‘This Book is Not About Dragons’ Wins 2017 CELI Read Aloud Book Award

Teachers help choose winner of UM children's book award

CELI Literacy Specialist Angie Caldwell reads ‘This Book is Not About Dragons’ to children at Willie Price Lab School. Photo by Andrew Abernathy

OXFORD, Miss. – Spoiler Alert: “This Book is Not About Dragons,” by Shelly Moore Thomas, is actually jam-packed with fire-breathing monsters. It’s also the 2017 winner of the University of Mississippi’s CELI Read Aloud Book Award.

Presented annually by the Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction at the UM School of Education, the annual award honors books designed for children ages 3 to 10. Established in 2010, this is the seventh time the award has been given by CELI, a center that provides curriculum support and training for Mississippi reading teachers.

“‘This Book Is Not About Dragons’ is an excellent book to read aloud to children,” said Angie Caldwell, CELI literacy specialist who oversees the award process. “This book piques children’s curiosity and creates an engaging reading experience.

“Teachers reported that the children bounced with anticipation, chanted phrases and echoed actions in the book while reading the book aloud. Teachers also stated that the children asked for the book to be read again and again.”

This year’s winner was selected from several titles, which were distributed to teachers at multiple north Mississippi schools, including UM’s Willie Price Lab School. Schools that field-tested the book were awarded free copies of the book.

“My class loved this book,” said Willie Price teacher Chelsea Walters. “They begged me to read it again and again and they talked about it all through lunch.”

The plot of the book follows a mischievous mouse narrator who leads the reader on a tour of a countryside that has obviously been ravaged by a fire-breathing dragon. The book is designed to ignite the interest of young students who can start to pick apart the narrator’s false claims that, amid all of the fire and smoke and destruction, there are actually no dragons hiding the background.

“As a teacher, I find enjoyment in observing my students actively engaged in the read-aloud process,” said Candace Gooch, a teacher at Bramlett Elementary School in Oxford. “While reading ‘This Book is Not About Dragons,’ my students were predicting, inferring and simply enjoying the text. They were excited and asked to have the story reread multiple times.”

The CELI Read Aloud Book Award program is partially supported from a grant from the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation. The goal is to promote reading aloud to young children as a way to teach literacy, reinforce a love of reading and help children understand the deeper meaning behind books. Winning books receive the right to be published with CELI’s Read Aloud award seal on the cover.

Participating teachers were asked to evaluate how well the texts stretch children’s imaginations, capture interest and utilize a rich vocabulary. A committee of UM faculty, staff and literacy teachers considered the results to select the winner.

“This Book is Not About Dragons,” illustrated by Fred Koehler, was published by Boyds Mill Press.

UM Engineering Science Ph.D. Continues Research at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab

Mamun Miah studying earthquake hazard simulations, risk assessments

Mamun Miah, a UM chemical engineering graduate, is a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Submitted photo

From the suburbs of his native Dhaka, Bangladesh, to the Energy Geosciences Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, Mamun Miah has been on an incredible journey. And the faculty, courses and programs of the University of Mississippi School of Engineering have played an important role in his career path.

“During my undergraduate study, I felt the need to further my technical as well as communicative skills, which made me think of coming to the USA,” Miah said. “Following that dream, I applied and got accepted into the civil engineering programs at several U.S. universities. Ole Miss has a good engineering program and offered me financial assistance, which helped me decide to attend Ole Miss eventually.”

After earning his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 2009, Miah entered UM.

“Ole Miss is a great school, not only for its academic curriculum but also for its sincere engagement in students’ overall well-being,” he said. “Some courses that shaped my career include Finite Element Analysis for Structures provided by Dr. Christopher Mullen, Continuum Mechanics by Dr. Ahmed Al-Ostaz, Shear Strength of Soil by Dr. Chung Song, Groundwater Modeling by Dr. Robert Holt and Engineering Analysis by Dr. Wei-Yen Chen. Ole Miss Engineering also has some career fair and diversity inclusion programs, which helped me further my career by building connections and communications beyond the school.”

Miah’s former UM engineering professors have fond memories of him.

“A hardworking student, Mamun showed great interest to learn new technologies and accept challenging research topics,” said Waheed Uddin, a professor of civil engineering who directed Miah’s thesis. “His M.S. thesis research involved traditional two-dimensional and innovative three-dimensional geospatial analysis for floodplain mapping and aviation infrastructure visualization. I am glad that he successfully pursued and completed his doctoral degree.”

“In academic and technical matters, he transitioned almost seamlessly from a transportation-oriented master thesis to a structural engineering-related research project to a geophysics-based dissertation,” said Christopher Mullen, professor of civil engineering and Miah’s dissertation director. “Mamun has demonstrated both self-motivation and talent in applying programming-based computer modeling to numerical simulations of some very complex problems in engineering science. It has been a pleasure to see him develop from a graduate student unsure of his direction in life to a highly skilled, self-assured postdoctoral researcher at one of the world’s most respected government research laboratories.”

Yacoub “Jacob” Najjar, chair and professor of civil engineering, said Miah was an outstanding graduate student during his time at Ole Miss.

