Pharmacy Professor Selected for Nelson Order

Scott Malinowski was one of 20 inductees chosen for the UMMC honor

Scott Malinowski (left), clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice, is welcomed into the Nelson Order by Rob Rockhold, deputy chief academic officer at the UM Medical Center, during ceremonies at the medical center. Photo by Joe Ellis/UMMC Photography

JACKSON, Miss. – Scott Malinowski, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, has been inducted into the Norman C. Nelson Order of Teaching Excellence at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Named for Norman C. Nelson, who served as UMMC’s vice chancellor for health affairs for 21 years, the award honors faculty members from each of UMMC’s six schools. Awardees are selected based on their dedication to students through innovative teaching, engagement, mentorship and setting expectations for professional behavior.

 “This is truly a great honor,” Malinowski said. “It is very special to be selected by students and colleagues in recognition of my teaching contributions.

“The existence of the Nelson Order shows just how committed the Medical Center is to teaching excellence. I am proud to be considered one of its members.”

Nominees for the Nelson Order were inducted at a luncheon where each received a stole from LouAnn Woodward, UM vice chancellor for health affairs, that they will wear Friday (May 25) during the Medical Center’s commencement ceremony.

“This is a significant achievement and well-deserved recognition of Dr. Malinowski’s many contributions to education on the UMMC campus,” said Seena Haines, chair of the Department of Pharmacy Practice. “He has demonstrated commitment to excellence in teaching and engaging students and residents in their clinical and professional growth.”

Leigh Ann Ross, associate dean for clinical affairs at the pharmacy school’s UMMC campus, said she is “thrilled” about Malinowski’s induction.

“In all practice environments, he has precepted pharmacy students and served as a role model,” Ross said. “Scott provides quality educational opportunities for our students by leading courses and serving as a facilitator in our problem-based learning curriculum.”

Ross went on to say that Malinowski’s long-term involvement in heart failure management in the ambulatory clinic, providing nutrition support in the inpatient setting and participating in the Community-Based Research Program shows his desire for student success.

“I am passionate about teaching because I enjoy helping students realize that they can successfully learn this vast amount of material that they are confronted with and use it to help others,” Malinowski said. “It is amazing to watch them grow into confident health care professionals.”

UM Pharmacy Places First in Formulations Competition

Ole Miss team places sixth overall in national Student Pharmacist Compounding Competition

Emily Lewis (left), Mary O’Keefe and Alexandria Gochenauer, all third-year student pharmacists at UM, placed first in the formulations portion of the eighth annual National Student Pharmacist Compounding Competition and sixth overall. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – A team of three students from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy placed first in the formulations portion of the eighth annual National Student Pharmacist Compounding Competition and sixth overall, in what was Ole Miss’ first-ever appearance in the competition in Aventura, Florida.

The team consisted of third-year student pharmacists Alexandria Gochenauer, of Republic, Missouri; Mary O’Keefe, of Edwardsville, Illinois; and Emily Lewis, of Valley Park, Missouri.

“This is outstanding, especially for our first competition,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “I’m very proud of these students’ drive to excel in compounding, which is such a vital part of pharmacy.”

For the formulating part of the contest, the team came up with a recipe to create two prescriptions selected for them by the competition. The three students determined the appropriate amounts of each ingredient, wrote out the process for combining them and provided information about the chemicals they were using.

Gochenauer organized a regional competition beforehand to engage other students in learning more about compounding. Even with that experience, the team acknowledged that they didn’t have much of an idea of what to expect from the national competition.

“Having never done it before, and having no previous pharmacy students to ask, our team tried to prepare as best we could by looking at how the regional competition went and ways we could have improved there,” O’Keefe said.

As part of the national competition, the team also came up with an innovative pharmacy idea and answered pharmacy-related questions in a game show-like challenge, all of which contributed to the team’s sixth-place finish out of 17 teams.

“This competition opened my eyes to the impact a pharmacist can make in the world of compounding,” Lewis said. “It definitely increased my ability to think creatively on my feet and confirmed my passion for compounding.”

Each student agreed that they appreciated the opportunity to network with other students and faculty members, as well as work in a state-of-the-art compounding lab.

“I believe this competition gave me a revitalized view of how compounding can be integrated into the practice of pharmacy and produce patient-specific, and sometimes hard-to-find, medications,” O’Keefe said.

Erin Holmes, an associate professor of pharmacy administration, helped the team prepare for the competition, but said the students took the lead on every aspect of planning and practicing.

