Category

College of Arts and Sciences

King sculpture pays heartfelt tribute to Schmidt

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Community, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments

Visitors to downtown Cleveland are enjoying the recent expansion of Delta State’s Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden with five new installations along Sharpe Avenue.

One sculpture holds special meaning thanks to the creative work of recent Delta State graduate Lawson King ’17, an art major originally from Indianola.

His 8-foot steel and recycled rope sculpture “Broken Arrow” stands tall in dedication to former Delta State professor Dr. Ethan Schmidt, who fatally fell victim to gun violence in 2015.

“I dedicated the piece to him because his shooting caused me to react — caused me to respond to the traumatic experience,” said King. “The more I found out about the shooting, the more I felt connected to it.”

King found many similarities to the incident after his father was killed in a shooting at the age of three. King also taught with Schmidt’s wife at a local elementary school through his participation in the Delta Arts Alliance’s artist-in-residence program.

“It was personal for me to create this piece, but I also wanted to do it for Ethan’s wife and his kids,” said King. “I wanted to show them that I was three when my father was killed, and I think I turned out alright.”

Michael Stanley, chair of the Delta State Department of Art, was thrilled with King’s dedication, noting that he was the first student/alumni to have work displayed in the sculpture garden.

“Lawson’s piece is a very powerful tribute to Dr. Ethan Schmidt because he elegantly intertwines a number of very complicated ideas into one sculpture,” said Stanley. “The broken arrow is a symbol that represents peace and also refers to Ethan’s expertise in Native American history. It’s also a direct reaction to the events that took place the day of the shooting. Instead of using an image of violence, Lawson chose an image of peace, which is much more powerful in my opinion.”

The sculpture garden has developed into an iconic element of Delta State’s campus, and it has shown growth in recent years while expanding across the university, to the grounds of GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi, and downtown Cleveland.

Judson Thigpen, executive director of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, said the sculpture garden’s development continues to forge the town-gown relationship.

“The sculptures are a continuation of the Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden at Delta State into the community,” said Thigpen. “It’s an added treasure that one of the sculptures is dedicated to the life of Ethan Schmidt and the lives he touched while here.”

Stanley agreed that the expansion of the sculpture garden strengthens the partnership between the university and the city of Cleveland.

“We cannot survive without the other, and this is a wonderful display of cooperation and a great visual reminder of this unique relationship,” he said.

Public sculpture was a big reason King pursued his art degree, as he felt public art was lacking in his hometown. The facilities in the art department make it possible for students to create large-scale public works.

King said it was an incredible honor to be selected in the first group of downtown sculptures.

“It feels like such a big accomplishment for me,” he said. “It’s awesome to be included with super talented sculptors from across the country. Just to be accepted and be among them in the first round of downtown sculptures — it means a whole lot to me.”

Learn more about the Hazel and Jimmy Sanders Sculpture Garden at http://thesculpturegardenms.com/.

Fighting Okra Records releases new compilation CD

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Delta Music Institute, Students | No Comments

Fighting Okra Records, a student-run record label housed in the Delta Music Institute entertainment industry program at Delta State University, recently released its third compilation CD project, “Fighting Okra: Round 3,” featuring 17 tracks of original music either written, produced or recorded by DMI students.

The new Fighting Okra project was the culmination of a senior project by DMI graduate Jarrick Finkley during the fall of 2015. In a continuing effort to expose the music of DMI students to the campus and community, Finkley decided to assemble a third compilation CD to expose the depth of talent of DMI students.

“Fighting Okra: Round 3” contains 17 original works representing a wide range of genres including hip-hop, gospel, alternative, R&B, dub step, rock, metal, and country. The songs on the project were written, produced, engineered or performed by current DMI students and alumni, with Finkley serving as executive producer. Songs on the CD were selected by Finkley after multiple screenings and were chosen on the basis of lyrical content and recording quality.

“I loved working on Fighting Okra Round 3,” said Finkley, a native of Vicksburg. “It was a big challenge, but the project allowed me to learn so much within a cooperative work situation. I am grateful to every student artist and engineer who contributed their awesome gifts and talents to this project.”

