Posters in the Rotunda event to showcase university student research

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Students from all eight of Mississippi’s public universities will share their research and creative activities on topics ranging from healthcare to cultural heritage to social issues with legislators and state leaders at Posters in the Rotunda, which will be held in the Rotunda of the State Capitol on March 20. The students will show how their research solves some of Mississippi’s most pressing problems and benefits the citizens of the state.

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.

“The work being done by undergraduates with their mentors at the eight state universities is quite impressive.  This event will help legislators appreciate the contributions that the students are making to the state in so many areas, including economics, health care, and education,” 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.

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 Posters in the Rotunda event is similar to ones held in 17 other states.  The posters will be on display in the Rotunda of the State Capitol from 8:30 a.m. until 10:00 a.m.

The scheduled speaker is Dr. Gordon Cannon, Vice President for Research at The University of Southern Mississippi. Remarks will be given at 9:30 a.m.

A resolution proclaiming March 20 as Undergraduate Research Day in Mississippi has been passed by both chambers in House Resolution No. 54 and Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 632.

The students participating in the Posters in the Rotunda event and the titles of the research projects include:

  • Hayley Allen (University of Southern Mississippi) Biomedical Research at Southern Miss: Investigation of Small  Molecules as Inhibitors of Cell Proliferation in Cancer 
  • Brittany Brown (University of Mississippi) The Latino South: Migration, Identity, and Foodways
  • Amber Coats (University of Southern Mississippi) Evaluating the Effects of Cell Membrane Lipid Composition on the Resistance to Bile-Induced Damage in Avirulent Strains of Listeria monocygenes.
  • Eric Davis (Jackson State University) Developing an Android App to Read the DS1620 Temperature Measurements
  • Shelley Edwards (INBRE/Millsaps College) Sex-Dependent Effects of Novel Kappa Agonist, Nalfurafine, on the Analgesic Quality and Abuse Liability of Oxycodone
  • Omar Elsabrouty (Jackson State University) Developing an Android App to Read the DS1620 Temperature Measurements
  • Lilian Ernest (Jackson State University) Developing an Android App to Read the DS1620 Temperature Measurements
  • Aysha Evans (Alcorn State University) Plasmonic Gold Nanostructure for Biological Sensing 
  • JaBreann Evans (Alcorn State University) Personal, Social and Emotional factors influencing Body Weight in First Year College Students
  • Abigail Garrett (University of Mississippi) Creation of a Full Stack Breast Cancer Database
  • Uday Gella (Alcorn State University) Radiation Studies on Mississippi River Sediments
  • Rebecca Hamilton (Delta State University) The Deception of Contraception
  • Cella Hayes (University of Mississippi) Therapeutic Treatments for Cognitive Disorders    Associated with Age-related Loss of Insulin Growth Factor-1
  • Quincy Jones (Jackson State University) Developing an Android App to Read the DS1620 Temperature Measurements
  • Kendra Keesee (Mississippi University for Women) Music Therapy Co-Treatment
  • Marisa Laudadio (Mississippi State University) Using Publicly Available Comments on Facebook to Ascertain Public Opinion of International Adoption
  • Mallory Malone (Mississippi University for Women) Music Therapy Co-Treatment
  • Lindsey Miller (University of Mississippi) Finding the Dimerization Interface of Skp1 from Dictyostelium
  • Erin O’Quinn (Mississippi State University) Defining Factors of Socioeconomic Status As It Predicts ADHD Risk
  • Subrina Oswalt (Mississippi University for Women) Money, Trust, and Affective Polarization
  • Jermarlius Rushing (Mississippi Valley State University) “That’s Fake News”: Using Campus Radio to Emphasize the Importance of Historical Research Skills
  • Madison Savoy (University of Mississippi) The Impact of Verb Transitivity on Pronoun Inter-pretation in Adults with Intellectual Disabilities
  • Stephon Simpson (Mississippi Valley State University) Role of Melatonin in Water-Stressed Soybean Plants
  • Danielle Stamps (University of Southern Mississippi) The Effects of Skin Tone on the Perception of Discrimination in Young African American Women
  • Landrie Tchakoua (Jackson State University) Developing an Android App to Read the DS1620 Temperature Measurements
  • Georgette-Vanelle Wandji (Mississippi Valley State University) Interaction of Modified and Unmodified Biodegradable Nanoparticles with Bovine Serum Albumin (BSA)
  • Alexandra Wedderstrand (Mississippi State University) Emotion Regulation Difficulties and Placement Stability: Exploring Interventions
  • Arian Williams (Mississippi Valley State University) Bedside Manner Experience Development
  • Egypt Williams (Mississippi Valley State University) “That’s Fake News”: Using Campus Radio to Emphasize the Importance of Historical Research Skills
  • Jasmine Williams (Alcorn State University) Wellness Programming: A Worthy Investment for Positive Student Educational Outcomes