“I was impressed by the initiative and interest they took in the competition, as well as how dedicated they were to the time and travel involved during a busy semester,” Holmes said. “I am so proud, but not at all surprised, to see how well they placed in the national competition.”

Pharmacy Students Earn Pharmacists Mutual Scholarships

Alex Gochenauer and Erin Hoevelmann plan to practice pharmacy in community settings

Alex Gochenauer

OXFORD, Miss. – Two University of Mississippi pharmacy students have been named recipients of the exclusive Pharmacists Mutual Community Pharmacy Scholarship.

Alex Gochenauer and Erin Hoevelmann were selected based on their interest in practicing pharmacy in an independent setting, a community setting or in an underserved community. The scholarship is given to just 20 recipients nationwide each year.

“Offering clinical services in the community setting is of particular interest to me, as this gives pharmacists the opportunity to be more involved in providing health care to patients,” Hoevelmann said.

In her second professional year, Hoevelmann has gained insight into community pharmacy through research and volunteering. The St. Louis native recently presented her thesis for the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College on pharmacists’ willingness to offer rapid diagnostic testing as a research poster at the American Pharmacists Association annual meeting.

Hoevelmann also is active in the community through service projects with the pharmacy student group Prescription for Service and nonprofit organization More than a Meal.

Third-year student Gochenauer hopes to one day work in an independent compounding pharmacy that focuses on veterinary pharmacy practice.

Erin Hoevelmann

Originally from Republic, Missouri, Gochenauer has served in leadership roles in the student chapters of the American College of Veterinary Pharmacists and National Community Pharmacists Association. She also recently earned scholarships from NCPA and American College of Apothecaries.

“During my first year in pharmacy school, we had an assembly from the Professional Compounding Centers of America, which prompted my interest in compounding and led to my taking compounding courses,” Gochenauer said.

David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy, said the school is “very proud” of Hoevelmann and Gochenauer.

“Erin and Alex are two of our consistently high-performing and service-minded student pharmacists,” Allen said. “They demonstrate the drive to learn and the compassion for patients that every great pharmacist possesses.”

Pharmacy Student Going ‘Over the Edge’ for Fundraiser

Meghan Wagner will rappel down a building to raise money for Batson Children's Hospital

Meghan Wagner

JACKSON, Miss. – Meghan Wagner isn’t taking the traditional route to raise money for Friends of Children’s Hospital. The University of Mississippi third-year student pharmacist is rappelling down a 14-story building instead.

Wagner, from Grenada, will rappel down the Trustmark corporate office building in downtown Jackson on April 21 as part of the Over the Edge event, for which she has raised over $1,000. Friends of Children’s Hospital is hosting the event to support Batson Children’s Hospital, and the organization is aiming to raise $200,000.

“I’ve never been particularly afraid of heights, but as a small human being, 14 stories seems a bit daunting,” Wagner said. “I think excitement will win out, though, because it gives me courage to think about how brave all of the kids, families and staff at Batson are while trying to make the world a little bit brighter.

“When you compare it to what they conquer every day, I think I can take the plunge.”

Wagner plans to descend the 14 stories as a representative of the pharmacy student group PediaRebs, which focuses on pediatric pharmacy. She knows the group’s success stems from its mission to help kids in all stages of health.

“I have worked with kids for many years and have always been incredibly inspired by their unwavering confidence that they have the ability to make their dreams and goals come true,” Wagner said. “I hope to work as a pediatric pharmacist one day so I can be a part of the health care team that helps these kids achieve their goals, because without obstacles like illnesses or uncontrolled conditions, kids are unstoppable.”

“It’s great to see Meghan and PediaRebs support such a great cause,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “Their passion for helping children will continue to impact pediatric health care in our state, and I’m excited to see the chapter continue to thrive in Oxford and Jackson.”

For more information about Over the Edge, visit http://overtheedgeglobal.com/. Wagner is accepting fundraising donations at https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/meghan-wagner-2/overtheedgewithfriends

Former Arkansas Senator Named UM Pharmacy Alumnus of the Year

Consumer advocate and children's rights champion Percy Malone wins honor

Percy Malone (center), who founded AllCare Pharmacy in 1972, is the UM School of Pharmacy’s 2018 Alumnus of the Year. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – State senator, state representative, pharmacist and University of Mississippi alumnus – of all Percy Malone’s titles, the one which he is proudest of is advocate.

