Department of Biological Sciences
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Accomplishments for 2014

(2014-08-29) Margarita Baquero, Biological Sciences Ph.D. student, is the third member of her family to come to Mississippi State from Ecuador to study and teach. Ms. Baquero conducts her Ph.D. research under Dr. Brian Counterman, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences. See related article on page 22 in benefacta. Link below.

(2014-08-28) Dr. Gary Ervin, Professor of Biological Sciences, recently received the 2013 Outstanding Graduate Student Mentor Award. The award, sponsored by the MSU Alumni Association and Office of the Graduate School, is made to a member of the MSU faculty based on well-documented examples of the highest dedication to graduate students while serving as an outstanding mentor. A mentor can be a major advisor or a member of a graduate committee, but being an outstanding mentor is much more than simply advising. A mentor provides wisdom, technical knowledge, assistance, support, encouragement, empathy and respect throughout, and most probably beyond, your graduate career. A graduate student reaps exceptional benefits from the mentor’s support, skills, wisdom and coaching. Mentoring also brings to a graduate student an understanding how his/her distinctive skills and ambitions fit into the opportunities offered by a graduate education. The mentor emphasizes the importance of scholarship, and university life and offers guidance in career choices. In depth story on page 16 of benefacta (MSU Graduate School magazine). Link follows.

(2014-08-28) Andries Pieter Both placed Second in the Biological Sciences and Engineering division at this summer’s Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted by the Shackouls Honors College and the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates. Pieter, whose poster was entitled “Characterizing mitochondrial morphology of S. cerevisiae mutants using mtGFP” carried out his research in the lab of Dr. Donna M. Gordon, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences.

(2014-06-16) Gabriel (Gabe) Posadas, Biological Sciences M.S. student in Microbiology, recently attended the 50th Annual Southeastern Microscopy Society Meeting in Columbia, South Carolina. The image he entered into a student competition at the meeting was awarded "Best Image Generated by an Electron Microscope." His image, an enteric bacterium, Fusobacterium necrophorum, interacting with a yeast probiotic, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, was taken using a scanning electron microscope here at the MSU Institute for Imaging & Analytical Technologies. Gabe conducts research under the direction of Dr. Janet Donaldson, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences.

(2014-06-13) Dr. Matthew Brown, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, teaches students in his research lab techniques for isolating and describing morphological and molecular characteristics of microscopic organisms. Follow the link below for the story describing the lab's discovery of a new life form found in a Harned Hall courtyard mud puddle.

(2014-05-01) Jessica Martin, M.S. student in Biological Sciences under the direction of Dr. Mark Welch, received the 2013 Undergraduate Student in Arts & Sciences Research Award at the MSU Annual Research Awards Banquet on Wednesday, April 30. While performing undergraduate research, Jessica received nine awards totaling over $9000 for research and travel and was awarded 2nd place at the Shackouls Undergraduate Research Symposium in both April and July of 2012. She has been involved with many on-campus organizations including the Society of Scholars, Phi Kappa Phi, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Beta Beta Beta and the Oktibbeha County Humane Society Student Chapters, among others. Jessica plans to earn a Ph.D. and teach at a university or return to San Diego (where she received a fellowship to study the California condor at the San Diego Zoo last summer)to continue conservation genetics research. She hopes to one day instill a passion for conservation in undergraduate and graduate students and guide them toward a career in making a difference in science.

(2014-04-30) Tineka Burkhead, senior Biological Sciences major, and Madison Buras, junior Biological Sciences major, are two of 10 students chosen to participate in the 2014 Office of the Graduate School Summer Research Program for Undergraduate Students. The selection process was highly competitive with the quality of their research proposals being a major factor in their selection for this honor. As a participant in this program, each student is expected to fulfill the following requirements: work with their faculty mentor to design and conduct a research project; maintain high standards of work/research ethics and meet their mentor's expectations; complete online training in Responsible Conduct of Research; adhere to a 20-hour work week; complete the 7-week research project; present their research at a research symposium and awards luncheon on June 30, 2014; and attend one Graduate School-sponsored workshop during the 2014-15 academic year. Tineka's faculty mentor is Dr. Vincent Klink, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences; Madison's faculty mentor is Dr. Mark Welch, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences. CONGRATULATIONS, Tineka and Madison!

(2014-04-03) Doctoral student Cory Shoemaker recently received a $48,000 grant from the Mississippi Water Resources Research Institute and the US Geological Survey for his research into wetland restoration practices in the Mississippi Delta. Cory's planned dissertation research aims to determine how ecological function in restored Delta wetlands responds to agricultural and other human activities on the surrounding landscape. The project is being advised by Cory's Major Professor, Dr. Gary Ervin (Professor of Biological Sciences), and their collaborator, Dr. Robbie Kroger (Assistant Professor of Wildlife, Fisheries & Aquaculture).

(2014-03-19) Congratulations to Dr. Janet Donaldson, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences. Dr. Donaldson is the recipient of the 2014 College of Arts & Sciences Research in the Natural & Physical Sciences and Mathematics & Statistics Award.

(2014-03-19) Congratulations to Tom Holder, Instructor of Biological Sciences. Mr. Holder is the recipient of the 2014 College of Arts & Sciences Teaching in the Natural & Physical Sciences and Mathematics & Statistics Award.

(2014-02-03) Dr. Diana Outlaw, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, has been named as the College of Arts & Sciences Researcher of the Month for February 2014, jointly with Ms. Amy Moe-Hoffman, Instructor of Geosciences. Please access the following link for more information: http://www.cas.msstate.edu/research/