ALUMNUS Winter 2014 - Mississippi State University

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#HAILSTATE Bulldogs go 10-2, Orange Bowl bound p. 18

I N S I D E Winter 2014


UAS technology p. 6 | Surprising undersea discovery p. 31 | Creating a buzz in the Big Apple p. 42 WINTER 2014




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Campus News


Freedom Summer celebrated with conference


Keenum delivers Seaman A. Knapp memorial lecture


Mississippi State debuts new interactive campus map

John P. Rush (’94, ’02)


Imprint - The Art of Letterpress

Alumni Association Executive Director


UAS technology in prescription-based ag


Cutting-edge testing technology at MSU institute ensures filters for radioactive materials are up to the job

Sid Salter (’88)


Researchers treat canine cancer, likely to advance human health

Editorial office:


University partners with Jackson VA to provide veterans’ healthcare


Building dedications recognize Porera and Lee


Sebba honored as Steinway Artist

Winter 2014 | Vol. 91 | No. 3 President

Mark E. Keenum (’83, ’84, ’88)

Vice President for Development and Alumni

Jeff Davis

Chief Communications Officer

P.O. Box 5325, Mississippi State, MS 39762-5325 662-325-3442


Libba Andrews (’83) 662-325-3479


Harriet Laird Sammy McDavid (’70, ’75)


Leah Barbour (’04, ’06) Vanessa Beeson Amy Cagle Bonnie Coblentz (’06) Susan Lassetter (’07) Allison Matthews (’00) Sasha Steinberg (’14)


Heather Rowe

Photographers Megan Bean Russ Houston (’85) Beth Wynn

18 State Snapshot 39 Our People 39

An artistic calling — vibrant illustrations bring ancient artifacts into focus


Creating a buzz in the Big Apple


Come home to work in Mississippi


Career Center puts students, alumni, employers on best paths


Shields, Ezelle join alumni staff


National Alumni Board Executive Directors


Silver anniversary class of MSU Alumni Fellows named

50 Infinite Impact 56 Class Notes 58 Forever Maroon


20 52 FEATURE ARTICLES 20 28 31

Deep water


International Institute facilitates global engagement

Students on dig site fled ground war in Israel Surprising undersea discovery chronicled by MSU geologist

Did you know you can view ALUMNUS magazine online with additional content only found on the web? Share these stories with others through social media too. Mississippi State University’s ALUMNUS magazine is published three times a year by the Office of Public Affairs and the Mississippi State University Alumni Association. Send address changes to Alumni Director, P.O. Box AA, Mississippi State, MS 39762-5526. telephone 662-3257000; or email // //

Cover COVER PHOTO CREDIT: Dr. J. Mark Reed is a pediatric ear, nose and throat physician at UMMC’s Batson Children’s Hospital. In his spare time, the self-taught photographer enjoys reading all he can about photography and taking photos around Mississippi, including Davis Wade Stadium. He shared the following story about the photograph:

“A few days after the pivotal Mississippi State-Auburn game, I had the privilege of seeing a young patient who has a severe chronic medical condition and multiple special needs. It takes a lot of love and support to take care of a child like this, and both parents came, proudly wearing their Mississippi State shirts. “I asked if they had gone to the game, and they said they had and that they attend most of the games. For some reason, I felt compelled to show them a picture I had taken at that game. This is not something that I typically do, but I wanted them to see a particular shot of Dak Prescott honoring his mother. “As I brought up the image on my computer screen, the first thing I heard behind me was the mother say, ‘He’s still wearing our armband,’ and on her arm was the same green rubber armband— with her child’s name imprinted on it— resting on Dak’s raised arm. ‘When we gave it to him months ago, he told us that he would never take it off,’ she said. “There were few dry eyes in the room at that moment because the armband speaks of a young man who keeps his word. Dak had no idea of the encouragement he was giving to a family that truly needs it. “I took this shot at the University of Tennessee-Martin game, and guess what? “He’s still wearing it.”

Campus NEWS Freedom Summer celebrated with conference

Mississippi State University hosted Freedom Summer activists as part of the celebration of the movement’s 50th anniversary at the “Remembering Freedom Summer” conference. Photo by Russ Houston


uilding a better future on the foundation of the past was the feature topic of Mississippi State University’s “Remembering Freedom Summer: Building a Better Future” conference in October. The three-day gathering, hosted by MSU’s African-American Studies program, allowed participants and young people the chance to celebrate and honor the Mississippi Freedom Project, also known as Freedom Summer. Fifty years ago, the Magnolia State had the smallest percentage of African-American voters in the nation, so volunteers, mostly college students from the north, came to help register Mississippi blacks to vote. MSU hosted more than 20 of the civil rights activists whose courage and determination played an important role in registering blacks to vote in 1964. Freedom Summer activist Dave Dennis, also a 1961 Freedom Rider, repeatedly emphasized that modern youth need to learn the lessons of the past. After he met an African-American student who didn’t know what Freedom Summer was, he challenged the more than 100 Starkville High School students in attendance to get motivated and make the world a better place. “The volunteers, the staff and the people within Mississippi that worked that Freedom Summer—they were involved in serious stuff, and they deserve all the credit



and praise,” Dennis said. “But, it’s the young people who are our future. I do have hope, and what gives me hope is when I sit down and talk with the young people.” Fifty years ago, volunteers and locals in Mississippi mobilized to make four major civil rights all inclusive, said Mississippi NAACP President Derrick Johnson. Adequate education, quality healthcare, workers’ rights and voting rights drove the oppressed individuals, as well as their advocates, to demand change. “Those were the four issues that these individuals worked on because they believed in the contract called the Constitution, and we stand here today, 50 years later, still in need of protecting, preserving or expanding those same basic rights,” Johnson said. “We need to look back in order to look forward,” said Kristal Moore Clemons, assistant professor at Florida A&M University. “We build a better future by learning from our past. Our high school students know it is not too early to start, so whatever it is you’re passionate about, be a part of that conversation. Use social media to find ways to meet up, and then, find ways to engage one another. “You already have what you need to make it work.” Freedom Summer activist Wilbur Colom, attorney and founder of Colom Law Firm, emphasized, while improvements have been made, the struggle for equal education, healthcare, employees’ rights

and voters’ rights is not over. “As long as people are being excluded and marginalized, that’s who we want to protect, and those are the rights we want to defend,” he said. “We are very fortunate in our community to have a group of historical figures that stood up for something that was right,” said Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman. “I hope we are all emboldened with the courage to do our part and make this world a better place.” MSU alumna and author Susan Follett spoke during the conference’s closing session about the use of inquiry-based teaching methods for passing down the lessons of history to today’s students and those in the future. “Building a better future goes beyond remembering,” Follett said, noting that some do not know the history in the first place. She recalled her own journey of having been “protected” from many of the realities of the Civil Rights era through a period of inquiry and discovery about the truths of the time and place in which she grew up—Meridian, Mississippi, during desegregation. Now, she said she advocates for the full teaching of history utilizing storybased resources, including memoir, poetry and authentic historical fiction to paint a picture of historical realities. “Reach students at the heart,” she said. n

To learn more, please visit

Keenum delivers Seaman A. Knapp memorial lecture


ississippi State University President Mark E. Keenum delivered the 2014 Seaman A. Knapp Memorial Lecture in memory of “The Father of Extension” at the annual meeting of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Keenum in Orlando, Florida, in November. Keenum’s lecture focused on the historic and future role of Cooperative Extension in helping producers, consumers, families and communities find science-based solutions to the challenges they face. “We can look back with pride and satisfaction on what Extension has accomplished during its first century,” Keenum said. “And while we can scarcely guess what the world of 100 years hence will look like, we can have considerable confidence that a system of helping people learn by doing where they live and work can make it a better place.” The Seaman A. Knapp Lecture is one of three rotating lectures presented by the APLU and U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) honoring three historic LandGrant University figures: Seaman A. Knapp, Justin Smith Morrill, and William Henry Hatch. Nominations for this prestigious award are submitted by land-grant universities, stakeholders, foundations, public interest groups and international organizations. Keenum discussed how American universities, and land-grant institutions in particular, are well equipped to help governments, international organizations, the private business sector, and nongovernmental organizations in addressing pervasive global problems such as vitamin deficiencies, access to clean water, hunger and malnutrition. “We have only scratched the surface of what research, extension and teaching at academic institutions will be able to contribute in the fight against world hunger in the years ahead, improving the health, safety and security of millions,” Keenum said. “Our challenge is to bring our resources to bear on critical global issues. One of the greatest tools at our disposal is the Extension model,” he added. Knapp’s success as a national leader of the Farm and Home Demonstration System helped bring about the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which resulted in the creation of the Cooperative Extension Service in every state. n

Mississippi State debuts new interactive campus map

The implementation of a new online campus map launched recently on Mississippi State University’s website. It’s a richly interactive tool that will help guide students, parents, alumni and other visitors around campus, both online and in person. The map was created in conjunction with concept3D, Inc., developers of the CampusBird interactive mapping platform. “We believe this tool will not only serve our existing students, faculty and staff, but will also serve to amplify our recruiting efforts nationally as out-of-state students are able to virtually navigate our campus in a meaningful way,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. Highlights of the new Mississippi State University Map include a selfguided walking tour of MSU’s historic buildings, 360-degree panoramas of significant buildings, detailed photographs of residence and academic buildings, directions to numerous on-campus eateries, and reflections on the many monuments and memorials on campus. The map is built on top of Google Maps, which enables users to zoom in or pan out to the exact level of detail desired. The interactive map is expected to be instrumental as a way-finding tool, helping incoming freshmen and others new to campus make their way around unfamiliar environs. It is also anticipated to be useful for alumni who

haven’t visited the campus recently and who perhaps will encounter new and renovated buildings. While on campus, visitors can take advantage of the map as a navigation aid by viewing it on their smartphones, or they can use the website map as a tool in planning a trip ahead of time. “There are many different users this map will serve,” said MSU Chief Communications Officer Sid Salter. “Along with new students and alumni, parents and other campus visitors will be better able to experience what Mississippi’s flagship research university has to offer.” Salter said the interactive map’s implementation will be completed in phases. “It’s vital in this first phase that the Office of Public Affairs receive as much input as possible from MSU stakeholders about ways to refine and improve this tool moving forward,” said Salter. “We hope our academic departments will begin helping us develop a robust library of programmed walking tours specific to their departments —with the same true for all aspects of campus life.” MSU alumni and friends are encouraged to share the map’s URL ( campus-map) with potential students. “Prospective students come here from every state in the country to learn more about our quality programs,” Salter said. “This interactive map brings our campus to life and helps convey what Mississippi State is all about.” n MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Campus NEWS



tanding in a small art studio surrounded by the aroma of ink, a woman carefully loads carved and metal plates into an antique-looking machine. Beautiful prints emerge, and she handles them with care to add to the colorful display in the studio. Three years ago Suzanne Powney, an assistant professor in the Mississippi State art department, brought the oldest method of printing to the university—the letterpress, a relief surface that is inked, then printed onto paper.



“In today’s society anyone can make a smooth print from the computer,” said Powney. “The letterpress is a learned process to make tactile designs directly with skill and dedication.” At Mississippi State, the letterpress is specific to the graphic design program. Letterpresses are used to print textured designs, generally on invitations or posters, and these kinds of prints were common throughout the country until the 1960s when society moved to offset printing.

However, a few artists around the country saved letterpresses because of their ability to produce unique, tactile images. Its materials are extremely rare and expensive, due to their near extinction in the 1960s, but Mississippi State is one of two universities in the state with a letterpress. Many of the wood type, metal type, linoleum carving and photopolymer plates used for the letterpress at MSU were donated by the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson. Powney

allows students to develop prints using her personal collection of letterpress plates. During the fall and spring semesters, only graphic design students may use the letterpress, but a class on letterpress techniques is offered to all students during the summer sessions. Powney also allows former students to continue using the letterpress and its plates whenever they like. At Mississippi State, the letterpress is used for more than just grades in a classroom. This past summer, students

submitted their work to a local business, The Biscuit Shop, to be used as design decorations on the walls. Students also make work to sell to the public. “It takes creativity, patience and diligence to produce a work of art through the plates of the letterpress by combining three art processes to make a final product,” said Powney. The art of letterpress takes time to do each process perfectly, but the skill developed and the final outcome makes it

all worthwhile. Powney said that the quote in the letterpress room by non-fiction writer Scott Adams is the key to being successful with letterpress—“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” n

To see and learn more about the letterpress studio, visit MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Campus NEWS

UAS technology in prescription-based ag BY VANESSA BEESON


t is hard to compare an unmanned aerial system, or UAS, to a magnetic resonance imaging—MRI— machine, but that is how the director of Mississippi State’s Geosystems Research Institute sees it.

“The plant is the patient, the agronomists are the doctors and I am the guy that works on the MRI machine,” Robert Moorhead said. Unmanned aerial systems are the newest instruments being used in the prescription of precision agriculture, said Moorhead, who also is the Billie J. Ball Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the university’s James Worth Bagley College of Engineering. Flying above tractors and well below the typical aircraft—a space hotly contested right now—the unmanned aerial equipment has only been approved, to date, for commercial use in a very limited capacity. UAS commercial use was approved in the Arctic late last summer and, most recently, the Motion Picture



Association of America was granted a waiver to use the technology on controlled, closed movie sets. Mississippi State currently holds certificates of authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, to operate unmanned aerial systems for research purposes only. “The certificate of authorization, or COA, for an unmanned aircraft is similar to that of a manned aircraft,” Moorhead said. “Just like you need a certificate of authorization to fly a vintage plane over a football game, you need a certificate of authorization to conduct research in the field with an unmanned aerial system. The FAA needs to know details about the research being conducted including information about the place, the plane and the procedures.” That means the FAA needs a thorough account of where the research is being conducted, what type of UAS is in operation and how the pilot, albeit on the ground, is equipped to adhere to protocol in the event of an emergency, such as a lost link. According to Moorhead, authorization is constantly evolving.

To learn more about unmanned aerial systems, view a video about their use in MSU research at

Unmanned aerial systems capture an array of plant and crop images on Mississippi State University’s South Farm.

“When MSU began flying unmanned aerial systems, more than a dozen certificates of authorization were required to do all the research we wanted to do. That’s headed down to about five,” Moorhead said. “We had to have separate COAs for specific vehicles, places, altitudes and pilot qualifications. Because of our diligence and good standing with the FAA, we are now able to operate with fewer certificates.” Moorhead says it is important for farmers to understand the capabilities and limitations of the technology, which is still in the research phase. “These systems aren’t workhorses that can spend 10 hours in the field six days a week and current regulations limit the capital market required to further the technology,” he said. “While the UAS industry is able to utilize technology from other industries like the cell phone

industry, UAS technology will only go so far until commercial use is approved.” The FAA is developing regulations for UAS commercial use, and Congress has issued a deadline of September 2015 for the regulatory body to establish rules. In the meantime, Moorhead and his GRI colleagues are working with agronomists from the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station to incorporate the use of unmanned aerial systems in site-specific agricultural research. He said campus scientists are using the aerial equipment in the research of plant growth, nutrient management, irrigation and herbicide application. As Moorhead explained, the practice of precision agriculture requires a number of other technologies, including GPS (global positioning system), GIS (geographic information systems) and RS (remote

sensing). All are designed to collect and analyze site-specific data that then is used to create and apply effective prescriptions for every inch of an agricultural field. Until now, remote sensing data has been collected through ground instrumentation, fixed-wing aircraft and satellite.

“UAS is another remote sensing tool available to collect visual and multispectral data,” Moorhead said. “Precision agriculture is data-driven, and this technology adds another significant layer of data for researchers and ultimately crop consultants and producers to assess and utilize in a meaningful way.” MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Campus NEWS MSU’s Precision Agriculture Certificate While MSU’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, or CALS, currently offers a precision agriculture concentration for agricultural engineering majors, the college is planning an interdisciplinary precision agriculture certificate program available next year. Scott Willard, the college’s associate dean, said students cross-trained in their discipline with a focus on precision agriculture will meet the needs of the agricultural industries adopting precision agriculture.

“These industries need a workforce with expertise in both a focused discipline and precision agriculture systems,” Willard said. “Through this program, students will garner a well-rounded capacity for understanding precision agriculture as it applies to their major and across the entire agricultural landscape.”

