Dr. Michael Forster

Change is in the air

At College Council with department heads this morning, it hit me just how much administrative change is taking place at mid-year, at least in the college and in the provost’s office.

In the College of Health:

Kathy Yadrick and Steve Cloud are stepping down as department heads, with Elaine Molaison and Ed Goshorn stepping up, respectively, as chairs of Nutrition & Food Systems, and Speech & Hearing Sciences.

Scott Piland is moving from assistant director to director, just in time to oversee a dramatic rebranding of the old School of Human Performance & Recreation as the new School of Kinesiology, and filling a leadership gap that’s been persisted in the unit far too long.  In addition, Scott and his faculty bid farewell and best wishes to Sport Management colleagues, who are moving to the College of Business and their new digs at Scianna Hall.

Rene’ Drumm kicks off as associate dean at Gulf Park, taking the baton from Stacey Hall, who served admirably for a year on an interim, part-time basis.

Mary Frances Nettles and her team at the college’s only dedicated research unit (a partnership arrangement with UM, which stays on the training end) are also undergoing a rebranding, from the National Food Service Management Institute (a mouthful for even the practiced) to the more felicitous Institute of Child Nutrition.

In the provost’s office:

Denis Wiesenburg returns to the faculty of Marine Science after five-plus years of executive administrative service (first as vice-president for research, then as provost).  Dean Steve Moser of Arts & Letters steps in July 1 as interim provost while a national search aims to identify the university’s next provost and vice-president for academic affairs by January 2016.

Amy Miller transitions from associate dean of Arts & Letters to a brand new position as associate provost for academic excellence.

Debby Hill, formerly university associate registrar, moves into the provost’s office as assistant to the provost for operations (a gig Cynthia Easterling managed under a different title).

A new associate provost for Gulf Park position remains unfilled, but my expectation is that interim provost Moser will make an appointment (probably on an interim basis as well) in early July.

It’s clear that there are many new oars in the water; obviously, the trick will be to get them all pulling in the same direction, and in the same rhythm.

 

Jim Coll

Top Stories – June 2015

Protecting American soldiers on the battlefield, innovating methods to assist children with language disorders, partnering with Boeing on next-generation polymer materials, and researching the manner the which dolphins communicate–it’s all in a month’s work at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Here are some of the top news stories from USM this month.

U.S. Army Awards $4.9 Million to Southern Miss for Helmet Liner Research

The United States Army has awarded a $4.9 million research contract to the University for development and evaluation of a helmet liner designed to provide enhanced head protection for warfighters.

The Southern Miss Pneumatic Cushioning helmet liner was developed in the laboratories of Dr. Jeff Wiggins, director of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, in collaboration with Dr. Trent Gould, associate dean in the College of Health and professor in the School of Kinesiology, and Dr. Scott Piland, assistant director and associate professor in the School of Kinesiology. The objective of this two-year program is to develop next-generation pneumatic cushioning systems which exceed the blunt impact performance standard of current helmets.

Read More: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/us-army-awards-49-million-southern-miss-helmet-liner-research

DuBard School’s New Products Now Available for Teachers of Students with Dyslexia

Teachers, speech-language pathologists, dyslexia specialists and other professionals who work with individuals with dyslexia/specific learning disabilities in reading now have access to a new product to aid in the remediation of dyslexia.

The University’s DuBard School for Language Disorders has released the Language Enhancement and Achievement Program (LEAP), a program for students who struggle with reading, writing and spelling.

LEAP’s highly specialized multisensory curriculum allows the student to quickly progress through sound-symbol associations and key skills. LEAP was piloted and has been used at the DuBard School for six years, and internal research shows the program’s effectiveness. On average, students diagnosed with a reading disability improved their ability to read unfamiliar words by 64 percent after 48 hours of instruction (one semester).

Read More: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/new-products-now-available-teachers-students-dyslexia

Southern Miss, Boeing Strengthen Partnership with New Master Agreement

As a technology incubator for Boeing, Southern Miss has entered into a new master agreement with the aviation giant to accelerate research and development of next-generation materials, including polymers and polymer matrix composites. The new agreement builds on a decade-long working relationship between USM and Boeing, which currently has a research contract to utilize the assets of the Accelerator – the University’s business incubator.

Read More: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-boeing-strengthen-partnership-new-master-agreement

Professor, Dolphin Research Featured in National Geographic Cover Story

Dr. Stan Kuczaj’s expertise on the popular marine mammal has earned him international recognition for his study of the species’ cognitive and communicative abilities, including in a recent edition of National Geographic.

In the May 2015 issue’s cover article titled “Thinking Like a Dolphin: Understanding One of the Smartest Creatures on Earth,” Kuczaj research examines dolphin use of sounds and other signals as a mode of communication. Kuczaj heads the Department of Psychology’s Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory. The laboratory’s projects have received grant support from the Office of Naval Research and the U.S. Department of Commerce, among others. His work has been featured on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and Japanese Public Television.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/professor-dolphin-research-featured-national-geographic

Dr. Michael Forster

Refill, please – Good news on coffee keeps coming

Coffee and caffeine suffered a bad health rap for a long time, but the tides have decidedly shifted.  Now one research study after another points to significant health benefits connected to the natural blend of antioxidants, bioflavonoids, vitamins and minerals contained in coffee beans.  Some of the positives include reduced risk of heart and vascular disease, enhanced liver functioning, and lowered risks for developing Type II diabetes and certain cancers, including melanoma.

