Vision magazine

Page 1

FALL/WINTER 2014/2015




DEAR ALUMNI AND FRIENDS: What an amazing time to be a Bulldog! The excitement over the success of our football team this past fall has been contagious. The amount of positive exposure and publicity surrounding our team and our institution has been overwhelming. As a result, our University and its programs have been introduced to an even wider, national audience. For those of us fortunate to work on campus, this time has only reinforced our pride in Mississippi State. The College of Arts & Sciences continues to flourish and grow. Our college remains the largest on campus in student enrollment with over 5,000 majors and graduate students. We also have a very large and diverse faculty, which I am pleased to report is growing in order to keep up with student and research demand. This academic year we welcomed 33 outstanding faculty to the College. These faculty members represent nearly every academic field of study within our College and are already off to an amazing start. For example, Dr. Heather Jordan, a new assistant professor of biological sciences, just received a major grant from the National Institute of Justice to better understand biological processes for forensic investigations in criminal justice. And, Dr. Adam Skarke, a new assistant professor of geosciences (featured in this issue of Vision), has identified new methane gas reserves on the seafloor of the Atlantic Ocean. Skarke’s discovery may suggest new and additional energy sources. The theme of this issue of Vision is discovery. Discovery is a fundamental part of learning and producing knowledge. We are very proud that our students benefit from the scientific, humanistic, and creative discoveries of our own faculty, but we are even more proud that we can provide an educational environment where our students can participate in making their own discoveries. I sincerely hope you will enjoy reading about some of the incredible work that is being done by our students and faculty. I know you will be impressed. As always, thank you for your continued support of the College of Arts & Sciences at Mississippi State University. I wish you the very best in the new year. Hail State!

R. Gregory Dunaway Dean







Searching Beyond to Discover

ARTS & SCIENCES STAFF DR. R. GREGORY DUNAWAY - Dean DR. GISELLE THIBAUDEAU MUNN - Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies DR. RICK TRAVIS - Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & Student Services KARYN BROWN - Director of Communication ALEX MCINTOSH - Director of Development SHERYL KINARD - Business Manager DR. CARLY CUMMINGS - Assistant to the Dean - Research


Robots vs. Humans

Writing a State History


LAURA DUNN - Admissions Coordinator TRACY BRITT - Academic Coordinator BARBARA STEWART - Academic Coordinator ALISA WHITTLE - Administrative Assistant to the Dean SIMONE COTTRELL - Administrative Assistant WHITNEY PETERSON - Administrative Assistant JOY SMITH - Administrative Assistant

10 Philosophy/ Religion Department

11 Explore the Night at the Observatory

12 Lee Hall Renovation


Student Workers: DAMARIUS HARRIS - Student Worker ADAM SIMONTON - Student Worker MARCY SLOWIK - Student Worker FEI FEI ZENG - Student Worker







Student Feature: Lisa Boney

Food for Thought


Dr. Henry Memorial

Hannah Rinehart

Direct comments or questions to: KARYN BROWN | 662.325.7952 P.O. Box AS | Mississippi State, MS 39762 IS PUBLISHED BY THE COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES

Audra Gines Erin Patterson

Designer: Eric Abbott

Searching Beyond to Discover by Leah Barbour­


found Ptolemeba bulliensis and a second, closely related protist,

he College of Arts & Sciences is dedicated to research

Ptolemeba noxubium, collected from the Sam D. Hamilton

and discovery. Both faculty and students are encouraged

Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, located approximately 15 miles

to breach the realm of the unknown in order to make

south of campus.

enlightening discoveries that can change entire fields of research.

Both of these organisms were collected, isolated and classified by

Whether it is undergraduate students, graduate students, or faculty,

the small team of undergraduates in the Department of Biological

the College of Arts & Sciences supports its researchers in their

Sciences. Dr. Matthew Brown, an MSU biological sciences assistant

incredible endeavors.

professor at and head of the Evolutionary Protistology Laboratory


in Harned Hall, was the advising faculty member. Pamela







microbiology major, became lead author of the scientific paper about the protist discovery, which was recently published in the

Just outside Harned Hall, the home of the College of Arts & Sciences’ Department of Biological Sciences, a never-before


Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology. Watson is also responsible for the name of the new protist that honors MSU’s first bulldog mascot.

identified unicellular microscopic protist was scooped from a

“I learned that the first ‘Bully’ was named Ptolemy, and I thought

courtyard mud puddle. In September 2013, three undergraduates

that would be fitting for us to name the genus for something about


the campus…it highlights the history of Mississippi State,” Watson

lab. Brown was recently awarded a Henry Family Research Fund


in the College of Arts & Sciences initiation grant to increase his

She, along with senior medical technology major Stephanie C. Sorrel of Warner Robins, Georgia, and junior chemistry major

laboratory’s efforts in clarifying the relationships among amoeboid microbes.

Nicholas R. Lee of Brandon, Mississippi, were working in Brown’s

“I was showing the students the morphological and molecular

laboratory when the samples were collected. They participated in

techniques to identify the organisms and place them on the

documenting and classifying the protists, though Lee was unable to

phylogenic tree,” the University of Arkansas doctoral graduate

continue the project through the completion of the scientific paper.

explained. “The ‘aha moment’ came in early November (2013) when

Since the students collected the organisms, Brown said they

all three of the students were working in concert. Each isolated an

deserved the opportunity to experience the entire scientific process

organism, and each did the gene sequencing analysis, and all the

of organism discovery, from isolating samples to isolating the

organisms were so closely related.”

protists’ DNA, to drafting the highly technical journal submission.