For researchers, the most critical UAS component is its payload, or camera system. Various payloads can collect both visual and multispectral images and real-time high-definition video. Other advantages include: n Data may be collected as a single image or mosaics showing either portions or an entire field; n Much faster access and lower costs than surveying fields in traditional aircraft; and n Immediate downloading of data to a tablet or smart phone, thus expediting the process so researchers can quickly and more efficiently evaluate the information they are seeking. Wes Burger, associate MAFES director, said precision agriculture “currently encompasses a vast wealth of data-driven applications. These applications are built on sound research that characterizes relationships between observable phenomenon and plant performance.” Observing that precision agriculture research “is about connecting data to decisions,” Burger said, “The meaningful data within those applications helps drive every decision the farmer makes in the field.” Burger also said MAFES researchers “hope the data collected with unmanned aerial systems will augment and improve current management practices so farmers can improve yield, productivity and profit while enhancing environmental stewardship.” n



Four CALS departments: agricultural and biological engineering; agricultural economics; biochemistry, molecular biology, entomology and plant pathology and plant and soil sciences will partner with the College of Engineering, the Geosystems Research Institute and other MSU entities such as the university’s research and extension centers in the endeavor. Additionally, stakeholders from various industries will contribute their expertise as well. “We have tremendous support from agricultural industries to develop this precision agriculture and decision analytics focus in addition to enhancing our already successful agricultural engineering degree program and precision agriculture concentration,” said George Hopper, the college’s dean. “Our stakeholders hire the next generation of agricultural leaders, and no doubt students having a good understanding of precision/ decision agriculture will be critical in the agricultural workforce of the future.” Monsanto is one such stakeholder who has gifted a considerable amount to furthering MSU’s precision agriculture curriculum. The partnership between Monsanto and MSU will provide insight on the interactions and relationships of the environment, crop inputs, equipment and data analysis in order to tackle the food security challenges of an expanding global population. “The Monsanto gift will help us prepare students to become leaders in precision agriculture through the certificate program and eventually a curriculum,” Hopper said. “The gift also funds several annual scholarships which is crucial in attracting the best and brightest to work in the precision agriculture field.” n

Cutting-edge testing technology at MSU institute ensures filters for radioactive materials are up to the job



f released in significant quantities, radioactive materials pose a potential threat to people and the environment. Now, new research at Mississippi State University is helping the nuclear industry ensure that radioactive materials continue to be safely contained and that standards of safety are continuously improved. MSU’s Institute for Clean Energy Technology (ICET) is leading the nation in research to ensure that confinement systems for processing radioactive waste are robust and effective with minimal risk of accidental exposure for workers at specialized waste treatment facilities, as well as area neighbors. The university research center recently hosted visitors from the U.S. Department of Energy, Washington State’s Department of Health, Bechtel National, Inc., Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, and nuclear energy industry leaders from across the country to observe testing technology which assesses nuclear grade high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems. ICET is an entity of the university’s Energy Institute and is currently engaged in major projects funded by the DOE Office of Environmental Management, the DOE Nuclear Safety Research and Development program, and by Bechtel National, Inc., to test HEPA filtration systems with the goal of developing more robust HEPA filters for the nuclear industry. The filters are used at energy facilities across the country, such as the DOE Hanford site in Washington State, the Savannah River site in South Carolina, and the Idaho site. The opportunity to host prestigious visitors gave MSU a chance to showcase the ICET facility to those who are responsible for designing and constructing the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant at Hanford and those who regulate its operation. Charles Waggoner, deputy director of ICET and MSU research professor, said the highly technical processes and testing infrastructure are vitally important for assessing HEPA filtration systems’ abilities to withstand unexpected harsh conditions, such as a fire or high humidity event like a steam line failure.

Charles Waggoner, right, deputy director of ICET and Mississippi State research professor, hosts a tour of visitors including Department of Energy officials and nuclear energy industry leaders from across the country who came recently to observe testing technology which assesses nuclear grade high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems. Photo by Megan Bean

“The testing we’re doing is very significant,” Waggoner said, “and we are the only place in the world with infrastructure and personnel capable of doing this work.” The HEPA filters are the last line of defense to be sure that radioactive contamination is contained. These specialized filters are 99.97 percent efficient, and they are tested to ensure that they will maintain that efficiency, even under the stress of an unexpected event, such as if damage to a facility is caused by an earthquake. DOE HEPA filter technical specialist in the Office of Environment, Health, Safety & Security Subir Sen said his office prepares the directives and standards for DOE in regards to HEPA filter procurement and a separate quality control testing program. “We also manage the additional testing that the filters used in nuclear facilities for DOE undergo through an independent filter test facility,” he said, explaining that each individual filter used in a DOE nuclear facility is tested before use. “When test results were published by Dr. Waggoner which showed that

separatorless filters may not perform under certain conditions, we became interested. [DOE’s Office of Environmental Management is] following through with this test to find out how they perform and if any recommendations need to be made within our standards,” he said. Sen noted that the testing process at MSU is unique in that it combines different types of stressors to see how the filters perform during a combination of harsh conditions. While current national consensus standards also require testing for harsh conditions, the MSU testing at ICET is the only one that combines the conditions to occur simultaneously. Scott MacMurray, a project engineer with Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, South Carolina, said the testing at MSU will impact which design of filters his company will purchase in the future. As a member of the Energy Facility Contractors Operating Group, MacMurray said contractors who run the various DOE sites around the U.S. will be sharing information about the latest test findings at ICET. “Lots of different groups have sent a representative because it’s such an important program,” MacMurray said of the MSU visit. “All the different parties are interested in the results of the testing.” n MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Campus NEWS Researchers treat canine cancer, likely to advance human health

BY KAREN TEMPLETON, PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM THOMPSON MSU veterinary medicine doctoral student Shauna Trichler takes a blood sample from a patient with assistance from research resident Sandra Bulla and Dr. Kari Lunsford. They are part of a College of Veterinary Medicine team studying the role of platelets in diagnosing canine cancer.




research team at Mississippi State’s College of Veterinary Medicine is working to better understand cancer in dogs, and the work also could advance knowledge of human cancer. Their investigation began with only a tiny blood platelet, but quickly they discovered opportunities for growth and expanding the breadth of the research. “We have a lot to gain by looking at platelets and how they influence cancer and healing,” said Dr. Camillo Bulla. “A part of our research is looking at the platelet. The platelet is very small, but it gives us a large picture. We hope to be able to find a tumor much sooner by taking a series of blood samples to look at platelet contents.” Bulla is an associate professor in the college’s pathobiology and population medicine department. He and Dr. Kari Lunsford, a colleague at the college, have formed the Comparative Angiogenesis Laboratory at the university to better understand this process and treat canine patients. As he explained, cancers need the creation of new blood vessels, called

angiogenesis, to survive and grow, and tumors are able to create new blood vessels as pathways to travel and spread. They also are looking at the way platelets interact with tumor cells as they attempt to spread to the area surrounding the tumor or metastasize to distant sites in the body. Lunsford, an associate professor in the clinical sciences department, said, “We know that metastasizing tumor cells need platelets but it is not yet known what the platelets do for the migrating (metastasizing) tumor. This is one of the questions we hope to help answer.” Lunsford said she and Bulla foresee a specific focus on patients undergoing cancer treatment. “If treatments are successful and the cancer goes into remission, we would monitor the patient for a relapse of the disease by looking at its platelets,” Lunsford said. “This type of monitoring would be less invasive than taking biopsies and might also be an earlier indicator that the cancer is returning.” According to Lunsford, platelets also carry information about tumors and metastasizing cancer cells, and the team

hopes that by looking at specific proteins expressed in platelets (from a simple blood sample), they can identify new cancer earlier. Even more importantly, they want to identify when tumors are about to metastasize.

“Our lab has developed a new way to separate platelets from blood samples with far less contamination by other blood cells,” she said. “This new technique was developed by doctoral student Shauna Trichler, and is superior to any isolation technique previously used by researchers in human or veterinary medicine.” Trichler, of West Linden, Tennessee, is in her first year of work on a doctor of veterinary medicine degree, as well as a doctor of philosophy degree in veterinary medical science. Lunsford said the research “is already having an impact as researchers from around the country are contacting our lab for advice relating to platelet purification.” Development of the pure samples have enabled the MSU research team to become the first to characterize the canine platelet proteome, the full complement of proteins expressed in the platelet. “Now that we know what the normal, healthy platelet contains, we can compare it to platelets from patients with cancer to identify which proteins might play a role in cancer metastasis,” Lunsford said. “These changes in platelet proteins may also one day be used as a simple blood test for the early detection of cancer or cancer metastasis.” Bulla and Lunsford, along with their postdoctoral students, recently attended a special biomedical course at the Harvard Medical School. Only open to a select group of applicants, the visit provided the MSU researchers more opportunities to collaborate and further their studies. “We really feel like we’ve stumbled into something with the role of the platelet in cancer progression,” Lunsford said. “Being with so many respected, experienced members of the biomedical

field really helped us hone in more on what we want to find out about controlling cancer in animals and humans. “This was an exceptional opportunity,” she continued. “One of the most impressive parts of the course is meeting one of the leaders in brain cancer research, Dr. Isaiah Fidler. While many of the course leaders have their Ph.D.’s and M.D.’s, Dr. Fidler has a veterinary degree.” Based on what they learned at Harvard and their own work at MSU, the researchers said they feel there is a clear link between the disease in animals and humans. Their efforts also are part of the One Health Initiative, a current worldwide program to expand interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for humans, animals and the environment. “That a DVM is part of leading the charge in brain tumor research helps reinforce and in some ways validate what we are doing here,” Lunsford said. “There

is so much overlap in veterinary and human medical research. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity at the Harvard course. It has helped make our direction even more clear.” Following their return from Harvard, Lunsford, Bulla and other team members began working to secure funding grants that will enable them to expand their research. “In the hospital we often see patients who may have had tumors for long periods of time, tumors that were previously undiagnosed and did not present any problems,” Lunsford said. “When cancers metastasize and spread is when they become life threatening and debilitating. We want to better understand how to diagnose and control those initial tumors and eliminate the risk of metastasis. “As veterinarians, we are focused on treating cancer in dogs and we get the bonus of also helping advance treatment of human cancers,” she observed. n MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS



Charles H. Templeton

Ragtime Jazz Festival Including &

The Gatsby Gala

March 26-28, 2015

Scott Kirby Richard Dowling Dave Majchrzak Ivory&Gold速 (Jeff & Anne Barnhart) Jeff Barnhart Artistic Director

MSU is an equal opportunity institution

For more information visit: or call 662-325-6634



ad_MsAg14_fullpg2_Layout 1 11/6/14 10:42 AM Page 1

EXTENDING KNOWLEDGE CHANGING LIVES “Through Extension, I learn valuable information on improving my garden and my business. My grandson works with me at the farmers’ market, and we enjoy that time together!” William Tucker is a retiree who, with education and training from the Mississippi State University Extension Service, has expanded his home garden into a production operation growing vegetables and flowers for sale. Through his work with Extension, William has become a Master Gardener volunteer and the recipient of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to support adding high tunnels, unheated greenhouses that can extend his growing season up to 6 weeks, to his operation.

Contact your local Extension experts or find us online today.

Extension provides education based on scientific research in areas like gardening, the environment, family, food, youth development, business, and community. We connect people and innovations to help businesses and

communities grow a brighter future! MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Campus NEWS

University partners with Jackson VA to provide veterans’ healthcare BY LEAH BARBOUR, PHOTOGRAPHY BY RUSS HOUSTON


ississippi State University and the U.S. Office of Veterans Affairs officials celebrated in November their partnership—the first in U.S. history—to provide specialized campus health services to veterans.

“I think Sonny Montgomery would be very proud,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “This university is known as being one of the most veteranfriendly universities in the nation, and we’re deeply honored to help bring extended healthcare benefits to our veterans.” During the campus ceremony, U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper congratulated the leaders for establishing a new approach to providing veterans’ healthcare. The partnership was finalized in July, and polytrauma services, including mental health services and physical, occupational and speech therapies, began in September. By serving both local and student veterans at the Starkville campus, MSU 14


Mississippi State University is the first institution of higher learning in the nation to partner with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to provide medical services to veterans. The first veteran to receive services, Columbus resident Carla Bush, former U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class, worked with physical therapist Kevin Randall at MSU’s Longest Student Health Center.

and the Jackson-based G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Veterans Administration Medical Center are setting the example for institutions of higher learning around the nation, he said. “Thank you for being willing to do something that has never been done,” Harper said. “Making sure that veterans’ needs are going to be met makes this an even stronger university.” Gina Capra, director of the Veterans Health Administration Office of Rural Health, said the MSU-VA partnership will allow Mississippi veterans who live in rural areas to have much more convenient access to the services they need. “As we march toward Veterans Day (on Tuesday, Nov. 11), we’re going to continue this march to get more veterans more access to more healthcare,” she said. “Mississippi State is in the top percent of veteranfriendly campuses, and my office is most pleased to invest in this collaboration. “We’re going to continue working together to think about best practices, both statewide and nationally.” Veterans who receive mental and physical health services at MSU will save time and money, said Jackson VA Medical

Center Director Joe Battle. Patients will receive high quality treatments because of the telehealth technology enabling MSU and Jackson VA health professionals to collaborate and communicate electronically. “We’re going to make sure that our veterans are getting the kind of care that they need,” Battle said. “We’ve got to make sure that those people who have protected our way of life are taken care of for the service and sacrifices they’ve made for our country.” Harper emphasized that officials from the Jackson VA Medical Center and the campus health-services administrators at G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Center for America’s Veterans are representing their namesake’s tradition appropriately. Montgomery served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years, 1966-96, and his nickname on Capitol Hill was “Mr. Veteran” in recognition of his 35 years of military service, including active duty in World War II and the Korean War. Also, the 1943 MSU graduate’s efforts to support veterans through legislation led to the Montgomery G.I. Bill. To learn more about MSU’s partnership with the VA, call 662-325-6719. n

Be sure to keep an eye on web photo galleries on

Building dedications

recognize Portera and Lee


ississippi State honored its 16th and 17th presidents in October with public ceremonies dedicating the Malcolm A. Portera High Performance Computing Center and the J. Charles Lee Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building. During Portera’s tenure from 1998 through 2001, he continually advocated for the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center for Computational Field Simulation on campus. Eventually, that facility became the High Performance Computing Collaboratory now named for the veteran administrator in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. MSU President Mark E. Keenum said Portera’s emphasis on research, learning and service--MSU’s trifold mission-- made many positive impacts at MSU, and his influence continues to benefit the institution. “Probably no university president ever hit the ground running faster or harder than Dr. ‘Mac’ Portera did when he came to Mississippi State,” Keenum said. “All of our collective centers that are here at Mississippi State University tie into this wonderful high performance computing laboratory. It is a wonderful asset for the entire state of Mississippi, and it’s right here on our campus.” Annual research expenditures grew to $160 million under Portera, and faculty salaries increased. Enrollment increased as MSU’s research and development capabilities expanded, and key aerospace and automotive development activities contributed to billions of dollars in capital investment in Mississippi and Alabama. Portera emphasized his appreciation of having the opportunity to lead at MSU and said his spouse Olivia’s support was instrumental to his success as MSU president. “This is a celebration about an awfully fine group of people inside and outside who compose the Mississippi State family. They simply want their school to be the best that it can be; Olivia and I just came at the right

TOP: Former MSU President Charles Lee and former MSU First Lady Pat Lee pose beside the sign in front of the newly dedicated J. Charles Lee Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building. BOTTOM: From left, Portera, his wife Olivia and MSU President Mark E. Keenum unveil the sign in front of the Malcolm A. Portera HIgh Performance Computing Center.

time to be part of that,” Portera said. Portera completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MSU. He completed his doctoral degree at the University of Alabama. The J. Charles Lee Agricultural and Biological Engineering Building is located on Creelman St. between Dorman Hall and McCarthy Gymnasium. Keenum said Lee made numerous outstanding contributions to Mississippi State during more than a dozen years of service at the university, and his many positive impacts continue to benefit the institution. “He set access for students and academic excellence as twin priorities,” Keenum said, adding that Lee significantly strengthened Town and Gown relationships with the community and improved appearance and functionality of the campus during his tenure. “The very building that we are dedicating today was able to be built under his leadership,” Keenum said. “The programs

housed here are among the academic jewels of our university.” Mississippi State is home to the region’s oldest agricultural engineering program and one of the nation’s first in biological engineering. University officials have said the $11 million facility, which opened in 2007, enables the 136-year-old land-grant institution to continue setting benchmarks in these fields. Lee said during his remarks that the agricultural and biological sciences program highlights the best of the modern land-grant vision. “The thought of having my name on a facility that will help educate and create a bright future for thousands of students fills me with tremendous pride,” Lee said. “I am so grateful to so many people who made me who I am,” he added, acknowledging family along with several colleagues and staff, among others. “Thank you for this incredible honor.” n MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Campus NEWS



music faculty member at Mississippi State University with more than 36 years of experience in piano performance has received national recognition for dedication to her craft. Rosângela Yazbec Sebba has been named a Steinway Artist, joining the select ranks of some 1,600 highly esteemed musicians from around the world who have chosen to play exclusively on pianos produced by internationally renowned piano manufacturer Steinway & Sons.



“Professor Sebba’s selection as a Steinway Artist is a tremendous honor for her as an individual musician and it’s a tremendous honor for the university,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum. “Being able to have our music students train with an internationally recognized artist as a member of our faculty will assure the continued growth and sophistication of our music department.” Barry E. Kopetz, head of the university’s music department, praised Sebba, a professor of piano, theory and ear training, for being “a fine person and fine musician.”

