Barrentine Scholarship honors former MSU department head

Contact: Sammy McDavid

Mississippi State's biochemistry and molecular biology department is announcing a new university scholarship fund created by the family of its first leader.

James K. Barrentine of Cleveland, Ohio, Melvin W. Barrentine of Austin, Texas, and Melanie Barrentine Barnes of Birmingham, Ala., recently established the Barrentine Endowed Scholarship in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The gift honors their late parents, Benjamin F. and Melle Ward Barrentine.

Benjamin Barrentine was a 1937 chemistry graduate of Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College--now MSU--who became the university's first biochemistry department head. Melle Barrentine, a Starkville native, also was an A&M chemistry major.

Jud Skelton, development director for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said the endowment "continues Dr. Barrentine's dream of placing his department at the forefront of molecular and biochemical education and research. It is the wish of the Barrentine family that others join them in making contributions to the fund."

Current head John Boyle said the department has expanded its teaching and research efforts over the years to include the increasingly diverse field of molecular biology.

"We are particularly pleased to have the support of the Barrentine family in this endeavor," Boyle said. "Because Dr. Barrentine helped to lay the foundation we build upon today, it is our desire to have the Barrentine Endowed Scholarship become our premier undergraduate academic award. It will be a fitting honor to his achievements and dedication."

Past MSU biochemistry and molecular biology majors "have proven themselves to be among the nation's best," Boyle said.

"They have a history of being selected for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships, which are considered the top undergraduate research scholarships in the nation," he added.

In addition to improving scholastic recognition efforts, Boyle said the department is expanding its research program into such areas as the quality improvement of plant and animal products and the enhancement of plant and animal resistance to diseases and pests, among others.

The Barrentine Endowment is an open fund administered by the MSU Foundation. Others desiring to honor the former department head and his wife may contact Skelton at (662) 325-0643 or Jud Skelton.

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