Pharmacy Student Receives National Scholarship

Alexandria Gochenauer hopes to someday work in veterinary or educational setting

Alexandria Gochenauer

OXFORD, Miss. – The National Community Pharmacy Association recognized University of Mississippi third-year student pharmacist Alexandria Gochenauer with a Presidential Scholarship during its annual convention’s awards ceremony last month.

The $2,000 award will go toward Gochenauer’s academic endeavors, as the organization selects scholarship honorees based on academic achievement, leadership qualities and an interest in independent pharmacy. The NCPA represents the employees of more than 22,000 independent community pharmacies across the country, which dispense nearly half the nation’s retail prescription medicines.

“In addition to being excited, I felt extremely honored and grateful to be a recipient of the NCPA Foundation’s Presidential Scholarship,” Gochenauer said.

Along with the Presidential Scholarship, Gochenauer also was recognized as Outstanding Student Chapter Member at the convention. Both accolades come as no surprise to Erin Holmes, the group’s adviser and associate professor of pharmacy administration.

“I cannot imagine a student more deserving of receiving the NCPA Foundation’s Presidential Scholarship for academic and leadership excellence than Alex,” Holmes said. “Alex is very motivated, has always been a self-starter, has a strong work ethic and has a profound attention to detail.

“She played a pivotal role in starting the nation’s first American College of Veterinary Pharmacists chapter here at Ole Miss and played a significant leadership role as vice president of our NCPA chapter. I am extremely proud of all Alex has accomplished, and look forward to her future contributions to our profession.”

A native of Republic, Missouri, Gochenauer hopes to complete a veterinary pharmacy residency after graduation. She aspires not only to help animals, but others interested in the field as well.

Representatives of McKesson Corp. present UM pharmacy student Alexandria Gochenauer (second from left) with a Presidential Scholarship at the National Community Pharmacy Association’s annual meeting. Submitted photo

“I would love to work at a veterinary college in the future, running the pharmacy as well as teaching the veterinary students pharmacology,” Gochenauer said. “I am also interested in compounding and may eventually try to open my own independent compounding pharmacy.”

Gochenauer plans to use the scholarship to help advance her career and her goals.

“Being a recipient of this scholarship has afforded me the opportunity to network with others who can share their experiences and knowledge,” Gochenauer said. “This is an essential step toward my dream of obtaining a veterinary pharmacy residency.

“In addition, this is an amazing accomplishment, and I believe that future employers will recognize the hard work I have put into my education and career.”

Attendees Participate in First UM Natural Products Training Lab Course

Pharmacy school sets next session for February

Students in the first course of the Natural Products Training Lab at the UM National Center for Natural Products Research learn about the capabilities of the lab’s instruments. UM photo by Sydney DuPriest

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy and its National Center for Natural Products Research conducted their first course recently in the Natural Products Training Lab, covering various aspects and techniques of botanical authentication.

“I am very pleased with how the first training lab course went,” said Ikhlas Khan, NCNPR director. “This will be a great resource moving forward, and I’m looking forward to many more courses in the future.”

Over the three-day course, participants from industry and academia at and outside the university learned basic techniques for analyzing natural products using instruments that perform chromatography, microscopy and taxonomy. The course also offered solutions to problems related to authentication and quality issues in real workplaces, while providing practical tools that participants can apply to their own analytical processes.

“The program was definitely an eye-opener for me,” said Pei Cee Lim, a visiting scholar at the university. “It showed the importance that different expertise is needed to work together.”

The training center includes five laboratories and occupies 3,000 square feet that can be used to teach best practices in natural products and botanical dietary supplements. It is a collaboration between Ole Miss researchers and Waters Corp., with Waters provided several cutting-edge analytical systems and software. These include three liquid chromatography/mass spectrometer systems, as well as an accelerated supercritical fluid extraction system, each designed for various applications.

“The course is organized very well,” said Aihua Liu of Genysis Labs. “Trainers are very knowledgeable, patient and teach very well, too.”

The next course is scheduled for Feb. 12-16, 2018, and registration is available at http://pharmacy.olemiss.edu/nptl/. Both three- and five-day courses will be offered.

