MS School for Math and Science students complete summer research

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Pictured (left to right): Student John Tierce, Dr. Sharon K. Hamilton, Dr. Adam Johanson and student Stormy Gale.

Two visiting students from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science recently wrapped up a two-week research experience at Delta State under the direction of the Department of Chemistry and Physics.

Rising seniors participating in the program were Stormy Gale (Columbus, Mississippi) and John Tierce (Cleveland, Mississippi).

“The Department of Chemistry and Physics is been proud to once again host summer research students from the Mississippi School for Math and Science,” said Dr. Joe Bentley, chair of the department. “When students come to Delta State for a summer research experience like this, it’s great all the way around. The MSMS students get a taste for doing research in an academic lab, it will help them with their applications to college, and the professor gets to work with highly qualified high school students.”2017 math science interns-1

Tierce worked closely with Dr. Sharon K. Hamilton, assistant professor of chemistry.

“John has been working with other students in my lab determining the optimal formulations for drug-loaded natural polymer fibers,” said Hamilton. “These fibers can be used for drug delivery and wound healing purposes. John is gaining valuable research experience that will help him as he pursues his college degree next year. It is my hope that our high school chemistry and physics research program can continue to grow in the years to come, especially with such great student recommendations from Dr. Elizabeth Morgan at MSMS.”

Tierce also partnered on research with current Delta State students Katie Penton (Southaven, Mississippi), a graduate student in chemistry, and Zachary Kinler (Pascagoula, Mississippi), an undergraduate student.

Gale worked with Dr. Adam Johanson, planetarium director and assistant professor of physics.

“Stormy Gale spent two weeks developing an original planetarium presentation entitled ‘History of Astronomy,’” said Johanson. “She not only outlined the show, but wrote over 1,000 lines of computer code to program the planetarium to display videos, pictures and animations to complement the narration.”

The presentation of Gale’s hard work was given to the public on July 21 in the Wiley Planetarium.

Hamilton’s research is supported by the Mississippi IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence, and funded by an Institutional Development Award from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103476.

Learn more about Delta State’s Department of Chemistry and Physics at http://www.deltastate.edu/artsandsciences/chemistry-and-physics.

Young-Mauldin closes for major renovations

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Members of the  President’s Cabinet and fellow staff members shared lunch at Delta State’s Young-Mauldin Dining Hall on Thursday, the final meal to be served at the cafeteria until major building renovations come to fruition.

According to Jeff Barkman, director of Facilities Management at Delta State, the $9.2 million in renovations will include an updated dining space, theater, snack bar and private dining room. The remodeling will also feature a new state-of-the-art kitchen.

The new temporary dining location will be the State Room in the H.L. Nowell Student Union. A temporary kitchen has also been constructed across the hall.

Jamie Rutledge, vice president for Finance and Administration at Delta State, said the anticipated start of construction is Sept. 1 and will continue for 18 months.

“The cafeteria will be totally renovated throughout the entire building,” said Rutledge. “All of the mechanical, plumbing and electrical will be completely replaced. Repairs will also include all new kitchen equipment, furniture and serving lines.”

Untitled-1Dr. Vernell Bennett, vice president for Student Affairs, said the renovations would provide a major boost to the student dining experience.

“Student Affairs is excited about this project. This state-of-the-art facility will benefit both current and future students by improving the university’s service delivery, campus facility and food service offerings, and recruitment,” said Bennett. “The theater and private dining room will be very helpful for programming and will serve as a vital additional outlet for student engagement activities and projects. The updated dining space and expanded food service choices will afford our students more options for dining, which was the topic of several town hall forums that Student Affairs sponsored last spring.”

Ashley Griffin, president of the Student Government Association, said her peers are also looking forward to the upgrades.

“When we survey students at Delta State for things they feel will enhance their college experience, responses always includes Wi-Fi and their cafe experience,” said Griffin. “By remodeling the cafe with these accommodations, it will become a great place for eating, but also a place for students to socialize and relax in an on-campus area that’s not the dorm. The updates in the kitchen will hopefully give the cooks more food options to serve students. I feel this is a step towards fulfilling what students having been wanting for years.”

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

Mississippi Delta National Heritage area grants announced

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For the second year, the MDNHA has awarded over $155,000 in grants to regional organizations. Projects range from arts and culture education to information signage and historic preservation.

 

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area is pleased to announce over $155,000 in grants for nine projects focused on cultural and heritage development in the Mississippi Delta.

The funded work celebrates the diversity of the Delta’s rich cultural heritage including restoration of historical sites such as the Dockery Farms cotton gin, the establishment of a museum featuring the legacy of Dr. L.C. Dorsey at the Delta Health Center, and the influence of the Delta’s Chinese culture in Delta cuisine.

“We are pleased to support a broad range of work from communities and organizations dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the Delta,” said Dr. Myrtis Tabb, chair of the MDNHA board of directors. “We are encouraged by the number and scope of applicants in our second year of the Small Grants Program, and hope others will be motivated to participate in future rounds of funding.”

“We do our best to fund work in all parts of the Delta, and in a variety of areas of interest that complement MDNHA’s mission,” said Meg Cooper, chair of the MDNHA grants committee. “We have now approved a total of over $300,000 in projects in our two years of grant making.”

“The MDNHA is designed to engage and empower organizations and individuals to promote the cultural heritage of the Mississippi Delta,” said Dr. Rolando Herts, director of The Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University, which serves as the management entity for the MDNHA. “This partnership between the people of the Mississippi Delta and the National Park Service is crucial to the preservation, perpetuation and celebration of the Delta’s heritage that is at the core of our mission.”

Grant recipients and their funded projects include:

-Delta Health Center, Inc. – establish the Dr. L. C. Dorsey Community Health Center Museum in Mound Bayou
-Dockery Farms Foundation – restore and preserve the historic Dockery Farms cotton gin, and develop historical exhibits within the gin building
-Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State University – development of a new track of classes for its CORE Arts Camp that showcases tales of origination in song and story
-Mississippi Valley State University – design and present symposium lectures, panel discussions, musical performances and other work in support of the B.B. King Day symposium
-Mississippi State University – generate knowledge about and provide estimates of the economic value of preserving sites of cultural significance in the Delta
-Greenville Arts Council – provide artist residencies to teachers and students that preserve the rich artistic traditions of the Mississippi Delta
-Mississippi Heritage Trust – conduct four Historic Preservation Toolkit workshops that teach local towns and organizations how to leverage funding to preserve historic places
-Delta State University, Department of Archives and History – preserving the historic Mississippi Delta Chinese foodways culture through stories of family, place and cuisine
-Cleveland/Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce – restoration of the façade and interior of the Cleveland Depot building

The MDNHA includes 18 counties that contain land located in the alluvial floodplain of the Mississippi Delta: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, DeSoto, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tunica, Warren, Washington and Yazoo. The MDNHA was designated by U.S. Congress in 2009 and is governed by a board of directors representing agencies and organizations defined in the congressional legislation. More information about the MDNHA, including the complete approved management plan, is available at www.msdeltaheritage.com.

The mission of The Delta Center is to promote greater understanding of Mississippi Delta culture and history and its significance to the world through education, partnerships and community engagement. The Delta Center serves as the management entity of the MDNHA and is the home of the International Delta Blues Project and the National Endowment for the Humanities “Most Southern Place on Earth” workshops. For more information, visit http://deltacenterdsu.com/.

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.