UM Recognizes Three Employees with Frist Service Awards

Honorees are modern languages and political science professors and admissions director

Robert Brown, who teaches in the Department of Political Science and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, shares this year’s Frist Award for UM faculty. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Following glowing letters of recommendation from students, fellow faculty members and parents, three University of Mississippi employees have been chosen to receive prestigious honors for their exceptional service.

The Thomas Frist Student Service Awards are presented annually to Ole Miss faculty and staff members who have “gone the extra mile” in unwavering dedication and service to students.

Two faculty recipients share this year’s honor: Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of Russian and linguistics, and Robert Brown, professor of political science. Whitman Smith, director of admissions, is the staff award recipient.

“The Ole Miss family is fortunate to have so many outstanding individuals who go above and beyond to serve our students,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “All three of this year’s Frist Award recipients exemplify this core value.

“We applaud their unwavering commitment to student engagement and exceptional level of personal attention to student success. These three are very deserving of this special honor.”

Examples of exemplary service include student guidance and mentorship above and beyond those expected of faculty and staff as part of their job responsibilities. Any full-time faculty or staff member, except previous winners, is eligible for the award, which includes a $1,000 prize and a plaque. The winners also are acknowledged during the university’s overall Commencement ceremony.

Each recipient said he was surprised to receive news of his honor.

“I was also humbled and a little bit embarrassed by it,” Smith said. “I am honored to be recognized as someone who serves students. I have nothing I can compare it to.”

Both Dyer and Brown expressed similar feelings.

“When he (Vitter) gave me the news about the Frist Award, I felt incredibly honored … and humbled,” Dyer said. “This (honor) means that my interaction over the years with students has positively influenced someone.

“The success of the students I have been privileged to teach and to advise has always been as important to me or more important than anything else I have achieved as a professor.”

Brown said he is grateful to know students who have made him want to be a better teacher and better person.

Whitman Smith, UM director of admissions, is this year’s staff honoree for the Frist Award. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

“This award is a reminder of how lucky I am to be a teacher, and to work with and care about the students I teach,” Brown said. “They have given me so much, and I am glad to be able to give back to them if I can.”

The decision to choose a faculty recipient was difficult due to the stellar praises expressed for each in the nomination letters, said Luca Bombelli and Anne McCauley, both previous Frist winners and co-chairs of the selection committee.

“Reviewing nomination letters for the Frist Award is an inspiring and uplifting task because all the letters express heartfelt gratitude for faculty and staff members who have really made a difference in a student’s life,” said McCauley, assistant director of the Office of Sustainability.

“Both were so equally deserving that selecting one over the other would have involved a degree of arbitrariness that most did not feel comfortable with,” said Bombelli, chair and professor of physics and astronomy. “Therefore, we made the unusual move to recognize both of them.”

Brown, who has been nominated for the award in previous years, teaches in both the Department of Political Science and at the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.

In a nomination letter for him, one student wrote, “He has gone above and beyond as a professor, his dedication to his students shining every step of the way. Dr. Brown has visited sick students in their hometowns, gifted books to other students just because he thought they would enjoy, and has become a faithful campus voice outspoken against sexual assault.”

Don Dyer, professor of Russian and linguistics, is a faculty recipient of a 2017 Frist Award. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

When the student had doubts about her career path, “He sat with me and compiled a list of possible majors, helped me schedule appointments with deans and professors in each department, showing up to introduce me to each of them.”

Dyer, who had multiple nomination letters written by both students and faculty, was commended by a colleague for “having taken the language and linguistics programs to exceptional heights.

“He has always been supportive of new ideas and innovations in teaching languages, including less commonly taught languages, such as Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic. Thanks to his hard work, professional and personal skills, the Department of Modern Languages has achieved great success, national and international recognition and respect.”

A student wrote that Dyer’s service has included funding graduate students’ trips to conferences in Idaho and New Mexico, teaching more than his required number of courses when necessary and even teaching a much-needed summer course for free as a gesture of good will.

“Dr. Dyer leads by example; he is ready to do what is best for the students and the university,” the student wrote.

In a nomination letter for Smith, written by the parents of a UM student, he was praised for having “rewritten the playbook” for the role of admissions director.

“Whitman went well beyond introducing students to the university and helping them acclimate to the college environment,” they wrote. “He built a relationship with (our son). Had it not been for Whitman and his ceaseless encouragement and open door, he may not be graduating in May.

“Whitman’s voice of reason and understanding encouraged him when it seemed nobody else could.”

The parents noted Smith has “a deep passion” for working with Ole Miss students.

“More than once, we have phoned Whitman at home and on his cell number after office hours. Whitman consistently goes beyond the role of a director of admissions, providing guidance and mentorship that serve students like our son every single day.”

All three recipients said they plan to give their stipends back to the university.

“I will donate half to the Larry Ridgeway scholarship fund and half to the Max Miller scholarship fund,” Smith said.

