chemical engineering.

“These small classes enabled the students to quickly ask questions and get understandable answers,” Kittlitz said.

Rudy Kitlitz Jr. spends time reading in his backyard. Submitted photo

Following graduation, he began a 43-year career with the DuPont Chemical Co. There he worked with polychemicals research in Wilmington, Delaware, from 1957 to 1960. Kittlitz then moved to the company’s textile fiber divisions in both Seaford, Delaware, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, before switching to the nylon division and eventually becoming a senior research associate and statistical consultant for fibers.

“I taught myself statistics, which eventually became my career at DuPont,” he said. “My new knowledge of statistics and the Delrin plant startup were very beneficial as I began to learn the making of textile fibers.”

A member of the American Society for Quality since 1972, Kittlitz became a fellow in 1981. He served in leadership positions within ASQ including chair, program chair, chemical divisional councilor, founding member of the Delmarva Section, co-developer and instructor of the Quality Engineering Review course for the Delmarva Section, Region 5 director and executive regional director.

“In 1989, I was awarded the second William G. Hunter Award by the statistical division of the ASQ,” he said. “This was recognition of my being chair of a multicompany quality control group. Our people wrote ‘Quality Assurance for the Chemical and Process Industries.’”

He also has held professional memberships in the American Statistical Association and National Association of Parliamentarians. A registered professional engineer from 1984 to 2015, Kittlitz was an adjunct professor at University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, a Citizen Ambassador to Russia and Ukraine, and a Delaware Quality Award judge.

“My attending and then graduating from Ole Miss means very much to me,” Kittlitz said. “I honestly did not know what kind of career I would have had, had I not received the NROTC scholarship to Ole Miss.”

Kittlitz earned his Master of Science in Engineering degree from the University of Alabama in Mobile. He is co-author of several publications and articles in peer-reviewed journals.

The father of three daughters and a son, Kittlitz lives at Lutheran Sunset Ministries, a retirement community in Clifton, Texas. He enjoys reading, traveling and hiking the Big Bend National Park area of Texas.


UM Scientists Further NASA’s Mission to Mars

ME professor Shan Jiang leads faculty-student research team in advancing space exploration

Shan Jiang (third from right) discusses his interdisciplinary NASA research project with (from left) Ronald Smith, Abigail Hughes, Makena Tisor, Jungmin Jeon and Katelyn Franklin. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

As NASA continues preparations for missions to Mars and beyond, a team of University of Mississippi scientists is conducting research that may advance deep-space exploration for decades to come.

Shan Jiang, UM assistant professor of mechanical engineering, is the principal investigator for “An Integrated Computational Framework for Atomic-level Investigation of the Sintering Mechanisms during In-Space Additive Manufacturing of Metals and Alloys,” a project funded by the Mississippi NASA EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Development, or RID, Program (No. NNX15AK39A) and directed by Nathan Murray, UM research assistant professor of chemical engineering.

The project is composed of synergistic, integrated, high-performance computing activities, including modeling, simulation, prediction and optimization of pure metal and alloy nanoparticle sintering, which is a process to make a powdered material coalesce into a solid or porous mass by heating it (and usually also compressing it) without liquefaction.

“One of the key areas of NASA mission-supportive research is ‘in-space additive manufacturing’ (known as AM) during Earth-independent missions on Mars,” Jiang said. “In the next two decades, NASA will push three fronts in realizing the ‘Journey to Mars’ mission: Earth-reliant exploration aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and in low Earth orbit; proving-ground exploration with planned missions near the moon and on a redirected asteroid; and Earth-independent exploration with missions planned for low Mars orbit to explore the entry, descent, landing and in situ resource utilization on Mars.”

Currently, a major area of focus on the ISS is to develop integrated AM facilities to rapidly manufacture items such as consumables and equipment replacement parts using materials such as metals, plastics, composites and ceramics.

“AM plays a key role in the NASA In-Space Manufacturing Vision for Extraterrestrial Environments, especially for 3D printing in zero gravity and for in-space additive repair,” Jiang said. “Powder metal sintering and the relevant atomic-level mechanisms associated with this process govern the AM of various types of metals and alloys.”

However, many fundamental aspects concerning the sintering phenomena (as well as associated melting and solidification behaviors) of various metal powders, especially at the atomic level, nanoscale and microscale, still remain largely unknown.

“In this project, we are aiming to develop an integrated modeling-computation-optimization framework for gaining fundamental insights into the atomic-level sintering behavior of various types of metals and alloys, with the ultimate purpose of predicting and optimizing the final additively manufactured parts and in part supporting the NASA In-Space Manufacturing and Repair Platform,” he said.

