University of Southern Mississippi senior Ty McCleery has a long-range goal of making science education a bigger priority in public schools.
But for now the physics and math major is focused on parlaying his recent selection as a National Science Foundation (NSF) scholarship recipient into a doctoral degree. McCleery, a Mobile, Ala., native leaves for Vanderbilt in July to begin his post-graduate requirements.
“To get this kind of scholarship is simply amazing and a tremendous relief,” said McCleery. “This really takes a lot of the financial burden off my shoulders. I’m really excited about getting into my research work at Vanderbilt and begin the process of obtaining my doctorate.”
The NSF graduate research fellowship includes $90,000 to help McCleery with his post-graduate expenses. With an emphasis in biophysics, he hopes to complete his doctoral degree requirements in four years.
When asked to describe in layman’s terms the research component of biophysics, McCleery said, “It basically involves cutting up bugs with lasers. More specifically, I’m going to be doing a lot of research on the morphogenesis of flies.” Morphogenesis is the biological process that causes an organism to develop its shape.
While he thoroughly enjoys conducting research, McCleery also intends to make teaching a significant part of his career in physics/biophysics.
“The idea is to eventually settle in as a research professor,” he said. “And one of my primary goals is to get more attention placed on science education in public schools, from the elementary level to the high school level. The culture, I think, has always been that maybe science is over your head. Well, I want to work on changing that.”
University of Southern Mississippi student Ty McCleery, left, explains what type of research was needed to complete his undergraduate thesis. McCleery recently won a National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship. (Submitted photo)
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 www.usm.edu.