Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Distinguished Professor Charles L. Hussey to Retire

Posted on: December 10th, 2020 by nhammer
Charles L. Hussey, Professor and Fellow of The Electrochemical Society

Charles L. Hussey, Distinguished Professor and Fellow of The Electrochemical Society


After 42 years, Dr. Charles L. Hussey, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Education in the College of Liberal Arts and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, is retiring this December.  Hussey first came to the University of Mississippi in 1968 as an undergraduate student majoring in chemistry.  He received the department’s flagship  American Chemical Society (ACS) certified Bachelor of Science in Chemistry in 1971.  He chose to stay at UM and received his PhD in 1974.  After graduation he served on active duty in the USAF at the Frank J. Seiler Research Laboratory at the USAF Academy, where he was also an instructor in the Department of Chemistry. He received the Air Force Commendation Medal for his research work on the development of molten salt-based thermal batteries.  He then returned to the University and has taught courses in analytical chemistry and electrochemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UM since 1978.  Dr. Hussey served as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 1997 until 2017 and then became the first  Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the College of Liberal Arts

Hussey’s research interests are directed at electrochemistry and spectroscopy in molten salts and ionic liquids. His experimental work includes the electro-deposition of metals and alloys, the electrochemistry of lanthanides and actinides as related to the nuclear fuel cycle, the physical and transport properties of molten salts and ionic liquids and the applications of ionic liquids as fluids for chemical engineering processes. He has authored/co-authored more than 160 journal articles and book chapters and is co-inventor on five patents. He co-authored a seminal journal article entitled “Dialkylimidazolium Melts: A New Class of Room Temperature Ionic Liquids for Electrochemistry, Spectroscopy and Synthesis,” which has garnered more than 2,000 citations. Hussey has been the P.I./co-P.I. on more than $8,000,000 in external grants. He has presented papers and given lectures on his work at international conferences and at universities in the U.S. and Europe. In 2014, his research about the electrochemistry of ionic liquids was recognized by the international Max Bredig Award for Molten Salt and Ionic Liquid Chemistry.

For more than 18 years, Dr. Hussey served as a technical editor for the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, the world’s top-ranked journal devoted to the science of electrochemistry. His national service includes the Board of Visitors Review Team for the Battery and Propulsion Directorate at the Wright Laboratory (now AFRL), the National Research Council Committee on Electrometallurgical Techniques for DOE Spent Fuel Treatment, the University of Chicago Review Committee for the Chemical Technology (CMT) Division of Argonne National Laboratory, and the Board of Visitors Review Team for the Chemical Sciences Division of the Army Research Office. He has also served as a consultant to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Dr. Hussey was elected Fellow of The Electrochemical Society in 2007 and was designated as an Emeritus Member in 2017. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and the Golden Key National Honor Society. In 2014, he received the Southeastern Conference Faculty Achievement Award and the R&D Magazine Top 100 Invention Award. At the University of Mississippi, he has been honored with the Distinguished Research and Creative Achievement Award, the Faculty Achievement Award, and the 25-Year Service Award. In 2018, he was recognized with the Lift Every Voice Award for diversity and inclusion during Black History Month.

Chemistry Professors Innovate to Run Labs Safely Amid Pandemic

Posted on: December 3rd, 2020 by nhammer

Chemistry professors and lab coordinators at the University of Mississippi worked with the university’s facilities management and facilities procurement teams to create individual cubicles, made using nonporous barriers, in chemistry labs so students could safely conduct experiments and get in-person instruction during the fall semester.


Chemistry professors could lecture about displacement reactions in their sleep, but one displacement problem had them stumped as they planned for fall semester. How could some 1,000 University of Mississippi students, many suddenly uprooted last spring, attend lab sessions during a global pandemic?

When classes started in August, Mississippi’s Department of Health was reporting hundreds of new COVID-19 cases a day.

In response to public health and UM guidelines, Gregory Tschumper, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and the lab coordinators worked with the university’s facilities management and facilities procurement teams to come up with a proposal for safely distancing students.

Randy Wadkins


They decided to create individual cubicles, made using nonporous barriers, in the labs. The department invested in $20,000 of Plexiglas, for which the facilities team coordinated the ordering and installation.

Additional safety measures included students wearing masks and the sanitizing of each station before and after students worked at it. Teaching staff assistants kept common work areas sanitized.

“I hope that our students and other members of the UM family recognize the Herculean effort that has been put forth by chemistry faculty like Dr. John Wiginton, Dr. Safo Aboaku, Dr. Kerri Scott and Dr. Randy Wadkins in our teaching labs this semester,” Tschumper said.