Using the research expertise of fellow junior faculty members within the School of Engineering, as well as the research groups at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, the program aims to build the necessary research infrastructure for NASA-related modeling and computational research in a top-notch national field, i.e., additive manufacturing for metal printing and additive repair.

“The research will provide theoretical and technical support to both ground & ISS demos of the additive manufacturing of metals and alloys,” Jiang said. “In addition, fundamental computational studies to understand the sintering mechanisms of metal/alloy powders under extreme extraterrestrial environments will fill one of the knowledge gaps in the current state of the art of the in-space AM, as contained in the NASA In-space Manufacturing Exploration Technology Development Roadmap.”

Other UM faculty members collaborating with Jiang are Hunain Alkhateb, associate professor of civil engineering; and Alex Lopez and Sasan Nouranian, both assistant professors of chemical engineering. The four have been working successfully together for more than two years.

“As we realized the importance and stipulation for the outreach and the research-activities integration, we have established an Additive Manufacturing for Research and Education Cluster, or AMREC, with one of the major goals being to foster research and educational collaboration between four faculty members within the said departments,” Jiang said. “So far, we as an interdisciplinary team have obtained three seed grants (one from NASA Mississippi Space Grant and two from Mississippi NASA EPSCoR) related to additive manufacturing.”

A membrane scientist by training, Lopez’s work is focused on the treatment of wastewaters through electrodialysis and electrodeionization using material modification of ion exchange membranes.

“The majority of my work is centered around ionic liquid-based composites materials,” he said. “The AMREC, an interdepartmental collaboration aimed at the pursuit of novel materials with application in additive manufacturing, seeks to develop new insights into the possibilities of additive manufacturing and grow the field in a transdisciplinary way.”

The team also has involved some of its students in the research. Students include Jungmin Jeon of Korea, a master’s degree candidate in mechanical engineering; Katelyn Franklin of Ocean Springs, Abigail Hughes of Elgin, Illinois, and Makena Tisor of Madison, junior mechanical engineering majors; and Ronald Smith, a junior civil engineering major from Meridian.

“Jungmin is performing the modeling of nanopowders and nanoparticles, as well as the molecular dynamics (or MD) simulations of (the) laser sintering process,” Jiang said. “She is also assisting me in training other undergraduates to learn how to use MD package and submit parallel computational jobs on supercomputers at the Mississippi Center for Supercomputing Research.”

Franklin runs bimetallic nanoparticles simulations to mimic the heating and cooling process of nanoparticles considering different heating rates, as well as performing data analysis for the simulation data. Smith is running simulations on Ti/Al core-shell particles to understand the melting behavior during the formation process of nanorods, as well as performing data analysis for the simulation data. He also helps Jeon do data analysis of single-crystal titanium nanoparticle simulations.

Hughes is learning how to use an open-source code (LAMMPS) to realize parallel MD simulations and is expected to complete some large-scale parallel MD simulations of alloy particles soon. New to learning numerical techniques in molecular dynamics, Tisor is also performing a comparative study on how the mixture of simulated Martian (as well as lunar) regolith and resin will 3D print compared to the standard photopolymer resin under Lopez’s supervision.

For more about the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Mississippi, visit For more about NASA’s “Journey to Mars” program, go to The NASA Mississippi Space Grant program,, and Mississippi NASA EPSCoR program,, are funded by training grants from the NASA Office of STEM Engagement.




Alireza Asiaee Joins Chemical Engineering Department

Newest instructor brings professional experience, research expertise to UM students

Alireza Asiaee has joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Mississippi. Submitted photo

As an undergraduate chemical engineering major at Shiraz University in Iran, Alireza Asiaee dreamed of one day earning his terminal degree and joining the faculty of a prestigious university. Since then, both dreams have come true.

Asiaee is the newest instructor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Mississippi. He was hired Aug. 1, after receiving both his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from South Dakota School of Mines & Technology and his Master of Science degree in chemical engineering from Shiraz University.

“I always had a passion for teaching and transferring chemical engineering knowledge to (the) next generation,” said Asiaee, who previously worked as a process engineer at ideaCHEM Inc. in Rapid City, South Dakota, and as a lecturer at Rajaee Higher Education Institute in Shiraz, Iran. “During my graduate studies, I volunteered to be a teaching assistant for courses in computer programming, thermodynamics and advanced chemical engineering mathematics.”

Asiaee is teaching Programming for Chemical Engineering and Chemical Engineering Lab this fall. Next semester, he will be teaching Programming, Chemical Engineering Lab II and Web-based Thermodynamics.

