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College of Arts and Sciences

Delta State’s herbarium collection to be used by Smithsonian

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It’s a common saying that food brings people together, and one bean once linked an entire region of the United States.

Phaseolus polystachios, more commonly known as the Native American wild kidney bean, or thicket bean, is the only native bean species that was once widespread across the eastern United States, according to research by Ashley Egan, a research botanist and assistant curator at the U.S. National Herbarium, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. It is a member of the legume family and typically grows perennially. But despite its once widespread growth, Egan reported that few seed collections of Phaseolus polystachios are located in the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System.

Egan is studying the genes of the thicket bean in relation to crop improvement and is trying to collect as many samples of the bean as possible from across the county. She contacted Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding, professor of biology and environmental science at Delta State, about locations of the thicket bean in Mississippi —one of the native states of the Phaseolus polystachios.

Thanks to Delta State’s collection of five specimens, Egan will be able to more closely study the genes of the wild kidney bean.

“The Delta State University Herbarium has over 17,000 specimens,” Riding said. “More than 10,300 are documented in the database, which Dr. John Tiftickjian and I have worked on for the past 10 years.”

Delta State’s Herbarium, located in Caylor Hall room 242, contains specimens from 37 states, but its main focus is centered on plants in the Mississippi Delta. It houses four specimens classified as Phaseolus polystachios that were collected by Ronald Weiland, John MacDonald, Randy Warren, Charles Bryson, Paige Goodlett and Wanda Ingersoll. These specimens were collected in Hinds, Lee, Leflore and Grenada counties.

“The Delta State University herbarium is used extensively in teaching and research projects at DSU and around the local region as well,” Riding said. “The Department of Biological Sciences is excited for the Smithsonian to utilize the herbarium as well.”

Riding said several other institutions have utilized the herbarium in the recent past, including Wayne Morris from Troy University, Lisa Wallace from Mississippi State University, and several doctoral students from North Carolina State University.

“Teressa Oakes from NRCS also showed off the herbarium last summer during a workshop, and Dr. Tiftickjian plans to incorporate it into the Master Gardeners conference program in 2019,” Riding added.

For more information about the Smithsonian’s project, contact Egan at egana@si.edu or 202-633-0902. For more information about Delta State’s environmental science program, contact Baghai-Riding at 662-846-4797 or nbaghai@deltastate.edu.

 

Taylor charting the course for habitat conservation

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Combining habitant conservation with geospatial information technologies is Hannah Taylor’s mission this summer.

Taylor, a wildlife habitat management major at Delta State, is a data management/field technician intern under the Rice Stewardship Partnership at Ducks Unlimited, partnered with USA Rice, at the Southern Regional Office located in Ridgeland.

She assists in day-to-day operations, creating and updating project tracking databases, mapping in GIS software, and generating facts and figures for reporting to partners.

“I hope to gain the knowledge and experience of how a conservation organization operates,” said Taylor. “Being a part of this organization has been a great opportunity for me as a wildlife habitat management major, and I hope to pass my knowledge on to other students who may be interested in seeking a career in wildlife habitat management.”

The internship was a dream come true for Taylor, who grew up attending youth camps at Ducks Unlimited.

“My family and I are members of the Ducks Unlimited Bolivar County Chapter and have been for as long as I can remember,” she said. “Growing up, my brother and I were involved in the youth camps that DU had every year and were made ‘Greenwings’ at the age of five. We attend every DU banquet we can to show our support.”

Founded in 1937, DU is the world’s leading conservation agency for wetlands and waterfowl. Its mission is to conserve, restore and manage wetlands and habitats for North America’s waterfowl. The organization has projects in all 50 states and has conserved over 13 million acres of waterfowl habitat in North America, according to its website.

When the time came for Taylor to apply for her internship, Dr. Ellen Green, chair of the department of biological sciences and associate professor of biology, knew of Taylor’s interest in studying waterfowl and GIS and suggested she apply to DU.

“Hannah expressed to me last spring that she wanted to find an internship that would combine her interests in studying waterfowl and GIS,” said Green. “This internship appears to be the perfect match for her. After talking with her recently and hearing more about her summer experience, I am confident that the knowledge and skills she is learning through Ducks Unlimited and through her environmental science degree will make her a very competitive candidate for a wide range of positions.”

For more information about Ducks Unlimited, visit www.ducks.org. For more information about the wildlife habitat management program at Delta State, contact Green at 662-846-4240 or esgreen@deltastate.edu.

Boldon accepted into MS Rural Physicians Scholarship Program

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Emilee Ann Boldon, a junior at Delta State and a native of Greenwood, was recently selected to participate in the undergraduate portion of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program. Boldon is the daughter of Billy and Treasa Boldon of Greenwood.

Created in 2007, MRPSP identifies college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate the necessary commitment and academic achievement to become competent, well-trained rural primary care physicians in Mississippi. The program offers undergraduate academic enrichment and a clinical experience in a rural setting. Upon completion of all medical school admissions requirements, the student can be admitted to the University of Mississippi School of Medicine or William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

During medical school, each MRPSP scholar may receive $30,000 per year based on available funding. Consistent legislative support of MRPSP translates to 60 medical students receiving a total of $1,800,000 to support their education this fall. Additional benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural physicians and academic support.

