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.”

Tutoring Startup Takes Top Prize at UM Business Competition

12th annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition celebrates another successful year

Winners of the Gillespie Business Plan Competition are pictured with the judging panel: (front row) William Yates III, CEO of Yates Construction; Sam Bertolet, partner with Pontus Andersson in Myra Mirrors, the second-place winner; Lee Ingram, first-place winner; Austin Darnell, third-place winner; John Oxford, director of external affairs for Renasant Bank; and Lawrence Adams, Jimmy John’s franchise owner in Jackson; and (back row) Ken Cyree, dean of the UM School of Business Administration; Emmet Seibels, co-founder of Versus Health in Nashville; Johnny Maloney, co-owner of Cowboy Maloney’s; Clay Dibrell, professor of management and CIE co-director; Richard Gentry, associate professor of management and CIE co-director; and Josh Mabus, owner of the Mabus Agency. The competition finals were April 7 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. UM photo by Cobie Watkins

OXFORD, Miss. – An online enterprise that helps University of Mississippi students find tutors for their college studies took first place in the 12th annual Gillespie Business Plan Competition, hosted by the UM Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Lee Ingram, a master’s candidate in accountancy from Madison, wowed judges with his presentation for Collegiate Tutoring, a tutoring matchmaking service he started in 2014. Its largest clients are two Greek organizations, and the service has assisted more than 200 students, bringing in revenues of more than $50,000 to date.

“Ole Miss is such a fantastic place for students to pursue entrepreneurship,” Ingram said. “There is so much support available from people like Owens Alexander at the CIE, as well as professors like Clay Dibrell and Rich Gentry.

“My goal with Collegiate Tutoring is to help students see that entrepreneurship is a viable career option. I hope to set an example for students looking to take a risk and bet on themselves and their business idea.”

Ingram won $10,000 and a year of free office space at the Innovation Hub at Insight Park, the university’s business incubator.

Pontus Andersson, a senior from Ridgeland, took second place and $5,000 for his company, Myra Mirrors, which developed a software system that integrates apps into surfaces and mirrors. Third place and $2,500 went to Manalsu Athletics, founded by Austin Darnell, a junior from Wake Forest, North Carolina.

“We looked at other smart home spaces,” Andersson said. “We realized that while home automation had been covered by the likes of Nest, Google, Apple and Amazon, few companies had attempted it with furniture.”

Darnell founded Manalsu Athletics in September 2015 with a theme of “Designed for a Life in Motion” after raising $11,000 on Kickstarter for his first product, a high-end style of men’s underwear. He hoped to place in the competition to receive additional funding to expand into other styles of durable men’s activewear.

“We are so proud to be able to provide this unique opportunity for our students,” said Ken Cyree, dean of the School of Business Administration. “The Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has quickly become one of the many great programs in the business school, and we look forward to seeing what these students are doing to meld together creativity and business.”

The Gillespie Business Plan Competition is the center’s signature event of the year, said Rich Gentry, associate professor of entrepreneurship and strategy and CIE co-director.

“We saw students who have put in a tremendous effort to develop their business and their pitch,” Gentry said. “As in years past, the winner is a successful student we are excited to see benefit from our program.”

The competition is conducted in three rounds. This year’s first round was a review by doctoral candidates of 48 proposals for student businesses.

The second round included 15 participants who gave eight-minute presentations to a committee of 16 local and regional business owners and community leaders, and the final round featured six participants who each gave an eight-minute presentation to a panel of nine judges. The final round was conducted April 7 at The Pavilion at Ole Miss.

Besides the winners, the final six competitors also included Sujit and Sangeet Adhikari of Dhading, Nepal, whose company, Adhikari Brothers, would produce bamboo as a substitute for wood; Alicia Hydeman a sophomore from Dallas, whose company, Lulu Jax, focuses on women’s apparel for extremely petite women – Hydeman is 4 feet 10 inches tall – and Nathaniel Snyder, a senior from Elburn, Illinois, whose company, Purifico, produces a super-hydrophobic chemical coating designed to improve sanitation on bathroom surfaces.

