Office of the Provost
Office of the Provost
Dr. LaWanda Baskin currently serves as the Director for the School of Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice at The University of Southern Mississippi. She has more than 20 years of experience as a nurse, 10 years of experience as a nurse practitioner and nurse educator.
Dr. Baskin received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from The University of Southern Mississippi, her Master of Science degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner from Alcorn State University and her PhD in Nursing Leadership from The University of Southern Mississippi.
Dr. Baskin maintains active practice as a nurse practitioner and is dedicated to improving health equity for minority patients in underserved communities. She is also actively involved in improving Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts in higher education here at the University and nationally.
Kelsey A. Bonfils, PhD is an Assistant Professor and licensed psychologist in the School of Psychology. She received her degree from Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, and completed clinical internship at UCLA. In 2020 she completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center (MIRECC) of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and the University of Pittsburgh.
Dr. Bonfils has expertise in the research and treatment of social cognitive deficits in schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and other psychopathology. Dr. Bonfils’ work examines how sleep disturbance, inflammation, and emotional processes intersect with social cognitive abilities for this group. Dr. Bonfils is driven in her work to apply findings to treatment and optimize outcomes for patients with severe mental illnesses to promote recovery, especially in the realm of social functioning.
Jennifer Brannock is Professor and Curator of Rare Books and Mississippiana at the University of Southern Mississippi. She has a BA in Art History and an MSLS from the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include special collections outreach, reference service, and midcentury publishing history. Jennifer is the recipient of two honors given by the Research and User Services Association for her research – the 2020 Genealogy/History Achievement Award and the 2019 Gale Cengage Learning History Research and Innovation Award.
She is currently working on a book project about Mississippi author Con Sellers, the sleaze publishing industry, and midcentury ideas of gender and sexuality.
Dr. Samuel Bruton is a Professor of Philosophy, having come to USM in 1998. Since 2012, he has served as the Director of the Office of Research Integrity, where he has oversight responsibilities over the University’s IRB, IACUC, annual FCOI disclosure, and research ethics training. He is also USM’s Research Integrity Officer.
He publishes on research ethics and other topics in applied ethics. His current research includes an NSF funded project on COVID’s impact on academic research practices and a Lucas grant funded project on citation ethics. He also serves as associate editor for Science and Engineering Ethics.
He regularly teaches a variety of philosophy classes including ethics, critical thinking, and philosophy of law, and he regularly conducts research ethics workshops for various constituencies around campus.
2022 Graduate Mentor of the Year is Dr. Daniel Capron. He was named a Nina Bell Suggs Professor of Clinical Psychology and is a licensed clinical psychologist.
He joined USM in 2015 after completing his Ph.D. at Florida State University. Focusing on understanding and treating anxiety, trauma, and suicide-related psychopathology, Dr. Capron has garnered over $5 million in grants and contracts as principal or co-investigator and published dozens of peer-reviewed articles.
Nominated by a current graduate student, he is recognized for setting high expectations for his students an preparing them for successful careers.
Mike received his B.S. and Ph.D. in Botany and Microbiology from Auburn University and has been a member of the biology faculty at USM since 2001.
Mike was instrumental in creating the Lake Thoreau Environmental Center (USM’s 300-acre nature center) and serves as its director.
Mike’s botanical research has been conducted in California, Cuba, New Caledonia, and
South Africa. His current research focuses on examining the rich botanical diversity
of longleaf pine forests in the Gulf Coastal Plain.
Morgan Eckenrod, an Assistant Professor in the School of Kinesiology and Nutrition, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Sport Coaching Education and Exercise Science. Morgan arrived at the University of Southern Mississippi in August 2019 after finishing her PhD in Sport Psychology and Motor Behavior at the University of Tennessee.
Her research is centered on improving NCAA student-athletes and military personnel’s’ physical and psychological performance and prosperity through instructing and implementing a wide range of sport psychology theories and techniques.
Dr. Olivia Clare Friedman is the author of Here Lies, a novel published by Grove Atlantic, and a book of short stories, Disasters in the First World, from Grove Press/Black Cat. She is also the author of a book of poems, The 26-Hour Day. Her stories have been published in The Paris Review, Granta, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Southern Review, and many other journals.
For her fiction, she is the recipient of an O. Henry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award. For her poetry, she is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and the Olive B. O'Connor Fellowship from Colgate University. She's been awarded fellowships from MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and Tin House. She is an Assistant Professor in English, Creative Writing, at the University of Southern Mississippi, where she holds the title of Nina Bell Suggs Endowed Professor.