“I plan to give it to the Department of Modern Languages to help students in need of financial support to study abroad,” Dyer said.

“Half will go to the Department of Political Science and half will go to the Honors College to use for student projects and development,” Brown said.

The Frist Student Service Awards were established with a $50,000 gift from the late Dr. Thomas F. Frist of Nashville, a 1930 UM graduate. Past winners of the Frist Award include faculty members Brett Cantrell, Denis Goulet, Aileen Ajootian, Don Cole, Charles Eagles, Ellen Meacham, Terry Panhorst, Ken Sufka and Eric Weber, and staff members Lindsey Bartlett Mosvick, Carol Forsythe, Thelma Curry, Dewey Knight, Valeria Ross, Marc Showalter and Linda Spargo.

Volunteers Sought to Fight Poverty in Mississippi

North Mississippi VISTA Project accepting applications for terms of service beginning in August

Jeffrey Peavey, a former VISTA with Delta State University, and Shannon Curtis, co-leader of the North Mississippi VISTA Project, visit while working on a community project. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The North Mississippi VISTA Project is recruiting members to begin a yearlong term of service in August. The Volunteers in Service to America Project sponsors 14 organizations and can recruit up to 25 full-year VISTA members to serve throughout north Mississippi and the Delta.

The University of Mississippi’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, directed by Albert Nylander, professor of sociology, works with the Corporation for National and Community Service and to lead the North Mississippi VISTA Project.

VISTA members commit to one year of service, where they focus on building sustainable capacity within community-based organizations and delivering a measurable impact on the impoverished populations they serve.

“My years serving with VISTA have been two of the most enriching and fulfilling professionally and personally of my life,” VISTA leader Shannon Curtis said. “My time in service with the North Mississippi VISTA Project has allowed me to hone skills and knowledge that allows me to build capacity for my sites, as well as my own resume, while working toward eradicating poverty in Mississippi.”

The North Mississippi VISTA Project is recruiting for several organizations based on campus and in Lafayette County, including sites such as the University Museum and the United Way of Oxford and Lafayette County. Positions outside the county include Title I school districts and nonprofit organizations such as the North Panola School District and Sunflower County Freedom Project.

Prospective applicants must be motivated, reliable team players who are 18 years or older and have earned at least a high school diploma or GED. Interested individuals are invited to visit http://vista.olemiss.edu/ for application instructions. The priority deadline for applications is May 1.

Project leaders plan to continue to develop host sites around north Mississippi, cultivate projects and place VISTAs with community partners that fight poverty through education. In the 2016-17 program year, the VISTA project contributed more than $650,000 to the region.

Alumna Lauryn DuValle, who served as a VISTA with at the UM School of Education before becoming a North Mississippi VISTA leader, is an Eli J. Segal Policy Fellow at the Service Year Alliance in Washington, D.C.

“My experience with the North Mississippi VISTA Project helped me garner the resilience necessary to succeed in life,” DuValle said. “The supportive collaboration of university students, faculty, staff, Mississippi’s many communities and the passion led by my fellow VISTAs helped in solidifying the theory of serving your fellow man as a means of us all succeeding. We are only as great as the least of us.”

Many North Mississippi VISTA alumni have gone to graduate programs at Harvard University, New York University, Princeton University and Stanford University, as well as to find work in the public, nonprofit and private sectors.

For more information on VISTA service opportunities, contact VISTA leaders Sara Baker and Shannon Curtis at VISTA@olemiss.edu or 662-915-2397.

The Mississippi Encyclopedia to Be Published in May

Celebratory events kick off May 20 on the Oxford Square, continue through summer

OXFORD, Miss. – Work on a project that began at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture in 2003 has concluded at long last. The Mississippi Encyclopedia, a mammoth collaboration that includes more than 1,600 entries and 1,451 pages, goes on sale in May.

The first encyclopedic treatment of the state since 1907, the volume features work by more than 700 scholars, who wrote entries on every county, every governor and numerous musicians, writers, artists and activists. Published by the University Press of Mississippi, the encyclopedia should appeal to anyone who wants to know more about Mississippi and the people who call it home, said Ted Ownby, director of the center and the volume’s co-editor.

“Any good encyclopedia has detailed, thorough, smart information on topics people want to find,” Ownby said. “So, from a journalist or traveler to a scholar or teacher to a kid doing a school project, everyone should find ways to use the book.

“But holding it in their hands, they should find all sorts of things they hadn’t thought to look up. We think it’s revealing that the work starts with ‘Abdul-Rauf, Mahmoud (Chris Jackson)’ and ends with ‘Ziglar, Zig,’ and both of those entries seem likely to surprise a lot of readers.”

The encyclopedia will be especially helpful to students, teachers and scholars researching, writing about or otherwise discovering the state, past and present, he said. It includes solid, clear information in a single volume, offering with clarity and scholarship a breadth of topics unavailable anywhere else.

