College of Arts & Sciences Vision Magazine 2020

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Vision 2020

2 0/2 0 V I S I O N : SEEING THE F U T U R E C L E A R LY A publication of the College of Arts & Sciences

M I S S I S S I P P I S T A T E U N I V E R S I T Y®






“A pair of wings, a different respiratory system, which enabled us to travel through space, would in no way help us, for if we visited Mars or Venus while keeping the same senses, they would clothe everything we could see in the same aspect as the things of the Earth. The only true voyage, the only bath in the Fountain of Youth, would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to see the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to see the hundred universes that each of them sees, that each of them is; and this we do, with great artists, with artists like these we do really fly from star to star.”

(HPRC) is helping students see into their future regarding preparations needed for admission into and success in medical school and other professional health care tracks. The staff in the HPRC are equipped to see further down the path than the students themselves can see. One of our great joys as educators is to help students achieve their goals. Other articles explore ways in which faculty and students look to the past to equip themselves for the future. The article highlighting MSU’s Institute for the Humanities and another about Ms. Kayla Jordan, a star student at our Meridian campus, are examples of how future clarity of vision and purpose are sharpened through the hindsight of history. Other stories focus on the important research of our faculty and how it helps to

Marcel Proust – La Prisonnière; Vol. 5 of Remembrance of Things Past

provide vision for addressing challenges in social issues. I close by returning to Proust, the origin of the many translated

Welcome to Vision 2020. The sudden appearance of COVID-19

versions of the quote “seeing with new eyes” – an exhortation applied

disrupted the pattern and flow of everyday life around the world,

in many settings. When I reflect on this passage in full, it is one I clearly

including the production of this magazine. Though we are behind the

link with the mission of the College of Arts & Sciences. The full passage

intended schedule, during the shelter-in-place period our writers, editors

serves as a reminder that during their sojourn at MSU, our students may

and designers worked from home to deliver the final product. One of

indeed become equipped with many new skills, with new “wings” and

the greatest strengths I have witnessed Mississippi State University display

“respiratory systems,” and may visit places they have never visited. Still,

during this pandemic is the ability to march forward in the face of adversity.

our greater hope is that our students do, in fact, leave here with the ability

I hope the 2020 edition of Vision finds you healthy and safe.

to see the world differently.

I’m not sure who originally bestowed the name Vision to our college

We live in a place and time where it is easy to retreat into a narrow

magazine, but in the year 2020 that name has special significance when

perspective of the world, its challenges and its opportunities. This approach

thinking about the role and vision for the College of Arts & Sciences.

is not the way toward a brighter future. The voyage of discovery depends

The origin and literal meaning of the term 20/20 is interesting. In brief, it

on understanding and appreciating other’s ideas, other’s perspectives and

means you can see – with sharpness and clarity – at 20 feet what a person

others themselves. Charting a successful future “from star to star” requires

with “normal” vision sees at that distance. If you have 20/100 vision, it

us to harness new ideas, to be informed by insights obtained through the

means you must be within 20 feet to see what a person with “normal”

eyes of others. Vision, perfect vision, is relative; it requires us to compare

vision can see at 100 feet.

what we see with the perceptions of others. It requires us never to be

The first fascinating idea about this standard is the idea that vision is

satisfied that the way we see things is the only correct way to see things.

a relative matter – in this case, comparing a person’s vision abilities to

As always, thank you for your support of our College and its students.

that of a “normal” person. Second is the fact that 20/20 vision does not

I wish you a flourishing summer where a host of ideas and opportunities

mean perfect vision. It tells us little or nothing about one’s ability to detect

bloom, and please keep in touch.

contrast and colors or depth perception or moving-object detection. In short, there is much to vision beyond 20/20 eyesight. One of our goals in the College of Arts & Sciences, to paraphrase a lyric from the Black Crowes, is to help our students in “seeing things for

the first time in [their] life.” We understand that many of our students will be exposed to academic disciplines with which they had little or

Hail State!

no familiarity prior to joining us. We know that one of our tasks is to expose our students to new facts, ideas and perspectives. We understand the great opportunity and responsibility we have to help our students see possibilities they did not know existed.

Rick Travis Dean, College of Arts & Sciences

In this issue of Vision, we feature a variety of stories about our faculty, staff and students, including an article highlighting how the addition of the Dr. A. Randle and Marilyn W. White Health Professions Resource Center


Table of

CONTENTS Finding Philosophical ‘Common Ground’


Distance Education Deepens Impact on Students

Preventing Fraud


Trip of a Lifetime



Kicking Out FEAR, Spreading CHEER



Helping History Come Alive


The Journey Home


Mysteries of Human Vision


New Pre-Health Division Connecting MSU Students with Future Goals


Theatre Program Inspires Creativity, Showcases Student Talent


31 32 33


Dean’s Executive Advisory Board

College of Arts and Sciences Ambassadors


Letter from Sara Jurney Frederic

Phi Beta Kappa


Donor List

Faculty Awards

DEAN & LEADERSHIP: DR. RICK TRAVIS Dean DR. TOMMY ANDERSON Associate Dean for Academic Affairs DR. GISELLE THIBAUDEAU (MUNN) Associate Dean for Research DR. MELANIE LOEHWING Dean’s Administrative Faculty Fellow DR. KATHY SHERMAN-MORRIS Dean’s Administrative Faculty Fellow ALISA SEMMES Administrative Assistant to the Dean ACADEMIC AFFAIRS: DR. TOMMY ANDERSON Associate Dean for Academic Affairs TRACY BRITT Academic Coordinator EMILY CAIN Academic Coordinator KASONDRA HARRIS Academic Coordinator

KATE SAWAYA Administrative Assistant RESEARCH:



Direct comments or questions to: KARYN BROWN | 662.325.6650 P.O. Box AS | Mississippi State, MS 39762


DR. GISELLE THIBAUDEAU (MUNN) Associate Dean for Research

NIKKI ROBINSON Advancement Coordinator

SILAS KNOX Contract & Grant Specialist


ASHLEY MILLER Contract & Grant Specialist KEISHA KNOX Business Coordinator COMMUNICATION: KARYN BROWN Director of Communication SARAH NICHOLAS Writer JOHN BURROW Communication and Institute for the Humanities Graduate Assistant


AVA RICHARDSON Communication Student Worker


MARY HUNTLEY BUTLER Student Graphic Designer





MSU Faculty Member Finding Philosophical ‘Common Ground’ in Social Movements By Sarah Nicholas

“All agents of change stand on common ground,” said Anthony S. Neal, a faculty fellow in the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College and an assistant professor of philosophy at Mississippi State University. For Neal, also an affiliated faculty member in MSU’s African American Studies Program, his life’s work and MSU career are centered around exploring and illuminating the philosophical approach to the African American struggle for freedom in the modern era, which he defines as 1896-1975. Embarking on a career he knew would require dedication and focus, Neal said he knew also that “a philosophical investigation would provide a deep understanding of blackness in America.” “I am not there yet, but I am on the trail. I have come to realize that I am only one person, and an investigation of this kind requires many intellectual relationships to bring about a just fulfillment,” he added. “Mississippi State is very encouraging, because in spite of the reputation the state as a whole continues to struggle against, my classes are filled with young minds eager to use reason as a weapon against the sins of the past,” Neal said. He joined MSU’s faculty in 2016.



Dr. Anthony S. Neal

A year earlier, Neal published his first book, “Common Ground: A Comparison of the Ideas of Consciousness in the Writing of Howard Thurman and Huey Newton” (Africa World Press), the groundwork for his investigation into the freedom struggle. In this piece, he began to develop concepts such as the necessity of rejection and the freedom aesthetic. “‘African Freedom Aesthetic’ serves as a descriptive function for a particular meta-philosophical framework and cultural memory which has shaped the consciousness of a group of people—namely African Americans—and was born of their desire for freedom,” Neal said. “I centered the conversation around the concept of consciousness in order to demonstrate how two figures from the modern era approach the concept philosophically,” Neal said, referring to Thurman and Newton. “This book certainly foreshadowed my current work.” In 2019, Neal published “Howard Thurman’s Philosophical Mysticism: Love against Fragmentation” (Lexington Press). “In many ways, it is volume two of the first book in that I sought to bring clarity to a few issues. First, I wanted to distinguish African American philosophy from the philosophy of race, or just a black person doing philosophy. Next, I wanted to bring to the forefront why I take Thurman to be a philosopher and to provide a framework so that anyone now can see that his approach was certainly philosophical,” Neal said. “I have always been very interested in social movements, particularly how they begin, what sustains them and why they dissipate,” he explained. “My interest in this topic stems from being around so many of my parents’ friends who claimed to have been a part of ‘The Movement’ when they were younger.” “I remember asking my dad about this—do they mean the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam protests, or just some random localized movement? He told me that for black people in America, there has only been one movement: ‘The Freedom Movement.’” Neal said his father explained all other movements were “just a moment in an ongoing movement.” Neal said there are only three major figures of African American religion in the African American modern era—Howard Thurman, Martin Luther King Jr. and James Cone. “Until very recently only two could

be understood with any amount of certainty: King and Cone. I have now clarified Thurman.” For his work on Thurman, Neal was inducted in the spring of 2019 into Morehouse College’s Martin Luther King Jr. Collegium of Scholars. “This has been and will probably always be my most significant academic honor,” said Neal, who was born on the first anniversary of King’s assassination, a timing coincidence that led him to feel a desire to do something noteworthy with his life and career. “Having this honor bestowed on me from Morehouse College, my alma mater, reassures me that I am doing significant work while also inspiring me to continue on this journey,” Neal said. Past inductees include Wallace Best, a professor of religion at Princeton University; Jeffrey Q. McCune Jr., an associate professor of women, gender and sexuality studies as well as African and African-American studies at Washington University; and Mary Elizabeth Moore, a professor and dean at Boston University School of Theology. A member of the American Philosophical Association, Neal serves on the Committee on the Status of Blacks in Philosophy as well as the Committee for the Status and Future of the Discipline. The APA is the oldest professional academic organization in the U.S. and promotes the discipline and profession of philosophy both within academia and the public arena. Neal is the former president and vice president of the Mississippi Philosophical Association. He holds an Associate of Applied Science degree from the former State Technical Institute at Memphis, a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion from Morehouse College, and a Master of Divinity in philosophical theology from Mercer University in Georgia. He also earned a doctorate in humanistic inquiry with an emphasis in African American philosophy and religion from Clark Atlanta University. “When I came to Mississippi State there was no one doing African American philosophy, and to be more specific, there was no one who was focused on uncovering the meaning of blackness as understood by black people engaged in the struggle for freedom,” Neal said. “This vacuum has forced me to constantly re-tune what I think are the definitions, frameworks and distinctions that differentiate the meaning put forward in a constant search for coherence and clarity, but most of all, adequacy.”





MSGB student Kate Moore participates in the summer capstone course on MSU’s Starkville campus, where students get hands-on laboratory-based instruction.



Kate Moore and Lidia Tejeda believe their role as educators goes beyond teaching biology. Their dedication to student-learning led these two high school teachers to Mississippi State University’s Master of General Biology (MSGB) online degree program.

