Archive for the ‘News’ Category

3 Honors Freshman Scholars are Chemistry Majors

Posted on: September 11th, 2019 by nhammer

Douglass Sullivan-González (right), dean of the UM Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, welcomes the 2019 cohort of freshmen scholars, including (front row, from left) Tristan Tran, Jilkiah Bryant, Anastasia Jones-Burdick, Gracie Bush, Vivienne McCracken, Ethan Lambert and Addison Pratt and (back row) Julianna French, Maren McSparin, Eva Kiparizoska, Peter Nguyen and Luke Davis. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

Seventeen freshmen in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College at the University of Mississippi have been awarded a total of $130,750 from four of the university’s most distinguished scholarship programs.

Five of the freshmen earned McDonnell Barksdale Scholarships, six were recipients of Doris Raymond Honors Scholarships, three were awarded Harold Parker Memorial Scholarships and three were honored with Annexstad Family Foundation Leaders for Tomorrow Scholarships.

“Each year, a new group of high-performing students distinguish themselves to join the ranks of our SMBHC scholarship holders,” said Douglass Sullivan-González, Honors College dean.

“We are extremely proud of this year’s freshman group who already understand the demands of what it means to be ‘citizen’ and ‘scholar’ in a challenging environment. We anticipate four great years of their involvement in our university community.”

Those students receiving McDonnell Barksdale Scholarships are:

  • Jilkiah La’Destinee Bryant, of Macon
  • Gracie Bush, of Long Beach
  • Eva Kiparizoska, of Laurel
  • Indu Priya Nandula ,of Cleveland
  • Kaylee Nicole Sims, of Madison

Bryant is a graduate of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, where she was a Golden Triangle Area Scholar, MSMS Ambassador, 4-H Ambassador and Northeast Mississippi Student Leadership Conference Scholar. She is majoring in biochemistry.

Kiparizoska is a graduate of West Jones Junior-Senior High School. She won the AP Biology Award, first place in advertising design at the State Beta Convention, Spanish III Award and Algebra III Certificate. She is majoring in biochemistry.

Those receiving Harold Parker Memorial Scholarships are:

  • Luke Alexander Davis, of Lakeside, California
  • Julianna Grace French, of Malden, Missouri
  • Addison Paige Pratt, of Corinth

French graduated from Malden Hills High School, where she was on the Principal’s Honor Roll, Who’s Who and Academic All-State in volleyball. French is majoring in chemistry.

Click here for the original story by .

Former PhD Graduate John Kelly Highlighted in C&E News

Posted on: September 11th, 2019 by nhammer

2016 physical chemistry PhD graduate John Kelly was highlighted for his postdoctoral work in the September 9, 2019 issue of C&E News.  Dr. Kelly commented on his successful European postdoctoral experience.  The article points out that US-based chemists can consider going abroad for their postdocs. John Kelly, a chemist at SRI International, moved from the US to Leipzig University for his postdoc, which he finished in 2018. He says he decided to make the move because it would be a completely different experience from studying anywhere in the US.

“It was the best experience I could ask for,” Kelly says. While he enjoyed his research project, he says the most rewarding part was simply living abroad. Of course, he says, he faced hurdles he wouldn’t have if he had stayed in the US, like changing banks and sorting out visas and work permits. But those shouldn’t deter anyone interested in doing a postdoc abroad, he says.

“You could spend a year in the US and learn less than you would in a week in another country,” Kelly says. Working abroad gives you diversity in approaching a way to solve a problem, he adds. “If everybody in the room speaks the same and writes the same and approaches the problem the same, then you’re only going to have one solution.”

Click here for the full C&E News article.


Forensic Chemistry Major Named Portz Scholar

Posted on: August 20th, 2019 by nhammer

Kennedy Dickson (SMBHC 19) has been named a 2019 National Collegiate Honors Council Portz Scholar. She is one of three recipients nationwide and will present her honors thesis, “Cannabinoid Conundrum: A Study of Anti-Epileptic Efficacy and Drug Policy,” at the NCHC conference in New Orleans this coming November as well as collect her certificate and award of $350.

