Researcher Presents Blood Flow Restriction Research in Denmark

Applied Physiology Laboratory recognized internationally as contributor to emerging exercise therapy

UM doctoral students (from left) Sam Buckner, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Kevin Mattox, of Pittsburgh; and J. Grantmouser, of Norman, Oklahoma, demonstrate blood flow restriction technique used in the Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – Research being conducted at the University of Mississippi on blood flow restriction therapy is drawing international attention for its clinical and sports performance applications.

Under the leadership of Jeremy P. Loenneke, assistant professor of health, exercise science and recreation management, the Kevser Ermin Applied Physiology Laboratory is quickly gaining renown for breakthroughs in low-load alternatives to traditional resistance exercise.

This therapy helps rebuild muscle using less weight and less intensity by slightly inflating a pressure cuff that is attached to a person’s limbs for a few minutes to restrict blood flow.

“This allows a muscle to work harder than it normally would so a person can gain the same benefits of normal exercise without having to physically lift heavy weights,” Loenneke said.

“Typically when people exercise, they have to train pretty heavy to see any type of benefit. For most people that’s OK, but people who have had surgery or who are older may not have the ability to do that. Our current work focuses a lot of the methodology and the safety of applying blood flow restriction therapy, which is something many clinicians are wanting to know more about.”

Loenneke was in Denmark over the weekend, speaking at a symposium and leading a workshop on blood flow restriction therapy at the Danish Association of Physiotherapy Congress meeting in Odense. This is Loenneke’s second time to hold a workshop there on this subject.

The researcher first came across blood flow restriction when he was interning at the University of Illinois in 2007. He began completing his own work on the subject in 2008 while at Southeast Missouri State University and later while earning his doctorate at the University of Oklahoma.

When he first read of this therapy in literature, he was surprised by the broad application of its benefits.

“My first thought when I came across this literature as an undergraduate was that I must be reading this wrong,” Loenneke said.

While studying at Oklahoma, he was contacted by a physical therapist at the Center for the Intrepid, a rehabilitation center for wounded soldiers. Loenneke said he helped explain how to best apply blood flow restriction for rehabbing soldiers with blast trauma.

“The problem is that a lot of these injuries cannot be trained with normal exercise intensities,” Loenneke said. “Blood flow restriction is a potential utility that clinicians are using a lot in clinical trials or hospital settings.”

Jeremy P. Loenneke

At Ole Miss, Loenneke has six doctoral students working alongside him, as well as Takashi Abe, a visiting professor and longtime friend.

“We are lucky here at Ole Miss, because Dr. Abe has been studying blood flow therapy for a long time,” Loenneke said. “I first began reading his literature in 2007, and now he works with our group. We are one of the groups that is more known for blood flow restriction literature in the United States.”

At the Danish symposium, Loenneke focused on blood flow restriction exercise after surgery or disease. Clinicians are interested in focusing on immediate post-surgery recovery because there is a short window of time after surgery for a person to regain muscle strength, he said.

As an academic, Loenneke’s role at the meeting is to educate clinicians on how this therapy works within a laboratory setting so they can use their best judgments in considering the use of this therapy and making the proper adjustments to apply it to post-surgery patients.

To gather data at UM, Loenneke and his team study the effects of blood flow therapy on healthy people, ages 18-35, by applying the cuff and measuring what happens in different situations.

“Sometimes we study the effects of this therapy with no exercise at all, and sometimes we do it with exercise and training,” he said. “We get the data, write it up and publish it. Our work is primarily published within sports medicine-related journals.”

Blood flow restriction therapy benefits normal, healthy people in many ways, Loenneke said. While researching the methods, the team wanted to create a practical model using equipment that most lifters already have or could easily get, he said.

He has seen Ole Miss students using blood flow restriction therapy.

Blood flow restriction therapy works by slightly inflating a pressure cuff attached to a person’s limbs for a few minutes to restrict blood flow during exercise. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

“I’ve seen people doing it upstairs in the Turner Center,” Loenneke said. “I don’t think they know that a lot of the work put in creating those methods was actually done by people who are now here. It’s a really cool thing to see.”

Minsoo Kang, chair of the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, expressed his excitement for the lab’s research to be seen on an international stage.

“Dr. Loenneke and his research students have earned national attention for their work with blood flow restriction exercise over the past three years,” Kang said. “It is quite significant of him presenting at an international stage, which I believe will increase the visibility of our department, school and university.”

For more information about the UM Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, visit

UM Departments Help Quitman County Schools Host Career and Health Fair

Students and faculty provide health assessments for Marks community

Marta Dees (right), a food and nutrition services graduate student from Oxford, discusses several of the health posters on display with Quitman County High School students at a career and health fair hosted by the University of Mississippi and the Quitman County Career and Technical Center. Photo by Michaela Cooper

OXFORD, Miss. – Faculty and students from the University of Mississippi recently helped coordinate and host the Quitman County Career and Health Fair to educate Marks-area high school students and community members on career opportunities and healthy living.