The Mississippi Encyclopedia is the result of numerous collaborations – between the University Press of Mississippi and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, among the numerous supporters who contributed to or helped organize the project, among the 30 topic editors from around the state and far beyond it, and among the authors, an intriguing mixture of scholars.

The Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History supported the project, and the university’s history department and School of Law joined the Southern studies program in encouraging advanced students to write for it. Early support came from the university and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Each entry in The Mississippi Encyclopedia provides an authoritative but accessible introduction to the topic discussed. It also features long essays on agriculture, archaeology, the civil rights movement, the Civil War, contemporary issues, drama, education, the environment, ethnicity, fiction, folklife, foodways, geography, industry and industrial workers, law, medicine, music, myths and representations, Native Americans, nonfiction, poetry, politics and government, the press, religion, social and economic history, sports and visual art.

Senior editors Ownby and Charles Reagan Wilson and associate editor Ann Abadie began work on the project when Wilson was center director.

“Seetha Srinivasan, then the director of the University Press of Mississippi, approached the center about editing a state encyclopedia as other states were beginning to do,” said Wilson, professor emeritus of history and Southern studies. “The center’s advisory committee was supportive, and we began this long effort, which is now coming to fruition.”

Odie Lindsey, who now teaches at Vanderbilt University and is author of “We Come to Our Senses” and other works of fiction, began working on the project as managing editor in 2006.

James G. Thomas Jr., the center’s associate director for publications, was managing editor of the center’s New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture from 2003 to 2013. Before that project ended, he began working on The Mississippi Encyclopedia project.

Several events are planned to publicize and discuss the book. Events will commence at the Oxford City Hall, 107 Courthouse Square, at 3 p.m. May 20 with an event for the encyclopedia’s contributors, who will have an opportunity to speak briefly about their contribution to the book.

A signing and reception will follow at 5 p.m. at Off Square Books.

A celebration reception is set for 6 p.m. June 13 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and a kickoff event is slated for Aug. 17 at the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson, as well as visits to independent bookstores and cultural organizations across the state.

Visit http://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/ for more details and a full schedule.

UM Research Day Ignites Discussions, Collaborations

Third annual event unites campuses, interests

SUNY neuroscientist Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde delivers the morning keynote during the third annual UM-UMMC Research Day. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – If public peer acknowledgement of genius is every researcher’s dream, then the third annual University of Mississippi-University of Mississippi Medical Center Research Day was a scientist’s dream come true.

More than 200 participants were on hand to present their work and explore collaborations through a series of lectures and posters Thursday (April 13) in the Inn at Ole Miss Ballroom. Alternating each year between the Oxford and Jackson campuses, Research Day is meant to facilitate communication and collaboration between the campuses through a series of lectures, breakout sessions, and posters.

The theme of this year’s event was “Nurturing Collaboration.”

“Research Day provides a great opportunity to bring our researchers together to increase awareness and build synergies,” UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said in opening remarks. “Collaboration across the university helps us build upon our R1 Carnegie ‘highest research activity’ designation by accelerating and inspiring solutions to some of the world’s most complex challenges.”

Research Day has been a successful tool for fostering increased interactions between the Oxford and Medical Center campuses, said Richard Summers, associate vice chancellor for research at UMMC.

“It has allowed our investigators to learn more about each other’s work and find areas for potential collaboration,” Summers said. “By strengthening this connection, we increase the potential for scientific discoveries and advancements that improve human health and society.”

During the morning session, Dr. Susana Martinez-Conde, professor of neuroscience at the State University of New York’s Downstate Medical Center, presented a keynote lecture on “Keeping an Eye Out for Collaboration.” Her discussion combined her main research on eye movements with her research into the neural bases of magic.

In her primary research, Martinez-Conde and her team use a combination of techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging, electrophysiological recording from single neurons, psychophysical measurements and computational models of visual function.

“Our research focuses on understanding the neural bases of our visual experience,” Martinez-Conde said.

Research such as Martinez-Conde’s contributes to the “cycle of innovation” that Vitter describes as important to attracting the best and brightest faculty and students to Mississippi.

Research Day is “a great event for UM researchers to explore connections that will help solve some of society’s grand challenges,” said Josh Gladden, UM interim vice chancellor of research and sponsored programs. New elements were introduced this year to foster more individual and small interest group conversations such as speed networking, breakout sessions and extended breaks.

Another focus of Research Day were the Flagship Constellation Talks, which emanate from the Flagship Constellations Initiative that Vitter announced during his investiture speech in November.

The purpose of the initiative is to accelerate and inspire solutions to some of the world’s most complex challenges where no one discipline has all the answers and collaboration is key. It will involve the formation of innovative, multidisciplinary research and creative achievement clusters of faculty, staff, students, alumni and external partners.

Afternoon breakout sessions focused on resilience, sustainability, ecology, health and diseases, “STEM and Big Data” and “The South: History and Future.”