This summer, California-native Kennedy is working as a Forensic Science Intern for the Orange Crime Laboratory in Southern California. She has begun the law school admissions process and hopes to study intellectual property, patent law, and bioethics. This fall, she will continue researching cannabinoids with Professor Kristie Willett, who also advised her honors thesis. Kennedy is grateful for Professor Willett along with Ms. Cammi Thornton and Professors Zach Pandelides, Erin Holmes, and Nicole Ashpole.

Congratulations, Kennedy!

Two Chemistry Majors Accepted into Rural Physician Scholarship Program

Posted on: August 20th, 2019 by nhammer

UM students and alumni who have been selected for the the undergraduate portion of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program for 2019 are (from left) Jamie Johnson, Cole Stephens, Katelyn Barnes, Nader Pahlevan, Jamie Riggs and Riley Brown. Photo by Jay Ferchaud/UM Medical Center

Four University of Mississippi students and two recent graduates have been selected to participate in the undergraduate portion of the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program.

The students are:

Katelyn Barnes, daughter of Donna Barnes and the late Scotty Barnes, of Tishomingo, a junior majoring in biological sciences

Riley Brown, daughter of Oatis Wilfred Brown III and Kimberly Rusty Brown, of Gautier, a senior majoring in biochemistry

Jamie Johnson, daughter of Janee Conner and Mark Johnson, of Falkner, a junior majoring in biological sciences

Nader Pahlevan, son of Amir and Amalia Pahlevan, of Biloxi, a senior majoring in computer science

Jamie Riggs, daughter of Alton and Jackie Haley, of Goodman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a minor in chemistry

Cole Stephens, son of Craig and Shaye Stephens, of Mantachie, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry

Created in 2007, MRPSP identifies college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate the necessary commitment and academic achievement to become competent, well-trained rural primary care physicians in the state. The program offers undergraduate academic enrichment and a clinical experience in a rural setting.

Upon completion of all medical school admissions requirements, participating students can be admitted to the UM School of Medicine or William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

During medical school at either institution, each MRPSP scholar is under consideration for $30,000 per year, based on available funding. Consistent legislative support of MRPSP translates to 61 medical students sharing $1.83 million to support their education this fall.

Additional benefits include personalized mentoring from practicing rural physicians and academic support.

Upon completion of medical training, MRPSP scholars must enter a residency program in one of five primary care specialties: family medicine, general internal medicine, medicine-pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology or pediatrics. The MRPSP scholar must provide four years of service in a clinic-based practice in an approved Mississippi community of 15,000 or fewer population located more than 20 miles from a medically served area.

The MRPSP provides a means for rural Mississippi students to earn a seat in medical school, receive MCAT preparation, earn a $120,000 medical school scholarship in return for four years of service and learn the art of healing from practicing rural physicians.

For more information, contact MRPSP Associate Director Dan Coleman at 601-815-9022 or or go to

The Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program and the Mississippi Rural Dentists Scholarship Program are state-funded efforts to increase the number of dentists and physicians serving the health care needs of Mississippians in rural areas.

Housed at the UM Medical Center in Jackson and collaborating with its medical and dental schools and the College of Osteopathic Medicine at William Carey University in Hattiesburg, the programs use various outreach, mentoring and training methods to identify, support, educate and deploy new generations of health care workers for Mississippi’s underserved populations. To learn more about either program, click here.

To see the original news story click here.

Recent Chemistry Graduate Wins Big Fellowship

Posted on: July 31st, 2019 by nhammer

One recent UM graduate is adding a prestigious Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship to her list of accolades. Ellie Smith, a biochemistry major with a double minor in Spanish and biology, plans to use the scholarship to offset the costs of her first year in medical school.

Ellie Smith recently received a national PKP Fellowship. She is the sole recipient from the University of Mississippi.