At least we can feel a bit better about dropping all that money at Starbucks (but avoid the sweet drinks; sugar has absolutely no redeeming health features!).

Dr. Michael Forster

Mississippi Roads Are a Public Health Hazard

Mississippi has one of the one of the highest rural traffic fatality rates in the nation, in part because of the crumbling and highly dangerous condition of its roads and bridges. A new study by the national nonprofit Transportation Research and Information Program rates Mississippi as 13th worst in the nation, with 22% of its major rural roads in poor condition. Bridges are rated 12th worst, with 14% considered structurally deficient.

This sad state of affairs is nothing short of a major – and intolerable – public health hazard. People die – 2.42 deaths per every 100 million vehicle miles, 12th highest in the nation – because of it. And that state of affairs exists, and persists, for one reason and one reason only – Mississippi’s public officials, from the governor to county supervisors, lack the political will to raise the tax revenue sufficient to address the problem.

Admittedly, it’s a big problem to fix – bridge repair alone could cost over a half-billion dollars, and road maintenance would require injecting hundreds of millions more per year into the state department of transportation budget. But a crumbling infrastructure does not improve by ignoring it.

That we allow citizens to perish needlessly on hazardous roadways is unconscionable.  Shame on government; shame on all of us.

 

 

Jim Coll

Top Stories – May 2015

Here is what I shared for May 2015. SMTTT!

The University’s “military-friendly” commitment is continuing with the establishment of a Coast Guard Auxiliary Program at the Gulf Park Campus.

The University, in collaboration with the United States Coast Guard, recently announced the establishment of a Coast Guard Auxiliary University Program located on the University’s Gulf Park Campus in Long Beach.

As the official college-level program of the U.S. Coast Guard, the program is specifically designed to provide a quality education to undergraduate and graduate students in developing their leadership and technical talents for service to the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security, emergency response, maritime and public service communities.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-us-coast-guard-announce-coast-guard-auxiliary-university-program-gulf-park-cam

The academy continues to produce top scholars and programs.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has earned accreditation through the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) – indicating that it meets or exceeds professional standards, giving students an advantage with prospective employers and graduate schools.

The department is the first in Mississippi to receive accreditation by ASBMB for its Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with emphases in Biochemistry and American Chemical Society-certified Biochemistry.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-chemistry-and-biochemistry-undergraduate-program-first-accredited-state

Southern Miss Graduate Nursing Programs Ranked as State’s Best by U.S. News & World Report

The graduate nursing programs at The University of Southern Mississippi have been ranked as the state’s best and also included among the top programs nationwide in a recent assessment by U.S. News & World Report.

A total of 503 nursing schools with master’s or doctoral programs accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing were surveyed. The newly expanded rankings mark the first time U.S. News has rated graduate nursing programs. Of the programs surveyed, 246 were eligible for inclusion in the publication’s rankings of master’s programs. Of the six graduate nursing programs in Mississippi, Southern Miss ranked the highest nationwide at No. 102.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-graduate-nursing-program-ranked-state-s-best-us-news-world-report

Southern Miss Students Receive National Science Foundation Fellowships

Four University of Southern Mississippi students have been awarded prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, marking the first time the University has produced this many winners in a single year.

Laken Kendrick, of Hattiesburg, Miss.; Abagail Williams, of Independence, Mo.; Dexter Dean of Clinton, Ala.; and Cassandra Reese, of San Diego, Calif., were granted the fellowships from a pool of 16,500 applicants. No other Mississippi college or university matched Southern Miss in NSF Fellowship winners for 2015. Southern Miss student Lisa Lauderdale received honorable mention recognition, while two alumni – Michael Sims and Travis Thornell – also earned fellowships at the University of Florida and Purdue University, respectively.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/southern-miss-students-receive-national-science-foundation-fellowships

GCRL Oil Spill Seminar Series coincides with Deepwater Horizon Fifth Anniversary

The University‘s Gulf Coast Research Laboratory is hosting a seminar series, Deepwater Horizon: A Scientist’s Perspective,” throughout the summer.

The seminar series offers a retrospective exploration of the spill through presentations by research staff and discussions among speakers, education staff and attendees to answer pressing questions.

Read more: http://www.usm.edu/news/article/gcrl-oil-spill-seminar-series-coincides-deepwater-horizon-5th-anniversary

Southern Miss baseball enters the Conference USA Tournament on an unprecedented run. Our Golden Eagles take a school record-tying, 13-game winning streak into the Conference USA Tournament, which is being played at Pete Taylor Park.

The Golden Eagles (35-16-1) equaled the best consecutive game win streak mark originally accomplished in 1995 as that squad won the first 13 games to start the season. The Golden Eagle hosts the eight-team Conference USA Tournament beginning Wednesday, May 20, at Pete Taylor Park.

On Monday, pitcher James McMahon won the C-Spire Ferriss Award, which is presented to the top baseball player in the state. James has a record of 11-1 this year and is also a top candidate for conference pitcher of the year award.

Read more: http://www.southernmiss.com/sports/m-basebl/smis-m-basebl-body.html