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USM Inducts 13 into Graduate Student Hall of Fame

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 15:33pm | By: Van Arnold

Thirteen new honorees were inducted into The University of Southern Mississippi's (USM) Graduate Student Hall of Fame during a special ceremony held Tuesday, April 2 on the Hattiesburg campus. As part of the celebration, portraits for each of the inductees were unveiled at McCain Library.

Dr. Karen Coats, USM Graduate School dean, points out that the annual unveiling ceremony is always scheduled intentionally during the first week of April as a part of Graduate Student Appreciation Week, a week devoted to recognizing the contributions of graduate students to the teaching, research, and service mission of universities across the nation.

“The Graduate Student Hall of Fame spotlights the best of graduate education at Southern Miss - our most talented students,” said Coats. “The thirteen inductees honored this year represent the four academic colleges and the Graduate School as exemplars of excellence in academic performance, research or creative productivity, and character.”

Photographed in their research or creative setting, the students characterize the breadth of scholarship performed as a part of graduate degree programs at the University.

“Each portrait will be displayed for one year in the second floor breezeway of McCain Library, allowing all who visit the Graduate School the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of our outstanding students,” said Coats. 

Honorees include:

Andrea E. Blake

Ph.D. Student in Higher Education Administration

School of Education

College of Education & Human Sciences

Advisor: Dr. Holly Foster

Hometown: Hattiesburg, Miss.

Research: Blake's research focuses on intersectionality and student development of traditionally marginalized groups in higher education contexts. She is currently examining the influence of parental incarceration on college student development. Her goal is to contribute to giving voice to silenced identities and to contribute to social change among underrepresented student populations. 

Morgan Watkins Bradwell

M.S.W. Student in Social Work

School of Social Work

College of Education & Human Sciences

Advisors: Dr. Joohee Lee and Dr. Jerome Kolbo

Hometown: Montgomery, Ala.

Research:  Bardwell has worked on numerous research projects that have examined health and behavioral health among Mississippi residents. She studied psychological resilience, substance use coping, and depression among residents of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  She analyzed stressors, self-esteem, social activities, and depression among the homeless population of south Mississippi.  She examined various adaptive and maladaptive coping styles and their impact on depression among survivors of environmental disasters.  She is currently studying reproductive health practices among Mississippi women, as well as child and adolescent obesity rates across the state of Mississippi.

Ashleigh N. Bristol

Three Minute Thesis Grand Champion

Ph.D. Student in Polymer Science and Engineering

School of Polymer Science and Engineering

College of Arts & Sciences

Advisor: Dr. Sarah Morgan

Hometown: Biloxi, Miss.

Research:  Bristol's research focuses on determining the structure/binding interactions between bio-inspired polymers and various proteins in vitro. Specifically, she looks at how polymer structure, chain length, and environment influence non-covalent binding such as hydrogen bonding, electrostatic interactions, or hydrophobic interactions with proteins and how these interactions influence protein secondary structure and protein aggregation patterns. The goal of this research is to use polymers as models to improve therapeutic agent design in disease prevention and control.

Mitch Brown

Ph.D. Student in Psychology

School of Psychology

College of Education & Human Sciences

Adviser: Dr. Donald Sacco

Hometown: Mentor, Ohio

Research: Brown's research considers how humans have evolved the capability of accurately identifying valuable social information from another's face (e.g., personality, health). Specifically, he has investigated the interplay between fundamental motives pertaining to affiliation, mate acquisition, and self-protection with facial structures connoting extraversion and psychopathy, as well as the presence of limbal rings, through various face perception paradigms. This research seeks to understand how natural selection has shaped interpersonal preferences.

William Hunter Holt

Ph.D. Student in Criminal Justice

School of Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security

College of Arts & Sciences

Advisor:  Dr. Alan Thompson

Hometown: Breckenridge, Texas

Research: Holt's dissertation research is a qualitative analysis of former and current criminal offenders and addicts who all attend the same church. In interviews he asked them how they became participants in the church and how their religious involvement and growing Christian faith has affected their offending and addiction trajectories. The research project also examines how the church has reached out to such persons, attracting them to visit and then retaining them as regular participants‎ and members.

Mollie Clair McKay Johnson

Au.D. Student in Audiology

School of Speech and Hearing Sciences

College of Nursing & Health Professions

Hometown: Philadelphia, Miss.

