College of Arts and Sciences

Youth camp to be offered during Spring Break

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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

Reza leads field course in Bangladesh

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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

Koehler honored with retrospective exhibit

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“Ron Koehler Retrospective: 45 Years of Sculpture” opens at the Fielding Wright Art Center on Aug. 31.


Delta State University’s Fielding Wright Art Center opens its 2017-18 season on Aug. 31 with “Ron Koehler Retrospective: 45 Years of Sculpture,” an exhibition celebrating the career of the former Department of Art chair.

An opening reception will be held Aug. 31 from 5- 7 p.m.

Koehler taught at Delta State University for 35 years and served as chair of the department for more than a decade. He retired this summer as professor and chair emeritus.

During his long and distinguished career, Koehler participated in over 500 regional, national and international exhibitions, received countless awards, and saw his work enter the permanent collections of museums and galleries across the nation.

The retrospective offers a rare opportunity to absorb the astonishing breadth of Koehler’s artistic pursuits, the subject matter that has occupied him, and the variety of media he has employed.

Koehler said that a casual visitor to the exhibit might get the impression that the work was created by more than one artist, but what connects his wide variety of work is his interest in exploration.

“Exploration of shape, form, media, color, texture, concept and genre,” said Koehler. “Exploration of technique, movement, scale, iconography, purpose and activism. Exploration of personal goals. Exploration of time and place. Exploration of fear, and exploration of the absurd.”

His explorations of a subject matter, or the possibilities of a medium, often lead him to work in a series. Another common element in Koehler’s works is his ever-present sense of humor, as seen in the “Balanced Diet” series, which consists of an assortment of cholesterol heavy food items. Examples from his famous “Brush” series, which numbers in the hundreds, will also be included in the exhibit.

“I’m not sure if I made the choice to devote my life to creating art, or if the choice was made for me long before I was born by some cosmic combustion I was never privy to,” said Koehler, looking back on his career. “What I can say for absolute certain is that art and the creation of it has defined my life in immeasurable ways. This exhibition, I hope, will document the trip thus far.”

“Ron Koehler Retrospective: 45 Years of Sculpture” will run from Aug. 24 to Sept. 21. Koehler will generously donate all proceeds from exhibit sales to the foundation of the Salley/Koehler Community College Scholarship Fund at Delta State University.

Regular gallery hours are Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The gallery is closed on weekends, holidays and during semester breaks.

For more information, visit the DSU Art Department’s website at or contact 662-846-4720. For updates and announcements of upcoming events, follow Delta State Art Department on Facebook or join our email list.

Delta State represented at Botanical Society of America conference

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Delta State University’s Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding, professor of biology and environmental science, recently attended the annual Botanical Society of America conference in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Botanical Society of America is one of the world’s largest scientific societies dedicated to the study of plants and serves as an umbrella organization that covers all plant specialties including conservation and ecology, historical botany, microbiological interactions, paleobotany, physiology, teaching plant science and more.

During the conference, Baghai-Riding served as a senior mentor in the Plants Grant program that is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. This year, she mentored Jocelyn Navarro, an undergraduate botany student from Connecticut College.

Baghai-Riding presented a professional poster on her research titled “Implications of a palynological sample from Bowie River.” She co-authored the research with Delta State students Kendal Davis and Raven Allison, along with Dr. Brian Axsmith from the University of Southern Alabama.

Also presented was “An elemental study of regional variation in noncommercial jams and jellies,”‘ a poster co-authored by Delta State students Callie Masterson, Raven Allison, Dana Rico, William Whittington, Breana Randle, Gregory Peacock and Dr. Chuck Smithhart, and “Stomatal density and carbon dioxide leaf peel study of four woody plant species in the Mississippi Delta,” which was co-authored by Hannah Taylor, Wilsonya Mitchell, Jon’ Ayo Farquharson and Madison Zoeller.

To learn more about the environmental science program at Delta State, email Baghai-Riding at

Chemistry student researching at Montana’s Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience

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Pain is something we have come to accept as part of life. We even give pain its own motto — no pain, no gain. While we may not be able to eliminate pain, we can develop methods to cope with it, and Delta State student Tyler Daniels is researching the effects of a possible pain reliever.

Daniels, a senior chemistry and biology major from Hattiesburg, is working on a medical chemistry research project at the University of Montana’s Center for Structural and Functional Neuroscience. For his research project, he is working on the synthesis of a Cytochrome P450 inhibitor with potential as a natural pain reliever, as well as the synthesis of a T-type calcium channel blocker with potential as a neuropathy-related pain reliever.

“I began the project in mid-June,” Daniels said. “My responsibilities include reviewing previously published research, the synthesis of a series of compounds and the purification of these compounds. The end goal is that the final products will be sent off for both in-vitro and in-vivo testing as potential pain relievers.”

Daniels began searching for internships in the spring and came across the project in Montana online.

“Because I had no prior research experience, I thought working on a project in my field of study with a potential medical application would be a great learning opportunity,” Daniels said. “This research experience has allowed me to expand my knowledge of the medicinal chemistry field and has given me a lot of insight on graduate study as a whole.”

Dr. Sharon Hamilton, assistant professor of chemistry at Delta State, has been keeping up with Daniels’ progress over the summer. She knew he had applied to several summer research experiences for undergraduate programs and is thrilled for the opportunity Daniels’ received with the University of Montana.

“We have corresponded this summer, and he’s expressed how much he enjoys his research project,” Hamilton said. “Based on these experiences, I feel confident that Tyler will excel working in my lab this fall on a new synthesis project. I’m very happy Tyler earned this opportunity. He is a wonderful student and very hardworking, effectively balancing football and chemistry courses, as well as his obligations to the Rural Physicians Program and spearheading the formation of a chapter of the Mississippi Rural Health Association on campus.”

For more information about the chemistry program at Delta State, contact Hamilton at 662-846-4479 or