“Besides working on his research, he was also nicely engaged in teaching and helping CE faculty in a number of courses,” he said. “Above all, Mamun is one of those exceptional doctoral students who was able to choose his Ph.D. research topic and get it funded by an external sponsor. We are very proud of him and his achievements. I wish him the best in all of his future endeavors.”

It was at a UM career fair where Miah connected with the Berkeley Lab.

“I attended a National Lab day in 2012, which was held at The Inn at Ole Miss,” Miah said. “By talking and engaging in discussions with the scientists from across the nation, I eventually availed an internship at the prestigious Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2013. After a successful internship, I wrote a grant proposal to LBNL for my Ph.D. thesis, which they approved.”

At Berkeley, Miah found a very sound research resource on his thesis topic. He also kept attending science and engineering seminars provided by some of the world’s most renowned scientists and professors.

“I think this internship opportunity had a tremendous effect on my career success,” he said.

Miah received his master’s in engineering science in 2010 and Ph.D. in the same field in 2016, both from Ole Miss. He then became a postdoctoral fellow at the Energy Geosciences Division at LBNL.

“I am working on exascale-level computing for regional-scale earthquake hazard simulations and risk assessments in the San Francisco Bay Area,” he said. “I am also working on earthquake soil-structure interaction for safety of nuclear power plants managed by (the) U.S. Department of Energy.”

Miah said he also appreciated the instruction he received at Bangladesh University.

“Almost all the faculty members have a very solid understanding as well as teaching capability for the comprehensive civil engineering program,” he said. “Their teaching style along with relevant learning materials and homework problems made the courses really interesting to learn and apply for the practical engineering purpose. I owe them a lot for my today’s career.”

For more about Mamun Miah and his work at LBNL, visit

https://eesa.lbl.gov/meet-postdoc-mamun-miah/

By Edwin Smith

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Inoka Widanagamage Joins Geological Engineering

Newest assistant professor brings teaching excellence, research expertise to department

Inoka Widanagamage conducting geological research in the Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago. Submitted photo

Inoka Widanagamage has been fascinated by geology as long as she can remember and wanted to share her fascination with others interested in the subject. As the newest faculty member in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, she is fulfilling her passion by teaching class and conducting research.

“I found this position through the higher education website,” Widanagamage said. “Because of my interest of teaching geology, I thought that this position is a good fit for my interest and expertise. So I decided to apply.”

Widanagamage’s educational background extends from pure geology (e.g., Precambrian geology, structural geology, mineralogy, petrology, high-temperature geochemistry) to applied geology (e.g., environmental geochemistry, low-temperature geochemistry). She has the ability to teach courses in a wide spectrum.

“I teach Earth Dynamics, Environmental Geology, Economic Geology, Geology and Geological Engineering seminar, Physical Geology, Historical Geology and co-teach Mineralogy and Petrology,” she said. “During the summer, I also teach a geological field camp in Ada, Oklahoma. I enjoy sharing my teaching and research experiences with students in a classroom setting to develop their theoretical and practical knowledge.”

Her research interests are stable isotope geochemistry, environmental mineralogy, structural geology and tectonics.

“I mainly focus on the trace metal (stable isotope) distribution in biogeochemical cycles,” Widanagamage said. “I approach my research goals via three major components: studying the natural environment, designing and performing laboratory experiments, and modeling.”

Widanagamage said her short-term plan is to establish a strong teaching profile by teaching a variety of geology courses according to the departmental requirements. Her long-term plan is to develop new upper-level courses related to her research background.

“Also as a long-term plan, I expect to work with senior undergraduate geology students to continue my research projects that I initiated during my tenure as a postdoctoral associate in Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey,” she said. “I am also working on [a] few external grant proposals, seeking potential collaborations within, as well as outside, of our department.”

Widanagamage is a welcome addition to the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, said Gregg Davidson, chair and professor.

“She has infectious enthusiasm for teaching, both in the classroom and getting students out into the field,” he said. “We are excited that her position will be reclassified in 2018 as an instructional assistant professor. This will allow us to take greater advantage of her research expertise in isotopes and geochemistry, expanding her impact with Honors College classes, assisting with undergraduate research and teaching graduate-level classes.”

Widanagamage received both the Best Teaching Assistant Award and the Outstanding Ph.D. Student Award in the Department of Geology at Kent State University in 2014. She was also nominated for a University Fellowship Award there the previous year and completed an e-Learning training course with honors at UM.

“These are among my most gratifying professional achievements thus far,” Widanagamage said.

She is married to Waruna Weerasinghe, a mechanical engineering student at the university. The couple has one son, Senidu Weerasinghe. Widanagamage said she enjoys spending time with her family and, of course, exploring the geology of the earth.

By Edwin Smith

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Joe Cerny Enters New Chapter in Life

Successful chemical engineering alumnus retires after a half-century in nuclear science

Joseph ‘Joe’ Cerny, a 1957 UM chemical engineering alumnus, recently retired after a prestigious half-century career at the University of California at Berkeley and Berkeley Lab. Submitted photo

After more than half a century of research and leadership at Berkeley Lab and the University of California at Berkeley, University of Mississippi chemical engineering alumnus Joseph Cerny (ChE 57) has retired.

