The Mississippi Technology Alliance will induct a former University of Southern Mississippi president into its Innovators Hall of Fame Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the Jackson Convention Center.
Dr. Shelby Thames, a Distinguished University Research Professor in the university’s world-renowned School of Polymers and High Performance Materials, led his alma mater as its executive officer from 2002-2007. In addition to the Hall of Fame induction, Thames will receive an Award of Excellence from the alliance at its annual awards gala.
The MTA launched the Innovators Hall of Fame in 2008 as a way to honor individuals in the state who have made great achievements in the areas of innovation and technology. This year’s gala kicks off the organizations’ 13th annual Conference on Technology Innovation.
“I’m pleased that the Alliance would see fit to include me in its Hall of Fame, but credit is also due to those who have been a part of our research efforts and successes over the years. Without them this honor would not be possible,” said Thames.
Thames, a member of the Southern Miss Alumni Hall of Fame, holds undergraduate and master’s degrees from Southern Miss and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Tennessee. He founded the Southern Miss Department of Polymer Science in 1970, which led to the founding of the School of Polymers and High Performance Materials.
His previous administrative positions at Southern Miss were chair of the Department of Polymer Science, dean of the College of Science and Technology, vice president for Administration and Regional Campuses and Executive Vice President. In 1998, the university’s $29 million Polymer Science Research Center was renamed in his honor as the Shelby Freland Thames Polymer Science Research Center.
In 1973, he co-founded of the Waterborne and High-Solids Coatings Symposium, an event that has expanded to the annual International Waterborne, High-Solids, and Powder Coatings Symposium.
Thames has also been instrumental in key economic development initiatives in his home state, including the establishment of the Mississippi Polymer Institute; International Coatings and Formulations Institute; Southern Diversified Products, LLC (a Mississippi University Research Authority company) and the 521-acre Innovation and Commercialization Research Park in Hattiesburg known as “The Garden.”