The career and health fair stemmed from the university’s partnership with the Marks Project, a nonprofit, community-based outreach program launched in 2016 that focuses on improving the overall quality of life for citizens of this struggling Delta community – a project supported by numerous, interdisciplinary faculty delegates from Ole Miss.

Kegi Wells, Quitman County curriculum coordinator and member of the Marks Project, expressed a need for a career fair to help inspire high school students. With the imminent opening of a community fitness center, where UM volunteers will help conduct regular health assessments, the group decided to expand the career fair to include a health component.

“Our students, along with student volunteers from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, were trained at the University of Mississippi Medical Center to collect blood glucose samples and blood pressure readings, as well as calculate body-mass index,” said Georgianna Mann, assistant professor of nutrition and hospitality management.

“We want to get a baseline indication of what health looks like in Marks, so our students can know what to expect when they begin helping at the fitness center.”

Besides gathering data, this event was meant to help Quitman County students become aware of all the opportunities available to them and to help the Marks community become better connected to outside communities, Mann said.

Kymberle Gordon, of Canandaigua, New York, works with the Marks Project and is earning her doctorate in nutrition and hospitality management. She finds the community to be a welcoming place to conduct research and knows the importance of understanding its culture while researching.

“You can come into a community and assume that people think a certain way,” Gordon said. “But until you actually get feedback from the community members, you don’t really know what they think is important.”

At the event, Gordon gathered data to better understand the food environment and level of physical activity in Quitman County by conducting a food access and physical activity survey.

Dria Price, a senior Spanish, nutrition and international studies major from Oxford, attended the event to begin observing fellow student researchers in preparation for her upcoming project examining food insecurity in Quitman County.

“I think any research going on in the Marks community is really great, because I know the research won’t just be published and die,” Price said. “The people that are invested in this community will be able to use the research to help make it better, and that’s what I am excited about.”

Connor Ball (left), a senior pre-med biology student from Madison, talks with Quitman County High School students about the importance of hydration and healthy snacking. Photo by Michaela Cooper

Anne Cafer, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology, regularly works with the Marks Project and helped organize the student-led effort.

This project is just one component of the university’s larger effort to meet needs that communities have through outreach and engagement, Cafer said. The projects she has students complete are based on the needs of communities.

“We don’t come to communities and say, ‘This is what we want to do,'” Cafer said. “We come to them and ask what things we can help with. Each semester, the projects my students work on are projects the community has told me they want help with.”

Connor Ball, a senior pre-med biology student from Madison, reached out to Cafer when searching for a research project based in health and nutrition to help with his medical school application. He joined other UM students in hosting a poster session that explained to participants the importance of hydration, dental hygiene, drug and alcohol awareness, portion control, and smart snacking.

“We study what the issues are, where they come from and what kind of solutions we can create for the future to produce a steady incline in the health and nutrition status here,” Ball said.

One of the group’s goals is to increase citizens’ knowledge of health and how to treat themselves, Ball said, explaining that collecting data allows the team to find trends and detect specific issues.

“Maybe blood sugar is really high,” he said. “We can consider it an issue, and we can tackle it. We can go in and change people’s diet and their understanding of what causes blood sugar to surge.”

The Quitman County School District and its Career and Technical Center coordinated the event. Partnering with the university and adding a health component offered students a range of valuable information, said Cynthia Washington, the district’s career technical education director.

“We want our students to see all of the avenues and opportunities available to them through this partnership with Ole Miss,” Washington said. “The health component is vital for our students to know that along with having careers, they also need to be healthy.”

For more information on the Marks Project, visit For more information about UM programs in nutrition and hospitality management, visit

Crowdfunding Campaign to Fund Literacy Program

Communication Sciences and Disorders' 'Ready to Read' fundraiser to benefit children

UM communication sciences and disorders graduate students Emily Reedy (in red), of Pontotoc, and Lauren Stantz (in blue), of Houston, practice reading skills with area youth in preparation for the upcoming Ready to Read Literacy Program. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – The speech-language pathologists who operate the University of Mississippi’s Speech and Hearing Center are bringing their expertise to a communitywide literacy program designed to improve children’s reading skills before they reach third grade.

“We know that if kids aren’t reading on grade level by the time they get to the third grade, they are four times more likely not to graduate high school,” said Suzanne Ryals, Oxford School District early childhood reading development director.

Opportunities are limited for many first- and second-graders to continue advancing their reading skills over the summer, Ryals said. Faculty in the UM Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders, recognizing the deficit of programming geared toward this particular age range, have launched an initiative to fund a summer and after-school literacy program addressing the problem.