Pharmacy Student Group Named Most Improved Chapter of the Year

Organization honored by National Community Pharmacists Association at annual convention

UM pharmacy Dean David D. Allen (left) and members of the Ole Miss chapter of the National Community Pharmacists Association celebrate being named the Most Improved Chapter of the Year at the 2017 NCPA Convention. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy’s student chapter of the National Community Pharmacists Association was recognized as the Most Improved Chapter of the Year at the NCPA Convention in Orlando earlier this month.

“Our chapter is devoted to promoting independent pharmacy in Mississippi,” said fourth-year student Lily Van, of Honolulu. “It is an avenue of pharmacy that some people forget about, but it is such a vital part of our communities.”

Ole Miss has an active chapter, often hosting events that allow students to learn more about careers in independent pharmacy. Many of its members participate in business plan competitions while also taking advantage of travel opportunities for conventions and special events.

“We work closely with the Mississippi Independent Pharmacies Association, and over the past few years, we have also participated in the NCPA Congressional Fly-In in Washington, D.C.,” Van said. “It’s a great experience that not many chapters participate in, and sending students to D.C. allows us to actively advocate for our profession on the Hill.”

Some members, including Van, also are active in the national organization as representatives on the Student Leadership Council, a selective group of student leaders from across the nation chosen to represent NCPA.

“It’s great to see our students involved in national organizations like NCPA,” said David D. Allen, UM pharmacy dean. “The firsthand experiences they have speaking with community pharmacists and visiting Capitol Hill will prepare them well for future endeavors, and I’m excited to see what this group will continue to accomplish.”

Even with its award in hand, the chapter’s work is far from done.

“Now that we have won Most Improved Chapter of the Year, I feel like the work is just starting,” Van said. “I would love for us to continue to be more active in advocacy and community outreach, because that is truly what the profession is about: serving the community.

“I hope that we will win Overall Chapter of the Year, but our main priority is to continue to advocate for community pharmacy.”

State Organization Awards Three UM Pharmacy Professors

Professional society honors innovation and service

Jamie Wagner

OXFORD, Miss. – Three University of Mississippi professors from the School of Pharmacy’s Department of Pharmacy Practice were honored at the annual Mississippi Society for Health-System Pharmacists meeting.

Laurie Fleming, clinical associate professor at the pharmacy school, was the Health-System Pharmacist of the Year Award winner, chosen for her outstanding service, collaboration and significant contributions to the profession.

“It is an incredible honor to be recognized among some of the most impactful health system pharmacists in Mississippi,” Fleming said.

“Many of the past awardees have been mentors to me and have helped advance my career. This award motivates me to continue growing professionally so I can mentor other young pharmacists.”

Fleming has served MSHP in many capacities, including as past president and association manager. She directs the school’s Community Pharmacy Residency Program and won the Community Pharmacy Residency

Laurie Fleming

Excellence in Precepting Award from the American Pharmacists Association earlier this year.

 

Jamie Wagner, clinical assistant professor, won the Outstanding Young Health-System Pharmacist of the Year award, which honors exceptional service to a health care team, pharmacy or community by a practitioner with five years or fewer experience in health systems pharmacy practice.

“I am very excited to receive this award,” Wagner said. “It is truly an honor to be recognized for my efforts within the health system, and I hope this award continues to bolster the relationship between the medical center and the School of Pharmacy.”

Wagner will serve as chair of MSHP’s Education and Practice Committee in the upcoming term.

The Nutrition Support Service team at Mississippi Baptist Health System won the Innovative Health-System Pharmacy Practice Award. Clinical associate professor Phil Ayers leads the team.

Phil Ayers

This award honored the Nutrition Support Service’s new processes that guarantee the continuous delivery of nutrition support products for patients, a method that improved patient safety, eliminated waste and made significant contributions to the nutrition support community.

“I am proud to know and serve alongside these three exemplary pharmacists,” said David D. Allen, Ole Miss pharmacy dean. “We are fortunate to have such committed and service-minded faculty members on our team.”

Pharmacy Practice Professor Wins Mentoring Award

Laurie Fleming trains student pharmacists in workplace skills

Laurie Fleming

JACKSON, Miss. – Laurie Fleming, clinical associate professor of pharmacy practice at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, has been recognized by the American Pharmacists Association with its 2017 Community Pharmacy Residency Excellence in Precepting Award.

The role of a preceptor is to mentor postgraduate student pharmacists in workplace situations. As part of the School of Pharmacy’s residency programs, Fleming, who is also a pharmacy practitioner, works alongside students and acts as a role model to teach skills needed to work in an ambulatory care setting.

