UM Geologists Study Impact of Bonnet Carré Spillway on Mississippi Sound

Research findings offer insights into new water levels' effects on oyster production along Gulf Coast

Jarett Barnett, a UM geology and geological engineering graduate assistant, retrieves sensory landers from the Mississippi Sound as part of a study being conducted. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi scientists who are studying the Mississippi River’s ebbs and flows are trying to find out how changing water levels in the river can affect fishing and seafood industries in Mississippi.

With the rising water levels in the lower Mississippi River, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Bonnet Carré Spillway west of Lake Pontchartrain in early March. As the flooding continued, more bays of the spillway were opened and remained open through the month. The spillway is designed to channel water into Lake Pontchartrain and through the Rigolets Pass into Lake Borgne and ultimately into the Mississippi Sound.

“The opening of the spillway lowers the water levels flowing through the New Orleans area and lessens the pressure on the levees, pumps and other flood control structures,” said Greg Easson, UM director of the Mississippi Mineral Resources Institute, professor of geology and geological engineering, and a co-principal investigator on the study. “As part of the Mississippi Based RESTORE Act Center of Excellence, we are supporting the redevelopment and restoration of the Mississippi oyster resources as a key action in the restoration of the Gulf Coast.

“Understanding the impact of the opening of the spillway on the water properties in the Mississippi Sound is an important component.”

Easson and Jarett Bell, a UM geological engineering graduate student from Bay St. Louis, have been collaborating on the project since before the student graduated from the university with his undergraduate degree last spring. Sensors are used to gather data about dissolved oxygen, conductivity, temperature and light from the water. Bell’s responsibilities include preparing, launching and recovering the sensor programs, offloading and interpreting the data.

“Another preparation is that we use hidden buoys so that our platforms stay out of sight for at least a week,” Bell said. “Once the buoys sit for the allotted time, we retrieve the landers, offload the data, return them back to Oxford and clean all the components.”

Preliminary graphs of dissolved oxygen and conductivity show the influence of a large freshwater influx and subsequent recovery.

“This information generated will have significant implications for oyster reef restoration and resilience on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” Easson said. “It will provide critical knowledge related to acceptable sites for future oyster reefs that will support sustainable and productive oyster fisheries.”

The results of the study will be shared with MBRACE partners from Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and Jackson State University. It will also be the subject of Bell’s master’s thesis in 2019, and an eventual journal article.

This project was paid for [in part] with federal funding provided through the University of Southern Mississippi under the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality by the Department of the Treasury under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act). The statements, findings, conclusions and recommendations are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University of Southern Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality or the Department of the Treasury.

 

Dan Gailey Is Wired for the Future

Electrical engineering alumnus is founder and CEO of Synapse AI

Dan Gailey, founder and CEO of Synapse AI, earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Mississippi. Submitted photo

Like an electrical circuit that makes connections and produces and transfers power, Dan Gailey (BSEE 10) has found a way to do something similar with data.

As founder and CEO of Synapse AI, a decentralized network and marketplace for programmatic access to data and machine learning models, the University of Mississippi alumnus has formed lucrative and powerful partnerships with clients around the globe.

“I’ve had opportunities to work in various startups, venture capital and at Make: magazine,” said the Houston, Texas, native who migrated with his family to Tupelo. “I’m most proud of all the teams I’ve had a chance to know and work with, and the products we’ve launched together. Each venture is a new baby that takes significant love, support and care to grow through good times and bad.”

Through his profession, Gailey has met many makers from all over the world. Based in San Francisco, California, since he graduated, he spends most of his time in Europe and Asia traveling and working.

“My responsibilities are helping to move everyone forward through uncertainty to discovery as fast as possible to build something that has never existed before and making sense of everything while maintaining vision,” Gailey said.

The AI expert’s journey to worldwide success began when he decided to attend the university.

“My family suggested I check out Ole Miss, which I did,” he said. “I really enjoyed the culture, food and environment in and around the campus. I also met some smart and fun people that I really enjoyed spending my time with.”

Among Gailey’s favorite electrical engineering courses were Circuits, taught by associate professor Elliott Hutchcraft, labs taught by adjunct instructor Matt Inman and any class taught by associate professor Richard Gordon.

“Elliott really worked to make complicated topics more approachable,” Gailey said. “Richard was great because he is basically a super genius that knew all the answers to any questions we had. Matt’s labs were always wonderful because he really knew how to inspire everyone to work together and converge on solutions as a team.”

Inman recalled that Gailey was an excellent and innovative student.

“Dan showed a mix of maturity, excitement and inquisitiveness that helped bring others along to interacting in class. From the first day, he exuded that sort of entrepreneurial creativity and was never going to be content without leaving his mark on the world, finding his niche and making his name be known.”

During his junior year in electrical engineering, Gailey learned how to balance challenging workloads under significant time constraints. He also became fearless in leading, planning, prioritizing and delivering results-driven outcomes. The most significant lesson for Gailey was learning how to do all of that as part of a team.

“Ole Miss brought together some of the best and brightest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing, working and growing with,” he said. “For that, I’m grateful.”