“With all of the safety restrictions imposed by the pandemic, they have gone to extraordinary lengths to convert our laboratory courses to a hybrid format that still regularly includes in-person instruction. It is a privilege to work with such a dedicated group of faculty and teaching assistants.”

To reduce the number of students working in the labs during a given session, the department split the 24-person sessions in half – into an A group and a B group – and rotated the groups so that 12 students at a time could attend face-to-face lab sessions. Those not in the lab watched video experiments produced by graduate students or worked remotely on labs that were available on an online platform.

The new arrangement brought some unanticipated benefits.

Kerri Scott


“Initially, I had to be sold on the idea of hybrid labs, said Randy Wadkins, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, “But I soon realized that with smaller numbers I’m getting to know my students better than before.”

Students, too, realized advantages of the rotation concept.

“Rotations allow each student at least two times to perform an experiment each session because there are fewer students,” said Juaneisha Finnie Kennedy, a member of Wadkins’ 400-level biochemistry class from Booneville.

Smaller classes also give professors and instructors more one-on-one time for teaching.

“Faculty and teaching assistants usually can spend seven minutes with a student, but with only 12 per class, we could actually give them twice that amount of time,” said Kerri Scott, instructional professor and associate coordinator of the forensic chemistry program. “The noise level is a lot lower, so it’s easier to have a conversation.”

Safo Aboaku


Having 12 students instead of 24 makes lab sessions more relaxed, said Safo Aboaku, an instructional assistant professor of chemistry.

“When you spread students out, the station next to them is empty, so they get a lot more elbow room,” he said. “It’s more comfortable if you have space to maneuver.”

As for increased safety measures such as masking, these students seem to take it in stride.

“Many of us are used to taking extensive measures for safety in labs due to the types of chemicals we can work with, so the additional safety procedures for keeping us safe don’t cause any hindrance to our experience in the labs,” said Guinn Gruber, of Denton, Texas, a student in Scott’s 300-level Quantitative Analysis labs.

“I am certainly grateful that Dr. Scott is taking every precaution to keep a rather vital part of our learning in-person, while also making sure our safety is top priority.”

John Wiginton


When safety concerns kept students off-campus campus over the summer, John Wiginton, instructional associate professor and coordinator of undergraduate laboratories, found a feasible solution for the summer students in 100-level General Chemistry labs. These courses, typically taken by first-year students, have the largest enrollment, by far, of any chemistry course.

He partnered with a consortium of lab supply companies to create at-home kits that were custom assembled for Ole Miss general chemistry lab classes and paid for by the department. The kits – beakers, alcohol burners and other equipment, except chemicals – were delivered to the homes of 150 students at no cost to them.

By fall, they were able to take the next level of chemistry, having done at least rudimentary lab work.

“I am very proud of my colleagues in this department, who did the best possible job under really difficult circumstances,” Wadkins said. 

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Prof. Gregory Tschumper Named AAAS Fellow!

Posted on: November 27th, 2020 by nhammer
Gregory Tschumper, Chair and Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Photo courtesy of Bella Vie Photography

Gregory Tschumper, Chair and Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry.


Nearly 500 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science have earned the lifetime distinction of AAAS Fellow.  Professor and Chair Gregory S. Tschumper is now one of them.  He was cited for  contributions in the fields of physical chemistry and computational quantum chemistry, including seminal studies of water clusters, hydrogen bonding and non-covalent interactions. 

AAAS Fellows are elected each year by their peers serving on the Council of AAAS, the organization’s member-run governing body. The title recognizes important contributions to STEM disciplines, including pioneering research, leadership within a given field, teaching and mentoring, fostering collaborations, and advancing public understanding of science.

A virtual induction ceremony for the 489 newly elected Fellows will take place on Feb. 13, 2021, the Saturday following the AAAS Annual Meeting. The honorees will receive official certificates and rosette pins in gold and blue, colors symbolizing science and engineering, by mail.

The tradition of electing AAAS Fellows began in 1874. Since then, the recognition has gone to thousands of distinguished scientists, such as inventor Thomas Edison, elected in 1878, sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois (1905), anthropologist Margaret Mead (1934), computer scientist Grace Hopper (1963), physicist Steven Chu (2000), and astronaut Ellen Ochoa (2012). The 2020 group contains members of each of AAAS’s 24 sections.