 More information on the Posters in the Rotunda event is available on the website:

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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.

Mississippi Public Universities provide research, education to advance energy, forestry sectors

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Mississippi’s natural resources help build and power our communities by providing lumber and abundant energy at an affordable cost. In fact, in its 2016 Global Petroleum Survey, the Fraser Institute ranked Mississippi eighth among the most attractive jurisdictions for upstream petroleum investment.

Protecting these resources and utilizing them in the most efficient and effective manner requires research and education. Mississippi Public Universities are stepping up to the plate to provide both.

The College of Forest Resources at Mississippi State University provides the only 4-year degree programs in forestry, natural resource and environmental conservation, sustainable bioproducts, and wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture. The award-winning student body includes the MSU student chapter of the Society of American Foresters, a professional student organization that has been ranked in the top three nationally for the last 18 years. Other student organizations that continually receive top ratings include the MSU student chapter of The Wildlife Society, Ducks Unlimited Bulldog Chapter, the number one collegiate chapter in the state for the last four years, and one of the top ranked Bass Fishing Clubs in the nation.

Students in the College of Forest Resources conduct research and participate in professional experience. Each year, MSU students are selected to participate in the William A. Demmer Scholars Program, a program that provides internships and work with federal agencies and non-governmental organizations that focus on natural resources. The College of Forest Resources alumni serve throughout the nation as heads of corporations and leaders in state and federal government agencies. Tony Tooke, the new U.S. Forest Chief is an alumnus of the MSU College of Forest Resources.

Offering one of a few hands-on field experiences for students, the College of Forest Resources has over 23,619 of forestland in the MSU Bulldog Forest for teaching, research and demonstration. This land is located in 28 properties throughout the state of Mississippi.

The Forest and Wildlife Research Center is the research arm of the College of Forest Resources. The Forest and Wildlife Research Center (FWRC) expands through research the fundamental and applied knowledge upon which forestry, forest products and wildlife and fisheries disciplines are based.  The FWRC assists in conserving, developing and utilizing the forest, forest products, wildlife and fisheries resources of Mississippi and the world. The FWRC is the only natural resources research program in the state of Mississippi and serves as the research arm for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.  Mississippi’s forest and forest products industries are a $12.79 billion dollar industry. Timber is the second largest commodity in the state.  Providing relevant and timely research to address the needs of landowners, biologists and industry is a priority within the Forest and Wildlife Research Center. Research funding in the FWRC supports 47 scientists working on an average of 300 projects annually.

In forestry, scientists have expanded forest-based industry through the development of forest inventory software. FWRC scientists were the first in the nation to develop a comprehensive, spatially-explicit inventory of forest resources in the state. A forest products/bio-energy mill location and decision support system based on county-level forest inventory and geo-spatial information has been developed and used by numerous industries desiring to locate to Mississippi. Mississippi is rich in natural resources and companies choose to locate to the state based on the availability of these abundant resources.