“The Steinway Artist designation is considered to be one of the finest honors that a pianist can achieve,” Kopetz said of the sought-after chamber musician who has accompanied master classes and concerts of artists including Simon Este, Wynton Marsalis, The Emerson String Quartet, Joseph Robinson and Leontyne Price. “Not many musicians receive this kind of recognition, so for the professional world to acknowledge her talent and musicianship in this way is not only very special for Rose, but also for our department and the university as a whole,” he added.

Interested in catching an MSU ensemble performance? Check out the music department’s event schedule at

“We’re also starting a new campaign to have a stateof-the-art music building, where




concerts will be hosted. I’m hoping this distinction will help bring more attention to the music department at Mississippi State University and will show donors that we are very serious about and committed to our role of enhancing culture and music education in our region and the state of Mississippi.” Rosângela Yazbec Sebba

Founder and coordinator of the MSU piano pre-college program and retreat, Sebba currently serves as the Mississippi Music Teachers Association’s vice president for collegiate and national competitions. She is featured on the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Artist Roster, with a CD titled “Eight Sonatinas and the Sonata for Piano Solo by M. Camargo Guarnieri” released in 2010. Prior to joining MSU in 2000, the Brazilian native held positions at Gustav Ritter State Conservatory-Brazil, University of Southern Mississippi and Pearl River Community College. Additionally, she is the founder and coordinator of the Brazilian Music Festival

and has given recitals, master classes and lectures in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Portugal, Costa Rica, England and Spain. Others featured on the prestigious Steinway Artist roster include classical pianist Lang Lang, jazz stars Diane Krall and Harry Connick Jr., pop icon Billy Joel, and immortal legends Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz, and Arthur Rubinstein. “I am thankful to Steinway & Sons for giving me the opportunity to be featured in their prestigious roster,” said Sebba about her new designation as a Steinway Artist. “This is a huge honor not only for myself as a musician, but also for our university and state,” added the music graduate of

the Universidade Federal de Goias and the University of Wyoming who completed additional studies at the prestigious Julliard School in New York City. Since its inception in 1853, Queens Borough-based Steinway & Sons has designed what widely are considered the world’s finest pianos, those which “set an uncompromising standard for sound, touch, beauty and investment value.” The company has been honored with numerous awards and granted more than 100 patents over its long history. For more, visit “Whether on the stages of the most prestigious concert halls, or at one of the more than 160 All-Steinway Schools, Steinway pianos remain the pre-eminent choice for notable institutions and artists around the world,” said Robert Klingbeil, director of institutional sales at Amro Music Stores, Inc., in Memphis, Tennessee. The All-Steinway School designation is bestowed upon a select group of institutions of higher learning and conservatories who “demonstrate a commitment to excellence by providing their students and faculties with the best equipment possible for the study of music.” Formally announcing its commitment to make the university’s music department an All-Steinway School, MSU’s College of Education provided the Starkville campus with the opportunity to view its newly acquired baby-grand and four vertical Steinway pianos this past spring. Alumni and friends of the university may assist with gifts toward this endeavor. Those wishing to support the All-Steinway Initiative may contact Tish Cunetto at 662-325-6762 or tcunetto@foundation. In addition to joining the more than 160 institutions of higher learning and conservatories throughout the world with this distinction, the university seeks to become the only Mississippi school holding the prestigious honor. “We’re also starting a new campaign to have a state-of-the-art music building, where the majority of concerts will be hosted,” Sebba said. “I’m hoping this distinction will help bring more attention to the music department at Mississippi State University and will show donors that we are very serious about and committed to our role of enhancing culture and music education in our region and the state of Mississippi.” n MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS




State SNAPSHOT OUT IN FRONT – Bulldog quarterback Dak Prescott leads the way in MSU’s 17-10 win over Arkansas November 1. Mississippi State finished the season with an impressive 10-2 record while posting a perfect 7-0 mark at home for only the second time in school history. The Bulldogs, seventh in the final College Football Playoff rankings, meet Georgia Tech in the Capital One Orange Bowl on December 31.





ith their eager faces turned towards us, they point, smile and chatter happily to one another. We can’t hear what they’re saying; the sound of the drilling is too loud. But even without the noise, we wouldn’t understand them. They speak Tonga, one of more than 70 languages spoken in Zambia and the native tongue of members of the Simwatachela Chiefdom. Despite the language barrier it’s clear they are excited by what’s happening. The crowd that started with four little boys peeking through the tall, dry grass has grown to more than 50 people—men, teenagers, children, mothers with babies on their backs—standing in groups just beyond the safety line. They’ve come from miles around hoping to see the moment that will change their lives.



On the other side of the line stand six Mississippi State students in hardhats, safety glasses and earplugs. Their faces, grimy from a week of living in a village with no power or running water, show as much excitement as those in the crowd. After two years of planning, these students can finally see their Engineers Without Borders project in action. The students were welcomed to this Simwatachela village with a thank-you meal of more food than a typical local family consumes in a day. Sitting in low wooden chairs under a tree, they were served bowls of nshima, a type of finely ground, white corn grits; rape, a leafy vegetable cooked with tomatoes; and slow-roasted goat. Many in the group are disturbed that they saw the goat walking around prior to it being served, but Heather Cumming, our chiefdom host, explains that the dish is a delicacy and a luxury the villagers don’t often get to enjoy. Livestock is the livelihood of people in Simwatachela and sharing one of the herd with our group is their way of showing appreciation. The Mississippi State group is in Siamabwe--one of more than 320 villages in the chiefdom--to work on the first of four sustainable, hand-pumped wells to be installed in different villages during a two-week stay in Zambia. After many setbacks at the beginning of the journey, the students are eager to get to work. They make their way through waist-high, brown stalks to the drill rig that is set up beside a stand of trees. By Mississippi standards, this scrubby timber wouldn’t warrant a second look but here in southern Zambia it could indicate the presence of ground water, even in the six-month dry season. Everyone’s excitement peaks 30 minutes into drilling when a rush of water erupts around the hole. It’s a short-lived but promising sign that this well site could be successful. The drill continues to bore its way into the earth—40 minutes, an hour, 2 hours—with nothing to show for it but fine, white dust billowing into the air. It covers our clothes, our equipment and our lungs. Each puff of dry, ground rock seems to drain excitement from the atmosphere. The crowd starts to disperse as it becomes clear there’s no need to keep drilling at this site. The students look tired and worried as they make their way back through the field, with the community’s hospitality and generosity weighing heavily on their minds. The people of this village killed and cooked a goat to thank us. We will give them clean drinking water. “The villagers were so excited when they first saw water but then it stopped,” explained New Madrid, Missouri, native Kristen Sauceda, a senior in civil engineering. “When we let the villagers know this well wasn’t going to work out, they looked so disappointed, and in the back of our minds we worried that we might not be able to give them a well. But we’re not going to give up.” Fellow civil senior Katie Bryant of Jackson added, “It’s really frustrating to not hit water but it’s our first try. We started surveying the land to see if there’s another suitable place.” MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS



The day’s disappointment is hardest for Laura Wilson. A junior in civil engineering and president of Engineers Without Borders, she was part of last summer’s small assessment team that first saw what passes for drinking water in many of the villages in the chiefdom— small, stagnant pools of milky-colored, algaecovered water. Shared, hand-dug pits used for drinking, bathing and watering livestock. The ones that don’t disappear during the dry season turn to mud pits with lines of women and young girls waiting to scoop the acrid sludge into bowls and buckets, desperate for any kind of moisture to get them through the day. Wilson stood by a year ago when Leonard, head of the household in the Siamabwe Village, signed a contract that would allow the team to return and install a borehole. This type of hand-pumped well could provide

It’s dark by the time we reach our tents, but the team is excited to be home in the Subole-B Village. We’re staying with Cumming, director of the Simwatachela Sustainable Agricultural and Arts Program. Her work in the chiefdom is what alerted Engineers Without Borders to its need for clean water, and her mud-brick home serves as a base for our group. We cook dinner over a fire pit the students constructed our first afternoon in the village. This meal consists of canned vegetables and rice we brought with us on the 3-hour drive from the nearest town. It’s not the meal most of us would choose but it’s what we have. We can’t help but laugh after the stress of the day and the trip so far. The dry hole is just the latest in a series of setbacks, both big and small, that have plagued the trip. No amount of planning or preparation can overcome the fact that

“Working in Africa means you have to be flexible. Equipment breaks and repairs take a long time, tools are missing and you have to MacGyver a solution, schedules are set and then changed suddenly. It’s just part of it, but that’s why it’s so important to do this work. Without groups like ours, these communities wouldn’t have the resources to improve their situation.” Dennis Truax

TOP: Balancing their water containers on their heads, women often walk for miles to and from the nearest source of water. BOTTOM LEFT: From L-R: Liz Rayfield, Sally White and Laura Wilson serve nshima and goat at the thank you meal prepared by members of the Siamabwe Village. BOTTOM RIGHT: Matthew Blair investigates a hand-dug well in a Simwatachela village that will receive an Engineers Without Borders borehole next summer. At sites like this, if it doesn’t hurt to breathe in the water it is deemed safe to drink, regardless of the color, odor or known contaminates. This pit was being used for laundry when the Mississippi State team arrived.



potable water to thousands of people from miles around. “When we came to assess the sites the villagers were so gracious,” the Diamondhead native recalled. “We were thanked a million times even though we hadn’t done anything for them yet. It was so touching, and for a year I’ve been looking forward to coming back and building these wells for them.” The contract states that Mississippi State Engineers Without Borders will drill, test the water, and install a hand pump. In exchange, Leonard and other villagers agree to maintain the well site and hand pump. Without this kind of collaboration, they would have to continue living with an uncertain water supply or carrying their water containers for miles to and from the nearest hand pump.


On our way back to our campsite, the mood starts to brighten. We’re tired, dirty and hungry, but the trucks are full of talk about other possible dig sites around Leonard’s community. We bump, bang and thud down the roads, which are actually cow paths through fields or rutted routes of packed, rust-colored dust so worn that it’s usually better to drive in the ditch.

the team is performing engineering tasks in a remote village in sub-Saharan Africa, cut off from Internet, phones and repair shops. Broken equipment, missing tools and automotive trouble have already delayed the work and caused the group to switch from plan A to B to C. “I think we might be on plan H at this point,” Dennis Truax said half jokingly. “Working in Africa means you have to be flexible. Equipment breaks and repairs take a long time, tools are missing and you have to MacGyver a solution, schedules are set and then changed suddenly. It’s just part of it, but that’s why it’s so important to do this work. Without groups like ours, these communities wouldn’t have the resources to improve their situation.” Head of Mississippi State’s civil and environmental engineering department and faculty adviser to Engineers Without Borders, Truax explained that working in these conditions and having a shared appreciation for global service creates a sense of camaraderie among the team. Together they are seeing first-hand the differences between life in the United States and life in the developing world. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


“In many ways, Africa has become a borehole graveyard. So many are put in with no follow-up,



upkeep. That’s why Engineers Without Borders’ strategy of teaching the villagers how to maintain the wells and promising to come check-up on the sites is so promising.” Heather Cumming




Despite a decades-long effort to improve access to drinking water and sanitation across the globe, the World Health Organization reports that 748 million people still live without access to improved sources of water. More than half of those are in sub-Saharan Africa. “My chiefdom is not connected to the national grid,” explained Chief Simwatachela Boghwell Sialeka. “We want water that is not polluted, water that is safe for people to drink. Without it, life here is pathetic.” Contaminated water, like that contained in hand-dug, open-air wells, can spread diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid and polio, according to WHO. The organization estimates that across the globe more than 840,000 people die each year just from diarrhea brought on by unsafe drinking water. Sialeka, who teaches at an English-language primary school, said these diseases, particularly diarrheal illnesses, wreak havoc on villages in his chiefdom. But, he said he has seen how a borehole can help a once struggling village, thrive. “That community where they have a borehole, their lives have completely changed,” Sialeka said. “They are disease free. The productivity among the people has changed.”


Improving people’s health is just the first of the changes a secure water supply can bring to an area. Reliable access to clean water also helps these villages become eligible for more government and humanitarian assistance, since aid workers, teachers and medical personnel can then be stationed in the those areas.

“Water is the foundation of any development these people are going to have,” Cumming said. “There’s a direct correlation between starvation and lack of water. If you don’t have that fundamental, you can’t do other things to improve your life, your priority is always going to be survival.” Bill Mitchell, a 1975 civil engineering alumnus and Engineers Without Borders’ professional adviser, said the group hopes the reliable wells will help the communities turn their focus to irrigation for crops and a more secure food supply. “While the water they are drinking now is not suitable for human consumption, it could very well be used for agricultural irrigation,” the Gulfport native explained. “Right now their crops are sparse, but the additional water could help them better serve their domestic animals and extend their growing season to give them additional food sources.” The group relied on Cumming and her experiences living in Simwatachela to identify the areas of the chiefdom with the most urgent water needs. This evaluation formed the basis of the fiveyear project. Year one the team visited possible sites to assess the viability of installing wells, years two through four are focused on further assessments and the instillation of wells, and the final year will allow the group to evaluate the success of the wells and perform any necessary maintenance. “In many ways, Africa has become a borehole graveyard. So many are put in with no follow-up, maintenance or upkeep,” Cumming explained. “That’s why Engineers Without Borders’ strategy of teaching the villagers how to maintain the wells and promising to come check-up on the sites is so promising.”

TOP LEFT: Katie Bryant holds 4-year-old Radiance, the daughter of Heather Cumming, a Colorado resident who splits her time between Zambia and Sierra Leone as director of the Simwatachela Sustainable Agricultural and Arts Program. TOP MIDDLE: Dennis Truax (right) finalizes an agreement that will allow Engineers Without Borders to return next year to install a borehole near a village school. Gibson (center) acts as a translator and navigator for the Mississippi State team in Simwatachela. BOTTOM LEFT: This broken hand-pump might have been salvageable at one point, but the villagers did not have the means or knowledge to make the repairs. Part of Mississippi State’s mission in the area is to teach the locals how to maintain their wells to ensure their continued functionality once the project ends. TOP RIGHT: The Mississippi State team didn’t have to know Tonga to understand these grins. The community members were all smiles when the translator explained that the Americans were there to find a place to install a well. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Leonard celebrates after seeing water pouring from the site of a future hand-pump.

From L-R: Liz Rayfield, Matthew Blair and Sally White help clear mud so water can flow away from the drill site. As the only male student with the Mississippi State group, Blair was called “mutinta,” which means the one who breaks the order. The female members of the team wear “chitenge” to respect local customs.

From L-R: Gibson, Katie Bryant, Laura Wilson, Matthew Blair, Sally White, Dennis Truax, Kristen Sauceda, Heather Cumming, Liz Rayfield, and Leonard (waving) stand with community members at the freshly poured concrete foundation for the borehole.




To perform the equipment-heavy task of well development, Engineers Without Borders partnered with Overland Missions to install the wells in Simwatachela this summer. Charging $6,500 per well, the global humanitarian organization was the most cost effective drilling operation in southern Zambia. The cost covers the use of the drill rig and an operation team, as well as the materials necessary to complete the well and hand pump. Truax explained that Overland was able to keep the price low because the Mississippi State team completed the site assessments to identify possible well locations and agreed to work with local residents to provide on-site labor to finish the well. He said working with a reputable organization with a base in Zambia helps ensure that the wells will be maintained even after the Engineers Without Borders group returns home. “Boreholes are commonly done but in a very, very bad way,” Truax explained. “We have come across wells that failed within a matter of months because the company was here to make a couple of bucks and installed cheap materials. Overland Missions is local, so they have a vested interest in making sure the job is done right.” Joe Colucci who oversees Overland’s drilling operation in Zambia, said his group has more success in Simwatachela than in other regions, but still the success rate in the chiefdom is only approximately 50 percent. His group had hoped the Engineers Without Borders projects would snap a string of bad luck that saw the drillers embark on several ultimately unsuccessful digs. “Finding adequate water here can be quite difficult. Sometimes you get a small amount of water that’s not worth dropping the pipe in the ground,” Colucci explained. “It’s extremely difficult to drill for a week and find that it’s not a great water source. You’re sitting there, measuring droplets of water that are almost enough, but not enough to support a borehole. That’s when it’s a difficult call to make.”


The team returns to Siamabwe the next morning. Overnight, Colucci and his team have moved the rig to a site several miles from the original location.

Eager to change their luck, the Overland workers, who spent the night in the village, have already started drilling. The mood is hopeful, but the crowd of onlookers grows more slowly than it did the first day. Clouds of dust drift around the drill, but they’re different than the previous day—darker, heavier. Truax looks at the ground rock being produced by the drill. It’s less mica-based than before. It’s more like sandy gravel, a good indicator that water could be present at this site. It’s about mid-day when the first cries of excitement erupt around the site. A gush of water is pouring from the hole. Having been let down the day before we watch closely for signs of disappointment on the faces of the drillers, but they are all smiles. We’ve hit substantial ground water.