UM alumnus Hunter Carpenter (second from left), is congratulated by Jan Farrington (left) Lawrence Farrington and Dean Ken Cyree upon being announced as recipient of the Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The presentation came after the Gillespie Business Plan Competition at The Pavilion at Ole Miss. UM photo by Stella Connell

Following the announcement of the winners, Lawrence and Jan Farrington presented Hunter Carpenter, a partner in Redbird Capital Partners in Dallas, with the Farrington Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year award.

“Lawrence and I are both interested in encouraging young entrepreneurs in Mississippi, especially those associated with the University of Mississippi,” Jan Farrington said. “This yearly award provides the opportunity to honor successful entrepreneurs, and also to provide encouragement and inspiration to our students with an entrepreneurial spirit.

“Hunter’s career grows more impressive each year. He not only exemplifies a very successful entrepreneur, but also a person who shares his time and talents to help others. He has served on the UM Foundation Board for many years and is currently the chair of its investment committee.”

A four-year letterman on the Ole Miss men’s basketball team, Carpenter earned his bachelor’s degree in 1999 from the UM Patterson School or Accountancy, his master’s in accountancy in 2000 and a Juris Doctor from the UM School of Law in 2003.

“It is an honor to receive the award from the Farringtons,” Carpenter said. “They are special people to Ole Miss and to me, and have long carved a path as special entrepreneurs and investors in the South.”

UM Catapult Competition Draws Top Guns

Tishomingo County High School teams defeated 16 others to take home top honors

Members of the Hot-N-Spicy team from Desoto Central High School experience the joy of victory during the Siege the Castle event at UM’s annual Catapult Competition. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Normally, tennis balls volley back and forth on the tennis court, but Wednesday afternoon (April 12), the fluorescent yellow balls were being catapulted in the C.M. Tad Smith Coliseum at the University of Mississippi.

The School of Engineering, Center for Math and Science Education and Division of Outreach and Continuing Education hosted the 11th annual Catapult Competition. Middle and high school students from across Mississippi designed and constructed catapults and brought them to campus to test their engineering skills.

Catapults, which originated as ancient engines of war, hurl projectiles at targets. Among the most powerful medieval weapons, catapults known as trebuchets use a counterweight to propel their payload. Modern catapults use tension, such as a spring or elastic band, that is suddenly released to fling a projectile.

“This is the 11th annual Catapult Competition, formerly Trebuchet Competition,” said Tiffany Gray, research associate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and co-coordinator of the event. “We changed the rules on what the students were building last year, so last year we changed the name to reflect this.”

In the UM competition, students designed and constructed catapults of metal, wood and PVC to hurl tennis balls across the field. Registering for the event were 17 teams representing eight schools: Central Hinds Academy, Desoto Central High School, Guntown Middle School, Lafayette Middle School, Oxford High School, Tishomingo County High School, Water Valley High School and West Jones High School.

UM engineering graduate students weighed and measured the catapults to make sure specifications were met. Catapults not meeting specs either had to be modified or were penalized points for not meeting the criteria.

Teams competed in Design, Pop-A-Shot, Humpty Dumpty and Siege the Castle categories. Catapults were scored on their design process, safety features, construction, creativity and originality, and team interviews.

First place overall went to America’s Mitochondria from Tishomingo County High School. Second and third places overall went to Sojourn, also from TCHS, and Memengineers from Oxford High School.

Students on the Enduring Frustration team from Tishomingo County High School are in the zone during the Siege the Castle event at the annual UM Catapult Competition.Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Winners in Pop-A-Shot were America’s Mitochondria (first), Indeed from Lafayette Middle (second) and Ultimus from Guntown Middle (third). In Humpty Dumpty, winners were America’s Mitochondria (first), Shorts from Central Hinds Academy (second) and Enduring Frustration from Tishomingo County (third). Siege the Castle winners were America’s Mitochondra (first), Hot-N-Spicy from Desoto Central (second) and Memengineers (third). In Design, Sojourn placed first, America’s Mitochondria took second and B.L.A.G.H. from Desoto Central came in third.

