Welcome 2018 Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Students and Scholars!
Welcome 2018 Chemistry Summer Undergraduate Research Students and Scholars!
OXFORD, Miss. – Two chemistry faculty members in the University of Mississippi’s College of Liberal Arts were recognized for their creative research and scholarly activity during the 2017-18 academic year. Prof. Davita Watkins received the Dr. Mike L. Edmonds New Scholar Award for junior faculty and Prof. Nathan Hammer received the College of Liberal Arts Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement for senior faculty.
The awards, both of which are in their second year of existence, include medals and stipends of $1,000 and $2,000 respectively. They were presented May 12 during the college’s Commencement exercises.
The Edmonds Award is presented annually to untenured, tenure-track professorial rank faculty members who are within six years of their initial academic appointment and who have demonstrated exemplary performance in research, scholarship and/or creative achievement. Recipients of the Award for Research, Scholarship and Creative Achievement have achieved scholarly recognition and influence well beyond the university.
“These award recipients are among the very best scholars at the University of Mississippi, and we celebrate their success,” said Charles Hussey, associate dean for research and graduate education and professor of chemistry and biochemistry who served as chair of the selection committee.
The first African-American female tenure track professor hired in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Watkins received a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award for $499,593 for work she has completed at the university, her creative ideas for future research activities and her strong teaching credentials. Her most recent research endeavors received $95,000 in joint support from the United Negro College Fund and Merck.
Watkins also helped cultivate several close collaborations with internal research groups at UM and with external groups at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Oak Ridge National Laboratories and the University of California at San Diego.
Hammer, an associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has served as principal investigator on five grants from the National Science Foundation totaling more than $7 million. These include an NSF CAREER Award, a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site and a major instrumentation award. He served the state’s National Science Foundation EPSCoR program as Track 1 senior personnel and program architect and Track 2 program director.
A UM research development fellow, Hammer developed and directs his department’s summer research program. He also co-organized the 50th annual Southeastern Undergraduate Research Conference in 2018 and has delivered three invited talks at national American Chemical Society meetings.
This year’s honorees are exceptional, and their work reflects the goals for which the awards were created, said Lee M. Cohen, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and professor of psychology.
“As a Carnegie R1 university, it is important that we publicly recognize and reward our most productive faculty for their sustained efforts in research, scholarship and creative achievement,” Cohen said. “I hope the recent establishment of these awards will help us to elevate our productivity moving forward.”
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University of Mississippi BS Chemistry senior Jacob Thrasher has been inducted into the university’s 2017-18 Hall of Fame, one of the highest honors afforded students at Ole Miss.
The inductees were honored Friday afternoon (April 6) in a ceremony at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. A campus committee chooses Hall of Fame members in accordance with policy developed by the Associated Student Body. Selections are based on outstanding contributions in all aspects of campus life. This year’s Hall of Fame members are Allen Coon of Petal; Christopher Feazell of Mendenhall; Terrence Johnson of Shuqualak; Jiwon Lee of Oxford; Megan McLeod of Highlands Ranch, Colorado; Savannah Smith of Corinth; Austin Spindler of Savannah, Tennessee; Elizabeth Taylor of Whitesboro, Texas; Jacob Thrasher of Birmingham, Alabama; Ingrid Valbuena of Maracaibo, Venezuela.
“Each of the students selected for Hall of Fame has a record of scholarship and service to the university community and has impacted the Ole Miss campus in a positive way,” said Mindy Sutton Noss, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students. “Hall of Fame is a fitting way to recognize the legacy that each of them leaves at the University of Mississippi.” The 10 students were among 200 seniors recognized for inclusion in Who’s Who Among Students at the University of Mississippi.
“The Hall of Fame is a time-honored process that has identified students who have gone on to make a true difference in the world,” said Noel Wilkin, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. “This year’s inductees have made a mark on our institution and have developed abilities that will serve them well in their careers.”