Dr. Galloway is in his second year as a faculty member in the School of Kinesiology and Nutrition. He attended Belhaven University where he played baseball and received his BS in Sports Medicine before attending Mississippi State University to receive his MS in Exercise Physiology. Upon receiving his MS degree, he completed Emergency Medical Technician training and then returned to Belhaven University to start his teaching career. Dr. Galloway received his Ph.D. in Health and Kinesiology from the University of Mississippi where he focused on physiology and obesity-related concerns.
His research is primarily aimed at childhood and adult obesity and the relation to physiological mechanisms. His current projects are in childhood obesity remediation during school hours as well as allometric scaling techniques of cardiorespiratory fitness in obese adults. Due to his work with this population, Dr. Galloway became a recent member of the Mississippi Center for Clinical and Translational Research.
Dr. Yanlin Guo is a professor of cell biology. He received his Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from the University of Texas at Austin in 1996. He was a postdoctoral fellow at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine from 1996 to 1999. Dr. Guo was employed as a Research Assistant Professor in the Sol Sherry Thrombosis Research Center at Temple University School of Medicine from 1999 to 2004 where he studied vascular biology and the process of angiogenesis.
He joined the Department of Biological Sciences at USM in 2004. His research projects utilize mouse embryonic stem cells as a model system to investigate the molecular mechanisms that control stem cell differentiation and the development of innate immunity.
Alen Hajnal is an associate professor of psychology who studies perception and action using psychophysical methods. Dr. Hajnal obtained his PhD in experimental psychology in 2007 from the University of Connecticut.
Dr. Hajnal publishes in high impact peer reviewed journals in the field of experimental psychology, and has been a member of the editorial board of Frontiers in Psychology: Quantitative Psychology and Measurement since 2019. He is the director of the Perception, Action and Cognition Lab, and the coordinator of the Brain and Behavior PhD program at the School of Psychology.
During his sabbatical leave in 2019 Dr. Hajnal investigated perception in virtual reality and studied the effects of scattered light on object recognition at the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the Budapest University of Technology in Hungary. In June 2022 he will host the North American Conference of Ecological Psychology at USM drawing experimental psychologists from around the world.
Caitlyn Herzlinger is a certified teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors (SAFD) and Dueling Arts International (DAI), as well as a certified yoga instructor and the Assistant Professor of Movement and Acting at the University of Southern Mississippi.
In addition to teaching, Caitlyn works as an actress, director, fight director and intimacy director. Her fight direction has been seen on stage at Eureka College, Monmouth College, SUNY New Paltz and Western Illinois University. She has worked as an assistant fight director at The Alabama Shakespeare Festival, People's Light Theatre and The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival. She is currently in her second season working as a fight and intimacy director for Utah Shakespeare Festival.
Because health changes prompt adult learning, Dr. Hill’s research focuses on adult health learning and health literacy. She has contributed 95 publications to the literature and published in adult education, qualitative research, higher education, and pharmacy education.
Her work has been cited more than 1000 times in North/Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Middle East, and Australia. She teaches a variety of courses and has chaired more than 60 dissertation committees. She received the Okes Award for Outstanding Research in Adult Education in 2015 from the American Association of Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE). She was inducted into the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame (2018) and received the Career Achievement Award from the Commission of Professors of Adult Education (2021). Dr. Hill is co-editor of Adult Learning, the practitioner-oriented journal of AAACE. At Southern Miss, Dr. Hill was 2020-21 President of Faculty Senate and is an IRB member.
Katie Howie is an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi and was a faculty member in Alberta, Canada before coming to USM.
Katie’s research interests primarily relate to brand activism, political orientation, and consumer well-being. Katie has published academic research in premier journals such as the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science and the Journal of Business Ethics (she also serves on the editorial board). She also has work appearing in popular press outlets, such as The Conversation.
Before entering academia, Katie worked in corporate marketing for Bass Pro Shops, a leading international retailer of outdoor sporting goods. In her free time, Katie likes to cook for friends, have dance parties with her kids, and mountain bike.
Dr. Huff is an assistant professor of Psychology in the College of Education and Human Sciences and is the director of the Memory, Attentional Control, and Aging lab.
Dr. Huff’s research focuses on long-term memory processes and various methods to improve memory accuracy in applied setting such as improving educational methods in the classroom and reducing false memory errors that can compromise the accuracy of eyewitness testimony.
Research projects also examine the role of attentional processes in memory performance and how memory and attention change in advancing age. Dr. Huff’s lab has contributed nearly 50 peer-reviewed publications and has received funding from the National Institutes of Health and the John Templeton Foundation.