The Pop-A-Shot required teams to launch four shots from three different locations at a regulation basketball hoop. The Humpty Dumpty event called for teams to launch tennis balls in attempts to knock three cardboard boxes off a wall of blocks without disturbing the wall. The Siege the Castle competition required teams to use catapults to knock down a cardboard brick wall.

The Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence created 3-D-printed desktop catapults for the overall winners. Plaques made in the Mechanical Engineering Machine Shop were presented for each category. The overall winner was the team with the highest total score.

Six Ole Miss graduate students judged the entries: mechanical engineering majors Damian Stoddard of St. Louis, Cody Berrey of Meridian and Zach Wallace of Batesville; civil engineering major Grace McMahen of Union; geology and geological engineering major Alex Weatherwax of Williamsburg, Virginia; and physics major Sunethra Dayavansha of Kandy, Sri Lanka.

The Sojourn team intentionally went for a more creative design for its catapult, said Samuel Zafic, a senior at Tishomingo County High School.

“Most everyone goes for the traditional arm and bar design,” he said. “Going a different route allowed me to experience some of what it’s like to be in the engineering profession.”

Davis Powell, a junior also from TCHS, described the annual Division of Outreach program as “amazing.”

“I entered the competition last year because it looked like it would be fun,” said Powell, who hinted he might return to the university as a biochemical engineering major after he graduates in 2018. “It is fun, but it is also challenging. I definitely plan on coming back for next year’s competition.”

Middle and high school students from across the state of Mississippi participate in the 11th annual Catapult Competition at Tad Smith Coliseum. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Before the day’s final competitive event, participants faced off in preliminaries and made adjustments to their catapults. Sometimes, the machines broke during this process.

“It is impressive to see the tools come out and students making repairs to get their machine up and hurling again,” Gray said. “That is what the engineering experience is all about.”

The catapult project encourages students to think and use the engineering design process, engineering school staff members said.

“Each year, I see familiar faces from previous competitions,” said Matt Nelms of Oxford, a UM staff member who serves as the event’s co-coordinator. “It’s very meaningful to see these high school and middle school students mature and the extremely impressive engineering solutions they come up with at such young ages. Their intelligence always exceeds our expectations.”

In medieval times, trebuchets were more accurate than other catapults, which use tension or torsion to fire projectiles. In modern times, trebuchets have become popular devices for hurling pumpkins, frozen turkeys or even junk cars in light-spirited competitions.

For more information about the School of Engineering, visit http://engineering.olemiss.edu/.

For more about the Center for Math and Science Education, go to http://umcmse.com/. For more about the Division of Outreach, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/.

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/.

Meek School of Journalism to Host Diversity Conference

Fox chief news anchor Shepard Smith among speakers for five-day series

UM public relations students, led by senior lecturer Robin Street (center), have planned It Starts with (Me)ek, five days of campus events celebrating inclusion and rejecting stereotypes. The committee includes (kneeling, from left) Emma Arnold and Brittanee Wallace, and (standing) Kendrick Pittman, Dylan Lewis, Street, Zacchaeus McEwen and Faith Fogarty. Photo by Stan O’Dell

OXFORD, Miss. – Just pause. Just pause before you assume you know me. Just pause before you stereotype me.

That’s the message of an upcoming series of events April 19-25 called It Starts with (Me)ek, hosted by the University of Mississippi Meek School of Journalism and New Media. Shepard Smith, a UM alumnus and chief news anchor and managing editor for Fox News Network’s Breaking News Division, is among the keynote speakers.

The five-day conference open to all students, faculty, staff and community members is designed to encourage inclusion and respect while rejecting stereotypes. It will feature panelists and guest speakers discussing race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and religion. A diversity fashion show and a festival also are included.