AAAS Fellowship often precedes other accolades in long and impactful careers. Two of the 2020 Nobel laureates announced last month, Jennifer Doudna and Charles Rice, are AAAS Fellows. Doudna and a research collaborator received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of the CRISPR/Cas9 genome editor, while Rice and two colleagues received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for contributions to the discovery of the virus that causes Hepatitis C.

In order to be considered for the rank of Fellow, a AAAS member must be nominated by three previously elected Fellows, the steering group of a AAAS section, or the organization’s CEO. Nominations go through a two-step review process, with steering groups reviewing nominations in their section and the AAAS Council voting on the final list.

AAAS leadership has long encouraged its sections and Council to consider diversity when nominating and selecting Fellows, and the association has taken recent steps toward solidifying its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Last month, AAAS published a report that compiles demographic data on the organization’s honorary Fellows, Science and Technology Policy Fellows, award winners, governing bodies, and journal authors and reviewers. The data show that the policy fellows are roughly as diverse as the broader scientific enterprise, while women and racial minorities are underrepresented as elected Fellows. Of note, policy fellows apply to participate in the program, while elected Fellows receive the honor through a nomination process. AAAS has committed to releasing updated data each year to inform its DEI initiatives.

In September 2018, the AAAS Council adopted a revocation policy that allows the organization to rescind honorary Fellowship if warranted. The policy is intended to combat sexual misconduct, racial discrimination, and other breaches of professional ethics and scientific integrity.

An Ionic Forcefield for Nanoparticles

Posted on: November 27th, 2020 by nhammer

Tunable coating allows hitch-hiking nanoparticles to slip past the immune system to their target

Chemistry’s newest assistant professor just had her research published in Science Advances.  She finished this work when she arrived on campus and plans to continue this work at the University of Mississippi.

Nanoparticles are promising drug delivery tools, offering the ability to administer drugs directly to a specific part of the body and avoid the awful side effects so often seen with chemotherapeutics. 

But there’s a problem. Nanoparticles struggle to get past the immune system’s first line of defense: proteins in the blood serum that tag potential invaders. Because of this, only about 1 percent of nanoparticles reach their intended target. 

An SEM image of the nanoparticles on the red blood cell 


An SEM image of the nanoparticles on the red blood cell  (Image courtesy of Eden Tanner/ Harvard SEAS)

“No one escapes the wrath of the serum proteins,” said Eden Tanner, a former postdoctoral fellow in bioengineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). 

Now, Tanner and a team of researchers led by Samir Mitragotri, the Hiller Professor of Bioengineering and Hansjorg Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at SEAS, have developed an ionic forcefield that prevents proteins from binding to and tagging nanoparticles. In mouse experiments, nanoparticles coated with the ionic liquid survived significantly longer in the body than uncoated particles and, surprisingly, 50 percent of the nanoparticles made it to the lungs. It’s the first time that ionic liquids have been used to protect nanoparticles in the blood stream. 

“The fact that this coating allows the nanoparticles to slip past serum proteins and hitch a ride on red blood cells is really quite amazing because once you are able to fight the immune system effectively, lots of opportunities open up,” said Mitragotri, who is also a Core Faculty Member of Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

The research is published in Science Advances

Ionic liquids, essentially liquid salts, are highly tunable materials that can hold a charge. 

“We knew that serum proteins clear out nanoparticles in the bloodstream by attaching to the surface of the particle and we knew that certain ionic liquids can either stabilize or destabilize proteins,” said Tanner, who is now an Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry at the University of Mississippi. “The question was, could we leverage the properties of ionic liquids to allow nanoparticles to slip past proteins unseen.”

“The great thing about ionic liquids is that every small change you make to their chemistry results in a big change in their properties,” said Christine Hamadani, a former graduate student at SEAS and first author of the paper. “By changing one carbon bond, you can change whether or not it attracts or repels proteins.”

Hamadani is currently a graduate student at Tanner’s lab at the University of Mississippi.

SEM image of the ionic liquid coating the nanoparticle

SEM image of the ionic liquid coating the nanoparticle (Image courtesy of Eden Tanner/ Harvard SEAS)

The researchers coated their nanoparticles with the ionic liquid choline hexenoate, which has an aversion to serum proteins. Once in the body, these ionic-liquid coated nanoparticles appeared to spontaneously attach to the surface of red-blood cells and circulate until they reached the dense capillary system of the lungs, where the particles sheared off into the lung tissue. 