Brown said he hopes the students’ groundbreaking achievement

Watson said Brown’s interest in unicellular creatures and their

will alert the larger scientific community to the commitment of

position on the evolutionary tree inspires her own passion for

MSU Biological Science research and the future discoveries of MSU

science and research. Not only did she switch her academic major

biological sciences students and researchers.

from biochemistry to microbiology, she also changed her intended career track. “While the paper process was one of the most stressful


experiences of my adult life, it changed what I wanted to do,” she said. “I was pre-med, but now I’ve found my niche. I want to go to grad school, get my Ph.D. and do research. I want to be a professor.”

How do you examine the inside of a fossilized egg without opening it?

Brown said the students’ report of their discovery constitutes

This research question drives John Paul Jones, a doctoral graduate

the first independently published manuscript produced by his MSU

of earth and atmospheric sciences at MSU. After he discovered a fully-intact clutch of fossilized dinosaur eggs in Montana in 2002, he’s worked to answer that question using Mississippi State resources. To avoid destroying the precious discovery, Jones, with the support of grants from the MSU graduate school and the Department of Geosciences, traveled to the United Kingdom where there is a highresolution 3D x-ray scanner in Oxfordshire. He collaborated with the Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales to dissect the eggs virtually to discover the genus and species of the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs contained in the eggs may be a type of hadrosaur, a duck-billed dinosaur with a hollow crest on its head. However, Jones needs more information before coming to any definite conclusions. The virtual images, particularly of the dinosaur’s skull and pelvis, will help him make the final identification. “I’m reluctant to say exactly what type of hadrosaur, but it looks like, from the lower resolution scans we already have, that there is a crest on the skull, which narrows it down to just a couple of species,” said Jones. “If the imaging in the U.K. is good enough, we may even be able to tell what sex it was.” Dr. Rinat Gabitov, assistant professor of geosciences at MSU, explained that the synchrotron-imaging technique is made for examining structures as small as one-tenth of the diameter of human hair. This high-power technology in Oxfordshire did not, however, provide Jones with his first glimpse inside the eggs. “In 2012, Jones’ MSU research team generated more than 10,000 scans when the dinosaur eggs were X-rayed by the LightSpeed VCT



64-Slice CT Scanner,” Gabitov explained.

plumes, which correspond to places where methane gas is seeping

These initial viewings were made possible by MSU’s Institute

out of the seafloor, Skarke worked closely with Brown University

for Imaging and Analytical Technologies and Premier Imaging in

undergraduate and NOAA Hollings Scholar Mali’o Kodis during the


summer of 2013.

“One of the CT scans we did shows a definite and complete

“Methane often naturally leaks from the seafloor, particularly in

articulated embryo. I also found one egg was partially hollow…

petroleum basins like the Gulf of Mexico or on tectonically active

but in the other two eggs, the resolution just wasn’t high enough,”

continental margins like the U.S. Pacific Coast,” Skarke said.

Jones said. Along with the eggs he found in 2002, Jones also examined another clutch of similar eggs he found in 2013 near the same site in Montana. “It’ll be the first time anyone’s ever identified an embryo using the synchrotron method,” he said. After the eggs were scanned, the Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales displayed the eggs in accordance with their collaborative agreement with Jones. When the eggs return to the U.S. , they will be displayed by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

However, the geologic characteristics of the U.S. Atlantic margin suggest the seepage was not necessarily expected there because the tectonically passive area lacks an underlying petroleum basin. “Although methane, or natural gas, is used as an energy source worldwide, the type of methane leaking at most of the seep sites is probably produced by micro-organisms digesting organic matter in the shallow sediments,” he said. None of the evidence compiled by the scientists suggests the seeps tap into deep natural gas reservoirs that can be used for energy. “Methane is a strong greenhouse gas, but nearly all of the seeps

Jones said, “If I can, in fact, document that I’ve found a nesting

described in the new study leak at such deep ocean depths that

site where dinosaurs came back and nested en masse, then that tells us

methane does not reach the atmosphere directly,” Skarke emphasized.

more about the behavior of these animals.”

Instead, micro-organisms in the water column transform most of the methane into carbon dioxide, making ocean waters more acidic, which can harm some types of marine life.


“The NOAA OER program used its remotely operated vehicle to visit about one percent of the seeps in 2013, and it found welldeveloped communities of chemosynthetic mussels thriving near

Dr. Adam Skarke, an assistant professor in the Department of

the methane plumes. Two years ago, no human had ever seen these

Geosciences in the College of Arts & Sciences, is lead author of a

seafloor communities that have now been found at the seep sites,”

study that’s raising new questions about geology, oceanography and

Skarke said

seafloor ecosystems. Skarke’s scientific team discovered methane

He said additional research questions for deep sea ecologists include

seeps in unlikely places along the seafloor on the northern part of

determining how separate seeps are colonized with new life, as well as

the U.S. Atlantic margin. The group’s scientific paper, “Widespread

understanding the structure of the communities and the relationships

methane leakage from the sea floor on the northern U.S. Atlantic

among bacteria, small fauna and larger organisms, like mussels.

margin,” was published online on Aug. 24 by the peer-reviewed journal Nature Geoscience. Before he joined the faculty in the Department of Geosciences,

he said. “One unique aspect of the program that made it so

Skarke worked as a physical scientist at the National Oceanic and

enjoyable to work there was the fact that we collected many types of

Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Ocean Exploration

data about U.S. oceans and made the data immediately available to

and Research (OER). As part of a large team of scientists and

the scientific community for studies that could not otherwise have

technicians, Skarke participated in many cruises on the NOAA ship

been completed.”