Thrasher, a chemistry major in the biochemistry track, served as president of Omicron Delta Kappa, past president of Rebels Against Sexual Assault and a panelist for the Huffington Post’s Listen to America Tour. An editorial cartoonist for the Daily Mississippian and Oxford Eagle, he received the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Region 12 Award for best political cartoonist. Thrasher has been accepted to graduate school at Yale University where he plans pursue a doctorate in biology and biological sciences. His parents are Christy Branton Thrasher of Birmingham, Alabama, and the late Michael Aaron Thrasher.
Following glowing letters of recommendation from students, parents and colleagues, University of Mississippi Chemistry Professor Kerri Scott has been chosen to receive a prestigious honor for her exceptional service. The Thomas Frist Student Service Awards are presented annually to one faculty member and one staff member for going the extra mile in dedication and service to students. Examples of exemplary service include student guidance and mentorship above and beyond those expected of faculty and staff as part of their job responsibilities. Kerri Scott, instructional associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry and associate director of forensic chemistry, is the faculty honoree.
“Our university is truly a special place because of our steadfast commitment to student engagement and success,” Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “Across our campus, we have exceptional faculty and staff who go above and beyond to put our students first.
Any full-time faculty or staff member, except previous winners, is eligible for the award, which includes a $1,000 prize and a plaque. They will also be acknowledged May 12 during the university’s main Commencement ceremony.
“We had an outstanding group of nominees with many deserving nominees in each category,” said Brett Cantrell, assistant professor of accountancy. “For the faculty award, Dr. Scott stood out for the impact her advising had on students not just academically, but intra-personally.
Scott, who had multiple nomination letters written by both students and faculty, was commended by a colleague for “her commitment to students and their success.”
One student, who never took a course from Scott, wrote that, “There was one point she found me crying over a quantitative analysis exam, and Dr. Scott found time to calm me down and give me a chemistry beaker mug to encourage me to keep me moving forward. She helped me come up with an honors undergraduate research project and helped me with the data processing for my thesis.”
“I am incredibly lucky to have a job where I get to help others achieve their dreams,” Scott said. “The students keep me young, on my toes and challenged. They never let me forget that the world is full of amazing potential and greatness.”
The Frist Student Service Awards were established with a $50,000 gift from the late Dr. Thomas F. Frist of Nashville, a 1930 UM graduate. Previous winners of the Frist Award include faculty members Luca Bombelli, Denis Goulet, Aileen Ajootian, Don Cole, Charles Eagles, Ellen Meacham, Terry Panhorst, Ken Sufka, Eric Weber, Donald Dyer and Robert Brown; and staff members Anne McCauley, Carol Forsythe, Thelma Curry, Dewey Knight, Valeria Ross, Marc Showalter, Linda Spargo and Whitman Smith.
See https://news.olemiss.edu/university-honors-three-employees-frist-service-awards for the original story by .
Davita L. Watkins, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has been named a 2018 Young Investigator by the Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering Division, a branch of the American Chemical Society.
PMSE Young Investigators are researchers in the first seven years of their independent career in academia, industry or national laboratories who have made significant contributions to their fields within polymer science and engineering. These scientists and engineers are emerging as leaders in the fields of materials and polymer chemistry through the synthesis, processing, characterization and physics of soft materials and their applications.
“It’s very much of a surprise,” said Watkins of the honor. “As a young scientist, I am often narrowly focused on the task that is at hand – be it research, grants, manuscripts, outreach, etc.
“The experience tends to be a very personal one that I genuinely love. In turn, having others in your field acknowledge your hard work, ambition and drive is both humbling and satisfying.”
Watkins and the quality of her science are well deserving of the highly selective recognition, said Greg S. Tschumper, professor and chair of chemistry and biochemistry.
“The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is extremely proud of Dr. Watkins,” he said. “This type of accolade is a tremendous boon for the research mission of the department and the university. They provide a national stage that highlights some of the outstanding research and researchers at the University of Mississippi.”