“It’s amazing to see how people react,” said Matthew Blair, a senior in civil engineering from Clear Springs, Maryland. “When we didn’t hit water the first day you could see the sadness in everyone’s eyes. It was pretty heartbreaking. Then to be able to, the very next day, hit water and see everyone jumping, yelling and going crazy that their lives are about to change is really awesome.” Leonard picks up handfuls of mud and throws them into the air. His excitement catches among the crowd and everyone is full of laughter and cries of “twalumba,” which is Tongan for thank you. The students pick up shovels to begin clearing mud and creating trenches so the water can drain away from the site. There’s still lots of work to do—hand mixing concrete, cutting trees to create a fence that will protect the well, and finding solutions to the problems that will arise as drilling continues—but for now we all breathe easier knowing these people, who are watching us so hopefully, will live healthier lives. Laughing, Leonard splashes in the mud, lifting his mud-covered arms into the air. He speaks in heavily accented, broken English but his words summarize how we all feel: “I am very most happy!” n


The Siamabwe well is 48 meters deep, with the water reservoir hovering at 34 meters below the surface. Pumping 27 liters per minute, it is capable of producing 13,000 liters per day—enough to maintain more than three times the estimated 1,200 people it will serve. But, while finding substantial ground water in southern Zambia is quite an accomplishment, it is only the first step towards quenching the people’s thirst. Before well water can be approved for human consumption, it must be tested for contaminates.


Siamabwe Village

Max. allowed by EPA


250 mg per liter


less than 1 mg per liter 0.05 mg per liter



0.3 mg per liter

Lead none none Copper


1 mg per liter

Source: EPA National Primary Drinking Regulations

Tests also showed that water from the Siamabwe Village’s new well contains no bacteria or pesticides. It boasts alkalinity of 180 mg per liter and a pH of 8, which makes it slightly alkaline. Its total hardness of 75 mg per liter is considered moderate and not likely to damage pipes, which means that with minimal maintenance, this well would provide water for years to come.

To see more images from the student’s travels in Africa, visit MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


MSU students on dig site f led ground war in Israel BY BONNIE COBLENTZ



A routine archaeological dig in Israel this summer put a group of Mississippi State University students and faculty members in the middle of a conflict that escalated into a full-scale war. “We had a front-row seat to a terrible situation,” said Jimmy Hardin, MSU associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures and organizer of the Hesi Regional Project. “We could see in the distance the missiles headed to Beersheva, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and we could see the Israeli missiles, the Iron Dome, going up to intercept them.” Since 1983, MSU’s Cobb Institute of Archaeology has sent teams to do archaeological work in Israel and Jordan every year possible. Although this year’s team was away from areas targeted by missile attacks, it had to evacuate the country one week ahead of the ground war between Hamas in Gaza and the Israelis. “When we thought a ground war was inevitable, we decided to get the students out right away,” Hardin said. “Our Study Abroad office at MSU was fantastic. When co-director Jeff Blakely of the University of Wisconsin and I felt that it was time to get the students out, Study Abroad had their tickets arranged for them the next day.” This summer’s dig started out as a routine excavation of a site MSU research had discovered in 2008 and identified as an area of interest. Groups excavated at the site in 2011 and 2012, and a team spent two and a half weeks of a planned five-week dig there in June and July. Hardin and Blakely lead the 43-person team, including MSU personnel, volunteers and graduate and undergraduate students, some from other universities across the U.S. The MSU team’s excavation work began in June in southern Israel in the Negev Desert close to Beersheva. Gaza is about 10 miles to the west of the site, and the entire country of Israel is only about 25 miles wide there. The dig, part of the Hesi Regional Project, is an excavation expedition at the site of Khirbet Summeily. Previous finds at this small site have dated to the Iron Age—as early as the 11th century B.C., which corresponds to the beginning of the Biblical time of the Old Testament kings. “One of the neat things about digging on these sites in the Middle East is the volume of material you get,” Hardin said. “There is

so much material left by past cultures in the Middle East. Even on this little site, we are finding tens of thousands of pottery shards, Egyptian artifacts and local materials from the coastal plain, which is ancient Philistia, and the Hill Country, which is ancient Judah.” MSU has a license from the Israel Antiquities Authority to conduct archaeological digs and bring some items out on loan for further study. Hardin said only about seven institutions in the U.S. specialize in the archaeology of Syria Palestine and are granted such licenses. MSU’s peers include Harvard University, the University of Chicago and the University of California, Los Angeles.

“This is a unique chance for us to go to the Middle East and do research, but it comes with a set of problems that can be quite daunting,” Hardin said of logistics and political instability. While the dig was going on each day, trip organizers kept a close watch on unfolding world events. “There was nothing that seemed different than any other season when we started putting together this project,” Hardin said. “But while we were there, the Israelis found three missing teenagers had been kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank, and several Israelis retaliated with the murder of a young Palestinian.” Tension and violence escalated, and soon missile and mortar attacks were hitting Israel from the Gaza Strip, which prompted Israel to strike back with jets and missiles. Soon, hundreds of missiles were flying every day. “Up until the time we sent the students home, we had well-placed people in the American consulate and embassy in Israel that were telling us they expected this situation to deescalate, but things kind of took on a life of their own,” Hardin said. The MSU team continued to work while Israeli tanks and troops streamed toward the Gaza Strip and missiles landed in parts of Israel and Gaza. The booms of their explosions formed the soundtrack to the team’s daily work. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


“All our students held up really well, and none were ready to leave, but our constant concern was for their safety and for the worry their parents were experiencing,” Hardin said. “We were very fortunate to be well-situated in an area that received no missile strikes.” Lydia Buckner is an MSU senior anthropology major from Fannin, Mississippi. She said the trip to Israel this summer was an opportunity to turn her dream of becoming an archaeologist into reality. “You can read textbooks and get tested on stuff all year long, but you will never know how it is truly done until you get your hands dirty,” she said. Buckner said the trip immersed her in a different culture with different values, beliefs and language.

“I loved every bit of it. It also made me have more appreciation for my country. I took freedom and peace for granted so much,” she said. “It was really hard coming back into this quick-paced lifestyle where people don’t really seem to have time for each other or take advantage of the voice and freedom that they have.” While the experience did not turn out as expected, Buckner said she has no regrets. “I felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be—where God wanted me to be,” she said. “I felt like the kibbutz [a communal farming village where the team stayed] was the safest place we could be in the entire country. Not once did I feel scared or that I was in any immediate danger. In fact, my parents and I have tickets to go back within the next year.” Kristen Bloom, Study Abroad coordinator for the MSU International Institute, helped most of the students arrange their travel before they left and was key in getting the whole group safely back home. (Read more about MSU’s International Institute on pages 40-42.) “We asked Jimmy to maintain constant contact with us, and he called in every day,” Bloom said. 30


At sunrise, Jimmy Hardin, Mississippi State University associate professor of archaeology, looks over the university’s dig at Khirbet Summeily in the Negev Desert near Beersheva in southern Israel.

MSU’s Office of Study Abroad promotes internationalization on campus and helps with risk management of students and faculty members when they travel with programs abroad. Bloom was part of a crisis committee that worked with Hardin, university legal counsel and other officials to monitor the situation and determine what action should be taken. She praised the cooperative nature of the students and their parents as Study Abroad worked during this deteriorating situation and scrambled to rearrange travel itineraries for home. “It is a testament to Jimmy that a lot of the students were truly disappointed to have to leave the dig site early,” Bloom said. “He could not have been a better faculty member to lead these students abroad.” One week before the ground war began, the call was made to get the undergraduate students out. The graduate students and staff members came out in groups next, leaving Hardin, Blakely and a contractor from Missouri to close down the site. “It’s a big deal to get out of the field,” Hardin said. “Three of us did in one week what usually takes a team of 15 a week and a half to two weeks.” By the time he was ready to leave the country, the ground war was underway, and no American and few European airlines were flying into the country. Flight cancellations were the industry’s reaction to the Malaysian

Airlines jet that was shot down in July in Ukraine. Bloom, who had already handled travel arrangements for the rest of the team, found a way to get Hardin home. “At the last minute, we just had to buy him a plane ticket on El Al, the Israeli airline,” Bloom said. “Probably the only person more relieved than me when he made it back safely was his wife Orly.” Gregory Dunaway, dean of the MSU College of Arts and Sciences, said the Cobb Institute of Archeology and the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures have, in tandem, created extraordinary opportunities for faculty scholarship and student training and research. “The Cobb Institute’s longstanding relationship with the Israel Antiquities Authority is truly unique and has allowed for one-of-a-kind experiences for hundreds of students over many years,” Dunaway said. Despite this year’s adventure, MSU’s archeological work in this historically troubled region has been relatively immune from conflict. “The College of Arts and Sciences is extremely proud of professor Hardin’s leadership, as well as his staff’s efforts in ensuring that the expedition’s entire team and the students were safe and kept from harm’s way,” he said. “The college is also extremely grateful for the tireless efforts of the staff of the Office of Study Abroad in assisting the expedition team to return home safely.” n

Surprising undersea discovery chronicled by MSU geologist BY LEAH BARBOUR


etween 2011 and 2014, a team of scientists discovered 570 methane plumes escaping the sea floor between North Carolina and Cape Cod. Mississippi State geosciences assistant professor Adam Skarke, then a physical scientist on the NOAA OER’s scientistsailor team aboard the Okeanos Explorer, played a primary role in gathering and

disseminating the data gathered on the ship. He was the lead author of “Widespread methane leakage from the sea floor on the U.S. Atlantic margin,” a recently published article in Nature Geoscience, the premier peer-reviewed research journal for earth scientists. The article suggests that the discovery of so many methane seeps is raising new

questions about geology, oceanography and sea floor ecosystems. Along with Skarke, researchers for this project included Brown University NOAA Hollings Scholar Mali’o Kodis, USGS Gas Hydrates Project Chief Carolyn Ruppel, USGS research physicist Daniel Brothers and Earth Resources Technology physical scientist Elizabeth Lobecker. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Images courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer 2013 ROV Shakedown and Field Trials in the U.S. Atlantic Canyons and of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.




ethane seeps escape from the Atlantic coastal margin sea floor near Virginia at depths lower than 1,400 meters, or 4,593 feet. Scientists had thought that cold seeps occur near tectonically active plates or petroleum basins, but neither are present near this bed of cup and bubblegum corals. “The seepage was not necessarily expected there because the tectonically passive area lacks an underlying petroleum basin,” Skarke says. The methane plumes, visible here as bubbles, support microorganisms that transform methane into energy. “Many of these newly discovered seeps may be related to the breakdown of a special kind of ‘methane ice,’ or gas hydrate,” Skarke says. Though the chemical process makes the ocean waters more acidic, chemosynthetic organisms, including some types of mussels, thrive in these kinds of environments. Other life-forms at this seep site include quill worms and anemones.


his massive chemosynthetic mussel community appears to be thriving; the white coating on some of the mussel shells is from bacteria. “Two years ago, no human had ever seen these seafloor communities that have now been found,” Skarke says. “These newly discovered seeps have expanded the number of locations that deep sea ecologists can study.” Wide distribution of mussels is common near many of the methane plumes and may indicate methane seeps over a widespread area. Thanks to the discovery of so many of these mussel beds adjacent to methane plumes, researchers are now questioning how the methane seeps are colonized, what other kinds of structures are present and how they relate to other forms of life in the sea floor ecosystem. The scientific team discovered this bed in 2013 on the Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition, the research mission that confirmed several methane seepage and gas hydrate sites along the sea floor of the Atlantic coastal margin.


apping Team Lead Adam Skarke conducts an Expendable Bathythermograph (XBT) cast to measure temperatures through the water column in the Gulf of Mexico, which features numerous methane plumes. The XBT scanner’s handheld launcher deploys a probe into the water that transmits temperature data back to the ship. Okeanos Explorer also has a deepwater multibeam echosounder that can locate bubbles of gas rising through the water, which made the sonar tool an essential instrument in identifying so many methane seeps along the Atlantic continental margin seafloor. “A cornerstone of the NOAA OER program is the collection of data that can lead to new discoveries for the scientific community,” Skarke says. “One unique aspect of the program that made it so enjoyable to work there was the fact that we collected many types of data about U.S. oceans and made the data immediately available to the scientific community for studies that could not otherwise have been completed.”

Adam Skarke using an Expendable Bathythermograph handheld scanner. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS



Images courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer 2013 ROV Shakedown and Field Trials in the U.S. Atlantic Canyons and of Deepwater Canyons 2013 – Pathways to the Abyss, NOAA-OER/BOEM/USGS.

ctopus Graneledone verrucosa explores the mussel bed adjacent to this methane seep site. The white patches are microbial mats of bacteria that feed on the methane, sulfides and shells of dead mussels. “Their metabolism may depend on methane or hydrogen sulfide, a common seep gas toxic to many life-forms,” Skarke says. While scientists have already gathered various data about mussels living at these sites, questions remain about them and other life-forms. For example, scientists continue to investigate how the octopus, as well as other ocean fauna and microbes, respond and adapt to the more acidic ocean environments near the plumes. In these ecosystems, methane does not likely indicate natural gas reservoirs. However, with samples of the methane, geochemists can determine the chemical composition of the seeps, as well as whether shallow or deep gas sources are the underlying source.


fter scientists identified bubbles escaping from the sea floor during a routine survey in 2012, the team returned in 2013 with Jason, a precision multi-sensory imaging and sampling remotely operated vehicle (ROV), to learn more. Not only can Jason dive to a maximum depth of 6,500 meters, or 21,385 feet, the ROV has six thrusters providing about 600 pounds of thrust, which makes it very navigable on the ocean floor as it surveys and collects samples from the environment. In this extensive, densely packed mussel bed, Jason collects sediment to investigate the microbial mat, as well as any other animals in the mud. The ROV also uses its manipulator arm to collect a sea urchin and a few mussels. Researchers are using Jason’s collection and seafloor surveys to determine whether the escaping methane indirectly provides food for animals living around the seep.



THE NEXT STEPS: For decades, upper ocean temperatures have been increasing all over the world, Skarke says. While some of the methane seeps are similar to those found on the Arctic Ocean margins, data suggests that some seeps have been active for more than a century. “With small changes in ocean temperature, gas hydrate can release its methane into the sediments, and the gas may escape at the sea floor to form plumes in the water column (so) a key question is how the longterm seepage and short-term warming of the ocean are related to methane escape,” he says.

The research completed thus far does not provide conclusive evidence regarding the presence of a relationship between global climate change and the seeps along the Atlantic continental margin sea floor. Most of the methane plumes discovered are located so deep that the gas never reaches the atmosphere directly. Skarke appreciates all the support he received from Mississippi State administrators, especially from the Department of Geosciences, as he worked with the team of NOAA researchers to compile the data and submit it to the top-tier journal. Likewise, administrators agree that Skarke’s expertise is offering both the

university and its geosciences students the opportunity to engage in enhanced research collaborations at Mississippi State and other institutions. “By hiring Adam, we bring research-based learning to both undergraduate and graduate students in areas of inquiry that are outside the purview of our traditional geoscience research and learning activities,” says geosciences department head Bill Cooke. “Adam’s research demonstrates that MSU geosciences are successfully engaging in very high-level research in the field of geology and beyond.” n MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


International Institute facilitates global engagement BY ALLISON MATTHEWS AND SASHA STEINBERG

From offering an international business program to hosting international exchange students, Mississippi State is a university that values having impact on a global scale. MSU’s International Institute led by Jon Rezek, interim associate vice president, assists students, faculty and staff as they pursue global learning, research and outreach endeavors. The hub of the university’s international activities, the institute is committed to fostering global partnerships and seizing opportunities to apply MSU expertise to global problems, as well as finding resources that will benefit the university’s own strategic goals.

OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH Enriching and expanding international research and strengthening global partnerships are key missions for MSU’s Office of International Research, said Heriberto Gonzalez Lozano, project coordinator. A source of institutional knowledge regarding international funding sources and university contacts, the office works to build collaborative teams composed of MSU faculty and staff and those at universities and organizations abroad. Assisting in the development of international research proposals and providing administrative support for global research projects also are among its primary functions. “We are constantly monitoring funding opportunities all around the world, and we are continually listing them on our website,” Lozano said.



“We also encourage researchers who are focusing or want to focus on a particular topic to let our office know, so we can keep an eye on opportunities that might match their interests,” he added.

OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL SERVICES The Office of International Services recognizes the positive impact that incoming international students and scholars can have on Mississippi State’s campus culture, and vice versa, which is why director Caroline Hearnsberger said she and her staff are committed to ensuring the university always is in compliance with federal regulations for hosting these individuals. “MSU’s domestic students who are unable to go abroad greatly benefit from the diversity and critical thinking that international students bring to our campus, as well as the many research collaborations and achievements that have resulted from our international student and scholar population,” Hearnsberger said. To accomplish this goal, the OIS staff regularly advises the university’s international population on VISA requirements through one-on-one counseling as well as mandatory immigration orientation sessions. In addition to assisting international students and scholars who come to MSU, the OIS helps outgoing MSU faculty and staff with making travel arrangements prior to and after they arrive at their destination. “Our office maintains the university’s international risk management system, so we conduct risk assessments of international city and country locations and circulate those to potential MSU travelers and administrative officials,” Hearnsberger said. “Additionally, if there is a crisis abroad, we coordinate the response efforts to bring university students and personnel home safely.”