A 30-day Ignite Ole Miss crowdfunding campaign is being launched to provide financial resources for the “Ready to Read” program. Those interested in contributing to the campaign can choose from six levels of giving: $25 Sight Word Level; $50 Phonics Level; $75 Chapter Book Level; $100 Novel Level; $250 Graduate or $1,000 Ph.D. Level. Contributions to the campaign will directly benefit program participants by covering the costs of materials, books and scholarships.

The Ready to Read summer camp will serve rising second- and third-grade children and will operate for six weeks, June 4-July 27, from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. daily.

“Before camp begins, the children will be scheduled for a reading diagnostic assessment, followed by a series of criteria-referenced assessments where the child’s skill level in five different areas – phonological awareness, phonetics, word attack skills, reading fluency and reading comprehension – will be identified,” said Brad Crowe, UM Speech and Hearing Center co-director and clinical instructor. From these assessments, each child will have a list of reading goals that will be taught during camp.”

Following the summer camp, the speech-language pathologists and graduate clinicians hope to provide an after-school reading program for children with reading disabilities.

“Since we can identify children at risk for reading disabilities with greater reliability than ever before, we would like to offer a preventive program for kindergarten and first-graders in the long term,” Crowe said.

One clinical faculty member will be present at all times to supervise up to four graduate students as they provide individualized and small-group instruction to the children, said Ann Michael, interim chair for CSD.

“First, the faculty member will observe the instruction and interact with the student and the child,” Michael said. “They will then meet with each graduate student to review each child’s achievement for the day and work with the graduate student to modify the child’s plan as needed for the next day.

“This process will ensure the children receive quality services and that the graduate student is pushed to develop critical thinking and research skills in order to transform the lives of others.”

Gloria Kellum, CSD professor emeritus and vice chancellor emeritus for university relations, explained the camp’s importance to UM graduate students studying to become speech-language pathologists.

“It has long been known, and the research is very clear that a child with any type of speech, language or hearing difference is going to have reading challenges, so speech-language pathologists need to be educated about that,” Kellum said. “Part of our program is to educate SLPs and audiologists on the necessary role of early speech and language intervention for children to be sure that they are hearing, speaking correctly and learning the language skills.”

“We have the skill set to work with children who have reading difficulties,” said Lisa Ivy, literacy program director, speech-language pathologist and clinical instructor with the Speech and Hearing Center. “We know that the sounds that we use to talk are the same sounds we match with letters when we are sounding out words, and that helps with reading.”

The camp is centered on themes, such as ocean animals, community helpers and insects. The camp clinicians also make time for science experiments, snacks, crafts and playground time.

“We will read books together and discuss vocabulary,” Ivy said. “The children will have breakout sessions where they work on their individual skills. Then we may read as a group.”

Kelle Sumrall, a seventh-grade science teacher at Lafayette Middle School, understands firsthand the critical importance of early literacy for future educational success. Her son Ben attended three weeks of literacy camp during last summer’s pilot program.

“As a teacher and a mother of someone who struggles with reading, I think the program does a wonderful job of attending to my child’s needs and helping him grow, build better self-esteem and be more successful,” Sumrall said.

“Ben loved the themes of the week. He was very excited about what he was going to take, what they were going to talk about and what they were going to do each day. That was one of the things that got him really excited about going.

“When SLPs are running this program, they have a better grasp of what to connect to the child, and they get to know the child personally. They realize their strengths and weaknesses, so that they can develop the program to better suit the needs of the child.”

For more information about giving to this campaign, visit Those who prefer to contribute by mail can do so by writing the program’s name in the check’s memo line and sending it to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655.

For more information about attending the literacy summer camp or after-school program, contact Ivy at or 662-915-7950.

Restorative Justice Project Partners with Feed My Starving Children

Legal Studies students, Marshall County Correctional Facility inmates pack more than 100,000 meals

Lexi Caviness (right), a UM psychology major and criminal justice minor from Ripley, joins 150 inmates from the Marshall Country Correctional Facility in Holly Springs in a Feed My Starving Children food-packing event. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – Students and faculty from the University of Mississippi Department of Legal Studies recently joined forces with the Marshall County Correctional Facility in Holly Springs to pack more than 100,000 meals in one day for an organization that helps needy children.

Feed My Starving Children is a Christian nonprofit working to eliminate starvation and hunger worldwide.

“Our partnership with the Marshall County Correctional Facility is unprecedented,” said Lisa Stueckemann, development officer for Feed My Starving Children. “We are thrilled to be working with 150 offenders, plus students and faculty from Ole Miss to work to pack meals to send to children who are dealing with severe malnutrition and starvation.”

Linda Keena, interim chair for the Department of Legal Studies, teaches restorative justice and entrepreneurship courses to a group of maximum-security inmates at the facility, where the idea for the project got its start. Over the course of eight hours, the group packed enough meals to feed 277 children every day for an entire year.