The former head of the Nuclear Science Division and associate laboratory director at Berkeley Lab, professor of chemistry and former chemistry department chair, graduate division dean, provost and vice chancellor for research, Cerny left with another singular honor to add to a long list: the Berkeley Citation, awarded to those “whose attainments significantly exceed the standards of excellence in their fields” and whose contributions are “above and beyond the call of duty.”

Cerny reflected upon how he came to Ole Miss.

“Even though my parents were from Illinois and Kansas, my father was offered a faculty position in the Ole Miss business school,” Cerny said. “He accepted the job and we moved to Oxford in 1946, where I entered the sixth grade.”

As he finished high school, Cerny decided that he wanted to become a chemical engineer. That decision is what prompted him to enter the university’s School of Engineering.

“I had many classes with Frank Anderson, who was a great teacher,” Cerny said. “Other professors I remember as extremely demanding were C.N. Jones and Samuel Clark.”

Born at the height of the Great Depression, Cerny got his bachelor’s degree from UM with support from the ROTC program. During 1957-58, he attended the University of Manchester in England on a Fulbright Scholarship.

Cerny earned his doctorate in nuclear chemistry from UC Berkeley in 1961 and immediately started work as an assistant professor at the university, simultaneously joining the Nuclear Science Division (then the Nuclear Chemistry Division) at Berkeley Lab (then the Radiation Laboratory, or Rad Lab).

Shortly after the East German government began building the Berlin Wall, Cerny was on active duty as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army. For most of the next 16 months, he was in New Jersey evaluating techniques for studying explosive detonations.

Once back at Berkeley, Cerny wasted no time catching up with nuclear science.

“Russian theorists had suggested some interesting ideas about experiments that could be done to study light nuclei very far from stability,” Cerny said. These were isotopes of elements like carbon whose nuclei had more protons than neutrons; most carbon is stable carbon-12, with six protons and six neutrons.

“For example, we wanted to know the lightest carbon nucleus that could hold together on the order of a hundred milliseconds.”

Cerny had a stellar new instrument to work with. His graduate work had been done with Ernest Lawrence’s 60-inch cyclotron, still operating on campus, but upon his return from the Army in 1963, the Rad Lab’s 88-Inch Cyclotron was up and running. It would be pivotal in Cerny’s research throughout his career.

Using state-of-the-art detectors and electronics developed by Fred Goulding and Don Landis at the lab, Cerny found the answer to the carbon stability question – carbon-9, with six protons and three neutrons, has a half-life of 126 thousandths of a second, whereas the lighter carbon-8 lasts only about 100 septillionths of a second – “a huge dividing line,” he said.

Cerny continued experiments on very proton-rich nuclei while on sabbatical at Oxford University in 1969-70, using a heavy-ion cyclotron at the Harwell Laboratory. He completed these studies at the 88-Inch. The result was the discovery of a new radioactive decay mode, direct proton radioactivity – the first mode of single-step radioactive transmutation to be discovered since alpha decay, beta decay and spontaneous fission.

Cerny received the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Memorial Award of the Atomic Energy Commission (predecessor of the U.S. Department of Energy) in 1974, for his “discovery of proton emission as a mode of radioactive decay, for investigation of the limits of nuclear stability of a number of light elements” – and, significantly – “for ingenious instruments that made these discoveries possible.”

In 1975, Cerny became chair of the UC Berkeley Department of Chemistry. One of his major acts was a first for the department: the appointment of a woman, Judith P. Klinman, as a tenured associate professor of bioorganic and biophysical chemistry. In 1979, Cerny was appointed head of the Nuclear Science Division and an associate lab director at Berkeley Lab, a time when the lab was operating three national accelerator facilities: the 88-Inch Cyclotron, SuperHilac and Bevalac, with a distinct taste for heavy-ion physics.

Cerny and his group continued research on radioactive decay modes, adding another first: beta-delayed two-proton emission, which had been predicted by Russian theorist V. Gol’danskii. Among other honors, Cerny received the American Chemical Society’s Award in Nuclear Chemistry for work leading to the discovery of “two new modes of radioactive decay: proton emission and beta-delayed two-proton emission.”

In 1985, Cerny was appointed dean of UC Berkeley’s Graduate Division, serving in that post until 2000. From 1986 to 1994, he also was provost for research, and from 1994 to 2000 was the university’s vice chancellor for research. And in 1990, Cerny additionally became a nuclear physicist, when the University of Jyväskylä in Finland awarded him an honorary doctorate in physics.

At a festschrift on his 60th birthday in 1996, Cerny presented a proposal for equipping the 88-Inch Cyclotron to handle radioactive beams of light ions. Radioactive isotopes of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen would be made by the cyclotron of the Berkeley Isotope Facility in Building 56, part of the imaging facilities of the Life Sciences Division. The radioactive ions would be transported 350 feet through a capillary down the steep slope of Blackberry Canyon to the 88-Inch.