Dr. Karim conducts fundamental, multidisciplinary, and applied research focused on ticks and tick-borne diseases. The overarching goal of his ongoing research is to dissect the tripartite interactions between ticks, microbes, and pathogens they transmit to the mammalian host.
He uses translational functional genomic approaches to decode the salivary armamentarium of ticks. His team has identified the tick saliva antigens responsible for inducing alpha-gal syndrome (red meat allergy) and developed a murine mouse model of Alpha-Gal knockout.
His ongoing research aims to develop immunotherapeutics to cure red meat allergy patients.
Dr. Melissa Kossman joined the University of Southern Mississippi in the Fall of 2019 as an Assistant Professor of Athletic Training. Upon arriving at USM, she jumped right into opportunities to help establish herself as an independent researcher, effective educator, and service-oriented colleague. Dr. Kossman has completed the full series of ACUE courses, is a current participant in the Faculty Leadership Institute, and was promoted to Assistant Director of the School of Health Professions in the Fall of 2021.
In addition to Dr. Kossman’s teaching and administrative responsibilities, she continues to forge new collaborative relationships and pursue research. Her research interests include using mixed methodological approaches to identify, understand, and improve issues relating to sport safety and sport culture.
Dr. Krsmanovic earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education and Policy Studies at the University of Central Florida. She is an Assistant Professor in Higher Education and Student Affairs program in the School of Education. Dr. Krsmanovic’s higher education background includes work in the areas of faculty development and first-year student experience.
Her research areas include scholarship of teaching and learning, curriculum and course design, first-year experience, high-impact practices, and internationalization of higher education.
Prior to her higher education career, she worked in different international settings designing and facilitating educational programs in the fields of ESL and adult education.
Dr. Amy Lebert serves as the Speech-Language Pathology Clinic Coordinator and a Lecturer in the School of Speech and Hearing Sciences. She has been employed with the University of Southern Mississippi for 14 years.
She teaches several undergraduate courses and supervises graduate student clinicians during their on-campus clinical practicum. She serves on numerous college level committees and currently chairs the graduate admissions committee. Additionally, she is involved with a myriad of professional activities including Council of Academic Accreditation Site Visitor, Council of Speech-Language-Hearing Association Presidents Past President, and Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association 2018 President and 2021 Conference Chair. Dr. LeBert has received several awards including Honors of the Association, Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2020, Outstanding Faculty Service, College of Nursing and Health Professions, 2020, Outstanding Faculty Service, College of Health, 2018, and Distinguished Mentor, College of Health, 2017. Lastly, she has presented at the state and national level during the last five years.
Dr. Jennifer L. Lemacks is an Associate Professor in the School of Health Professions and College of Nursing and Health Professions Associate Dean for Research. She is a registered and licensed dietitian, and serves as co-director of the Mississippi INBRE Community Engagement and Training Core and director of the Telenutrition Center.
Her research is driven by a passion to reduce preventable chronic disease disparities in underserved populations. She has worked with multi-disciplinary faculty, students and community organizations to implement externally funded projects. She is creator of the Mississippi INBRE Outreach Scholars program that engages students in an integrated community research, service and outreach summer program.
Dr. Lemacks has worked with a community-based organization to launch the new Open Arms Healthcare Center Community Health Solutions site in Hattiesburg which is a community-academic partnership to address the primary prevention care gaps in the Pine Belt community.
Dr. Luckhardt is a medieval historian who received her Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the University of Notre Dame.
Her research focuses on the religious and cultural history of the early Middle Ages (ca. 400 – 1000 AD). She has recently published her first book, The Charisma of Distant Places: Travel and Religion in the Early Middle Ages (London: Routledge, 2020), which explores migration through an examination of religious movement to reveal the diversity of religious travel, from the voluntary journeys of pilgrims to the forced travel of Christian slaves.
Her work seeks to understand ideas about power, holiness, identity, and mobility during the transformation of the Roman world in the global Middle Ages.
Hani Morgan is a professor of education in the School of Education at the University of Southern Mississippi. He received his doctorate in Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education from Rutgers University.
Morgan is the author of The World’s Highest-Scoring Students and the co-editor of The World Leaders in Education. He has also authored and co-authored more than 60 journal articles.
Much of his research focuses on how various factors related to the learning environment affect students.
Dr. Sarah Morgan is Bennett Distinguished Professor and Associate Director of the School of Polymer Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi. She joined the university in 2003 after a 14-year career at GE Plastics in engineering thermoplastics, where she held technical and managerial positions at GE locations around the world.
