Delta Players present “Speech & Debate”

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The Delta Players will present “Speech & Debate,” March 22-25 at 7 p.m. in Jobe Hall Auditorium on the Delta State University campus.

The play was written by Stephen Karam, who recently won a Tony Award for his play “The Humans.”

Co-sponsors for the play include the Delta Music Institute and DSU’s Quality Enhancement Plan. Voluntary monetary donations for Delta State University’s Gay-Straight Alliance will be collected after the show.

“Dr. Kilby Allen, the director, has done a terrific job of balancing the play’s humor with the core drama of three socially awkward teenagers struggling with their emerging sexual identities in modern America,” said Don Allan Mitchell of the Division of Languages & Literature, which is producing the play.

“The darkly-comic play is definitely not a play for younger audiences. The film based on the play is rated PG-13,” added Mitchell. “There are interweaving sex scandals, dancing actors in flesh-colored body stockings and purple underwear, and a Broadway musical presentation of alternative facts concerning Abraham Lincoln’s sexual orientation. In short, it is precisely the type of challenging material that college drama groups should be presenting to audiences.”

Cast members include Delta State students Layla Young as Diwata, Logan Swain as Howie, Jess Bennett as Solomon, and future Cleveland Central High School student Ginny Smith playing the double role of the teacher/reporter. The stage manager is Delta State staff member Mallory Shemwell. The technical director is Amber Wolfe, who earned two degrees at Delta State and is the drama sponsor at Cleveland High School.

“Over the last few semesters, Ms. Wolfe has been very supportive of the Delta Players, and the Division of Languages & Literature will continue to collaborate with her and her student productions in the very near feature,” staid Mitchell.

The play is free and open to the public, with the condition that audience members acknowledge the play’s challenging content at the sign-in and information table in the lobby.

For more information, contact the Division of Languages & Literature at 662-846-4060 or Mitchell at amitchell@deltastate.edu.

String Quintet SYBARITE5 to play BPAC March 21

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The Bologna Performing Arts Center presents the string quintet SYBARITE5 on March 21 at 7:30 p.m. The group will be performing to a limited capacity audience on the McPherson Stage of the BPAC’s Recital Hall.

Comprised of Sami Merdinian and Sarah Whitney on violins, Angela Pickett on viola, Laura Metcalf on cello, and Louis Levitt on bass, SYBARITE5 has taken audiences by storm all across the U.S., forever changing the perception of chamber music performance.

“Their rock star status…is well deserved. Their classically honed technique mixed with grit and all out passionate attack transfixes the audience,” described The Sarasota Herald Tribune.

The concert is part of the BPAC’s new Recital Hall Series, which features a pre-show social hour beginning at 6:30 p.m. including heavy hors d’oeuvres followed by classical music performances. The first series performance was the GRAMMY award-winning Los Angeles Guitar Quartet in October 2016. SYBARITE5 marks the second show in the series. The evening will be catered by Delta Meat Market.

“We heard feedback that audience members wanted more music offerings. We also wanted to change how we presented programming,” said Laura Howell, BPAC executive director. “By pairing the concert with a social hour in our more intimate Recital Hall, we hope to provide a space for audience members to visit together, eat together and enjoy the music together — making it a more social experience.”

SYBARITE5 has a far ranging repertoire. Strings Magazine says they “have gained a reputation for juxtaposing the likes of Stravinsky with Radiohead, or Dvorák with Led Zeppelin. But that doesn’t even begin to describe the range of their eclecticism or the depth of their repertoire.” The Arizona Daily Star tells audience members to “expect an experience that will satisfy your inner rock star and your secret Mozart.”

Tickets are $50 each and include the heavy hors d’oeuvres and concert admission. There are less than 80 tickets available for purchase. For more information, visit www.bolognapac.com or call the BPAC Ticket Office at 662-846-4626.

Environmental science presents at Mississippi Academy of Sciences

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Four Delta State environmental science students and two professors presented at the 81st annual meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences (MAS) in Hattiesburg on Feb. 23-24.

Two presentations were given during the oral session as a part of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Division of MAS.

Heather Brewer, a senior at Delta State, received the first place graduate and undergraduate award for her presentation entitled, “Impact of urbanization on bird nest materials in the Mississippi Delta,” co-authored by herself, Alexis Patterson and Dr. AHM Reza, assistant professor of biology at Delta State. 

In absence of undergraduate student Christian Frew, Reza presented, “What can affect the movement patterns of white-tailed deer in central Mississippi,” co-authored by the duo. Both of these presentations were a product of Reza’s vertebrate biology courses, ornithology and mammalogy.

Four poster presentations were also given at the division’s poster session.

Patterson and Brewer received a second place award for their poster entitled, “Prey remains found in 24 owl pellets from Carolina Biological Science,” co-authored by Patterson, Brewer, Karoline Lambert, Madison Zoeller, Roxy Kimes, Dr. Eric Blackwell and Dr. Baghai-Riding.

Student Brittany Husley gave her presentation, “Comparison of dental changes in Varans exanthematicus to ontogenetics shifts in diet,” co-authored by herself, Christine Beck, Baghai-Riding and Blackwell.

