College of Arts and Sciences

Students and faculty present at Mississippi Academy of Sciences meeting

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Delta State University environmental science students and professors recently presented five scientific posters at the 80th annual Mississippi Academy of Sciences meeting held in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

The yearly meeting is comprised of addresses, symposia, workshops, scientific papers and exhibits grouped by division. Delta State’s posters highlighted research the students had conducted over the past academic year. Four of the posters were presented in the ecology and evolutionary section, and the fifth was presented in the cellular, molecular and developmental section.

Participating students included Emily Bodin, Megan Clark, Shawnee Gundry, Brittany Husley and Christine Beck. Delta State professors included Dr. Nina L. Baghai-Riding and Dr. AHM Ali Reza.

Presentation titles included “Habitat use and food habits of coyote in Dahomey Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi;” “Storm drain study on Delta State University Campus, Cleveland, Mississippi;” “Carbon dioxide/leaf peel study for three plant species in the Mississippi Delta;” “Analysis of a palynological sample from the Bucatunna Formation, southwestern Alabama;” and “Molecular function of selenoproteins in Rickettsia parkeri survival within the tick host.”

Abstracts for the presentations can be found in the Mississippi Academy of Sciences journal of abstracts at

Also announced at the conference, Reza was selected as the 2016-17 chair of the division of ecology and evolutionary biology.

“Being elected as the chair of one MAS’s major divisions, ecology and evolutionary biology, is an extreme honor and recognition of our contribution to science in the state,” said Reza. “I am privileged to represent the Department of Biological Sciences and Delta State University in general. I strongly believe this position will help us work closely with other scientists in the state. This will also help our students connect with other scientists and possibly build a meaningful professional career in the future.”

According to Reza, there were more than 750 participants this year, which is the largest gathering of any scientific community in the state.

“Overall, all of the presentations were very well received and the students had a positive experience,” said Baghai-Riding. “The students also attended professional talks, networked with other professionals and were engaged in scientific workshops.”

For more information concerning the environmental science program at Delta State University, contact Baghai-Riding at

Student exhibit and silent auction hosted by art department

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Delta State University’s Department of Art invites the public to the opening of its annual juried Student Exhibition on March 17 from 5-7 p.m at the Fielding Wright Art Center Gallery. The exhibit allows the department to highlight work produced by students in the past year and provides the students a professional opportunity to prepare and submit work for a juried exhibition.

Students submitting work are also eligible to win monetary awards in a variety of categories. The awards are made possible through the generous support of art patrons from the Cleveland community.

This year’s juror is Ashley Chavis, a ceramic artist and curator, who teaches at Northwest Mississippi Community College. Chavis also runs the college’s art gallery and is the faculty advisor of the student art club, Les Fauves.

Chavis’s creative energies are devoted to producing functional pottery that has a unique sense of tactility and surface design. His work has been exhibited regionally and nationally and can be found at Southside Gallery in Oxford. He is a member of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts, Southeastern College Art Conference, Southern Graphics Council International and Sycamore Arts Council.

Chavis commended the variety and quality of work submitted to this year’s show.

This year’s opening includes a silent auction of student and faculty work to benefit a Delta State art student who lost the use of her legs in a car accident.

“The student has been an inspiration for all in the art department,” said Dr. Michaela Merryday, associate professor of art. “She has never let her health issues limit her ambitions, nor cloud her optimism and sunny disposition. The student is in need of a new wheelchair and her colleagues and faculty are hoping to raise $1,000 through the sale of original works of art donated by them to help defray the costs of a new wheelchair.”

The silent auction will only take place on the opening night of the exhibit. Winning bids will be announced at the end of the day. Student awards will be presented at 6 p.m. The exhibition will remain on display from March 17 to April 22.

The Fielding Wright Art Center Gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The gallery is closed weekends, holidays and during semester breaks.

For more information on the Department of Art, visit contact 662-846-4720.

Goudsouzian to be featured speaker at Cranford Lecture

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Delta State University is gearing up for the 19th annual Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture on April 7 at 7 p.m. in Jobe Hall Auditorium.

This year’s lecturer is Dr. Aram Goudsouzian, professor of history and department chair at the University of Memphis. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1966 James Meredith March Against Fear, Goudsouzian’s lecture is entitled, “Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear.”