Mississippi is ranked as one of the top five places in the U.S. for biomass by Forbes magazine. Scientists continue to expand the software to include socio-economic factors, growth and drain estimates, ownership patterns and a transportation network.  The Department of Forestry conducts research to sustainably manage and utilize forest resources.  This includes developing new practices to expand the growth of timber resources. The department actively works with the Mississippi Forestry Commission, U.S. Forest Service, forest industry, and other universities to reduce risk of insect, disease, and natural disasters. The department also studies the effect of timberlands on carbon sequestration, water quality, alternative plantings, and wildlife habitat.

In wildlife and fisheries, scientists are tackling the growing human-wildlife conflict and economic impact of wildlife damage. In the U.S., wild pigs are non-native, invasive pests that pose a significant threat to agriculture, forestry, ecosystems, watersheds, native plant and animal communities and human health. Economic impacts of wild hog damage in the U.S. have been estimated at $1.5 billion/year. Wild pigs are host to at least 7 economically important livestock diseases and vectors of 9 zoonotic diseases of human health concern. Research is ongoing to quantify rate of range expansion, economic impacts and effective control methods to educate landowners, natural resource professionals and policymakers on the negative impact of wild pigs and inform local, state and national policy.

As the research arm of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, FWRC scientists monitor the state’s wildlife and fisheries populations. As issues arise, scientists offer solutions to sustain populations or in some cases, scientists recommend changes in hunting to deter some invasive species. The goal of FWRC scientists is to manage wildlife and fishery resources for the betterment of the state, region and nation.  Scientists in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture have an international reputation for expertise on a variety of game species including white-tailed deer, turkey and bobwhite quail. Research is also conducted on game and nongame species; ecology; wildlife diseases; endangered species conservation; ecological restoration; invasive species management; habitat reclamation, restoration, and management; conservation education; human dimensions; geospatial technologies in wildlife and fisheries sciences; landscape ecology; and wildlife and fish recreation.

In sustainable bioproducts, scientists are finding new uses for wood resources including small-diameter wood from first thinnings of pine plantations. From environmental mats to composite lumber, scientists are finding new uses for wood which expand its service life and improve economic opportunities for Mississippi landowners.  FWRC scientists are leaders in the development of bio-fuel from wood products. The FWRC is working to develop a marketable transportation fuel from blends of upgraded bio-oil and petroleum fuels.  Scientists are working on a southern yellow pine strength and stiffness project to increase the use of southern yellow pine in building construction. Scientists are also working on the use of timber in large construction projects and southern climatic stresses on these products.

At the University of Mississippi Field Station, faculty members conduct a broad range of studies related to Mississippi’s forests and wetlands, from the potential healing properties of plants to turkey behavior, fish growth and reproduction, controlling invasive insect species and mitigating pesticide run-off from farm fields. The 740-acre facility includes wetlands, grasslands and closed-canopy forests. The forested stands are mixtures of shortleaf pine and oaks with loblolly pine, sweetgum, red maple, winged elms and black gum. An aviary for study of wild turkeys is located in a remote area. More than 200 experimental ponds provide opportunities for controlled experiments and large-scale projects.

Jackson State University and the University of Mississippi are two members of a consortium of four universities recently awarded a National Science Foundation EPSCoR Track II grant. Jackson State serves as the lead institution for the four-year project, with the University of Delaware and the University of Wyoming rounding out the four participating universities. The project seeks novel and cost-effective approaches to mitigate climate change, improve energy efficiency and reduce pollutants in water and air, which are among the most significant challenges facing the world.

Delta State University encourages stewardship through the student chapter of The Wildlife Society, an international organization serving wildlife professionals in all areas of wildlife conservation and resource management that was founded in 1937. With a goal of excellence in wildlife stewardship through science and education, Dr. Ali Reza, advisor for the Environmental Science Wildlife Management Concentration, and students in the Environmental Science/Wildlife major worked to establish a student chapter of the society on the campus in Cleveland. The DSU student chapter of the Wildlife Society was approved on April 26, 2013 by the Southeastern Section of The Wildlife Society.

Video on the College of Forest Resources at Mississippi State University:

More information on the University of Mississippi Field Station:

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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.