Baghai-Riding presented two poster presentations, “Effects of wild hogs at Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge, Mississippi,” co-authored by Matthew Galloway, Peyton Hamblin, Mitchel Coleman, Brady Chambley, Matt McGregor; and “Bird surveys conducted at Bear Pen Park, Cleveland, Mississippi,” c0-authored by Sheketra Bell, Jarrica Carey, DeAndra Felton, Monique Price and Kimberely Davis. The posters were a product of Baghai-Riding’s  conservation biology course.

This year’s MAS annual meeting had its largest attendance with over 1,000 attendees. Reza plans to establish a stronger Delta State presence for the 2018 event and seeks all appropriate disciplines to consider joining.

In addition, Reza chaired the EEB Division of MAS in 2016-17. Baghai-Riding and Reza served as judges for the zoology and entomology poster presentations. Also, Reza will serve as the chair of the EEB Division and Baghai-Riding will serve as the vice chair for 2017-18.

To learn more about the Delta State’s environmental science program, contact Baghai-Riding (nbaghai@deltastate.edu) or Reza (areza@deltastate.edu), or call the Department of Biological Sciences at 662-846-4240.

12th annual International Business Symposium set for March 29-30

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Delta State University’s College of Business will hold the 12th annual International Business Symposium on March 29-30.

The theme for this year’s symposium is business innovation, focussing on how businesses must remain innovative in both macro and micro aspects.

The symposium is sponsored by David and Sherry Abney, Mississippi Delta natives who currently reside in Atlanta. Abney, a 1976 graduate of DSU, began his career as a part-time United Parcel Service (UPS) package loader while in college. He now serves as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board for UPS, the world’s largest package delivery company. Abney is the eleventh CEO in the 107-year-history of UPS.

“Sherry and I wanted to do something meaningful for the Delta. By bringing global leaders onto campus and sharing their experiences with students, I believe we’ll be able to expand Delta State students’ horizons in how they see and prepare for their futures,” Abney said in a previous Delta State interview.

Along with Abney, the schedule will feature four distinguished speakers, all Delta State graduates:

*Laird Hamberlin: Hamberlin returns to the symposium to share his expertise. He received his bachelor’s in business administration from Delta State before going on to become the vice president of sales and commercial for Terminix (a division of ServiceMaster). Prior to being an equity investor of ServiceMaster and taking the company public in June 2014, he worked for various conglomerates including UTC Climate, Controls and Security, where he served as president of the access controls division.
*Teresa Hubbard: Hubbard is president and CEO of CITE ARMORED, a company which provides every level of service for the armored vehicle industry, including manufacturing, refurbishing, repair and part replacement. She is well-versed in business operations, staff supervision, sales and marketing and financial analysis and management. Hubbard received her bachelor degrees in accounting and CIS from Delta State.
*Rodney Scaife: Scaife serves as vice president and chief human resources officer for CPA Global-North America, the world’s leading intellectual property (IP) management and IP technology firm company. He previously held international positions as head of HR operations for PANDORA Americas, with oversight for the U.S., Canada, Mexico, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. Scaife studied business administration at Delta State before completing his executive education studies at Cornell University’s Center for Advance Human Resources Studies.
*Josh West: West serves as CEO and co-founder of Blue Delta, a bespoke denim manufacturing company. Blue Delta jeans are made in the U.S.A with globally sourced premium raw materials. The company sells jeans in over 44 U.S. cities and abroad with accounts in Toronto and London. West is a 2005 graduate of Delta State, where he served as student body president.

The 2017 International Business Symposium is free and open to public. For more information, contact Zina Taran at 662-846-4190 or email ztaran@deltastate.edu.

Students tour Cochran Aquaculture facility

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Students from Delta State University recently toured the Thad Cochran National Warm Water Aquaculture Research Unit in Stoneville.

The tour has become an annual event for students in Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding’s Biology 123 (Foundation in Environmental Science) class.

This year’s tour was led by Daniel Oberle, a fisheries biologist, associated with the USDA-ARS. He showed the students the 300-acre facility and explained how catfish are grown, monitored and processed for distribution.

Thousands of catfish are raised at this environmental site. It takes three to five years for channel catfish to reach maturity, and some of the large catfish at the site were more than 10 years old.

Throughout the tour, Oberle mentioned bacteria and virus infections (including herpesvirus disease) that are common to channel catfish and disease preventative measures. Students also learned about other environmental parameters that the facility uses to raise catfish: water temperature, quality and quantity of food, and breeding success strategies. They also were exposed to agricultural biotechnology and food costs that are required for this industry.

Students were able to see channel catfish, big blue catfish, and hybrid catfish and toured all of the outdoor ponds, handled catfish, and saw them being fed. In addition, students also met some former Delta State University biology and environmental science students who currently work at the facility.

Lahenric Phillips, one of Dr. Baghai-Riding’s students, said what he found most interesting was seeing the process as well as how many catfish occur in one small pond.

Overall, this tour tied well into the topic of agricultural food production that Baghai-Riding’s class had been exploring this semester. Commercial catfish production is a major aquaculture industry in the Mississippi Delta and in recent years there has been a lot of discussion to about the importance of eating locally-grown food.

To learn more about the Environmental Science program at Delta State University, contact Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding (nbaghai@deltastate.edu) or call the Department of Biological Sciences @ 662-846-4240.