“In addition to teaching the assigned courses, my short-term goals are developing new elective courses in the department, updating the current chemical engineering laboratory, providing support and help to update the existing curriculum, as well as helping and advising students with their research,” Asiaee said.

“My long-term goals include developing new courses and labs related to my research background in computational chemistry and bioprocesses and collaborating with other faculty members to establish research centers in computational and/or supercritical fluid areas.”

In addition to joining the UM chemical engineering department, Asiaee said his most satisfying achievement has been the outcomes of his Ph.D. research, which has established some new methods and procedures in studying and computational modeling of solid-fluid interfaces and heterogeneous catalysis.

“One of my articles was published as an ‘Editor’s Choice Paper,’ where we addressed some of the challenges and discussions between the theoretical results and experimental observations in Fischer-Tropsch synthesis process,” he said. “Due to the outstanding methods we developed in the mentioned paper, the company who owns the applied software (Accelrys) has reached out to my previous research group requesting our calculations and procedure in order to update their software packages and develop new procedures for estimation of first-degree reaction rates and parameters.”

Asiaee provides the enthusiasm and energy of a newly graduated Ph.D. to the department, said John O’Haver, chair and professor.

“He is providing the attention and creativity needed for our laboratory classes, as well as providing our freshmen with the fundamentals of using and programming in Excel,” O’Haver said. “He brings research skills that will enable him to collaborate at times with faculty. We are excited to have him in the department.”

Asiaee has a fiancée, who is working in Salt Lake City as an energy engineer. His family includes his parents and sisters.

“My extracurricular activities are mainly sports,” he said. “I am a member of Ole Miss Badminton Club. My other favorite sports are mountain biking, racquetball and playing pool.”



Jake McCall Finds True Calling

Electrical engineering senior succeeds in major and as C Spire intern

Jake McCall (right) works with a fellow student in the electrical engineering lab. Submitted photo

Jake McCall applied to the University of Mississippi as a psychology major. However, at the advice of a close family member, the Memphian decided to pursue engineering and found it to be the best fit with his interest in being creative.

Before classes officially started, McCall chose to study electrical engineering with an emphasis in computer engineering. Since then, he has found the experience to be both challenging and fulfilling.

“My favorite class has probably been EL E 425: Local Area Networks taught by Dr. John Daigle,” he said. “The class teaches the basics of how networks operate, specifically internet networks, and I enjoy learning the mechanics of commonly used pieces of technology.”

McCall also reflected that he found the practical applications of the course helpful in his understanding of computers and how to fully use them as instruments of engineering.

A highlight of McCall’s undergraduate experience happened last summer when he interned with C Spire. He enjoyed the collaborative working environment fostered by the staff.

“C Spire treated me like I was important to their work,” McCall said. “Instead of being given stereotypical intern tasks, I worked directly with full-time employees on real projects in the systems integration department.”

In addition to his summer internship experience, McCall is working on his senior thesis as part of his membership in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He is working under the mentorship of Daigle, professor of electrical engineering. McCall’s project is focusing on localization using multiple inertial measurement unit, or IMU, sensors to perform digital dead reckoning.

“I have really enjoyed getting to work on a problem that has not really been solved in the public domain (at least not very well),” he said. “I have also gained a lot of practical knowledge along the way that I can use in my own personal projects.”

McCall said he is looking forward to presenting his research next spring.

Daigle taught McCall in both his Theory of Controls course and his Networking course and praised his academic performance. This, ultimately, led to them working together based on a common research interest area focusing on inertial measurement units. They began working together on this project last spring.

“Initially, Jake approached a different professor to inquire about working on this topic, but that faculty member knew that I was already researching this issue and had a graduate student working on it, so he directed Jake to me,” Daigle said. “I had written a proposal to (the) National Institute of Standards and Technology in which I proposed techniques based upon a combination of IMUs and Wi-Fi to track responders in emergency situations.”

McCall has been recognized for his academic success on campus. A 2018 Taylor Medal recipient and named the 2018 Outstanding Junior in Electrical Engineering, he has been inducted into Phi Kappa Phi honor society and Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society, and serves as treasurer of Eta Kappa Nu electrical engineering society. Additionally, he has been heavily involved in the Baptist Student Union, where he leads worship and volunteers with its Grove cleanup after home football games. McCall is the recipient of the C Spire-Nokia Bell Labs Fellowship, which entails a four-month-long position at Bell Labs in New Jersey.

After graduation, he will return to Mississippi to work for C Spire in Jackson. He also is considering graduate school as he is interested in pursuing a Master of Science in either electrical or computer engineering.