Dylan Lindsay, a previous resident of the university’s Community Pharmacy Residency Program, nominated Fleming for the award. In his nomination letter, Lindsay highlighted Fleming’s commitment to her patients, residents and the profession, saying that she embodied “professional commitment and leadership.”

“This award is an amazing honor and is a direct result of the outstanding residents that I have precepted over the past 10 years,” Fleming said. “Their successes have been the most rewarding part of my career. I am indebted to my students, my colleagues and my family.”

Fleming went on to say that winning this award challenged her to be a better preceptor for her students and residents.

“Our profession allows us the opportunity to improve the lives of patients, no matter the practice setting,” she said. “Making even a small difference is so very meaningful.”

Besides this honor, Fleming was named the School of Pharmacy’s 2016 Preceptor of the Year by the school’s students. She has been a recipient of the school’s Teacher of the Year award four times. Previously, she served as president and association manager of the Mississippi Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

“Laurie has demonstrated excellence in precepting, mentoring, leadership and administration of the residency program,” said Seena Haines, chair and professor of pharmacy practice. “She has endless energy and passion that is infectious to our students and residents. I truly appreciate her time and dedication to developing outstanding representatives of community practice.”

Fleming will receive the award at the APhA Annual Meeting and Exposition March 24-27 in San Francisco.

Faculty and Friends Remember Ron Borne as ‘Quintessential Educator’

Memorial service set for 3 p.m. Sunday at Paris-Yates Chapel

Ronald F. Borne

Ronald F. Borne

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi faculty, staff and alumni are remembering Ronald F. Borne, 77, beloved professor emeritus of medicinal chemistry, who died Tuesday (Oct. 18). He was known as a friend to all and a constant source of encouragement to his students.

A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 23) at Paris-Yates Chapel on the UM campus. The family will receive friends in the chapel from 1 p.m. until service time. A private inurnment will follow at Oxford Memorial Cemetery.

Borne joined the School of Pharmacy faculty in 1968 and retired nearly 40 years later in 2004. He won the universitywide Outstanding Teaching Award in 1970 and the School of Pharmacy’s Outstanding Teaching Award six times from 1982 to1998. He served as chair of the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and as the university’s interim vice chancellor for research from 1998 to 2001, yet he always returned to teaching.

After retiring, he came back to the School of Pharmacy to help teach as needed, even keeping an office in the school until the time of his passing.

He won the Mississippi Professor of the Year Award from the national Council for the Advancement and Support of Education in 1992.

“I have to walk across the Grove to teach, and when I go in there, there are 115 students who are motivated and want to spend the rest of their lives helping somebody,” Borne said. “They’re bright, they’re intelligent, they’re curious. I get to interact with them for an hour, and the amazing thing is, they pay me to do this. Think of how many people would like to have this situation.”

Borne’s son, Michael Borne, remembers clearly his father’s utmost dedication to teaching and to the university.

“He loved Ole Miss,” he said. “Aside from his family, the thing I think he was most proud of was when he won the schoolwide teaching award. He got most of his validation from teaching. He always loved being a teacher.”

John Rimoldi, professor of medicinal chemistry, was mentored by Borne and remembers him as a champion of students who went out of his way to make people feel special.

“Talk about a complete faculty member. He was it,” Rimoldi said. “He was everywhere. He seemed to know everyone, past and present. It was just amazing.

“He always took the time to get to know you, and he never missed an opportunity to be generous in his compliments and encouragement. He was the quintessential educator.”

Besides his tremendous impact on students and faculty, Borne contributed to the university’s research mission. His own research focused on the effects of drugs on the central nervous system, and he conceptualized and established the Laboratory for Applied Drug Design and Synthesis. During his time as interim vice chancellor for research, he significantly increased the university’s external funding.

“I really have to think that he was instrumental in moving us towards gaining the Carnegie (R-1) research designation,” said Chris McCurdy, interim chair of the Department of BioMolecular Sciences. “He was a tremendous ambassador for not just the School of Pharmacy, but for the university and for the state of Mississippi’s pharmacy profession.”

Borne won the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Robert K. Chalmers Distinguished Pharmacy Educator Award in 1996. When he won the Rho Chi Lecture Award from the American Pharmaceutical Association in 1994, he made the university one of only two schools nationally to have three recipients of the award.