The award is given by the prestigious Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, which “recognizes and encourages superior scholarship without restriction as to area of study and to promotes the unity and democracy of education,” according to its website. Currently, the society awards 50 Fellowships of $8,500 each, six at $20,000 each, and two at $35,000 each to members entering the first year of graduate or professional study.

Smith is the recipient of one of the 50, $8,500 awards. Although she said she plans to defer the scholarship for a year to pursue a gap year in South America, she intends to apply the scholarship to Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

“I aspire to serve Latinx populations in the urban United States and help diminish inequities in healthcare access,” she said.

Each university in the U.S. with a Phi Kappa Phi chapter has the opportunity to submit one student to be considered at the national level for a fellowship. Smith was required to submit a writing sample, obtain letters of recommendation, and write a personal essay.

“Despite being in the midst of a busy academic and extracurricular week, I took the time to apply and I was so thrilled when I found out I was selected as the University’s candidate,” she said. “There are clearly so many amazing students at our school, so I was greatly honored to be chosen. Further, to be chosen out of the national candidates as one of the students receiving a fellowship, I was incredibly proud and so glad to represent the University of Mississippi.”

Phi Kappa Phi Ole Miss board member Deborah Wenger said this is the fifth year the University has produced a national winner.

“Elaine’s award is an incredible honor for her and for Ole Miss. Winners are judged, not only on their academic achievement but also on their service and leadership,” she said. “I think that’s why Ole Miss has had national winners for the past five years – our university offers many opportunities for our students to learn important life skills beyond the classroom.”

Ole Miss’ 2018 PKP Fellowship Award winner was Kathryn Prendergast. 

Smith’s academic achievements are as follows:

Taylor Medalist
4.0 cumulative GPA – Summa Cum Laude, Chancellor’s Honor Roll, Ventress Scholar
Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Class Marshal
Outstanding Chemistry Graduate
2017-2018 Biochemistry Student of the Year
Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society
Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society
Mortar Board

Click Here for the original story from Hotty

Tackling the Forensic Unknowns of 3D-printed Firearms

Posted on: June 14th, 2019 by nhammer

James Cizdziel (right), UM associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and recent doctoral graduate Oscar ‘Beau’ Black have spent two years researching 3D-printed firearms through a grant from the National Institute of Justice, part of the U.S. Department of Justice. Photo by Megan Wolfe/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

OXFORD, Miss. – In the summer of 2016, Transportation Security Administration screeners at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in Nevada confiscated an oddity: a 3D-printed handgun in a man’s carry-on baggage.

The plastic gun was inoperable but accompanied by five .22-caliber bullets. The passenger said he had forgotten about the gun and willingly left it at the airport and boarded his flight without being arrested.

The TSA later said the plastic gun was believed to be the first of its kind seized at a U.S. airport.

Since the world’s first functional 3D-printed firearm was designed in 2013, such guns have increasingly been in the news. Proponents of the firearms – 3D-printed with polymers from digital files – maintain that sharing blueprints and printing the guns are protected activities under the First and Second Amendments. Opponents argue the guns are concerning because they are undetectable and also untraceable since they have no serial numbers.

Tackling some of those forensic unknowns are a University of Mississippi chemistry professor and a graduate student. Their research is developing analytical methods to explore how the firearms might be traced using chemical fingerprints rather than relying on physical evidence, with the goal of offering tools for law enforcement to track the guns as they become more widespread.

“We can positively identify the type of polymer used in the construction of the gun from flecks or smears of plastic on bullets, cartridge cases and in gunshot residue collected on clothing,” said James Cizdziel, an associate professor in the UM Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Cizdziel, who joined the Ole Miss faculty in 2008, and Oscar “Beau” Black, who recently earned his doctorate in chemistry, have spent two years researching 3D-printed firearms through a grant from the National Institute of Justice, part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The three-year, $150,000 grant, “Physical and Chemical Trace Evidence from 3D-Printed Firearms,” has resulted in a 2017 peer-reviewed paper in Forensic Chemistry, a growing reference library of mass spectra from 3D-printed firearms for use by law enforcement and a book, “Forensic Analysis of Gunshot Residue, 3D-Printed Firearms, and Gunshot Injuries: Current Research and Future Perspectives.”