“I believe my job is important, not only to educate students in science but to provide a supportive place where my students can learn what kind of person they want to be in the world and in the future,” said Moore, a science teacher at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland,



“I believe my job is important, not only to educate students in science but to provide a supportive place where my students can learn what kind of person they want to be in the world and in the future,” said Moore



Washington. Tejeda, a science teacher in the La Quinta, California, area for five years, agreed. “I am passionate about engaging students and sparking an interest in science that will fuel them to ask questions and drive them to become critical thinkers that will make a positive impact in our society,” Tejeda said. When looking for an online curriculum, both professionals wanted to find a program that would allow them flexibility to balance their fulltime teaching careers and personal obligations. Tejeda, who during the program was pregnant and then caring for a newborn, chose the MSGB program at MSU because she felt it was the best fit for her as a full-time teacher. “I knew I would be able to manage my schedule and have flexibility when needed. The faculty were understanding and ensured I was still able to care for my growing family while completing my courses,” Tejeda said. Meanwhile, Moore was searching for an online biology curriculum with a non-thesis option. “I applied to Mississippi State because it checked those boxes, but I chose Mississippi State after speaking with admissions and several professors,” Moore said. “I had this feeling that it was going to be the right fit for me, so even before I was accepted, I put it as my top choice.” Both Tejeda and Moore estimate that they spent 15-20 hours a week on their studies in addition to their teaching responsibilities. For Moore, it was all about finding work-life balance. “I worked really hard to finish my teaching work at work, to clear time for myself at home,” Moore said.

Moore said her online experience sometimes felt detached until she connected with her professors and fellow students. “I got used to their voices and was able to carry on great conversations with them via the online platform,” she said. For Tejeda, the convenience of watching or listening to her professors’ lectures at a time that was right for her made all the difference in completing her studies. “It was great because I had a twohour time difference, and with a busy work schedule on top of that, it made it convenient for me to listen to the lecture anytime I could,” Tejeda said. “The MSGB program is exceptional for working teachers who want to earn a master’s in their content area and advance their careers. The knowledge I gained has made me feel confident about teaching biology in higher education. It has also better prepared me to engage and inform my current high school students,” Tejeda said. Donna Gordon, MSGB graduate coordinator and an associate professor of biological sciences, said the online flexibility offered allows students to complete the program in just two years by enrolling in two courses per semester (fall, spring and summer). “On average, we have found that 65% of students that complete the degree requirements do so in two years; with the majority of the remaining students completing their degree requirements within a four-year period,” Gordon said. “When we came together for the capstone course at the end of the program, I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming, inclusive and supportive the campus and professors were. While every course made me feel

Lidia Tejeda, pictured with her husband, Kelvin, and son, Caleb. She and Kelvin met after the second year of her undergraduate program while she was studying abroad in the Dominican Republic.

like an expert in the content, I found that the capstone opened more opportunities of learning,” Moore said. “The courses were definitely challenging, but also enjoyable and interesting. The hard work, time and effort were worth it,” said Tejeda, a first-generation college graduate. She also enjoyed her time on campus. “It was an amazing experience and so impactful to meet professors we had earlier in the program and the students in my cohort. Everyone was so supportive and caring.” Gordon acknowledges that the on-campus component leaves a lasting impression on her students. “I have heard back from graduates that they have been inspired by the labs they participated in during the capstone course and have worked versions of the exercises into their own lesson plans,” Gordon said. Upon program completion, graduates will have an increased understanding of biological principles across the multiple subdisciplines within biology, content knowledge that can augment their own high school curricula. They may also be eligible to teach advanced placement biology or

dual-enrollment courses at the high school level. “My goal is to teach dual enrollment biology at my school site. Dual enrollment allows students to earn college credit while in high school. With a master’s degree in biology, I would be eligible to bring this amazing opportunity to the students at my school,” Tejeda said. Moore said, “When I started this degree, I was really driven, and, in the end, I graduated with all A’s and a sense of accomplishment and pride.” “I am so happy to be a Mississippi State Bulldog,” she said. MSU’s Department of Biological Sciences now offers students a graduate certificate in general biology earned with the completion of 18 credit hours in biology. The certificate program began admitting students in the fall 2019 semester. The MSGB degree program requires the completion of 33 credit hours of coursework. Ten of these three-hour courses are online, while the final two-week course is a hands-on, laboratory-based capstone course at the Starkville campus which includes the written comprehensive exam.



MSU student kicking out FEAR, spreading

CHEER By Jazell Ladner



Cameron Knight, son of MSU faculty members Amy and Adam Knight, participates in Extraordinary Kicks, a student-organized event.

Mississippi State senior and Ripley native Taylor J. Ward came to the university in 2016 full of dreams and a passion for children. Her college days have seen her to pursue her passion, impacting special needs children through Extraordinary Kicks, a new program she created as a member of MSU’s Montgomery Leadership Program. Part of the university’s Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement, MLP is a three-semester leadership program that immerses students in community service opportunities. About 40 students are selected each fall through a rigorous application process, and they create and implement a service initiative of their own design once they reach the program’s third semester. Ward, a mathematics major, said she initially felt stuck when no ideas “called out” to her, but wanting to make a difference in the Starkville community, she turned to her Lambda Sigma Honor Society adviser, Amy Knight, for help.

Participants and volunteers for Extraordinary Kicks

Also an instructor in MSU’s Department of Communication, Knight suggested Ward create a sports event for children with special needs because no such program existed in the local area. “I told her I wished there were something my son Cameron could participate in where he could be honored, recognized and told ‘great job,’” Knight said, explaining that her son has a rare genetic disorder that causes neuromuscular problems, epilepsy and myopathy. “Cameron gets muscle fatigue very quickly and has poor coordination, causing him to miss out on playing traditional sports.” Knight’s idea sparked a fire in Ward to provide a chance for kids with special needs to experience being on a competitive team. She also wanted to give their parents the experience of watching and cheering for their children from the sidelines. Extraordinary Kicks was born and ultimately resulted in a free soccer event for kids with physical or intellectual disabilities in the spring of 2019. Ward took part of the activity’s name from Knight, who had previously created Extraordinary Kids, an online support group for parents of children with special needs. “I hope this forms another community in Starkville where parents can find a support system and a way for their children to interact since there are no other places except school,” Ward said. “They shouldn’t be limited.” Ward set up and organized everything from registration forms to advertising with help from not only Knight, but also No Limitations, a special needs organization based in Waco, Texas. Hosted and sponsored by the Starkville Sportsplex, the Extraordinary Kicks event had enough funds to provide each of the 12 participants with jerseys and personalized trophies.

Bully made a special appearance during halftime, and Ward said the program not only gave children the chance to interact but taught them better communication and teamwork skills. “I was very overwhelmed in the beginning because I had no idea where to start. A woman with No Limitations helped me with the logistics and was kind enough to send a care package before the event,” Ward said. “As far as taking care of each child’s particular needs, I was glad to have Amy Knight and my mom there for advice, since my mom teaches special needs children.” “I’m just glad parents participated, and their kids enjoyed it. At the end, one of the kids was crying—not because anything bad happened, but because he didn’t want to leave,” Ward said. Knight said Ward was one of the most influential leaders in the Lambda Sigma honor society, and recognized Ward’s “big” motivation to serve others. She said Ward exhibits the maturity, foresight and skills of a servant leader. “I can’t say enough wonderful things about Taylor’s heart and effort. I am extraordinarily proud of her, and she did a fabulous job,” Knight said. “Cameron has already asked me when he can play soccer again. He had such a wonderful time.” For her efforts creating Extraordinary Kicks, Ward’s MLP peers voted her event as the best project. She also was recognized with a leadership award and earned scholarships through her work with MLP. “I am an introvert and not one to take charge, but I’m glad I followed through with this program because it taught me so much about myself and gave me confidence to lead,” Ward said. Ward wants this event to continue in Starkville after she graduates in May 2020 and hopes it grows into a permanent league offering additional sports such as cheerleading and football.



Institute for the Humanities:

Connecting Schoolteachers with MSU Resources, Helping History Come Alive By Sarah Nicholas “History never ends. It’s expanding every day,” said Michael J. Bossetta, a McComb High School teacher who enhanced his classroom atmosphere after taking advantage of free workshops offered by MSU’s Institute for the Humanities. Seeking to make history relevant to today’s students, Bossetta attended “America Responds to Crisis: Comparing the Alien and Sedition Acts of the late 1700s to the Cold War,” a 2019 workshop designed for American and European history teachers. The workshop was led by MSU faculty members Judy Ridner, professor of history, and Davide Orsini, assistant professor of history. Sparking a group discussion in his classroom connecting “false, scandalous information found on Instagram and Facebook” with how the U.S. Constitution



has stood the test of time, Bossetta said the workshop “showed how something from a long time ago was relevant now,” connecting it to the border-crisis issue today. “The workshop was presented in a great way to give background to this current issue,” Bossetta said of the event that provided him connections between the past and present which he uses today in his classroom. “We must learn from our history so we can move forward.” Noticing his students were “attached to their phones,” the U.S. history teacher said social media is one of his biggest challenges in teaching because students “don’t always see how distant things can be relevant today,” and that too many students think “if they see it in print, it is true—but anyone can write anything.” The Institute for the Humanities, an

outreach unit of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, is advancing education across the state by providing continuing education units, or CEUs, for primary and secondary teachers, connecting educators statewide with university faculty to enhance classroom content. MSU faculty donate their time, leading free workshops that include lectures, group discussions, packets of curriculum material and the option to pay for .6 CEU credit hours. “These workshops cover a topic from history that has modern resonance, or that teachers might find speaking to today’s headlines,” said Julia Osman, institute director and associate professor of history. “When we hosted the Civil War workshop, there was a lot of discussion in the state and country about the controversies over Confederate

Michael J. Bossetta

Carl Gregory

statues and the state flag, so Dr. Andy Lang’s workshop included reliable sources on those controversies and ways to talk about them with students.” “We don’t charge anything for the workshops,” Osman said, noting they are open to teachers of all levels. “We immerse primary and secondary teachers directly in conversation with professors who are content specialists. Not only do workshop leaders teach history at the college level, but they are experts in the topics we discuss.” “These workshops also allow teachers to grasp how historians understand and use the curriculum,” said Osman. “The Institute for the Humanities, teachers and professors are on the same page—we are all trying to help our students navigate the material and the skill sets they need to succeed.” Osman said last year’s “America Responds to Crisis” workshop, with lectures on the Alien and Sedition