Dubbed BEARS, for Berkeley Experiments with Accelerated Radioactive Species, the transport system was in operation just three years later, enabling the 88-Inch Cyclotron to produce a world record beam of radioactive carbon-11. That isotope’s 20-minute half-life was easily long enough, once it was created, to mix it with oxygen to make carbon dioxide and send the gas through the pipeline to the 88-Inch, where it was trapped and fed into an ion source at the cyclotron.

Cerny’s research, teaching and service work for DOE, NSF and the UC system are continuing from his base in Berkeley, where he and his family are longtime residents. It’s not unlikely that Cerny will be seen around the 88-Inch, a mainstay of his work since his Berkeley beginnings, for many days to come.

Cerny was married to the late Susan Cerny. He is the father of two sons: Keith, who is the general director of the Dallas (Texas) Opera Company, and Mark, a senior video game consultant with Sony Entertainment.

Cerny’s favorite leisure activities include hiking and worldwide travel.

Alumnus Establishes Scholarship Fund for Mechanical Engineering

Mike Nash creates endowment to memorialize former department chair James R. MacDonald

Mechanical engineering alumnus Mike Nash of Maryland made the initial donation to establish the James R. MacDonald Scholarship Fund. Submitted photo

As an undergraduate mechanical engineering student at the University of Mississippi, Jonathon M. “Mike” Nash greatly admired and appreciated James R. MacDonald, then chair and professor of the department.

Recently, Nash established the Dr. James R. MacDonald Scholarship Fund at his alma mater as a lasting tribute to his mentor and lifelong friend.

“Much of the valuable guidance I received was based on his industrial experience,” said Nash, who lives in Frederick, Maryland. “Dr. MacDonald would often emphasize that real-world engineering challenges were rarely solved by one person.

“At the end of the day, your professional knowledge and contributions would only be as effective as your ability to coordinate with others.”

Recipients will be full-time students majoring in mechanical engineering as selected by the School of Engineering Scholarship Committee.

“I express my great appreciation to Dr. Nash for setting up this scholarship to commemorate one of the school’s legendary professors and former mechanical engineering department chair, Dr. James MacDonald,” said Alex Cheng, UM engineering dean. “The scholarship will assists students to meet their financial need and to fulfill their education goals.”

Nash earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and his master’s and doctoral degrees in engineering science from Ole Miss. With more than 40 years’ experience in the aerospace industry, he manages an independent consulting company that provides aviation market analysis and strategic business support for international clients.

Administrators in the Department of Mechanical Engineering expressed appreciation for Nash’s benevolence in honor of MacDonald.

“Dr. MacDonald was instrumental for setting up all undergraduate laboratories initially,” said Arunachalam Rajendran, chair and professor. “It is nostalgic to realize how the efforts initiated by Dr. MacDonald as chair during 1957-1967 have today enabled the ME department to become the largest department in terms of undergraduate enrollment within the School of Engineering.

“I am indeed excited about the scholarship opportunity for full-time students majoring in mechanical engineering through the Dr. James R. MacDonald Scholarship Endowment.”

Nash began his professional career with IBM in the late 1960s as an engineer scientist at the company’s federal systems division in Huntsville, Alabama.

Commissioned through the Ole Miss Army ROTC program, he served on active duty in 1968-70 as a combat engineering officer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Upon returning from Vietnam in 1970, Nash continued graduate studies leading to his doctorate.

He rejoined IBM in 1973, holding technical and management positions supporting NASA, U.S. Army and Department of Energy programs. Nash’s later responsibilities included serving as strategic planning manager for IBM’s Gaithersburg, Maryland, facility and program manager for the Federal Aviation Administration and International Air Traffic Management programs. He continued in the latter position during the sale of IBM’s Federal Systems Division to the Loral Corp., and the subsequent acquisition of Loral by Lockheed Martin.

Following his retirement from Lockheed Martin in 2004, Nash served for a year as assistant dean for corporate relations in the School of Engineering before establishing his consulting company. A member of the engineering school’s advisory board, he was honored as UM’s Engineer of Distinction in 1996.

MacDonald received his bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University in 1927 and his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1936. He worked as a research engineer with Hotpoint Inc., as a process engineer with Boeing Aircraft Co., and as a materials and process engineer with North American Aviation Co. His academic career began as an assistant professor of chemical engineering at West Virginia University and later at the University of Denver.

MacDonald joined the Ole Miss faculty in 1953 as an associate professor of chemical and mechanical engineering. Three year later, he was named professor of mechanical engineering and chair of the mechanical engineering department.

MacDonald was believed to be the state’s first metallurgist. While a member of the Ole Miss faculty, he held summer positions at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, U.S. Naval Mine Defense Laboratory, U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory and the Redstone Arsenal.

He was co-author of “Metallurgy for Engineers” (1957).

MacDonald’s professional memberships included the American Society of Metals, American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society for Engineering Education. Before his retirement in 1969, he was also elected to Sigma Xi scientific research honorary. MacDonald died in 1988.

