ALUMNUS Spring 2022 - Mississippi State University

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Discoveries Sandra B. Correa, an assistant professor in the College of Forest Resources, is part of a historic scientific consortium presenting its findings on the Amazon River Basin at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in Glasgow, United Kingdom. An interdisciplinary team led by Mississippi State researchers is receiving a $1.7 million grant to better equip emergency planners and other stakeholders to reduce the vulnerability of disadvantaged communities to the impacts of wildfires and related cascading hazards such as mudslides, landslides and flooding. Farshid Vahedifard, CEE Advisory Board Endowed Professor in the university’s Richard A. Rula School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is the lead principal investigator. Reuben Burch, an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, recently earned the 2021 New Faculty Researcher Award from the Southeast Section of the American Society of Engineering Education. The highly competitive award honors a faculty member who has fewer than six years of teaching or research experience but who has demonstrated excellence in both areas. Gabe H. Miller, an assistant professor of sociology and faculty member in MSU’s African American Studies program, is receiving a prestigious grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study how political policy affects health outcomes for members of the LGBT community and other marginalized groups. The $248,431 two-year grant is part of the Health Equity Scholars for Action initiative at RWJF. Prashant Singh, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, earned the 2021 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty

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Mississippi State’s Northern Gulf Institute is partnering with the Mississippi Aquarium to turn the state’s Gulf Coast into an outdoor laboratory, giving local middle and high school students new knowledge and appreciation for their connection with marine life and the environment. Through an innovative program, MSU-SEAS, or Science and Education at Sea, 27 public and homeschooled students recently were the first cohort experiencing a hands-on marine excursion, learning positive behavioral practices that promote sustainable choices in safeguarding the Gulf of Mexico’s marine ecosystem.

A team of researchers led by Dr. Keun Seok Seo, associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, was recognized with an Innovation Award at the TechConnect World Innovation Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C. The group developed a novel method to rapidly test for COVID-19 neutralizing antibodies, providing an affordable and fast method for testing that differentiates between neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibodies. Dr. Joo Youn Park, research professor, and Dr. Nogi Park, postdoctoral associate, also contributed to the invention. Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities. He will receive $10,000 in seed money to support his research through the award program, with the $5,000 grant from ORAU being matched by MSU. Neeraj Rai, Ergon, Inc. Distinguished Professor in MSU’s Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering, is the principal investigator on an approximately $1 million NSF grant to establish an Institute for Computational Molecular Science Education.

Charles Edwin Webster, professor and associate head of the chemistry department, earned a National Science Foundation award worth $712,000 to support research in reducing greenhouse gases and producing synthetic fuels. Mississippi State’s National Research and Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision has released 4to24, a free app designed to help blind or visually impaired youth with employment outcomes.