Acts and the Cold War, “spoke to today’s concerns about fake news and immigration, and it helped teachers find ways of making events from decades or centuries past immediately relevant and interesting to their students.” “The conversational style allows teachers to ask questions about anything from teaching issues to content curiosities, and sometimes other teachers in the workshops will share their experiences and success,” Osman said. “The professors leading these workshops also get to hear about the challenges and triumphs from the teachers.” Bossetta said collaborating with teachers from other areas of the state and discussing universal issues such as “rigor, testing and policy,” helps him strengthen his skills, which benefits his students. “We want to make sure that the students have every possible opportunity to succeed.” Before entering the field of education, Bossetta spent 28 years as a New Orleans police officer. He retired at the age of 47 and decided to get his teaching degree. After Katrina forced a relocation to Mississippi, Bossetta began teaching in McComb. He said he finds his age to be a benefit in teaching social studies, especially with topics like the Civil Rights movement, which he experienced first-hand. For Carl Gregory, a U.S. History teacher at Byhalia Middle School in Marshall County, attending Lang’s “Teaching the Civil War” came just in time for his class unit on the war. Gregory said he knows textbooks can be out-of-date and students work best when working with primary sources, so attending the workshop helped him cover the topic in a relevant way. “There is not enough time to cover all the material I want to,” Gregory said, who wishes he could spend more time on politics in U.S. history. “One of the great things about the

Institute for the Humanities workshop is the sources we’re given,” Gregory said, noting he likes the lists of trusted, reliable websites and sources the presenters provide. “It is so informative. I feel like I am having a discussion with people that share the same passion for history.” Through his teaching career, Gregory said he “gets to mold the minds of the future.” “I teach my students to look at everything from multiple perspectives,” he said. “The atmosphere is prone to learning, so informative, and the speakers clearly know what they are talking about,” Gregory added. “There is a lot of open discussion so you can share ideas with fellow educators and historians. The topics fit into current events.” The Institute for the Humanities is planning more workshops to extend this outreach to English teachers. “The teacher response to our workshops has been so overwhelmingly positive, we are trying to build on that success and generate more workshops to further support teachers in their challenging and crucial roles in our state,” Osman said. For more information on the Institute for the Humanities and to view upcoming CEU opportunities, visit www.ih.msstate. edu. The Institute for the Humanities promotes research, scholarship and creative performances in the humanistic disciplines and raises their visibility, both within Mississippi State University and the wider community. The Institute’s activities also include sponsorship of the distinguished lecture series, support for faculty research initiatives and public outreach through scholarship and innovative teaching.



Preventing fraud, protecting families by indentifying a new norm By Sarah Nicholas

Jonathan “Jon” R. Woody, associate professor of statistics in MSU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics



With a high rate of families needing assistance because of food insecurity, the Magnolia State offers the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which provides benefits each month via an electronic benefit transfer card. The SNAP system allows state welfare departments to issue qualifying individuals a state-provided card, similar to a credit card, loaded with a preapproved amount of money each month to be used for food purchases. A Mississippi State faculty member is working to keep participants safe from would-be frauds, protecting SNAP accounts and the families that rely on them. Jonathan “Jon” R. Woody, associate professor of statistics in MSU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, is currently working with MSU colleague Tung-Lung Wu, assistant professor, and Ph.D. student Zhicong Zhao on a patent for his newest technology—an anomaly detection system to identify fraud in the SNAP program.

“Mississippi’s SNAP system is well-designed,” Woody said, noting that fraudulent activity in the state is lower than the national average. “We don’t have a lot of fraud compared to more urban locations, but I want to help protect the resources for people who really need this program, those who depend on EBT cards to sustain their families.” Woody’s system, an algorithm created with advanced secure data warehousing provided by MSU’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center, detects departures from typical SNAP spending behaviors. “I’m looking for repeated behaviors that are out of place,” Woody said. “Through the algorithm, if there are anomalous transaction patterns, the system automatically detects this behavior,” Woody said. “Because the SNAP system now uses EBT transactions instead of food stamp coupons, we can build an automated system to monitor transaction data to detect potential fraud.” Woody said frauds often try to trade out EBT cards for cash, a behavior that is deviant from the original intent of using the cards to buy necessary food. “We built algorithms that can sift through data and extract those behaviors that are anomalous,” Woody said. “It’s an embedded cluster detection system. I’m seeking clusters of anomalous behaviors—people coming up with a scheme to syphon the money. What we do is find those unnatural clusters and stop them.” In 2014, Woody helped NSPARC secure a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, allowing MSU to partner with the Mississippi Department of Human Services to study SNAP. Ultimately, Woody hopes to train additional staff on his algorithm system, which he said works well and has implications that could reach beyond SNAP fraud. “This work has implications that can actually help state governments save money from fraud,” Woody said. “This could cut back on that waste.” Woody said many government agencies invest large amounts of money into Artificial Intelligence systems to detect fraud, but AI methods don’t necessarily work well all the time. “AI takes training data and looks at people who have been previously caught in fraudulent activity,” Woody said. “AI transfers that data to a ‘black box’ and runs it through a system to predict who will be busted next. It can really be unfair in that it can be biased.” Woody’s algorithm and fraud-detection system identifies patterns, builds methodologies linked to program misuse, and identifies participation in methods. Woody said this system is ordered in a way that does not perpetuate bias. “The human element can create a better system,” Woody said, one that identifies fraudulent threats and simultaneously protects participants in need of SNAP benefits.

*** Founded in 1998, NSPARC is a university




more than 100 researchers, ranging from data scientists to software architects and security experts. Supporting MSU’s goals of “research, learning, and service,” NSPARC collaborates with local, state and federal agencies as well as the private sector, using data science to provide solutions to a variety of societal problems.

*** The U.S. Department of Agriculture is comprised of 29 agencies and offices, employing nearly 100,000 employees at more than 4,500 locations across the country and abroad. The USDA is the federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry and food.

***Jon R. Woody, a native of Kernersville, North Carolina, joined the MSU faculty in 2011. He received his Ph.D. in statistics from Clemson University in 2009. He earned a master’s degree in mathematics in 2003 from Western Carolina University, and a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics in 2000 from North Carolina State University. In addition to creating an algorithm to detect fraud, Woody researches developing statistical methods and theory toward understanding the interaction between a





processes. He is also introducing proper statistical modeling expertise to the snow depth trends community.



THE JOURNEY HOME By Ava Richardson



From an early age, Katrina Poe knew she wanted to be a physician. Little did she know the dream she had to help others would take her home—and then home again. “I was in fifth grade when I told my mom I was going to be a doctor,” Poe said. “I can remember her being sick a lot, and we would take trips to Jackson because she would need to go see doctors. At the time, I didn’t know they were specialists, but I was amazed at how well they took care of her. I wanted to take care of people the way these doctors took care of my mother.” Poe credits her family for encouraging her to apply to Mississippi State University. Her aunt, a woman Poe “adored” and wanted to emulate, graduated from MSU in the late 1970s, and Poe knew she wanted to become a Bulldog just like this admired relative. “It really was a wonderful experience here,” Poe said. “I was very involved in several organizations at the time. I was a State Strider, Bulldog hostess and resident assistant.” In 1992, the Kilmichael native completed her bachelor’s degree in biological sciences at MSU before going on to medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, where she also completed a residency in family medicine. Reflecting on her time as an MSU student, Poe credits her adviser, Donald Downer, for motivating her and encouraging her to complete her dream of becoming a physician. Poe recalled how Downer frequently reminded her of how well she was doing in school. “To hear it from someone within Mississippi State’s College of Arts and Sciences who I admired so much really lit a fire inside of me and there was no stopping me—I was going to medical school,” Poe said. Upon earning her M.D., she took her skills back home to Kilmichael and practiced as the town’s only doctor for 17 years. Being the

only doctor in town was both rewarding and challenging. Poe was on call 24/7, often taking her two young sons with her to work. Poe said she was lucky to have received help from other nurses and caregivers who watched her children while she cared for patients. However, after working in her hometown for nearly two decades, an opportunity arose to return to her educational roots and Mississippi State. When Poe attended the 2018 Final Four in Ohio, she unexpectedly crossed paths with MSU Vice President of Student Affairs Regina Hyatt. Poe’s husband knew Hyatt through his work as adviser to Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., and he introduced the two. “She asked me if I had thought about coming back to Mississippi State as a staff physician because one of the doctors was retiring soon. So, of course, that piqued my interest. Less than a month later, I was able to apply for the position, and I ended up getting it,” said Poe, who began her post at the John C. Longest Student Health Center in the fall of 2018. Poe’s inner drive and determination led her to become the youngest and the first African American physician to receive the Country Doctor of the Year award from Staff Care Incorporated in 2005. Upon joining MSU, she became the first female African American physician at the university health center. “It can be funny the way life will treat you,” said Poe, who finds humor in how her path led back to where she began. “I started at MSU, and now here I am, back again. Being able to give back to a school that invested so much time and effort into me is a wonderful feeling, and I am so happy and willing to do that.” MSU’s Longest Student Health Center treats students and faculty, but also is open to members of the Starkville community. For more information, visit healthcenter or call 662-325-2431.





MSU Cognitive Psychologist Seeks to Uncover Mysteries of Human Vision By Sarah Nicholas



Consider for a moment the importance of vision sight is the primary conduit through which humanity experiences the world. Whether moving safely from one location to another or connecting with a friend in a crowd, a person’s ability to see shapes his or her life in important ways. However, “eyesight is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Michael S. Pratte, assistant professor of cognitive psychology at Mississippi State University. “Vision really happens in the brain.” According to Pratte, more than half of the brain is devoted to processing the visual information streaming in through eyes. For example, when crossing the street,

Pratte said, “You aren’t actively using physics and geometry to turn the patterns of light hitting your eyes into a 3D world while calculating the distances, speeds and trajectories of cars and yourself, and then using all this information to chart a safe path across the street. But, somehow, your brain does all of that for you.” Despite decades of research, scientists who study the brain don’t yet have a firm understanding of exactly how the brain analyzes and makes sense of the information it receives from the eyes. From his research lab in Magruder Hall, Pratte and his team of undergraduate and graduate students study human behavior and brain activity in hopes of advancing vision science to the point they understand how the brain accomplishes the ability to see, and can apply that knowledge to areas spanning from medical science to military applications.

Pratte, a native of St. Louis, earned his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, in 2010. He then worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University until 2015 before joining the MSU faculty the same year as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology.



TOOLS OF THE TRADE Pratte employs several experimental methods to study the human visual system, including electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), in collaboration with the MSU Institute for Imaging Technologies. EEG electrodes (Figure 1) measure the tiny electrical signals that occur on the scalp when the brain is active. “EEG lets us measure exactly when something happens in the brain,” said Pratte, “but measurements on the outside of the head cannot tell us precisely where in the brain the neural activity is occurring.” That’s where fMRI comes into play—an fMRI scanner measures the small changes in blood flow that occur inside the brain. “When you use a specific part of your brain, the body sends blood to that area,” Pratte said. “An fMRI allows us to measure this blood flow,

revealing what parts of a person’s brain are being used while they perform various tasks.” Thanks in part to fMRI research, scientists know that different parts of the brain have different jobs. However, more recent use of the technology has advanced beyond simply understanding which brain areas are active. “By using modern mathematics, we can now use this measured brain activity to determine what you are seeing and even what you are thinking,” Pratte said. Take color, for example. With the data from an fMRI scan, “we can figure out what color you’re seeing from the patterns of brain activity in brain areas that process color,” Pratte said. “And even if your eyes are closed, we can identify what color you’re thinking about by measuring activity from those same areas.”