He helped to found the annual medicinal chemistry and pharmacognosy meeting known as MALTO (Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma). In 1988, he won a National Service Award from the National Institutes of Health, allowing him to be a visiting professor of pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Since golf was his foremost hobby, Borne made the most of his time in Scotland. He also initiated a golf tournament at the School of Pharmacy, and the Mississippi Pharmacists Association named its annual golf tournament after him.

An avid fan of Ole Miss athletics, Borne served as a faculty representative on the university’s Athletics Committee in 1978-84. He helped found the Ernie LaBarge Bullpen Club and attended every Ole Miss baseball game for many years, keeping his own scorebook.

As a younger faculty member, Borne played on basketball, baseball and football teams within the School of Pharmacy, along with Dewey Garner, professor emeritus of pharmacy administration.

“For about 10 years, we had a softball team, a football team and a basketball team, and we all played together up until we were older,” Garner said. “We had a really strong team. One year we played on a slow-break basketball team sponsored by McDonald’s, and we had matching yellow uniforms.”

Borne once explained his philosophy of teaching in a university article: “A coach teaches his players the techniques and the fundamentals and then motivates them to succeed. That’s basically what good teaching is. You provide your students with the basic skills and concepts and then you motivate them to do their best. I don’t care if they can name every tree in the forest, but I want them to understand the beauty of the relationship between chemistry and the pharmacological sciences.”

Such turns of phrase made Borne an exceptional writer. He authored many professional articles, as well as “Troutmouth: The Two Careers of Hugh Clegg,” a book about the namesake of Clegg Field at University-Oxford Airport. His writing style produced profound observations told in clear, steady prose that revealed an appreciation for recording special moments and turning them into memories.

In 2005, one year after his retirement, the School of Pharmacy honored his living legacy with an annual lectureship in his name, featuring speakers from the field of medicinal chemistry. David D. Allen, the school’s dean and a longtime friend, remembered Borne as a frequent attendee at school lectures.

“Dr. Borne had an immensely positive influence on not only the School of Pharmacy but also the entire university,” Allen said. “This lecture was the perfect way for the School of Pharmacy and the Department of Medicinal Chemistry to recognize all he had done.”

Borne received his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Loyola University, his master’s degree in organic chemistry from Tulane University and his doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the University of Kansas. He also was a fan of the Kansas Jayhawks.

Along with his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Carolyn Hartdegen. He is survived by his cherished companion, Deborah Freeland of Oxford, daughter Debra Price and her husband, Greg, of Jackson, son Michael Borne and his wife, Ashley, of Jackson, daughter MerriBeth Catalano and her husband, James, of St. Charles, Missouri, two brothers and nine grandchildren.

Memorial contributions in Borne’s memory can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.

For more information or to sign an online guestbook, visit http://www.wallerfuneralhome.com or call 662-234-7971.

Author Returns to Oxford for School Reunion, Book Signing

Robert Magarian learned to think like a detective for his latest thriller

UM alumnus and author Robert Magarian will sign copies of his latest book, 'You'll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember,' at 7 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 8) at the Summit Lodge Bar in Oxford.

UM alumnus and author Robert Magarian will sign copies of his latest book, ‘You’ll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember,’ at 7 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 8) at the Summit Lodge Bar in Oxford.

OXFORD, Miss. – An alumnus of the University of Mississippi pharmacy school who has built a flourishing career as a crime novelist will sign copies of his latest thriller Saturday evening (Oct 8) in Oxford.

Robert Magarian will sign copies of “You’ll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember” at 7 p.m. at the Summit Lodge Bar (formerly the Burgundy Room) on the Oxford Square.

The author will be in town for the 50th reunion of School of Pharmacy graduate students from 1960 to 1969. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UM in 1956, a bachelor’s in pharmacy in 1960 and his doctorate in 1966.

“You’ll Never See Me Again” is Magarian’s third biological crime thriller, and he is working on a fourth. His latest book pulls from his background in medicinal chemistry to tell the story of a seemingly unsolvable forensics investigation.

Magarian spoke with Sydney Slotkin DuPriest, communications specialist for the UM School of Pharmacy, about the book and his career.

youll-never-see-me-again-book-coverQ: Tell us about your journey from the Ole Miss School of Pharmacy to writing novels.