Exemplifying the spirit of collaboration, the afternoon keynote was co-delivered by Walt Chambliss, UM director of technology management; Soumyajit Majumdar, associate professor of pharmacology; and Daniel Riche, associate professor of pharmacy practice. The trio addressed “Beside to Bench: An Accelerated Pharmaceutical Development Program.”

The entire event was a tremendous success, Gladden said.

“We’ve had a lot of energy in the room throughout the day,” he said in his closing remarks. “There were 200 registrants and even more people dropping by to view posters and listen to presentations.

“Our keynote speakers inspired everyone with their great messages about the importance of sharing and teamwork. I believe that we expect even greater collaborations between the researchers on all our campuses following this.”

Challenge Invites LOU Community to Explore Resources for Green Week

UM, Oxford to host annual sustainability observance April 17-22

A pair of Ole Miss students help Nathan Lazinsky (left) spread pine straw around an oak tree. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi and Oxford community will celebrate Green Week April 17-22.

The annual series of events focuses on bringing awareness to sustainability topics, resources in the area and the importance of living a resource-conscious lifestyle.

“We all want to make the world a better place, but knowing how to do it specifically can be a challenge,” said Anne McCauley, assistant director of the UM Office of Sustainability, which organizes Green Week.

“Green Week events help bring the field of sustainability to life in tangible, meaningful terms. We intentionally design our programming to represent many dimensions of sustainability to connect with people, no matter what their current knowledge is about the field.”

This year’s Green Week will kick off with guided tours along a portion of the Ole Miss Tree Trail and culminate on Earth Day with a free outdoor yoga session and satellite March for Science occurring on campus as part of the national event.

David George Haskell, Pulitzer Prize-nominated author and professor of biology at the University of the South, will deliver the keynote address, “The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors,” at 7 p.m. April 20 in the Overby Center Auditorium.

Haskell is author of a new book of the same name as well as the 2013 Pulitzer Prize finalist “The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature” (Viking, 2012), which explores the diversity in 1 square meter of the forest floor in Shakerag Hollow, atop the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee over a calendar year.

This year, the Office of Sustainability is hosting an interactive Green Week Challenge to encourage participants to learn more about sustainability in the Oxford area.

Participants who complete the challenge, which includes activities such as riding an OUT bus, visiting a farmers market or checking out the Ole Miss Bike Shop, receive a free Green Week T-shirt – manufactured from recycled plastic bottles – and an entry to win a grand prize Yeti cooler. The challenge is open to all, including students, faculty, staff and community members. 

The Office of Sustainability also is hosting a Green Week Challenge for children. 

“The challenge is really meant to highlight the great sustainability resources and organizations in our area,” said Lindsey Abernathy, project manager for the Office of Sustainability. “Our intention is that participants try something new, whether that be riding the OUT bus for the first time or completing a carbon footprint quiz to learn how they can minimize impact in other areas.”

The full Green Week 2017 schedule includes:

Monday, April 17
Tree Trail Walk – 10 a.m., meet at Quad fountain. Hosted by UM Department of Landscape Services and Office of Sustainability

Tuesday, April 18
Tree Trail Walk – 1 p.m., meet at Quad fountain. Hosted by Department of Landscape Services and Office of Sustainability

Oxford Community Market and Friends of the Market Social Hour – 3-6:30 p.m., Community Pavilion

Wednesday, April 19
Arbor Day Tree Planting – Noon, Grove. Hosted by Department of Landscape Services and Office of Sustainability

Garden to Pantry Dinner and Cooking Demo – 5 p.m., UM Garden (behind Residential College South). Hosted by UM Garden Club and Ole Miss Food Bank

Green Drinks – 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., the Growler. Hosted by Sustainable Oxford

Thursday, April 20
“UM Master Plan for the Oxford Campus: A Sustainable Vision of Campus Development” Lunch and Learn – 12:15 p.m., Lamar Hall, Room 323. Hosted by Department of Facilities Planning and Office of Sustainability

Earth Day Keynote: “The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors” by David George Haskell – 7 p.m., Overby Auditorium. Hosted by the UM environmental studies minor program and Office of Sustainability

Friday, April 21
Woodlawn-Davis Workday – 8-11 a.m., Woodlawn-Davis Nature Center. Hosted by Woodlawn-Davis Nature Center

Small Hall Music Series at Woodlawn-Davis – 6 p.m., Woodlawn-Davis Nature Center. Hosted by Woodlawn-Davis Nature Center

Saturday, April 22
March for Science – 10:30 a.m., Meet in the Circle. Hosted by Department of Physics and Astronomy

Earth Day at Strawberry Plains – 10 a.m.-noon, Strawberry Plains Audubon Center, Holly Springs. Hosted by Strawberry Plains Audubon Center

Earth Day Yoga – 4 p.m., South Campus Rail Trail. Hosted by Ole Miss Outdoors

To learn more about Green Week and the Green Week Challenge, visit http://greenweek.olemiss.edu/.