EEG electrodes (Figure 1) COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES | VISION 2020


SEEING IS MORE DIFFICULT THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT Modern neuroscience technology has much more to offer beyond “cool mind-reading tricks,” Pratte said. “Data from fMRI scans can help neuroscientists better understand how different areas of your brain work to accomplish the incredible feat of seeing.” Pratte said, “Our brains usually hide the difficult problems of vision, making the act of seeing seem far easier than it really is. For example, at a surface level, it seems easy enough – routine, even – to determine the color of an object. But even that seemingly simple task requires a great deal of processing, most of which happens outside of our awareness or our control.”

(Figure 3a)

(Figure 2a)

(Figure 2b)



It’s the same fruit, And no digital color This hidden processing can be made more apparent through visual illusions, such as the multi-colored cube in Figure 2a. For most people, the top middle square of the cube appears brown, and the middle square on the side of the cube appears orange. The illusion lies in the fact that those two squares are in reality the exact same color (Figure 2b). To determine the color of a square, the brain first measures the color of the light that is reflecting from it. However, Pratte said that’s just the start. “It must also figure out where the light is coming from in the image (the top-right, which you somehow just know), the

(Figure 3b)

same location, same time. alterations. What’s different? The apple and banana were tossed in the air for the photo. The light in the background is ‘non-gelled’ (a light with no filter) for both photos. Answer: But in Figure 3a, the light on the fruit has a red gel filter. Since the fruit is in the air, the red filter only hits the fruit while leaving the background natural. Our brains get a bit uncomfortable seeing an unexpected color on a subject we assume we recognize.

color of the light illuminating the cube—perhaps yellow sunshine or blue moonlight—and whether changes in lighting within the image are due to variables, such as shadows or reflections. Only by putting all this information together can the brain determine the color of the square. And whatever color it decides, that’s what you see.” Pratte said that the most difficult part of his work is ignoring his own visual experience, because “our conscious perception is the end result of a lot of brain processing, but my job is to look past the end, and uncover the steps that led up to it.” “Our brains do this kind of work constantly and without any

effort on our part,” Pratte said. His goal is to study visual processing, and he suggests that brain imaging can provide valuable information about how these kinds of under-the-radar computations are actually working. Pratte said if he were to ask someone to look at the orange square while their brain activity is being measured, he could use that data to help determine which parts of the brain “are merely processing the light measured by your eyes, and which brain areas are doing the really hard jobs, like making the square orange to account for lighting and shadows.”








STUDYING THE BRAIN’S LIMITATIONS TO UNDERSTAND ITS POWER Although human brains can accomplish remarkable feats, Pratte said the brain does have limits for what it can accomplish at any given moment. “Your brain is always receiving massive amounts of information from your eyes and from all of your other senses,” Pratte said. “But if you were aware of this constant flood of data you would be completely overwhelmed.” Fortunately, Pratte said, “Your brain uses attention to filter the incoming information, such that you are aware of only a tiny fraction of it. For example, sensors in your big toe are always sending signals to your brain about pressure, but you are not aware of how tight your sock is unless you actively pay attention to these signals.” “The limitations imposed by attention provide a striking example of how little scientists actually know about what our brains are doing,” Pratte said. “When we look around it feels like we’re seeing everything in front of us, but that’s because your brain can only process a small fraction of that visual information at a time. It’s



actually processing little pieces of visual information, and then stitching them together to give you the impression of a coherent visual world.” Pratte and collaborators have demonstrated that almost every part of the brain involved in vision is affected by “what you are attending.” “A major goal in psychological science is to understand how the brain does this attentional filtering. How does the filter work? Where does it happen in the brain? And what happens to all of that information that was sent to your brain but never reached awareness?” “If an engineer was asked to build a computer-based brain that had something like attention, they would probably put a filter somewhere in the middle that only lets the most important information through,” Pratte said. “But that’s not at all how the brain works—almost every part of your brain changes how it processes information in complex ways depending on what you’re attending.”

BRAINS VERSUS MACHINES Pratte said differences between how the brain works and how computers currently work is “one of the most exciting aspects” of making new discoveries about the brain. “If we can figure out how the brain does things like read a sentence or drive a car, these same processes could be built into computers,” he said. “Although computers have advanced tremendously in recent years, even our best technology is nowhere near what your brain is capable of doing.” For example, technologies like Siri and Alexa have become good at recognizing words, but Pratte said they still can “fail miserably in noisy rooms where you would have no trouble following a conversation.” “And these computer programs certainly don’t understand those words in the way you do, building them into concepts, stories and ideas,” Pratte said. Pratte also studies very specific tasks where computers currently fail but humans excel, with the hope that “computers might eventually make us better at these critical jobs.” “There are several military applications, such as our

amazing ability to break the visual camouflage of an enemy in combat, where computers can be easily fooled,” Pratte said. “Similar problems exist in the field of medicine.” “When you get a scan of a broken bone, or a sample of tissue is taken to test for a disease such as cancer, these images are sent to experts who look at them to determine whether you have a disease and what type,” Pratte said. “It takes many years to train a person to be effective at this job, and there is a lot of variability in how good any individual might be. To date, computers have been terrible at these tasks. But if we can understand how a radiologist sees that a bright spot is in fact cancer, or a pathologist knows that something about a particular sample is abnormal, then we could use computers to have more reliable diagnoses, and ones that are available across the world.” “Can we build computers that do that?” Pratte said. “Can we build computers that can listen and talk or identify cancer? Probably not until we have a much better understanding of how our brains are able to do all of these things so well.”



The Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial is a World War II cemetery and memorial located in Colleville-sur-Mer, in Normandy, France, that honors American troops who died in Europe during World War II.

Nati o n a l W WII Mu se um Of f e r s MSU -Mer i d i a n H i stor y S tude nt Tri p o f a L i fe ti m e By Lisa Sollie For one Mississippi State University-Meridian senior, studying history is more than academics—it’s a way of life. Kayla Jordan recently joined 17 other college students from around the country for a travel experience of a lifetime—the National WWII Museum’s Normandy Academy. The native of Sweetwater, Alabama, who grew up visiting historical sites during family vacations and became docent of a small museum at age 16, said this latest experience was a rare opportunity to immerse herself in the historical period of World War II. Students began their nine-day journey in New Orleans at The National WWII Museum, spending several days touring exhibits, exploring artifacts and hearing from WWII veterans. “The museum was much larger than I initially realized,” Jordan said. “I feel like the tour really helped prepare us for the sheer scope and scale of this war and how it impacted, not only the particular region we were going to visit in France and what it meant to the French and Americans, but also to the English and Canadians and everyone involved.”



From New Orleans, the group flew to France to tour Normandy at Pegasus Bridge, where the first shots of the invasion were fired by British troops a few minutes after midnight on June 6. They also visited the Pegasus Museum and Grand Bunker Museum, learning of the missions that were carried out before the 1944 seaborne landings. Their next stop was Arromanches and the Cinema Circulaire Arromanches 360 film. Projected in high definition on nine screens, the film tells the story of the Battle of Normandy and is a tribute to the solders from every country and the 20,000 civilians killed during this battle for the liberation of Europe. “Watching this film and seeing how much WWII has impacted the world as we know it today was sobering,” Jordan said. “While in the states, the main focus was the impact of the war on Americans and our country, but here in France, we were faced with the realization that this was a war not just fought on battlefields, but in people’s homes, backyards and in their towns. Seeing it all up close and personal was quite surreal.”

Kayla Jordan, an MSU-Meridian history senior from Sweetwater, Alabama, holds a photo of her great grandfather, Noah Raymond Vick at the Easy Red Sector of Omaha Beach.

The group also had the opportunity to visit private chateaus turned into Nazi headquarters and living space for German officers, and the La Cambe German Cemetery, the final resting place of more than 21,000 German soldiers as well as Longues sur Mer, the site of one of the only batteries of the Atlantic Wall with the guns still in place. “War is more than battles and skirmishes,” Jordan said. “It becomes personal when you see how it affects those living in the towns and villages decimated by bombs and overrun with soldiers. But history isn’t one sided, it’s multi-faceted. One of the things I most enjoyed about this trip was how well-rounded it was. We didn’t just see and learn about the Allies but also gained some perspective from the German side.” No trip to Normandy would be complete without exploring Pointe du Hoc, a prominent position along the coast of Normandy that was a focal point of the amphibious assault by U.S. forces during the early morning hours of D-Day. The cliff top is located between Utah and Omaha Beaches and sits atop overhanging cliffs up to 100 feet high. Jordan said this part of the tour was particularly meaningful because her family believes this was the general location that her great grandfather, Noah Raymond Vick, may have traversed during the war. “Unfortunately, he died before I was born, but I heard so many stories about him growing up, since he actually helped raise my mom and uncle, that I feel as if I know him,” Jordan said. “He was a TEC 4, which was one of three U.S. Army technician ranks during WWII,” she said, “and drove a two and a half ton truck. We also know he didn’t land on the beaches on D-Day, but the morning of June 7.” Through additional research and the help of Nathan Heugen, director of educational travel at the WWII Museum and the primary tour guide/ manager of the Normandy Academy, Jordan was able to determine that her great grandfather likely came on to Omaha Beach at the Easy Red sector, a little further away from the most severe fighting, where the sand was more compacted and would support such a large vehicle. “It was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had,” Jordan said. “I felt as if he [my great grandfather] was really there with me, and I thanked him for having been there 75 years ago. He truly is my hero, and I can only hope he would be proud of me.” Jordan said she is grateful to Matthew Lavine, MSU associate professor of history and undergraduate coordinator, for passing along information about the student travel programs sponsored by the National WWII Museum. She plans to apply for a scholarship for the Warsaw Academy, another travel program sponsored by the New Orleans museum. “Though I’ve always known I wanted to earn a graduate degree in history,” Jordan said, “this trip has really inspired me to potentially specialize that degree to focus on WWII studies and perhaps either teach at a university or be a curator or head historian at a museum. I just want to be able to share history in a way that people can not only understand it—but enjoy it too.” For more on MSU-Meridian visit MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at



New Pre-Health Division Connecting MSU Students with Future Goals By Sarah Nicholas



Applying for post-graduate schools in healthrelated fields can be a daunting task—sorting through applications, worrying about interviews and ensuring all pre-requisite courses have been completed. Now Mississippi State students and alumni have a new prehealth division that provides counsel and assistance for navigating the admissions and interview processes required for entrance to post-graduate, health-related schools, such as medical or dental school, among others. The Dr. A. Randle and Marilyn W. White Health Professions Resource Center housed in Harned Hall can help all students and alumni develop competitive backgrounds and refine applications for their desired professional school or program. The HPRC also aids these students in expanding their analytical and theoretical understanding of health and medicine. “We provide many valuable resources and coordinate events to enhance a student’s aptitude in reaching professional school goals,” said Mary Celeste Reese, HPRC director. Advisers also share information about internships and research opportunities, point out meaningful extracurricular activities, and provide guidance through the application and interview process. “Many of MSU’s peer institutions have a health profession advising office dedicated to providing guidance to students who are interested in attending health professional schools. Dr. Randy White and his wife Marilyn saw a need for MSU to give students a similar resource and made a substantial contribution for this endeavor,” Reese said. Through an endowed gift from the Whites, the HPRC has grown from its opening as an advising office in 2016 to becoming an entire advising division, which officially launched in 2019. “The willingness of Dr. and Mrs. White to give back to MSU in this fashion is much appreciated,” said Rick Travis, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Through their support, vision and persistence, they played an integral role in keeping the goal of a fully realized pre-health advising center at the forefront of college and university efforts, making it possible for this college and the Provost’s Office to make it a reality.” White is a 1966 MSU chemistry and pre-medicine graduate. As an MSU student, he served as a “duty boy” in the university hospital, then located in George Hall.