Okeanos Explorer as it mapped the Atlantic Ocean floor between North Carolina and Cape Cod. “The discovery of gas plumes in the water column over the seafloor, detailed in the new publication, used data the ship collected starting in 2011,” Skarke said. He and his colleagues found 570 methane seeps in this area, compared to only three formerly known sites. To analyze the NOAA OER data and locate the positions of the


“A cornerstone of the NOAA OER program is the collection of data that can lead to new discoveries for the scientific community,”


Skarke said he appreciates the support of MSU administrators, especially those in the Department of Geosciences of the College of Arts & Sciences, as he and his collaborators readied the research for publication in a top-tier, peer-reviewed journal. By encouraging research at every level of education and supporting those researchers every step of the way, the College of Arts & Sciences helps its faculty and students make their mark on modern academia.

ROBOTS vs. HUMANS A Collaborative Project

By Hannah Rinehart


ould robot interviewers help communicate with children who have been bullied or abused? This question drives a project titled “Use of Robots

as Intermediaries to Gather Sensitive Information from Children” being

“Dr. Eakin’s lab is currently developing and hosting a database of children in the area between the ages of eight and twelve that would be interested in participating research studies that our labs are conducting,” Bethel said.

funded by the National Science Foundation. It is a collaboration between

“We are in the early development stages and plan to begin the first

researchers in Mississippi State’s College of Arts & Sciences and Bagley

data collection involving eyewitness memory in children beginning in

College of Engineering.

January 2015,” she continued. “We are currently ordering robots, setting

“The idea for this project originally happened when I was in graduate school, but it became more fully developed during my postdoctoral

up and building the interview space at I2AT, designing the interfaces and programming the robots.”

position as an NSF Computing Innovation Fellow at Yale University,”

May said future phases of the project “will compare robot interviewers

explained Dr. Cindy Bethel of the Department of Computer Science and

with human interviewers to determine whether robots elicit higher levels

Engineering. “While there, I began this research with a published study

of comfort, understandability and likeability than human interviewers

titled ‘Secret-Sharing: Interactions between a Child, Robot, and Adult.’”

when interviewing children about bullying victimization and other

Bethel directs the Social, Therapeutic and Robotic Systems Laboratory

scenarios designed to examine their ability to recall factual information.”

and is a Research Fellow with the Human Factors Group of the university’s

May said he, Eakin and Pilkinton will then compare the robots

Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems. Since joining the MSU faculty, she

and human interviewers in the first two years of the project. “We will

has worked with Dr. Deborah Eakin of the Department of Psychology.

compare robot interviewers with human interviewers to determine if

“She and I started looking at the differences between a human versus a robot interviewer on eyewitness memory in college-aged students,” Bethel said. “We published a paper together titled ‘Eyewitnesses are Misled by Human but Not Robot Interviewers.’”

robot interviewers develop better rapport with children who have been victimized by traumatic events.” In the final part of the project, the team will explore whether “socially intelligent” robots and humans—those who have been programmed or

In time, the two researchers decided to combine their collaboration

trained in techniques, mannerisms and strategies designed to build rapport

with a student-led project headed by sociology graduate student Megan

and enhance communication in interview settings—are able to gain

Stubbs Richardson of Starkville titled “Developing a Robot Application

more factual information and build better rapport with interviewees than

for Bullying Intervention.” It was this faculty-student effort that was

robots and humans who have not been programmed or trained in those

chosen for full NSF funding in July.


Bethel is the principal investigator, while Eakin is a co-principal

Bethel, trained as a forensic interviewer for children by the Huntsville,

investigator. Also working on the project as co-principal investigators

Alabama-based National Child Advocacy Center, will use forensic

are Dr. David May, associate professor of criminology, and Dr. Melinda

interviewing skills to examine these questions in the third and fourth years

Pilkinton, associate professor of social work.

of the project.

The project’s research, which is divided into four stages spanning four

“By the end of the project, we hope to know whether robot interviewers

years, will be conducted at the Institute for Imaging and Analytical

are better than human interviewers in obtaining factual information from

Technologies (I2AT) in the Premier Medical center in Starkville.

children that have been bullied or abused and whether these children

Bethel said the project will also include her STaRS Lab and Eakin’s Memory and Metamemory Laboratory.

feel more comfortable disclosing that information to robot or human interviewers,” May said.



Meridian-based Historian and Teacher Writes New State History By Audra Gines


Dr. Rafferty

ennis Mitchell, a professor of history and chair of the Division of Arts & Sciences at Mississippi State University-Meridian, is playing a major role in the rediscovery and updating of the Magnolia State’s travel from pre-history to the 21st century. Released earlier this year by University Press of Mississippi, his book entitled “A New History of Mississippi” includes more than 600 pages of photos and narratives. Containing both familiar and untold stories that have marked Mississippi’s past, it is the first of its type compiled since the 1976 bicentennial history over four decades ago. Mitchell, who grew up just across the state line in Florence, Alabama, said he developed a love of history and biography early in life. “From elementary school, I loved reading history and biography,” he said. “The history that I was taught back then was approved by the (United) Daughters of the Confederacy.”



He said it did not take long for him to realize he was only getting part of the story. As an avid reader who frequently used the town library, he came to realize discrepancies between the UDC-approved texts and other books available beyond the school grounds. That realization ultimately led to a personal distrust of what teachers were telling him and, he added, helped launch his path toward discovering history on his own. After completing a bachelor’s degree at Florence State University (now University of North Alabama), Mitchell began advance studies in history at the University of Mississippi, where he would receive a master’s degree in 1973 and a doctorate in 1976. As he was finishing graduate school, the Magnolia State found itself in the midst of controversy about the content of public school textbooks. As it turned out, Mitchell would serve in 1980 on a state committee that was helping set the history curriculum for schools.