“This campaign is particularly important to our Meek School students because as professional journalists, public relations specialists or integrated marketing communications specialists, students will be dealing with and working with many different kinds of people,” said Robin Street, senior lecturer in public relations.

“We all need to learn the value of waiting before we make assumptions about other people. However, we also hope that everyone on campus and in Oxford will consider joining us for the programs.”

The program, designed to remind participants that one single factor does not define a person’s identity, was created by a 31-member student committee under Street’s direction. Through each panel and lecture, Street hopes all attendees will learn to approach individuals with understanding, dignity, respect and inclusion.

Both alumni and students will participate in panels about their personal experiences on race, sexual orientation, mental health, religion and disabilities. Smith will moderate an alumni panel, as well as provide remarks on April 21.

Other guest speakers include Michele Alexandre, UM professor of law; Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement; Mary Beth Duty, owner of Soulshine Counseling and Wellness; Jesse Holland, an Associated Press reporter covering race and ethnicity; Shawnboda Mead, director of the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement; Sarah Moses, assistant professor of religion; Otis Sanford, political commentator and Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic and Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis; Jennifer Stollman, academic director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation; and Ryan Whittington, UM assistant director of public relations for social media strategy.

Duty, Holland, Sanford and Whittington are all Ole Miss journalism alumni.

Student committee members enrolled in a course specifically to design the campaign. The group met weekly to plan events, promotional videos, communications, pre-campaign competitions and social media posts surrounding the five-day conference.

Rachel Anderson, a senior double major in broadcast journalism and Spanish from Chesapeake, Virginia, is co-chair of events and will moderate one of the panels.

“These events give students the opportunity to understand the experiences of people both similar and different from them,” Anderson said. “Understanding the experiences of others can help you learn more about yourself and the world around you.

“I hope attendees understand that we all have our differences, but at the same time, we also share so much in common. There is much more to people than outside appearances. One trait does not limit someone’s entire identity.”

Dylan Lewis, a senior broadcast journalism major from Mooreville, will serve on the LGBTQ student panel.

“The things we say or think about people affect everyone around us,” Lewis said. “Stereotypes hurt specific people or groups being stereotyped, but in reality it hurts all of us because our friends are part of those marginalized groups. When they hurt, we all hurt.

“While this campaign may not end stereotypes completely, it is a way to start the conversation, hence our campaign name ‘It Starts With (Me)ek.’ I hope students come to just see the perspectives of these individuals and realize that just pausing, our key message, can make a difference when trying to understand someone.”

The conference concludes with a festival April 25 on the front lawn of Farley Hall. Students are encouraged to wear purple to show their support, while faculty and staff will wear 1960s-inspired outfits to celebrate the many activist movements of the decade.

Students wearing purple will get a free treat from Chick-fil-A. If students have attended at least two events throughout the week and have their program stamped, they will receive a free T-shirt.

All events take place in Overby auditorium or in the front lawn of Farley Hall. For more information, visit https://www.itstartswithmeek.com/ or follow the campaign on social media at https://www.instagram.com/itstartswithmeek/ or https://twitter.com/StartsWithMeek.

The full schedule for the series features:

Wednesday, April 19

10 a.m. – Opening ceremony

11 a.m. – Lecture: “Other Moments: A Class Photography Exercise in Honoring Difference at Ole Miss,” Mark Dolan, associate professor of journalism

1 p.m. – Lecture: “Making a Difference by Engaging with Difference,” Jennifer Stollman, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

2 p.m. – Lecture: “Tell Me a Story: Using Personal Narratives to Navigate Cultural Difference,” Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement

Thursday, April 20

9:30 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “From James Meredith to Millennials: Race Relations at Ole Miss,” moderated by Shawnboda Mead, director of CICCE

11 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “Red, Blue and Rainbow: An Inside Look at Being LGBT at UM,” moderated by journalism major Rachel Anderson

1 p.m. – Lecture: “Building Trust Within Professional and Personal Communities: A Workshop,” Jennifer Stollman

2:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Sometimes I Feel Invisible: Living with a Disability,” moderated by Kathleen Wickham, professor of journalism

5:30 p.m. – Spoken Word Performance

Friday, April 21

10 a.m. – Lecture: “Race in America: A Journalist’s Perspective,” Jesse Holland, AP reporter

11 a.m. and 1 p.m. – Panel Discussions: “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” black UM journalism alumni discuss their experiences, moderated by Jesse Holland

2 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Red, Blue and Rainbow Alumni,” LGBT alumni discuss their experiences, moderated by Shepard Smith

3 p.m. – Lecture: “My Journey from Farley Hall to Major News Events Around the World,” Shepard Smith, Fox News chief news anchor

4 p.m. – Reception for speakers and students

Monday, April 24

9 a.m. – Lecture: “Normal Does Not Exist, Mental Illness Does,” Mary Beth Duty, professional counselor

10 a.m. – Lecture: “From the Bible Belt to Baghdad: What Today’s IMC and Journalism Professionals Need to Know About the World’s Major Religions,” Sarah Moses, assistant professor of religion

11 a.m. – Panel Discussion: “Keeping the Faith,” members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths discuss challenges they face, moderated by Dean Will Norton

1 p.m. – Panel Discussion: “Mental Health and Me,” panelists discuss their experiences with mental health, moderated by Debbie Hall, instructor of integrated marketing communications

2 p.m. – Lecture: “Role of Individual and Institutional Accountability in Doing Diversity and Equity,” Michele Alexandre, professor of law

3 p.m. – Lecture: “Keeping it Real on Social Media: Guidelines for Handling Diversity Issues,” Ryan Whittington, assistant director of public relations for social media strategy

4 p.m. – Fashion Show: “Unity in Diversity,” entertainment on Farley Hall lawn

6 p.m. – Lecture: “Racial Politics in Memphis,” Otis Sanford, University of Memphis

Tuesday, April 25

10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. – Farley Festival Day

Pharmacy Professor Wins Prestigious Elsie M. Hood Teaching Award

Students call John Rimoldi 'enthusiastic' and 'altruistic'

John Rimoldi lectures to a group of UM pharmacy students. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry in the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, is the winner of the 2017 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award.

This award recognizes one Ole Miss professor each year who embodies teaching excellence and exceptional student engagement. Students and faculty submit letters of nomination, and honorees are usually nominated many times over before winning.

“I am deeply humbled to be in the company of past Elsie M. Hood award recipients, many of whom I know and consider to be teaching champions in their field,” said Rimoldi, who accepted the award April 7 at the university’s annual Honors Day Convocation. “It’s heartwarming to know that many students over the years took time out of their demanding schedules to write a letter of nomination.”

Third-year pharmacy student Meredith Oliver, one of Rimoldi’s nominators, praised his “infectious” enthusiasm and his ability to connect lectures with real-world health issues.

“The entire biomolecular sciences department exudes a childlike spirit of discovery and innovation that I believe is a direct result of his leadership and innovative pharmaceutical research,” Oliver said. “His passion for medicinal chemistry engenders respect and instills a fierce curiosity in his students.

“In thinking about pursuing a career in academia myself, ​Dr. Rimoldi’s teaching certainly​ serves as a model for me.”

Rimoldi has taught in the pharmacy school since 1995. His previous teaching honors include the UM Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Teaching and Scholarship, the UM Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring, three Pharmaceutical Sciences PY1 Teacher of Year awards and two consecutive three-year terms as a Distinguished Teaching Scholar in the School of Pharmacy.

“John is one of the very best educators that we have at the university and is highly deserving of this award,” said Kristie Willett, chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences, which houses the division of medicinal chemistry. “His commitment to student learning is really unparalleled.”

Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (right) presents the 2017 Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award to John Rimoldi during the Honors Day ceremony at the Ford Center. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

In presenting the award, Chancellor Jeff Vitter called Rimoldi a “standout among other professors.”

