Department of Biological Sciences attends Mississippi Academy of Sciences conference

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The Department of Biological Sciences at Delta State University recently attended the 82nd annual Mississippi Academy of Sciences conference at the Thad Cochran Center of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Environmental science and biology majors contributed oral and poster presentations. Four student presentations in ecology and evolutionary biology received awards from the open MAS competition.

Environmental science student, Bethany Walker, received a second place award for her presentation titled, “Population and behavioral study of feral cats (Felis catus) on Delta State University Campus, Cleveland, MS,” which was authored by Walker, Hope Edge and professor Dr. AHM Ali Reza. Aaron Sassenrath-Cole received a second runner-up award for his presentation “Use of a scanning electron microscope in wildlife research and management,” which was authored by Sassenrath-Cole and Reza. Karoline Lambert received a third place award for her presentation “Preliminary Analysis of population dynamics of Amphiuma tridactylum and Siren intermedia in the Mississippi Delta,” which was authored by Lambert, Hannah Taylor, Sara Barrett, Shelby Babb and Eric Blackwell. Mitchell Coleman gave his presentation on “Preliminary Evaluation of using trail cameras for surveying mammal species,” which was authored by Mitchell Coleman, Christian Frew, Peyton Hamblin, Joshua Glover, Matthew Galloway and Eric Blackwell.

Undergraduate students William Neal and Arnold Spiers received a second runner-up award for their poster presentation titled “Isolation and identification of antibiotic producing microbes from Malidon dasystomous (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae),” which was authored by Neal, Spiers, Tanya K. McKinney, Dr. Ellen S. Green, and Nathan M. Schiff.  Professor Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding presented a poster titled “Vernal Pools at Dahomey National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi,” which was authored by Tyler Kitchings, Cade Francis, Maverick Harrison and Brady Chambley.

Another environmental science student, Raven Allison, presented a poster within the geology and geography section, which was rated as the best poster for the section. The poster was titled “Locally grown fruit retains its soil signature: an elemental study of regional variation in noncommercial jams and jellies,” and was authored by Allison, Callie Masterson, Dana Rico, William Whittington, Breana Randle, Gregory Peacock, Baghai-Riding and Charles Smithhart.

Reza chaired the MAS Ecology and Evolutionary Biology section, while Baghai-Riding served as the vice chair.

Attendees also visited the Lake Thoreau Environmental Center near USM’s campus. Participants learned about the habitat and ecology of the area.

To learn more about the environmental science program at Delta State University, contact Baghai-Riding (nbaghai@deltastate.edu) or Reza (areza@deltastate.edu).

Board of Trustees appoints Alcorn President as Commissioner of Higher Education

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The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning appointed Alcorn State University President Alfred Rankins Jr. as Commissioner of Higher Education at a meeting held earlier today in Jackson. He will begin serving as Commissioner on July 1.

“Dr. Rankins has experience at both the system level and as a university president,” said Trustee C.D. Smith, president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. “In addition, he understands the important role higher education plays in our state and the lives of our students and their families. He also understands the challenges our universities face in today’s higher education landscape. He will provide excellent leadership to the university system.”

Named President of Alcorn State University on March 4, 2014, Dr. Alfred Rankins Jr. is the 19th president of the university.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as President of my alma mater,” said Dr. Rankins. “Alcorn State University is a special place that transforms lives and opens doors of opportunity for our students and the citizens we serve through research and outreach programs. My experiences at Alcorn will inform my decisions as Commissioner, which will help me to serve all eight public universities in Mississippi as we work together to advance the system and the state.”

Alcorn State University is the nation’s oldest public land-grant HBCU. In addition to the Lorman campus, the university also includes branch locations in Natchez and Vicksburg.

Dr. Rankins previously served as deputy commissioner for the Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), where he served as the IHL system’s chief academic and student affairs officer. While serving as deputy commissioner, Dr. Rankins also served as acting president of Mississippi Valley State University.

Prior to his appointment at IHL, Dr. Rankins served on the faculty at Mississippi State University (MSU), where he was a tenured associate professor in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and extension specialist with the MSU Extension Service.

Under Dr. Rankins’ leadership, Alcorn has strengthened its academic programs, improved campus infrastructure, initiated and completed major capital projects, increased fundraising, and expanded its

footprint as a premier comprehensive land grant HBCU. This past fall, Alcorn enrolled its largest freshman class in the history of the institution and the university has risen in national rankings. The university has established new academic programs and made important discoveries through its research.

Currently, Dr. Rankins serves on the University Press of Mississippi Board of Directors, Entergy Mississippi Advisory Board, Mississippi Postsecondary Education Financial Assistance Board, and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission of Colleges Executive Board.

A native of Greenville, Mississippi, Dr. Rankins received a Bachelor of Science degree from Alcorn State University and both Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Mississippi State University.

The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning will announce plans for the search for the next President of Alcorn State University soon.

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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.

Berry to provide 21st annual Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture

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Delta State University will host the 21st annual Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture on April 5 at 7 p.m. in Jobe Hall Auditorium.

The 2018 lecturer is Dr. Stephen Berry, Gregory Professor of the Civil War Era at the University of Georgia. Berry’s talk is entitled, “Dead Reckoning: What Coroners’ Records Reveal about Life and Death in the Old South.”

The Cranford Lecture is sponsored by the Delta State Division of Social Sciences and History and is supported by a generous grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council. The DSU Quality Enhancement Plan is also providing support for the lecture, which honors the life of Dr. Sammy Orren Cranford, longtime history professor and archivist at Delta State. The event is free and open to the public.