He is proud to say that the committee was successful in getting a new history adopted, adding, “We co-authored a textbook, which was the most widely used,” and “is just now being phased out.” For Mitchell, undertaking the writing of a 21st century edition of the state’s history was the culmination of 30-plus years of teaching the subject, as well as an appreciation of the need for an updated view of the past. Also, feeling there are many lessons still to be learned, a fresh look back should give all who love Mississippi an opportunity to reflect anew upon the past and hopefully learn from it, he said. “Mississippi can’t make all the changes it needs to until Mississippians understand the past,” he said. “People still believe in the myths about Mississippi’s history.” He continued: “One of the points I make in the book is that for a hundred years, Mississippi had a black majority. Most Mississippian’s are shocked to hear that. That simple fact explains a lot.” Mitchell said his “big hope” is that by appreciating this “simple fact,” some residents “would behave differently.” In his new history, Mitchell purposefully included stories about Native Americans, women and minorities that traditional histories either marginalized or left out. Mitchell uses the new book as his classroom text and at least one indicator of his success in making it as well-rounded as possible came during the fall semester. As he tells it, a young African American man told him he “was pleased by that part of the story.” After having spent more than three years of hard work and dedication, Mitchell said it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly which part of the book can be regarded as his favorite. “It’s hard to choose; it is like choosing a favorite child,” he said, with a laugh. “If I had to choose, it might be the period of the 1970’s.” He admitted that covering this period caused him to resort to a novel titled “The Rock Cried Out.” Set in 1970s Mississippi, the book was written by Mississippi native Josephine Haxton (1921-2012), known to most by the pen name Ellen Douglas. “I struggled a bit, and then I went to her novel and used the characters out of her novel to illustrate that period,” he said. “That was a challenging piece.” If he has any advice for budding historians or writers in general, Mitchell said the key is learning to love what you do. For a lover of teaching and history, this marriage of the two couldn’t have been a better fit for him. “I enjoy it; it’s fun! I can’t imagine retiring and not doing it anymore,” Mitchell said. As he looks back to the three-year labor of love, Mitchell said his accomplishment would not have been possible without the help of others. “I did this book in Meridian, and the library (staff there) was incredibly supportive,” he said. “They found everything I needed: obscure articles, dissertations, theses, inter-library loans and electronics. “I did it all from Meridian, so I appreciate all their help.”





The Department of

Philosophy and Religion



o incorporate new and innovative directions involving some unlikely partners in the field of social science, the Department of Philosophy and Religion has updated its fields of study. “Philosophy and religion have undergone major changes in the past 50 years to become more contemporary and interdisciplinary fields of study,” explained Dr. John Bickle, department head. “They no longer are studies of ancient philosophers and their way of thinking, but they have now grown into fields of research, teaching and application.” As a result, Bickle said the department is revolutionizing the way students will be taught to apply the skills of these subjects. One way is research in applied ethics, where Bickle said a partnership has begun with the Office of Research and Economic Development to work on external grants for exploring questions that arise in the field. In particular, this involves the attitudes of students from different cultural backgrounds toward research ethics, especially in terms of legitimate authorship and mentorship. Through collaborations with the Department of Sociology, College of Business and the Social Science Research Center, he said the department seeks to employ its findings. The goal is to better develop educational programs in authorship and mentorship and research into the way students think about ethical research and what it means to them, he added. Another partnership with other departments in the social sciences seek to research and discover new ideas and



techniques of asking philosophical questions through the lens of science. Dr. Robert Thompson, an associate professor, has been investigating the development of children’s minds. Seeking to learn at what age children become aware that other humans have minds, he has utilized a series of different tests that psychologists and cognitive scientists use to explore this question even further. Bickle said Thompson’s research shows a direct intersection between traditional questions in the philosophy of language and work in developmental psychology with a regard to language learning and mind attribution. Bickle said the department also has launched curriculum changes and revisions to incorporate the new trends, ideas and techniques. Classes now will focus on how philosophy applies to everyday life instead of focusing just on the wise words of ancient philosophers. Students will continue to work closely with advisers to tailor their education in areas of interest and receive attention needed to be well-rounded within their discipline. In addition to traditional strengths of reading and writing, students will graduate from the program with a background in sciences and other disciplines. Bickle said the goal is to produce graduates with a philosophy background to tackle abstract questions, as well as a background in related disciplines to ground that abstract knowledge.

Explore the Night Sky at Howell Observatory By Audra Gines


ississippi State’s Howell Observatory has long been a place for observing and studying the solar system, constellations and other planets—and, if the timing is right, spotting the International Space Station and other spacecraft passing high overhead. Operated by the university’s Department of Astronomy and Physics and open to the public 12 times a year, the facility currently is located south of main campus on grounds of the H. H. Leveck Animal Research Center, known to most as the South Farm. Dr. Angelle Tanner, assistant professor of astrophysics, said visitors may view some spectacular sights through the lens of the observatory’s highly light-sensitive telescopes, including an eight-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain, 10-inch Newtonian reflector and 14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain. “It is the size of the telescope that decides the faintness you can observe and the amount of detail you can observe,”

she explained. “They are good for observing planets, the Andromeda Galaxy and the constellations” and “there are lasers to show off the constellations.” Tanner added: “Viewing Saturn should be on everyone’s bucket list.” In addition to Saturn, she said “the moon and Jupiter are the most beautiful” to observe, noting that “you can even see the bands on Jupiter in the early morning” while “Mars looks like a tiny red dot.” Tanner and Dr. Donna M. Pierce, a departmental colleague and astrophysics associate professor, coordinate public events held at the observatory. One major activity takes place around the end of October when “Halloween at the Howell” often attracts long lines of visitors waiting to view the solar system on clear fall nights. Tanner said increasing visits by members of the campus and Golden Triangle communities is a major observatory goal. Typical patrons include parents who enjoy astronomy and bring their children to, hopefully, continue that interest. Also, MSU’s Astronomy Club sponsors programs so students may learn how to use the viewing equipment and possibly peak their interest. “It’s a nice way to show people some of what astronomers do, in regards to viewing the solar system,” Tanner said. Because of a new public-access road being built through the South Farm that will link Poorhouse Road to the MSU campus, Tanner said the observatory is seeking a new location. While the roadway will be convenient for many, the light pollution caused by required roadway illumination potentially will make night viewings difficult. “It needs to be moved to a location that is dark, but close,” she observed. To keep up with upcoming observatory events, visit the department’s website at COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES | VISION FALL/WINTER 2014/2015