The world’s first functional 3D-printed firearm was designed in 2013. The guns are 3D-printed with polymers from digital files and are untraceable since they have no serial numbers. Photo by Megan Wolfe/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The research involved Cizdziel and Black being the first to use Direct Analysis in Real Time, or DART, Mass Spectrometry to identify polymers and organic gunshot residue in evidence from 3D-printed guns. The idea is forensic experts could trace the polymer that might show up in chemical evidence from the discharge of a 3D-printed firearm back to the type of plastic used in the gun.

“Our growing database provides a second means of identification or grouping of samples, alleviating the need for subjective interpretation of the mass spectral peaks,” said Cizdziel, a Buffalo native. “We also published fingerprinting protocols on surfaces of 3D-printed guns. 

“Overall, we demonstrated that our methods are particularly useful for investigating crimes involving 3D-printed guns.”

The pair’s research arises from an undergraduate chemistry class Cizdziel taught in 2014, Introduction to Instrumental Analysis. Before earning his bachelor’s degree in forensic chemistry in 2015, Black, who also was an undergraduate researcher in Cizdziel’s laboratory, took the class, where talk soon turned to 3D-printed firearms.

“We discussed how developing new reliable analytical methods for forensic practitioners dealing with trace evidence from 3D-printed guns would make a good doctoral research project,” Cizdziel said. “Apparently this sparked a fire in (Black), and he not only joined my research group as a graduate student but was awarded a research fellowship from the Department of Justice to do that very project.”

Black, from Weatherford, Texas, began the project in 2016, before funding was secured in 2017, and quickly realized he was in unexplored territory.

“There was such a dearth of information out there,” Black said. “There was only one, I think, report of an actual test fire (of a 3D-printed firearm) from a forensic agency.”

The pair began creating functional 3D-printed firearms – either .22-caliber or .38-caliber handguns – that used certain metal parts to comply with a federal ban on weapons that aren’t picked up by metal detectors. They test-fired them under controlled and safe conditions at the Mississippi Crime Laboratory in Pearl and the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences in Hoover, Alabama.

“When you discharge them, they do exactly what they are designed to do,” Black said. “You can shoot them multiple times. There was one we shot dozens of times with no visible wear and tear on it.”

The discharges generated samples to analyze. The duo also evaluated the differences in evidence between 3D-printed guns and conventional guns, and used the analytical technique mass spectrometry to identify and characterize the various polymer types in 3D-printed gun evidence.

Research by University of Mississippi professor James Cizdziel and doctoral graduate Oscar ‘Beau’ Black has led to a growing reference library of polymers from 3D-printed firearms for use by law enforcement. Photo by Megan Wolfe/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

This work was the beginning of creating a reference library of various polymer samples to provide the basis of categorizing an unknown sample. The reference library holds about 50 polymer samples.

Cizdziel and Black were assisted in their research by undergraduate students and Murrell Godfrey, director of the UM forensic chemistry program and associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Black graduated Saturday (May 11), but the pair’s research is ongoing, including expanding and improving the 3D-print polymer reference library.

“The ultimate goal would have the reference library in a format that’s similar to the other reference libraries that are out there for fingerprints, etc.,” Black said. “Every different arena has a reference library that goes along with that discipline.”

Beyond work on the reference library, the twosome is examining DNA methods on 3D-printed firearms and studying the longevity of polymer evidence under weathering conditions. Cizdziel and Black also are working on a paper that presents all their scientific discoveries when it comes to 3D-printed firearms.

Not knowing what they might find in their investigations has led to some exciting findings and groundbreaking work, Cizdziel said.

“That’s when things get interesting,” he said. “When you don’t quite know what to expect.”



Click Here to see the original May 13, 2019 article by Shea Stewart.