Morgan’s research bioinspired polymers for biomedical applications and nanocomposites for sustainable materials applications. She is equally passionate about polymer education and development of the next generation of scientists and engineers. Her research is funded by NSF, NIH, DoD, and industrial partners. Morgan is Science Director of the state-wide Center for Emergent Molecular Optoelectronics funded by NSF, and PI of the multi-investigator Multifunctional Materials to Address Military Engineering research collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Morgan is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2020 and recipient of The Society of Plastics Engineers Education Award.
Joseph Peterson received his PhD from Yale University in 2017, and is a historian of Modern France, religion, and imperialism.
His book, Sacred Rivals: Catholic Missions and the Making of Islam in Nineteenth Century France and Algeria, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.
His writing has appeared in the LA Review of Books, the Washington Post, the Journal of Modern History, and elsewhere. At USM, he teaches World History survey courses and upper-division courses in Modern European history.
Elizabeth Polcha is an Assistant Professor of English and Digital Humanities at USM. She received her PhD from Northeastern University.
Her research on the history of science and literature of the colonial Americas has been supported by Mellon/ACLS, the John Carter Brown library at Brown University, the American Antiquarian Society, and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.
Candice Salyers is an Assistant Professor of Dance and specializes in using the arts in humanitarian service. Her performance work has been presented in the US, UK, Estonia, Spain, Morocco, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic, and she was one of 10 US artists selected to participate in an international exchange between National Dance Project (US) and Culture Ireland (IE). She has spent 18 years designing site-specific performances in public landscapes and was recently awarded an artist residency in Acadia National Park.
She received an MFA in Performance & Choreography and a PhD in Dance, specializing in the intersection of performance process, feminist theories, and environmental philosophy. Dr. Salyers’s work has been honored with an Alma Bucovaz Award for Urban Service, Choreographic and Solo Performance Fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Mississippi Arts Commission, and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for her forthcoming book. She was one of the first dancers invited to speak at the Society for European Philosophy, and her publications include contributions to Tanz, Bewegung, und Spiritualität, The Journal of Environmental Philosophy, and the Journal of Performance and Mindfulness.
Surendra Raj Sharma is a Graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Biological Science at the University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences (BEES). He joined Dr. Shahid Karim’s Lab in the spring of 2018.
He works on different aspects of tick biology and how they are successful in transmitting a range of pathogens as well as causing allergies to humans and animals. The overall goal of his research is to characterize tick and host-associated factors linked to the induction of Alpha-Gal Syndrome or Red-meat allergy.
In the last 4 years, he has published five peer-reviewed research articles as first author or first co-author. In addition to that, he has also presented more than nine papers at scientific conferences. Moreover, he has been assisting, guiding, and mentoring undergraduates in their thesis work as well as teaching BSC 251 Lab courses for undergraduates at USM.
Joyce M. Shaw (MA, MLIS) is Head of Gunter Library at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (School of Ocean Science and Engineering) and Professor, Southern Miss University Libraries. Since 2011, she has hosted the popular public program, GCRL Science Café.
In 2012, she co-authored “Ocean Springs,” a part of the Images of American series.
She is chair of the Mississippi Library Association Special Libraries Section and Atmospheric Science Librarians International, a member of the executive board of the USM-AAUP chapter, and a new member of the Gulf Coast Faculty Council. She is a Past-President and current member of the Rotary Club of Ocean Springs and associate member of the North Bay Civitan Club. Over the last 26 years at Gunter Library, she has mentored 18 undergraduate students, 7 graduate students, and 2 tenure track librarians. She enjoys volunteering and collecting Matchbox and Hot Wheels toy work vehicles especially concrete mixers.
Dr. Ahmed Sherif: Assistant Professor in the School of Computing Sciences and Computer Engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), USA. He received his Ph.D. degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Tennessee Tech University, Cookeville, Tennessee, the United States in August 2017.
Dr. Sherif is the author of numerous papers published in major IEEE conferences and journals, such as the IEEE International Conference on Communications (IEEE ICC), IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing (IEEE TDSC), IEEE Transaction of Vehicular Technology (IEEE TVT), and IEEE IoT Journal. He served as a reviewer for several journals and conferences such as IEEE TVT, IEEE IoT Journal, and the journal of Peer-to-Peer Networking. His research interests include cybersecurity; machine learning in cybersecurity; security and privacy-preserving schemes in Autonomous Vehicles (AVs), Vehicular Ad hoc Networks (VANETs), Internet of Things (IoT) applications, and Smart Grid Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) network.
Dr. Stavres is currently an assistant professor within the School of Kinesiology & Nutrition at the University of Southern Mississippi. Prior to joining Southern Miss, he completed his postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular physiology under the direction of Dr. Lawrence Sinoway at the Penn State Heart and Vascular Institute and Penn State College of Medicine. There, he also served as an assistant research professor within the Department of Medicine.