“Students who study abroad have a lot more opportunities to interact with people who have different belief systems, cultural values and ways of communicating, so they return with different attitudes and perspectives that they can then bring into the classroom at MSU.” Kristen Bloom

OFFICE OF STUDY ABROAD Whether for two weeks, a semester, or an entire academic year, students who study abroad have the ability to enhance their educational experience and that of their peers at Mississippi State. “Students who study abroad have a lot more opportunities to interact with people who have different belief systems, cultural values and ways of communicating, so they return with different attitudes and perspectives that they can then bring into the classroom at MSU,” said study abroad coordinator Kristen Bloom. Naomi Taylor, an environmental economics and management major from Nesbit, completed an internship this past summer in the southeastern African nation of Malawi. There, she assisted the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in assessing the outcomes of irrigation techniques that had been introduced to small farmers in the wake of a 2005 drought. “Mississippi State helped me help others around the world, and for that I will always be grateful,” Taylor said of the experience. “When I was a senior in high school, I knew I had to come to Mississippi State. Now, I cannot imagine what my life would be like without this amazing university filled with endless opportunities, like sending me to Africa.”

OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Global partnerships are key in achieving MSU’s goals of answering some of the century’s leading research questions, such as how to end global food insecurity and hunger.

Developing and cultivating strong relationships with international and governmental agencies is among the goals of MSU’s Office of International Relations, said Karin Lee, director. Memorandums of understanding with partner institutions of higher learning around the world enhance MSU’s ability to engage in global research and development. “Additionally, recruiting and providing services to sponsored and exchange students is another objective, and MSU has been successful in attracting top scholars from around the world,” Lee said. Since 2010, MSU has hosted nearly 20 Fulbright students from 15 different countries. The nation’s flagship international exchange program encourages foreign nationals to study and conduct research in the United States. The program also enables Americans to engage in similar activities abroad. “Having Fulbright scholars on campus offers our students and faculty a valuable opportunity to interact with some of the brightest, most ambitious and outgoing students from around the world,” said Jon Rezek, interim associate vice president and executive director of MSU’s International Institute. “These students are generally very eager to share aspects of their culture with us, allowing our students and faculty to see the world from a different perspective, which is extraordinarily important to both understanding our world and to thinking creatively about solving common challenges.” Lee said the Office of International Relations also arranges campus visits by international dignitaries and other distinguished scholars, as well as facilitates sending MSU delegations to build partnerships during strategic international travels. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


For more on Mississippi State’s International Institute, visit edu. Follow on Facebook at International Institute – Mississippi State University, on Twitter @MSStateIntl, and Instagram @MSStateIntl.

OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT While learning about the world has become as easy as clicking on the Internet, real international engagement goes beyond hearing and seeing from the media and other secondhand accounts to actually stepping out of one’s comfort zone and gaining first-hand experiences. No one advocates international engagement more than Stephen Cottrell, who jumps at the opportunity to set an example by visiting and studying in other countries. Cottrell is director for the Office of International Engagement, and his role goes hand-in-hand with work he’s done for years. After Fulbright sponsored visits to Thailand in 2007 and Japan in 2009, Cottrell was named in 2012 as a Fulbright Scholars Alumni Ambassador, a prestigious distinction. As such, he advocates that faculty and students apply for the Fulbright International Exchange Program. Most recently, Cottrell returned from a 10-month appointment in Nha Trang, Vietnam, to teach American regional studies and cultural awareness measurements. Among his many international experiences, Cottrell served as a marine in South Vietnam during the war, and also has worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand and teacher in Iran. His personal experiences include taking a “walkabout” from the Afghanistan border to England. “Experiencing different cultures can drastically change someone’s perspective,” Cottrell said.


at MSU, language can be a real barrier. The university’s English as a Second Language Center is a sanctuary for those needing to immerse themselves with English teachers who are willing to help them not only with their English vocabulary and conversation, but also support them as they make the transition from their home culture to learning all about life in the United States. Many of the ESL’s staff go above and beyond to make students feel at home as they meet others from a vast diversity of countries who are facing similar language challenges. ESL hosts credit and non-credit students, those already enrolled at MSU and those who do not yet have a language proficiency test score required for admission. They also host groups of short-term visiting students from around the globe. “We focus on intensive English for either international students who are already on campus or who are hoping to go to MSU,” said director Alison Stamps. “We strive for high-quality language instruction because we’re preparing students for the classroom,” she added. Stamps said with close to 20 different countries represented at the ESL Center at any given time, a simple walk down the hallway can give a visitor a taste of the world. “We love that diversity. It’s a wonderful environment. It’s always great to see people of different cultures interacting,” she said. Stamps and other staff help ESL students make an easy transition to the main campus classrooms. “We focus on enabling students to achieve their goals,” she said. n

Mississippi State is becoming more and more known as a global educational destination. But for many of the world’s top students who desire to further their studies and their research




An artistic calling — vibrant illustrations bring ancient artifacts into focus BY ALLISON MATTHEWS

“You know you’re going to find

something. It’s just

how complete the

picture is, that is the

big question.” Dylan Karges

For artist Dylan Karges, his profession as a technical illustrator in MSU’s Cobb Institute of Archaeology is a true marriage of work and play, labor and love. He has worked full time on campus for more than 10 years, producing thousands of meticulous drawings of archaeological artifacts. To balance his precise visual documentations of history, in his personal time, he creates picturesque works which entice viewers toward a softer interpretation of the natural world. During his own time, he loves to work with charcoals and pastels. In the office, he primarily utilizes pencil and technical graph paper, and in later stages of his work, pen and ink. On rare occasions, he gets the pleasure of breaking out the pastels at work, usually when he is creating a major site reconstruction or ancient household reconstruction that crosses into landscape. During his travels to Israel, Karges captures the richness and significance of his surroundings. This summer, he accompanied a team of MSU archaeologists for the eighth time. The heat and the work is toiling for all, but everyone is motivated by the anticipation of discovery. Each excavation site yields thousands of artifacts, and Karges steadily works. He celebrates with the students and faculty as layers of ancient times are unearthed and delicately processed for preservation and scholarship.

The most recent trip to Israel was no different, save the haste to end the dig sooner than expected due to escalating violence in the country. Karges was among 43 students, faculty and volunteers who returned to the U.S. early to avoid potential dangers as tensions between Hamas and the Israelis broke into war. Despite their early return, the MSU team collected literally tons of artifacts from the Khirbet Summeily site, a site in the Negev Desert they have been excavating since 2011. With permission from the Israel Antiquities Authority, the team has been able to bring a portion of their findings back for additional study. Karges continues the illustration process after their return. Karges said that when archaeologists come to what they call a “living floor,” a layer where everything that was there long ago is still there but merely covered up, the excitement builds as tools, pottery, cooking installations and thousands of independent items are discovered and documented. “We try to keep very copious notes,” Karges said. “We’ll restore as much as we can, so we’ll look at individual vessels instead of 50 broken pieces,” he explained. Discovery is not a question of if, but when— and what. Karges said that the Cobb Institute faculty know where major occupations existed and have identified archaeological dig sites for students who want the study-abroad experience. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS



“You know you’re going to find something. It’s just how complete the picture is, that is the big question,” Karges said. “There’s a building of anticipation when we hit the ash layer,” Karges said, explaining that settlements sometimes were abruptly destroyed by attack or fire. Even when attacks were to blame for destruction, fires typically followed, Karges said. As burning homes and other structures folded down in flames, the layer of ash that was created helped preserve the artifacts left for future generations to discover. Associate professor Jimmy Hardin, who led this year’s field excavation indicates that if the political picture is clear for U.S. travel, he anticipates returning with MSU 40


students for continued studies. The Cobb Institute has been sending student groups to Israel regularly since 1983. “We’re pretty excited about the site and there are some specific lingering questions that were about to be clarified in the work that was cut short this summer,” Karges said. Back on campus, Karges works as the full-time technical illustrator to support the publication efforts for the archeological projects in the field. He helps produce archaeological volumes that showcase everything from individual artifacts to architectural and spatial reconstructions of dig sites. He also works on plans and sections (like blueprints) of the sites, which are scaled and measured drawings in precise stone-for-stone detail.

Accuracy, not artistic interpretation, is the top priority. “I’m best served not by my art background, but by the two years I spent in architecture school,” Karges observes. He says the School of Architecture was his reason for coming to MSU in the first place, but he didn’t stick with the discipline. Instead, he earned a bachelor’s of fine arts degree with a focus on sculpture. In Starkville, a city noted for its thriving arts community, Karges is well-known not only for his pastels of landscapes which often feature scenic trees, but also for his clay sculptures. He has amassed more than a thousand “little men,” each uniquely hand created but with a motif that easily identifies individuals as part of the greater group.

To see more of Dylan Karges’ work visit

Just as artistic drive motivates him to continue his creative endeavors, so does his professional drive and love of learning motivate his continued studies at MSU. This year, Karges began a master’s degree program in applied anthropology with an emphasis in Near Eastern archaeology. He and his wife Alyson Karges, a research associate in MSU’s nationally recognized Social Science Research Center and a graduate of the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, don’t shy away from the application of blood, sweat and tears, even during their “down” time. That’s why when the couple married in 2009, they decided to honeymoon and work at the same time––in Israel on one of the Cobb Institute’s excavation trips. Alyson

was awarded a travel grant and worked full time at the excavation site while Dylan illustrated in the field lab. While the mornings started early and went long into the heat of the day, afternoons yielded time for rest and exploration, a time Karges used for his own personal creative work. Throughout his journeys, he has used charcoals and pastels to depict Eucalyptus trees, pines in Jerusalem, and other ancient city landscapes. Karges says work and play both are essential parts of his life. Drawing distinct lines between the two is not the type of illustration he’s up for. Throwing himself head first into the tasks at hand has shown him that anything worth enjoying is also worth hard work. n

Images include examples of Karges’ technical illustrations, excavation site photos and artful landscapes. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS




rom Carnegie Hall to The Flea Theater, all the way to Jazz at Lincoln Center, Mississippi State alumnus Alvin C. Taylor II is Taylor enjoying a fulfilling career in the New York arts scene, and he attributes his success in part to the faculty in his alma mater’s music department. “The faculty with whom I worked at Mississippi State made me feel like more than just a number. They showed me that they really cared about me and what I thought. When I was in need of help or just wanted to chat, they all took the time to do so. They made me feel like I could do anything,” said Taylor, who graduated in 2011 with a bachelor of arts in music. As the first Musical Connections fellow for the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall this past spring and summer, Taylor was one of three individuals in the legendary institution’s community and education department who organized more than 90 musical programs and workshops throughout all of New York. Lasting anywhere from two weeks to three months, many of the events often catered to individuals in justice, healthcare, education and homeless shelter settings. “Our biggest goal was to engage and provide support to as many different people as we could, and we accomplished this by creating a safe, fun environment where they could express themselves,” he said. For one such project, the Musical Connections Team promoted songwriting as a positive form of selfexpression while visiting children at a juvenile detention center. “A lot of the kids there felt they had to resort to negative behavior—fighting,



cussing someone out, or acting up—in order to make their feelings known,” Taylor said. “We wanted to create an overall healthier climate within the institution, so we gave the children a project they could all work on and take pride in together.” “We had one-on-one conversations during which we would ask them how they were feeling, and then with our help, they would each write out their feelings in the form of song lyrics,” he explained. In addition to creating a sense of unity and providing a creative outlet for selfexpression, Taylor said the project teaches participants another important lesson— change starts within.

“We wanted to instill in these kids the mindset that it is their actions—not their situation or where they come from—that defines who they are and determines who they can become.” Taylor’s work with Carnegie Hall also afforded him the opportunity to interact with expectant parents—many of whom were single mothers—during a Weill Music Institute program called the Lullaby Project. Over the course of two weeks, participants, with the help of Carnegie Hall roster artists, wrote and recorded CDs of original songs for their unborn babies. “With the hustle and bustle of daily life, a lot of these parents may not have had the time to sing to their children, so this project was great because it provided them with a way to give a present to their babies while helping their babies get accustomed to their voices,” Taylor said. “A lot of these individuals also may not have had someone sing lullabies or read stories to them while they were growing up, so this program gave them the opportunity to share that kind of experience with their children before they were born.” Looking back now, Taylor said more than anything, his Carnegie experience taught him the value of having a good support system.

“I assumed so much about what others had; I figured everybody had a support system of some sort. This experience was really eye-opening because it taught me to really be in tune with other people’s situations,” he said. “Rather than trying to change things immediately, I learned the importance of being a good listener and allowing people the opportunity to get their thoughts out, so they can come to some sort of self-realization.” Residing in Manhattan, New York, the Mississippi native now serves as a development associate for the award-winning Flea Theater. His responsibilities include acquiring funds for productions and other projects by writing grants and maintaining relationships with theater partners. “Playing the trumpet for three years as a member of the Famous Maroon Band definitely taught me a lot about discipline, community and integrity, but more than anything, it taught me to have confidence in myself,” said Taylor, who recalls being extremely shy prior to coming to MSU. “Every Wednesday, students would play in front of the other music majors, and at the end of my last semester, I had to give a senior recital,” he says. “Both of these experiences were very nerve racking for me, but once I got through them, I felt good about myself and music in general.” Taylor said he also has been able to combine his passion for the arts and helping others through his work at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Wynton Marsalis company. As a program assistant for WeBop, an early-childhood jazz education program, he caters to families of children aged 5 months to 5 years. In addition to giving him the confidence to rise above any challenge, he said his professors at MSU also instilled in him the importance of never becoming complacent. “During my time at State, I learned that even if you practice a lot, there’s always something new you can learn; you can always get better,” he says. “My teachers taught me to always be prepared for any opportunity that may come along, and I thank each and every one of them for that.”

Bulldog Pride While completing his master’s in higher education administration with a concentration in student affairs in 2013, Taylor interned at the MSU Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts in downtown Meridian. The positive experience he had serving as assistant to the center’s Education Director Charlotte Tabereaux, he said, ultimately helped him realize his passion for doing arts administration work. “Dr. Tabereaux always was incredibly kind, supportive and welcoming of ideas. She kept her door open and was very honest, so I always felt comfortable asking her for advice,” Taylor recalled. “Even if something may be difficult, she would give me the chance to take it on. Whether it was writing grants or developing educational programs, she did everything she could to present opportunities that would allow me to blend my appreciation for music and higher education.” Working with Tabereaux also taught him about “the power of uniting people for a single cause and the importance of being very collaborative with your peers.” When he’s not working, Taylor enjoys practicing his trumpet skills, listening to a wide variety of music and attending concerts at Carnegie Hall and other New York City venues. Attending football game-watch gatherings sponsored by the MSU Alumni Association’s New York Alumni Chapter also is among the proud Bulldog’s favorite pastimes. “Some of the first friends I made here in New York have been fellow Mississippi State alumni,” Taylor said. “It’s nice to know that no matter where I am, the Bulldog family is always there for me.” n

“Some of the first friends I made here in New York have been fellow Mississippi State alumni. It’s nice to know that no matter where I am, the Bulldog family is always there for me.” Alvin Taylor




Come home to work in Mississippi I

f an alumnus of Mississippi State University is ready to move back to Mississippi, the campus Career Center suggests a simple strategy for finding employment. First, alumni can search for their ideal job through MSWorks at www.mississippiworks. org or by downloading the iOS or Android app (MSWorks). Second, alumni can sign up with to be notified of any jobs in Mississippi that fit their qualifications. MSGradJobs is a collaboration between the Career Center and nSPARC, an MSU research unit. nSPARC worked with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security to develop an application because employers desired to partner with all IHL institutions, like MSU, to advertise open positions statewide. Mimmo Parisi, professor and director of nSPARC, approached the Career Center to explore options and exchange ideas to help make this universal application possible for graduates of all IHL institutions in Mississippi. The result was with its slogan of “Connecting Mississippi College Grads with Mississippi Employers.” “Our team was able to take the ideas and suggestions of Career Center staff and create an application to meet the needs of alumni,” said Parisi. After trials at the MSU Career Center, the application was launched to all IHL universities in 2013 and the efforts continue. The application is used by employers in the state to advertise available positions. Alumni can register, upload a resume,



and view available positions. Scott Maynard, director of the MSU Career Center said, “Companies statewide are seeking experienced talent that only alumni can provide.” One example is Mississippi Power, a division of The Southern Co. As the new Kemper County Energy Facility moves closer to startup, employment opportunities for experienced professionals continue to open. There is an immediate need for chemical, mechanical and electrical engineers with at least five years of experience at the facility. All opportunities can be seen under the Careers tab at The Golden Triangle Development LINK team has recruited industry and created infrastructure in the Starkville area. Currently serving Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties, the GTR LINK has played a role in the development of three industrial parks, one of which contains two TVA Certified megasites. Current developments span the range of steel, aerospace, automotive, wood-products and defense. Major industries recruited include PACCAR, Severstal, Airbus Helicopters and the newest, Yokohama Tire Corp., which is currently seeking experienced chemical, mechanical and electrical engineers. Those opportunities can be viewed at MSU’s Career Center staff can assist alumni in finding positions in a variety of locations. For more information, contact the center via its website at or call at 662-325-3344. n

Bulldog Pride Career Center puts students, alumni, employers on best paths Since 1953, the Mississippi State University Career Center has taken pride in advising students during their college days, and the center’s services extend to alumni of the institution. Located on the third floor of historic Montgomery Hall, the Career Center is home to 15 full-time staff members




students in selecting the right major, finding real-world work experience prior to graduation, and landing the job that will place them on the career path of their choice. Even after students earn degrees, the Career Center’s doors remain open with a range of career-related services, many of which can be accessed through Connections —the center’s online hub for job postings, interviews, and other job-search features. The center assists alumni searching for a job, and organizations looking for ideal candidates to meet their staffing needs. Each Career Center staff member is assigned an allotment of academic majors and tailors each of their advising sessions to the clients’ needs. For alumni, this includes revamping their resumes, writing cover letters and honing interview skills to prepare for job searches. The place to start is Scott Maynard, director of the Career Center, said, “The center’s mission is focused on the professional development of all MSU students and alumni, but the services of our office are broad and allencompassing.” He continued, “We have specialized software applications designed to meet the job search needs of alumni and a trained staff eager to assist. Technology has opened up new opportunities and resources that make it easy to work with alumni no matter where they live.”