The Cranford Lecture is sponsored by the Delta State Division of Social Sciences and History and is supported by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council. This event honors the life of Dr. Sammy Orren Cranford, longtime history professor and archivist at Delta State. This event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Goudsouzian is one of the leading scholars in post-World War II African American history and civil rights,” said Dr. Chuck Westmoreland, assistant professor of history at Delta State. “He is an extremely versatile scholar who has written biographies of Sidney Poitier and Bill Russell, in addition to his latest work on the 1966 James Meredith March Against Fear. The march, which is an often misunderstood and oversimplified moment in the modern civil rights struggle, gains new life and clarity in Dr. Goudsouzian’s award-winning book ‘Down to the Crossroads: Civil Rights, Black Power, and the Meredith March Against Fear.’ 

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Goudsouzian give this year’s Cranford Lecture. It will be a great time for learning and for honoring one of Delta State’s most distinguished faculty members, Dr. Sammy O. Cranford, and the Cranford family.”

For more information on the Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture, contact Westmoreland at

Previous lecturers include: 1998, John Marzalek; 1999, John Ray Skates; 2000, James Cobb; 2001, Martha Swain; 2002, Lawrence Nelson; 2003, Nan Woodruff; 2004, David Sansing; 2005, Charles Reagan Wilson; 2006, James Hollandsworth; 2007, Elbert Hilliard; 2008, Larry Griffin; 2009, William LaForge; 2010, Chris Myers Asch; 2011, Charles Eagles; 2012, George Rable; 2013, Jeannie Whayne; 2014, Tim Huebner; and 2015, Alecia Long.

McAlister to be featured in lecture recital

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Pianist Dr. Andrea McAlister will be featured in a lecture recital of works by Mendelssohn, Fauré, Dello Joio, Grieg, and transcriptions by Liszt and Wild on Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the BPAC Recital Hall.

The recital kicks off the annual Art of the Piano event hosted by the Delta State University Department of Music. The two-day schedule, Feb. 26-27, is free and open to the public.

On Feb. 27, pianists of all ages from Mississippi and Tennessee will come together for a day of performances centered on making music through the medium of piano. McAlister will give a lecture for teachers, “Technology and the Brain: How to Teach to the 21st-Century Student.”

McAlister is an associate professor of piano pedagogy at Oberlin College. In addition to her teaching activities, she coordinates the class piano program and the secondary piano studies program. She earned her DMA at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music where she held a teaching assistantship and graduated summa cum laude.

McAlister’s research in piano pedagogy, technology, motivation and neural development has been featured at national and international conferences, and she is active as a clinician for state and local teachers. She has recently presented at the International Society of Music Education Conference, the Music Teachers National Association Conferences, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy, the World Piano Pedagogy Conference, the Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy Seminar, the International Conference on Sociology in Music Education, the Piano Wellness Seminar, the International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, and the International Technology, Education, and Development Conference.

Her research has also been featured in the Music Teachers National Association’s American Music Teacher, the MTNA e-journal, the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy’s Proceedings, as well as Clavier Companion and Keyboard Companion.

As a performer, McAlister has appeared in festivals and recitals throughout the United States, Europe and Canada, including performances with the Aspen Music Festival, the Rome Festival, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony and Opera Cleveland.

She is an active clinician, adjudicator and member of the Music Teachers National Association, and she currently holds the office of president for the Ohio Music Teachers Association. In addition, McAlister serves on the executive steering committee for the MTNA Group Piano and Piano Pedagogy Seminar and Editorial Committee for the MTNA e-journal.

The Art of the Piano is sponsored by the Delta State University Department of Music.

For registration information and schedule details,  call 662-846-4615 or visit

Reza to lead python workshop

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Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza, assistant professor of biology at Delta State, will be one of just a handful of instructors at the Bangladesh Python Project Workshop beginning this July.

Reza, a native of Bangladesh, is looking forward to working with fellow academics to shed light on a significant snake species and other important vertebrate animals from his homeland.

“This is a very exciting opportunity open to all students,” said Reza. “We are doing some important work radio-tracking these snakes, the same species that we seeing as an invasive problem in Florida. I would strongly encourage students to consider this workshop. They will get some great hands-on experience with animals from a very different part of the world.”

Reza has returned to Bangladesh a number of times in recent years after previously publishing his book “Diversity of Amphibians and Reptiles in Bangladesh.” His trips focus on ecological and conservation efforts, and he has worked with many snake species and other vertebrates for his scientific research.

The workshop cost is $2,000 but does not include airfare to Bangladesh. For more information, contact Reza at