Ten UM Seniors Inducted into Hall of Fame

Recipients honored for achievement, service and potential for success

The 2017 Hall of Fame inductees are front row ( L to R) Acacia Santos, Leah Gibson, Yujing Zhang, Alex Martin. Back Row (L to R) Austin Dean, Chase Moore, Austin Powell, Miller Richmond, John Brahan, James Roland Markos. Photo by Robert Jordan Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Ten University of Mississippi seniors have been inducted into the university’s 2016-17 Hall of Fame, one of the highest honors afforded students at UM.

The inductees were honored Friday (April 7) in a ceremony at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. A committee in accordance with policy developed by the Associated Student Body chooses Hall of Fame members. Selections are based on academic achievement, community involvement and potential success.

This year’s Hall of Fame members are John Brahan of Hattiesburg; Austin Dean of Hammond, Illinois; Leah Gibson of Starkville; James-Roland Markos of Jackson, Tennessee; Jane Martin of Madison; Chase Moore of Horn Lake; Austin Powell of Corinth; Miller Richmond of Madison; Acacia Santos of Southaven; and Yujing Zhang of Oxford.

“The students who are inducted into the Hall of Fame are leaders, scholars and community servants,” said Mindy Sutton Noss, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. “Their combined list of accomplishments and contributions to the university community is impressive and inspiring.

“They each leave a legacy at Ole Miss, and I know they will all go on to make a difference in the world around them. I believe we will hear more about the achievements of these individuals throughout their lives.”

John Brahan.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

The 10 students were among 150 Ole Miss seniors recognized for inclusion in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges. They are to be listed in the national publication’s 2017 edition.

Brahan, pursuing a double major in public policy leadership and theatre arts, is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a Trent Lott Institute Scholar. He served in several roles over the course of his education, including ASB vice president; director of Greek affairs for RebelTHON, the Miracle Network dance marathon benefitting the Blair E. Batson Children’s Hospital; and vice president of standards for the Interfraternity Council. Brahan served the community as a Leap Frog tutor and mentor. He’s performed in theatrical productions of “Clybourne Park” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and plans to pursue a career in the entertainment industry upon graduation. His parents are Tammy Kolbo and John Brahan of Hattiesburg.

Austin Dean. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

An integrated marketing communications major, Dean has served as vice president of the Columns Society, an organization of 24 of the top students who serve as official hosts for the university. He also served as vice chairman of the University Judicial Council in the Office of Conflict Resolution and on the board of the directors for The Big Event, the largest community service project at the university. Dean was awarded Excellence in Integrated Marketing Communications and the Christine Wallace Service Award. After graduation, he plans to move to Washington, D.C., to work for a firm focused on running campaigns for legislation and political candidates. His parents are James Dean and Christy Amey of Hammond, Illinois, and Katrina and Tyrone Wilkins of Atwood, Illinois.

Leah Gibson.Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

Gibson, a journalism major, is a member of the Columns Society and a McLean Institute Innovation Scholar, a distinction awarded to students with interest in entrepreneurship and economic development in Mississippi’s rural communities. She is Miss University 2017. Gibson served as station manager of Rebel Radio at the Student Media Center and special events coordinator of the Black Student Union. After graduation, she will compete in the 60th anniversary Miss Mississippi pageant in June and plans to spend a year traveling abroad. Her ultimate goal is to work as a television host on her own network. Her parents are Kelvin and Tamara Gibson of Starkville.

James Roland Markos.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Markos is completing a triple major in public policy leadership, biological sciences and biochemistry. He is a student director of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a Trent Lott Institute Scholar. Markos is president of Sigma Nu fraternity and served as president of the UM Interfraternity Council in 2015. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of the UM Undergraduate Research Journal, a yearly, peer-reviewed publication of research articles written by UM undergraduate students. Markos was awarded a Taylor Medal, an award given to fewer than 1 percent of students each year for outstanding scholarship in their field. Upon graduation, Markos will attend the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, to pursue M.D. and Master of Public Health degrees to prepare for a career as a clinical physician. His parents are George and Clare Markos of Jackson, Tennessee.

Alex Martin. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

Martin is double-majoring in international studies and mathematics. She is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies. Martin has served as executive director of The Big Event, managing editor of the UM Undergraduate Research Journal and ASB director of academic affairs. She has been inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society and was awarded a Taylor Medal. Martin plans to work as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and pursue a career in economics research. Her parents are Trey and Rebecca Martin and Traci Tigert of Madison.

Chase Moore. Photo by Marlee Crawford/Ole Miss Communications

A business management major and member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, Moore founded and served as president of Student Affairs Leaders of Tomorrow. He served in the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate achievement program, designed to prepare students for graduate research. Moore also served as student assistant for the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement, director of the UM Gospel Choir and an ASB senator. After graduation, Moore plans to attend Ohio State University to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs, with hopes of later earning a doctorate in management. His parents are Milton and Phyllis Moore and the late Nigela Patreece Moore of Horn Lake.