Watkins’ research interests include organic and materials chemistry, supramolecular chemistry and other areas, such as exploring the operational efficiency of functional materials. A member of the Ole Miss faculty since 2014, she runs the Watkins Research Group based at UM that addresses challenging problems in materials science and engineering with innovative approaches to molecular design and fabrication.
The group focuses on improving the operational efficiency of functional materials by examining two factors: the nature of the constituting components, and the arrangement of those molecules to yield a useful overall composition, she said.
The goals of the group are to identify the unique building blocks of functional materials and examine how those building blocks behave on a molecular and macromolecular level.
“The new knowledge gained from our research leads to the development of more efficient organic-based materials and devices, thereby advancing the pursuit of technological applications” such as in electronic devices and biomedical implants, Watkins said.
Being named a 2018 Young Investigator is not the first time Watkins has earned acclaim for her research and work during her short tenure at the university.
In 2017, Watkins won a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for her research in advanced functional materials that she develops in her laboratory. Among the most prestigious awards made by the NSF, these honors are extremely competitive. The five-year award is for approximately $500,000.
In 2015, Watkins was awarded the Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award by Oak Ridge Associated Universities. The competitive research award recognizes science and technology faculty members. Watkins received the award to examine noncovalent interactions between organic semiconducting molecules to increase their efficiency in devices used as alternative forms of energy.
“UM is very proud to have Dr. Watkins as a member of our faculty,” said Josh Gladden, interim vice chancellor of the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. “She has quickly proven herself to be a talented researcher and teacher, which has already resulted in a number of significant and competitive grant awards and recognitions. I’m excited to watch the evolution of her career.”
The 21 Young Investigator recipients will be honored during a symposium at the fall 2018 American Chemical Society National Meeting, set for Aug. 19-23 in Boston. Each honoree will give a 25-minute lecture on his or her recent research advances. The symposium includes special lectures from established leaders in the field of polymer materials science and engineering.
Watkins’ research – understanding how to build better devices from the molecular level – is an overarching theme in modern organic materials research, said Emily Pentzer, assistant professor of chemistry at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a co-organizer of the symposium.
Watkins was chosen as a Young Investigator both for her current research and her future work.
“The awardees have also established that they will continue to significantly contribute to the field over the rest of their career,” Pentzer said.
Watkins said her symposium lecture will discuss the development of noninvasive functional materials for rapid diagnosis and treatment of acute trauma. After almost four years in development, Watkins said she’s excited to share her research with the scientific community at the symposium.
“I aim to be a teacher-scholar – an exemplary researcher and role model,” she said. “In turn, I am always conscious of the fact that my accomplishments are not my own. Being at UM, I am surrounded by intelligent, supportive people, including mentors, colleagues and students.
“My colleagues and collaborators, as well as amazingly hard-working students, are the ones who make these achievements possible.”
Congratulations to Prof. Charles Hussey for receiving the Lift Every Voice Award, which recognizes those who actively contribute to the betterment of relationships at the University of Mississippi.
Donald Cole, assistant provost and an associate professor of mathematics, presented the award to Hussey at the opening ceremony of the University’s Black History Month Celebrations in Fulton Chapel on February 1st. Prof. Hussey is the College of Liberal Arts Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education and Professor of Chemistry.
Registration and abstract submission are now open for the 50th Annual Southeastern Undergraduate Research Conference (SURC 2018) at http://surc2018.com. The 50th Annual SURC will be held on the campus of the University of Mississippi February 2nd and 3rd, 2018. Undergraduate students are invited to deliver oral presentations. CLICK HERE or on the logo for more information.
Congratulations to Prof. Amal Dass and his research group for being featured on the cover of the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS). The title of the paper is “Crystal Structure of Faradaurate-279: Au279(SPh-tBu)84 Plasmonic Nanocrystal Molecules.” This unprecedentedly large, 2.2 nm diameter, thiolate protected gold nanocrystal was named Faradaurate-279 (F-279) in honor of Michael Faraday’s (1857) pioneering work on nanoparticles. It is the smallest gold nanocrystal to exhibit metallic behavior, with a surface plasmon resonance band around 510 nm.