COMING BACK HOME By: Erin Patterson



he historic anchor on the north

Departments of English and Classical and

students to participate in small-group work, as

end of the equally historic Drill

Modern Languages and Literature (formerly

well as major technological upgrades available

field, Lee Hall has reopened after

Foreign Languages). Classical and modern

in new “smart” classrooms now located in the

undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation

languages is on the first floor; English is on the


over the past two years.


The four-story brick Beaux Arts building and











said he and others in classical and modern

learning environment in more comfortable

among campus memorials to Stephen D. Lee,

languages “have been energized by the move

surroundings where students may better

the 136-year-old land-grant institution’s first

back to a renovated Lee.

express their thoughts and ideas.

president. Built in 1909, it initially served as an academic building and campus chapel.

“The space is wonderful; high ceilings, period

Another major change for Lee Hall is found

colors and modern systems,” he added. “Our

on the third and fourth floors that were

The recent renovation was not the first

faculty, of course, are overjoyed about their

damaged so heavily in the 1948 conflagration.

remodeling project. Probably the most extensive

offices and teaching spaces, both in terms of

The entire fourth floor now is home to offices

followed a 1948 fire that destroyed most of the

their central location on the Drill Field and just

of President Mark E. Keenum, while the third

third and fourth floors with damages estimated

the clean, bright, open internal spaces.”

has the offices of Dr. Jerry Gilbert, provost

around a million dollars. For decades, the venerable structure has been home to the College of Arts & Sciences’


Dr. Lynn Holt, interim department head,

Both agreed the improvements enable

Dr. Rich Raymond, department head of English,

and executive vice president, and David Shaw,

said he and his colleagues are especially excited

vice president for research and economic

about new seating options that will better enable




any students are able to choose a major that is specific to their future career goals, but it is not always so easy for others.

“ I am just forging my own path,” said Lisa T. Boney of Brandon, Mississippi. Boney is a senior microbiology major pursuing a chemistry and economics double minor while planning a career in public health, a path she decided on as a sophmore. “There aren’t many schools that offer an undergraduate degree in public health; it’s a field that many people do not know much about,” the daughter of Jeb and Linda Boney explained.

Even at her young age, Boney has gained considerable

experience in leadership and research, two areas critical in the public health field. Last spring, she interned with MSU’s nationally recognized Social Science Research Center, studying early infant feeding behaviors among teen mothers. “I traveled around the state compiling data and wrote the report over the summer,” she said. Additionally, Boney also has completed an internship at a Baltimore, Maryland, HIV clinic operated by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Part of a program sponsored by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, her work there involved helping adolescents and other patients cope with recent HIV

Student Feature:

LISA BONEY By Hannah Rinehart

diagnoses. “It was more about the emotional needs than the medical ones,” said Boney, alluding to the leadership aspect of the public health field. The program did not focus so much on the medical treatment as enabling those effected to better deal with their health issues, she noted. Boney also was a part of—and continues to work with—the Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Project Picnic. A program designed to combat food insecurity, it operates on the basic premise that doctors will prescribe certain healthy foods for patients who then purchase those foods through stores participating in the project. After graduation, Boney plans to seek a master’s degree. Because so few schools offer graduate degrees in public health, she will have to leave Mississippi, but not indefinitely. While she would consider a position with the CDC, her plans currently lie closer to home. Through her graduate work and future career, Boney wants to continue focusing on nutrition-based health disparities. “I grew up in Jackson, Mississippi,” Boney said. “I have a lot of respect for the state, and I plan to return here. “Yes, Mississippi has problems related to public health, but we can solve them,” she emphasized.




Legacy Award

Recipients By Audra Gines

At 89, Wolverton constantly amazes colleagues and students with his unprecedented commitment to the classroom. In addition to being named a Grisham Master Teacher, he has been honored with, among others, the MSU Alumni Association Award for Undergraduate Teaching, Outstanding Humanities Faculty Member Award and Mississippi Blue Cross/Blue Shield Ageless Hero Award for Creativity. During the 2006-07 school year, he was MSU’s selection for an outstanding faculty member honor given annually by the Mississippi Legislature. He also is the author of In Other Words: A Lexicon of

During the 2014 spring semester faculty meeting, Dean R. Gregory Dunaway unveiled a new College of Arts & Sciences recognition of top faculty members in Mississippi State’s largest academic unit. Dunaway said the Legacy Award was created with one particular individual in mind, Dr. Robert E. Wolverton Sr., longtime professor of languages. Wolverton was the first to receive the honor that now carries his name. The three others receiving the inaugural

Sports for Winners and Losers (2005). Wolverton said he is most appreciative of having the Legacy Award carry his name. “It was quite an honor really,” he said. Over the years, Wolverton has positively affected many community lives through his love and appreciation for the arts through involvement in art activities and participation in local theatrical performances. As he continues to make a difference in the lives of the students he teaches, Wolverton remains humble and appreciative of what they give back to him. “Unless you’ve been teaching, you don’t know what an inspiration the students are,” Wolverton said. “Happiness is having students like this.”

university award include:

• Dr. Walter Diehl, emeritus associate dean and a professor of biological sciences.


