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DSU Environmental Science, Biology, and Chemistry Students and Faculty Present at Mississippi Academy of Sciences Annual Meeting in Biloxi

Michael Zarske, a senior in environmental science (wildlife concentration), discusses his award-winning presentation at the annual meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences in late February.


Twenty environmental science, biology, and chemistry students and 11 faculty members from Delta State University’s Division of Mathematics and Sciences presented at the 84th annual meeting of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences (MAS) in Biloxi on Feb. 20-21. Their contributions included seven oral and 17 poster presentations. Divisional programs represented by DSU students and faculty included chemistry and chemical engineering; ecology and evolutionary biology; cellular, molecular, and developmental biology; geology and geography; and science education divisions.

Dr. AHM Ali Reza, associate professor of biology and environmental science, and Dr. Nina Baghai-Riding, professor of biology and environmental science, were chair and vice-chair, respectively, of the ecology and evolutionary biology section. They were responsible for coordinating a symposium, student oral presentations, a poster session, and a field trip to the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in Jackson County. Dr. Tanya McKinney, associate professor of biology, was a moderator for the Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation Symposium, and several science faculty served as judges for the ecology and evolution and chemistry and chemical engineering programs. Plus, Anna Maurer, a graduate student in the Master of Science in Natural Sciences Program, presented research on enzyme engineering from the lab of Dr. Chris Jurgenson, Sullivan-Outlaw Associate Professor of Biochemistry, who also attended. Maurer additionally chaired the session for cellular, molecular, and developmental biology.

Several students received recognition for their scientific contributions. For example, two received a Millsap Award—singling out the top 10% of abstracts submitted by undergraduate students—Pamela Bellamy, a senior in environmental science (general concentration), for “An Anatomical Survey of Galium aparine (Rubiaceae),” and Michael Zarske, a senior in environmental science (wildlife concentration), for “A Preliminary Plant Anatomical Study of Lamium puppureum L. (Lamiaceae).” Allison Fullilove, a junior chemistry major, earned honorable mention for her presentation, “Investigating the Formation of Hydrogen Bonding in Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid.”

Junior chemistry major Allison Fullilove stands by her notable work on hydrogen bonding in gamma-aminobutyric acid.

Also, Jake Harvey, a MAS-GIT graduate student, received a first-place award for his presentation, “Geospatial Technologies for Mapping Flood Inundation for the Geology and Geography Division.” Dr. Yongqin Zhang, associate professor of geospatial technologies, supervised his work.

MAS-GIT graduate student Jake Harvey displays his award with Dr. Yongqin Zhang, faculty overseer of the project.