Berry earned his doctorate in history from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and is a leading scholar of the American Civil War and the nineteenth-century South. He has two books, “House of Abraham: Lincoln and the Todds” (2007) and “All That Makes a Man: Love and Ambition in the Civil War South” (2003). He has edited numerous volumes, including “A House Divided: The Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858” (2015) and “Weirding the War: Stories from the Civil War’s Ragged Edges” (2011).

He is currently working on several projects, most notably, a digital history project entitled “CSI: Dixie,” which uses coroners’ records to gain a deeper understanding of life and death in the nineteenth-century American South. As noted on the project website, “Coroners’ inquests are some of the richest records we have of life and death in the nineteenth century South. As mortals, we all die, but we do not die equally. Race, place, gender, profession, behavior, and good and bad luck play large roles in determining how we go out of the world. Collecting extant coroners’ inquests for the state of South Carolina between 1800 and 1900, CSI Dixie provides rare glimpses into Victorian-era suicide, homicide, infanticide, abortion, child abuse, spousal abuse, master-slave murder, and slave on slave violence.” For more information on the project, visit https://csidixie.org.

Dr. Sammy O. Cranford

Berry’s work for “CSI: Dixie” will serve as the foundation for his lecture.

“We are excited to have Stephen Berry deliver this year’s lecture,” said Dr. Chuck Westmoreland, associate professor of history at Delta State. “His work on the American Civil War and the nineteenth-century South is some of the most imaginative and creative you will find from historians today. He explores fascinating topics about daily life and death in the American South that push us to think about this region’s history, as well as the nation’s, in fresh, new ways. Students, faculty, staff and community members will learn a great deal about life and death in the Old South.”

Berry serves as the secretary-treasurer for the Southern Historical Association and has been a fellow for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. In 2010, he received the Parks-Heggoy Award for excellence in graduate student teaching in the University of Georgia’s Department of History.

Westmoreland said Berry’s commitment to excellence in teaching, scholarship and public engagement bears much similarity to the work of Cranford.

“Stephen Berry has done a terrific job of taking history outside the traditional confines of the classroom and academic publications and into the digital world,” he added. “He speaks around the country and engages different types of audiences with his work. Dr. Cranford excelled at teaching and bringing history to a wider audience as well. I think he would appreciate the depth and creativity that Dr. Berry brings to the study of the past.”

As Westmoreland noted, the Cranford Lecture is a tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Cranford.

“Through his passion as a history professor, and his commitment to developing the DSU Archives, Dr. Cranford made our campus and community a better place,” said Westmoreland. “He touched the lives of students, fellow colleagues, community members and scholars who came to DSU to conduct research in our archives. This year’s lecture presents a great opportunity to learn from Dr. Berry and honor Dr. Cranford, one of Delta State’s most distinguished faculty members.”

Previous lecturers include: 1998, John Marzalek; 1999, John Ray Skates; 2000, James Cobb; 2001, Martha Swain; 2002, Lawrence Nelson; 2003, Nan Woodruff; 2004, David Sansing; 2005, Charles Reagan Wilson; 2006, James Hollandsworth; 2007, Elbert Hilliard; 2008, Larry Griffin; 2009, William LaForge; 2010, Chris Myers Asch; 2011, Charles Eagles; 2012, George Rable; 2013, Jeannie Whayne; 2014, Tim Huebner; 2015, Alecia Long; 2016, Aram Goudsouzian; 2017, Calvin White, Jr.

Following the lecture, a reception will be held in the Jobe Hall lobby.

For more information on the Sammy O. Cranford Memorial History Lecture, contact Westmoreland at cwestmoreland@deltastate.edu.

37th Annual F.E. Woodall Spring Conference scheduled for March 23

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Delta State University’s Division of Counselor Education and Psychology is hosting the 37th annual F.E. Woodall Spring Conference for the Helping Professions on March 23.

The conference boasts 32 breakout continuing education sessions and a keynote address. The event provides continuing education for counselors, social workers, psychologists, and other helping professions to receive quality, affordable continuing education opportunities.

The Woodall Conference has grown to welcome approximately 300 attendees a year. Participants drive in from Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana. The presenters are private practitioners, state professionals, and faculty members from 10 universities and colleges.

“We are proud to represent Delta State each year with our Woodall Conference,” said Dr. Cat Vincent, counselor education instructor and conference coordinator. “It’s an honor to be able to bring excellence in continuing education to our region.”

The keynote presenter will be Dan Buchner, the founder and principal of ‘praktikel, and inventor of the car back-up camera and Swiffer. praktikel is an innovative company that has taken on all kinds of problem-solving issues, including the field of counseling. Buchner will be presenting “Six Practical Tips for Innovation.”

“Many of our attendees have begun their careers with a degree from Delta State, and we are happy to continue their education as we contribute to these professional developments of helping professionals across the state Mississippi,” said George Beals, program coordinator and assistant professor in counselor education.

View the conference website at http://buytickets.at/deltastateuniversitycounseloreducation/140851. For more information, contact Vincent at cvincent@deltastate.edu.

Baghai-Riding contributes to Geological Society of America meeting

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Searching for diamonds in Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas.

 

Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding, professor of biology and environmental science at Delta State, contributed to the Geological Society of America South-Central Section Meeting in Little Rock, Arkansas, March 11-14.

Baghai-Riding was one of several co-authors of the presentation “Confirming Quaternary Displacement Rates on the Meeman-Shelby Fault and Joiner Ridge Horst, Eastern Arkansas.” The study looked at fossil spores and pollen from seven intervals to determine ancient paleoenvironments and geologic age.

Several Delta State environmental science students, including Helen Simmons, Anna Scott and Wilsonya Mitchell, contributed to the research.

As part of the conference, Baghai-Riding also participated in a trip to the Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. Diamonds have been discovered in the area for more than a century, including 28 that are over 10 carats.

Contact Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding (nbaghai@deltastate.edu) for more information about the environmental science program at Delta State University.