Sarah Herrington, a biological engineering major, explores career opportunities at a recent Career Fair hosted at the Humphrey Collisium at Mississippi State University. Photo by Keats Haupt.

The Career Center subscribes to a variety of software applications. One, CareerShift, was purchased specifically for alumni. Cassandra Latimer, the center’s associate director, said, “This software lets the user search for opportunities by geographic location. Alumni can see what jobs are posted close to where they currently live or where they might like to move. It works great for couples where one person has accepted a job and the other wants to search for opportunities in that area.” Technology also allows students and alumni to interview with employers over distance in the center’s room set up for Skype-style interviews, and the technology provides the Career Center a variety of options. Although mostly used by students to interview with employers that cannot travel to campus, the space can also be utilized by employers to interview distance education students and alumni. Another software application, CareerEco, allows alumni to participate in virtual career fairs that typically take place in April of each year. The Career Center has partnered with the MSU Alumni Association the past two years to host an alumni-only career fair in Nashville, Tennessee. Other cities being considered for similar events include Atlanta, Georgia;

and Dallas and Houston, Texas. Alumni may also attend any of the eight on-campus career fairs held each semester. Mississippi State alumni are also some of the largest supporters of the Career Center, and the center’s staff can assist organizations in meeting their staffing needs. Openings for interns, co-ops, new graduates or experienced professionals can be posted on the center’s website. Employers can also schedule on-campus interviews, register for career fairs or review resumes online. The Career Center staff works directly with organizations to advertise positions and secure talented applicants to review. The center’s job-posting features and oncampus interview rooms are available at no cost to the employer. However, employers who cannot do onsite interviews at MSU, can be accommodated in several ways— review resumes, email candidates or even set up phone or Skype interviews to talk with the applicants firsthand. “It does not matter if you are seeking one student or one hundred, you will find our Career Center staff eager to work in meeting your hiring goals,” said Maynard. For more information, visit www., or call 662325-3344. n MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Our PEOPLE Make an impact through the Mississippi State Alumni Recruiting Network Mississippi State alumni are known for having great pride in their education. One of the best ways to show pride and enhance the value of an MSU degree is by recruiting excellent students to attend Mississippi State University. The MSU Alumni Recruiting Network is a great way for alumni to stay involved with MSU while spreading the word to the next generation of Bulldogs. The MSU Alumni Recruiting Network, a partnership between the MSU Alumni Association and the Office of Admission and Scholarships, is a team of volunteer alumni who help MSU recruit students. Members of the ARN provide a unique and personal service to MSU. Volunteers assist with organizing in-home recruiting parties, meeting prospective students and their parents, and spreading the word about the opportunities at MSU. “Working toward a common goal, it takes each and every volunteer recruiting in areas all over the country to help our university continue to grow,” said Adam Shields, assistant coordinator of Chapter and Recruiting Programs. Shields explained that, each month, ARN members receive lists of student names, within their areas of residence. Members then have the information available to contact prospective students via phone, email or mail, by writing them notes on MSU-provided stationery. ARN’s goal is to enhance Mississippi State’s reputation across the country by building effective relationships between alumni and prospective students. Members of the ARN may participate in the following activities: n Represent MSU at college fairs and high school awards programs. n Host and attend home recruit receptions. n Refer prospective students to Mississippi State. n Call, write and email prospective students. n Encourage prospective students to visit Mississippi State.

Participants in the ARN have helped Mississippi State by: n Recruiting the best and brightest students to Mississippi State. n Increasing awareness of Mississippi State and its programs of study. n Providing alumni with a venue to serve and impact the university. n Engaging Mississippi State alumni and share experiences. n Allowing alumni to show pride in their alma mater in enjoyable ways.

For more information on the ARN or to get involved, please contact Shields at or 662325-3349. n



Shields, Ezelle join alumni staff The Mississippi State University Alumni Association grew its family by two this fall as it welcomed Adam Shields and Alex Ezelle into the maroon and white fold. The 129-yearold association strives to foster lifelong relationships between Shields the land-grant institution and its alumni through programs, activities and events. Both Shields and Ezelle are excited to be a part of such a storied organization and look forward to helping further the mission of the association and that of Mississippi State. In his new position, Shields Ezelle serves as the assistant coordinator for chapter and recruiting programs, and he provides guidance and advice for alumni chapters and their leaders. Shields is also a liaison between the MSU Alumni Association and the university’s Office of Admissions and Scholarships, and in this role, he will personally work with alumni to further the role of alumni chapters in recruiting students to Mississippi State. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in communication with an emphasis in public relations from Mississippi State in 2009, Shields served as assistant director of Alpine Camp for Boys in Mentone, Alabama. However, the former Bully mascot wanted to make his way back to Starkville. Shields, who has always been passionate about MSU, said, “I am proud to be a Bulldog because Mississippi State is a place where you can be a part of something bigger than yourself.” Ezelle is another proud alumnus joining the association. He brings with him an understanding of alumni affairs, and he continues to serve as an Alumni Delegate. Ezelle earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from MSU early in 2014, and in his new role, he will serve as a graduate assistant for the MSU class ring program and the Alumni Delegates while he pursues a master’s degree. Coming from Hoover, Alabama, Ezelle is excited to work with the Alumni Association. When asked why others should join the Bulldog family, Ezelle responded, “Mississippi State has something for everyone and the university provides its graduates with a solid connection they cannot achieve anywhere else.” Shields and Ezelle join an established alumni team under the leadership of executive director, Jeff Davis, who just finished his first year in that role. “We are thrilled to have Adam and Alex as part of our team and look forward to working with them to continue the growth of our association in 2015 as we mark our 130th year of serving Mississippi State and its alumni and friends.” n

Bulldog Pride

MSU ALABAMA CAR TAGS We need your help to reach 1,000

Mississippi State University car tags in Alabama are approaching the pre-commitment deadline, and we need your help to get to the required 1,000 tags for MSU.



*Must reach 1,000 pre-commitments

We have 700 reserved already, however, we must reach 1,000 pre-commitments before the production of these license plates can take place.

Alumni Association Executive Director Jeff Davis says, “This is an exciting time for Mississippi State alumni in the state of Alabama. It has taken many years and lots of work from our Alabama-based chapter volunteers to get us to the pre-commitment phase.” Displaying an MSU tag will let everyone know, wherever you drive, that Mississippi State University is your institution of choice. Help us reach our goal by reserving your Alabama tag at and become an even prouder Bulldog.

National Alumni Board Executive Directors NATIONAL PRESIDENT – TOMMY R. ROBERSON, ’67

Tommy R. Roberson of Madison serves in his second year as national president. Roberson, a 1967 political science and history graduate, retired from Kraft Foods after 34 years. He served the Memphis Maroon Club as former president, vice president and membership officer, and he served on the executive committee of the board of directors for three years, most recently in the role of national second vice president. NATIONAL FIRST VICE PRESIDENT – RON E. BLACK, ’80

Ron E. Black of Meridian is serving as the national first vice president. Black, a 1980 marketing graduate, is director of human resources for Southern Pipe & Supply Company, Inc. Black has served as South 1 Region director on the national board of directors for the past three years and has served on the executive committee for two years. He has been active in the Lauderdale County Alumni Association. NATIONAL SECOND VICE PRESIDENT – BRAD M. REEVES, ’02

Brad M. Reeves of Jackson is serving as the national second vice president. Reeves is a 2002 management and construction of land development alumnus. He received a law degree from the University of Mississippi, and he practices as an attorney with Balch and Bingham LLP. Reeves is active with the Central Mississippi Alumni Chapter, where he served as president, among other roles. NATIONAL TREASURER – JERRY L. TONEY, ’96

Jerry L. Toney of Starkville assumes the role as national treasurer. Toney is a 1996 business graduate with a degree in real estate, mortgage finance and economics. He is a Certified Financial Planner and president of Cadence Bank in Starkville. Toney was recently named to Mississippi Business Journal’s Top 40 under 40. He is a former MSU Alumni Association national president and served as president of the Oktibbeha County alumni chapter. IMMEDIATE FORMER NATIONAL PRESIDENT – CAMILLE SCALES YOUNG, ’94, ’96

Camille Scales Young of Madison is serving as immediate former national president. Young, a 1994 communication management graduate who also earned a master’s degree in agriculture and extension education in 1996, is vice president of Cornerstone Government Affairs in Jackson. She was a member of the Central Mississippi Chapter board of directors, and she served on various committees, including the Evening in Maroon, Young Alumni and Central Mississippi Tennis Tournament. She served as national first and second vice president. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Our PEOPLE Silver anniversary class of MSU Alumni Fellows named The Mississippi State University Alumni Association has named its 2014 class of Alumni Fellows to mark the 25th anniversary of the recognition program that began at the land-grant institution in 1989. The Alumni Fellows program seeks to recognize Mississippi State’s most distinguished alumni by showcasing their talents and accomplishments to current MSU students. Fellows bring outstanding graduates from the university’s eight academic colleges to campus to share professional experiences and provide career guidance to students. The group officially visited the MSU campus during the Oct. 30-Nov. 1 weekend. Their time on campus included a series of meetings and lectures with students and faculty, both in the classroom and informally. The group was honored in conjunction with the MSU vs. Arkansas football game. “We are proud to have some of Mississippi State’s most accomplished alumni as our Silver Anniversary fellows group,” said Jeff Davis, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. “Each of these individuals brings a wealth of experience in their fields to share with students and faculty across the university.” The group includes (by college):

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Bryan S. Wilson of Fulton, Mississippi, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in entomology from Mississippi State in 1982 and 1984, respectively. Wilson is the managing partner of Tacoma Ag LLC, the company he founded in 2009 that produces generic crop chemicals for sale and use across the U.S. Prior to that position, he held positions with United Agri Products, BASF Corp., and Wilson Ag Service. He is a member of the MSU Bulldog Club board of directors.

College of Architecture, Art and Design

Melodi E. Terhune of Chesapeake, Virginia, holds a 2004 bachelor’s degree in human sciences with a concentration 48


in interior design from Mississippi State. Terhune is a senior certified interior designer and associate for Clark Nexsen in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and she is a LEED Accredited Professional. She serves on the Interior Design Advisory Board at Mississippi State and is past president of the Virginia Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers.

College of Arts and Sciences

M. Diane Roberts of Louisville, Kentucky, received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in zoology from MSU in 1963 and 1964, respectively. She later earned a doctor of science degree from the University of Texas School of Public Health. At the time of her retirement, Roberts was vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at Indiana University East in Richmond, Indiana. Her professional career also included positions with Wichita State University, University of Alabama in Huntsville and South Texas Junior College.

College of Business

Boyce Adams Sr. of Columbus, Mississippi, earned a Bachelor of Science in marketing from Mississippi State in 1980. He co-founded BankTEL Systems in 1992 and serves as its president and CEO. BankTEL is on the Inc. 5000 list and has been recognized as one of the fastest growing private companies in Mississippi. Prior to BankTel, Adams developed oil industry software. He currently serves as a member of the MSU College of Business Advisory Board.

College of Education

Larry Box of Starkville, Mississippi, holds three education degrees he earned from MSU—a 1966 bachelor’s, a 1968 master’s and a 1985 doctorate in education. Before he retired, Box served as the Starkville School District Superintendent of Schools from 1991 through 2002. His professional experience also includes serving as assistant superintendent of the Starkville School District, principal of Henderson Junior High School, and principal of Sudduth Elementary School. He began his career as a math teacher.

James Worth Bagley College of Engineering

Robert D. “Rob” Hunter of Birmingham, Alabama, earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from MSU in 1973 and received a Juris doctorate from Cornell University. He is a senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for Altec Inc., a global provider of products and services for the electric utility, telecommunications and contractor industries. Under his leadership, the 2014 Altec legal team was named best in the U.S. in technology by Legal 500. Hunter serves on the advisory boards of the MSU

Bulldog Pride

L-R: Boyce Adams, Rob Hunter, Wanda West, Larry Box, Mark Keenum, Bryan Wilson, Diane Roberts, Melodi Terhune and L.S. Nieh

Bagley College of Engineering and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Palliative Care. He was named a Distinguished Fellow by the Bagley College in 2008.

College of Forest Resources

Dr. World L.S. Nieh of Oak Hill, Virginia, is a 1990 MSU graduate with a doctorate in forest products. Nieh’s most recent work includes representing a $20 million National Research Program as Forest Products Program Lead through the U.S. Forest Service in Washington, D.C. His previous experience includes work as a director of Amino Resin Development

with Southeastern Adhesives Co. in Lenoir, North Carolina, and a senior development chemist with Georgia-Pacific Resins Inc. in Decatur, Georgia. He earned a bachelor’s degree from National Chung-Hsing University in Taiwan and a master’s degree from Virginia Tech.

College of Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Wanda L. West of Churchville, Pennsylvania, is a 1988 MSU graduate with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Tougaloo College and a doctorate in pharmacology from the Temple University School of Medicine.

She works as a veterinary research fellow and attending veterinarian at BristolMyers Squibb Co. in Princeton, New Jersey. West volunteers at various animal shelters and provides free veterinary medical and surgical services. The 2014 Alumni Fellows are among the university’s nearly 130,000 living alumni worldwide. Each Fellow carries the distinction for life. For detailed biographies on the 2014 selections and other information about Alumni Association programs, visit www. n MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Infinite IMPACT

Campaign videos may be viewed at

Contributions boost capital campaign past $482 million BY AMY CAGLE

$482.1 MILLION as of November 31, 2014


New Endowed Faculty Positions “Our institution is the most critical catalyst for the future of Mississippi,” said John P. Rush, vice president for development and alumni.