Gerald Rowland Wins Teaching Award

Posted on: May 21st, 2019 by nhammer

Gerald Rowland, instructional assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has been named Outstanding Instructor of the Year.

OXFORD, Miss. – Chemistry faculty member Gerald Rowland was honored Friday (May 10, 2019) by the College of Liberal Arts for his excellence in teaching.  Gerald Rowland, instructional assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, received the Outstanding Instructor of the Year Award.  “The College of Liberal Arts is extremely proud of Dr. Rowland,” said Donald L. Dyer, associate dean of faculty and academic affairs. “He represents everything that is good about teaching at the university.  His skills for teaching and compassion for students are evident not in only the classroom, but also in the letters of support received from students and colleagues this year in support of his nomination. The college is pleased to add this exceptional educator to a long list of distinguished and influential teachers on our campus.”  

Prof. Rowland was recognized during Commencement exercises Saturday (May 11, 2019) in the Grove.  The awards are fuel for encouragement, appreciation and gratitude, said Rowland, who received the Lambda Sigma Excellence in Teaching Award earlier this year and the Student Members of the American Chemical Society Faculty Award in 2016.

“To learn that the students were the driving force behind the award nomination is a bit overwhelming,” he said. “It has been a privilege of mine to be able to have the opportunity to teach some of the brightest minds at the university during their formative years in college.” 

One of Rowland’s nomination letters said, ” … (his) attitude to help students is unparalleled within the chemistry department and across campus.”

“(Dr. Rowland) has gone above and beyond to make sure that each of his students is successful in his class,” wrote an anonymous student. “I love how his class focuses on how to think rather than what to think.”


Click Here to see the original May 10, 2019 article by .

Charles L. Hussey Named Distinguished Professor

Posted on: May 21st, 2019 by nhammer

UM Provost Noel Wilkin (left) congratulates Charles Hussey, associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, on being named a Distinguished Professor during the end-of-the-semester faculty meeting Friday (May 10) in Fulton Chapel. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services.


OXFORD, Miss. – Chemistry faculty member Charles L. Hussey was appointed a Distinguished Professor during the end-of-the-semester faculty meeting Friday (May 10, 2019) in Fulton Chapel.

Charles Hussey is associate dean for research and graduate education in the College of Liberal Arts and professor of chemistry and biochemistry.  The Distinguished Professor appointment is an honorific title started by UM in 2018 that recognizes the best faculty with sustained excellence at Ole Miss. The award was created in response to the university’s strategic initiative to develop a post-professorial recognition.  No more than 5 percent of eligible faculty can be appointed as a Distinguished Professor.

“The accomplishments of the university are really the accomplishments of its people,” Provost Noel Wilkin said. “This award allows us to acknowledge the outstanding contributions that our most accomplished faculty have made to their fields.

“The ways in which [these professors] have shaped their disciplines and influenced the world is amazing, and they are very deserving of this award.”

Hussey joined the faculty in 1978 after receiving a bachelor’s in chemistry in 1971 and his doctorate in analytical chemistry in 1974, both from UM. Before joining the Ole Miss faculty, Hussey served a four-year active duty term as a chemical research officer at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Frank J. Seiler Research Laboratory and as a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Biological Sciences at the academy. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 1994.

After receiving tenure in 1983, Hussey was promoted to professor in 1987 and served as chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 1997 until 2017. He received the UM Faculty Achievement Award in 1996, was named the university’s 2015 recipient of the Southeastern Conference’s Faculty Achievement Award and earned the University of Mississippi Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award in 2015.

For four decades, his research has focused on the electrochemistry and transport properties of ionic liquids and molten salts. He has authored or co-authored more than 175 refereed journal articles, book chapters, patents and technical reports, and his research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the U.S. Department of Energy and more.

He was elected as a fellow of the Electrochemical Society in 2003 and selected as an emeritus member in 2017.