• The late Dr. William P. “Bill” Henry, associate professorof

Before retiring in June, Diehl had a 28-


year career at the university. He is a 1976

• Dr. John F. Marszalek, giles distinguished professor emeritus,

College of William and Mary graduate

director and mentor of Distinguished Scholars and executive

who went on to receive master’s degree and doctoral degrees in biology from the

director and managing editor of the Ulysses S. Grant

University of South Florida in 1978 and


1983, respectively. He joined the MSU faculty in 1986. “I was hired in biological sciences and came up through the faculty ranks as assistant professor to associate professor, then full professor,” Diehl said. Of his


time in the dean’s office, “I served one year as interim associate dean, and then I became associate dean in 2008.” Wolverton is one of MSU’s most senior

While teaching in biological sciences, Diehl served as the department’s

faculty members and a John Grisham

undergraduate coordinator. He also was president of the Robert Holland Faculty

Master Teacher. In 1977, he came to

Senate for two years and served as interim department head of the Department

campus as vice president academic affairs

of Anthropology and Middle Eastern cultures for one year.

in the administration of President James D.

“I’ve enjoyed being a faculty member of biological sciences; it is a good

McComas. He later left administration to

department and faculty,” he said. “I also enjoyed my time on the faculty senate,

teach classics in the Department of Foreign

and I’ve enjoyed my time at the dean’s office”.

Language, now the Department of Classical

He said the key to having positive multi-role work experiences “is recognizing

and Modern Languages and Literatures. An

they have been three different jobs and not trying to make one of those jobs fit

earlier selection for Starkville’s Education

the other. They inform each other, but they don’t fit each other.”

Hall of Fame, he has held many campus positions over the years, including head of his department and president of the Robert Holland Faculty Senate. “I came to MSU as vice president of academic affairs with a new university


Diehl said he greatly appreciated opportunities he had to work with students. As a young faculty member, he led a freshman biology course that many students, no matter their majors, were required to take.

president,” Wolverton said. “I moved into the Department of Foreign Languages

“I enjoyed teaching that class; it was an opportunity to interact with students,

as the only classicist, then served six years as department head and went into full-

often the first semester that they are on campus,” he said. He described the

time teaching in 1987.”

experience as “a unique situation,” explaining that, “In fact, it is a very difficult


course for some of the students.”

As for being among the first to receive a Legacy Award, she said, “I think he

Considering challenges students in the class faced, Diehl said he chose to

would be very humbled by it. It would mean a lot to be recognized.”

deliver the course content with the philosophy that “I can’t make you a good

In remembering his late colleague, Dr. Stephen Foster, an associate professor

biologist or a good biology student, but if you work with me, I can make you a

of physical chemistry, said it was an “honor to work with Bill for the last 20 years.

better biology student.”

“He was friendly and welcoming to all,” Foster continued. “He always was

He is proud to say that more than a few thanked him for what they learned in

engaged and would unfailingly volunteer to help,” which meant “he was an ideal

the entry-level course. For a young faculty member who could only have minimal

professor, happy to spend time with undergraduates and graduate students.

interaction with students due to the large class size, the comments meant a great

He maintained very high standards in the classroom but, even so, was almost

deal, he added.

universally loved by his students.”

As he gained seniority, Diehl began teaching graduate-level courses, which he describes as a completely different experience.

Foster said one of Henry’s biggest impacts in the department was his love of undergraduate research. “Many, many students spent time in ‘Doc’s’ research

“You know those students; you get involved in subject matter in a very

lab, and large numbers were inspired to head to graduate school in chemistry.

different way with those students than you do in an entry level class,” he said.

When alumni are asked about their experience in the chemistry department, they

“I had a very satisfying experience seeing graduate students doing their own

almost universally talk about Bill Henry and the influence he had on their career.”

research and getting their own work published.” Throughout his tenure, Diehl said he was continually impressed with the


quality of MSU students with whom he interacted. He also openly challenges When Marszalek joined the MSU history

any other institution of higher learning to compare their students with peers at

department, he taught Civil War, Jacksonian

MSU. As both a teacher and administrator, Diehl said he has witnessed MSU’s

America and basic American history survey

continuing attraction of promising students that recognize the land-grant

classes before, in time, leading graduate

university as a top-tier school.

seminars. Of special note, he is credited with introducing the first classes in sports

“The students that are coming to MSU are very good students, and I put our

history, and he also taught black American

best students up against the best in any other university” .

history for a time.


In 2008, Marszalek came out of retirement to become the acting executive Henry, who died in February 2014, was

director and managing editor of the Ulysses S. Grant Library. It was at this

a 1979 University of Notre Dame graduate

time that the extensive Grant archival material was coming to campus from its

who went on to earn a doctorate in 1986

previous home at Southern Illinois University.

from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Since becoming the full-time executive director and managing editor,

He then began post-doctoral research at

Marszalek said the Ulysses S. Grant Library Association has acquired a significant

Nebraska in organometallic chemistry

amount of material relating to the famed general who led Union Army forces

under the direction of Dr. Reuben Rieke.

to victory in the Civil War and was elected in 1869 to the first of two terms as

He also earned a postdoctoral fellowship in

U.S. president.

the laboratories of Dr. Russell Hughes at

“We believe we have a copy of every letter Grant ever wrote in his life, or any

Dartmouth College and Dr. John Oliver at

letter ever written to him,” Marszalek said. “You come here, and you can look at

Wayne State University before coming to MSU in 1988 as an assistant professor. Henry’s Legacy Award was accepted by his widow, music professor Jackie Edwards-Henry. She told those attending the presentation ceremony that

as good a collection of Grant material as anywhere in the world.”

Marszalek said he was humbled and honored to receive an award that

carries Wolverton’s name.