New Student Scholarships




he Infinite Impact campaign is strengthening the work of Mississippi State University and allowing it to pursue status as one of the best all-around public universities in the nation. As of October, Infinite Impact attracted over $482 million in gifts and pledges of future support, as it moves toward its $600 million goal. Over the past few years, Infinite Impact’s success has been evident in the significant growth in university scholarships, faculty-development opportunities and endowed positions. Primary goals of Infinite Impact continue to revolve around focus areas in the university’s eight academic colleges, schools and significant initiatives that enable the colleges to impact humanity positively worldwide. The campaign is also impacting the university’s endowment, which stands at more than $450 million. “Our institution is the most critical catalyst for the future of Mississippi,” said John P. Rush, vice president for development and alumni. “The success of Infinite Impact clearly can be seen in the growth of our endowment because alumni and friends are truly giving for the future since the university will reap the benefits of endowed funds in perpetuity.” Since the campaign’s inception, 291 new scholarships have been created––both annual and endowed. These scholarships are used to attract the best and brightest students to MSU and make a college education possible for those from challenging economic backgrounds. Besides college-specific scholarships, alumni and friends can also contribute to the university’s Compass Scholarship, which provides financial assistance for students in any area of study, university-wide. Gifts for endowed positions, in the form of chairs and professorships, through Infinite Impact can help MSU better serve its students. Esteemed

faculty in every area of the university will challenge the best and brightest students to excel in all learning environments. Additional endowed positions will allow Mississippi State to lure top educators to the university’s academic community, and they, in turn, attract significant research support, outstanding graduate students and other distinguished faculty. Thus far in the campaign, 23 new endowed faculty positions have already been established. However, some of the university’s colleges are still waiting for their first endowed positions. Minimum gift levels for endowed chairs and professorships vary by college. Additional scholarships and endowed positions created through Infinite Impact will help MSU grow over time. As the university population increases, campaign gifts for new facilities and much-needed renovations of existing structures will allow the campus infrastructure to keep pace as more students come to Mississippi State. “This campaign is helping our university accelerate its momentum in the pursuit of excellence in our teaching, research and outreach missions,” Rush said. “By providing more scholarships, distinguished faculty positions, improved facilities and enhanced educational programs, the campaign will help ensure a brighter future for generations of the world’s people.” Campaign counting for Infinite Impact began in July 2010 and will continue through 2018. Donors may earmark gifts for the college, school or priority of their choosing. All gifts to Mississippi State, regardless of the designation, are commitments to the campaign. Gifts to the Bulldog Club and other athletic programs also count toward the overall goal. A current summary of the university’s campaign progress and our featured videos may be viewed at n

Excellence fund honors Davis and his research career BY LAURA LADNER


$50,000 gift from DuPont Pioneer will establish an excellence fund in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in honor of longtime Mississippi State University entomologist Frank Davis. The gift will help continue the insect rearing workshops founded by Davis and enhance the research facilities at Mississippi State. The gift establishes the Frank M. Davis Fund for Excellence in Insect Pathology and Insect Rearing in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology. DuPont Pioneer, the world’s leading developer and supplier of advanced plant genetics that provides high-quality seeds to farmers in more than 90 countries, gave the gift in Davis’ name because he helped the company begin its insect-rearing program. He also shares new information and procedures with them, as he has done for several other companies over his career. Davis, originally from the Mississippi Delta, graduated from MSU in 1965. He earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in entomology by the age of 25. After college, he remained in Starkville and accepted a position as a research entomologist with the Mississippi Statehoused U.S. Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service’s Corn Host Plant Resistance Research unit. Shortly after, the Mississippi State Department of Entomology invited Davis to become an adjunct professor. He spent 36 years with the USDA and still serves as assistant director for the university’s Insect Rearing Center and an emeritus adjunct professor of entomology and plant pathology. The Insect Rearing Program began at Mississippi State in 1999 because “there was a need for formal education in insect rearing,” said Davis. The program started with rearing a few species, but soon requests were made for more species to be cultivated. Due to the popularity and high demand for the program, additional funds were disbursed by Mississippi State to construct a production house. Davis said, “We have more people interested in insect rearing than ever before, and Mississippi State is an example

of a program to follow since insects are needed for protein and can help reduce world hunger. Our university is a leading producer of food for humans, livestock and domestic animals, and insects research to increase food productivity goes hand-inhand.” As to the success of the program, Davis cites a specific collaboration between MSU and the University of Alicante in Spain. The two universities have partnered for an insect-farming project in Kenya to increase the protein supply in poverty-stricken areas. Davis said he hopes this project will alleviate hunger problems the people face. The Insect Rearing Program has increased in popularity in recent years. Individuals from 38 states and 30 countries outside of the United States attend an annual workshop, hosted by the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, that covers major components of a successful rearing program. The week-long event includes lectures, tours and guest speakers, and the workshop honors a select individual each year. The 2014 workshop will be named in memory of Davis’ wife, Carole E. Davis, a local artist and a 1964 Mississippi State English graduate who died in June. The couple had three children, Frank Davis Jr., Lewis McReynolds Davis and Miriam Elizabeth Davis. The Insect Rearing Program will use the DuPont Pioneer gift to assist with workshop expenses. Davis also hopes that, with the help of gifts like this, the program can build a second production house to expand the Insect Rearing Program. “I guess you can say that I have been and still am in ‘bug heaven’ thanks to my education and to the professional opportunities provided to me by MSU,” said Davis, who plans to continue leading workshops and collaborating with companies like DuPont Pioneer in the years ahead. For more on supporting the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, call 662325-2837 or email dbritt@foundation. to contact Dees Britt, assistant director of development for the college, the MSU Extension Service and MAFES. n

Frank Davis

“We have more people interested in insect rearing than ever before, and Mississippi State is an example of a program to follow since insects are needed for protein and can help reduce world hunger. Our university is a leading producer of food for humans, livestock and domestic animals, and insects research to increase food productivity goes hand-in-hand.” Frank Davis MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Infinite IMPACT Presidential Scholarships continue to attract nation’s best students BY SASHA STEINBERG


tudents who are Presidential Scholars at Mississippi State University are wellknown for their academic skills, creativity and desire to excel in their studies. These young adults are among the nationally elite students who come to MSU for the opportunity to further their goals as students in the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College. Eleven students from Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Kansas and Tennessee are new selections for the university’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. These freshmen join 25 other students selected in previous years to become part of the program that is part of the highest level of academic achievement at Mississippi State. Incoming freshmen receiving Presidential Scholarships may keep them for as long as eight semesters. The 2014-15 Presidential Scholars class includes seven in-state recipients. They are Robert W. “Bobby” Buntyn of Gulfport, a junior biological sciences/premedicine major and community college transfer student receiving an Ottilie Schillig Presidential Scholarship; Nicholas Cobb of Madison, a freshman business administration major receiving a Lila and Hunter Henry Presidential Scholarship; Robert W. Frey of Jackson, a sophomore history major receiving a G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Presidential Scholarship; Meredith A. Hilliard of Hernando, a freshman English major receiving a John and Renée Grisham Presidential Scholarship; Nia A. Sims of Clinton, a freshman biochemistry/pre-medicine major receiving a Mickey and Babs Holliman Presidential Scholarship; Emily E. Turner of Starkville, a freshman architecture major receiving a Luke and Ruth Davis Presidential Scholarship; and Teddy P. “Trey” Wallace, a freshman computer engineering major receiving a Charles and Pat Lee Presidential Endowed Scholarship. Joining them are four out-of-state recipients: Charles B. Boyd of Madison, Alabama, a freshman software engineering major receiving an Ottilie Schillig Presidential Scholarship; Laura A. Herring of Panama City Beach, Florida, a sophomore



MSU President Mark E. Keenum, center, welcomes the newest class of Presidential Scholars, including (First row, L-R) Nia Sims, Meredith Hilliard, Betty Thomas, Emily Turner; (Second row) Charles Boyd, Laura Herring, Nicholas Cobb, Mary Smith; (Third row) Robert Frey, Bobby Buntyn, and Trey Wallace. Photo by: Russ Houston

business economics/international business major receiving a Hassell Franklin Presidential Scholarship; Mary A. Smith of Collierville, Tennessee, a sophomore microbiology major receiving a Luke and Ruth Davis Presidential Scholarship; and Elizabeth M. “Betty” Thomas of Lenexa, Kansas, a sophomore business economics/ international business major receiving a Hassell Franklin Presidential Scholarship. Each new Presidential Scholar is receiving $40,000 over four years—or $10,000 per year—to cover the current cost of university tuition and fees, books, room and board, and research and studyabroad expenses. To qualify, the scholars must have a minimum 30 ACT/1330 SAT score, as well have graduated with a minimum core or overall 3.75 high school grade-point average (based on a 4.0 scale). Each Presidential Scholar is expected to maintain an overall 3.4 GPA while in his or her respective major at Mississippi State. Selected from more than 600 qualified applicants, the new Presidential Scholars join more than 25 already participating in the program. These scholars have opportunities to interact with members of the research faculty and take part in the college’s Summer Study at Oxford Program, along with other enhanced learning opportunities.

“The new Presidential Scholars represent some of the strongest, most promising students in the nation,” said Tommy Anderson, Presidential Scholar program mentor. “They come already conducting meaningful research and with impressive records of leadership and community engagement.” Anderson, also an associate professor of English, now is in his third year with the program. He also directs the university’s Office of Prestigious External Scholarships. “In addition to being academic leaders and participating fully in university life, Presidential Scholars are expected to seek out external scholarship opportunities for intellectual and personal growth,” he said. He also said the 11 new scholars have the potential to serve as agents of change in their respective disciplines. Over the years, a number of scholars additionally have been honored with national Truman, Udall, Mitchell and Goldwater scholarships, as well as professional internships. Donors may continue to establish endowments for Presidential Scholarships. A minimum of $250,000 will endow a Presidential Scholarship. For more on establishing scholarships, contact Jack McCarty, executive director of development for the MSU Foundation, at 662-325-9580 or email jmccarty@ n

Scholarships created by Moores celebrate their children’s lives BY CLINTON ALEXANDER


he bond Rod and Jane Moore share with Mississippi State University resonates beyond themselves. Their connection with the institution extends to their children, Brad and Necole, and the current and future recipients of the endowed scholarships named for them. The Moores established their first Presidential Endowed Scholarship following Brad’s unexpected 2007 death from complications of pneumonia. He was a 39 year-old faculty member and practicing gastroenterologist at the University of California San Diego Medical Center. When the Moores announced their intentions to create a scholarship endowment in Brad’s memory, they were honored with an outpouring of support as more than 160 individuals, organizations and businesses helped the couple make the scholarship possible. Rod understands firsthand the importance of this philanthropy because he maintains a seat on the Mississippi State Foundation Board of Directors as a past president. He earned an accounting degree in 1967 and is the retired executive vice president and CEO of Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Company. He and Jane, a retired registered nurse, are from Meridian and now live in Brandon. Their gift provides a select Presidential Scholar with up to four years of undergraduate study, along with opportunities to study abroad, intern, and pursue other qualified educational activities as a member of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College. Presidential Endowed Scholarships are among the most prestigious student financial awards at Mississippi State, and recipients are selected from applicants who are top scholars across the nation. In 2012, the Dr. Brad Roderick Moore Memorial Presidential Endowed Scholarship was awarded for the first time. Sophomore English major Natalie Jones, the inaugural recipient, says she can’t even begin to describe the many ways in which the scholarship has helped her be successful in her studies. “I know for a fact that if I had not received this scholarship, the future that I

L-R: Rod Moore, Necole Ray, Jane Moore and Natalie Jones

have in front of me would look completely different,” said Jones of Flowood. “This scholarship has literally opened a door of opportunity, and I am so grateful and humbled that I was able to receive such an honor. The Moore family is investing in me and my future, and I want to make them proud.” Following the establishment of Brad’s scholarship, Rod and Jane generously created a second Presidential Endowed Scholarship in honor of their daughter, Necole Ray, a part-time teacher and full-time mom. Necole graduated from Mississippi State in 1992 with a degree in elementary education and earned her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Mississippi College in 1996. Necole grew up putting others before herself—something the entire Moore family values. Her college years at Mississippi State were spent keeping up with her studies and volunteering with numerous organizations. Rod recalled a specific time he and Jane visited Necole on location. “Necole decided to travel to Mexico and work with children,” Rod remembered. “She spent two summers in a very remote and primitive fishing village. The first time she went to Mexico she couldn’t speak a word of Spanish. Jane and I visited her on one occasion, and we went to the local church where the pastor was preaching in Spanish, and we were very surprised to hear Necole interpreting for him. She always amazes us.” Jane agreed, saying, “She totally immersed herself in the culture, and she was able to do that very well.”

Following graduation from Mississippi State, Necole began teaching second grade at an inner-city school in Jackson. She not only mentored her students, but she also continued mentoring students outside her school by signing them up for basketball leagues and volunteering to drive them to games. She also organized, collected and distributed Christmas presents to children whose fathers were in prison. Rod recalled those instances, saying, “She is always thinking of things to do like that to help children.” Shortly after getting married, Necole and her husband Josh moved to Texas, where Josh attended seminary. Josh and Necole now live with their five children in Birmingham, Alabama, where they continue to volunteer through various mission organizations. “Necole outdoes us all,” said Rod. “She has one of the biggest hearts you’ll ever find.” “She doesn’t just think about doing things; she does them,” added Jane. Helping and caring for others truly encompasses the ideals held by both Brad and Necole, and the Moores hope recipients of the Presidential Endowed Scholarships they established will always remember for whom the awards were created. Through the passion and hard work of each Bulldog recipient, the lives of Brad and Necole will always inspire others to have a positive impact on humankind. n MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Infinite IMPACT Worthey endows geosciences field study fund BY LAURA LADNER


tudents studying to become geologists will have an advantage when they complete their studies at Mississippi State University. An endowed fund established in the College of Arts and Sciences by alumnus Mark Worthey will enable students to engage in real-world experiences while they are in school. The Mark Worthey Endowed Field Studies Fund in the Department of Geosciences will enhance the department from which Worthy Worthey earned a petroleum geology degree. Worthey believes it is easier to learn through hands-on experiences, and he wants students to experience fieldwork before they graduate and begin their professions. “I hope the department will be able to better educate future scientists through the use of this fund and provide students with the necessary insights to help them succeed in their careers,” Worthey said. Adam Skarke, an assistant professor in the Department of Geosciences, expressed his appreciation of the fund created by Worthey. “Field studies are a good way for students to understand how modern sedimentological processes can be used to interpret the geologic record, and we are happy to use the endowment established by Mark Worthey in this manner,” Skarke said. With the fund’s assistance, Sharke has already organized and run two Mississippi State field trips. Their goal, Skarke explained, is for students to observe modern depositional processes to relate them to rocks deposited on the Mississippi coast during the Eocene Period, which dates from 56 to 33.9 million years ago. Each year geology students nearing completion of their MSU studies attend field camps as part of their required coursework, and they run the course of a weekend and usually cost around $110 apiece. Each trip includes multiple stops, so students can observe different areas of the coastline. “The Mark Worthey Endowed Field Studies Fund provides an annual support structure to help students defray the costs associated with these field trips and



Students identify rocks and topography in their structural geology lab outside Hilbun Hall.

fieldwork,” said Dr. Bill Cooke, interim head of the Department of Geosciences. “For example,” he said, “when graduate students need to work on research that requires field data sampling, this fund will help pay for student travel costs associated with the gathering of samples.” Worthey’s previous support of MSU began less than a decade ago when he created the Mark Worthey Endowed Scholarship to provide financial assistance to Department of Geosciences recipients. A second scholarship established by Worthey honors his parents and carries their names. He chose to create the Clarence M. Worthey and Billie Ann Worthey Endowed Scholarship in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture in the College of Forest Resources because his father was always outdoors, and Worthey felt that department represented him well. Worthey grew up in Monroe County, Mississippi, and enrolled at MSU in 1975, but he left to join the Air Force. After serving his country for four years, Worthey resumed his academic studies at MSU through the assistance of the G.I. Bill. He earned his diploma in 1984 and became the first person from his family to attend and graduate from college. “I credit the education I received at Mississippi State to allowing me to get a good professional position, and I want to ensure this education is available to others,” he said. Following graduation, Worthey moved to Texas when a fellow MSU alumnus gave him his first job as a geologist. After that role,

he became a founding officer for Denbury Resources. At present, he is president of McClaren Resources Inc., a private oil and gas company. For his professional accomplishments, Worthey was honored as a 2009 Alumni Fellow for the College of Arts and Sciences and returned to campus to share his experiences as a mentor to students and faculty. Among Worthey’s most noteworthy accomplishments, he told them, was ringing the bell on behalf of Denbury Resources to close the New York Stock Exchange. Worthey was born in Rockford, Illinois, and he spent most of his childhood in Hamilton, Mississippi. Today, he and his wife Rhonda, a native Texan, divide their time between McKinney, Texas, and Smith County, Mississippi, and they spend time with Mark’s son Kyle and Rhonda’s daughter Stephanie. With Kyle, Worthey engages in a friendly football competition each year when MSU plays Louisiana State University since Kyle attended LSU. Worthey is proud of his continued association with Mississippi State. When asked why he initially decided to support the university financially and why he keeps giving, Worthey gave a simple response, “I like helping people help themselves.” Alumni and friends may assist the College of Arts and Sciences with gifts through Infinite Impact by contacting Alex McIntosh, the college’s development director, at amcintosh@foundation.msstate. edu or telephone 662-325-3240. n

Want to get involved or contribute to the capital campaign. Visit www. today.

Student’s dream of becoming vet tech possible through Annexstad scholarship BY LAURA LADNER


t a young age, Samantha Ross knew she loved animals and one day wanted to have a career that enabled her to work with them. Although she never had any pets of her own, Ross would always feed and Ross care for stray animals near her home in Vicksburg, Mississippi. As the first recipient of the Annexstad Family Foundation Scholarship, the Mississippi State senior is on a path toward fulfilling her dream. The Annexstad Scholarship has made a tremendous difference for Ross in her time at Mississippi State. With the help of the scholarship program, Ross has been able to pursue her education and will graduate in May 2015. She was first awarded the scholarship her sophomore year of college, and, by meeting the necessary criteria, she will continue to receive the financial award until she graduates. Ross is studying to earn a degree in veterinary medical technology through the university’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She learned of the excellent reputation of Mississippi State’s veterinary college as she researched majors during her senior year of high school. Initially, Ross chose to pursue the degree because of the length and affordability of the program. “I decided on my degree by asking the question, if I wasn’t going to be paid, what would I want to do for the rest of my life?” said Ross. “MSU’s vet school is also in Mississippi and only a few hours from my home in Vicksburg, so that was a plus, too.” Mississippi State has one of 21 accredited veterinary technology bachelor degree programs in the country, and it is only one of three at a college of veterinary medicine. The MSU vet tech program offers students the opportunity to complete clinical rotations alongside veterinary students. Vet tech majors become educated in pre- and post-surgery responsibilities as well as inducing and monitoring anesthesia, among other work. Graduates who become vet techs will be an integral part of the veterinary medical profession.