 

Austin Powell. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Powell, completing a double major in public policy leadership and philosophy, He served as ASB president during the 2016-17 academic year. He is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and a Trent Lott Institute Scholar, and he was a Rhodes Scholar finalist last spring. Powell also served as assistant director for The Big Event and is a member of the Columns Society. He has been accepted to graduate school at the University of Oxford in England and will pursue a master’s degree in criminology. His parents are Eric and Gwen Powell of Corinth.

 

Miller Richmond.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Richmond is an international studies major and a member of both the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Croft Institute for International Studies. He served as executive co-director of The Big Event and chief of staff for the ASB. Richmond is also a member of the Columns Society and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. He also conducted research with Syrian refugees in Jordan while studying abroad during the 2015 fall semester. He plans to continue his work globally in the public health field and attend medical school in the future. His parents are Jim and Jennifer Richmond of Madison.

Acacia Santos. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

A mechanical engineering major, Santos is a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and the Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence. During her time at Ole Miss, she has served has president of the Columns Society, community assistant for the Department of Student Housing and an orientation leader for incoming students. In 2016, Santos was elected Miss Ole Miss by the student body. She also served as committee chair for recruitment and retention for the Black Student Union. After graduation, Santos plans to go to Disney World, catch up on sleep and then attend graduate school at Boston University. Her parents are Paula Santos of Southaven and Francisco Santos Jr. of Bremerton, Washington.

 

Yujing Zhang. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Zhang is a pharmaceutical sciences major and is member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She is a member of the Columns Society, served as RebelTHON director of catering and was a member of the Honors College student senate. Zhang also was awarded a Taylor Medal and inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Upon graduation, she plans to attend the UM School of Pharmacy to pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy. Her parents are Darryl Scott and Jinping Stevens of Oxford.

 

Mississippi: The Dance Company Presents ‘In Real Time …’ this Weekend

Performance includes piece that garnered invite to regional gala

Students rehearse for their upcoming performance of “In Real Time…” at the Meek Auditorium April 7-9. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s resident modern dance company is set to perform seven works, including one that earned the troupe an invitation to a regional dance gala, this weekend in Meek Hall Auditorium.

Mississippi: The Dance Company presents “In Real Time …” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (April 7-8) and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (April 8-9). Tickets are $12.50 for general admission, $10 for Ole Miss students and $9 for children and senior citizens, available at the UM Box Office at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, http://olemissboxoffice.com/ or by telephone at 662-915-7411. Tickets also will be sold at Meek Hall Auditorium 30 minutes before each performance.

The concert includes “attic,” a piece choreographed by guest artist George Staib of Staib Dance Company. Staib’s work, about his experiences as a child in Iran at the beginning of the Iranian Revolution, earned the UM company an invitation to perform in the gala concert at the South Regional Conference of the American College Dance Association last month.

“Mississippi: The Dance Company has been attending ACDA since 1990 and we’ve been chosen for the gala seven times,” said Jennifer Mizenko, professor of movement and dance. “It’s always a high honor. I am very proud of these students.

“They have worked very hard and all of their work shows onstage. What you also see while watching these students dance is their passion for the art form and their deep investment in bringing this dance work ‘attic’ to life every time they perform it.”

Seven Ole Miss students participated in a five-day residency taught by Staib over Wintersession, spending five or six hours daily learning the 12-minute piece.

Forty-four dances were submitted this year to the ACDA, but “attic” was among only 12 chosen to perform at the gala.

Genevieve Walker, a senior from Vicksburg majoring in secondary English education, attended ACDA with the company for the fourth time in her Ole Miss career.

“Being able to participate in dance at Ole Miss has been one of the greatest parts of my college career,” Walker said. “Mississippi: The Dance Company works as its own family unit. George’s piece exemplified that idea.

“The adjudicators all commented on the piece’s ability showcase that connection. We are all individuals onstage, but when we dance together, we feed off of each other’s strengths.”

For more information, visit http://theatre.olemiss.edu/olemisstheatre.html#msdco.

Sullivan Award Recipients Honored with Celebration of Service

Honorees have joined efforts to help people across the community

Donald Cole Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi senior Miller Richmond, Oxford resident Jo Ann O’Quin and UM alumnus Donald Cole were honored Wednesday (April 5) with 2017 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards in celebration of their volunteer work and service within the LOU community.

The awards are presented annually by the university’s McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement to students, alumni and community members who demonstrate selfless service to others. It is the university’s highest honor recognizing service.

“We are fortunate that the University of Mississippi community is home to so many of these humble servants,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “In fact, we have so many examples of service in our midst that this year we created a new category for the Sullivan Award to honor an alumna or alumnus alongside the student and community member honorees.

“The vision of the University of Mississippi is to lead and excel by engaging minds, transforming lives and serving others. When these activities happen in concert, we can realize the promise of higher education to change lives, promote social and economic mobility, and enhance the greater good.”

Richmond, student recipient of the award, is a senior international studies major from Madison. He said he has always been interested in community service but really became engaged in helping others at Ole Miss.