The former Arkansas state senator and 1965 pharmacy graduate is the School of Pharmacy‘s 2018 Alumnus of the Year. He has spent his career fighting to represent the interests of those who may be otherwise overlooked: namely, children, sick or incapacitated people and those living below the poverty line.

Originally from the small Mississippi Delta town of Rosedale, Malone’s parents had little education, but a strong work ethic.

“I came from a meager background,” Malone said. “My mother told me, ‘The way out of poverty is through education.'”

As a sixth-grader, Malone began working as a soda jerk in his local pharmacy, Lewis Drug Store. It was there he decided he wanted to become a pharmacist. After graduating from Rosedale High School, he completed his pre-pharmacy requirements at Delta State University before coming to the School of Pharmacy.

“I had people tell me that I would never get into Ole Miss, and if I did, I would never get out,” Malone said. “I didn’t spend my energy trying to prove them wrong. I spent my energy on telling myself I could do it.”

Malone recalls that he was not prepared for college, but that his professors at Delta State and Ole Miss spent extra time with him. His sister, who worked at a factory, gave him a credit card to buy gas for his old car. When he left Ole Miss on weekends to work at Lewis Drug Store, his mother sent him back with enough food to eat for the next week.

“It wasn’t easy, but I had a lot of people helping me, and I credit that for being able to get a good education,” Malone said. “I’m not a self-made man.”

After graduating, Malone found himself in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, one Sunday afternoon, speaking with I.B. Fuller, owner of a local drugstore, about a job. Fuller was looking to pass down the business, and Malone was looking to set down roots. Soon thereafter, Malone had stock in his first pharmacy.

“I worked very hard for many years to say yes to patients who needed me,” Malone said. “If they called me on Thanksgiving or Sunday or at night needing medicine, I wouldn’t tell them I was busy. I would go.”

From there, Malone went on to become one of the state’s top pharmacy innovators. He founded AllCare Pharmacy in 1972, which has grown to more than 17 community pharmacy locations across Arkansas.

He had one of the first pharmacy computer systems in Arkansas and expanded his business to fill prescriptions for long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and correctional facilities, as well as specialty prescriptions for complex diseases.

As a pharmacist and businessperson, he focused on finding ways to be more efficient and patient-oriented. Malone’s concern for the consumer stemmed from the understanding his background had given him of not being able to afford medicine.

In an effort to do more for patients, he ran for state government, and in 1995, began his first of three terms as an Arkansas state representative.

“As a representative, Percy worked to bring generic drugs into Arkansas pharmacies, and the traditional pharmacists did not like that,” said Donna Malone, Percy’s wife. “But he fought and he prevailed, and now every drugstore in America has generic drugs available. He passed his savings on to the consumer.”

Percy Malone served three terms as an Arkansas state representative and five terms as an Arkansas state senator. Submitted photo

As one of the only people in the Arkansas Legislature at the time with a health care background, he also advocated to allow pharmacists to administer immunizations and worked to pass evidence-based medicine in the state.

Besides health care advocacy, Malone stumbled upon what would become his other focus while in the Legislature. On his first day as a state representative, Malone read a news article he couldn’t forget about an abused and neglected child. From then on, he made it his mission to introduce at least one measure per legislative session aimed at protecting children.

Along with his wife, he helped expand the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas, where children could go to report abuse. Because of this, as well as the numerous child protection laws he initiated, the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Arkansas honored him with the first Senator Percy Malone Child Protection Award in 2010, which is given to someone in Arkansas each year.

He spent 18 years in the Legislature, eventually becoming a senator for five terms, befriending then-future President Bill Clinton and continuing to fight for the vulnerable. He also has been lauded for his work pioneering innovative health care solutions that benefit assisted and long-term care facilities and their residents.

“Being in the Legislature, I was able to speak the words of the people who couldn’t speak for themselves,” Malone said. “There are a lot of people that deserve a hand up and not a handout.”

Malone’s generous spirit and care for those in need is well-known throughout the state.

Misty Huerkamp, staff pharmacist at AllCare Pharmacy, is an Ole Miss pharmacy alumna and Arkansas native who grew up hearing about Malone.

“He pretty much goes by the name Percy, and everyone knows who you’re talking about,” Huerkamp said. “He has done so much for the profession of pharmacy and so much to serve those around him, giving to those who need help or a little encouragement.”

Another Ole Miss pharmacy grad, Lauren Lyles, met Malone in 2014 during her second year of pharmacy school at the National Community Pharmacists Association annual meeting, after which Malone became a mentor to her.