“Part of what we try to do is find ways to repair harm that their behavior has caused to the community, so we decided we would try to put together this project,” Keena explained. “It has been a really rewarding day.

“The offenders who graduate from these classes feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment. They feel validated that their time has been of real value to others, and that is really what we want to accomplish from it. At the end of this day, they feel like they have made a difference in someone else’s life in a positive way.”

For Keena, this project was a valuable service-learning experience for her criminal justice students.

“We’ve had a number of student volunteers who came here,” She said. “They have an opportunity to put into place the things they’re learning in the classroom; to engage with the offenders, staff and administrators, and to come back to volunteer. That helps them as they prepare for their careers in corrections.”

Kornisha Johnson, a senior criminal justice major from Sallis, described the experience as a blessing.

“This project has meant a lot to me,” Johnson said. “Back home, there is little opportunity and I’m surrounded by poverty, so to be able to give back to so many children is amazing.

“Also, being able to work alongside the inmates has been a positive thing – just letting them know that they are not what people say they are. They are not their crimes. It has been a beautiful and rewarding experience to help fundraise and put this together.”

Lexi Caviness, a sophomore criminal justice minor from Ripley, said the experience has changed her perspective of the incarcerated.

“Before coming into the class I had a different idea of them,” Caviness said. “Just getting to talk with them and realize most of them are trying to better themselves. It is really nice to see how they are still trying to give back, even though they are in here for a long time.”

Many of the offenders, including Richard Moore of Walls, expressed gratitude for getting to do something positive in reparation for their past wrongdoings.

“We’re all in here for doing something destructive, and society looks at us like we are throwaways,” Moore said. “This gives us an opportunity to show that we have changed and that we are capable of doing something good.

“It is impressive to me, because prison is a place associated with hopelessness, but here we are boxing up hope to send to other countries, to children.”

The inmates first had to pass the Ice House Entrepreneurship class as a prerequisite to the restorative justice class to participate in the food-packing event, Keena said.

“The Ice House Entrepreneurship class teaches them to look at how to solve other people’s problems instead of looking at how they alone can benefit, because that is what successful entrepreneurs do,” Keena said. “It was actually one of the offender’s capstone projects from the class that sparked the idea for the event as a social entrepreneurship endeavor.”

Gary Schoeniger, founder and CEO of Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative and co-author of the Ice House Entrepreneurship book, flew in from his headquarters in Ohio for the packing event. Schoeniger and Keena have spoken at venues across the country, sharing the effective use of the Ice House Entrepreneurship program in prison systems.

Students in the Department of Legal Studies’ criminal justice program can declare an emphasis in corrections. They are taught the skills they will need to manage prisoners, interact with adult parolees and probationers, and supervise juveniles in the community or secured juvenile facilities.

Students learn how courts and prisons work and different strategies for dealing with inmates, probationers and parolees, including rehabilitation efforts and counseling.

For more information about programs on study in criminal justice, email or visit

School of Applied Sciences Names Thomas A. Crowe Alumnus of the Year

Elise Smith recognized for lifelong contributions to dietetics and nutrition profession

Elise Smith (left) accepts the Thomas A. Crowe Alumnus of the Year Award from Teresa Carithers, UM interim dean of applied sciences, at the school’s annual gathering for alumni, faculty and staff. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s School of Applied Sciences at the University of Mississippi has named Elise Smith, of Brandon, as the Thomas A. Crowe Alumnus of the Year for her outstanding contributions in the field of dietetics and nutrition and her ongoing support of students in the school’s Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management.

Smith is a registered licensed dietitian who has worked in both clinical and food service management positions for more than 30 years. As a founding member of the management team and director of consulting services for Nutrition Systems, Inc., she supervised more than 15 registered dietitians, providing consulting services in 95 health care facilities in the Southeast.

She also served as director of the Food Service Department for St. Dominic Hospital. She is retired but continues consulting for Nutrition Systems Inc.

“Elise was an entrepreneur before many in our profession were choosing that path,” said Kathy Knight, associate professor of nutrition and hospitality management. “Not only has she helped to grow one of the largest dietetics services consulting firms in the state, she has mentored many young dietitians and dietetics students.”

Nutrition Systems Inc. is a family of branded companies, each dedicated to optimizing food services with expert management. The seven brands of Nutrition Systems – purchasing, consulting, wellness, contracting, menus and purchasing allianceoperate independently but share a commitment to diligence, consistency and a legacy of seamless service for clients served.

“As part of her commitment to the fields of nutrition and dietetics, her firm serves by educating post-graduate dietetics students in their practica/rotations needed to become a registered dietitian nutritionist,” said David H. Holben, professor of nutrition and hospitality management. “In addition, Ms. Smith has hired many UM alumni and mentored them to a successful career.”