He also has directed 25 dissertations and theses during his UM career and taught courses ranging from General Chemistry to Fundamentals of Electrochemistry.

“Professor Hussey has been passionately serving the University of Mississippi for four decades,” wrote Greg Tschumper, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, in his letter of support to Hussey’s appointment. “His research has brought national and international recognition to our institution. He has continually fostered the growth of everyone around him through extraordinary service and leadership.

“His scholarly activity, leadership and service epitomize the very essence of the title of Distinguished Professor.”

Each school and college has its own guidelines for nominations, but the university requires that nominated faculty have at least six years of service at the highest rank of professor, along with exemplary accomplishments in research and creative achievement, teaching and service. Also, it is expected that awardees will have achieved a significant degree of national or international recognition.

The recommended appointment nominees are made by a committee chosen by the Faculty Senate and the provost, and the committee has representatives from across campus.

See the original May 10, 2019 article by here.

Congratulations to our Chemistry Graduates!

Posted on: May 8th, 2019 by nhammer





Alumni Profile: Stephen Emerson

Posted on: May 8th, 2019 by nhammer

Alumni Profile: Stephen Emerson

By Bethany Fitts

Stephen Emerson (BA 05), an environmental inspection and biological monitoring expert, has worked as an environmental scientist for over 10 years, providing environmental inspection for companies working on linear or renewable energy projects. Over the course of each project, he gives training courses to help construction teams safely follow environmental protocol such as noxious weed prevention and removal and hazardous waste disposal.

Despite this extensive experience, Emerson didn’t really know what to expect when he was first asked to work on the Dakota Access Pipeline–an underground oil pipeline that runs through North and South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois.

“They told me right before I came that there might be some minor protests but nothing to be concerned about,” Emerson said.

However, it didn’t take long before Emerson realized that “minor” was a significant understatement.

“I was hiking solo with all of my tools, and I saw 200 cars on the road,” he said. “And, soon enough, 200 became 2,000.”

Thousands of people from across the country and the world had gathered to protest construction of the pipeline with concerns about environmental threats and damage to sacred Native American sites.

“I get it,” Emerson said of the protestors. “There are some very strong opinions on both sides. My job is to make sure construction is completed according to protocol and that regulations are abided by. Our goal is to leave the smallest footprint on the environment. When I’m flying over in a helicopter, I want to be able to look down and not see where that pipeline went in.”

Emerson believes he and his team succeeded in minimizing the pipeline’s environmental footprint and is proud of his work on the project.

“A lot of projects don’t involve that level of protest,” he said. “But to know that I’ve done my best and getting to be a part of American history are the reasons I love this job.”

The history Emerson referred to actually began, he said, in 1973 when President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act.

“At the time these laws were written, it was needed because you had a lot of corporations shooting for the almighty dollar,” Emerson said. “You know… you don’t want your water contaminated just because this big corporation makes profits.”

Even though Emerson loves his job, he did not initially want to specialize in environmental inspection. In fact, he earned his degree in biochemistry from Ole Miss with the intention of going to medical school. After graduating, though, Emerson began working in Oman’s Wahiba Sands desert as an environmental scientist, and his path began to change.

“I fell in love with the environmental component of biochemistry,” he said. “I’d always loved nature as a child.”

Emerson’s work requires a thorough knowledge of acts like the National Environmental Policy Act, California Environmental Quality Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act. His past clients range from Google and the Department of Homeland Security to Pacific Gas and Electric and Genesis Solar, LLC.

Of his work with the Genesis Solar Energy Project, a new solar power plant located in the Colorado Desert, Emerson said, “It was amazing to have been there before anybody else was. And now you have one of the largest solar facilities in the world.”

As we move further into the 21st century, Emerson believes environmental inspection and biological monitoring will only become increasingly vital.

“There’s more people on the planet and less natural resources,” he said. “The protection of these natural resources is going to be a critical component as we move forward.”


Stephen Emerson is an active member of the Ole Miss Alumni Association.
Stephen, Ole Miss thanks you.