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Chemistry Department Plans 50th Anniversary Celebrations PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Contact Tara Burcham 601.266.5910,   


In the 50 years since the founding of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at The University of Southern Mississippi, more than 1,000 of its graduates have earned degrees, launching them on careers in research, teaching and health care.


A number of these alumni will return to celebrate the department’s 50th anniversary with faculty and staff at two upcoming events on the Hattiesburg campus. 


On Saturday, Oct. 24, the department will host the College of Science and Technology hospitality corner tailgating event before the university’s homecoming game against Tulane University. On Thursday, Oct. 29, Hattiesburg Clinic will sponsor a Medical Alumni Symposium that will include six department graduates discussing their respective careers.


Dr. Robert Bateman, chair of the department, said the day-long alumni symposium will feature graduates who have built careers in areas such as veterinary medicine, cardiovascular research and forensic pathology.  


“We are excited to have a cohort of six bachelor’s degree graduates from the mid 1990s return and take a day to talk about their careers and what they learned along the way,” said Bateman.


Medical Alumni Symposium speakers and their graduation years include:


-- Dr. Harn Cherng Shiue ‘99, an Interventional Cardiology fellow at Baylor College of Medicine

-- Dr. Reade A. Quinton ‘95, a forensic pathologist for the office of the Dallas County Medical Examiner

-- Dr. Jonathan Anderson ‘99, a veterinarian with Pittsburgh Veterinary Surgery

-- Dr. Christopher D. Anderson ‘99, an assistant professor of surgery in the Section of Abdominal Transplant Surgery and Associate Residency Program Director for the General Surgery Residency Program at Washington University in St. Louis and Barnes Jewish Hospital

-- Dr. Paul A. Sykes ’99, a staff neurologist at St. Vincent’s East Hospital in Birmingham, Ala.

-- Dr. Kathleen Burns ‘97, a practicing hematopathologist at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore


50 Years of History, Growth

In 1959 the university’s Chemistry Department was established as a separate entity and began granting bachelor’s and master’s degrees at what was then Mississippi Southern College. In 1962 the doctoral program was approved by the state College Board.


The department started a growing trend of graduating future leaders in the scientific community. The first five master of science degrees were granted in 1961, followed in 1967 by awarding of the first doctoral degree. 


From the inaugural master’s degree group emerged Dr. Shelby Thames, who later became the university’s eighth president, serving from 2001 to 2007.


Faculty members have also made strides in growing and advancing the department in terms of financial support for research efforts. More than $4.7 million in external research funding was secured for projects during the past year. 


“Over the past several years, faculty members have been significantly successful securing competitive research funding, said Dr. Cecil Burge, vice president for research and economic development.  


“For example, Dr. Paige Phillips and Dr. Douglas Masterson received Career Awards from the National Science Foundation. The NSF Career program is a highly competitive award that provides multi-year funding for outstanding scientists in American universities,” said Burge.


Faculty research also helps bring recognition to the university. Chemical research efforts place Southern Miss at No. 39 nationally in federal support and No. 44 in overall chemical research, making it the only Mississippi university in the top 50 rankings by the NSF in 2007. The rankings reflect efforts of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials.


50th Anniversary Scholarship Fund

In conjunction with the anniversary, the department’s External Advisory Board has established a scholarship fund with a goal of raising $50,000. “Thanks to the hard work of our board members, we have exceeded this goal and have raised $57,000,” said Bateman.


Contributions to the scholarship fund were can be made by individuals as well as corporate partners. 


Dr. Joe Whitehead, interim dean for the College of Science and Technology, said scholarships are increasingly important in providing opportunities for students to pursue careers in science.


“With the increased cost of higher education, scholarships such as this allow us to recruit and retain students who become future leaders and scientists, like our Medical Alumni Symposium speakers,” said Whitehead.  


The Medical Alumni Symposium is open to the public.  For more information about the 50th anniversary events call 601.266.4701 or visit  


About The University of Southern Mississippi

The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at             
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