Chemical Engineering Graduates Admitted to Medical, Dental Schools

Cary Roy and David Langford headed to UMMC and Columbia University, respectively

Cary Roy has been accepted into the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Submitted photo

As the spring semester ended, many University of Mississippi engineering students began working at various companies throughout the country. Others anticipated pursuing graduate school. And some students, including Cary Roy and David Langford, have chosen to take their problem-solving skills into the field of medicine.

Roy, of Moss Point, and Langford, of Atlanta, have been accepted into medical school and dental school, respectively. Both completed their chemical engineering degrees in May.

Increasingly, engineering students are seeking careers in medicine as the medical field becomes increasingly driven by technology. The addition of a biomedical engineering degree at Ole Miss likely will continue the trend of students seeking engineering degrees as a pathway to medical careers.

“I would have considered pursuing the newly created biomedical engineering degree if it had been available when I chose to enroll here from the Mississippi School of Math and Science four years ago,” Roy said. “I believe that the new program will benefit future students considering careers in medicine.”

But the pre-medicine track offered through chemical engineering worked best for Langford, who was admitted to Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine. He plans to pursue a doctorate in dental surgery.

His interest in following a path to medical school was a result of his interest in both chemistry and mathematics. Chemical engineering allowed Langford to study both concepts.

“Being raised with parents and grandparents who worked in health care, I wanted a degree that would allow me to explore all of my interests,” he said. “I found an intriguing parallel between the fields of dentistry and engineering during my undergraduate studies.”

Roy was admitted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. He, too, felt that a chemical engineering degree seemed like the perfect combination of challenge and interest.

Roy developed an interest in attending medical school to find a career path that allowed him to help others.

David Langford has been accepted into the Doctor of Dental Surgery program at Columbia University. Submitted photo

“My engineering background greatly benefits me as I prepare to attend medical school in the fall,” he said. “It has given me a unique set of skills that are flexible and useful in a variety of areas, including medicine.”

Both Langford and Roy are graduates of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and completed research towards a senior thesis.

Langford’s thesis focused on “Development of Standard Operating Procedure: Admicellar Polymerization of Polystyrene Thin Film (AIBN) on Polysciences 30-50µm Glass Beads Using Cetyltrimethyl-Ammonium Bromide Surfactant.” He worked with Adam Smith, assistant professor of chemical engineering, and John O’Haver, professor and chair of chemical engineering, to complete his project.

Roy worked with Wei-Yei Chen, professor of chemical engineering, to conduct his research on “The Effects of Ultrasonic and Photochemical Pretreatment on Heating Value and Carbon Capturing Ability of Fast Pyrolysis-Derived Biochars.”

Besides Roy’s work on an Honors thesis, he completed a clinical shadowing program at UMMC that allowed him to observe and shadow physicians working in the anesthesiology and family medicine departments. For Roy, this experience was important in his commitment to the medical field.

“This up-close-and-personal experience with medicine strengthened my desire to attend medical school as it showed me how doctors practice their craft and use their skills to help those in need,” he said. “I also believe that the experience proved to be valuable on my medical school applications.”

Similarly, Langford believes that two summer internships with the U.S. Olympic Committee enhanced his applications for dental school. During his internship in Colorado, he worked with USOC physicians, clinicians, physical therapists and other staff in a variety of medical treatments that the Olympic and Paralympic athletes required.

Outside the classroom, both Roy and Langford were involved in a variety of activities. Langford was a member of Delta Psi fraternity, Engineering Ambassadors and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He also was selected for membership in Omicron Delta Kappa society, Tau Beta Pi and Phi Kappa Phi.

Roy was a member of Tau Beta Pi, AIChE and Engineering Ambassadors. He also served on the Engineering Student Body Leadership Council and was an officer in the American Medical Student Association.

In the future, Roy hopes to work in a public hospital in Mississippi and open a free clinic to provide basic medical services to underprivileged and underserved people. Langford’s plans include postdoctoral residencies in orthodontics, maxillofacial surgery or general dentistry.

School of Education Honors Practitioners of Distinction

Award recognizes young and mid-career education alumni

The charter class of the School of Education’s Practitioner of Distinction Awards is (from left) Jay Levy, Shelly Clifford, Jessica Ivy and Wanikka Vance. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Education has honored four outstanding alumni as part of its new Practitioner of Distinction Awards.

The school created the award to recognize mid-career educators who demonstrate exemplary work in their field. The 2017 honorees are: Shelley Clifford of Atlanta, Jessica Ivy of Starkville, Jay Levy of Canton and Wanikka Vance of Chicago.

The awards are a counterpart to the School of Education’s Hall of Fame, which honors alumni who have at least 25 years of service in education. The honorees were recognized May 12 at the school’s Hall of Fame ceremony at The Inn at Ole Miss.

Clifford received her bachelor’s degree from Ole Miss in 2003 and was named Graduate Student of the Year in 2004 when she earned her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction. She has served as the head of the lower school at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School for six years in Atlanta.

She previously served as a third-, fifth- and sixth-grade teacher for seven years in Memphis, Tennessee, and Charleston, South Carolina.