“(He) is known as a professor who not only engages his students with the curriculum he teaches, but also leaves a lasting impact, which steers students towards lifelong learning,” Vitter said. “He is the standard we all should aspire to for teaching excellence and student engagement.”

Rimoldi is vice president and co-founder of Paradox Pharmaceuticals Inc., which develops new drugs for treating cancer and heart disease in humans and animals. He has published close to 70 research and teaching publications on synthetic, medicinal and environmental chemistry.

“John’s passion for teaching is contagious and his dedication to connecting with students contributes to the unique, close-knit environment of our school,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “He’s one of the most exceptional educators I’ve had the pleasure to work with.”

Besides being a professor of medicinal chemistry and environmental toxicology, Rimoldi has served as a member of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College faculty since 2013. He is a research professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, director of research and graduate affairs in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences and director of the Chemistry and DM/PK Core Laboratory associated with the university’s NIH-COBRE program grant.

“Dr. Rimoldi’s altruistic approach is welcoming in an increasingly competitive academic environment,” said Dennis Carty, a doctoral candidate in pharmaceutical sciences. “He always finds time for those in need of academic or life guidance. I’m honored to have been mentored by such a great intellect and friend.”

The late Ron Borne, professor of medicinal chemistry and winner of the 1972 Elsie M. Hood award, mentored Rimoldi, who said he wished Borne could share this moment with him.

“I sincerely believe I am the beneficiary of each classroom experience or lecture,” Rimoldi said. “It’s easy to be passionate about the things you enjoy and love to do.”

School of Pharmacy Begins Clinical Study of Antimalarial Drug

Volunteers sought to help researchers improve safety, efficacy of essential medication

Abbas Ali, a principal scientist in the UM National Center for Natural Products Research, works to develop insect repellents from natural products, part of the School of Pharmacy’s efforts to fight malaria. UM photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy Research Clinic is looking for students and residents in the Oxford and Lafayette County area to participate in a clinical study for the antimalarial drug primaquine.

The World Health Organization lists primaquine as one of the safest and most essential medications in the world. The study begins later this month and will coincide with WHO’s World Malaria Day observance April 25, which highlights the need for continued commitment to malaria control and prevention worldwide.

“We are eager to begin this research in hopes of getting closer to the very real possibility of one day eradicating malaria worldwide,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy.

Researchers in the school are continuing research on primaquine that has been ongoing there for 25 years in hopes of improving the drug and broadening its use. Preventative research such as this is crucial in making further advancements toward a final cure for malaria, said Larry Walker, director emeritus of the university’s National Center for Natural Products Research.

“In the long run, these studies will help us to better understand the safety and metabolism of this class of drugs, and perhaps make it more useful in the fight against malaria,” Walker said. “It may also allow us to apply the findings to newer drugs in this class.”

Malaria kills more than 1 million people per year and affects anywhere from 300 million to 600 million people annually, according to data compiled by UNICEF. Children under 5 are most susceptible to dying from malaria, and more than 40 percent of the world’s population lives in malaria-prone regions.

Primaquine is an inexpensive drug that is very effective against the liver stages of malaria parasites, Walker said. However, its use is limited because people with a genetic deficiency in a specific enzyme (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, or G6PD) have negative reactions to the drug that can cause severe damage to their red blood cells.

The UM School of Pharmacy is recruiting volunteers for a study of improved antimalarial drugs. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

“This deficiency is very common around the world and in regions where malaria is prevalent, so many public health programs are reluctant to use primaquine,” Walker said. “If we could find a way to stop that reaction, the drug would be safer and could be used more widely.”

Primaquine is composed of two chemicals, or forms, that are difficult to separate, yet separating them is what Ole Miss researchers hope will help them discover how to make primaquine safer.

“Researchers have studied primaquine-type drugs for many years and developed methods for the separation and preparation of the two forms,” Walker said. “We’ve shown that both forms work in animal studies, but they are metabolized differently, and one has fewer side effects than the other.

“Ultimately, we want to determine whether the two forms of the drug are metabolized differently in humans, and whether one of them is safer.”

