MSU biological engineering major selected as Fulbright finalist

Contact: James Carskadon

Jesse Smith (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A Laurel native and senior biological engineering major is Mississippi State’s newest Fulbright finalist.

Jesse Smith, a member of Mississippi State’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, will travel abroad this year to the United Kingdom’s Cardiff University, ranked among the top 100 universities in the world, as part of the flagship international exchange program. As a finalist in the UK-Cardiff University Partnership Award, he will research depression and drug addiction while pursuing a master’s degree in public health.

“Personally, this is a great opportunity for cultural engagement,” Smith said. “I love learning from different world views; I love connecting with the people that own those views; I love sharing what mine has taught me in return, and that is what Fulbright is all about.”

David Hoffman, an associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, helped guide Smith through the application process as MSU’s Fulbright Program Administrator and part of the advising team in the Shackouls Honors College’s Office of Prestigious External Scholarships.

“This is great news for both Jesse and MSU,” Hoffman said. “Fulbright is one of the most prestigious scholarships available to support post-baccalaureate study and research. His successful application is a tribute to the great research, teaching and service opportunities available to MSU undergraduates. There is no doubt that Jesse’s exceptional application was a direct product of the close mentorship he received throughout his undergraduate career.”

At MSU, Smith has accumulated undergraduate research experience with the university’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Department of Psychology and Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems. He also spent a summer researching at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Smith has studied traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and developed computational platforms for research use.

While pursuing his master’s degree at Cardiff, Smith will work in the university’s Centre for Development and Evaluation of Interventions for Public Health Improvement, a Center of Excellence for public health in the United Kingdom.

“I will be studying public health from a psychological perspective,” he said. “My project focuses on learning what puts teens in Cardiff at risk for stress and addiction disorders. More importantly, I want to understand how to apply that knowledge to prevent the disorders from ever occurring. Fulbright allows me to do so while strengthening my own connections, as well as Mississippi State’s and our country’s connections abroad, opening up the opportunity for a lifetime of international collaboration in my work.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those in other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments, host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support.

Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential in their fields. The program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide. This year there were nearly 10,000 applicants to the program. For more about the Fulbright program, visit

For more about MSU’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, visit The Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering is online at

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Friday, April 27, 2018 - 10:38 am