“It’s really humbling to be celebrated like this,” Clifford said. “I hope that this will be an opportunity to reconnect with Ole Miss. I would love to come back and spend time with education students.”

Ivy earned three degrees from UM, including a doctorate in math education in 2011. She is an assistant professor of secondary education at Mississippi State University, where she also works with the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program.

“Receiving this award sends a message that people are starting to recognize the importance of teachers,” Ivy said. “I’m very honored to have received it and been a small part of the mission to support our educators.”

Levy graduated from the UM in 2011 with bachelor’s degree in English education. During his junior year, Levy was in a car accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, but he did not allow that to prevent him from pursuing his passion of teaching.

During Levy’s first year of teaching at Pisgah High School, not only did his English students earn the highest pass rate in Mississippi on the state subject area test, but he was also selected as teacher of the year.

“I began wondering if the students would still respond to me the same way since I am in a wheelchair,” Levy said. “I think they respected me more after I told them my story and I was open with them and let them ask questions.

“That’s how I always start class on the first day of school, and I always tell them to wear their seatbelt. It gives me a teachable moment to let them know that life is hard, but it’s possible to move on.”

Vance, who received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UM in 2003, has served as a Chicago elementary school teacher for 10 years. In 2011, she founded a school for pre-K to first-graders called Foundations 4 adVANCEment, which focuses on preparing young learners academically and socially to become college- and career-minded from their earliest stages of growth and development.

“This award is a great honor,” Vance said. “Most of the time when you leave your alma mater, you’re just gone. To know that they have actually been following me professionally is a big surprise to me, but also a great honor to be able to realize that the work I am doing is not in vain.”

UM Doctoral Student Attends NEH Institute in Washington, D.C.

Justin Rogers is studying Presbyterian missions to Native Americans in Mid-South

Justin Isaac Rogers, a doctoral student in history, is attending a National Endowment for the Humanities summer institute at the U.S. Library of Congress. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A doctoral student in history at the University of Mississippi is among two graduate students nationally studying at a prestigious institute this summer in Washington, D.C.

Justin I. Rogers of Hurdle Mills, North Carolina, is exploring how Presbyterian missionaries influenced Native Americans in the Mid-South. He is attending “On Native Grounds: Studies of Native American Histories and the Land,” a three-week institute funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and co-sponsored by the Community College Humanities Association and the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress.

Twenty-two faculty, including the two graduate students, from across the nation and from diverse humanities disciplines are working to enhance their teaching and research through the residency at the Library of Congress.

“I felt honored to be selected as one of two graduate students from across the nation and across humanities disciplines for this institute, and I was eager to take full advantage of the opportunities it presented to me,” Rogers said.

“The most personally and professionally rewarding aspect of the summer institute has been daily seminars in the historic Library of Congress spent discussing Native American history and studies scholarship with peers and visiting faculty from across the humanities and social sciences.”

Ten visiting scholars in the field of Native American ethnohistory are sharing their groundbreaking research concerning Native American issues of land, sovereignty, culture and identity. Summer fellows have access to all collections.

Rogers’ research analyzes Presbyterian missions to Chickasaw Indians in north Mississippi, southwestern Tennessee and northwestern Alabama. He also examines how elite Chickasaws and Euro-Americans helped encode racial distinctions into court precedent and Mississippi law that reinforced associations of blackness with enslavement and whiteness with property holding during the 1820s and 1830s.

“Through the seminar discussions, I have been reminded about the importance of studying Native Americans, African-Americans, white Americans and race in the South, which I plan to do in my dissertation,” he said.

The institute’s emphasis on in-person access to resources allows Rogers to augment his existing source base with first editions of travelers’ accounts, church records and mission reports, as well as artifacts and manuscripts that pertain to the Chickasaw people in 19th-century Mississippi. Rogers said his seminar experience will both advance his scholarship and improve his classroom teaching.

Rogers, who earned his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from North Carolina State University, said that the courses he has taught at Ole Miss, as well as those he has developed for the future, focus on indigenous people’s experiences and perspectives and how they transform wider narratives of United States history.

One new course Rogers has developed will contextualize the historical experiences of Native Americans alongside changing notions of race, nation, culture and religion.

“I tend to emphasize the local histories of the Native American groups who inhabited and once inhabited Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee,” he said. “The institute’s kaleidoscopic regional range, however, will allow me to more fully incorporate issues of land, sovereignty, culture and identity in the Great Lakes, the Southwest and the Pacific Northwest.”

UM administrators and faculty said Rogers’ selection for the summer institute is well-deserved.

“A ferocious work ethic combined with a fantastic topic and elegant writing paved the way for Justin’s success in applying for prestigious research fellowships at the national level,” said Elizabeth Payne, UM professor of history. “In addition, he organized a panel session at the Southern Historical Association and presented a paper at the Society for Historians of Early American History about his research.

“Because of his work with these organizations, historians across the country know about and appreciate his work on north Mississippi as a tri-racial society.”

