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

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

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.

Haynes named Employee of the Month

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The Delta State University Staff Council recently honored Regina Haynes, library assistant II, as the June 2017 Employee of the Month.

She began her career at Delta State in 2013 in the Department of Facilities Management. In 2015, she took a job in the Roberts-LaForge Library’s Instructional Resources Center, where her duties include managing student workers; reserving items; and helping students, faculty, staff and community users navigate and use resources.

Haynes was born in Cleveland and later moved to Pennsylvania, where she lived for 26 years before returning to the Delta. She is the proud mother of three children that she visits as often as she can.

Made up of volunteers from the Staff Council, the Incentives & Recognition committee meets monthly to review nominations for the Employee of the Month award. The committee has been celebrating staff performance in this manner for over 15 years.

Delta State’s Staff Council serves as a liaison between the administration and the staff to provide a formal process for staff to discuss issues involving university policies and procedures and to forward ideas, recommendations and opinions to the president.

University to break ground on Statesmen Boulevard

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Delta State University cordially invites university supporters to the groundbreaking ceremony for Statesmen Boulevard on July 19 at 2 p.m. at the Dorgan Center on campus.

The Statesmen Boulevard project will create a new and improved gameday traffic entrance for the university’s athletic facilities north of Highway 8 and west of the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

Funding for this project was made possible in part by a grant from the Federal Highway Administration and the Mississippi Department of Transportation. Additionally, there will be a 20 percent local match from Delta State and the City of Cleveland.

Construction will also include improvement of streets around and in front of the football stadium, new sidewalks and street lighting installation, and the construction of new storm drainage piping and fencing.

Senator Thad Cochran played a major role in securing federal funding for the project.

“I am thrilled that the Statesmen Boulevard project is about to commence,” said Delta State President William N. LaForge. “We are finally seeing the fruition of a lot of hard work and planning, including a wonderful amount of support garnered by U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, who was able to steer federal money for this project. We are very grateful to the senator. The university also has skin in the game, as we have matched the federal funds with $500,000 that we’ve taken from our budget the last two years to contribute to the cost and support of this project.”

LaForge said that upon completion, the university will have a much improved routing system for sporting event traffic.

“This new routing will curtail the need to go through neighborhoods or cut through campus by the Coliseum, and provide a safer and more efficient transportation flow for all of our fans, alumni and students alike.”

MDOT pitched the Statesmen Boulevard project as a safety issue. By re-routing gameday traffic, students and fans walking and driving to the athletic venues will no longer have to maneuver in high volume traffic between parked cars alongside residences.

“This campus connector project will have a big impact on the Statesmen community,” said Dick Hall, transportation commissioner with MDOT. “It will significantly improve safety and efficiency for residents, students and visitors.”

Delta State Athletic Director Ronnie Mayers is also thrilled to break ground on a new project that will safely welcome fans to campus.

“We are excited to begin construction on Statesmen Boulevard as a new way to welcome fans to Delta State athletic events,” said Mayers. “Delta State is always thankful for its dedicated fans, and this project will provide them a grand entrance as they come to cheer on the Green and White.”

Jeff Barkman, director of Facilities Management at Delta State, said the project would be competed in the spring of 2018.

Follow all Delta State news at www.deltastate.edu.

BPAC unveils 2017-18 season

By | Bologna Performing Arts Center | No Comments

The Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State University recently released its 2017-18 season. The new lineup features a total of 23 performances across four series: the Main Stage, featuring evening public performances; Family Series, geared at theatergoers of all ages; Recital Hall Series, featuring classical music; and the School-Time Matinee Series, providing educational opportunities for preK-12 students and educators.

There will be 11 performances on the Main Stage lineup. This year, the season begins on Aug. 24 with GRAMMY award-winning Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit with special guest Amanda Shires, sponsored by Wade Inc. One of the most recognizable voices in country music Tracy Lawrence will play on Sept. 21, sponsored by Robinson Electric. On Oct. 3, the Aaron Neville Duo will tell it like it is in a concert sponsored by Delta State’s International Conference on the Blues. On Oct. 19, the singer-songwriter siblings Brothers Osborne, who have won “Vocal Duo of the year” at the ACM and CMA awards, will perform live in concert. On Nov. 2, the talented dancers of Ailey II of New York will capture audiences in a performance funded in part by South Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. This year’s holiday program is Red and Green, a family-friendly tap extravaganza by the world-renowned dancers of Rhythmic Circus and their swingin’ seven-piece band.

A brand new production of The Sound of Music begins the 2018 schedule on Jan. 25, sponsored by Guaranty Bank and Trust. On Feb. 6, Aquila Theatre brings to life Hamlet, arguably Shakespeare’s greatest play. The five-time GRAMMY award winner Michael McDonald will perform on Feb. 22, sponsored by Cannon Motors. The 20th anniversary tour of the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning rock musical RENT comes to the Mississippi Delta on March 1. The Main Stage season will conclude with the Tony Award winning Broadway musical Rodgers + Hammerstein’s CINDERELLA on April 17, sponsored by Planters Bank. The 2017-18 season’s producing partner is Bolivar Medical Center.

The Family Series features two performances appropriate for all ages. Don’t miss the latest theatrical sensation B – The Underwater Bubble Show, an interactive performance that appeals to children and adults alike on Nov. 16. On March 6, the internationally acclaimed percussion artists TAO present Drum Heart, an energetic and unforgettable production.

The new Recital Hall series will begin on Nov. 14 with the Attaca Quartet who celebrate the timeless beauty of the string quartet. On April 12, New York-based brass quartet The Westerlies will explore jazz, roots and chamber music.

The School-Time Matinee Series will feature “Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey” sponsored by AT&T on Sept. 27; “How I Became a Pirate” sponsored by Walmart on Oct. 16; a matinee performance by Ailey II on Nov. 2 is funded in part by a grant from South Arts and the NEA; “A Garfield Christmas” sponsored by Heidi’s on Dec. 6; “Go, Dog. Go!” on Jan. 19 sponsored by Monsanto; a special daytime performance of “Hamlet” on Feb. 7; “Petra and the Wolf” sponsored by Entergy on Feb. 20; and “My Father’s Dragon” on April 5.

Tickets are now on sale to all public performances. More information on all performances, including videos, can be found at www.bolognapac.com. To purchase tickets, learn about becoming an Annual Member, for information on group tickets, or any other questions, call 662-846-4625.