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College of Science and Technology Names 2005-07 Bennett Distinguished Professor


Contact Christopher Mapp 601.266.4497


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

Dr. Sabine Heinhorst, a faculty member at Southern Miss since 1987, will hold the title from 2005 to 2007. The Bennett Distinguished Professorship 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 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. "Dr. Heinhorst has excelled at teaching, research and service and is richly deserving of this award. She 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 give 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.

“To obtain grants from federal funding agencies, one has to submit a detailed project plan, and once those funds are received, the researcher has to pursue the stated project goals,” Heinhorst said. “Scientific research, however, often does not proceed according to plan, and new avenues open up that one frequently is unable to follow because one has to focus on the stated goals.

“The Bennett Professorship funding does not come with any such restrictions and will allow me to expand my current research by following exciting new directions. I am very grateful to the family of T.W. “Buddy” Bennett for providing these opportunities.”

Heinhorst, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, received her doctorate from Clemson University. At Southern Miss she expanded her postdoctoral research and has worked on various aspects connected with the replication of the genetic material of plants, repair of ultraviolet light-induced DNA damage in plants and the structure and function of proteins that compact plant DNA.

She was instrumental in organizing and obtaining funding for the Distinguished Scientists Seminar Series. Since 1989, this lecture series has brought several Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences to Southern Miss.

In 2004, Heinhorst was the recipient of Southern Miss’ College of Science and Technology Outstanding Faculty Service Award. Her interest in education is evident from her participation in several federally funded teacher and student enhancement projects. She has supervised countless science fair projects, has mentored yearlong research projects of three Distinguished Scholar students and has mentored research projects of high school teachers.

Previous Recipients of the Bennett Distinguished Professor in the Sciences

  • 1993-1995: Dr. Andy Griffin

  • 1995-1997: Dr. Frank Moore

  • 1997-1999: Dr. Charles McCormick

  • 1999-2001: Dr. Gordon Cannon

  • 2001-2003: Dr. Stephen Ross

  • 2003-2005: Dr. Roger Hester

  • 2005-2007: Dr. Sabine Heinhorst

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

For more information, contact Christopher Mapp at 601.266.4497.

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Last updated: 01/06/06

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