For more information about UM’s Arch Dalrymple III Department of History, visit http://history.olemiss.edu/. For more information about the NEH Summer Seminar Program, go to http://nativegrounds2017.com/.

University Community Mourns Paul Tobin Maginnis

Retired professor, chair helped build Department of Computer and Information Science

P. Tobin Maginnis

OXFORD, Miss. – Paul Tobin Maginnis, a professor emeritus who served as interim chair and helped build the Department of Computer and Information Science at the University of Mississippi, died June 14 at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford. He was 70.

A private graveside service was held June 16 at Oxford Memorial Cemetery.

Former colleagues and students reflected upon their relationships with Maginnis.

“Tobin will be missed by all of us, including the thousands of students he taught during his 36 years as an Ole Miss faculty member,” said Conrad Cunningham, former chair and professor of computer and information science and longtime friend of Maginnis. “Tobin’s dedication to the students and to computer science education and research – and his pro-student attitude – helped attract me to the faculty.”

Harley Garrett Jr. of Oxford, a retired Air Force officer with a second career in industry and a third with Global Technical Systems, recalled meeting Maginnis through work between 2003 and 2004. Though Garrett was 65 at the time, he credited Maginnis with having taught him “a lot – about a lot.”

“I have been blessed with three careers and have known many people in my life,” he said. “Out of that population, there are a few whose personality, professionalism and enjoyment of helping others can match Tobin’s.

“We shared moments of discussion on a myriad of topics, even though our professional focus was on the application of computer science in the hands of skilled students.”

Garrett said Maginnis’ love of life, passion for understanding things he was interested in, and kindness and generosity toward others are what he remembers most.

“He was also a gifted teacher whose gift transcended all of his endeavors, not just computer science,” he said.

Yi Liu, another former student of Maginnis’ and associate professor of computer science at South Dakota State University, remembered him as “a nice person.”

“I took two classes from him and he was my mentor in teaching the computer organization class,” she said. “I learned from him and I respected him.

“The last time I saw him was at the ACMSE conference at Ole Miss back in 2010. He gave me a hug. I wish I had spent more time talking to him.”

Bill Taylor, vice president of information technology at FNB Oxford, credited Maginnis with jump-starting his professional career.

“During my first meeting with him, he encouraged me to ask Dr. Cook for a job in the CS department,” Taylor said. “He said, ‘We have never hired a freshman before, but I think you are going to be the first.’ He was right.

“Then, right before Christmas break, he told me that when I came back in January, he wanted to talk to me about an opportunity to help get the first Linux certification program going. My professional career started when Dr. Maginnis recommended me for a local IT position.”

Born in Baltimore to the late Paul Tobin “PT” Maginnis and Emily Maginnis Robishaw, Maginnis began working at the university in 1979. He created and taught an extensive array of undergraduate and graduate courses on operating systems, networks and computer architecture. His hard work, long hours and innovative ideas helped shape the identity of computer science education at Ole Miss.

“He taught, advised and supervised many graduate and undergraduate students,” Cunningham said. “The students recognized and appreciated the passion that he brought to his position.”

Maginnis believed in academic integrity and would go to great lengths to preserve it, said Pam Lawhead, professor emeritus of computer and information science.

“He was fair to a flaw but would not stand for or support any breach of academic integrity,” Lawhead said. “His ability to create assignments that absolutely taught the student the concept in question were unparalleled in our department.

“His respect for the individuality of the many and different employees and students created an interesting environment in which to work.”

Maginnis’ roles evolved over the years, said Jimmy Palmer, information technology coordinator at UM’s Haley Barbour Center for Manufacturing Excellence.

“Early on, I thought of him as a mentor and teacher,” Palmer said. “A little later, I thought of him as an employer and leader. In more recent years, I thought of him as a colleague and friend.”

Palmer said Maginnis saw something in him that he did not see in himself.

“He trusted me and gave me responsibilities that made me grow as a person and an engineer,” Palmer said. “He asked me to work for him and gave me my first real job in my IT career. I will always be grateful for my relationship with Tobin.”

Maginnis took on the additional responsibility to maintain and support the department’s computer systems for many years. He and his students installed the department’s first network and connected it to the fledgling campus and national networks.

He advocated the use and development of open-source software, computer software that is freely available for anyone to use and modify without the proprietary restrictions imposed by companies. Maginnis used open-source operating systems such as MINIX, Free BSD and Linux in his teaching and research.

Sair Technologies, the company he founded in the 1990s, was at the forefront of open-source technology training and accreditation.

His interest in the “systems” aspect of computing continued until his retirement in 2015, but he adapted to the changing technologies and needs of Ole Miss students.

In the 1990s, Maginnis taught computer graphics and developed interactive “electronic brochures” using the personal computing technologies of that era. In recent years, he expanded his teaching to include web development, microcontroller programming and 3-D printing.

“The building of our 3-D printer lab in 2013 illustrates Tobin’s approach to being a faculty member,” Cunningham said. “He wanted to introduce 3-D printing into one of his courses. As chair at the time, I authorized department funds for that purpose.