L-R Front: Trent Ray, Kaitlyn Barber, Natalene Vonkchalee, Anastasia Rogers, Hailey Jamison, Hannah Pray, Miguel Sioson L-R Back: Dalton Hall, Thomas Moore, Mary Ranie Miller, Ruby Hall, Olivia Billingsley, Lane Hynum Not Pictured: Mary Mae Turner, Abi Johnston, Seth Lenoir

A native of the Oktoc community in Oktibbeha County, White received his medical degree from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson in 1969 and then served as an assistant professor of medicine at UMMC for eight years. He opened a private medical practice in Greenwood in 1983 and is the founder and managing member of Delta Hills Nephrology Associates, PLLC. A passionate advocate for MSU and longtime member of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Executive Advisory Board, he was the 2011 College of Arts and Sciences Alumni Fellow and today continues to invest in the lives of MSU students and future medical practitioners. “I believe that being allowed to practice medicine is the highest honor one can receive,” White said. “I am 75 and continue to practice medicine full time, with no plans to retire. I get up every morning looking forward to solving puzzles and taking care of complicated, sick patients.” Marilyn White said watching their daughter Rachael

White Faught, a 2006 MSU biology graduate, navigate the requirements for applying to medical school indicated it was an “overwhelming process that needs to be started much earlier than we realized.” “As a mother, I realized how wonderful it would be for students to have a more comprehensive avenue and hands-on help to successfully complete this challenge,” Marilyn White said. Randy White recalled, “When I was accepted [into medical school], I wondered if Dr. John Longest, my boss, and Dr. Leslie Ellis, my pre-med adviser, had used their influence with the admissions committee at UMMC to help get me in.” He said he wasn’t always convinced during his college years that he had the credentials necessary for admission to medical school. The Whites believe the HPRC is now “instrumental” in helping current and future students ease the uncertainty of admission requirements.



“I love medicine, and I love MSU,” Randy White said. “I want to do what I can to help our students achieve their professional dreams.” Reese said this much needed program helps MSU reach more students and offers more opportunities with the goal of increasing acceptance rates to professional schools. Seth L. Lenoir, a senior chemical engineering major from Brandon, said the HPRC has helped him channel his passion for medicine into “concrete activities” to enhance his medical school application. He hopes to begin medical school in the fall of 2020. “I wasn’t sure that the information I had read online or heard second hand would help me get my application on the desk of the admissions committee,” said Lenoir, who hopes to become a primary care physician in Mississippi. “The process is rigorous and difficult to navigate. In the highly competitive arena of medical school admissions, the HPRC provided a professional view of what medical schools generally look for in student applicants, and I gained access to a wealth of resources I would not have been aware of otherwise,” Lenoir said, adding that the HPRC also helped him with the logistical aspects of his application, including how to submit transcripts, recommendation letters and MCAT scores. “For me, the HPRC’s personal statement workshops and MCAT bootcamps were very helpful,” Lenoir said. The HPRC provides similar assistance to students interested in pre-dentistry, pre-physical therapy, pre-nursing and other health professions, and also offers mock interviews to further preparation. “Students interested in any health-related field should seek advice from the HPRC because it has the best collection of

resources on campus to help students achieve their goals,” Lenoir said. “It has helped me find several research, volunteer and shadowing opportunities related to my interests and has provided valuable guidance.” Lenoir is an HPRC pre-health ambassador. Reese said this group of students is dedicated to helping peers reach their career goals and assists with recruiting events and student outreach. “Our ambassadors help spread the word about HPRC at MSU Orientation and help with many of the events we organize,” Reese said. “Because our ambassadors come from diverse pre-health concentrations, they are helping us understand what resources are needed from different concentrations such as pre-dental, prephysician assistant, pre-optometry, etc.,” she explained. “Strong academics and test scores are important in the application process, but there are other qualities health professional schools are looking for,” Reese said. “We also have a partnership with OCH Regional Hospital in Starkville, which provides scholarships, shadowing opportunities and volunteer experiences.” Reese said another partnership with a group of MSU alumni physicians and dentists called “Doctor Dawgs” has provided additional support to students through shadowing as well as an array of other support functions. In addition to Reese, the HPRC is staffed by academic coordinator Claire Powell and office associate Jeannie Robinson. Students and alumni can visit for more information. To make an appointment with an adviser, call 662-325-5966, email, or stop by Harned Hall, Room 116.

HPRC Director Mary Celeste Reese provides hands-on counsel for students in Harned Hall. 27


Mississippi State University’s Theatre MSU Program



Theatre MSU’s 2019 production of Beowulf featured an original adaptation of the script as well as student-designed costumes.

Featuring the creative talents of Mississippi State students and faculty, Theatre MSU is known for original productions, visually masterful set designs and detailed costumes. But most importantly, the Department of Communication’s theater program is known for transforming students from uncertain or shy individuals into enthusiastic performers, designers and creators. Cody Stockstill, Tim Matheny and Melanie Harris are the faculty leaders behind every Theatre MSU production. They agree that working with MSU students is one of the most fulfilling aspects of their job. “We spend a lot of one-on-one time with our students. Faculty are working directly with student-artists on our productions,” said Stockstill, an assistant professor, explaining that the work sometimes requires late nights of rehearsing or set building. “The practical application of theater techniques on our productions is an important part of the program and training for our students.” Stockstill said whether working with student actors, designers or technicians, the faculty are with students every step of the way developing the productions. “When I teach, I am constantly looking at the individual student as an artist and finding ways to help develop that person’s skills,” he said. While the Department of Communication program is part of the College of Arts and Sciences, students from across campus are encouraged to participate in Theatre MSU. “Theater offers students an avenue of expression and exploration. Actors get to become someone other than



themselves and share an experience with an audience. Designers get to create worlds, characters and visual moments for a live audience,” Stockstill said, pointing to a puppet he created for a recent production. “Participating in theater, the student not only has the opportunity to learn a skill set, but they benefit from the unique brother/sisterhood that comes from collaborating on a joint project,” said Matheny, an assistant professor. Both he and Stockstill said the most important lesson learned in theater is empathy. “Empathy helps us see through perspectives that are not our own. We don’t have to agree with them, but in the process of empathy, we are able to take that proverbial ‘walk in someone else’s shoes,’” Matheny said. “It’s a valuable lesson for everyone— to learn to appreciate other perspectives.” Instructor and costume designer Melanie Harris said watching or participating in a Theatre MSU production should be on every student’s “bucket list” during their time on campus. “I think our size helps us create opportunities for our students to really dig in from day one of their time here,” Harris said. “There is no possible way for us to do what we do with only the faculty making all the decisions and doing all the heavy lifting. Our undergrads are just as much a part of our production process as the faculty. If you want to learn how to make theater, nothing is standing in your way of doing that at MSU.” Harris said Theatre MSU’s fall 2019 production of Beowulf included a freshman in the role of assistant costume designer. “There aren’t many programs out there where you can walk in

“Often a student will come to the university and hear the reinforcement of ‘study, study.’ Sometimes I think we forget that we are here to not only work for a degree but to create in ourselves the best human being possible.” - Matheny

the door in August and be designing for a realized production by October. That’s one of the things that makes me the happiest about working here,” she said. “I hear a lot of students say that they are interested in theater, but they have no interest in acting,” Harris said. “If you love to paint, build, draw, sing, swing a sword, tell a joke, run a saw— whatever—theater is such an amazing place to do it. It’s such a collaborative art form with need for skills in so many areas. No matter what you are into, we can find a place for you to shine.” Matheny said he also encourages students to get involved in some form of the arts. “Often a student will come to the university and hear the reinforcement of ‘study, study.’ Sometimes I think we forget that we are here to not only work for a degree but to create in ourselves the best human being possible,” Matheny said. “When you open yourself to experience new ideas and perspectives, you come away from the university with an unofficial degree in humanity. You grow in your understanding of yourself and others by rubbing shoulders with ideas that are not yours and even those you disagree with.” Communication seniors Nathan R. Cleveland and Preslie A. Cowley, along with junior Jonathan M. Tackett, worked with Stockstill this year to script an original adaptation of “Beowulf.” “It’s still the original story of ‘Beowulf,’” Stockstill said, “but adapted in such a way that modern theater audiences can enjoy and be challenged by the ideas in the piece.” Considered by scholars worldwide to be one of the most important works of Old English, the medieval manuscript, an

epic poem thought to be approximately 1,000 years old, follows the battles and triumphs of warrior Beowulf. Theatre MSU’s original adaptation sought to breathe new life into the piece. “This was not an opportunity I could pass up as a student pursuing a career in acting,” said Cleveland, who participated in the project both as a co-writer and an assistant director. Tackett said creating new dialogue for a story that has existed for centuries was “extremely exciting,” and the group effort to devise an original adaptation “speaks volumes” about the creative capabilities within Theatre MSU. “If anyone ever has the opportunity to go to a play or even help out with one, take it,” said Anna K. Sheffield, a senior English major from Tupelo. Sheffield credits her experiences with Theatre MSU for helping her develop from “an introvert to someone more creative.” “It is so much deeper than anything I have seen or done before,” Sheffield said. “I know I won’t be able to forget the things I’ve learned or the people I have met.” C.S. Lewis’ “The Magician’s Nephew” and “Beowulf ” were unveiled during the fall 2019 season. “Mamma Mia” headlined the Spring 2020 lineup. For more information about specific productions, visit www. or Part of MSU’s College of Arts and Sciences, complete details about the Department of Communication may be found at www.comm.



L-R – Dean Rick Travis, Mark D. Hersey, Jamie L. Dyer, Deborah K. Eakin, Margaret A. Hagerman (photo submitted)

College of Arts & Sciences Faculty Award WINNERS Mississippi State’s College of Arts and Sciences presented four Dean’s Eminent Scholar awards to “exceptionally meritorious faculty who have achieved national recognition and enhanced the quality and stature of academic programs.” During the CAS fall faculty meeting at Hotel Chester in Starkville, Dean Rick Travis recognized each 2019 winner with a plaque. Jamie L. Dyer, professor of geosciences, won the Sanderson/Henry Family Dean’s Distinguished Professor Award. Deborah K. Eakin, associate professor of psychology, won the Phil and Kari Oldham Faculty Mentor Award. Margaret A. Hagerman, assistant professor of sociology, won the Gary Meyers/Clinton E. Wallace Dean’s Distinguished Professor Award. Mark D. Hersey, associate professor of history, won the Beverly B. and Gordon W. Gulmon Dean’s Distinguished Professor Award.