Gailey’s family includes his mother, Angie Gailey, and brother Patrick Lee Gailey, both of Tupelo.

His spare moments are spent creating art, visiting museums, hanging out at hacker/maker spaces, experiencing new cultures and people, prototyping with electronics, reading science fiction and thinking about artificial general intelligence, or AGI.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UM Partners with Vietnamese University for Teaching and Research

Agreement facilitates student, faculty exchange and collaborations between institutions

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (right) and Pham Duy Hoa, rector at the National University of Civil Engineering in Vietnam, sign a memorandum of agreement between the two institutions. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi has entered into a new international partnership with the National University of Civil Engineering in Vietnam for student and faculty exchanges and research collaborations.

A formal memorandum of agreement between the two institutions was signed Thursday (May 10) in the chancellor’s office in the Lyceum. This partnership is NUCE’s first with an institution of higher learning in the United States.

“The University of Mississippi is pleased to collaborate with other universities and external partners to foster academic opportunities and enhance excellence,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We expect outstanding outcomes from this agreement with NUCE, including new curriculum, faculty exchanges and research synergies.

“This partnership also contributes to our universitywide strategic goal of educating and engaging global citizens.”

The university’s global reputation for rigorous academics, innovative research and increasing diversity all influenced NUCE officials’ decision to partner with UM.

“I understood that the University of Mississippi is widely respected and very well known in the United States and beyond,” said NUCE Rector Pham Duy Hoa. “As we seek to expand our global collaborations, we found that the goals and activities of this institution were very compatible with ours.”

Noel Wilkin, UM provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs; Blair McElroy, senior international officer; and Kurt Smith, global engagement project coordinator, also were on hand for the signing.

Other NUCE delegates included Pham Quang Dung, vice rector; Nguyen Binh Ha, dean of the graduate school; Nguyen Hoang Giang, director of the International Cooperation Department; Ta Quynh Hoa, dean of faculty of international education; Cao Tuan Anh, director of the Office of Investment Management; and Tran Hong Hai, lecturer of building and industrial engineering.

Following the memorandum signing, NUCE officials interacted with Ole Miss faculty, discussed programming and toured various facilities.

NUCE proposes to establish a 2+2 transfer agreement in which students in an engineering bachelor’s degree program complete two years at one institution and transfer to finish it at the other. Other points of the agreement allow for faculty exchange, research collaborations, English as a Second Language instruction and continued development of the partnership.

“I am pleased with the interest that international institutions have in our outstanding academic programs,” Wilkin said. “Our School of Engineering faculty have worked hard to ensure that students who spend their first two years at fine international universities can have a seamless transition to our programs.

“Further, this will open the door for research collaborations that have international significance.”

The agreement will further enhance goals in the Department of Civil Engineering to increase internationalization, diversity and inclusion, said Yacoub “Jacob” Najjar, professor and chair of the department.

“We are happy to see that our curriculum will be emulated by similar program in Vietnam,” he said. “We are looking forward to such collaborations.”

Joining with NUCE provides opportunities for Ole Miss computer and information science majors to gain experience interacting with international students, said Dawn Wilkins, chair and professor of the department. “It will expose them to new working relationships and potentially lifelong friendships.”

Negotiations leading to the agreement began unofficially in January 2017. Smith and Tracy Koslowski, associate director of the UM Intensive English Program, traveled to Vietnam and Thailand to establish new international partnerships for academic exchange and collaborations.

Through the university’s Vietnamese Student Association, a connection was made with Pham Quan, second son of Pham Duy Hoa. Pham received his Bachelor of Business Administration in banking and finance from UM during Saturday’s (May 12) Commencement ceremonies.

“My son told me that he has had a wonderful educational experience at the University of Mississippi,” Hoa said. “It is certainly my desire that many more Vietnamese students have the opportunity to come to the University of Mississippi and have experiences similar to his.”

Established in 1966 as Ha Noi University of Civil Engineering, NUCE is one of Vietnam’s leading universities. With the main campus in Hai Ba Trung District of Hanoi, the institution is accredited by the Ministry of Education and Training in Vietnam. NUCE admits more than 3,000 undergraduate students and 150 graduate students annually.

Graduates work in research institutions, engineering firms, construction companies and management agencies across Southeast Asia and worldwide.

For more information about NUCE, visit http://nuce.edu.vn/.

University Creates Distinguished Professor Honor

Three faculty named inaugural honorees based on research, teaching excellence and reputation

Ikhlas A. Khan, director of the National Center for Natural Products Research and professor of pharmacognosy, has been appointed as a Distinguished Professor at UM. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Three University of Mississippi faculty members were appointed as Distinguished Professors during the spring faculty meeting Friday (May 11) in Fulton Chapel.

The honorees are John Daigle, director of the Center for Wireless Communications and professor of electrical engineering; Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of Russian and linguistics; and Ikhlas A. Khan, director of the National Center for Natural Products Research and professor of pharmacognosy.

The Distinguished Professor is a new designation that recognizes the best faculty with sustained excellence at UM. The award was created in response to the university’s strategic initiative to develop a post-professorial recognition.

