Couple’s Gift Honors Late Professor Charles Noyes

Harvey and Di Ann Lewis make donation to support UM libraries

The late Chuck Noyes (right) and his close friend and colleague, John Pilkington, senior professor of American literature, examine documents in the Archives and Special Collections department of the J.D. Williams Library. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Harvey and Di Ann Lewis, of St. Petersburg, Florida, are supporting the University of Mississippi’s J.D. Williams Library while honoring the late Charles E. Noyes, professor emeritus of English.

“Dr. Noyes and I had a very professional and personal relationship while I was executive vice chancellor and he was my associate vice chancellor,” Harvey Lewis said. “His in-depth knowledge of the university and long years of managing the Friends of the Library membership and fundraising with Dr. John Pilkington (distinguished professor emeritus of English) were noteworthy.

“Di Ann and I grew to love Chuck and Ruthie (his wife), and we appreciate Chuck’s great sense of humor and ability to write.”

The Lewises married in 1961 when Harvey Lewis also graduated from Mississippi State University with a degree in banking and finance. He continued his education at the University of Arkansas, where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees. He worked in leadership at the University of Central Florida, UM and MSU.

Di Ann Lewis earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from Mississippi State University. She was director of special education, gifted and reading for the Lafayette County School District and later joined Mississippi University for Women as an assistant professor of education.

She also served eight years as executive director of Gear Up Mississippi with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

The Lewises hope their gift to the Charles E. Noyes Library Endowment Fund will provide a steady stream of income that library Dean Cecilia Botero can use to enhance the library’s collections and update its technology.

“Generous gifts such as this one allow the library to provide our students and faculty with exciting new resources that further advance their studies and research activities,” Botero said.

Noyes, a Natchez native, spent most of his youth in Memphis, Tennessee, where he attended Rozelle Grammar School and Central High School. He completed both bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Missouri and earned a doctorate at the University of Texas. He was a member of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies.

Noyes served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1946, attaining the rank of major. His service included the post of assistant chief of staff of the Third Army Airways Communications Wing, headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska.

Before joining the Ole Miss faculty, Noyes taught at the University of Missouri and the University of Tennessee. His career in the classroom focused on Restoration and 18th century English literature.

He also served UM in the roles of provost, acting vice chancellor, associate vice chancellor and director of the summer session.

Noyes, who died in 2008 at age 91, is widely credited with providing invaluable assistance within the UM administration during and after the university’s tumultuous integration in 1962, when he composed speeches for then-Chancellor J.D. Williams.

Chancellor Emeritus Robert Khayat described Noyes as being “among the most loved people at Ole Miss.”

“Chuck Noyes established extraordinary relationships with students, staff, faculty and alumni for more than 50 years,” Khayat said. “Blessed with a keen mind and a clever wit, he was known among his students for his life-enriching teaching style and within the community for his remarkable personal relationships.

“He devoted most of his retirement years to attracting financial support for the library. He was a bright, funny man who quietly gave most of his personal resources to the university. He will be missed and fondly remembered as a loyal son of the university.”

Noyes remained faithful to Ole Miss throughout his retirement years. In 2006, he notified UM officials that he had designated a bequest to benefit the university. He was a noted benefactor of the J.D. Williams Library and was for many years membership chair of the Friends of the Library.

The Ole Miss Alumni Association honored Noyes with membership in its Hall of Fame in 1991, and former student David Arnold and his wife, Barbara, of Yazoo City, honored him by establishing the Noyes Library Endowment.

To make a gift to the Friends of the Library or the Charles E. Noyes Library Endowment Fund, send a check with the fund noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visit; or contact Angela Barlow Brown at 662-915-3181 or

UM Doctoral Student, Graduate Named US Fulbright Finalists

Eric Rexroat headed to Belgium, Andrew Hayes going to Spain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Honors UM Center

Southern studies staff lauded for work on Mississippi Encyclopedia, foodways studies

Jimmy Thomas, Ann Abadie, Odie Lindsey and Ted Ownby accept the Special Achievement Award on behalf of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the MIAL banquet. Photo courtesy of Brian Hull

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture garnered two awards at this year’s Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters awards banquet, held June 2 at Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson.

MIAL presented Ted Ownby, Charles Reagan Wilson, Ann J. Abadie, Odie Lindsey and James G. Thomas Jr. with a Special Achievement Award for their work on the Mississippi Encyclopedia, published in May 2017 by the University Press of Mississippi.

Also receiving an award was John T. Edge, director of the center’s Southern Foodways Alliance. Edge is the winner of MIAL’s nonfiction award for his recent book, “The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South.”

