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Students to present at Posters in the Rotunda

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Students from all eight of Mississippi’s public universities will share their research and creative activities on a variety of topics Thursday with legislators and state leaders at Posters in the Rotunda, held in the Rotunda of the State Capitol. Students will show how their research solves some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems and benefits the citizens of the state.

Participating Delta State students and their topics included:

  • Kristina Hong: Game-Based Student Response Systems and Academic Performance
  • Brittany Hulsey: Paleocommunity of Rancholabrean Age Megafauna Found Along Lower Mississippi Delta Gravel Bars
  • Kiersten Page: Using VARK Modalities to Increase Retention in Organic Chemistry
  • William Weeks: Electrospinning Alginate-Based Nanofibers

The event provides opportunities for legislators to visit with students from their districts, allows students to network with each other as they learn about work on other campuses, and showcases the cutting-edge research conducted by undergraduates that benefits the residents of Mississippi.

“Posters in the Rotunda epitomizes both the diversity and high quality of the scholarship being done by students and their faculty mentors,” said Dr. Marie Danforth, chair of the steering committee for the Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research at The University of Southern Mississippi, and coordinator of the event. “This year, we’ve been able to expand the event to include more undergraduates from each university. Two students representing Mississippi INBRE, a statewide program focusing on biomedical research, are also participating.”

Scheduled speakers include Governor Phil Bryant and Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, with introductions given by Dr. Gordon Cannon, vice president for research at The University of Southern Mississippi.

“I am so pleased that the Posters in the Rotunda event has been expanded to include even more students for its second year,” said Dr. Glenn Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education. “This is an excellent program that highlights the value of undergraduate research and the impact university research has on solving Mississippi’s most pressing problems. Participating in undergraduate research projects provides a great experience for the students, strengthening their academic, leadership and presentation skills and preparing them for research on the graduate level.”

Modeled after the Posters on the Hill event in which students from across the country share their work in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Mississippi’s event is similar to ones held in 17 other states.

More information on the Posters in the Rotunda event is available at http://postersintherotundams.org.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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Beals honored for Excellence in Diversity by IHL

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Dr. George Beals, center, receives the IHL Excellence in Diversity and Inclusive Award from trustee Shane Hooper (left) and Delta State President William N. LaForge.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning recently held its annual diversity celebration to recognize campus and community leaders for the impact they have made in advancing diversity and encouraging understanding and respect.

Dr. George Beals, assistant professor of counselor education, was selected as the Delta State University nominee for the IHL Excellence in Diversity and Inclusive Award. Beals is also the program coordinator/assessment director for the Division of Counselor Education and Psychology at Delta State.

I am deeply honored and very humbled that my dean and colleagues appreciated my efforts around diversity,” said Beals. “I think what they saw in me was the fact that my lens of diversity, inclusion and social justice is always a primary when focusing on programmatic efforts and teaching my classes. Being a part of DSU has always been a point of pride for me because we can boast that per capita, we are the most diverse campus in the state.”

Social justice is a value that is most primary in my interactions with others and with institutions,” added Beals. “I hold the vision that the world can be an amazing place if we all work toward communicating with each other.”

Among his many efforts on campus, Beals serves on both the Diversity Committee and the Winning The Race Conference Committee. He also provides diversity trainings including Safe-Space Training, and has led some diversity experiences for Delta State students as a part of the Diversity Efforts and the Quality Enhancement Program.  

Beals, who has taught at Delta State for eight years, received his doctorate in counselor education from Mississippi State University in 2007, and received his master’s in community counseling, also from MSU, in 1995. Additionally, he is a member and current chapter advisor for Delta State’s chapter of Chi Sigma Iota, the international honor society for students, professional counselors and counselor educators. He is also the recipient of the 2016 Janie G. Rugg Career Contributor by the Mississippi Counseling Association.

His academic interests include: personal growth and wellness of counselor trainees, experiential therapies across diverse populations, somatization of oppression, systems theories and interventions with community applications, and counseling theories and neurosciences.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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University Research Center hosts conference on solving state’s most pressing problems

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Identifying solutions to some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems was the focus of the “Advancing Mississippi: Research for a Better Mississippi for More Mississippians” Conference held last week in Jackson.

