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Released September 24, 2003


HATTIESBURG -- An accomplished research scientist and polymer science professor at The University of Southern Mississippi has been chosen as the sixth Bennett Distinguished Professor in the Sciences.

Dr. Roger Hester, a faculty member at Southern Miss since 1976, will hold the title from 2003 to 2005. The Bennett Distinguished Professorship in the Sciences is the result of the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. T.W. Bennett, Sr., of Natchez. This endowed professorship is named in honor of their son, T.W. (Buddy) Bennett, Jr., who graduated from Southern Miss in 1967 with an abiding love of the sciences. Upon graduating, he entered military service and served with distinction in the Vietnam War. On December 22, 1972, Buddy's plane crashed, and he has been listed as "missing in action" since.

"The Bennett Distinguished Professorship in the Sciences is one of the highest honors that Southern Miss can bestow on one of the faculty," said Dr. Rex Gandy, dean of the College of Science and Technology. "Professor Roger Hester continues a long line of outstanding scientists and teachers who have won this award."

The Bennett Distinguished Professor in the Sciences is selected from faculty members in the doctoral granting units of the College of Science and Technology by the dean, based on the recommendation of a selection committee composed of former Bennett professors. The Bennett Professor must be an established scholar at The University of Southern Mississippi and gives the keynote address at the biennial Bennett Symposium, which will be held during the second year of the two-year term.

The endowment for the Bennett Professorship is held by the USM Foundation and provides approximately $28,000 over two years ($14,000 per year) to support research assistance, clerical support, travel, equipment and the Bennett symposium. The name of the Bennett Professor is inscribed on a plaque displayed permanently in the lobby of the Chain Technology Building.

Dr. Hester, a professor in the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, received his B.S. from Auburn University in chemical engineering and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Georgia Tech in chemical engineering. Before coming to Southern Miss, he worked at Dupont in research involving polyurethane synthetic leather and novel fiber processing. Perhaps his greatest contribution to the university has been in the area of recruitment and student mentoring.

He has served as major adviser to 12 Ph.D. and M.S. students and 75 B.S. graduates. He has also served as thesis co-advisor or as committee member for 50 other students. He implemented a student seminar program and developed an innovative experimental design course.

Hester's research group is internationally recognized in three areas: kinetic modeling in fluid friction studies, complex fluid flow in porous media, and calibration procedures in chromatography known as the "Southern Method." He has been generated $9 million in external funding, published 57 research manuscripts and 75 technical reports, held seven patents and presented results at 140 meetings.

In the service area, Hester served as chair of polymer science during 1989-93 and is active in the following organizations: American Chemical Society; Society of Plastic Engineers; Economic Development Alliance; and the Area Development Partnership.

Hester has also played a major role in establishing education training programs at community colleges in association with the Mississippi Polymer Institute.



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October 1, 2003 3:16 PM