“My work as co-director of The Big Event has been my main contribution to local service, but I also feel that my work with ASB, the Columns Society and other student organizations have allowed me to learn more about what service truly means,” Richmond said. “I believe that research that our faculty at the university complete is a form of service, and I have been honored to participate in research alongside some faculty as well as complete my own research abroad in Jordan.”

Miller Richmond Photo by Thomas Graning Ole Miss Communications

Richmond said he was surprised to learn that he received the Sullivan Award.

“I’m very thankful to my family and friends for being great examples of service,” he said. “I am glad to have served alongside many great students on this campus, and I could think of many deserving people for the Sullivan Award.”

O’Quin, the community member recipient, is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, but has lived in Oxford for 40 years. A UM professor emerita of social work, O’Quin began attending Council on Aging meetings to get involved with the community and has led the monthly networking meetings for almost 20 years.

In 1985, she started a support group for Alzheimer’s and related disorders that continues to have monthly meetings. She created and organized the Caring for Aging Relatives, or CARE, Fair and Workshop in 2000, which ran for nine years and grew to more than 450 participants. As a result of that success, O’Quin began the CARE support group.

Additionally, she helped start the Memory Makers Respite Day program and the Caregiver Resource Center, which offers free resources and counseling for families dealing with memory issues.

“Looking back, my parents had great influences on me and my interest in service,” she said. “My dad was an advocate for the mentally ill and also racial reconciliation throughout his career and my mom had a heart for caregiving with older adults. My regret is that I lost both of them at early ages and I would like to thank them for making this recognition possible.

“The Sullivan Award is a tremendous honor and reinforces the importance of my dad’s motto to ‘serve your fellow man.’ In a way, it is hard to even accept an award for something that I just think is doing the right thing, when and where I can.”

Jo Ann O’Quin

Cole, recipient of the alumni award, is the university’s assistant provost and an associate professor of mathematics. Originally from Jackson, Cole is an advocate for education, particularly for minority students, and spends time developing projects that promote teaching and guidance of students, especially encouraging them to pursue advanced degrees.

He has always participated in community service, no matter where he has lived.

“I remember once when I volunteered so much time with youngsters having cerebral palsy,” Cole said “I would take my well-bodied son with me to help.

“It brought me to tears when he wanted a wheelchair for Christmas so he could be like those youngsters.”

In the LOU community, Cole has served as a board member for Habitat for Humanity. He’s also been instrumental in the Books and Bears program that provides Christmas gifts to UM Facilities Management workers, Kairos Prison Ministry and the LOFT Foundation.

Cole is an active member of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Oxford, serving as trustee, Sunday school superintendent and deacon.

“I believe that when anyone is bestowed with such an honor is first overwhelmed, feel so undeserving and then can think of many others that’s doing so much more,” he said. “No one ‘seeks out’ such awards, they happen naturally and because you’re doing something that you love and that is natural.

“Like the runner in a relay race, you’re proud to complete your leg of the race as you realize that any one individual provides just one small piece on the entire puzzle.”

Neuroscientist Slated for Science Cafe, Brain Awareness Week Lectures

Susana Martinez-Conde to discuss visual perception, magic of brain April 11-13

Susana Martinez-Conde, a neuroscientist at the State University of New York, will make three separate appearances April 11-13 in Oxford and at UM. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A renowned neuroscientist is scheduled to give three separate lectures on brain function and visual perception April 11-13 in Oxford and at the University of Mississippi.

Susana Martinez-Conde of State University of New York will open the week with “Vision is All About Change,” a presentation of the Oxford Science Cafe, at 6 p.m. April 11 at Lusa Bistro and Bar, 1120 North Lamar Blvd. This 30-minute talk will focus on the brain and its role in interpreting the world, using magic as an example.

As always, the fourth and final Science Cafe of the spring semester, organized by the UM Department of Physics and Astronomy, is free.

As an observance of Brain Awareness Week, Martinez-Conde will present “Your Brain on Magic: The Neuroscience of Illusion” at 4 p.m. April 12 in Lamar Hall, Room 126. Officially April 13-19, Brain Awareness Week is a nationwide initiative to increase the public’s appreciation for the importance of brain research and was the original impetus for inviting Martinez-Conde to UM.

Martinez-Conde will close the week at the university’s third annual Research Day, where she will present “Keeping an Eye Out for Collaboration.” The lecture, tentatively scheduled for 10:15 a.m. April 13 in the ballroom of the Inn at Ole Miss, will combine her main research line on eye movements with her research into the neural bases of magic.

These final two appearances are co-sponsored by UM’s Department of Health Exercise Science and Recreation Management, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, College of Liberal Arts, School of Applied Sciences, Graduate School and the Ole Miss minor program in neuroscience.

“Our research focuses on understanding the neural bases of our visual experience,” Martinez-Conde said. “How can the electrical activity of a neuron, or a neuronal population, convey the color or brightness of an object? How can we determine the signal from the noise in a train of electrical impulses within a neuron? What type of neural code do neurons use to communicate information to each other? How are neural impulses grouped to represent the different features of a visual scene?”