Smith has played a significant role in shaping nutrition policy across the region, having served in numerous positions in state and national dietetic associations, including president of the Mississippi Dietetic Association, chair of the Nutrition Care Process/Standardized Language Committee, Mississippi’s affiliate delegate in the House of Delegates, House of Delegates director and a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics board of directors.

She also is past speaker of the academy’s House of Delegates and is chair-elect of the its Political Action Committee.

Janie Cole, senior registered dietitian and director of the coordinated program in dietetics, described Smith as the epitome of what the university stands for.

“When I first met Elise, I quickly realized that she was an ‘outside the box’ thinker,” Cole said. “Her ‘can-do’ attitude and her love for people are certainly impressive. She has mentored countless students and volunteered for numerous organizations.

“She continued to help others while she fought and won her own battle with cancer. Elise has worked effortlessly to not only promote the dietetics profession, but to move it forward.”

Smith holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ole Miss. She was married to the late Glenn Smith, and they have one son, Eric, who lives in Austin, Texas. She attends St. Marks United Methodist Church.

The School of Applied Sciences offers professional preparation programs that integrate academic study, clinical training, creative research, service-learning and community outreach, leading to the development of leaders whose professional endeavors will improve health and well-being. The school’s vision is for academic excellence – that each department will be recognized by their respective scientific, professional and community organizations as a hub for scholarly thought, professional development and community impact.

For more information about the School of Applied Sciences or the Thomas A. Crowe Alumnus of the Year Award, visit

School of Applied Sciences Honors Students of the Month

Janice DeWitt and Kirby Rhodes recognized for academic excellence

The UM School of Applied Sciences has honored Kirby Rhodes (left) and Janice DeWitt as its students of the month for February. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s School of Applied Sciences has named Kirby Rhodes, of Bay St. Louis, as its Graduate Student of the Month and Janice DeWitt, of Seattle, as the Undergraduate Student of the Month for February.

Having completed her undergraduate degree at UM, Rhodes is in her last semester of graduate school in criminal justice in the Department of Legal Studies.

“Kirby recently presented research on a faculty panel at the annual meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences in New Orleans,” said Linda Keena, interim chair of the Department of Legal Studies. “She delivered her presentation professionally and fielded questions from audience members in a confident manner. I was pleased to have her represent our department and school.

“In addition, she participated in the Alpha Phi Sigma 2018 Honor Society Conference, where she received a $250 scholarship for earning second place in the graduate student criminology knowledge scholarship test.”

Rhodes said she initially gained interest in Ole Miss after attending a summer program for high school students.

“I fell in love with the program and the campus, and that is what finalized my decision to come here,” she said.

After graduation, Rhodes will return to Washington, D.C., where she interned as an undergraduate for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service – this time to work full-time for a private security company.

DeWitt plans to finish her undergraduate study in criminal justice with an emphasis in corrections in December and is strongly considering graduate school at Ole Miss.

“I’m doing my second internship right now, just trying to get as much experience as possible,” DeWitt said. “I interned last semester with the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations with the Cold Case Unit, where I learned how to run an investigation.

“Right now, I’m interning with the Mississippi Department of Corrections with the probation and parole office for Lafayette County in Oxford.”

Like Rhodes, DeWitt presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, but in an open category that included graduate students and professors.

“She represented our department and school in an exemplary manner and was acknowledged for best poster for an undergraduate student,” Keena said. “An active member of our Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society, Janice has been awarded the chief Richard Michael Popernik Endowed Scholarship for the 2018-19 school year.”

After researching colleges across the country, DeWitt visited UM and was hooked.

“Ole Miss is the only college I toured,” she said. “I wanted something out of state. I’m the first one in my family to go to college. I don’t have any family in Mississippi, but the first time I came and visited the campus I absolutely fell in love with it.

“I knew I wanted to do criminal justice in high school and heard the (UM) program was great.”

The School of Applied Sciences calls for nominations by faculty and staff throughout the school to recognize students for extraordinary scholarship, leadership and service. Nominations should be emailed, along with a nomination form, by the fifth of each month to

For more information about the School of Applied Sciences, visit

Farm-to-YOUth! Program Continues Combating Food Insecurity

Gift from Monsanto empowers UM faculty, students to provide produce in Calhoun County communities

David H. Holben, UM professor of nutrition and hospitality management, and Bruce Piggly Wiggly owner Becky Wright discuss next steps for the store’s help with the Farm-to-YOUth! program. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – Results are in for last year’s Farm-to-YOUth! project at the University of Mississippi, a program that brought fresh produce into rural elementary schools and introduced healthier options to more than 1,100 children and their families.

Global agriculture company Monsanto provided $200,000 in 2016 to establish the Food and Nutrition Security Support Fund at UM that was used to implement the produce distribution program as faculty and graduate students conducted nutrition research. In 2017, the company donated an additional $250,000 to the UM Foundation for phase two of the program, which is underway.