Clinical experience: Johnson has gained over 2,000 hours of clinical experience doing her practicum at the G.V. Sonny Montgomery VA in Jackson; Coastal ENT Associates in Gulfport; ENT Surgical Clinic of South Mississippi in Laurel; Advanced Hearing and Balance and ENT Facial Plastic surgery, both in Hattiesburg; and numerous hours on campus in USM's Speech and Hearing Clinic. She is now completing a Fourth Year Clinical Externship in Tupelo at ENT Physicians of North Mississippi where she has accepted a full time position that will begin after graduation in May.

Elise Jordan Juergens

Ph.D. Student in Nursing (Leadership)

School of Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice

College of Nursing & Health Professions

Advisor: Dr. Lachel Story

Hometown: Mandeville, La.

Research: Juergens' dissertation research examines self-care and self-sacrifice among medical-surgical nurses. Nurses often deny themselves basic self-care needs, but this research revealed that nurses care for themselves in many abstract ways. The study also found that nurses take care of each other through collaborative self-care.

Zoe Livengood

M.A. Student in Criminal Justice

School of Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security

College of Arts & Sciences

Advisors: Dr. Joshua Hill and Dr. Wesley Johnson

Hometown: Ashville, Ohio

Research: The goal of Livengood's research project is to examine the role of food in southern Mississippi jails and how correctional food can be used as a contested space for control. She is using both quantitative and qualitative methods involving linear regression and grounded theory to create a theory that explains how food is used by both inmates and staff in a correctional setting.

Jessica Kay Nelson

M.P.H. Student in Public Health Epidemiology and Biostatistics

School of Health Professions

College of Nursing & Health Professions

Advisor: Dr. Danielle Fastring

Hometown: Ashland, Miss.

Responsibilities: Nelson is a graduate assistant within the school assisting professors and administrators with their various research projects, as well as serving as the College of Nursing and Health Professions' student senator in the Graduate Student Senate. She is also a teaching assistant for undergraduate public health courses and helps coordinate the executive format of the Master of Public Health Policy and Administration program.

Josh Spivey

M.P.A. Student in Accountancy

School of Accounting

College of Business & Economic Development

Advisor: Ms. Amber Hatten

Hometown: Lake, Miss.

Plans: Spivey will be graduating with the MPA this summer. He is currently studying for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam and has passed two out of the four parts so far. After graduation, he plans to work for Ernst and Young, one of the Big 4 accounting firms, in New Orleans where he will be a tax associate. He will be completing his graduate studies by studying abroad with the Southern Miss Asian Studies Program, which includes trips to Tokyo, Japan and Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

Mary A. Stephens

Ph.D. Student in English

School of Humanities

College of Arts & Sciences

Advisor: Dr. Eric Tribunella

Hometown: Soperton, Ga.

Research: Stephens' project explores the young, non-normative body in young adult literature, and questions the ways in which disability and weight are perceived and treated in young adult texts. This project discusses earlier examples of the fat and disabled body in young adult literature by examining The Planet of Junior Brown by Virginia Hamilton, Blubber by Judy Blume, and Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher before moving on to discuss weight loss and mental disability in young adult literature. Overall, she seeks to present a more developed perspective of the young body and its relationship with disability — a topic that has received little critical attention.

Laura M. Whitmore

Ph.D. Student in Marine Science (Marine Chemistry)

School of Ocean Science and Engineering

College of Arts & Sciences

Advisor: Dr. Alan Shiller

Hometown: Palmer, Alaska

Research: The Arctic Ocean is strongly impacted by changing climate; but it also impacts climate through its role as one starting point of ocean circulation. Whitmore's project uses the distributions of various trace metals to help unravel the sources of material, including water, in the Arctic Ocean. These elemental distributions are thus, tools to help us understand how changing temperatures might influence the Arctic and ultimately ocean circulation and climate.

Leah Danielle Williams

M.S. Student in Sport Management

School of Marketing

College of Business & Economic Development

Advisor: Dr. Brandon Allen

Hometown: Waynesboro, Miss.

Plans: Following graduation, Williams plans to pursue a career in collegiate sports marketing by obtaining a job within a university athletic marketing department. She notes sports have always been a major passion, and she is looking forward to years of doing exactly what she loves.