Delta State contracts with PepsiCo for campus beverage services

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Delta State University recently announced PepsiCo as its new beverage vendor of choice for the next five years, pending finalized contracts and approval by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.

Delta State expects to bring the item to the Board at its March meeting.

PepsisCo is one of the world’s leading food and beverage companies with over $63 billion in net revenue in 2016 and a global portfolio of diverse and beloved brands.

A university committee recommended PepsiCo following a detailed analysis of corporate options. The recommendation letter stated, “We feel that PepsiCo presented a commitment to bring first class service, product and equipment innovation, program support and a strong significant and sustainable financial package.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge said he was looking forward to the numerous opportunities the contract will provide.

“I am pleased with the recommendation of our task force, and the decision of our Executive Committee, to enter into a contract with PepsiCo for our new beverage services on campus,” said LaForge. “PepsiCo will provide a large array of services and benefits, including an extensive line of beverages that students like, a significant increase of revenue from commissions, a special partnership with Gatorade for our athletic programs, card reader machines campus-wide for convenience of purchase, and a number of student engagement events and promotional programs on campus for the next several years.”

Pepsi will provide Delta State the opportunity to move forward in the numerous ways, including:

◦  Varied product selections with a beverage portfolio that comprises 22 brands and includes many healthy lifestyle options and protein beverages
◦  A premier partnership with Gatorade and DSU Athletics that offers support, equipment and educational resources
◦  Student engagement by providing multiple promotional campus events at no cost to the university
◦  Partnership with a company that has extensive experience and a strong national presence in 800+ colleges and universities

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Delta State expresses grave concern for concealed carry bill

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Delta State University and institutions across Mississippi are expressing concern today after House Bill 1083, also called the “weapons bill,” was passed by the Mississippi House of Representatives by a wide margin of 80-29.

The bill proposes legally permitting concealed carry weapons onto all areas of college campuses, including classrooms, offices, residence halls and athletic venues.

In a statement released by Dr. Glenn F. Boyce, IHL commissioner, he stressed that the new legislation prohibits the IHL from establishing any policies, thus giving it no authority to regulate weapons in sensitive areas.

“The safety of students, faculty, staff and visitors on our university campuses is a top priority for the Board of Trustees and University leaders,” Boyce stated. “HB 1083 compromises our ability to protect and ensure the safety of those on our campuses because it nullifies and prohibits any policies and/or authority to designate sensitive areas of campus where weapons should not be allowed.”

Delta State University President William N. LaForge said the bill poses a significant threat to Mississippi campuses.

“A university is no place for guns — period,” said LaForge. “And that goes doubly for residence halls, classroom buildings and athletic facilities. To enable the legal carrying of guns on a university campus in today’s society is misdirected and unwise.”

Ronnie Mayers, director of athletics at Delta State, echoed LaForge’s concerns.

“Athletic events are often highly emotional events and there is always potential for something to go horribly wrong,” said Mayers. “Guns should not be allowed at any athletic events.”

Jeffrey Johns, chief of police at Delta State, also warned of the hazards associated with the bill.

“I echo the concerns of President LaForge and Commissioner Boyce about expanding concealed carry on educational property,” said Johns. “While a supporter of Second Amendment rights, I do not think that more concealed carry in sporting events or educational buildings, which is currently prohibited, provides any value or enhancement to safety. Spectator sport security has become a highly-specialized process, and fans can become emotionally charged at the events.”

Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum was among institutional leaders to also voice his concern with the bill on Wednesday by issuing a press release.

“We have a fundamental responsibility to protect our students, faculty, staff and visitors to our campus,” Keenum said in the statement. “In recent years (the College Board) adopted policies to allow concealed weapons into ‘public’ venues on campus, but has not allowed firearms into areas determined ‘non-public’ such as classrooms and residence halls. We have great concerns about the prospect of a broad expansion of the existing IHL policies regarding firearms being brought onto campus because of the increased risk it would pose for every member of our campus community.”