Because Ross did not have the Annexstad scholarship her freshman year, she struggled financially. Her father died when she was an infant, and her mother has held numerous jobs to support the family. To remain in school, Ross had to ask family and even friends for financial support. Fortunately, the Annexstad scholarship now covers most of her educational expenses. “I no longer have to worry if I’m going to be able to register for classes each semester or buy books on time,” Ross said. “It’s a blessing to have been awarded the Annexstad scholarship.” The Annexstad Family Foundation established the scholarship to help students, like Ross, who show a significant need for financial assistance and have the potential and character for a promising future. The scholarship is usually awarded to a student who participated in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program. However, Annexstad representatives were impressed with Ross’ essay and awarded her the scholarship even though she wasn’t affiliated with the organization. The founders of the Annexstad Family Foundation, Al and Cathy Annexstad, share a similar history with Ross. They both lost a parent at a young age and benefitted greatly from adults in their communities who provided care and support. The couple began their foundation because they understood how much an adult could impact a youth’s life, and they chose to help improve students’ ability to receive a higher education. When Ross graduates, she plans to work near her hometown where her mother still lives. After she establishes herself in her professional career, she says, a priority for her is to help financially struggling students because she understands the challenges they face firsthand. “I want to donate to a scholarship or maybe even start one of my own when I can,” said Ross. Alumni and friends who wish to support scholarships in any academic area of Mississippi State may contact Jack McCarty, executive director of development for the MSU Foundation, at 662325-9580 or n MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Class NOTES __________________________________________


‘79 Videt Carmichael (M.Ed. ’85) of Meridian, a

Mississippi senator representing District 33, has been honored with the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents Outstanding Leadership Award for his support of education. A former chair of the Senate Education Committee, he has helped increase school funding, strengthen academic standards, and improve teacher and administrator accountability. __________________________________________


’80 Tom Minyard (M.S. ’88)

of Hernando has joined Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and Cannon Inc. as civil works program manager, with responsibilities for the advancement of the firm’s strategic direction related to its civil works program for local, state and federal governments. Previously, he was engineering and construction division chief for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Memphis District.

’81 James C. “Jimmy” Nelson of Ridgeland is the new

president of the American Council of Engineering Companies– Mississippi. Senior vice president of the Allen & Hoshall engineering firm in Ridgeland, he also serves as director of the Alabama/Mississippi Water Works Association.

’83 Bob Barlow of Louisville,

Kentucky, is the new president and chief executive officer of ZEON Corp., manufacturer of specialty elastomers with facilities in Hattiesburg, Bayport, Texas, and Louisville, Kentucky.




of Vicksburg, deputy chief for the upper river district support team of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has received the Ernest P. Blankenship Engineer/Scientist Award of the Mississippi Valley Division. The award was given by the local commander in recognition of Turner’s commitment, dedication and technical knowledge in her work.



‘84 Charles Garretson of Ellisville is the

new Vice President of Advancement and Foundation Executive Director for the Jones County Junior College Foundation Inc.

’86 (M.S.) Jane McKee Smith

of Vicksburg, a civil engineer with the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, has been named a Distinguished Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Assigned to the ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory, she was recognized for helping develop the Steady State Spectral WAVE or STWAVE numerical wave transformation model. Engineers around the world use STWAVE for calculating ocean waves near the coast. The ERDC is a research facility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

’88 (Ph.D.) Anthony Negbenebor is the new

president of the board of directors for the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Dean of the Godbold School of Business at GardnerWebb University in North Carolina, he is leading the 2014-15 council, the only global body that accredits business, accounting and business-related programs at all degree levels. __________________________________________


93 (M.A.) Michael Hess of Memphis, Tennessee, has moved to the local office of Bass, Berry & Sims PLC as leader of the firm’s newly established Specialty Pharmacy, Pharma Services and Distribution practice. Focusing on pharmaceutical trade and distribution, he represents reimbursement hubs, pharma support organizations and 340B-covered entities. ’93 Dr. Bryan D. Leatherman of Gulfport, an

ear, nose, throat and sinus surgeon at the Coastal Sinus and Allergy Center has been reelected to the board of directors of the American Academy of Otolaryngic Allergy. AAOA is a 2,200-member professional organization dedicated to advancing the treatment of allergic conditions. Currently serving as AAOA secretary, he has been a board member for five years.

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’96 Vincent Allen of Dallas,

’07 Attorney Adam Griffin


’08 Hannah Melby of Starkville, half of the Nashville-based country music band “HanaLena,” has released a book with her co-author and sister Caroline. Titled Recipes and Road Stories, the book blends an assortment of recipes with what they call “touching and rollicking road stories.” Published by Sartoris Literary Group Inc./SLB Music, it is available at www.

Texas, has been named a Texas Super Lawyer for 2014. Super Lawyers is a rating service of top attorneys in more than 70 practice areas that have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Super Lawyers Magazine features the list and publishes profiles of the selected attorneys.


’00 (M.Ed.) Ryan Akers

of Starkville, an MSU assistant Extension professor, has received the Outstanding Achievement in Youth Preparedness award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As one of only eight named FEMA “Champions of Change,” Akers was honored for creating the Mississippi Youth Preparedness Initiative, or MyPI, that works to improve disaster preparedness efforts among young people.

‘01 Rebecca Dickey of Lake

Park, Georgia, president of Wing Walker Public Relations LLC, recently placed second overall in the Remington Great Americans Shoot, the largest charity fundraising shoot ever held in America. The Austin, Texas, event raised nearly $1.2 million for military charities. A U.S. Air Force veteran and Bronze Star recipient, Dickey supports That Others May Live, an organization aiding USAF search-andrescue personnel and their families.

‘02 Dr. Daniel H. Smith (M.S. ’04) of

Hattiesburg has joined Hattiesburg Clinic Surgery. Board certified in general surgery by the American Board of Surgery, he completed his internship at the University of South Alabama Health System in Mobile after receiving his medical degree from the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

‘06 Dr. Zita Magloire has completed her

residency at the University of Kansas School of Medicine–Wichita. She finished the residency in the school’s Family Medicine Residency Program at Via Christi Health.

of Jackson has joined the local office of the Copeland, Cook, Taylor & Bush firm in the practice areas of litigation, insurance coverage and litigation, and third-party personal injury defense. He is a member of the Mississippi and Alabama bars, Mississippi Defense Lawyers Association and Jackson Young Lawyers.



’13 Rae Ann Lawrence

of Jackson is serving as an intern with Jackson-based Waggoner Engineering. Her role in the civil, structural and aviation division includes assisting with such projects as the Ridgeland City Center, where she has worked with utility relocation coordination and stormwater management design.

’14 Josh Rushing of Nashville,

Tennessee, has joined Hoar Construction as a virtual design and construction estimator. In this role, the Vicksburg native utilizes building information modeling (BIM) technologies to reduce waste, generate accurate budgets and integrate delivery to more efficiently manage projects. _______________________________________________________

BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENTS Kye Elwood DeAngelo, Oct. 13, 2014, to Nick DeAngelo (’03) and Melissa Keenum DeAngelo (’02) of Moss Point. MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


Forever MAROON Bryan Baker (’47, ’49 and former employee) – 91, Starkville;

W. Roye Carnell Sr. (’70) – 65, Tupelo; an MSU football letterman, he was an entrepreneur who helped launch several successful Tupelo-area businesses, July 4, 2014.

Robert Derek Barton (’40) – 94,

Ralph Cash (‘66) – 71, Birmingham, Alabama; a Certified Public Accountant who served as controller with several companies before becoming a consultant on commercial coatings in his later years, June 23, 2014.

retired professor and former head of the animal science department at Mississippi State, March 31, 2014.

Mt. Prospect, Illinois; retired senior vice president for Underwriters Laboratories. A World War II veteran, he was captured in 1942 at Corregidor in the Philippines and released on Liberation Day in 1945, Aug. 13, 2014.

Larry Kirk Bost (attended) – 57,

Starkville; local entrepreneur and artist who led in launching and overseeing several small businesses and design firms, Oct. 1, 2014.

William M. Bost (’49 and former employee) – 90, Starkville; World War

II veteran and former longtime director of the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service. Among many achievements, he was instrumental in obtaining funding for the campus extension center that was named in his honor, Feb. 28, 2014.

Elmo Branch (’53) – 83, Winona;

former MSU basketball and track team member, Nov. 1, 2014.

Terry W. Brown Sr. (attended)

– 64, Columbus; president pro tempore of the Mississippi Senate. A U.S. Army veteran first elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1988, he was a local businessman who became a leader for economic development in the Golden Triangle area, Sept. 4, 2014.

64, Baltimore, Maryland; senior licensing consultant for Enercon Nuclear Engineering Consulting Services. A former employee for Entergy Nuclear Services at Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, he moved to Maryland to teach at Towson Catholic High School in Baltimore before taking employment with Enercon. He was a U.S. Navy veteran who served on the USS James Madison during the Cold War, Jan. 8, 2014.

Melissa Chenney (‘80) – 56, Starkville; director of social services for Oktibbeha County Hospital, Feb. 8, 2014. Marion P. Coggin (’44) – 91,

Jackson; Jan. 1, 2014.

Russell Cook (attended) – 59, Tupelo; owner of Pontotoc Printing and former sports editor for the Pontotoc Progress newspaper that his family owned until its closure in 1986, Aug. 18, 2014. Bettye M. Davis (’57) – 79,

Ellen S. Bryant (’61) – 91, Starkville;

Pensacola, Florida; flower shop owner, floral designer and member of the Pensacola Beach Women’s Club, Aug. 30, 2014.

Marcus “Big Cloud-Bushman” Bush (’90) – 48, Starkville; former

Lee A. “Al” Dugard (’54) – 83, Madison; retired senior consultant for the New Ventures Division of the Mississippi Department of Economic and Community Development. He was a U.S. Air Force veteran.

sociology professor emeritus and first director of MSU’s women’s studies program that later was named in her honor, Sept. 30, 2014.

strength and conditioning coach for the University of Alabama-Birmingham Blazers who played fullback under MSU football coaches Emory Bellard and Rockey Felker, Feb. 8, 2014.


John Guy Cesare Jr. (’72, ’79) –


Dr. David B. Ellis Sr. (’47) – 94,

Tupelo; retired physician who practiced for more than 50 years in Ripley and New Albany. A U.S. Army veteran, he was a member of the American Legion, Sons of Confederate Veterans and American Angus Association, July 22, 2014.

Billy T. Gaddis (’50) – 87, Ridgeland; forestry consultant, former state forester with the Mississippi Forestry Commission and official with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Among career honors, he was named a Fellow of the Society of American Foresters and Mississippi Wildlife Federation’s Forest Conservationist of the Year. Gaddis was a U.S. Army veteran who served in Occupied Japan after World War II. Charles W. Graham (‘93) – 45, Biloxi; known locally as “Mr. Fixit,” his career was devoted to the forest industry. In addition to being a member of the Mississippi Forestry Association and Society of American Foresters, he served on the board of directors of the Harrison County Farm Bureau, Oct. 12, 2014. Harold Green (’57) – 79, Lake

Highlands, Texas; forestry expert and former acting chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southwestern Division office. Among his professional projects are the Houston and Galveston ship channels, as well as many other Texas waterways and reservoirs used for recreation, Aug. 14, 2014.

E.T. Green, Jr. (’60) – Oct. 24, 2013. Elizabeth S. Gwin (friend) – 105, Starkville; former New York runway model, accomplished pianist and philanthropist. In 1982, she established the Howell H. Gwin Scholarships in memory of her husband, a distinguished MSU English faculty member for 25 years. In 1989, the scholarships for advanced English undergraduate and beginning graduate students were endowed, Aug. 12, 2014. Walter L. Hampton (’71) – July 1, 2014. Joseph McClellan Harvey (’48) – 87, Fort Worth, Texas; retired Exxon executive, June 29, 2013.

Tammy Jacobson (’96) – 42, Tupelo; elementary school teacher for the South Pontotoc and Desoto County public school systems, Aug. 18, 2014.




EXPLORE the world with the MSU

Traveling Bulldogs

Discover the world with the Mississippi State University Alumni Association. For over a decade, the MSU Traveling Bulldogs program has taken alumni and friends around the world to exotic and thrilling locations. Exciting opportunities await both in the U.S. and abroad for wanderers and explorers. With 13 travel packages, our trips will not fail to amaze! Find out more about our 2015 adventures by visiting MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS TravelBulldog2015_Alumnus-HalfPg.indd 1

10/24/14 8:33 AM


Forever MAROON Gordon Jones (’49) – 88, Great

Bend, Kansas; partner in Rice Engineering & Operating Inc. from 1952 until his 1989 retirement as vice president and general manager. He was a World War II U.S. Army veteran, Aug. 10, 2014.

Susan Kean Moates (‘41) –

94, West Point; retired instructor from West Point High and Golden Triangle Vocational schools, where she developed business programs. She also served on East Mississippi Community College’s board of trustees, Feb. 27, 2014.

Mary K. King (’79) – 57, Madison;

career commercial insurance agent in South Carolina and Mississippi. In 2013, she was inducted into the MSU Insurance Hall of Fame, Sept. 21, 2014.

Dr. Joe G. Martin (’49) – 88, Ripley;

retired veterinarian, past president of the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association and lifelong member of the American Veterinary Medical Association. A U.S. Army veteran, he donated “Bully 16” to MSU, July 1, 2014.

Uday Marty (’95 M.S.) – 40, Intel

vice president for offices in Southeast Asia, May, 2014.

Sammy G. Milner (’72) – 66, Brandon; former MSU football and baseball player who was an All-Southeastern Conference wide receiver for two years and Honorable Mention All-American for one year, Sept. 25, 2014. Ben Morgan Sr. (’58) – 79, Madison;

retired human resources director and 40-year employee with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Aug. 15, 2014.

Don H. Morris (’62 and former employee) – 75, Fredericksburg,

Virginia; Over a 42-year career, he taught engineering at Virginia Tech, Mississippi State and Iowa State universities, along with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Sept. 20, 2014.



Elton Claude Parker (’42) – 95, McComb; former general manager for Magnolia Electric Power Association who also was an officer with the Rural Electric Cooperative Association and board member of the South Mississippi Electric Power Association. A U.S. Navy veteran who received the Bronze Star, he and his wife have an MSU classroom named in their honor in McCain Hall, July 6, 2014. Mason B. Oldham Jr. (’48) – 91, Edmond, Oklahoma; retired civil engineer, Nov. 8, 2014. Henry N. Pitre Jr. (former employee) – 77, Starkville; retired

MSU entomologist and William Giles Distinguished Professor Emeritus who received the MSU Alumni Faculty Achievement Award in 1984 and Merit Award for Research in Entomology in 1988. Over his career, Pitre published 152 scientific papers and presented more than 130 throughout the U.S. and internationally, July 13, 2014.

Quentin Stringer (’42) – 96, Jackson; former president of Builders Marble Inc. who was founder and president of the Cultured Marble Association of the South and board member of the Cultured Marble Institute. A member of the Mississippi and Hinds County bar associations, he was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in the Pacific during World War II, July 28, 2014. Jerry M. Wade Sr. (’61) – 74,

Hattiesburg; a former MSU running back and wide receiver who was selected for the All-American Football Foundation’s Bill Wade Unsung Hero Award, July 31, 2014.

George Dalton Williams (attended) – 67, Ocean Springs; former

employee of Pascagoula-based Shipbuilding, Aug. 26, 2014.


Vincent G. Scoper Jr. (’55) –

81, Laurel; owner of Mississippi Gauge and Supply Company and consulting petroleum geologist. A 28-year veteran of the Mississippi Legislature, he served two terms in the House of Representatives and five in the Senate, where he was chair and vice chair of the Oil and Gas Committee. In 2003, he was named Laurel’s “Citizen of the Year,” Sept. 14, 2014.

James E. Springer (’51) – 88, Starkville; retired chief electrical engineer with Gulf Electric Company, founder of the MSU alumni chapter in Mobile, Alabama and a U.S. Navy veteran, June 28, 2014. James E. Stallings (’48) – 95,

Calhoun City; retired district director for Farmers Home Administration and founder of Stallings Real Estate. He was a World War II U.S. Army veteran, July 20, 2014.

Want to get involved or contribute to the capital campaign. Visit www. today!



Be part of the tradition!


with Pride. RideRide with Pride.

There is no better way to show your loyalty and pride in Mississippi State than by owning an official MSU license plate. Proceeds from MSU license plates help support MSU scholarships and programs. For more information, visit or purchase via your local county tax collector’s office. Help us get 20,000 MSU car tags on the road! MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS


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Discrimination based upon race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or veteran’s status is violation of federal and state law and MSU policy and will not be tolerated. Discrimination based upon sexual orientation or group affiliation is violation of MSU policy and will not be tolerated.

Deep Water BY SUSAN LASSETTER, PHOTOGRAPHY BY BETH WYNN The waters of the Zambezi River support a wide variety of life along the border of southern Zambia, but just 100 miles from where the waters of Victoria Falls host herds of sable antelope (pictured), elephants, giraffes, and hippos, the Simwatachela Chiefdom barely has enough water to sustain its human population. There, the average person lives on less than 5 liters per day collected from stagnant pools of contaminated, illnessspreading water. The chief himself calls life there pathetic, but Mississippi State University’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders has a plan to improve the quality of life in the region.

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