“This hitchhiking phenomenon was a really unexpected discovery,” said Mitragotri. “Previous methods of hitchhiking required special treatment for the nanoparticles to attach to red blood cells and even then, they only stayed at a target location for about six hours. Here, we showed 50 percent of the injected dose still in the lungs after 24 hours.” 

The research team still needs to understand the exact mechanism that explains why these particles travel so well to lung tissue, but the research demonstrates just how precise the system can be. 

“This is such a modular technology,” said Tanner, who plans to continue the research in her lab at University of Mississippi. “Any nanoparticle with a surface change can be coated with ionic liquids and there are millions of ionic liquids that can be tuned to have different properties. You could tune the nanoparticle and the liquid to target specific locations in the body.”

“We as a field need as many tools as we can to fight the immune system and get drugs where they need to go,” said Mitragotri. “Ionic liquids are the latest tool on that front.”

The research was co-authored by Morgan J. Goetz.

November 25, 2020

Congratulations Chemistry Majors for Inductions into Phi Kappa Phi!

Posted on: November 19th, 2020 by nhammer

Chemistry Majors Awarded Prestigious Goldwater Scholarship

Posted on: March 27th, 2020 by nhammer

The Office for National Scholarship Advisement is thrilled to announce that JAX DALLAS and WILLIAM MEADOR have been awarded the Goldwater Scholarship!

The Goldwater is one of the oldest and most prestigious national scholarships in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics in the United States. It identifies and supports exceptional sophomores and juniors who show promise of becoming this Nation’s next generation of research leaders in these fields! Last year, Goldwater received 1300 applications and awarded 250 scholarships. 

BS Chemistry Major Jax Dallas

Jax Dallas is a native of Columbus, MS and has been fascinated with NASA since childhood when he would launch model rockets with his father from the cotton fields. Last year he completed an REU at the University of Southern California. He aims to pursue a PhD in physical chemistry. His goal is to work for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab.

BS Chemistry Major William Meador

William Meador is junior from Carbondale, IL. He is a pursuing a BS in Chemistry and has multiple publications. Most recently, his first author research paper was published in The Journal of Organic Chemistry where he also received the journal issue cover for his artwork! William aims to pursue a PhD in Chemistry. He wants to become a teacher-scholar with a specialty in organic chemistry while mentoring graduate students to create novel molecules with innovative properties.

Both Jax and William presented an incredible commitment to a career in research, a display of intellectual curiosity and proven contributions in their fields. From all of us at the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, we are so incredibly proud of you!

Congratulations to our 2020 Goldwater scholars Jax Dallas and William Meador!

Original story by .

Departmental Operations Modified (COVID-19 Update)

Posted on: March 23rd, 2020 by nhammer

The University of Mississippi and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry are open for business. However, our operations have been modified to keep safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. If this is an urgent matter requiring immediate attention contact the Department’s main line at 662-915-7301.  For timely updates regarding ORSP COVID-19 Guidance the following web page has been created  

Congratulations Chemistry Majors for Receiving a Taylor Medal!

Posted on: March 18th, 2020 by nhammer

Level Up: Increasing the number of women in STEM careers through mentorship

Posted on: March 3rd, 2020 by nhammer



$26 Million Gift Makes STEM Building Reality

Posted on: February 5th, 2020 by nhammer

Business professionals Jim Duff (left) and Thomas Duff (right), of Hattiesburg, visit with UM Chancellor Glenn Boyce about their gift of $26 million toward construction of a new STEM facility on the Oxford campus. Ole Miss students, such as those pictured in this Coulter Hall chemistry lab, will benefit from state-of-the-art active learning spaces in the new 202,000-square-foot building. Photo by Bill Dabney/UM Foundation


OXFORD, Miss. – With eyes on increasing job opportunities and boosting the economy, business leaders and brothers Jim and Thomas Duff, of Hattiesburg, have committed $26 million to the construction of a state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering and mathematics facility at the University of Mississippi.

Chancellor Glenn F. Boyce announced today (Feb. 5) the top gift for the 202,000-square-foot building, which will be the largest single construction project in Oxford campus history, with a $160 million total project budget. The Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation is projected to be one of the nation’s leading student-centered learning environments for STEM education.

“There is a critical need to increase the number of graduates in STEM fields to support growth and innovation in our state, region and nation, and strengthen the pipeline for training engineers, tech entrepreneurs, and science and math teachers,” Boyce said. “We are deeply grateful to the Duff brothers for this significant investment in our vision to produce graduates who fulfill critical needs, improve STEM teaching in our education systems and contribute as scientifically aware citizens in our society.