DMI Director Tricia Walker served as the faculty advisor for the project.

“The lessons students like Jarrick learn in working on a real-world project like this are invaluable,” said Walker. “I’m very proud of what he’s put together on this CD. It really does represent the breadth and depth of the talent coming out of DMI.”

Copies of the CD will be available for purchase in the main office of the DMI on campus and online at www.fightingokrarecords.com. For more information on the album or the FOR label, contact the DMI at 662-846-4579 or visit www.fightingokrarecords.com.

The DMI is an independent center of study under the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State, offering a bachelor’s degree in entertainment industry studies. The focus of the DMI is to provide students with a broad and thorough education in the technological, creative and business areas of the music and entertainment industry. For information, contact 662-846-4579 or visit http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

Penton awarded NASA-supported fellowship

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Faculty/Staff, Students | No Comments

Katie Penton, a graduate student in the Master of Science in Natural Sciences program at Delta State, was recently awarded the prestigious Mississippi Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellowship, an opportunity coordinated by the Mississippi Research Consortium and supported by NASA.

The consortium’s mission is to enhance and support aerospace science and technology efforts and activities in Mississippi, as well as promote a strong science, mathematics and technology base at pre-college, undergraduate and graduate levels in the region’s educational institutions.

Penton, a native of Southaven, said she was thrilled to receive the fellowship. She has been working closely with Dr. Sharon Hamilton, professor of chemistry at Delta State, while researching polymer chemistry.

The fellowship is for the 2017-18 academic year in the amount of $20,000.

Penton’s fellowship will focus on two aspects — her innovative research at Delta State, and her K-12 STEM education outreach plan to visit Mississippi Delta schools and share demonstrations of science, particularly chemistry demonstrations. She will also work with local teachers to reinforce the subjects they are teaching within her lessons.

“I am very grateful to be one of only eight recipients of this fellowship throughout the state,” said Penton. “In my proposal, I stressed how underrepresented the STEM fields are in the Delta, and given the opportunity, I wished to go into local schools to introduce and hopefully inspire students to pursue this area of study. I first got really invested in chemistry in high school, and I would love to ignite that spark in someone here in Cleveland.”

Hamilton said Penton is particularly worthy of the fellowship.

“Katie is an extremely hard worker who has significantly contributed to the Department of Chemistry and Physics at Delta State,” said Hamilton. “The chemistry faculty at DSU are always looking for ways to improve our majors’ education —whether that be through exposing them to summer research experiences, bringing in speakers to the department, or helping them find ways to fund their research.”

“Katie’s fellowship signifies that the research being done at Delta State is and can be just as significant as the quality of research being done at the larger schools in the state,” added Hamilton.

Her work with Hamilton has concentrated on developing a drug-loaded fiber mat that can be used in wound healing applications.

“Katie’s research in my lab has focused on developing wound healing materials,” said Hamilton. “Think of it as creating bandages that can help you heal more effectively. This is an area of great interest to NASA. Our efforts address NASA’s need for medical treatments that will allow space flight illnesses, particularly smaller wounds, to be treated with a minimum of infrastructure support and to keep crew members in good health.”

Penton’s lab research continued through the summer break, while at the same time, she mentored a student from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science. She also presented the results of her research at the 2017 Summer Student Science Symposium sponsored by the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, and the MS INBRE Symposium.

Learn more about Department of Chemistry and Physics at Delta State at http://www.deltastate.edu/artsandsciences/chemistry-and-physics.

Youth camp to be offered during Spring Break

By | College of Arts and Sciences, Community, Faculty/Staff | No Comments

A grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks will help support the inaugural Spring Outdoor Camp for Youth during Spring Break 2018 on the campus of Delta State.

Dr. AHM Ali Reza, associate professor of biology and environmental sciences, applied for the grant funded through the Youth Participation Initiative Program of MDWFP. The Youth Participation Program was established in 2009 to provide funding for the purpose of educating children in the areas of hunting, fishing, conservation and safety.

Reza is planning to organize the week-long camp between March-12-15 in collaboration with project partner Nathan Aycock from the fisheries program of MDWFP, who is based at Charlie Capps Wildlife Management Area near Rosedale, Mississippi.