“research was a critical aspect of his professional career, and ultimately what

“I have the highest respect for Dr. Wolverton, and I’m thrilled to be recognized

drew him to MSU.” While he also had an opportunity to accept a faculty position

by the college and by the university as having some sort of impact on the place,”

in New Orleans, “he came here because he knew he could get his research done,”

he said. “I’m just thrilled, I really am. It’s one of those things that doesn’t always

she added.


Edwards-Henry described her husband as “a real people person” that “loved

Marszalek thanked Frances Coleman, dean of libraries and others on the

his students and was excited about chemistry.” She emphasized that the passion

library staff with whom he works. He also expresses appreciation to MSU

and dedication he had for teaching was shared alike with undergraduate and

President Mark E. Keenum, Provost and Executive Vice President Jerry Gilbert

graduate students.

and Dean Dunaway for their support.

“I didn’t get the sense that Bill had a time frame, for him it was an adventure,” she said, “Bill was one to embrace whatever experiences life brought him.”

“That feeling I had when I first came here, the feeling of acceptance, I still feel it now,” he said. “It’s not something they say, but do.”




inding a career centered on their interests may prove difficult for

some people but not for Ben Mims. He has found a career that incorporates two of his passions, cooking and writing. Shortly after entering Mississippi State in 2003 as a freshman from Kosciusko, he changed his major to communication/ journalism with plans to pursue a career in writing and liberal arts. To enhance his classroom training, he also served for three years as a writer and copy editor for The Reflector. He also became involved in several other campus organizations, including Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, MSU Roadrunners, Alumni Delegates and Interfraternity Council. During the summer prior to his senior year, Mims first was introduced to the art of food writing while working at the Vicksburg Post. The experience led him to seek a career writing about food and cooking. “My natural affinity for cooking and writing produced the perfect storm, especially after the recommendation from the food editor in Vicksburg to pursue it as a viable career,” he recalled. Following graduation in the spring of 2007, Mims decided to move to New York City, one of world’s food capitals, and enroll in the highly regarded French Culinary Institute. “I wanted to attend

Food for Thought:

MSU Alumnus Finds Career in Food Writing By Erin Patterson

a great culinary school and be in the center of journalism, so there was really only one choice,” he said. His culinary training led to a writing position at Saveur, an award-winning New York magazine known for indepth stories on various world cuisines. In time, he was named associate food editor. In the publication’s test kitchens, he now could research, develop and test recipes while composing recipes and stories for both the print and online editions.



During five years at Saveur, Mims’ writing included an essay about

However he might have enjoyed the generally balmy California climate, it

Southern layer cakes that caught the eye of an editor at Rizzoli, a

was the offer of an associate food editorship at Food &Wine magazine,

leading publishing company in culinary arts, which led to the offer of a

a Time Inc. publication, that would draw Mims back to New York in

cookbook publishing deal.

May 2014.

Released in September, Sweet & Southern: Classic Desserts with a Twist

Looking back on his student years at MSU, the now much-travelled

is a 224-page exploration of the art of Southern baking. “Well written,

and experienced Mims said he appreciates the many important career-

great updates to classics and for a non-baker, easy to follow recipes!,”

enhancing lessons he learned while on campus.

was the response of one purchaser on an online site.

“I learned the fundamentals of journalism, how to pitch a story, and

Of all those he included, Mims said the coconut cake recipe is his favorite,

how to network to get a job,” he said. “As a journalist, I learned to

“because it is a family recipe and is so quintessentially ‘Southern’ in spirit.

always question everything to make sure it’s true. That way of thinking

“It gets the best reactions


from everyone who tries

anything to produce my

it, even coconut haters,”

best work, be it writing or

he added.

developing a recipe.”

Mims said he found work


on his first cookbook to

“(Communication department

be very gratifying.

instructor) Frances McDavid










was definitely my biggest

develop my own recipes,”


he said. “Thankfully, I

honest and helpful in offering

had already done that

real world advice and critiques

with many recipes in my

to make the work of every

own spare time, so I had

student she taught better.”

a good list to pull from

Beyond his communication

already. Getting to share


my viewpoint and feel

favorite classes “were the

like I can help people

fun ones that interested me

become better cooks was

or dealt with my hobbies:

the best part.”

geography, geology, horse-

If Sweet & Southern

riding, contemporary dance

does well commercially,

and philosophy, which goes

Mims said he is prepared

to show how important liberal

to do a second, but in a

arts courses are to the college

different way.


“I shot the whole [first]

Asked what advice he would

book in one week, 80

pass on to current students,

pictures, which was way

Mims said, “I would tell them







more difficult than I could ever have imagined,” he explained. “If I do a

to learn as much as they can while they’re in school: take as many different

second book, I’ll definitely make sure to hire several assistants to get all

classes as you can manage to get a well-rounded experience, take what you

the work finished without having to lay in bed for three days afterward

learn to heart and follow it, but when you graduate, set it all aside and

like this one.”

welcome new experiences.

Completion of the cookbook led to another major change in Mims’

“Remain skeptical about everything that comes your way so you can be

life. He left the Big Apple and travelled across the U.S. to begin as a

discerning and make decisions wisely, and work harder than the person

pastry chef in San Francisco, another world food capital. A few months

next to you,” he continued. “A lot of people have talent or a personality,

back in the kitchen, however, led him to change position again, this time

but the one that gets the job is the hardest worker, and that’s a quality that’s

becoming a freelance recipe developer and food writer.

not easily taught.”