A: There is a huge gap from the time I graduated from the School of Pharmacy in January 1960 to when I became a writer in 1995. In the interim, I worked in a pharmacy for 18 months and returned to Ole Miss to graduate school in medicinal chemistry under Dr. Lewis Nobles in fall of 1961. I received my Ph.D. in July 1966.

Then so much happened: postdoc at Kansas University, teaching at St. Louis College of Pharmacy and finally joining the faculty at the University of Oklahoma College of Pharmacy in 1970.

I didn’t start writing until 1995. Ideas started to come to me. At first, I didn’t know what to do with them. I realized I wanted to write a story, but I didn’t know how to begin. I took courses in fiction writing and attended conferences and joined a writers group; I wrote and I wrote.

I started out writing what I felt comfortable with: medical thrillers for my first two novels, “The Watchman” and “72 Hours.” With 30 years of laboratory experience and being involved in breast cancer research, I pulled from my background to write those first two. I must say that in attempting to write my first novel, I must have written what amounted to three novels until I got “The Watchman” the way I wanted it. This was due to a lack of experience. The more I wrote, the better I felt and, hopefully, the better I became.

Some pundits say you have to write a million words before you become comfortable writing. I believe that to be true, at least for me.

Q: What drew you to write mystery thrillers?

A: I always loved reading mystery novels, particularly the mystery/thriller detective novels. After I finished my second novel, “72 Hours,” I wanted to change genre. I didn’t want to become another Robin Cook.

I felt it was time to write about things I didn’t know about. That way, I could research new areas. I get my ideas from magazines, newspapers, the TV, overhearing conversations in restaurants and the internet. I was inspired to write “You’ll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember” based on the evidence of a true crime story that happened in Atlanta.

Q: Your books deal with molecular biology, microbes and cures for cancers. Can you talk about how your background in pharmacy influenced your writing?

A: I pulled from everything I learned at Ole Miss. In my pre-med B.A. degree from Ole Miss in 1956, I took courses in biology, embryology, comparative anatomy and other biological courses besides my major in chemistry. In pharmacy, I had anatomy and physiology and all the important courses, which added to my repertoire of scientific courses. In graduate school, besides the additional courses in biology and chemistry, I increased my skills in the laboratory. My research project dealt with hormonal therapy, which is the reason I moved into the breast cancer area after joining the faculty at Oklahoma.

I pulled on this knowledge to write the first two novels. What I didn’t know, I researched. Even though authors write fiction, they still have to do research and try to be accurate when necessary. Because of my training, I enjoy doing research for my novels.

Q: Talk about “You’ll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember” and the experience of writing it.

A: I was inspired to write this novel while I surfed the internet, looking for ideas in the mystery/thriller genre. I came across the Mary Shotwell Little case reported in several articles in Atlanta Journal-Constitution as the “Missing Bride” case. Six weeks after Mary is married, she leaves work one evening and vanishes. She doesn’t show up for work the next morning, yet her car mysteriously appears in its parking spot at noon with items of women’s underwear neatly folded on the front seat and smears of blood on the steering wheel. This took place in 1965. It has been opened several times as a cold case, but she’s never been found.

Reading these articles about this pleasant-faced, warm-hearted, loyal, punctual and well-liked young brunette touched me so that I knew I had to write this story in a fictional way to keep her memory alive. While some events in the novel are similar to those reported in the Mary Shotwell Little case, I remind the reader that this is strictly a work of fiction and in no way am I suggesting the events in “You’ll Never See Me Again, A Crime to Remember” solve the “Missing Bride” case.

Writing this novel was a challenge, but an enjoyable one. I paged through the evidence in the case and began putting the evidence together and worked to solve the crime. I read James Frey’s book “How to Write a Damn Good Mystery” to get in the swing of things. One important thing I learned from his book is that the villain is the most important character in a mystery novel. I thought it was the detective.

Being a novice in this genre, I worked six months developing my characters and three months plotting this novel before I wrote one word. I learned one important lesson from James Patterson, who taught me to keep an eye on the story and not to worry about the sentence when plotting. It was refreshing to learn that he, too, spends three months plotting his novels.