“Percy values more than anything doing what is right instead of doing what is convenient,” Lyles said. “He has given back to broken communities that have suffered from generational poverty, domestic violence and limited access to health care through his businesses, philanthropic efforts and legislative work.”

Malone credits his Ole Miss education and the people he’s encountered for helping him to reach a place where he can freely give back.

“Ole Miss gave me the opportunity to fail, and no one wants to fail,” Malone said. “It’s been a marvelous life, and I’m very fortunate to be able to give. My upbringing taught me that once you’re on top of the ladder, you don’t pull the ladder up behind you.”

Malone will be honored Saturday (April 21) with the Alumnus of the Year Award at the School of Pharmacy’s awards banquet and reunion dinner at The Inn at Ole Miss.

“The School of Pharmacy is humbled and honored to call Percy an alumnus,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “He is beyond deserving of this award, not only for his contributions to our profession, but for the way he embodies the Ole Miss spirit.

“He earned his influence by being a champion for vulnerable and forgotten people and has continued to use his time and resources for their benefit.”

Pharmacy School Introduces Application Option for Rising Sophomores

Advanced Standing Program offers qualified students seat in professional program

Ole Miss pharmacy students work in a skills lab on the Oxford campus. UM photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy is providing university freshmen a new way to secure their spot in its professional pharmacy program with the Sophomore Advanced Standing Program.

The program allows qualified UM freshmen to earn a guaranteed seat in the School of Pharmacy’s professional program, thereby avoiding the competitive selection process for regular entry admission that normally occurs during a pre-pharmacy major’s junior year. Upon completion of three years of pre-pharmacy courses and one year of professional courses, students also will receive a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Upon earning the B.S.P.S., student pharmacists then complete three additional years of the professional program before earning a Doctor of Pharmacy, or Pharm.D., and sitting for the national licensure exam to practice pharmacy.

Chelsea Bennett, the school’s assistant dean for student services in Oxford, said that the Sophomore Advanced Standing Program is an excellent opportunity for Ole Miss freshmen to enter the professional program and take advantage of other benefits the school offers.

“We have some exciting plans in place for our new Sophomore Advanced Standing students,” Bennett said. “They’ll have opportunities to take part in site visits, shadow pharmacists and be involved in our pharmacy student body events and professional organizations.”

This program is ideal for freshmen interested in pharmacy who did not enroll in the Early Entry program before they began their first year at Ole Miss.

“We are thrilled to offer another opportunity for aspiring pharmacists to join our program,” said David D. Allen, dean of the School of Pharmacy. “These high-achieving students will benefit from our amazing faculty and facilities as they prepare for this diverse profession.”

The deadline to apply is May 1.

Eligible UM freshmen must be enrolled in a minimum of 14 hours per semester during their freshman year, have completed freshman science courses for the B.S.P.S. degree requirements by the end of July and hold a 3.25 GPA or better in their attempted courses. A minimum composite ACT of 25 is also preferred.

To apply or for more information, visit http://pharmacy.olemiss.edu/sas/.

Natural Products Center Scientist Honored for Cannabis Research

Suman Chandra wins Outstanding Scientist Award

Suman Chandra received a plaque for his Outstanding Scientist Award, presented by the Society of Tropical Agriculture. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Suman Chandra, a senior research scientist at the University of Mississippi’s National Center for Natural Products Research, was honored with an Outstanding Scientist Award at the International Conference on Recent Advances in Agriculture and Horticulture Sciences in New Delhi.

The Society of Tropical Agriculture gives the annual award to a scientist who has contributed to the study of agriculture and horticulture. Chandra works with the natural products center’s Marijuana Project, housed within the UM School of Pharmacy, studying the propagation of cannabis intended for research purposes.

“I was very pleased to receive this award and am grateful to the Society of Tropical Agriculture for recognizing my contributions to the field,” Chandra said.

As part of the award, Chandra presented a paper at the conference about growing cannabis for the purpose of producing cannabinoids.

During Chandra’s 18 years working with NCNPR’s marijuana facility, he has screened and selected many cannabis varieties, as well as monitored the cultivation, harvest and processing of standardized cannabis biomass for research. He also participates in developing biotechnological tools and procedures for preserving genetic materials.

“Suman is an excellent scientist who has helped us make incredible strides in the study of cannabis propagation and the production of standardized cannabis preparations for research,” said Mahmoud ElSohly, director of the Marijuana Project.