The clinical trials will begin by studying the metabolism of the two forms of primaquine in normal human volunteers without the G6PD enzyme deficiency. The drugs are being prepared by an Oxford company, ElSohly Laboratories Inc.

The pharmacy school is collaborating with the UM Medical Center on the project.

Ole Miss students in the pharmacy program are very interested to see what new advancements come out of this trial, said Alix Cawthon, a second-year pharmacy student from Abita Springs, Louisiana.

“Everyone is very excited to see the school participate in a human study,” Cawthon said.

Participants in the study must be healthy adults between 18 and 60 years old. The study requires participants to visit the research clinic several times over a four-week period. Monetary compensation is also available for those who participate.

This research is supported by the Defense Health Program under Award No. W81XWH-15-1-0704. For more information or to volunteer for the study, contact Kerri Harrison at 662-915-2103.

Alan McKay Named UM Pharmacy Alumnus of the Year

Honoree is dean emeritus of Shenandoah University School of Pharmacy

Dean David D. Allen (left) presents Alan McKay with the UM School of Pharmacy’s 2017 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award at the Alumni Weekend banquet. UM photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – Alan McKay, founding dean emeritus of the Shenandoah University Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy, has been named the 2017 University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy Distinguished Alumnus of the Year.

McKay accepted the award April 8 at the annual School of Pharmacy Alumni Weekend banquet.

McKay completed his master’s and Ph.D. in health care administration, now called pharmacy administration, at UM in 1980 under the guidance of Mickey Smith, then chair of the Department of Health Care Administration.

“Everybody at Ole Miss was like family and it took away the fear,” McKay said. “Mississippi has a way of accepting people and letting them feel comfortable with who they are.”

After completing his master’s degree, McKay, feeling overwhelmed with school, work and family, decided to tell Smith that he wouldn’t be pursuing his Ph.D.

“And Mickey looked at me and he said, ‘McKay, I see smart people come and I see smart people go. The ones that make a difference are the ones who don’t give up,'” McKay recounted. “Everybody has to have somebody who believes in them.”

McKay received his bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from Mercer University in 1975. After receiving his doctorate from UM, he became an assistant professor at Mercer University College of Pharmacy. He joined the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in 1983 before moving to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences as chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice in 1990.

He began his penultimate position as founding dean of Shenandoah’s School of Pharmacy in 1995 and retired in August 2016.

“Starting a new school of pharmacy 22 years ago was a big challenge,” McKay said. “You can’t just tell people what you want done and what you think is important. Sometimes you have to demonstrate.”

Since retiring, he has continued to use his experience as the director of Shenandoah University’s Design Innovation Center and as a member of a task force charged with creating a new medical school in northern Virginia.

During the planning of the medical school, McKay wrote a curriculum proposal that focused on team-based education, known as a fusion curriculum. As part of his proposal, students from all health care disciplines would take a three-week break from their specialized curricula every semester and work together to solve health care problems using information technology and genomics, a practice called precision medicine.

“We are trying to intentionally incorporate into the next generation of health professionals an understanding and appreciation of two things: one, that technology is changing under your feet, and two, you’re not going to solve all the problems yourself,” McKay said.

Besides his visionary approach to health care education, McKay’s colleagues know him as a caring educator who is deeply interested in the well-being of his students. John Bentley, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Administration at UM, referred to McKay’s “transformative effect” on others.

“Part of it is role modeling,” Bentley said. “We see in Alan someone who has strong values, has a vision for where he wants to go and can see things beyond where a lot of people can see; but it’s also just taking an interest in people.

“Alan sees qualities in people and is able to help develop them.”

The winner of this award is chosen based on character, leadership and contributions to the pharmacy profession, said David D. Allen, dean of the UM School of Pharmacy.

“Alan McKay is one of the most insightful and forward-thinking pharmacy educators I’ve met, and an exceptional representative of the School of Pharmacy,” Allen said. “I’m very pleased we can honor him in this way.”