Led by David H. Holben, professor of nutrition and hospitality management and Gillespie Distinguished Scholar, Farm-to-YOUth! partnered with the Piggly Wiggly in Bruce to procure and prepare fresh fruits and vegetables for the children to taste, both in their natural form and prepared in recipes. The program also sent home produce and accompanying recipes each Friday to more than 260 youth and their families to incorporate into their diets.

“I’m thrilled to report the success of last year’s program in that the data showed a positive impact on some of the eating patterns in households for participants in the take-home produce program,” Holben said.

Second-year graduate student Michelle Weber of Cincinnati, Ohio, was on the front lines of produce preparation and distribution during last year’s project. She has continued the work this academic year at Bruce, Calhoun City and Vardaman elementary schools.

“This year, we are going to the same schools, but we are giving them produce vouchers to take to the grocery stores,” Weber said. “For every $10 families spend on fresh produce, they get 11 more dollars from the voucher to spend on produce.

“The overall goal is to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in children and their families and ultimately try in any way we can to reduce food insecurity.”

Weber said that connecting with students has been very rewarding.

“Last year, I was in Bruce Elementary three times a week, and getting to see the children try new fruits and vegetables that they’ve never had an opportunity to try before was an experience I’ll never forget,” she said. “This year, I’ve been able to reconnect with all of those children. It’s taught me a lot about food insecurity in areas that I never knew about before.”

First-year graduate students Tiffany Shirley, of Corinth, and Marta Dees, of Oxford, joined the Farm-to-YOUth! team this fall.

Nutrition and hospitality management graduate students (from left) Tiffany Shirley, Marta Dees and Michelle Weber put together post-project surveys for participants of the Farm-to-YOUth! program. Submitted photo

“I knew that food insecurity was an issue for families in Mississippi, but before this project, I didn’t realize just how prevalent it was,” Shirley said. “Just because communities in this area and where I grew up don’t talk about it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. This research project has really opened my eyes to that.

“We’ve given the families the chance to get fresh fruits and vegetables that they might not have had before, and that I had growing up, but some of these kids haven’t been able to experience as much. All they have to do is use the vouchers, pick out what they want and make their own creations at home with that food.”

Dees appreciates the hands-on approach to studying food insecurity that Farm-to-YOUth! has provided as she and fellow researchers executed pre- and post-surveys in the schools.

“Instead of sitting in front of a computer reading article after article, we really had an experiential learning process,” Dees said. “We were a part of every single paper, every paper clip, every envelope, and we got to see every teacher and every kid. That, to me, is more important than just reading it on a page.

“We really want to understand what kind of access they have to food, what kinds of food they are eating, what kinds of food they are feeding their children, but most importantly, the need. What kind of need do they have and what do they want?”

Piggly Wiggly owner Becky Wright noticed a rising interest from community members in recipes featuring the produce items sent home with the children.

“There was a lot of chatter on Facebook in our communities,” Wright said. “Like ‘What do I do with this butternut squash?’ People were sharing their recipes and telling what their kids came home with.

“The parents would come in weeks later saying that they never knew they liked Brussels sprouts, and they’d found new ways to prepare Brussels sprouts. They were sharing it all on social media to see what other people were doing.”

While surveys are still being collected from this year’s project, the data from last year’s study indicate Farm-to-YOUth! had real influence in the lives of its participants.

Teresa Carithers, interim dean of the School of Applied Sciences, praised Monsanto for its contribution to food insecurity research.

“Thirteen percent, on average, of households nationally and 18.7 percent of households in Mississippi are facing low or very low food security,” Carithers said. “This tremendous gift from Monsanto allows us to examine best practices in community-based outreach while providing healthy food to families in our more rural, neighboring towns.”

The School of Applied Sciences recently recognized Holben for his contributions in scholarly teaching, scholarship and research with the first Gillespie Distinguished Scholar Award.

“The success of the Farm-to-YOUth! project is a great example of Dr. Holben’s research efforts that exemplify a Gillespie Distinguished Scholar,” Carithers said. “While he has a rich and diverse research and publication record, his work in food insecurity is drawing national attention to a critical problem.

“This year he was the senior author on the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ position paper on food insecurity in the United States.”

The Food and Nutrition Security Support Fund is open to gifts from individuals and organizations who want to support food security research and outreach.

Checks supporting the fund may be mailed with the fund noted in the memo line to the UM Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655. Gifts also can be made online by visiting or by contacting Katie Morrison at 662-915-2135 or

For more information about the Farm-to-YOUth! program, email

Alumnus Helps Connect UM Students to Luxury Travel Industry

Networking event brings global executives to recruit best and brightest hospitality management majors

James Strong (left), a 2015 graduate of the UM hospitality management program, reconnects with faculty and students, including lecturer Candis Varnell, at the 2018 Talent Engagement Pursui. UM photo by Sarah Sapp

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi hospitality management students recently spent a day making valuable connections with officials from the luxury travel industry, thanks to the efforts of a UM alumnus and his father, a prominent travel agency executive.