Dear alumni and friends, Discovery. Every day, our faculty and students are investigating the problems and challenges of the world, seeking new knowledge and ways to improve our lives and surroundings. In each issue of Vision, you see a small slice of how the College of Arts & Sciences progresses on this mission of discovery. You have the opportunity to partner with us in that mission. Two of our goals for the Infinite Impact campaign ( are to create endowed funds to support undergraduate research and to initiate and expand the research done by our faculty and students. The opportunity to conduct research as an undergraduate student adds tangible value. Students learn how to conduct quality research in an area of interest, and also build a valuable relationship with the supervising professor to create an experience that distinguishes them from fellow applicants for jobs and graduate or professional schools. Endowed funds for research would broadly support the research efforts of the College of Arts & Sciences. These funds could, among other things, provide seed money to kick-start projects and strengthen applications for external funding, upgrade equipment to maintain state-of-the-art research environments and premiere laboratories, and engage additional undergraduate and graduate students in research projects. What did you discover during your time at Mississippi State? You likely discovered new friends and relationships. You probably discovered new and fascinating information about the world around you and the people who live in it. Maybe you had the opportunity to engage in research that has impacted this current generation of students. Perhaps you discovered a career path and a new trajectory for your life. Would you join us in this effort? If you are interested in creating support for these, or other areas in the College of Arts & Sciences, please contact me at or 662325-3240. Thank you for all that you do for the College of Arts & Sciences and MSU. Hail State,

Alex McIntosh (Class of ’07, ’12) Director of Development College of Arts & Sciences

8 1

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In Memory of Dr. William P. Henry By Audra Gines

Dr. William P. Henry, or “Doc” as he was affectionately called by many of his students, was a Mississippi State University chemistry professor who died in February at his home. Though born in Delaware, he lived much of his early life in Toronto, Canada, where his father was a chemist for a chemical company. He was a 1979 University of Notre Dame graduate who went on to receive a 1986 master’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His UN-L doctorate in organometallic chemistry was completed under the direction of Dr. Reuben Rieke, and he was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratories of Dr. Russell Hughes at Dartmouth College and Dr. John Oliver at Wayne State University. Henry, who joined the MSU faculty in 1988 as an assistant

professor, is survived by wife Jackie Edwards-Henry, a professor of applied piano, group piano and piano pedagogy, coordinator of group piano and MSU’s music department curriculum chair. “Bill was a real people person,” she said, reflecting on her late husband’s career. “He loved his students and was excited about chemistry.” She also noted that a memorial service in Chicago where much of Bill Henry’s family currently resides drew one of his early graduate students at Nebraska. This and other personal testaments to his dedication help illustrate how greatly he will be missed by the many whose lives he touched over a 28-year teaching career.

COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES ALUMNI BOARD From left, front: Bill Gillon, Adrienne Pakis-Gillon, Dr. Karen Hulett, Kitty Henry, Hank Johnston, Dr. Ralph Alewine Center: Hunter “Ticket” Henry, Llana Smith, Laurie Williams, Dr. Tom Wiley, Dr. Bill Hulett Rear: Dr. John Rada, Dr. Don Hall



ARTS & SCIENCES NEW FACULTY New Faculty as of August 1, 2014 Air Force ROTC


Lt. Nicholas Charney

Adam Skarke, Chris Fuhrmann and Lindsey Morschauser

Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures


D. Shane Miller

Marsha Barrett, Brandon Byrd and Andrew Lang

Army ROTC Maj. John Carter, Maj. Bradley

Mathematics and Statistics

Hollingsworth and Maj. Terrance

Tung-Lung Wu

Seals Philosophy and Religion Biological Sciences

Kristin E. Boyce, Alicia A. Hall,

Heather Jordan, Victoria McCurdy

William Kallfelz, David C. Spewak,

and Robert Outlaw

and Danielle J. Wylie


Physics and Astronomy

Charles Edwin Webster

Lamiaa El Fassi and Mark Worthy

Classical and Modern

Political Science and Public

Languages and Literatures


Salvador Bartera and Karina Zelaya

James Chamberlain, Daniel Fay, Kyle Kattelman and Jiahuan Lu

Communication Melody Fisher, Meaghan Gordon


and John Nara

Arazais Oliveros



Daniel Austin, Katie Doughty, Amy

Rachel Allison, Margaret Hagerman

Mallory-Kani, Eric Vivier,

and Margaret Ralston


news! Simply 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

and Abigail Voller

RETIREES Walter J. Diehl, College of Arts & Sciences..........................................6/30/2014 Janet Rafferty, Anthro. & Mid. Eastern Cultures.................................6/30/2014 Dwayne Wise, Biological Sciences...........................................................5/15/2014 Peter Rabideau, Chemistry........................................................................8/15/2014 Betty J. Durst, Communication................................................................5/15/2014 Godfrey N. Uziogwe, History................................................................12/31/2013 Marjorie Crittenden, Mathematics & Statistics.......................................7/7/2014 Betty Scarbarough, Mathematics & Statistics......................................12/31/2013 Marty Wiseman, Political Sci. & Public Admin..................................12/31/2013



VISION magazine is the newsletter for alumni,

students, faculty and friends of the College of Arts & Sciences. We want to showcase the great things the College has to offer, and to do that, we need your help. Past issues have featured pretigious awards won by professors, organizations making a difference in the community and impressive faculty projects. If you have anything that you feel would fit in with what we do, please send it to us!






Reporting Success Each day, Mississippi State University’s faculty and students are finding success through opportunities both inside and outside the classroom. Thanks to the financial support from our many alumni and friends, students like Kaitlyn can gain valuable real-world experience while at MSU.






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

Physical Address: 175 Presidents Circle Mississippi State, MS 39762

Mississippi State University complies with all applicable laws regarding affirmative action and equal opportunity in all its activities and programs and does not discriminate against anyone protected by law because of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, handicap, or status as a veteran or disabled veteran. VISION FALL/WINTER 2014/2015 | COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES

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