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USM Graduate School Announces 2020 Hall of Fame Class

Mon, 04/20/2020 - 06:11am | By: David Tisdale

Ten graduate students with records of exceptional academic performance, leadership and service to their fellow students and community were honored recently at The University of Southern Mississippi USM) with induction into its 2020 Graduate School Hall of Fame.

Held in conjunction with Graduate Student Appreciate Week, the induction includes the placement of portraits of the inductees at McCain Library on the Hattiesburg, where the USM Graduate School is housed. 

“I am so proud to recognize these 10 students as members of the 2020 Graduate Student Hall of Fame.  They are among the best of the best at Southern Miss, representing all four academic colleges and the Graduate School, selected because of their outstanding academic performance, scholarship, accomplishments, and attitude,” said Dr. Karen Coats, dean of the Graduate School. “I am confident these students will finish strong, and represent Southern Miss well as alumni wherever their career paths lead them.”

The student inductees and their profiles include the following: 


Kendall King  

Degree Program: Speech and Hearing Sciences (Speech-Language Pathology) M.S.  

School: Speech and Hearing Sciences 

College:  Nursing and Health Professions 

Hometown: Nettleton, Mississippi  

Mentors: Dr. Edward Goshorn and Dr. Steven Cloud 

Project: King served as a graduate assistant at the DuBard School for Children with Language Disorders.  She completed practica at DuBard, USM's Speech-Language Pathology Clinic, Oak Grove Primary School, and North Mississippi Medical Center-Acute Care. These experiences helped prepare her for a career in speech-language pathology.  


Janice Taleff Scaggs 

Degree Program:  Nursing D.N.P. 

School: Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice 

College: Nursing and Health Professions 

Hometown:  Gulfport, Mississippi 

Mentor: Dr. Cathy Hughes 

Project: Intrapartum nurses’ beliefs influence nursing behavior and nursing interventions during labor and birth. Scaggs utilized the Intrapartum Nurse’s Beliefs Related to Birth Practices instrument to establish that 93% of nurses who participated in the survey have birth beliefs that more closely align with normal birth practices. The results of the survey illustrate that the nursing culture values normal birth and indicates education and training that builds knowledge and skills to support intended vaginal birth is likely to be successful. 


Lucas Somers 

Degree Program: History (United States) Ph.D. 

School: Humanities 

College: Arts and Sciences 

Hometown: Bowling Green, Kentucky 

Mentor: Dr. Susannah J. Ural 

Research: Somers’ dissertation, entitled “Embattled Learning: Education and Emancipation in the Post-Civil War Upper South,” looks at the establishment of schools for formerly enslaved children and adults in Kentucky and Tennessee following emancipation. Analyzing the roles of various groups of people to support or resist efforts by African Americans to educate their communities reveals the realities of emancipation. Building on existing scholarship, this study explains why freedom did not guarantee revolutionary change for freed people during and after Reconstruction. 


Joshua Tropp 

Degree program: Polymer Science and Engineering Ph.D. 

School: Polymer Science and Engineering 

College: Arts and Sciences  

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Mentor: Dr. Jason D. Azoulay     

Research: Tropp’s research utilizes polymeric materials for the optical and electronic detection of environmental pollutants in complex aqueous environments such as seawater. His research interests include chemical sensing, polymer synthesis, and supramolecular chemistry 


Amy Moody 

Degree Program: Marine Science Ph.D. 

School: Ocean Science and Engineering 

College: Arts and Sciences  

Hometown:  Davidsonville, Maryland 

Mentor:  Dr. Alan Shiller 

Research: Groundwater input to the Sound is known to cause low oxygen, excess nutrients, and harmful algal blooms. Moody’s research examines groundwater discharge into the Mississippi from coastal aquifer systems.  Her goal is to determine if the groundwater in this region is causing low oxygen events, leading to fish kills. 


Hallie Ray Jordan 

Degree program: Psychology (Counseling) Ph.D. 

School: Psychology 

College: Education and Human Sciences  

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama 

Mentor: Dr. Michael Madson 

Research: As a member of the Behavior and Addiction Research (BAR) Lab, Jordan developed a research program focused on the intersection of mental health factors (e.g., posttraumatic stress) with social, cognitive, and behavioral predictors (e.g., drinking motives, protective strategies) of alcohol and marijuana-related outcomes. She explores the ways drinking motives (e.g., drinking to cope) and alcohol protective strategies help explain the relationships between posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms and alcohol outcomes like alcohol-related negative consequences. 


Raymond Jones 

Degree program: Kinesiology (Exercise Physiology) Ph.D. 

School: Kinesiology and Nutrition 

College: Education and Human Sciences 

Hometown: Patterson, Louisiana 

Mentor: Dr. Stephanie McCoy 

Research:  Jones’s research focuses on sedentary behaviors and cerebrovascular blood flow, especially in minority populations. Using noninvasive techniques such as doppler ultrasound, he examines the blood flow response to prolonged sitting. 


Delores McNair 

Degree program:  Master of Science, Child and Family Studies 

School:  Child and Family Sciences 

College: Education and Human Sciences  

Hometown: Hattiesburg, Mississippi 

Mentor: Dr. Lindsey Wright  

Research: Statistics show the critical need to provide resources and programs to families to prepare children for school for academic development and achievement. Yet, many children who enter school do not meet the standards for school readiness. McNair’s research evaluated the decline in kindergarten readiness in public school districts. 


Will Ford  

Degree Program: Master of Science in Economic Development 

School:  Finance  

College: Business and Economic Development  

Hometown: Hattiesburg, Mississippi 

Mentor:  Dr. Chad Miller 

Project: Ford has completed numerous economic development research projects for the Trent Lott National Center's clients. His work includes conducting economic impact analyses for new and existing jobs in various regions; creating comprehensive industry performance analyses based on job growth, sales, and regional impact; and secondary data analyses for economic development organizations. He has completed work for: The Area Development Partnership, the North Louisiana Economic Partnership, The Mississippi Forestry Commission, Entergy Mississippi, The City of Hernando, Mississippi, The Hattiesburg Concert Association (FestivalSouth), and the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation.  


Aaron Wesley Romero Broussard 

Degree: Master of Business Administration 

School: Management 

College: Business and Economic Development  

Hometown: Biloxi, Mississippi 

Mentors: Dr. Elizabeth K. LaFleur and Mr. Lance Hopkins  

Project:  Broussard’s capstone project simulates running a business over an eight-year time period. It examines how to successfully manage a corporation by making decisions regarding research and development, marketing, sales forecasting, and human resources.  An aim is to maintain and grow market share in order to achieve industry success. A working professional, Aaron is currently a sales supervisor at Coca-Cola Bottling United.

For information about the USM Graduate School and graduate education at the university, visit