Two Chemistry Majors Receive ODK Leadership Awards

OXFORD, Miss. – Six University of Mississippi students are recipients of the annual Omicron Delta Kappa Freshman Leadership Awards.  This number includes two chemistry majors.  The honors were created in 2010 to identify and recognize outstanding freshman leaders and community servants. Although the society was unable to present this year’s awards in person, each recipient was personally congratulated and featured on the organization’s social media accounts.

Jilkiah Bryant

This year’s award recipients from Chemistry are Jilkiah Bryant of Macon and Matthew Knerr of Paducah, Kentucky.  “We are fortunate to have such engaged students at the university,” said Ryan Upshaw, assistant dean for student services in the School of Engineering and ODK faculty adviser.

“Our society is excited to be able to recognize their outstanding contributions during their first year on campus. We also look forward to their potential membership in our society later in their college career.”

Previous recipients have gone on to serve in roles such as Associated Student Body president, Black Student Union president and Student Activities Association director. Several have been inducted into the university’s student Hall of Fame.

Matthew Knerr

Bryant is a chemistry major in the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. She is participating in undergraduate research in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta health professions society. Bryant is also a Catalyzing Economic and Entrepreneurial Development Innovation Scholar with the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement. She also serves as an Honors College ambassador and volunteers with Memory Makers.


Knerr is a Stamps Scholarship recipient and a biochemistry and psychology major. He is a member of the Honors College and Chancellor’s Leadership Class and works in Joshua Bloomekatz’s research lab in the Department of Biology. He is vice president of the Ole Miss Chess Club, president of Hill Country Roots and a peer mentor for ASB. He was selected to represent the university at the Naval Academy Science and Engineering Conference in Annapolis, Maryland. He recently was selected for membership in Lambda Sigma.