Chandra has contributed to more than 50 publications, including “Cannabis sativa L.: Botany and Biotechnology,” a new book he wrote with ElSohly.

“I am grateful to Dr. ElSohly for giving me the opportunity to work under his guidance and for his constant support and encouragement throughout the years,” Chandra said.

For more information on natural products research at Ole Miss, go to http://pharmacy.olemiss.edu/ncnpr/.

Pharmacy Faculty Create Podcast to Inspire Pharmacists

'PharmacyForward' features interviews with profession's leaders

Laurie Fleming (left), Josh Fleming and Stuart Haines record an installment of the ‘PharmacyForward’ podcast series the School of Pharmacy’s space at the UM Medical Center in Jackson. Photo courtesy Stuart Haines

OXFORD, Miss. – In the first few weeks of 2018, a small group of faculty from the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy launched “PharmacyForward,” a podcast featuring interviews with experts and leaders about pharmacy practice, patient care and health care delivery in every setting.

The podcast, which has a tagline of “Transforming Knowledge into Action,” is dedicated to engaging and motivating pharmacists. The school’s Division of Pharmacy Professional Development produces the episodes, which are geared toward veterans and newcomers in the field.

The idea emerged from a statewide focus group of pharmacists who were looking for new ways to address professional development needs and unique educational programming, said Stuart T. Haines, professor of pharmacy practice and the division’s director.

“What emerged was a need to cover topics on practice management, how to advance our practices and how to interact with people,” Haines said. “Pharmacists have a lot of knowledge about diseases, but they don’t always know how to put that knowledge into practice.

“We want to tap into the insights from the movers and shakers in pharmacy today. With a podcast, we can reach any pharmacist in the world who wants to listen.”

In its debut series, three “PharmacyForward” episodes focus on relationship-building in different settings. Featured guests have created advanced practices in different regions of the country and have held leadership positions in organizations such as the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and American Pharmacists Association.

Featuring a variety of guests, one of the podcast’s main goals is to build a community of pharmacists that can work together and share their successes and struggles, said Josh Fleming, a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice. 

“Listeners can expect to gain knowledge about many crucial pharmacy topics that will help them move ideas from thoughts into practice,” Fleming said. “Our hope is that listeners will pick up on tools, tips and suggestions from other pharmacists on how to advance their practice, no matter what stage of their career they’re in.”

Faculty won’t be the only ones working on the podcast. Second-year ambulatory care pharmacy residents and student pharmacists are also part of “PharmacyForward.”

“I hope that students and residents alike will benefit from hearing about real-world experiences from a variety of pharmacists with different specializations,” said Laurie Fleming, clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice. “I believe that many of the topics will be helpful to them as they enter new practice settings, and I hope they’ll take the opportunity to discuss the podcasts with their preceptors.”

“PharmacyForward” sets its sights on giving listeners what they need to build advanced pharmacy practice areas, and Meagan Brown, clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice, sees the main goal in the podcast’s name.

“Our mission is to spread knowledge and ideas about people and places that are doing great work,” Brown said. “I hope listeners will be motivated to make improvements that continue to move the profession forward.”

Podcast episodes will be published once a month and are available at http://pharmacyfoward.podbean.com.

Community Health the Focus of 2018 Waller Lecture

Baltimore community advocate DeJuan Patterson joins lecturer Daniel Mullins for UM presentation

DeJuan Patterson

OXFORD, Miss. – C. Daniel Mullins, professor and chair of the Pharmaceutical Health Services Research Department at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, will deliver the 2018 Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecture at the University of Mississippi.

The lecture, “Patient-Centered Discovery,” at 11 a.m. Friday (Feb. 9) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, will focus on ways in which scientific and medical knowledge are translated into workable health solutions for patients. The School of Pharmacy and its Department of Pharmacy Administration are hosting the event, which is free and open to the public.

Mullins is director of the PATIENTS Program at the University of Maryland pharmacy school, which works to turn scientific research discoveries into practical information for health care providers to pass on to patients.

“Part of the program’s goals is to learn and teach about community health care, as well as about the health care system,” Mullins said. “This requires that we listen to patients and stakeholders, such as community leaders, who can help co-develop research and translate it into meaningful health care practice.”

This need for community leaders led Mullins to DeJuan Patterson, a community advocate in Baltimore and executive director of community development consulting firm The BeMore Group. Patterson’s work with underserved and minority populations focuses on ensuring that organizations working with members of a community engage them in socially responsible ways.

