Graduate Students Receive Grants for Research Efforts

Competitive awards help burgeoning researchers learn critical skills, develop projects

The UM Graduate Student Council Research Fund has awarded $1,000 grants to 21 students to support their research and creative projects over the coming year. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – Twenty-one University of Mississippi graduate students have been awarded Graduate Student Council Research Fund grants to support their research, study and creative scholarship.

The $1,000 competitive research grants, funded by the UM Graduate School and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, are for projects conducted through April 2020.

The goals of the program are to increase the marketability, competitiveness and opportunities of Ole Miss graduate students; increase the number of proposals from and awards for graduate students; and expand the ability of graduate students to conduct research and/or creative or innovation projects to a degree not possible with departmental funds alone.

“Gaining experience in writing grant proposals is critical for our graduate students,” said Annette Kluck, dean of the Graduate School and professor of leadership and counselor education.

“The opportunity to compete for these internal grants not only provides graduate students the funds needed to conduct their research, but they also gain critical skills in writing and speaking to an audience outside of their specific discipline – a skill they will need throughout their career.”

Students were required to identify an external funding opportunity and also were able to obtain feedback on how their submissions complied with standard guidelines used by well-known funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation.

“We designed the program to encourage UM students to search for external opportunities to fund their research, since it is important to bring in more funding but also important to learn about the process of how to get funding,” said Robert J. Doerksen, associate dean of the Graduate School and associate professor of medicinal chemistry in the university’s Department of BioMolecular Sciences.

“The funds themselves are practical and useful but also the application and review process can help tune the projects and train the students to be better researchers.”

Hao Liu, a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Pharmacy, is using her grant to explore the structure/function relationship of low-sulfated heparin for prevention and/or treatment of central nervous system damage.

“With this grant, I could apply techniques from my graduate study to central nervous system-related research areas, explore my future research interests and find a lead pharmacophore to help patients suffering from central nervous system injury or damage,” she said.

Chaz Hyseni is pursuing a doctorate in biology and exploring how subterranean termites in the Appalachians are responding to rapid climate change by regulating gene expression. His grant will allow him to further examine how subterranean termites modulate gene expression to achieve resilience to external environments and how this mechanism promotes adaptation to environmental change, he said.

The complete list of awardees, majors and application titles are:

  • Nicholas Akins, biomolecular sciences, “Design and Development of Salvinorin-Based Ligands for Opioid Receptors”
  • Brooke Allen, biology, “Genetic Consequences of Co-introduction of Ectomycorrhizal Fungi with Exotic Pines”
  • Grant Armstrong, political science, “An Examination of the American Political Consumer”
  • Tyler Bacon, biology, “Quantifying Predation Success to Identify Defensive Traits of Microbial Prey”
  • Monica Campbell, history, “Slums Are Our Most Expensive Luxuries’: Little Rock’s Metroplan and the Making of the Neoliberal City, 1939-1980”
  • Cody Cissom, biomolecular sciences, “Characterization of PRCP in Adipose Tissue”
  • Amelia Clayshulte, biomolecular sciences, “Profiling Chemical Plasticity and Activity in Caribbean Sponges Across Phenotypes, Geography, and Depth”
  • Chyna-Rae Dearman, biology, “Sex Differences in Steroidogenic Response to Cerebellar Injury”
  • Huu Do, physics and astronomy, “Analytical and Numerical Computations of AKLT Model”
  • Emily Frith, psychology, “Effects of Example Modalities on Generative Creativity”
  • Kymberle Gordon, nutrition and hospitality management, “Development of a Rural Perceived Nutrition Environment Measures Survey”
  • Jacob Harris, anthropology, “Bone Tool Production at the Terminal Classic Maya Site of Ucanal, Guatemala”
  • Chaz Hyseni, biology, “Subterranean Termites in the Appalachian Mountains: Responding to Rapid Climate Change by Regulating Gene Expression”
  • Spencer King, history, “Fighting for Home: How the Civil War Changed Northern Masculinity”
  • Hao Liu, biomolecular sciences, “Developing Sequencing Method of Heparin/Heparan Sulfate Oligosaccharides to Explore Potential Drug Candidates for Central Nervous System Repair”
  • Apoorva Panda, pharmaceutics and drug delivery, “Development of Lysozyme Loaded Dissolving Microneedles for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris”
  • Reed Scott, biology, “Spatially Explicit Habitat Selection: Contagion and the Ideal Free Distribution”
  • Rachel Smith, anthropology, “Isotopic Analysis of Human Migration Among the Ancient Maya of Ambergris Caye, Belize”
  • Emma Kate Thome, communication sciences and disorders, “The Prosodic Profile of Individuals with Prader-Willi Syndrome”
  • Silvio Polly da Costa Valladao, health, exercise science and recreation management, “The Impact of Wearing the Cosmed K4b2 Metabolic System on 5k Running Performance”
  • Kai-Wei Wu, pharmaceutics and drug delivery, “Design and Evaluation of a Novel Acid-Resistant Capsule Filled with Freeze-Dried Therapeutic Nanoparticles for the Treatment of Malaria Relapse”