New Scholarship Honors Late Alumna’s Favorite Professor

Lori Sneed and Colby Kullman are linked by gift to Ole Miss Women's Council

Members of the late Lori Sneed’s family – (from left) brother, Johnny; mother, Patti; and father, Shorty Sneed – are joined by honoree Colby Kullman at a recent Ole Miss Women’s Council Rose Garden Ceremony. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation

OXFORD, Miss. – As a University of Mississippi student, the late Lori Sneed quickly formed a special bond with English professor Colby Kullman, and soon the feeling was mutual. Now, the two “great friends” will be linked in perpetuity by a new Ole Miss Women’s Council scholarship endowment bearing their names.

The $250,000 Lori Sneed Council Scholarship Endowment in Honor of Colby H. Kullman, Professor Emeritus was established as a gift to the university by Sneed’s parents, John B. “Shorty” and Patti Sneed of Gulfport.

The scholarship’s recipients will be entering freshmen majoring in English, chosen on the basis of financial need, academic ability and leadership potential. Contingent upon maintaining a 3.0 GPA, the award may be received for up to eight semesters.

Besides their academic pursuits, scholars will be expected to participate in leadership development and mentoring sponsored by the OMWC and the Lott Leadership Institute.

“We are deeply honored that Colby allowed us to honor him along with Lori because he was her favorite teacher, without a doubt,” said Shorty Sneed, adding that Kullman, of Oxford, agreed to participate as mentor for the scholarship’s first recipient.

Lori Sneed, who died of liver cancer in July 2017 at age 44, suffered a paralyzing spinal cord injury in a 1991 car accident during her UM freshman year. After months of rehabilitation and a year at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, she returned to Ole Miss to complete her bachelor’s degree in English.

Kullman recalls a special memory he has of his favorite student, who was always prompt for class.

“One day she didn’t appear and I thought, ‘I wonder what’s wrong,'” Kullman said. “Well, 10 minutes into class, suddenly there’s this police officer with Lori in her wheelchair. Both looked a little bit winded. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, did she get arrested?’

“But she had parked her van and some unthoughtful person had parked behind her, so she was trapped in her van. Well, the police officer helped her out of the van, got her into the chair and brought her to class.

“She always deflected attention away from herself, so she said, ‘This is Officer Clark. He is my hero today. He just rescued me from my car. Let’s hear it for Officer Clark!’ And there was a round of applause and she said, ‘You can do better than that!’ And they all stood up and gave him a standing ovation.”

Lori Sneed

A longtime Ole Miss professor, Kullman earned his bachelor’s degree at DePauw University, master’s degrees from the universities of Chicago and Kansas, and a doctorate from the University of Kansas. His teaching and research interests include restoration and 18th century studies, dramatic literature, satire, biography, comedy and tragedy.

He is a published author and editor of a number of academic works, including “Speaking on Stage: Interviews with Contemporary American Playwrights;” “Studies in American Drama: 1945-Present” and “Death of a Salesman at Fifty: An Interview with Arthur Miller.”

Lori’s uncle, Bill Henry, quoted in Gulfport’s Sun Herald, said that beyond her humor and strength, Sneed was exceptionally kind.

“For me, the thing about Lori was, when you were with her, she always made you feel as if you were the nicest thing that happened to her,” he said. “She asked how you were doing; she’d compliment you about something you were wearing. … It’s like you were the absolute highlight of her day.”

At Ole Miss, she was a Campus Favorite, member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, member of the Committee on Disabilities and a two-time winner of the Most Beautiful Eyes on Campus contest, before and after her accident.

After graduation, she moved to Atlanta, where she worked in public information for CNN from 1997 to 2006. In Atlanta, she performed self-deprecating humor in comedy clubs, telling audiences they should request their money back if they were expecting a stand-up comedian. She loved art, poetry, music and animals.

She returned to Gulfport in 2015, where she attended St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and worked as a self-employed artist.

Her love for her family was deep.

“Nothing brought her more pride than when her mom and dad came to Atlanta so Lori could bring them to CNN or to go to dinner with them and her Atlanta friends,” said Tom Johnson, former president of CNN, delivering a eulogy at Sneed’s funeral.

During a recent OMWC ceremony officially dedicating the endowments, Shorty Sneed said he remembers the day his daughter, who never thought of herself as disabled, called to say that she would casually roll through the background of the CNN news broadcast.

“Look for me. I’ll be wearing a blue blouse and some gray slacks,” she told him.

“I said, ‘Lori I think you’ll be the only person in the newsroom in a wheelchair. I think we’ll be able to pick you out,'” her father said, laughing. “And she rolled through and just kind of looked at the camera. She never let (her disability) hold her back in school or at work at CNN or in her social life.

“She once asked one of Oxford’s finest on the Square one night if he would follow her home so she wouldn’t get a DUI. He did. And she didn’t.”