HB 1083 was authored by Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton.

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Op-Ed: Dr. Glenn F. Boyce, IHL Commissioner

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State support is critical to sustaining programs that grow Mississippi’s economy
By: Dr. Glenn F. Boyce, Commissioner of Higher Education

Mississippi legislators believe in public higher education in Mississippi. They believe in our mission and support our work. We all know the very difficult decisions they have had to make with limited state revenue and competing priorities. Limited state revenue impacts all state agencies and the services they are able to provide to Mississippi citizens.

Growing the economy, and subsequently state revenue, gives the budget writers more to work with and helps all state agencies, not just the university system. Mississippi Public Universities help grow the economy in a number of ways, including preparing students to enter the workforce, conducting research that helps businesses grow and supporting entrepreneurs as they launch their businesses.

The University of Mississippi has several entities to encourage and support entrepreneurs, whether students, faculty or community members. Innovate Mississippi is committed to assisting technology entrepreneurs and emerging companies to develop business strategies, find funding and help the businesses grow.

Insight Park, a 19-acre research and business park adjacent to the Ole Miss campus in Oxford, provides a dynamic research park where businesses can take full advantage of opportunities for collaborative research and academic resources. The Division of Technology Management aids in the commercialization of technologies and intellectual property developed by UM faculty, staff and student personnel. Last fall, the university hosted the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Panel, highlighting the ways the university supports entrepreneurs and their creative ideas.

The university’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship provides students with the knowledge, skills and experience necessary to become successful entrepreneurs. All of the Center’s offerings help students learn how to create innovative companies that provide valuable services, products and employment. Some of its programs include the annual Edwin C. Gillespie Business Plan Competition, held at the end of the spring semester, the Landshark Tank Pitch Competitions provide an opportunity for students to present their business concept in less than two minutes, and the Rebel Venture Capital Fund, which is an alumni-established non-profit entity created to financially support student start-up business with seed money grants.

A similar program at Mississippi State University, the Bulldog Angel Network, was established by an MSU alumnus to connect entrepreneurs with funding opportunities and allows MSU alumni and others to invest in companies founded by MSU students. It is also a separate entity from the university.

Mississippi State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach moved into a new 2,000-square-foot facility in 2016 and has continued to grow. The center now works with 99 entrepreneurship teams representing students from every academic college in the university, up from approximately 30 teams in 2014.

In fiscal year 2017, the center received $5.52 million in grants to spur innovation among students, U.S. armed services veterans and MSU researchers. These grants include a $495,300 National Science Foundation grant to create an I-Corps site at MSU to help the university broaden the economic reach of its research and innovation by providing infrastructure, advice, resources, networking opportunities, training and modest funding to enable groups to transition their work into the marketplace. MSU also received a Small Business Administration grant of $4.3 million over five years to provide online “Boots to Business” training to assist veterans with starting and growing businesses.

At the University of Southern Mississippi, the Trent Lott National Center for Economic Development and Entrepreneurship provides outreach services through the Mississippi Defense Diversification Initative, the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Sport Management, the Center for Logistics Trade and Transportation, Mississippi Polymer Institute, the Southern Entrepreneurship Program and the USM Small Business Development Center.

Southern Entrepreneurship Program (SEP) is a service of the University of Southern Mississippi College of Business that provides business development and opportunity recognition skills to students and educators in Mississippi high schools. Established in 2007, the program enhances existing classes, curricula and clubs through regional, virtual and statewide events and training opportunities. Now working with more than 50 high schools, SEP trains more than 500 high school students and educators annually, reaching more than 3,500 aspiring entrepreneurs since its inception.

When asked about the mission of the universities, many Mississippians picture the student in the classroom, which is certainly at the core of our mission. However, the full scope of our mission is much larger and encompasses much more, including these entrepreneurship programs that are all designed to help Mississippi businesses succeed and grow Mississippi’s economy. Strong state support and funding are critical to sustaining these programs and helping universities fulfill their mission of teaching, research and service.