“I cannot think of a more important conference and work,” said Dr. Glenn Boyce, commissioner of Higher Education. “The key to improving a state like ours, with limited resources, is to tap into the power of synergy. Working together, we can use our university expertise and research capabilities to solve problems and advance the state.”

Hosted by the University Research Center, the conference featured some of the brightest minds in Mississippi public universities as they covered topics organized into four categories: estimations, employment, being healthy and education. The conference also addressed the systemic challenges that Mississippi faces.

“This conference brings together the best and brightest minds to bear on the systemic problems facing our state,” said Dr. Darrin Webb, state economist and director of the University Research Center. “We’re here to talk about real solutions to make a better Mississippi.”

Representative Joel Bomgar, a republican from Madison County, and Representative Kabir Karriem, a democrat from Lowndes County, presented the luncheon keynote. They discussed Mississippi’s current criminal justice system and how a bi-partisan effort to reform the system could improve outcomes for those transitioning to the workforce once their debt to society has been paid.

The papers presented included:

Estimations

Is Hinds County Mississippi Really Worse than Madison or Rankin County? A Spatial Equilibrium Approach to Ranking Quality of Life
Maury Granger and Gregory Price
Jackson State University
·        Using a spatial-equilibrium econometric approach, the authors measured local amenities, which informed them about quality-of-life. This approach provided a novel, theoretically tenable and unbiased approach to measuring amenities and gauging quality-of-life in particular locations.

The Role of Income and location in Racial/Ethnic differences on loan denial in three Mississippi Counties
Okechukwu Anyamele, Gail Fulgham and Jean-Claude Assad
Jackson State University
·        The authors investigated the racial differences in loan denial rates in three Mississippi counties within the Jackson Metro statistical area. The results showed that 31.56% of the difference in loan denial rates between whites and African Americans is explained by endowments, while 68.40% is unexplained. Similarly, 20.60% of the difference in loan denial rates between Hispanics and Whites is explained by endowments, while 79.40% is unexplained.

Estimation of the Burden of Cigarette Smoking on the State of Mississippi in 2014
Alan Barefield
Mississippi State University
·        The purpose of the research, sponsored by the Mississippi State Department of Health – Office of Tobacco Control, was to estimate the economic burden of smoking cigarettes on Mississippi’s adult population. The study estimated the total economic burden of smoking on the state to be approximately $6.8 billion with $1.5 billion allocated to direct medical costs and $5.3 billion comprising indirect costs. Also estimated were state fiscal impacts (approximately $90 million for income taxes and sales taxes) and potential wealth redistribution effects quantified by input-output analysis.

Employment

Independent Living Program (ILP) and Workforce Development for Youth Aging Out of the Mississippi Foster Care System
Shonda Lawrence and Glenda McMillan
Jackson State University
·        There are approximately 3,700 children in the foster care system in the state of Mississippi, with approximately 1,200 children who are 14 to 21 years of age and eligible for independent living services. The study looked at the Independent Living Program (ILP), which provides services that will foster self-sufficiency through employment, and at workforce development for youth aging out of the system. Some of the recommendations brought forward by the study includes early and consistent work experience for youth, a task force to examine employment trends and an oversight committee to monitor employment opportunities.

Understanding the Nature of the Teacher Shortage in Mississippi
Authors: Kenneth V. Anthony, Dana Pomykal Franz and Devon Brenner
Mississippi State University
·        The goal of the study was to understand the nature of the teacher shortage in Mississippi in order to provide policy makers with the information necessary to develop effective solutions. The authors’ findings indicate that districts with a high percentage of black students, districts located in the Yazoo-Mississippi River Delta Region, and districts that generate less money locally for education are more likely to have a teacher shortage. The factors that most influence the shortage extend outside the world of education and education policy and include people’s perceptions and ideas about race, the economics of place and what makes a place a valuable place to live, and the economic health of places. All of these problems are place-based and the solutions must be found in the places. Some of them can be addressed by education policy, but others must be addressed by the larger society. One possible solution that can be addressed within the field of education is to produce teachers who reside in the places experiencing teacher shortage and who are committed to staying.