“I am thrilled that we now have a way to further recognize our most outstanding faculty members,” Provost Noel Wilkin said. “The accomplishments of the university are really the accomplishments of its people.

“This is an outstanding way for us to properly acknowledge the value of excellence and the contributions made by these faculty members to their disciplines and our community of scholars.”

Daigle joined the faculty in 1994 after earning his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Louisiana Tech University in 1968, his master’s in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1969 and his doctorate of engineering science in operations research from Columbia University in 1977.

He was named as an Erskine fellow by the University of Canterbury in New Zealand in 2009, was the 2004 recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Communications Society Technical Committee on Computer Communications Outstanding Service Award and was named an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers fellow in 1993.

Daigle also is a member of Eta Kappa Nu, the honor society of the IEEE; Omega Rho, the international honor society for operations research and management science; and Sigma Xi, an international honor society of science and engineering.

Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of Russian and linguistics, has been named a Distinguished Professor. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

A professor who has recently taught undergraduate and graduate classes such as local area networks and applied probability modeling, Daigle conducts research into the analysis and design of communication networks and systems.

“Professor John Daigle has an illustrious career that spans more than 46 years, primarily in academia, but also some years in military and high-tech companies,” wrote Ramanarayanan “Vish” Viswanathan, chair and professor of electrical engineering, in his letter of support to Daigle’s appointment. “Professor Daigle has an exemplary research record and has contributed strongly in teaching, student mentorship and service to (his) profession and the university.

“John holds (a) cherished conviction that a student should graduate from the school with sound fundamentals. He also believes that a strong learning ability need not necessarily be gifted at birth or developed in early childhood, but can be acquired through hard work and perseverance. Hence, he advocates greater access to college education and at the same time upholding rigorous requirements for graduation.”

Dyer earned his undergraduate degree in Russian from the University of North Carolina in 1980, and his master’s and doctorate in Slavic linguistics from the University of Chicago, in 1982 and 1990, respectively. He joined the Ole Miss faculty in 1988.

He served as chair of the Department of Modern Languages from 2005 to 2017 and was awarded the 2017 Thomas F. Frist Sr. Student Service Award, which recognizes a faculty member for going the extra mile in unwavering dedication and service to students. He is the editor of Balkanistica, a peer-reviewed journal of Balkan studies.

He has served as co-director of the Chinese Language Flagship Program since 2005 and has taught classes such as Freshman Honors II in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and topics in linguistics. His teaching and research interests include Slavic and Balkan linguistics and language in contact.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Dr. Dyer embodies what we in the College of Liberal Arts have determined (via our guidelines) to merit this award,” wrote Lee M. Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, in his recommendation letter.

“Dr. Dyer has made a significant positive impact at the University of Mississippi over the past three decades, all the while making a name for himself as one of the most distinguished scholars in his field. His work is creative, impactful and has a wide range of influence.”

John Daigle, director of the Center for Wireless Communications and professor of electrical engineering, is one of three UM faculty members appointed as a Distinguished Professor. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

“Effusive praise of his work comes from the Department of Modern Languages and across the nation, and it rings loudly throughout the international scholarly community,” wrote Daniel O’Sullivan, UM chair and professor of modern languages, in his letter of support.

Khan earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Aligarh Muslim University in India in 1980, a master’s in organic chemistry from Aligarh Muslim University in India in 1982 and his doctorate in pharmacy from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Biology in Germany in 1987.

He has been at Ole Miss since 1992, but worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the university in 1988 and 1989. From 1989 to 1992, Khan worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

He also serves as coordinator for Natural Products Research in the Center for Water and Wetland Resources, among other academic and research appointments.

In 2016 Khan received the UM Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award, and in 2002 he was awarded the UM School of Pharmacy Faculty Research Award. He is a fellow in the American Institute of Chemists and the Royal Society of Chemistry, and is a member of the American Chemical Society.

Earlier this year he received the AOAC International’s 2018 Harvey W. Wiley Award, which recognizes lifetime scientific achievement.

His research interests include efforts related to medicinal plants, drug discovery and applications of analytical tools in evaluation of quality and safety of dietary supplements.

“Dr. Khan’s career at UM is consistent with the expectations of a Distinguished Professor appointment,” wrote Kristie Willett, chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences and professor of pharmacology and environmental toxicology. “He in fact has ‘exemplary accomplishments in research’ and potentially unprecedented amongst UM faculty ‘international recognition in his field.’

“His research productivity and service to the field of pharmacognosy as measured by publications, invited presentations, editorial and advisory boards and international awards are outstanding. Furthermore, he has provided mentorship to nearly 40 graduate students in our department over his career.”

The three professors were officially recognized during the spring faculty meeting.

No more than 5 percent of eligible faculty can be appointed as a Distinguished Professor. Each school and college has their own guidelines for nominating their faculty, but the university requires that nominated faculty have at least six years of service at the highest rank of professor, along with exemplary accomplishments in research and creative achievement, teaching and service.

Also, it is expected that awardees will have achieved a significant degree of national or international recognition.

The recommended appointments are made by a committee of faculty chosen by the Faculty Senate and the provost, and the committee has representatives from across campus.