Pictured left to right: First row: Katelyn Jackson, Sofia Alvarez, John Payne, Ashley Thompson, Kyle Barron, Tatu Taylor, Mallorie Moore, Preety Gurung Second row: Marisa Laudadio, Laura Ingouf, Emily Chappell, Olivia Murtagh, Taylor Nanni, Lizzie Bowman, Olivia Emmich, Macy McDaniel, Cailin Sims, Krishna Desai, Desiree Goodfellow Third row: Javad A’arabi, Vesilla Dao, Matthew Figgins, Kenneth Groce, Adrianna Genge, Avery

College of Arts and Sciences Ambassadors

Ferguson, Emily Welch, Maggie Shepherd Fourth row: Blake Williams, Cole O’Donnell,

As Mississippi State University’s largest and most diverse academic college, the College of Arts and Sciences seeks to faithfully and accurately represent the wide-ranging interests and concerns of its students. The College of Arts and Sciences Ambassadors (CASA), comprised of undergraduate representatives from the college’s 14 academic departments, seek to serve that purpose as a connection between the students in the college and the college’s administration.

Alanna Bond, Torrye Evans, Alex Forbes, Sam Taylor, Meg Walker, Ellen Currie, Abbie Kate Hancock Not pictured: Emily Tingle

CASA represents the College of Arts and Sciences to current and prospective students. Serving alongside representatives from their home departments, the ambassadors assist at recruitment events to relay how they have discovered their path to success through the College of Arts and Sciences. Our students serve as mentors to incoming students by staying in contact with prospective students, helping them discover future opportunities as Mississippi State Bulldogs.



The 2020 inductees of MSU’s Phi Beta Kappa include: Joshua Ryan Aldridge

Mackenzie Claire Jackson

Andrea Lynn Beyer

Emily R. Jeanmard

Mary Catherine Boring

Lacee Deanna Johnson

Emily Grace Box

Eunbea Kim

Dylan Christopher Bufkin

Elizabeth Anne Lucas

Tarah Colleen Burrows

Semaj Cordell Martin-Redd

Randa Elizabeth Byars

Abby Caroline Miles

Julia Ann Canfield-Phillips

James Dewese Moore

Jennifer Catherine Casey

Samuel Hardin Nieman

Melissa Kathryn Cole

Stephanie Nigrinis

Colby Paxton Collins

Martial Aime Kemdje Noumbi

Julia Claire Concolino

Cameron Bradley Peets

Charlotte Denise Corr

Hannah Susanne Phillips

Emily Gayle Couch

Sarah Elizabeth Pritchard

Vesilla Chau Dao

Kayla Brianne Sartin

Jessica McKenzie Davis

Sara Lizariturry Setien

William Madison Dickens

Jihyun Shin

Cassidy Leigh Doss

Leigh Constance Taylor

Hannah Grace Dunlap

Cameron Dru Temple

Morgan Brooke Gay

Anna Claire Tucker

Desiree Veronica Goodfellow

Laura Catherine Turner

Rebekah Lois Grisham

Rebecca Marie Van Pamel

Kimberlyn Dakota Ivy

Megan Mackenzie Walker

Dawn Monique Jackson

Taylor Jane Ward

Phi Beta Kappa Mississippi State University became the 287th U.S. college or university to shelter a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in April 2019 with the installation of the Gamma of Mississippi Chapter. Installations of new chapters occur only every three years and follow an intensive, multi-year application and evaluation process that includes two rounds of data collection and a visit from members of the Phi Beta Kappa Committee on Qualifications. Among the criteria reviewed are the university’s educational rigor in the arts and sciences, governance structure, faculty excellence, demonstrated commitment to academic freedom, and institutional dedication to liberal arts education. The nation’s most prestigious academic honors society was founded in 1776, and its mission is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, foster freedom of thought, and recognize academic excellence. Phi Beta Kappa inductees are among the top 10 percent of their graduating class who have completed a broad range of liberal arts and sciences coursework, including foreign language study and mathematics.



dean’s executive advisory board members The mission of the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Executive Advisory Board is to provide leadership and support to the Dean by utilizing individual skills, financial resources, teamwork, and diversity to strengthen the academic infrastructure, faculty, and facilities of the College and University.

Back Row (from left to right): Dr. Bill Hulett, Dr. Kirk Reid, Dr. John Rada, Dr. Fred Corley, Hunter “Ticket” Henry, Malcolm Lightsey, Dr. David Wigley, and Dr. Randy White Front Row (left to right): Dr. Ralph Alewine, Hank Johnston, Dr. Karen Hulett, Dr. Larry Grillot, Cindy Stevens, Laurie Williams (Chair), and Llana Smith Not Pictured: Dr. Thomas Wiley, Jr.

This year, the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board welcomes two new members, Bob Bowen and Tommie Cardin.

Robert “Bob” Bowen of Holly Springs. Robert Bowen, a 1963 graduate of Mississippi State University, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and history. Upon graduation, Bowen served as a captain and aviator for the U.S. Army. He flew in nearly 700 combat missions in South Vietnam. After active duty, Bowen obtained an M.B.A. from Emory University in 1968. His business career includes being a partner with Arthur Andersen & Co. being in charge of its Mid-South Audit and Business Advisory practice. He is now retired from service on three NYSE-listed public companies and chair of their audit committees.

Tommie S. Cardin of Ridgeland. A former MSU Student Association president from Brooksville, Cardin is a 1983 magna cum laude political science graduate who went on to earn a 1986 Juris Doctor degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law. He presently is a member of the regulatory and government relations practice group at the Jackson-based Butler Snow LLP firm. A former adjunct professor at Mississippi College’s School of Law, he also has served since 2013 as chair of the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board.



Thank you Alumni and Friends As we enter the year 2020, the doorstep to a new decade, I reflect on

Martin-Redd to Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of

the incredible impact the College of Arts and Sciences continues to make

Public and International Affairs last summer. He studied with 30 other

on the lives of its students, faculty, staff and alumni. This issue clearly

fellows, selected from universities across the nation. After this incredible

highlights professors going the extra mile and students championing

opportunity, Semaj, a 2019 Rhodes Scholar finalist, visualizes a path in

important initiatives, sharing their talents within our theater program,

politics and aspires to become a member of the U.S. Congress.

and actively playing a role in research initiatives throughout the university.

The Dr. A. Randle and Marilyn W. White Health Professions Resource

Our faculty established ground-breaking technology preventing fraud

Center (HPRC) continues to make great strides in collaboration with

and waste to increase resources for those in need. Making the College

our Doctor Dawgs group, helping prepare students for the MCAT.

of Arts and Sciences shine, I see passionate and dedicated students,

Professors throughout the university volunteered their time to teach the

talented and innovative professors and overall difference makers in all

core elements of the MCAT exam for an entire month. The Doctor

14 departments.

Dawgs group supported this valuable initiative through offsetting the

When you were a student at MSU, did you clearly visualize your

cost of the MCAT study materials for more than 25 students who

academic path the first day you stepped on campus? An alumnus

enrolled in the course. One participating student had a 15-point increase

recently shared an article with me noting that graduates can expect

in her score and the other attendants saw an average increase of 5.5

to change their careers from five to seven times due to the rapidly

points. The new HPRC division also provides counsel and assistance for

evolving technology and innovations being launched on a daily basis.

navigating the admissions and interview processes required for entrance

With new innovations come newly formed jobs that graduates have

to post-graduate, health-related schools.

yet to encounter in their academic journey, which highlights a critical

As alumni and friends of the College, I’m truly grateful for your

point: technical skills remain an important part of students’ academic

continued guidance and support that provides valuable resources

curriculum. But, we must also be proactive about providing opportunities

allowing our students to thrive through all stages of their academic

in and outside the classroom to allow our graduates to develop strong


critical-thinking and communication skills. Combining the technical

I consider myself fortunate to have the opportunity to work side by

skills, critical-thinking and strong communication skills will allow them

side with innovative and dedicated students, faculty and staff who exude

to adapt if the career they visualized evolves into something completely

pride and passion in all of their endeavors. I’m truly thankful for all our

different upon graduation. By providing these valuable resources, they

generous alumni and friends who provide financial resources and service

will be able to confidently overcome obstacles and find early success in

to promote greatness in all outlets within the College. Through your

their professional fields.

vision and giving you are changing the lives of our faculty and students.

Through the vision and generosity of alumni, the Llana Y. Smith and

I look forward to another decade of academic excellence and success for

Dr. John B. Rada, III, Students First Endowment provides students

the College of Arts and Sciences. I want to thank each of you, because

the opportunity to experience first-hand the principles they learn in

the path to our success begins with you!

the classroom and how to apply them outside of campus. Students are equipped with resources to collaborate with other universities, work in the field, intern and much more, with the intention of strengthening critical thinking skills, providing networking opportunities and the


ability to communicate their vision to a variety of audiences. Llana and John established this support to help students find early success, thrive, persist, graduate, and begin their careers with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Through a similar travel resource, the Hunter Henry Undergraduate Excellence Program Scholarship, combined with the 2019 Public Policy and International Affairs Junior Fellowship, sent MSU student Semaj



Sara Jurney Frederic ’08, ’10, ’11 Director of Development College of Arts & Sciences

COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES DONOR LIST The following list includes our generous alumni and friends who supported the college from July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019

Mr. Kenneth E. Aasand, II

Ms. Heather L. Andrews

Mrs. Francie O. Bala

Mr. Jacob R. Beane

Abbvie Foundation

Mr. Fred Andrus

Mr. David W. Banks

Dr. Christopher L. Behr

Mr. J. Harry Adams


Ms. Petra M. Banks

Mr. Richard K. Bell

Alabama Power Company

Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Foundation

Governor Haley Barbour

Mr. Ray L. Bellande

Mr. Greg J. Barker

Ms. Mary E. Benincasa

Mrs. Jeannine Barnett

Dr. Mitchell E. Berman

Mr. Gregory A. Barrick

Mrs. Jennifer L. Berscheidt

Ms. Stephanie S. Baskin

Bezos Family Foundation

Ms. Leigh H. Bateman

Mr. Scott M. Bierly

Battelle Memorial Institute

Mr. Michael Bograd

Dr. Thomas L. Baumann

Mr. James L. Boomgarden

Ms. Myra A. Bean

Dr. Charles D. Borum

Dr. Ralph W. Alewine, III Mr. Clayton S. Allen Mr. Lequell D. Allen Dr. LeAnn Allison Mr. Jeffrey S. Alvey American Chemical Society Mrs. Vicki D. Amos Dr. Thomas P. Anderson

Ms. Pattye R. Archer Mr. John H. Arledge Mr. William D. Artman, Jr. Mr. Christopher S. Asa Ms. Dahlia L. Ashford Ms. Erina Baci Mr. James L. Bailey Ms. Lauren E. Bailey



Ms. Allie Christine Bosi

Mrs. Mildred R. Conrad

Dr. Donald N. Downer

Dr. Michael L. Galaty

Mr. Robert B. Boykin

Dr. William H. Cooke, III

Mrs. Doris S. Downing

Ms. Patricia K. Galloway

Mr. Earl B. Brand, Jr.