I had to research forensics and sought the help of two detectives who became my guides in presenting step-by-step law enforcement that occurs when a major crime is committed. They taught me about handguns, police work and how detectives think and interact with each other, officers and witnesses. Thinking like a detective is something I had to work on.

Q: Your next novel will be a sequel to “You’ll Never See Me Again.” Where will you take these characters?

A: The setting is still Atlanta. The detectives, cowboy detective Noah McGraw and his partner, Holly Roark, are the best in the city, if not in the East. I am putting them through a severe test to challenge their investigative skills.

They’ll be matching wits with a forensic supervisor in the Atlanta Scientific Investigative Division lab who is a psychopathic killer. He’s in charge of receiving all collected evidence coming into the lab from Atlanta PD crime scenes, including his own, before he distributes the evidence to his staff for analysis. The odds are stacked against McGraw and Roark.

Q: How do you feel about coming back to Oxford for a book signing and your graduate school reunion?

A: I’m overjoyed about returning for my book signing and to see old friends from my graduate school days. Our time together will be very rewarding. I’m looking forward to it.

I feel honored to book sign in Oxford, with its history of great writers. I met William Faulkner once when walking the Square one evening.

I had a book signing at Square Books in 2006 for my first novel, “The Watchman.” I am pleased that Jim Bulian is allowing me to sign my third novel in his Summit Lodge. I visited there over a year ago when it was still the Burgundy Room.

I love Oxford and Ole Miss. Since I left in 1966, I’ve made a special effort to get back on campus about every two years. Oxford is our second home. Our family lived there for 10 years, and we have close friends in Oxford. Two of our children were born here. I’ve witnessed many changes in the town since I first got to know it in 1954. Love the place.

UM Pharmacy Student Awarded Phi Kappa Phi Scholarship

Meghan Walker is university's second straight fellow of the honor society

Meghan Wagner. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

Meghan Wagner. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – University of Mississippi pharmacy student Meghan Wagner has been named a 2016 fellow of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, which recognizes academic excellence in higher education.

This marks the second year in a row that an Ole Miss student has won a fellowship from Phi Kappa Phi, which is the oldest honor society that recognizes all academic disciplines. The honor society honors 57 students a year from around the country with fellowships.

Wagner, who is entering her second year of the Doctor of Pharmacy program, also receives a $5,000 scholarship as part of the fellowship. The Grenada native plans to use the award money to pay for books and class fees, and to lessen her need for student loans.

“I was extremely grateful to be chosen for this fellowship,” Wagner said. “I know the list of potential candidates was stellar, so to be first chosen by the university, then by Phi Kappa Phi, I felt honored.

“For me, to have such a distinguished group of people find my hard work to be worth the recognition and financial support helped validate that I have been working hard in the right direction.”

Applicants must first apply within their local chapter of Phi Kappa Phi in hopes of being selected as the university’s sole applicant to the national chapter.

Michael L. Warren, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice and a former president of the university’s Phi Kappa Phi chapter, knows Wagner through a course she took with him in the pharmacy school.

“She is a gifted student with a positive attitude and professional demeanor,” Warren said. “Meghan is actively engaged in community service, both on- and off-campus. She is passionate about having a positive impact on children’s lives after graduating from pharmacy school.

“I cannot speak for the national committee, but her passion to help others was likely evident in her application materials and led to her selection.”

Wagner hopes to go into pediatric pharmacy.

Past Phi Kappa Phi fellows include notable names such as poet Rita Dove, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley and two NASA scientists. Marcus Daniels, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biological science in 2015, was last year’s fellowship winner from UM.

“My dream job would be to work in an oncology wing of a pediatric hospital as a clinical pharmacist, and I am very grateful to both the school of pharmacy and Phi Kappa Phi for supporting me in this endeavor,” Wagner said.

Ole Miss School of Pharmacy Honors Senior Scientist

Environmental toxicologist specializes in biotechnology for Army Corps of Engineers

in the lab

Jeffery Steevens

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy honored its Distinguished Alumnus of the Year at the annual Alumni Weekend Awards Banquet and Reunion Dinner.

Jeffery Steevens, senior scientist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was recognized for his involvement in student service and professional achievement.

“We are so pleased to honor Dr. Steevens,” said David D. Allen, the school’s dean. “He is the quintessential Alumnus of the Year. In addition to his distinguished career, he has time and time again mentored our students and served our school in multiple capacities.”