“When the kit arrived, Tobin spent a couple of unpaid summer days assembling the kit. I still have the image of Tobin, with all the parts spread out across the conference room table, tools in hand, assembling the printer. I remember the pleasure he had at getting the first 3-D prints off the device. Students have made the resulting Digital Design and 3-D Printing course one of our more popular electives in recent years.”

A member of the Catholic Church in Menominee, Michigan, Maginnis was a sailing enthusiast and enjoyed riding motorcycles. An avid fan of all movies, he particularly loved action flicks and cartoons, and was a devotee of musical theater.

Besides Sair Technologies, he was the founder Gunsmanship Inc., owner of Tobix, an associate member at Wave Technologies and an associate staff member at Global Technology Systems. He also was a member of the Oxford Amateur Radio Club, National Rifle Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a certified home inspector.

Maginnis worked briefly at the university’s Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences before moving to the Department of Computer Science, where he was employed for 36 years.

Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by a daughter, Erin Elizabeth Dillon-Maginnis.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth Anneal Dillon of Oxford; daughters Lindsay Dillon-Maginnis of Oxford and Meredith Dillon-Maginnis of Augusta, Georgia; a son, Jordan Dillon-Maginnis of Oxford; sisters Michael Leonard of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Moira Dean of Milwaukee and Katie Winlinski of Green Bay, Wisconsin; and brothers Jack Maginnis of Washington, D.C., and Kevin Maginnis of Chicago.

Memorial designations in Maginnis’ memory can be made to the American Cancer Society, 1380 Livingston Lane, Jackson, MS 39213.

Annual Conference to Explore ‘Faulkner and Money’

July 23-27 event expected to draw hundreds from around the globe

William Faulkner’s typewriter, along with copies of a few of his best-selling novels and those of some of his African-American contemporaries, are on display at Rowan Oak. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – “Faulkner and Money: The Economies of Yoknapatawpha and Beyond” is the theme for the University of Mississippi’s 44th annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, set for July 23-27.

Five days of lectures, panels, tours, exhibits and other presentations will explore the multifaceted economies of Yoknapatawpha County, the Faulkner oeuvre and the literary profession. Besides three keynote lectures, the conference program will include panel presentations, guided daylong tours of north Mississippi and the Delta, and sessions on “Teaching Faulkner.”

“This year’s theme was actually suggested a decade or more ago by one of the legendary figures of Faulkner studies, the late Noel Polk, who often mentioned how fascinating, and entertaining, a conference would be on Faulkner and money,” said Jay Watson, Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies and professor of English who serves as director of the conference.

“More recently, the program committee had contemplated building a conference around the slightly wider theme of Faulkner and economics. So two years ago, we decided to combine both the specific subject of money and the more general topic of economics and came up with ‘Faulkner and Money: The Economies of Yoknapatawpha.'”

This year’s subject is rewarding for a number of reasons, Watson said.

“First of all, William Faulkner spent his first 25 years or more as a serious writer of fiction in almost constant financial difficulty,” he said. “He had trouble supporting his extended family off his writing alone, and he worried all the time about money.

“His own financial arrangements, both personal and professional, his relationship to the literary marketplace and his search for other sources of income available to established writers all have the potential to shed important light on the profession of authorship in 20th century America.”

Additionally, and for some of the same reasons, Faulkner’s fiction is especially rich in economic content: money problems, elaborate business arrangements, convoluted bets and wagers, get-rich-quick schemes and con games.

“His people – and sometimes individual characters – run the gamut from enormous wealth to miserable poverty,” Watson said. “Many are unduly preoccupied with money, much like their creator.

“There’s a lot to learn from Faulkner’s work about the economics of rural and small-town life, of the South and of modern America. We’ll be exploring all of these issues in July.”

This bronze statue of William Faulkner near City Hall is a popular attraction for Faulkner enthusiasts visiting Oxford. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications.

The conference will begin with a reception at the University Museum, after which the academic program of the conference will open with two keynote addresses, followed by a buffet supper on the grounds of Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak. Over the next four days, a busy schedule of lectures and panels also includes an afternoon cocktail reception, a picnic at Rowan Oak, the guided tours and a closing party on Thursday afternoon.

The “Teaching Faulkner” sessions will be led by James B. Carothers, of the University of Kansas; Terrell L. Tebbetts, Lyon College; Brian McDonald, Lancaster, Pennsylvania School District; Charles Peek, University of Nebraska at Kearney; and Theresa M. Towner, University of Texas at Dallas.

Throughout the conference, the university’s J.D. Williams Library will display Faulkner books, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia. The University Press of Mississippi will exhibit books of interest published by university presses throughout the country.

Faulkner collector Seth Berner is organizing a display of his collection, with books for sale. Berner also will give a brown bag lunch presentation on “Collecting Faulkner.”

Also, collaborators on the Digital Yoknapatawpha Project, a database and digital mapping project at the University of Virginia, will present updates on its progress at a special conference session.

The conference early registration fee, good through June, is $150 for students and $275 for other participants. After July 1, the fee is $175 for students and $300 for others.

To register or for more information, visit http://www.outreach.olemiss.edu/events/faulkner/.