Mrs. Asya Besova Cooley

Mr. Jordan Andrew Dressman

Gamma Theta Upsilon

Mr. Richard R. Brann

Dr. John R. Cooper, Jr.

Mrs. Linda S. Dressman

Mr. John O. Ganes

Mrs. Kathy L. Braswell

Dr. Fred G. Corley, Jr.

Mrs. Deborah Dunaway

Ms. Adrienne C. Gannon

Ms. Olivia A. Bratcher

Mr. Peter L. Corrigan

Mrs. Laura H. Dunn

Mrs. Peggy Gardner

Dr. Bobby N. Brewer, Jr.

Dr. Jeralynn S. Cossman

Mr. Vance S. Durbin

Dr. Howell C. Garner

Mr. Milton L. Brock, Jr.

Cotton Incorporated

Mr Dwight Dyess

Mr. Thomas C. Geboy

Mr. Gregory D. Brooks

Council of University Directors of Clinical Psychology

Mr. Jason L. Edmonds

Dr. Jay E. Gee

Dr. Jacqueline S. Edwards-Henry

Mr. Alan C. Geolot

Edwin C. Roshore Family Trust

Mr. Jonathon M. Geroux

Mr. Nathan H. Elmore

Dr. Jerome A. Gilbert

Dr. Gerald A. Emison

Ms. Sarah K. Gilleland

Ergon Foundation, Inc.

Ms. Jessica L. Gisler

Mr. Benjamin E. Ervin

Dr. Jeannette E. Given

Dr. Jason N. Ervin

Mr. H. W. Glover, Jr.

Mr. Ian Brown Mrs. Karyn L. Brown Mr. Kevin L. Bruce Ms. Mary F. Burkett Ms. Agnes N. Burris Ms. Marchellea E. Bush

Mr. Gerald J. Couture, III Ms. Catherine S. Cox Dr. Sarah F. Crain Mrs. Jessica Crawford

Mrs. Edith C. Butler

Creek Run L.L.C. Environmental Engineering

Mr. Chris Byrd

Mrs. Virginia D. Croce

Mrs. Joan H. Ervin

Ms. Marley P. Glusenkamp

Dr. Thomas R. Byrd

Dr. W. Lawrence Croft

Estate of Mary Jane McDaniel

Mrs. Kristina C. Godwin

Cadence Bank

Ms. Barbara C. Cropp

Exxon Education Foundation

Ms. Meaghan Gordon

Canon Solutions America

Ms. Catherine Cross

Ms. Nancy P. Farmer

Mr. James O. Green, III

Mr. Tommie S. Cardin

Ms. Victoria I. Cryer

Ms. Deborah L. Farrar

Mr. John W. Green, Jr.

Mrs. Anita G. Carlock

Mr. Everett T. Culpepper

Mrs. Cathy H. Farris

Mr. Kenneth R. Green, Jr.

Mr. James B. Carlock

Mrs. Susan M. Cumberland

Mr. H. Michael Fayard, Jr.

Mr. Joseph A. Greenleaf

Mrs. Leslie A. Carpenter

Dallas Printing, Inc.

Dr. Joe L. Ferguson

Mr. R. Nathan Gregory

Dr. Kermit L. Carraway

Dr. Richard V. Damms

Mr. Thomas W. Fewel

Ms. Robin H. Griffin

Dr. Joseph E. Carrithers

Dr. Joseph Davenport, III

Fidelity Charitable

Dr. Larry R. Grillot

Mrs. Eileen Y. Tabb

Ms. Michelle L. Davenport

Ms. Jacqueline A. Finch

Ms. Anna Minor Grizzle

Mr. Aaron J. Castleberry

Honorable Jerry A. Davis

Ms. Tanya K. Finch

Mr. Claude A. Guess

Mrs. Sarah M. Caughron

Dr. John D. Davis, IV

Mrs. Fay H. Fisher

Gulf of Mexico Alliance

Ms. Ellery G. Chancellor

Ms. LaVance G. Davis

Ms. Julie S. Fleming

Dr. Willie H. Gunn

Mr. William R. Chandler

Ms. Sallie M. Dehler

Ms. Keunshea J. Fleming

Dr. Charles L. Guyton

Mr. Shiching Chang

Mrs. Dru Dickensheet Mr. Lloyd G. Digby

Flight Attendant Medical Research Center

Mr. Pat Guyton

Ms. Melinda N. Chow Mr. Sherman Chow

Mr. Joshua R. Dillingham

Clark Beverage Group, Inc. MS

Dr. Paul G. Dixon

Classical Association of the Middle West and South

Ms. Dianna N. Dollar

Mr. Mark Dale Clemente, II Dr. Edward J. Clynch Coastal Environment Dr. John Coleman Mr. Gus W. Colvin, Jr. Dr. Leon L. Combs Dr. Horace E. Combs, III


Dr. Justin C. Courcelle


Mr. Byron R. Dong Mr. Joseph A. Donlan Mr. William P. Donlon Dr. Philip D. Doolittle Ms. Alyson Doran Mrs. Sandra C. Dorn Mr. Benjamin A. Douglas

Mr. Harry R. Flowers Ms. Jessica J. Foltin Mr. Chevy C. Fondren Frank Chiles State Farm Insurance Mr. Timotheus D. Frank Mrs. Sara J. Frederic Mr. William A. Friday FrontStream FTG Ventures LLC Ms. Stephanie Fuehr Mrs. Tara M. Gaddis

Mr. Samuel P. Guyton Mr. Stephen L. Guyton Mrs. Barbara J. Hamilton Mrs. Angela G. Hammack Mr. Alexander S. Hammond Ms. Elisabeth A. D’Amore Mr. Jason S. Hampton Mr. Joe Haney Dr. James W. Hardin Mr. Jeffrey W. Hardy Dr. Nancy Hargrove

Ms. Kasondra Clanton Harris

Dr. Robert B. Katz

Dr. David C. May

Ms. Infanta C. Noflin

Mrs. Susan J. Harris

Ms. Amanda N. Keeton

Mr. Steven L. Mayo

Mr. Richard C. Nourse, Jr.

Dr. William J. Harris, III

Ms. Julia A. Kelly

Dr. Robert T. McAdory, Jr.

OCH Regional Medical Center

Dr. Ruth J. Haug

Mr. Stephen R. Kifer

Ms. Mary C. McAlpine

Mr. Casey W. Odom

Mr. Marcus G. Hayes

Mrs. Debra A. Killen

Dr. Lynn W. McBroom

Mr. Latif Oksuz

Mr. Christopher B. Heller

Ms. Lydia H. King

Mr. Robert L. McCain, III

Oktibbeha County Co-op

Mrs. Joan M.Henning

Mrs. Parker Smythe Kline

Mr. Billy R. McCullar

Dr. Kelly R. O’Neal, Jr.

Mr. Robert L. Henry

Ms. Nina Konkol

Lt. Col. Daniel P. McCutchon

Mr. Stanley S. Owen

Mr. F. Ewin Henson, III

Mrs. Erica J. Lake

Mr. R. Sammy McDavid

Mr. Ralph Owens, Jr.

Dr. Barry W. Herring

Ms. Kathryn A. Lake

Dr. Yancy B. McDougal

Ms. Susan C. Palmer

Mr. Joel H. Herring

Mrs. Harriet E. Land

Mr. Julius F. McIlwain

Mrs. Valerie Musick Park

Dr. Nicholas P. Herrmann

Mrs. Leah P. Lanier

Mrs. Chelsea V. McIntosh

Mr. Cameron L. Parker

Mr. Frederick W. Hess

Dr. Sue C. Lauderdale

Ms. Sarah K. McKinney

Dr. H. H. Parker IV

Mrs. Susanne L. Hicks

Mr. John Michael Lee

Ms. Avery N. McNeece

Ms. Natalie Ann Patience

Ms. Brittany N. Higgs

Ms. Anna Leray

Mrs. Jane S. McNeill

Dr. Claude E. Peacock

Mr. Elbert R. Hilliard

Ms. Carol J. Levy

Mr. Kelley R. McWhirter

Mr. Glenn A. Peacock

Ms. Carlee L. Hoffman

Ms. Christyna S. Rice

Dr. Charles E. Menifield

Mr. William T. Peeples

Dr. Jeremiah H. Holleman, Jr.

Dr. Tianyu Li

Mr. Thomas A. Migliano

Dr. Amanda S. Penny

Ms. Brandy Hood

Mr. Malcolm B. Lightsey, Sr.

Ms. Lauren W. Miller

Dr. Gary L. Permenter

Mrs. Jessica B. Hopson

Dr. Carl P. Lipo

Mr. Paul M. Minor

Petroleum Experts, Inc.

Howard Industries, Inc.

Dr. Matthew W. Little

Ms. Leslie J. Misch

Phil Hardin Foundation

Mr. Billy W. Howard

Mr. James W. Long

Mississippi Association of Grantmakers

Mr. George E. Phillips

Mr. William H. Howard, III

Ms. Rebecca J. Long

Dr. Joseph A. Mitchell

Ms. Kathryn F. Phillips

Dr. Donald R. Hunt

Mr. Derrick J. Lovett

Mr. Perceus Z. Mody

Mr. Noble F. Phillips

Ms. Mary E. Hunter

Dr. M. Leigh Lunsford

Dr. Debra A. Moore

Dr. Melinda W. Pilkinton

IBM Matching Grants Program International Foundation

Mr. Robert K. Lusteck

Mrs. Kimberly P. Morgan

Ms. Kayla R. Stevenson

Lyondell Chemicals Company

Mr. Charles J. Morris, Jr.

Ms. Holly A. Piner

Mr. Fred C. Mabry

Dr. Sara Morris

Pioneer Natural Resources USA, Inc.

Mrs. Paula A. Mabry

MSU Donor-Advised Fund Program

Ms. Domenique M. Pirocchi

Mr. Ryan O. MacKie

Dr. Keith D. Mullin

Mrs. Sydney S. Pittman

Ms. Mary A. Madden

Dr. Giselle T. Munn

Ms. Amber M. Plemons

Mr. David P. Madison, Jr.

Dr. George G. Murphy

Mr. William G. Poindexter, IV

Mr. Jamie L. Mahne

Mrs. Christine B. Murray

Dr. David L. Powe

Ms. Katy M. Collins

Mr. R. David Murrell

Mr. Tyler A. Powell

Ms. Anisa Mara

Ms. Rachel Therese Mustain

Mr. Donald L. Price

Mr. Jon A. Mariotti

Mrs. Joan Mylroie

Ms. Melanie L. Pugh

Dr. Monica M. Marlowe

Mrs. Angela S. Nanney

Ms. Hilda Karla Ramos Queiroz

Mrs. April A. Marrone

National Council of Teachers of English

Dr. Deborah D. Rabinowitz

Insurance Associates of Starkville, LLC Dr. William J. Ireland, Jr. Mr. John P. Jaap, Jr. Mr. Jonathan L. Jackson Dr. Paul F. Jacobs Mr. Thomas R. James Mr. Samuel E. Jaudon Mr. White G. Jee Mrs. Nicole G. Jenkins Mrs. Brenda J. Jennings Ms. Lauren M. Jerkovitz Mr. Michael A. Johnson Dr. Ray E. Johnson Mr. Henry E. Johnston Dr. Gordon E. Jones Mrs. Tish A. Jones Dr. Kelly Kamnikar

Ms. Sasha S. Liddell Ms. Victoria Rose Marshall Mrs. Ann H. Massey Dr. Byron C. May Mr. Cinclair May

Mr. George R. Neal Mr. John W. Nelson Mrs. Rebecca C. Nelson NewSouth NeuroSpine Mrs. Sarah E. Nicholas

Ms. Christina M. Ramazani Mrs. Ellen C. Ray Raymond James Charitable Dr. Richard Carl Raymond Ms.