An Exploratory Study of Effects of Workplace Variables on Organizational Commitment of Mississippi Correctional Staff
Linda Keena, Eric Lambert, Zachary Buckner, David May and Stacy Haynes
University of Mississippi
·        The study explored how different dimensions of the workplace are associated with organizational commitment among staff at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, the largest facility in the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The study found that key factors in influencing employee commitment include role clarity, input in decision-making and instrumental communication.

Being Healthy

Transforming Lives Through Health Insurance Outreach and Enrollment
Authors: Laura Richard and Kathryn Rehner
University of Southern Mississippi
·        Mississippi adults and children are significantly more likely than adults in the rest of the nation to be uninsured. The E³ (Educate, Enroll, Empower) Health Initiative was a partnership between the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Social Work and local city government. The study found that the efforts of the E3 Health Initiative resulted in a 65.8% growth in Medicaid/CHIP enrollment in the targeted zip code area.

The Socio-Economic Impact of Community Development Financial Institutions on Child Health Outcomes in Mississippi
Nicholas Hill and Corey Wiggins
Jackson State University
·        Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) have an important role in providing financial products and services to underserved communities. Poverty stricken areas are plagued with significant disparities in heath due to inequities between social and economic issues. Specifically, these social determinants of health have both a direct and indirect influence on child health outcomes. This research provides an exploratory examination on what impact CDFIs have on child health outcomes in Mississippi. Utilizing probabilistic and comparative analysis for data collected at the county level in the State of Mississippi, an economic model that predicts the level of investment that maybe linked to obesity rates is developed. At the national level, it is suggested that innovative cross-sector collaborations by the community development sector showed promise in mitigating place-based disadvantage and improving the social determinants of health.

Health Insurance Influence on Obesity Rates: A Cross-Sectional Study of Mississippi’s 82 Counties
Sam Mozee, Jr. and Jin Zhang
Jackson State University
·        This study investigated whether there is a relationship between the percentage of persons not having health insurance (i.e., the un-insured) and obesity rates at the county level in Mississippi. However, the impact of higher uninsured percentages on obesity rates was statistically insignificant and very negligible for the time period under review.

Education

Sex Education in Mississippi: An Analysis of the Early Impacts of HB999
Authors: Robert D. Brown and Sara Porcheddu
University of Mississippi
·        House Bill 999 was passed during the 2011 legislative session and represents Mississippi’s first attempt to require the teaching of sex education and STD/HIV prevention in Mississippi schools. First implemented during the 2012-2013 school year, HB999 allows school districts to choose between “abstinence-only” and “abstinence-plus” approaches to adopting sex education curricula. The study provided an initial glimpse into the early impacts of HB999. The study found the Abstinence Plus CHART (Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens) program to be effective. The CHART initiative is a partnership between Mississippi First, the Mississippi State Department of Health, and the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi.

Applied Behavior Analysis in Mississippi: New Opportunities, New Challenges, and New Solutions
Authors: Meleah Ackley, Shawn Bishop, BreAnna Newborne and James Moore
University of Southern Mississippi
·        According to the 2015 Mississippi Autism Advisory Committee Report, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects an estimated 10,743 children in Mississippi. ASD causes social and communication issues as well as repetitive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, tantrum behaviors, and aggression. The authors proposed using Telehealth to provide an economic and efficient way to overcome the challenges in assessment and treatment of autism spectrum disorders in children.

Early Learning Standards
Authors: Kristin Javorsky and Candice Pittman
Mississippi State University
·        This study involved a statewide, large-scale survey of licensed early childhood care providers examining choices in implementation of Mississippi’s official Early Learning Standards (ELS) for three- and four-year-olds (preschoolers). Policy recommendations based on survey results include:

1.      Increasing awareness among childcare providers of how the Mississippi’s Early Learning Standards are beneficially aligned with existing childcare licensing requirements, Head Start framework criteria, and the Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards
2.      Expanding educational partnership efforts between private childcare centers and public school districts
3.      Increasing educational and financial opportunities that can raise the formal education levels of the early childhood care and education workforce statewide.

