Summer research symposium highlights MSU undergraduate, faculty collaborations

Hosted by the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, Mississippi State’s annual Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium received more than 70 project submissions in biological sciences and engineering, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences. A dozen were honored with first-, second- and third place awards by a team of 19 faculty members of varying academic disciplines. (Photo by Russ Houston)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Twelve students at Mississippi State recently were honored for faculty-guided research efforts during the Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium hosted by the university’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College.

For the annual competition, more than 70 students submitted projects in one of three categories—biological sciences and engineering, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences.

A team of 19 faculty members representing a cross-section of academic areas served as competition judges.

Residents of Mississippi, Arkansas, Illinois and New York, this year’s 12 winners include (by project category):


            FIRST—Roger J. Davis Jr. of Anguilla, a senior biochemistry/science major advised by Marilyn Warburton of the USDA Agricultural Research Service.

            SECOND—Hudson F. Chenault of Olive Branch, a senior biological engineering/biomedical engineering major advised by Steve Elder, professor of agricultural and biological engineering.

            THIRD—Mark B. Lewis of Madison, a senior biochemistry/pre-medicine major advised by Jean M.N. Feugang, assistant research professor of animal and dairy sciences.

            THIRD—Amber M. Owen of Jackson, a senior wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture major advised by Kristine Evans, assistant professor in the Forest and Wildlife Research Center.

            THIRD—Kristina Wielgosz of Clarence, New York, a chemistry student at the University of Alabama-Birmingham participating in the National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates-Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems (REU-INFEWS) program. Her faculty advisers include Ashli Brown Johnson, associate professor and Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory director, and Darrell Sparks, associate professor and director, both of MSU’s Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology; and Todd Mlsna, associate professor of chemistry.


            FIRST— Ngan V. “Kevin” Trinh of Gautier, a junior mechanical engineering major advised by Santanu Kundu, assistant professor of chemical engineering.

            SECOND—Tyler L. Woodby of Russellville, Arkansas, a senior microbiology major advised by Keith Hollis, associate professor of chemistry.

            THIRD—Christian B. Bush of Mount Vernon, Illinois, a senior computer engineering major advised by Bryan A. Jones, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.


            FIRST—Alexandra L. Wedderstrand of Ridgeland, a senior psychology major advised by Arazais Oliveros, assistant professor of psychology.

            SECOND—Amber Dedeaux of Hattiesburg, a visiting University of Southern Mississippi psychology student participating in USM counseling psychology associate professor and clinic director Eric Dahlen’s research lab.

            THIRD—Ayla D. Burton of Philadelphia, a senior psychology major advised by Arazais Oliveros, assistant professor of psychology.

            THIRD—Katelyn M. Swiderski of Starkville, a senior biological sciences/pre-medicine major advised by Kathleen Ragsdale, associate research professor at MSU’s Social Science Research Center.

Featured speaker for the symposium was Donna Gordon, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Biological Sciences.

In addition to the honors college, the summer symposium was sponsored by the offices of the Provost and Executive Vice President, and Research and Economic Development, National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center, and Phi Kappa Phi honor society.

Learn more about MSU’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College at and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ShackoulsHonors.

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