The Mississippi Encyclopedia, a 9-pound reference book, features 1,500 essays by nearly 700 authors on all things Mississippi, from academics and agriculture to Zig Ziglar. It is the product of more than a decade of work at the center.

“We are particularly pleased to get an award from MIAL both because it suggests the encyclopedia did a good job with creativity – coverage of art, architecture, poetry, fiction, nonfiction, drama, foodways and other topics – and also because we got to spend time with creative people on the night of the banquet,” said Ted Ownby, the center’s director and senior editor of the Mississippi Encyclopedia. “We appreciate any award, but this one is especially gratifying.”

MIAL, begun in 1978, supports, nurtures and recognizes Mississippi’s artists, including fiction and nonfiction authors, visual artists, musical composers, photographers and poets. Each year, the institute honors creative individuals with an award in their specific field.

The prestigious awards, first made in 1980, are presented in seven categories, and the institute’s juried competition is unique in the state.

Nancy Davidson LaForge, president of MIAL, said she was delighted with the winners and honored to have been able to recognize them this year. The Special Achievement Award has been given only five times in MIAL’s 39-year history, so it has particular significance.

“It is an award initiated by the board of governors of MIAL and may be presented to an individual or group for a significant and unique literary, artistic or other creative accomplishment,” LaForge said. “The board of governors recognizes the depth of achievement in this volume and that it is thorough in its details of our history and culture. 

“The entries, from the everyday to the extraordinary, tell the complex story of the state of Mississippi, her places and her people.”

For the second time in four years, MIAL honored the center for its work in publishing, and Ownby said he is pleased that the award recognizes the shared efforts of a large group of people.

“It’s an award for all the authors and editors because they were all part of a collaborative process, so we accept with all of the contributors in mind,” Ownby said. “So many people contributed to the book that it’s nice to win an award that recognizes all of their hard work.

“The online version also comes out this month so it was good to share with an audience who cares about Mississippi.”

MIAL presented the center with a Special Achievement Award for its work on The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (University of North Carolina Press) in 2014. The Mississippi Encyclopedia has also won an Award of Merit from the Mississippi Historical Society and the Heritage Award from the Mississippi Heritage Trust this year.

Edge has written or edited more than a dozen books, including the Foodways volume of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.

In the “Potlikker Papers,” he traces 60 years of how the food of working-class Southerners became a pivotal part of American cuisine. The book has been roundly praised by major news outlets and made National Public Radio’s list of 2017’s Great Reads.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution review asks, “Is the ‘Potlikker Papers’ a history of the South by way of food stories, or a story about Southern food by way of our history? By the time you come to the end of this rigorous volume, you’ll know that the two are indivisible.”

“Edge manages to combine an appreciation of food as a measure of class and race in the post-World War II American South with a real zest for the comestibles themselves,” said Harold Selesky, this year’s nonfiction judge.  

The award recipients, chosen by out-of-state jurors prominent in their respective fields, were all honored at the recent awards banquet.

Other award winners with Ole Miss connections include the fiction award for “Eveningland” to Michael Knight, who was the 2005-06 John and Renee Grisham Writer in Residence; and the poetry award for “The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded: Poems” to UM M.F.A. graduate Molly McCully Brown.

For more information, visit the MIAL website at

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

Brooklyn resident working on latest collection of poetry

De’Lana R.A. Dameron

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Science Foundation Funds Further Lightning Research

UM professors studying the mysteries of how lightning starts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Center Director Named William Winter Professor of History

Ted Ownby selected to be third holder of prestigious position

Ted Ownby

OXFORD, Miss. – As director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, Ted Ownby fulfills many roles. He recently added one more to the list as the university’s William F. Winter Professor of History.

In 1992, the University of Mississippi Foundation established an endowment fund to promote and recognize excellence in historical scholarship and to honor former Gov. William F. Winter, a staunch supporter of public education. Ownby, professor of history and Southern studies, is the third faculty member to be appointed to the position; the previous two being professors Winthrop Jordan and Charles Eagles.

“Gov. Winter has been a leader in education, in racial reconciliation work, in Mississippi history, and he believes in continuing to work for progress of multiple kinds,” Ownby said. “Winter is Mississippi history’s most accomplished governor, and he is a great example for all of us.

“It’s exciting as a scholar and teacher and encyclopedia editor to be connected to him.”

Winter graduated from UM in 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in history, then earned his law degree in 1949. While at Ole Miss, he was in Army ROTC, a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and editor of The Daily Mississippian. During law school, he was chosen for the Phi Delta Phi law honorary and the Mississippi Law Journal staff.

A committee composed of full professors of history selected Ownby for the prestigious position. A faculty member at UM since 1988 and director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture since 2008, Ownby is widely regarded as a leading scholar in the area of Southern history.