Dr. Howard E. Shook, Jr.

Ms. Kaitlyn S. Thomas

Mr. Homer F. Wilson, Jr.

Dr. Dale G. Read, Sr.

Siemens Foundation

Dr. Timothy N. Thomas

Mr. Jared B. Wilson

Dr. R. Kirk Reid

Mr. Adolph Simmons, Jr.

Mr. Evan M. Thompson

Dr. David O. Wipf

Ms. Virginia Lee Thompson Reily

Dr. Barby J. Simmons

Mr. Jeremy M. Thornton

Dr. Perisco A. Wofford

Ms. Virginie Renson

Mr. Judson H. Skelton

Mr. John E. Thornton

Mrs. Kari A. Wolff

Mrs. Albretta A. Rice

Mrs. Sarah J. Skelton

Ms. Jennifer L. Treadway

Dr. Robert E. Wolverton

Richard and Donna Wolf Trust

Mr. Andrew B. Slocum

Mrs. Allison W. Tucker

Mr. Steve Wolverton

Mr. John H. Richards, Jr.

Ms. Llana Y. Smith

Mrs. Angie S. Tunney

Mr. John R. Wood

Mr. Michael E. Richardson

Ms. Sabrina A. Smith

Mr. William D. Vanderbrink

Dr. Mirae C. Wood

Ms. Lauren E. Roberts

Ms. Shelby J. Smith

Vanguard Charitable

Ms. Antionett Word

Mr. Robert R. Roberts, Jr.

Mrs. Heidi Solomon

Mr. Michael L. Vice

Mr. James H. Worley

Ms. Lisa N. Robinson

Dr. Jimmy L. Solomon

Ms. Barbara M. Vlahakis

Mr. Mark A. Worthey

Dr. Cara Robison

Mrs. Ashley D. Spears

W. K. Kellogg Foundation

Dr. Lee T. Wyatt, III

Ms. Sheila Roby

Mrs. Mimi B. Speyerer

Mrs. Amy L. Walker

Mrs. Melissa L. Yarborough

Dr. John C. Rodgers

Mr. Charles W. Stanback, Jr.

Dr. Diane E. Wall

Ms. Lashunda S. Yates

Ms. Julie D. Rodgers

Statewide Federal Credit Union

Mr. Charles T. Wallace, Jr.

Mrs. Camille Scales Young

Mr. Mikal M. Rolph

Mr. Stephen D. Baker

Ms. Katherine E. Walton

Ms. Sarah M. Zaleski

Maj. Robert W. Rooker

Ms. Cynthia M. Stevens

Ms. Allyn M. Wamble

Dr. Cheng-Li Zu

Mr. James S. Rowles

Mrs. Barbara G. Stewart

Mr. Liang Wang

Ms. Gail P. Ruga

Mr. Curtis W. Stover, Jr.

Mr. Chester C. Wasser, III

Mr. James H. Rule

Dr. Chun F. Su

Dr. H. Chris Waterer

Mr. Laroy M. Rushing

Mr. J. D. Sullivan

Mr. William S. Watkins

Mr. Chess Rybolt

Ms. Margaret E. Swain, ACSW

Watson Heidelberg Jones PLLC

Ms. Kimberly G. Salvail

Dr. Martha H. Swain

Dr. Donald Q. Weaver

Ms. Lynda M. Samp

Mr. R. Scott Swedenburg

Mr. Tom Webb

Ms. Marcia Sanders

T. Blake Balzli, D.M.D., PA

Dr. Richard Weddle

Mrs. Stephanie Sarmiento

Mr. Barney A. Tanner, Jr.

Mr. Alexander P. Wheelock

Mr. Kevin B. Saunders

Mr. Chester A. Tapscott, III

Mr. Andrew M. White

Mrs. Joanna C. Savage

Dr. Charles H. Tardy

Dr. Grady M. White

Ms. Marie E. Scanlon

Dr. Stephen W. Tartt

Mr. Kenneth B. White

Mrs. Jennifer D. Schroeder

Ms. Diedra N. Tate

Dr. A. Randle White

Dr. David E. Seago

Dr. Douglas H. Taylor

Dr. Frank J. Whittington

Mr. Robert J. Selfridge

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Mr. Zachary L. Wible

Ms. Jennifer L. Seltzer

The Benevity Community Impact Fund

Dr. David E. Wigley

Mr. Ryan P. Semmes

The Chalet

Mr. Billy B. Wilemon, Jr.

Sessions Trust

The Community Foundation of Louisville

Major Frank J. Wilkerson

Dr. Stephen D. Shaffer Mrs. Daphne C. Shannon Mr. Kirk C. Shaw

The Johnston Living Trust

Mr. Blake Martin Williams

Mr. Daniel B. Shawl

The Laura and John Arnold Foundation

Mr. Jeffery A. Williams

Mr. Ryan P. Shears Mr. Jason L. Shedd Shep’s Cleaners, Inc. Dr. Gensheng Shi


Mr. Alan L. Williams

The G. V. Sonny Montgomery Foundation

The Little Dooey Mr. Jeff V. Thomas Col. Jerry A. Thomas


Ms. Arleatha Williams

Mrs. Laurie R. Williams Mr. Ross H. Williams Mr. W. Dal Williamson Mrs. Linda B. Williamson

2019 JOHN GRISHAM MASTER TEACHER AWARD Joining a select group of role models and mentors at Mississippi State University, College of Arts and Sciences faculty member Michael Kardos is the 2019 recipient of the John Grisham Master Teacher award, presented last fall. A Professor of English, Kardos is in his 12th year as co-director of MSU’s creative writing program. He has authored novels that have received the prestigious Pushcart Prize, among other honors. He also is editor of Jabberwock Review, a journal of literature and art.

Michael Kardos

First presented in 1993, the Grisham Master Teacher honor is a tribute to classroom and instruction excellence that is named for the MSU accounting alumnus and internationallyrecognized best-selling author who provided funds to endow the award.

PROMOTIONS Department Name Promotion Biological Sciences.................Matthew Brown.............promoted to Associate Professor w/ tenure Biological Sciences.................Mark Welch.................................................. promoted to Full Professor Chemistry.................................Todd Mlsna.................................................. promoted to Full Professor Chemistry.................................Dongmao Zhang........................................ promoted to Full Professor Communication......................Melanie Loehwing.........promoted to Associate Professor w/ tenure Communication......................Philip Poe........................promoted to Associate Professor w/ tenure English......................................Michael Kardos........................................... promoted to Full Professor English......................................Catherine Pierce.......................................... promoted to Full Professor Geosciences.............................Padmanava Dash...........promoted to Associate Professor w/ tenure Geosciences.............................Rinat Gabitov.................promoted to Associate Professor w/ tenure Geosciences.............................Kathleen Sherman-Morris........................ promoted to Full Professor History......................................William Hay................................................. promoted to Full Professor History......................................Andrew Lang.....................................Promoted to Associate Professor History......................................Judith Ridner............................................... promoted to Full Professor Math & Stats............................Prakash Patil................................................ promoted to Full Professor Meridian/Psychology............Rodney Wilson...............promoted to Associate Professor w/ tenure PSPA.........................................Michael Potter................promoted to Associate Professor w/ tenure

RETIREES Faculty Edwin Lewis.....................................................................................................Department of Chemistry Greg Bentley..........................................................................................................Department of English Melinda Pilkinton.............................................................................................Department of Sociology Staff Debbie Vickers.....................................Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures Laura Lewis......................................................................................................Department of Chemistry

We Want Your News! As the largest college on campus, it is our privilege to showcase all that it has to offer. In order to do that, we need your assistance. Past issues have featured outstanding accomplishments of faculty, students, alumni, and organizations—their accomplishments, awards, and how each is making a difference on campus and in the community. If you have something that should be included, please send it to us!

Send an e-mail or letter to: Karyn Brown

Director of Communication Mississippi State University College of Arts & Sciences P.O. Box AS Mississippi State, MS 39762



2019-2020 Department Heads & Directors Aerospace Studies..................................................................................................... Lieutenant Colonel Megan Loges African American Studies..............................................................................................Director Donald M. Shaffer, Jr. Anthropology & Middle Eastern Cultures....................................................... Department Head Hsain Ilahiane Biological Sciences........................................................................................................Department Head Angus Dawe Chemistry......................................................................................................................... Department Head Dennis Smith Classical & Modern Languages and Literatures.................................... Department Head Peter L. Corrigan Communication ................................................................................................................. Department Head Terry Likes English..............................................................................................................................Department Head Daniel Punday Gender Studies ................................................................................................................................ Director Kimberly Kelly General Liberal Arts................................................................................................................................... Advisor Tracy Britt General Science................................................................................................................................ Advisor R. Torsten Clay Geosciences ............................................................................................................. Department Head John C. Rodgers History...............................................................................................................................Department Head Alan I. Marcus Interdisciplinary Studies.................Academic Coordinators Tracy Britt, Emily Cain and Kasondra Harris Mathematics & Statistics................................................................................ Department Head Mohsen Razzaghi



Military Science..........................................................................................................Lieutenant Colonel David Sarrette MSU Meridian.................................................................. Division Head of Arts and Sciences Richard V. Damms Philosophy & Religion..................................................................................................... Department Head John Bickle Physics & Astronomy............................................................................................Department Head Mark A. Novotny Political Science & Public Administration .............................................. Department Head P. Edward French Psychology ................................................................................................................Department Head Mitchell Berman Sociology .......................................................................................................................... Department Head Nicole Rader Cobb Institute..................................................................................................................................... Director Jimmy Hardin Institute for the Humanities.............................................................................................................Director Julia Osman John C. Stennis Institute of Government....................................... Executive Director Joseph “Dallas” Breen

Click. Plan. Change a life. It’s easy to change the life of a Mississippi State University student with a simple commitment made in your will. • It costs you nothing today. • It can be changed down the road. • It’s free of federal and estate tax.

To plan your will or trust, request our free Estate Planning Guide by visiting Or, if you’ve already included Mississippi State in your plans, please let us know.

MSU is an EE/EEO university.

Wes Gordon, Director of Planned Giving (662) 325-3707 |



Post Office Box AS Mississippi State, MS 39762

Mailing Address: Post Office Box AS Mississippi State, MS 39762

Physical Address: 175 Presidents Circle Mississippi State, MS 39762 instagram: msuartssciences snapchat: msuartssciences youtube: MSU A&S

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handicap, or status as a veteran or disabled veteran.

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