Patterson will co-present with Mullins at the lecture.

“DeJuan is an advocate for helping people live safe, healthy and holistic lives,” Mullins said. “He also understands how to engage people across generational and digital divides.”

Patterson was “intrigued and interested” in helping the PATIENTS Program with its meaningful involvement of patients, caregivers, clinicians and other health care stakeholders throughout the research process.

“It’s important today, more than ever before, that people of color are actively involved in research and clinical trials,” Patterson said. “As the country grows more diverse, the issues that impact people of color are going to be paramount.”

Patterson’s role in the program is to help provide authentic community engagement and assessment, and to expand the program’s exposure. His experience has benefited the PATIENTS Program by changing the way the University of Maryland conducts research in communities, as well as the way communities perceive the university.

“I learned through my partnership with the PATIENTS Program that anyone involved in community-based work has to be involved in ensuring community cohesion,” Patterson said. “It’s imperative that community members understand and be a part of their own health care.”

C. Daniel Mullins

Another goal of the PATIENTS Program is to provide opportunities for students and pharmacy practitioners to be more involved in patient-centered research so they can actively contribute to an evolving body of knowledge Mullins said.

“Science alone doesn’t cure disease or improve quality of life,” he said. “We need to adopt and adapt evidence-based approaches to health care, which is best achieved with authentic patient and stakeholder engagement.”

The Coy W. Waller Distinguished Lecture series was established in 2004 to recognize the former director of the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences’ contributions to the field of pharmaceutics and the School of Pharmacy. Each year, a department within the school hosts a lecturer selected for their contributions to the host department’s discipline.

“We are honored to have Daniel Mullins deliver the Waller Lecture,” said John Bentley, chair of the pharmacy administration department. “He’s made significant contributions to our discipline with his pharmacoeconomics research and work on understanding how to engage patients and other stakeholders in the research process.

“We’re also excited to have DeJuan Patterson join Dr. Mullins. Mr. Patterson’s commitment to his community is evident and his passion is inspiring.”

University Wins NSF Award for Electron Microscope

State-of-the-art instrument will be among the nation's most advanced

Members of several UM departments collaborated to secure a new field-emission scanning electron microscope that will benefit multiple disciplines. The team includes (from left) Vijayasankar Raman, Brenda Hutton-Prager, Soumyajit Majumdar, Jennifer Gifford and Kevin Lewellyn. UM photo by Sydney Slotkin DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – A collaborative effort by researchers from multiple schools and departments earned the University of Mississippi a $346,641 Major Research Instrumentation award from the National Science Foundation for the acquisition of a new field-emission scanning electron microscope.

The state-of-the-art microscope will enhance research capabilities for the School of Pharmacy, the School of Engineering and the College of Liberal Arts. Expected to arrive in October, the instrument will be housed in the School of Pharmacy, a convenient location for many of the departments involved.

“It was a great accomplishment by the whole group,” said Soumyajit Majumdar, principal investigator for the award, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery and the School of Pharmacy’s associate dean for research and graduate programs. “Getting extramural funding is a challenge, and this is even more exciting because it is a universitywide achievement.

“The microscope is going to exponentially improve the capabilities and visibility of the university, and will positively impact the training and education of our graduate and undergraduate students.”

Scanning electron microscopes focus beams of electrons onto an object’s surface to create images with high magnification and resolution. The instruments can be used to assemble microchips, conduct genetic testing and test new medicines.

This will be the most advanced electron microscope at Ole Miss, replacing the existing device that has supported research programs over the past 17 years.

Vijayasankar Raman, a research scientist in the National Center for Natural Products Research, serves as a co-principal investigator for the grant along with Brenda Hutton-Prager, assistant professor of chemical engineering, Jennifer Gifford, assistant professor of geology and geological engineering, and Amala Dass, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Raman has overseen UM’s existing scanning electron microscope facility since 2011.

“This award will be a game changer in the research outcomes and publications from UM,” Raman said. “The acquisition of a modern SEM puts UM on par with top-notch universities in the U.S. and around the world.”

Traditional researchers won’t be the only ones to enjoy the microscope. With 10 UM departments involved in its proposal, at least 14 existing undergraduate and graduate courses will use the instrument, allowing more than 500 students to access the microscope for their own research purposes.

The university also plans to involve neighboring institutions, high school and community college students, and K-12 students and teachers through outreach programs.

Funds for the microscope are provided by grant number 1726880 from the National Science Foundation.