To address these questions, Martinez-Conde uses a combination of techniques, including functional magnetic resonance imaging – which looks at blood flow within the brain – electrophysiological recordings from single neurons, psychophysical measurements and computational models of visual function.

Martinez-Conde’s appearances should be most interesting, said Alberto Del Arco, UM assistant professor of exercise science and a scientist in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomical Sciences at the UM Medical Center.

“The idea of this brain awareness event is to promote a better understanding of how our brain works as well as sharpening our critical thinking,” Del Arco said. “Unfortunately, there are still many false beliefs about the brain – brain myths – in our 21st century society.

Image with neurons: ©Barrow Neurological Institute

“People should know that we do not use 10 percent of our brain or that we cannot communicate telepathically with other people. In contrast, brain research shows that even our most considered complex human behaviors – e.g. moral beliefs or decisions – can be tracked by investigating the activity of our brain in interaction with the environment.”

Having met Martinez-Conde at a similar event in Madrid, Del Arco said he thinks that she is the ideal scientist for this kind of event.

“First, Susana is a highly recognized neuroscientist and her research on the neuronal bases of visual experience is published in top journals,” he said. “And second, she enjoys transmitting her research in a way that appeals to the general public. We are going to have fun, and I hope that many people come to know her and enjoy her presentation.”

Marco Cavaglia, associate professor of physics and astronomy and organizer of the Science Cafe programs, agreed.

“Dr. Martinez-Conde collaborated with magicians to understand how our brain is so easily fooled by magic,” Cavaglia said. “There is a feature documentary about her work presented by Neil DeGrasse Tyson on PBS.”

Originally from A Coruña, Spain, Martinez-Conde earned her bachelor’s degree from University Complutense of Madrid and her doctorate from University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. A professor of ophthalmology, neurology, physiology and pharmacology at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, she conducts research that bridges perceptual, oculomotor and cognitive neuroscience.

She directed laboratories previously at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix and at University College London in the United Kingdom. Martinez-Conde received her postdoctoral training from Nobel laureate David Hubel at Harvard Medical School, where she was later an instructor in neurobiology.

Honors and awards Martinez-Conde has received for her work include the Empire Innovator Award from the state of New York. Her work with Parkinsonian patients was honored with the EyeTrack Award, a global science prize given annually to a single cutting-edge publication in eye movement research. Martinez-Conde has received various other distinctions, including the “100 Spaniards” Prize.

She complements her research with science communication, education and public outreach. She writes for Scientific American, where she has a regular column called “MIND,” on the neuroscience of illusion. Martinez-Conde is the 2014 recipient of the Science Educator Award, given by the Society for Neuroscience to an outstanding scientist who has made significant contributions to educating the public.

For more information about Oxford Science Cafe programs, go to http://www.phy.olemiss.edu/oxfordsciencecafe. For more information about the Department of Physics and Astronomy, visit http://www.olemiss.edu/depts/physics_and_astronomy or call 662-915-7046. For more about Brain Awareness Week, go to http://www.dana.org/baw/. For more information about UM Research Day, visit http://researchday.olemiss.edu/.

UM Lecture Series to Examine ‘The Radical South’

Presenters to challenge conventional notions of the region throughout April

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies and Center for the Study of Southern Culture are co-sponsoring a series of lectures, discussions and presentations in April examining “The Radical South – Expanding Southern History and Identity.”

The series challenges the conventional stories of the South with topics involving Southern identity, cultural movements, racial justice, economic justice, and gender and sexual equality. Speakers will be featured from UM and around the country.

“This series represents the commitment of the Isom Center staff and faculty to amplify voices and perspectives that have often been silenced in the historical record of this period in American history,” said Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. “This work is extremely necessary for real progress to take place in our community.”

Topics include “They Don’t Even Know: Black Southern Abundance in the Age of Donald Trump” at 5:30 p.m. April 4 in Overby Center Auditorium, “Recovering the Radical Oral History Tradition within Southern Freedom Movements” at noon April 17 and “Lobbying in the Heart of Dixie: LBGTQ Advocacy in the Alabama State House” at noon April 26. The latter two lectures are in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory.

More than 20 events will be held throughout the month. For a full schedule, visit http://sarahisomcenter.org/the-radical-south-april-2017-schedule/.

The events were planned following the declaration last year of “Confederate History Month,” said Jaime Harker, professor of English and director of the Isom Center.

“Our heritage includes much more than the Confederacy, and we want to encourage our students and the larger Mississippi community to learn about some of that diverse and unexpected history,” Harker said. “We hope ‘The Radical South’ will broaden our sense of Southern history and identity to include the full complexity of the region – past, present and future.”

Co-sponsors for the event include the Master of Fine Arts program within the Department of English; the departments of Sociology and Anthropology, Art, and Social Work; and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.