Jim Strong, president and owner of Strong Travel Services in Dallas, organized the 2018 Talent Engagement Pursuit, a networking and educational event at the Graduate Hotel, in partnership with the travel consortium firm Virtuoso. Strong Travel Services has been a member of Virtuoso for 30 years.

Some 50 students met with industry leaders from across the nation at the event, which provided information on internships and careers in the luxury travel industry. Jim Strong was on hand, along with son James Strong, who has worked for his father since graduating from the UM hospitality program in 2015.

“I believe this event was a huge success for us, the travel executives and the students,” James Strong said. “This was a great opportunity for students to come out and learn more about the travel industry, potential internships and job opportunities.”

The luxury travel industry provides fairly new and unique career opportunities in comparison to the typical travel industry, said Mary Roseman, professor and director of the Ole Miss hospitality management program. Luxury travel is more exotic and complex, she said, noting the importance of students experiencing networking events such as this to fully understand those benefits.

“We are very fortunate to have a premier company, such as Strong Travel, so invested in our hospitality management program and willing to provide special opportunities for our students,” Roseman said. “Today the hospitality industry, like many other industries, is all about networking.”

Cindy Choi, assistant professor of nutrition and hospitality management, advises students to focus on the uniqueness of the luxury travel industry.

“In order to find a career in luxury travel, students should understand the needs and wants of the luxury travelers, which are very different from regular travelers,” Choi said. “In order to gain the knowledge, taking classes related to luxury travel, such as Service Quality Management and Hospitality Marketing, would be a good idea.”

Virtuoso works with Strong Travel and other travel agencies to promote and market their services. Christy Green, regional sales director for Virtuoso in Fort Worth, Texas, was among the industry leaders who attended the 2018 Travel Engagement Pursuit.

Her firm, along with the entire industry, is actively seeking new talent, Green said. Every summer, Virtuoso hosts a networking event for students in Las Vegas called Virtuoso Travel Week, often relying on Strong and other industry leaders to bring new people to learn about the industry’s opportunities and programs.

Strong Travel sponsors a small group of Ole Miss students and a faculty member to attend Virtuoso Travel Week each year.

Claire McCraw, a senior hospitality management major at Ole Miss, attended last summer’s event.

“For four days we had the opportunity to interact with thousands of professionals who were helpful in giving us information about the travel industry,” McCraw said. “It was an unforgettable experience, and I am so thankful that I got to be a part of it.”

Strong Travel sells more than $50 million of travel services annually. The company’s employees constantly travel the world to build relationships and experience all aspects of trips they could potentially sell.

“The key to our success is matching the right client to the right product,” Jim Strong said. “Strong Travel takes several trips a year to go out and experience the products. I recently took four team members to London for about three days, and we saw 26 hotels.

“Being able to understand the hotel, products, ambiance, stature and location at the luxury level is huge when talking to the client making selections.”

James Strong decided to study hospitality management at UM after growing up in Dallas surrounded by the travel business. While earning his degree, he completed several internships around the world that helped prepare him for his career.

“I interned in London at the Corinthia Hotel as a junior butler for four months, which was great exposure to that side of the hotel industry,” James Strong said. He also interned at a tourism agency in Istanbul and later at the Courtyard by Marriott in Oxford.

Jim Strong said he continues to visit and support UM because is responsive to emphasizing and highlighting the sale and promotion of travel. He said he enjoys being a part of the campus life and feeds off the energy in the classrooms.

Many students are seeking internships and jobs related to luxury travel or travel agencies after being inspired by Strong’s networking events and class visits, Choi said.

For more information about the hospitality management program, email Mary Roseman at or visit

Well-Rounded Gift Assists UM Students from Lauderdale County

Couple's endowment honors family, helps graduates of their high school alma mater

James and Virginia McGinnis

OXFORD, Miss. – Three reasons inspired Jim and Cindy McGinnis, of Meridian, to make a major gift to the University of Mississippi: the desire to support the university that influenced many of their family members, to honor loved ones who served as mentors and to help offset college expenses for graduates of their high school alma mater.

The James M. McGinnis Jr. and Virginia D. McGinnis Scholarship Endowment is available to full-time students from Lauderdale County, with first preference given to graduates of Meridian High School.

“Designating the endowment to honor my parents was an acknowledgement of the important role they played in my life and that of my two older sisters, and to our extended family,” said Jim McGinnis, a 1980 UM graduate and president of McGinnis Lumber Co. in Meridian.

“A secondary, but significant, personal consideration was that my dad and I worked together for 35 years in our family business, founded by my grandfather in 1922,” he said. “The endowment was a way to honor him, in particular, for his role as not only my father but also my mentor in our business.”