Steevens came to the university as a student in 1994 to work with Bill Benson, former faculty member and environmental toxicology research leader. Steevens graduated with a Ph.D. in pharmacology in 1999. That year, he accepted a position in Vicksburg, with the Army Corps of Engineers at the then-named Waterways Experiment Station.

“I started out as a team member on a toxicology team there,” Steevens said. “I was initially involved in a contaminant assessment in New York Harbor, where I worked with the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Within a year of graduating, Steevens was involved in developing an international treaty called the London Convention. The agreement controls ocean pollution and specifically addresses radioactive materials.

“The project was very interesting,” Steevens said. “I had to develop a guidance document for what is acceptable in regard to disposing radioactive materials at sea. Today, that document is used as the standard approach to this issue.”

In 2005, Steevens became one of only 28 senior scientists in the Army – an extraordinary accomplishment.

“The Army picks different focus areas for its senior scientists,” Steevens said. “My area is biotechnology. It’s a fairly broad topic. I’m currently involved in making sure that some of the new technologies that the Army is developing are safe for the environment and our soldiers.”

Nanotechnology is an emerging field that Steevens is evaluating.

Dean David D. Allen (right) presents Jeffery Steevens with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award.

Dean David D. Allen (right) presents Jeffery Steevens with the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award.

“This is an exciting area right now,” Steevens said. “There are great opportunities for things like body armor, medicine and protective materials. These can be used to help the soldier, but at the same time, we want to make sure that the materials don’t harm the soldier or the environment.”

Kristine Willett, professor of pharmacology, has worked with Steevens over the years.

“Jeff has been so supportive of our program and our students,” Willett said. “With his role in the Vicksburg labs, he lectures to our students each year in my toxicology class. It’s an incredible experience for them because he has real-world examples from projects that he’s worked on around the world.”

Steevens is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of BioMolecular Sciences, which allows him to serve on student committees. Additionally, he serves on the school’s Board of Visitors, an external advisory group.

Upon learning of his selection for the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year award, Steevens said he was excited and humbled.

“I have a very strong connection to the university and to the School of Pharmacy in particular,” he said. “I have a lot of great memories here. I’m thankful for the education I’ve received and contacts that I’ve made here, as well as to the people that have helped me along the way.”

Fourth-Year Pharmacy Student Lands National Scholarship

Program encourages students to pursue careers in academia

OXFORD, Miss. – Cody Tawater, a fourth-year professional pharmacy student at the University of Mississippi, has been chosen to participate in the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s Walmart Scholars Program.

John Rimoldi (left) and Cody Tawater

John Rimoldi (left) and Cody Tawater

In its 11th year, the prestigious program awards $1,000 scholarships to 85 student-faculty pairs from AACP member institutions to attend select seminars and annual meetings.

“The goal of the scholarship in general is to allow pharmacy students the opportunity to attend the (AACP) national meeting and strengthen students’ commitment to the profession of academia,” said Tawater, of Philadelphia, Mississippi. “It gives the recipients the opportunity to network with faculty from schools around the country and with other Walmart scholars who are envisioning a career in academia.”

John Rimoldi, UM professor of medicinal chemistry, is serving as Tawater’s faculty mentor and will help Tawater network with other faculty members. He will also help Tawater understand a number of academia issues, such as teaching pedagogies and curricular design.

“Cody has all the best attributes one desires in a student and a future faculty colleague: a resolute work ethic, a commitment to excellence in research and scholarship, and a desire and gift for teaching and service,” Rimoldi said.

Since the program’s inception, 14 scholar-mentor teams from the UM School of Pharmacy have participated in the program. Rimoldi said that this is telling.

“It’s a testament to our students’ outstanding achievements and our faculty commitment to mentoring,” he said.

Tawater hopes to get a behind-the-scenes look at academia through his involvement in the program.

“I hope to gain a greater understanding of academic pharmacy and how fulfilling of a career it could be,” he said. “There are so many parts of academia that are unseen by the students, and I hope to learn about them.”

In conjunction with the program, Tawater attended AACP’s annual meeting July 9-15 in National Harbor, Maryland.

“I feel that it is a great honor to represent the University of Mississippi as a Walmart scholar,” Tawater said. “Being a pharmacy student at Ole Miss has opened my eyes to all sorts of new things, including academic pharmacy. I hope I represented the school well.”