Financial Literacy among College Students: Comparisons by Gender, Race/Ethnicity, Age, and National Norms
Authors: Thomas Taylor, John Thornell, Molly Vaughn and Nathan Pitts
Delta State University
·        The purposes of this study were twofold:
1.      To assess college student performance on a nationally recognized measure of financial literacy and compare the results for three demographic variables: race/ethnicity, gender, and age.
2.      To compare overall performance of students in this sample against national performance on the same measure.
·        The study found there is a need for financial literacy education to help students learn how to make good financial decisions.

In addition, three student papers were recognized with book scholarships:

·        First Place: “Improving Developmental Mathematics Courses: A Study of Various Methods for Replacing Developmental Mathematics Courses in Higher Education” by Aaron Lyle Wallace, Chris Kelly, Marti Pulido, Flora Sumrall and Selah Weems (Mississippi State University- Meridian Campus)
·        Second Place: “Bridging the Gap: Improving Mental Health Services for Children and Adolescents in Mississippi Schools” by Amy Henderson (University of Southern Mississippi)
·        Third Place: “Blueprint Health: A Social Solution to Obesity in the Workforce and Communities of Mississippi” by Cecilia Snyder, Molly Chaffin , Brian Street and Timothy King (University of Southern Mississippi)

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

Dr. Ellen Green (left to right), Brian Barnett, Rebekah Napier-Johnson and Christine Beck recently participated in Posters in the Rotunda at the State Capitol.

Students present at Posters in the Rotunda

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Three undergraduate students recently represented Delta State in the inaugural Posters in the Rotunda event at the State Capitol in Jackson.

Students from all eight of Mississippi’s public universities shared their research and creative activities on a wide variety of topics with legislators and state leaders. The event allowed students to show how their research solves some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems and benefits the citizens of the state.

Participating Delta State students and their topics included:
– Brian Barnett of Winchester, Virginia — Blood Flow Occlusion Pressure at Rest and Post Low Load Exercise
– Christine Beck of Crystal Springs — Role of Tick Antioxidants in Rickettsia Parkeri Colonization in the Gulf
– Rebekah Napier-Johnson of Johannesburg, South Africa — The Gut Microbial Fauna of the Hardwood Stump Borer, Mallodon dasystomus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae)

The faculty sponsor for the affair was Dr. Ellen Green.

Modeled after the Posters on the Hill event in which students from across the country share their work in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Mississippi’s event is similar to ones held in 17 other states.

Dr. Corlis Snow was recently recognized as Delta State's nominee for the IHL's 2016 Diversity Award for Excellence in honor of Black History Month.

Snow honored as diversity nominee

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The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning gathered Feb. 18 to celebrate February’s Black History Month by honoring faculty and staff from Mississippi institutions.

The board has been commemorating Black History Month since 1992 with awards that recognize the achievements of university faculty and staff who work to promote diversity and academic excellence on campuses and communities.

Dr. Corlis Snow, associate professor of elementary education at Delta State, was selected as the university’s nominee for the 2016 Diversity Award for Excellence.

“It is an honor to be recognized for the efforts I’ve made to prepare teachers to ensure diverse learners in the K-12 setting receive effective instruction,” said Snow.

Snow serves as the Delta State team leader for the state’s CEEDAR Team (Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform), an initiative to inform policies about teacher licensure processes to ensure diverse students receive instruction from qualified teachers.

Previously, she helped conceptualize, develop and implement the Literacy Enhancement Clinic, a grant-funded effort included in Project 21 of the Delta Health Initiative. The LEC was a field-based training site for graduate and undergraduate teacher education majors and dietetics majors who diagnosed and remediated literacy difficulties and provided nutrition instruction for diverse K-12 students.

Snow received her Doctor of Education degree in elementary education from the University of Mississippi and her Master of Education degree in elementary education from Delta State. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in education with an emphasis in reading from Delta State.

She is a former registered nurse with several years of practice as a home health professional, and she began her career in education as a second grade teacher at Ray Brooks School in Benoit, Mississippi.

Her research interests include early literacy instruction, remediating reading difficulties, research-based approaches for informational text instruction, teacher leadership and best practices for online instruction.

Snow’s hobbies include reading, traveling with family and fishing. She is married to Willie J. Snow, Jr. and has two children, Alexia and Aasin.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.