HATTIESBURG – The University of Southern Mississippi
ranked in the top 50 schools in the country in 2003 for federally
funded chemical research and development as noted in the Oct.
31 edition of Chemical and Engineering News.
The chemical sciences at Southern Miss, comprised of chemistry,
biochemistry and polymer science, were ranked 49th. Southern
Miss was the only state institution from Mississippi making
the magazine’s top 50 schools in that category.
Generating $5.6 million in federal funding in 2003, Southern
Miss posted a 22.6 percent increase from the previous year.
Southern Miss ranked ahead of Arizona State University, which
brought in $5.5 million, and one spot behind the University
of California-Santa Barbara, which secured $5.7 million in 2003.
“This achievement emphasizes that Southern Miss is at the cutting
edge of science,” said Dr. Robert Lochhead, chair of the School
of Polymers and High Performance Materials at Southern Miss.
“It is a manifestation of the hard work, dedication and sheer
brilliance of our faculty members, and it bodes well for the
future of our students and for Mississippi’s economy.”
Figures for 2003 were the latest available from the National
Science Foundation, the source of the magazine’s rankings.
Funding for research and development in the chemical sciences
comes from various sources like private industry and contracts
and grants, said Dr. Robert Bateman, chair of the Southern Miss
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. But Bateman said recognition
by the federal government means the research proposal has been
through rigorous peer review. “It’s a reflection of the faculty’s
ability to compete for funding,” Bateman said.
A wide range of research is underway at Southern Miss in the
chemical sciences, all of which promise important benefits to
society and the national, state and local economies.
* Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, polymer science
professor Dr. Charles McCormick and his team of researchers
are creating “smart polymers” that can maximize the production
of oil wells.
* Polymer science professor Dr. Sergei Nazarenko is developing
new technology for soldiers that would allow sweat to evaporate
from their uniforms in hot conditions but still protect them
from chemical warfare agents.
* Working on a large project funded by the U.S. Navy is a group
of researchers including Dr. Shelby Thames, Dr. Robert Lochhead,
Dr. Lon Mathias, Dr. Ken Mauritz, Dr. Sergei Nazarenko, Dr.
James Rawlins, Dr. Robson Storey and Dr. Douglas Wicks. The
aim of the project is to design safe, biodegradable materials
that can take the place of plastics, which must be stored on
sea vessels until they can be shipped to a landfill. With new
materials that could be safely disposed in the sea, the Navy
could eliminate the need for storing and transporting plastic
waste aboard ships.
* Dr. Joshua Otaigbe is collaborating with the Swiss Federal
Institute of Technology, the former employer of Albert Einstein,
to study “nano-materials.” These inorganic-organic hybrid materials
can be designed to be better and stronger than the plastics
* Dr. Sarah Morgan is helping a Bay St. Louis-based company
called Mississippi Polymer Technologies create new materials
that can be used as armor plating.
* Dr. Shelby Thames, president of Southern Miss and a polymer
science researcher, is creating new products from alternative
crops. “Dr. Thames takes pride in developing materials that
are better for our health and less polluting to our environments.
This includes American Pride Paint, which has no volatile organic
compounds,” Lochhead said.
* Also at Southern Miss, the National Science Foundation has
funded the INSPIRE conference and the Research Experience for
Undergraduates. “These are two ways in which young people can
experience the wonders of science and the excitement of research,”
“Our university takes great pride in the top 50 national ranking
for Chemical Federal Research achieved by the Department of
Chemistry and Biochemistry and the School of Polymers and High
Performance Materials,” said Dr. Rex Gandy, dean of the College
of Science and Technology. “This prestigious ranking is indicative
of the high quality faculty, staff and students at Southern
The University of California at San Francisco topped the list
with $22.7 million, followed by the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology (M.I.T.) with $17.5 million and Harvard with $17.4
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.
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