McGinnis said the gift also serves as a tribute to his family’s strong ties to Ole Miss – the many relatives who attended, including his father, mother and sister; his wife’s parents and family members; two nephews and some cousins.

Two McGinnis children, Davis and Caroline, are also part of the UM family. Davis McGinnis graduated in 2014 with an exercise science degree from the School of Applied Sciences; Caroline McGinnis is a senior in the same program. Their oldest child, Menton M. Deweese, works for MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

All three McGinnis children, as well as Jim and Cindy McGinnis and his parents, also share the distinction of being Meridian High School graduates.

“Cindy and I have been deeply involved in public school issues since the early 1990s,” McGinnis said. “So, it was a natural and logical choice to have this scholarship benefit three generations of our family’s high school alma mater.

“Our hope is that the endowment will benefit students from Meridian High, and ultimately Ole Miss, indefinitely.”

Just as McGinnis did after graduating from Ole Miss, Davis McGinnis has joined his father in the family business, one of the nation’s oldest forest product wholesalers. The company employs 14 people in sales, clerical and management positions and boasts a sales territory that extends into 40 states and four foreign countries.

“Our market focus changed many times over the years as conditions dictated, but our primary function has always been to provide a quality product at a competitive price and to transact business with a high level of integrity and trust,” McGinnis said. “As a result of this philosophy, and many good people implementing it over the years, we enjoy an excellent reputation throughout the industry.”

In their free time, the McGinnises enjoy watching tennis – they hope to one day travel to all four grand slams. Additionally, they are active at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Jim McGinnis enjoys an occasional round of golf.

“With their generous gift, Jim and Cindy honor their family while helping students achieve their goals,” said Denson Hollis, development director for the UM Office of Development. “It’s truly one of those gifts that will keep on giving.”

The James M. McGinnis Jr. and Virginia D. McGinnis Scholarship Endowment is open to gifts from individuals and organizations. To contribute, send checks with the endowment name noted in the memo line to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visit; or contact Hollis at or 662-915-5092.

Applied Sciences Welcomes Inaugural Visiting Research Scholar

Cecile Guin to provide expert grant and publication counsel, mentorship to faculty

Cecile Guin

OXFORD, Miss. – Cecile Guin, director of the Office of Social Service Research and Development at Louisiana State University’s School of Social Work, will serve as the inaugural visiting research scholar for the School of Applied Sciences.

The school launched the Visiting Research Scholars Forum this academic year to help enhance research productivity, bringing meritorious research scholars to campus to facilitate discussion on best practices in research publication and grantsmanship. Renowned for their presentations, strong research publication record and national competitive grant award record, these scholars will provide lectures, small-group discussions and individual meetings for any interested faculty.

Guin will be on campus Feb. 26-27. After presenting a session on “Writing Grants to Support Your Research Agenda” to a universitywide audience and a lecture on “Pathway to Funding: Finding Support for Your Research Career” to the School of Applied Sciences faculty, the visiting scholar will lead a panel discussion, hold individualized mentorship sessions with faculty and meet with doctoral students.

“Dr. Guin has an impressive publication and grantsmanship record,” said Daphne Cain, the school’s interim associate dean. “She is nationally recognized for her teaching, her history of high-impact publications and her extramural funding. We are thrilled to have her share her experience and advice with our faculty.”

Guin began working for LSU in 1995 as a funding consultant and associate professor of research. Before moving to Baton Rouge in 1996, she operated a private business that provided grant writing, evaluation and consultation to nonprofit and governmental agencies.

As director of the LSU Office of Social Service Research and Development, Guin focuses heavily upon external fund development and actively solicits opportunities for various grants and contracts that address many of the social problems inherent to Louisiana. In particular, she develops programs and seeks funding aimed at interrupting the pathway to delinquency, crime and other forms of nonproductivity that claim many Louisiana children and youth, especially those considered “at-risk.”

Additionally, she has become an expert in truancy and death penalty mitigation and is court-qualified in the areas of adult criminality, development of a criminal personality, juvenile delinquency social work and poverty.

Office of Social Service Research and Development also continues to engage in the acute post-Katrina and Rita problems of those with behavioral health problems. Guin is the lead author for the recent publication “Health Care and Disaster Planning: Understanding the Impact of Disasters on the Medical Community.”

While she has served as the office’s director, it has obtained more than $50 million in grants and contracts for the school, LSU and the agency partners of the School of Social Work. All the grants deal with some aspect of social problems faced by Louisiana’s citizens.

“We are so pleased that our first visiting research scholar will benefit such a broad constituency of researchers in our school and across campus,” said Teresa Carithers, UM interim dean of applied sciences. “I truly believe she can spark ideas of interdisciplinary and interprofessional investigation, which is a large part of our research mission.”

For more information about the Visiting Research Scholars Forum, visit