Johnson remembers Lori Sneed’s jovial spirit, an affable charisma that kept her coworkers both on their toes and in good humor.

“For me, there has never been a more inspiring example of optimism, of warmth, of courage, of humor and of love than Lori,” he said, remembering the many times she would navigate her motorized wheelchair at full speed into his office with one announcement or another or to meet visiting dignitaries or celebrities.

“One day, she wheeled into my office to tell me that the doors at CNN were not wheelchair-friendly, especially the one down the hall from her office on the sixth floor,” Johnson said. The doors at CNN Center became accessible within a week.

Lori Sneed did things and got things done.

Even now, brother Johnny Sneed, an actor in Los Angeles, gives his sister credit for shaping his personal life. A series of events initiated by Lori resulted in Johnny’s introduction to his fiance, Cristina; the two are parents of a 1-year-old boy.

“Lori passed away in July and my baby boy, Wilder, was born in August,” Johnny Sneed said. “A big regret of mine is that they weren’t able to meet, but I know that she’s with us. We see her in different ways every day.”

At the dedication ceremony, OMWC chair Mary Susan Gallien Clinton expressed her gratitude for the Sneeds’ generous gift.

“This OMWC scholarship honors Dr. Kullman and an extraordinary, vivacious young woman who tragically lost her life while living it to the fullest,” Clinton said. “The generosity of this gift, which overwhelms our hearts, will continue for many generations to give OMWC scholars a four-year academic and cultural program to prepare their lives to be world-ready upon graduating.

“Our hope is the life Lori lived will inspire her scholarship recipients to always strive to achieve the best version of themselves, despite the circumstances.”

Read more about the Women’s Council at For information on how to make a gift to support OMWC programming or a scholarship, contact Suzanne Helveston, development associate, at or 662-915-2956.

Pharmacy School Administrators Celebrate 25 Years of Friendship

Alicia Bouldin and John Bentley met as graduate students

Alicia Bouldin and John Bentley graduate together with their Master of Pharmacy Administration degrees from UM in 1996. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy administrators Alicia Bouldin and John Bentley are proof that opposites often complement each other.

The two met in August 1993 when they began graduate school in the School of Pharmacy’s pharmacy administration program.

Bouldin, associate dean of outcomes assessment and learning advancement and professor of pharmacy administration, was raised in the South. She’s a creative thinker who stays up-to-date on technological advances, while Bentley, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Administration, grew up in the Midwest, is passionate about statistics and took some time to adjust to smartphone culture.

However, for all the pair’s differences, 25 years of working alongside each other created a bond of trust and appreciation that has spurred them to celebrate their 25-year “friendiversary.”

“We always made a great team,” Bouldin said. “We complemented each other really well. Sometimes when we had joint projects within the department, they wouldn’t let us be on the same team because we needed to spread out and collaborate with other folks.”

A friendship was easy to strike up, as they were always together in class or working at the department’s one computer in Faser Hall. Bentley even got a head start on his teaching career by helping Bouldin find her way through statistics, which allowed Bouldin to see Bentley’s patience with others.

Alicia Bouldin and John Bentley celebrate 25 years of friendship at a recent party with the UM Department of Pharmacy Administration. Submitted photo

“The instructor would put carets on top of things, and Alicia kept calling them hats,” Bentley said. “She would say ‘What are those hats? Why does she keep putting those hats on top of things? Why do we need those hats?’

“Alicia went on about these hats, which in statistics, just show that it’s an estimate from a sample instead of a population parameter. She rolled her eyes at me a couple of times.”

Bentley experienced Bouldin’s kindness upon his arrival in Oxford. With Bentley’s wife still living in Iowa, Bouldin became an adoptive older sibling, making sure he ate well, washed his clothes and got haircuts.

“We still have to do things together and are thrown together, much like in the way we started,” Bentley said. “Part of why our friendship has lasted this long is because of the complete trust in the quality of work that the other does.

“Yes, it’s a work relationship, and we have been through a lot together, but I have such an admiration and respect for her.”

The duo says that it doesn’t feel like 25 years since they met. Bouldin and Bentley have gone through a lot together since their graduate school days, such as faculty promotions, a failed attempt to watch the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Movies – their families made it through only two – and Bouldin translating Southernisms for Bentley.

While some things remain the same, the colleagues acknowledge that changes have come only for the better.

“I was very lucky to have that encouragement from him in school,” Bouldin said. “I probably did more than I would have if it had been someone else because he’s super smart and capable. I couldn’t slack.

“We grew up together, in a way, and entered into a different phase of life. It was nice to do that together.”