His research agenda focuses on neural control and autonomic regulation, with a particular emphasis on the baroreflex and the afferent exercise pressor reflex.
Dr. Stavres was born and raised in western Pennsylvania, and currently lives in Hattiesburg with family of five and two dogs.
Dr. Rebecca Tuuri is an associate professor of history at the University of Southern Mississippi with expertise in Civil Rights, African American, and Women’s and Gender history. She is co-director for the Center for the Study of the Gulf South and a member of the Center for Black Studies at USM. She also serves on the boards of the Gulf South Historical Association, the Mississippi Historical Society, and is the Mississippi State Scholar for the Smithsonian exhibition Voices and Votes.
Her 2018 book Strategic Sisterhood: The National Council of Negro Women in the Black Freedom Struggle won the 2019 prize for best book in Southern women's history from the Southern Association of Women Historians.
She is also the 2021 Mississippi Humanities Council Teacher of the Year, 2019 USM College of Arts and Sciences Junior Faculty of the Year, and a 2016 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend award winner.
Dr. Alexandra Valint is an Associate Professor of English and started at USM in 2012. She teaches and researches Victorian literature, children’s literature, disability studies, gothic literature, and narrative theory.
Her book Narrative Bonds: Multiple Narrators in the Victorian Novel was published in 2021 by The Ohio State University Press. Her next book project examines mobility aids in Victorian literature and culture. She has published articles in the following journals: Dickens Studies Annual; Victorian Literature and Culture; Nineteenth-Century Contexts; Children’s Literature Association Quarterly; and English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920. She received the Junior Faculty Outstanding Teaching Award from USM’s Faculty Senate in 2017, has twice received the Lucas Endowment for Faculty Excellence, and frequently teaches in USM’s British Studies Program in London, England. Currently, she serves on the planning committee for USM’s Undergraduate Symposium on Research and Creative Activity and on the Center for Faculty Development's Advisory Board.
Dr. Davin Wallace is an associate professor in the School of Ocean Science and Engineering at the University of Southern Mississippi. He received a B.S. double major in Geology and German Literature from Tulane University, and his Ph.D. in Earth Science from Rice University. He was an NSF postdoctoral research fellow jointly at the Woods Hole Oceanographic institution and University of Massachusetts Amherst.
He is a geologist/marine scientist/oceanographer who investigates the response of coastal and marine systems to storms, sea-level rise, and sediment supply variations over a variety of timescales. Dr. Wallace works in areas from the coastal plain to the shelf edge, and combines field observations, lab measurements, and numerical modeling in his work. Specifically, his work entails integrating sediment cores, geophysics, particle size analysis, short-lived isotopes, and radiocarbon.
Dr. Wallace has studies modern and ancient events, reconstructed storms in the context of paleoclimate, and used inverse numerical models to understand storm sediment transport. Additionally, he has worked on understanding how barrier islands, bays, estuaries, and river systems evolve in the context of forcing mechanisms over timescales of 1-100,000 years. Dr. Wallace currently has active field sites around the Gulf of Mexico, North Carolina, Bermuda and the Philippines.
Dr. Jason K. Wallace (he/him) serves as assistant professor of higher education in the School of Education at The University of Southern Mississippi. Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, Dr. Wallace is a proud first-generation college graduate, an accomplishment he owes primarily to his mother, and a TRIO Student Support Services and Ronald E. McNair Scholars alum.
Dr. Wallace’s scholarship uses critical theories to examine the ways power and oppression shape the experiences of minoritized stakeholders in higher education, with emphasis on the experiences of Black and first-generation students, staff, and faculty.
Dr. Wallace holds a Ph.D. in Education with an emphasis in College Student Affairs Administration and a graduate certificate in Interdisciplinary Qualitative Studies from the University of Georgia. He received an M.Ed. in Educational Administration and a B.S. in Advertising and Public Relations from Texas Christian University.
Kimberly Ward, Au.D., CCC-A is an Associate Professor and Audiologist at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Dr. Ward teaches graduate courses in the Doctor of Audiology program including courses pertaining to cochlear implants, pediatric audiology, and clinical audiology. In addition, she serves the south Mississippi community by providing audiological services, including hearing evaluations, hearing aid fittings and cochlear implant mappings, to infants and children, aged birth to 21 years.
Dr. Ward is a past president of the Educational Audiology Association (EAA) and the Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association (MSHA) and received the MSHA Clinical Achievement Award in 2015. She has served as the chair of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Medicaid Committee and is currently serving on the ASHA Healthcare Economics Committee. She continues to serve on leadership boards and committees for numerous state and international philanthropic and professional organizations.