Womack named Miss. State Chemical Lab director, interim State Chemist

Contact: James Carskadon

Studio portrait of Erika Womack
Erika Womack (Photo by Grace Cockrell)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—A two-time Mississippi State graduate is returning to the university as director of the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory and interim State Chemist.

Erika Womack is now leading the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, a state agency housed on the MSU campus that provides testing and analysis services on products sold in the state for a wide range of stakeholders. Womack returns to MSU from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she has served as a research laboratory manager in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation since 2019. Her appointment as State Chemist is pending confirmation from the Mississippi Senate.

“The Mississippi State Chemical Lab utilizes a staff of very talented scientists to provide a vital service to our state, and I am excited to have Dr. Womack leading the team,” said MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan. “She brings strong academic credentials and lab management experience to the university and is well-positioned to continue the excellent service MSCL provides.”

The MSCL works in cooperation with the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce to develop regulations for and conduct analysis of animal feeds, fertilizers, pesticides, agricultural limes and petroleum products sold in the state. It also assures the quality of retail foods, fuels, livestock feeds, crop protection products and more.

At UAB, Womack was responsible for managing a biosafety level 2 lab while conducting research on the impact of traumatic spinal cord injury on skeletal muscle metabolism. She oversaw and mentored a team that included undergraduate and graduate students, scientists and medical residents. Prior to her appointment at UAB, she worked as a post-doctoral research geneticist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Corn Host Plant Resistance Research Unit. From 2008-2016, she researched pediatric idiopathic scoliosis at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Womack earned her doctorate in molecular biology from MSU, as well as a bachelor’s degree in biological science. She also earned a master’s degree in biomedical science from Mississippi College.

“With ambition, I am sincerely honored to be given the opportunity to lead the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, an organization with tremendous talent and execution that provides a unique service for the enhancement and promotion of agriculture and the protection of consumers in Mississippi,” Womack said.

For more on the Mississippi State Chemical Laboratory, visit www.mscl.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.