The overall goal of the program is to educate and train young members of the community to be responsible citizens with a deep love for the outdoors, while encouraging them to hunt and fish responsibly.

“We look forward to introducing this new camp to local youth who are passionate about the outdoors, hunting, fishing and conservation,” said Reza. “We are very thankful to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks for making this camp a possibility. Campers will have a number of unforgettable hands-on experiences.”

The camp’s home base will be at Delta State’s campus with outdoor activities at Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge and fishing activities at Bear Pen Park. Attendees will learn personal safety, outdoor navigation and nature photography, along with a lecture on ecological aspects and conservation of the ecosystem. Participants will also learn about scientific aspects of hunting and fishing, wildlife and fish identification, types of fish sampling equipment, terminal tackle, water quality analysis, fishing safety and fish cleaning, and more.

Children between ages 9-12 will be selected from Cleveland and surrounding areas based on their interests and a few other criteria. Total spots for the camp will be limited at 30 and participants are encouraged to reserve a spot as soon as possible.

Tuition fees are to be determined, but Reza said it will be somewhere in the range of $100-$125. Campers will be provided with giveaways including fishing rods, a T-shirt, gift items, lunch, snacks and more.

For more information, or to reserve a spot, contact Reza at areza@deltastate.edu.

Reza leads field course in Bangladesh

By | Academics, College of Arts and Sciences, Faculty/Staff, International, Students | No Comments

Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza, associate professor of biology at Delta State, recently returned from leading another international field course in his homeland of Bangladesh.

The two-week tropical field biology study abroad course, which took place in July, was in partnership with the Creative Conservation Alliance (CCA), an NGO that works tirelessly to conserve Bangladesh’s imperiled wildlife.

“This was a special opportunity for students to get direct access to one of the most diverse environments in the world — the jungles of Lawachara National Park,” said Reza. “Students were provided with some of the best résumé-boosting conservation field experience you could imagine.”

Dr. A.H.M. Ali Reza

Open to university students around the world, the curriculum focused on biology, natural resources management, conservation biology, wildlife ecology, management, veterinary sciences and related fields.

Thanks to the partnership with CCA, course fees directly contributed to the conservation of the endangered flora and fauna of Bangladesh.

Reza also led a shorter-term outdoor adventure education workshop from July 13-16 open to local participants. The workshop was sponsored by Delta State University, the DSU Quality Enhancement Plan and the CCA. Participants learned about environmental policies and issues, research and study practices, and wildlife photography techniques.

A group of 45 students from local universities participated in the workshop and received a certificate issued by Delta State and CCA. Reza was joined by a team of experts to manage the large group of students. Colleagues included: Ceasar Shahirar Rahman, CEO of CCA; Dr. Kamrul Hasan, professor of zoology at Jahangirnagar University; Scott Trageser, director of CCA; Dr. Samia Saif, biologist of BCAS; and Tania Khan, a freelance naturalist.

Reza said hands-on field courses often help students get recognized in the scientific field.

“You have a great chance of getting your name on a scientific publication by making a range extension, or even discovering a new species,” he said. “Our 2014 and 2015 trips recognized multiple potentially new species and made several range extensions. In 2016, our group discovered a new species of a Takydromus lizard.”

During his trip to Bangladesh, Reza also organized two seminars at Jahangirnagar University and Independent University of Bangladesh, where he discussed the environmental policy issues related to U.S. and Bangladesh perspectives. Both seminars had high attendance and wide covered by the local media.

At the end of the trip, Reza participated in a live — online as well as on a local television — panel discussion on river conservation and aquatic biodiversity in Bangladesh. The small country, slightly bigger than the state Mississippi, has more than 700 major rivers.

“Many of them have issues related to pollution, encroachment, building unplanned dams, etc.,” said Reza. “During the panel discussions, experts and managers discussed ways to mitigate the issues.”

Reza, who also serves as Delta State’s international partnership liaison, is planning to offer another field course in December. For more information about fieldwork and other opportunities with Delta State’ environmental science program, contact Reza at areza@deltastate.edu.