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USM Graduate School announces mentor, assistant of the year

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 09:22am | By: Kendra Ablaza

Brianna Bingham (left) with Graduate School Dean Karen S. Coats.

The University of Southern Mississippi's Graduate School has selected polymer science and engineering associate professor Dr. Derek Patton and graduate teaching assistant Brianna Bingham as its 2019 Mentor of the Year and 2019 Graduate Assistant of the Year, respectively. The awards were officially announced last month at the Susan A. Siltanen Graduate Research Symposium at the Thad Cochran Center.

These awards honor a USM faculty member of at least five years who mentors graduate students by fostering their intellectual, scholarly, personal, and professional development, and a graduate assistant with outstanding academic achievements, character, and contributions to the university through teaching, research, and service.

Dr. Patton is not only a recognized polymer scientist who writes proposals and brings support to USM for multi-disciplinary research, but he is also dedicated to the professional development of graduate students. The Graduate School says his mentorship skills are proven through the success of the students who work under the advisement of his research group. His students also regularly receive national and international recognition. For example, five of his students have received the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, and one was named honorable mention. His students also receive prestigious internships.

Bingham is a third-year doctoral student studying computational sciences (mathematics). She has served as a teaching assistant since fall 2016 instructing intermediate algebra and quantitative reasoning. She was a graduate assistant at the Southern Mississippi Summer Mathematics Institute in 2017, and has extensive experience tutoring at the collegiate and K-12 levels.

She is also passionate about increasing representation of African American women in STEM fields. According to the Graduate School, she helps students build confidence in their mathematical abilities. Her goals include encouraging children to enjoy the beauty of mathematics so they can eventually pursue degrees in STEM.

Dr. Patton received a commemorative plaque and funds to support travel to a professional conference. He will also represent USM as nominee for the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools 2020 Outstanding Mentor award later this year. Bingham received a plaque and $500 cash.

Portraits of Dr. Patton and Bingham will be added to the 2019 Graduate Student Hall of Fame in McCain Library to recognize their contributions to excellence in graduate education.