He has authored three books, “Subduing Satan” (1990), “American Dreams in Mississippi” (1999) and “Hurtin’ Words: Ideas of Family Crisis and the Twentieth-Century South,” which will be published this fall by the University of North Carolina Press, and is editor or co-editor of eight other books, including The Mississippi Encyclopedia, published last year by University Press of Mississippi.

Ownby has been a pillar of the graduate programs in both history and Southern studies during the past three decades, said Jeffrey Watt, acting chair of history. He has directed to completion 28 history doctoral dissertations and approximately 50 M.A. theses in history and Southern studies.

“Although the Winter chair is not specifically designated for a specialist in Southern history, Ownby definitely writes the type of history that fans of William Winter are bound to enjoy,” Watt said. “Simply put, Ted Ownby is an invaluable asset to the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History and is most worthy of this honor.”

UM Film Nominated for Regional Emmy

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Barretta

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

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

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

Joe York

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

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

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

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

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

Liberal Arts Dean Named Fellow in Society of Behavioral Medicine

Psychology professor Lee Cohen joins prestigious group of scholars

Dean Lee M. Cohen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UM administrators congratulated Cohen on the recognition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UM Team to Scan Columbus Site for Unmarked Graves of Union Soldiers

Work to begin this fall using advanced remote sensing technologies

More than 2,100 Confederate soldiers are buried at Friendship Cemetery in Columbus, and researchers believe about 10 Union soldiers are also buried there in unmarked graves. A UM team is helping lead a high-tech search for those soldiers’ resting places. Photo by Tony Boudreaux

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Center for Archaeological Research will use remote sensing technology to find unmarked graves of Union soldiers in a Columbus cemetery where some of the country’s first Memorial Day traditions began in the 1860s. 

UM researchers and students will be working with the U.S. Grant Association and Presidential Library and the Billups-Garth Foundation, a Columbus-based nonprofit, to find the unmarked graves of about 10 Union soldiers in Friendship Cemetery. They are buried alongside Confederate soldiers killed in the Civil War.

A year after the Civil War had ended, local women went into the cemetery and decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. This act of reconciliation, the predecessor of our modern Memorial Day holiday, was called “Decoration Day” and became an annual event that was adopted all over the country. 

Identifying the final resting place of the soldiers in Friendship Cemetery is important work, said Tony Boudreaux, director of the UM Center for Archaeological Research and associate professor of anthropology.

“There is something very powerful about helping identify a place,” Boudreaux said. “You can actually find objects and rediscover places. The cemetery is already valuable and important, but this will add another layer of interest to an already important site.”

The group, which will include Ole Miss students, hopes to begin work this fall, Boudreaux said. They will use different kinds of remote sensing technology, chiefly ground-penetrating radar, to send an electronic pulse up to 20 feet into the ground. The pulses will be used to generate images of what the area beneath soil looks like.

The team also will use a magnetometer, which can pick up localized differences in underground magnetic fields. 

Surveying the spot should take about a week, and events are in the works to allow the public to experience the project at the site. 

Tony Boudreaux

The country’s national day of honoring all who died in U.S. wars is called Memorial Day now, but it began as “Decoration Day” to honor those who died in the Civil War. Columbus is one of the U.S. cities that claims the first Decoration Day.

Macon, Georgia; Columbus, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; and Carbondale, Illinois are among the more-than-25 places the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs identifies as being named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day.

At the end of the 19th century, ceremonies across the country honoring the dead were being held on May 30. Following World War I, Memorial Day, was expanded to honor all of those who died in American wars, and in 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be observed the last Monday in May. 

In 1867, one year after the first Decoration Day, efforts began to move the Union soldiers’ graves from Columbus to Corinth National Cemetery. It was believed at least 51 Union soldiers died in Columbus, and it had been assumed that all of the bodies had been moved.

Recent research uncovered that only 32 were found in Friendship Cemetery, and another nine were found in Sandfield Cemetery, also in Columbus. This leaves 10 Union remains unaccounted for to this day. 

Each Decoration Day in the decades following the Civil War, locals continued to place flowers in the corner of Friendship Cemetery where it is believed the Union troops were buried in unmarked graves, near the remains of more than 2,100 Confederate soldiers. 

The work will be done in a sensitive manner through a partnership between the university, the two foundations and the city of Columbus, said Rufus Ward, chairman of the Billups-Garth Foundation.

“Through the use of noninvasive remote sensing technologies, archaeologists from the University of Mississippi will attempt to locate the resting place of these American heroes whose graves played a central role in the origins of Memorial Day,” Ward said.

Eight UM Professors Honored for Creative Research Projects

College of Liberal Arts faculty recognized during Commencement exercises

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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