Upon completion of medical training, MRPSP Scholars must enter a residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology or pediatrics. The MRPSP scholar must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of 15,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

MRPSP provides a means for rural Mississippi students to earn a seat in medical school, receive mentoring during the medical school application process, earn a $120,000 medical school scholarship in return for four years of service and learn the art of healing from practicing rural physicians.

For more information, contact MRPSP Associate Director Dan Coleman at 601-815-9022, jdcoleman@umc.edu or http://mrpsp.umc.edu.

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The Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program and the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program are state-funded efforts to increase the number of dentists and physicians serving the healthcare needs of Mississippians in rural areas. Housed at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, and collaborating with its schools of medicine and dentistry and the College of Osteopathic Medicine at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, the programs use various outreach, mentoring and training methods to identify, support, educate and deploy new generations of healthcare workers for Mississippi’s underserved populations.

Healing with a Groove 2.0 creates alumni network

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Photo (left to right):  Laeitta Wade, HWG 2.0 project assistant; Keziah Allen (Indianola); Isaac Peppers (Greenville); A’Midius Sigle (Shelby); Cle’Various Thornton (Moorhead); and Travis Calvin, HWG 2.0 project coordinator. HWG alumni not pictured: Jakevian McCaster (Greenwood); and Parker Abney II (Clarksdale).

The Delta Music Institute, an independent center of entertainment industry studies at Delta State University, recently received a $548,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) of Battle Creek, Michigan, to extend its successful Healing with a Groove 2.0 program.

The program is a narrative change initiative with the mission of promoting racial healing through the creation and production of original songs and recordings among young persons of color. The current round of funding will promote the establishment and development of a HWG 2.0 alumni base and the creation of a multimedia toolkit to be used as a resource for schools and organizations interested in establishing HWG groups.

“Music has great power to heal,” said DMI Director Tricia Walker. “Using digital media tools available today will empower the young participants in this program to find their unique voice in creating new songs and recordings that can address issues of race and how music can promote healing.”

Travis Calvin, a Delta State alumnus, serves as the coordinator of the DMI Mobile Lab and leads the HWG program.

“I am excited to build on the success we’ve had with this project. I’m looking forward to developing and empowering HWG alumni to become young leaders in their communities, using music and digital media as a platform to address issues of concern in their schools and hometowns,” said Calvin.

A network of HWG alumni from Bolivar, Coahoma, Leflore, Sunflower and Washington counties will be selected and trained to assist local participants in the project. Participants generate ideas by engaging in open dialogue sessions before crafting original songs and producing audio recordings using the professional studios and equipment of the DMI and the DMI Mobile Music Lab.

The HWG 2.0 program provides instruction in commercial songwriting, audio engineering and digital media for participants in the counties served, giving them opportunities to explore and promote racial healing through the creation and dissemination of original songs. The project will foster the creation and recording of 30-40 original songs and musical works exploring and promoting racial healing. The development of the multimedia toolkit will serve as a guide for student leaders, teachers and administrators interested in facilitating the HWG 2.0 program in their local communities.

“Mississippi is the birthplace of America’s music and also the repository of a complicated history regarding race,” said Walker. “This unique project will provide young people in the Delta with an opportunity to explore this ongoing issue by using the popular medium of contemporary music and audio production.”

The DMI offers a bachelor’s in entertainment industry studies from the College of Arts and Sciences at Delta State. 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 more information, contact 662-846-4579 or visit http://dmi.deltastate.edu.

The WKKF is a private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, and is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

WKKF works throughout the U.S. and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. The organization’s priority areas in the U.S. include Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

Delta Math Science Partnership Summer Institute hosted on campus

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Delta State University is wrapping up its annual Delta Math Science Partnership Summer Institute (MSP), hosting 37 Mississippi teachers on campus from June 5-16.

MSP, funded by the Mississippi Department of Education through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, aims to support increased content knowledge for K-8 in-service mathematics teachers in the Mississippi Delta who are committed to fidelity of implementation of the Mississippi College- and Career- Readiness Standards for Mathematics.

MSP strives to improve teacher quality through partnerships between state education agencies, institutions of higher education, high-need local education agencies and schools in order to increase the academic achievement of students in mathematics and science.

The professional development consists of an 80-hour intensive summer institute implemented by Delta State’s College of Education and Human Sciences in partnership with the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Mathematics.

Program leadership was provided by directors Kathleen Lott and Elizabeth Belenchia; David Hebert, instructor and curriculum co-developer; Liza Cope, instructor, curriculum co-developer, webmaster; and instructors Laura Little and CeCelia Jones. Institutional and community partners included Dr. Clifton Wingard, Ann Huber, Needle Specialty Products, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi, The Railroad Museum, DSU Planetarium, and Delta Area Association for Improvement of Schools, which supported the program with planning initiatives and presentations.

Districts participating this summer included: Cleveland, West Bolivar Consolidated, Greenwood Public, Carroll County, Western Line, Greenville Public, Leflore County, Clarksdale Municipal, North Bolivar Consolidated, Coahoma County, South Delta, East Tallahatchie and Hollandale.

MSP is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education under the award number S366B150025.

For more information, visit http://www.deltastate.edu/college-of-education/delta-math-science-partnership-initiative/#1471528724594-834e8265-eb63.