“Jim and Thomas are dedicated to enriching educational opportunities in Mississippi, and we guarantee that their investment will have a significant return as its far-reaching impact is felt. In the coming years, STEM job creation will outpace non-STEM jobs, and STEM professionals earn higher salaries, yielding more attractive opportunities for our students in Mississippi and beyond.”

Thomas Duff, a member of the state Institutions of Higher Learning board – the governing body responsible for policy and financial oversight of the state’s eight public universities – shared the motivation behind their gift.

“Jim and I recognize the importance of educating Mississippi students in STEM fields,” he said. “It is absolutely crucial to our state’s future to have an educated STEM workforce. In addition, we want to see talented high school graduates in our state have exceptional opportunities to prepare for some of the most rewarding careers possible. It’s what they deserve, and it’s what Mississippi needs.”

The Duff brothers contributed $1 million previously to support UM’s Flagship Constellations in memory of their father, the late Ernest Duff, who was the first in his family to pursue higher education. He earned an undergraduate and law degree from Ole Miss, where he served as the Associated Student Body president, was inducted into the student Hall of Fame, served on the Mississippi Law Journal staff and graduated first in his law school class.

In addition, Jim Duff’s daughters, Margaret and Caroline, are law and liberal arts students, respectively, at Ole Miss.

Jim Duff said his family values educational opportunities and wants to expand them in Mississippi.

“Tommy and I are impressed that part of the STEM facility’s mission will involve outreach to our state’s kindergarten-through-high school teachers,” Duff said. “We need our teachers introducing the idea of STEM fields to their students, inspiring them to major in STEM fields in college.

“This outreach will also include STEM activities for the community, improving the overall science literacy of our state and region.”

According to the National Math and Science Initiative, 60 percent of jobs created in the 21st century will require skills possessed by only 20 percent of the current workforce. The United States may be short as many as 1 million skilled workers over the next decade. The nation ranks 17th worldwide for the number of science degrees awarded annually.

The Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation will be an important tool to bolster science literacy in Mississippi by providing active learning classrooms and state-of-the-art labs to prepare STEM majors and K-12 teachers of those subjects. The 202,000-square-foot facility is poised to be the crown jewel of the university’s Science District along University Avenue.


The additional space and technological advances offered by the Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation are critical to serving the student enrollment.

The university’s ability to expand STEM courses, especially those that require laboratory work and other research, is stymied by a lack of classroom and laboratory space – and particularly by a lack of nontraditional teaching spaces that facilitate active learning. Some active learning classrooms have been set up ahead of the building and professors have seen positive responses from students.

With construction slated to begin in 2020, the Jim and Thomas Duff Center for Science and Technology Innovation will be located in the Science District, with one side facing the Grove and another facing Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and The Pavilion at Ole Miss. Thousands of people will pass this new campus landmark daily.

It will house lecture halls as well as chemistry, biology, physics, engineering and computer science labs. Lower student-instructor ratios will be in place, and various disciplines will be spread throughout the building to promote interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

Among other building highlights, students will enjoy technology-enabled active learning, or TEAL, labs and a visualization lab, similar to a small IMAX theater for 3D visualization. Engineering students will have access to dedicated lab spaces, including fabrication and testing equipment, for their senior design projects.

Several common areas will give students space to study both individually and in small groups, and a STEM tutoring center will provide additional support.

Such innovations appealed to the Duff brothers, who are widely known for their entrepreneurial spirit and for responding to opportunities with solutions, Thomas Duff said.

What began as a small-town enterprise quickly grew under the leadership of the Duff brothers, who saw unique opportunities for the development of solution-providing companies. That forward-thinking force became Duff Capital Investors, a privately-owned company headquartered in Columbia.

DCI comprises 20 companies, providing more than 13,000 employment opportunities across the nation and exceeding $3 billion in total revenues. The company includes Southern Tire Mart, KLLM Transport Services, Frozen Food Express, TL Wallace Construction, DeepWell Energy Services, Pine Belt Motors and many other companies that were founded as solution providers.

UM will seek other private, state and federal funding, use internally generated cash and borrow funds to cover the costs of the construction. Other private support for the building includes a $25 million gift from the Gertrude C. Ford Foundation in Jackson, a longtime donor to Ole Miss.

For more information on providing support for the STEM facility, contact Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor of development, at or 662-915-3120; or visit Other naming opportunities are available inside the STEM building.

February 5, 2020 by