Planting seeds: Internal funding helps MSU faculty grow international partnerships

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State faculty members are growing international partnerships thanks to the university’s Global Development Seed Grants program.

Administered by the university’s International Institute and funded by the Office of Research and Economic Development, the seed funding provides faculty with up to $5,000 to support global projects with high potential for societal impact, external funding, research output and capacity building. As the 2024 recipients are awarded, three projects funded in 2023 are already making an impact in geosciences, forestry and anthropology.

Padmanaya Dash, pictured in front of a sign about Chilika Lake
Padmanava Dash traveled to India’s Chilika Lake as part of his research project supported by an MSU International Seed Grant.

“The results of these seed grants underscore our faculty’s ability to turn research opportunities into meaningful impact,” said MSU Vice President for Research and Economic Development Julie Jordan. “I am proud of our university’s global engagement and look forward to seeing it continue to grow as we launch new partnerships around the world.”

Estaban Galeano talks with tree growers in Colombia
Esteban Galeano visits with partners in Colombia, where the forestry professor developed new controlled pollination techniques.

Padmanava Dash, associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, used the seed funding to develop an algorithm for a new satellite and model-based tool to better understand climate change impacts on fisheries in aquatic environments. Dash is collaborating with three institutions on the project, with a particular focus on India’s Chilika Lake, the second largest coastal lagoon in the world. After developing an algorithm that incorporated satellite data on chlorophyll-a, next steps include creating a visualization tool to inform fisheries impacts related to land use, land cover and climate change.

Shawn Lambert poses for a picture while digging at an archaeological site
Shawn Lambert used an MSU International Seed Grant to study connections between Mississippi and Liberia.

Esteban Galeano, assistant professor in the Department of Forestry, used the seed grant to advance his work developing non-transgenic tree species genotypes with potentially higher carbon assimilation rates and drought tolerance in the U.S. and Colombia. The collaboration with National University of Colombia and Silvotecnia resulted in the development of new controlled pollination techniques, the training of more than 40 students and a $300,000 grant with the USDA Forest Service.  

MSU Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures assistant professor Shawn Lambert and adjunct faculty member Andrew Whitaker used seed funding to conduct an archaeological survey and excavation at Prospect Hill Plantation in Jefferson County. Combined with ethnographic field work conducted in Liberia, the research examines the flow of material culture, memory, and genetics from Mississippi to Liberia.

Studio portrait of Mohsen Azimi
Mohsen Azimi
Headshot of Zhiqian Chen
Zhiqian Chen
Studio portrait of Joel Komakech
Joel Komakech
Studio potrait of Daniel Stevens
Daniel Stevens
A picture of Holley Muraco
Holley Muraco

The Global Developed Seed Grants Awarded in 2024 include:

— “Numerical, Analytical, and Experimental Analysis on Improving the Efficiency of the Bladeless Wind Turbine” by Mohsen Azimi, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

— “Revolutionizing Trajectory Mining with Large Language Models: A New Paradigm in Spatial-Temporal Data Analysis” by Zhiqian Chen, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and Kaiqi Zhao of the University of Auckland.

— “Integrating Community-Engaged Learning, Capacity Development, and Farm2Fork Training for Improved Maternal and Child Health in Busoga Region, Uganda” by Joel Komakech, assistant professor in the Department of Food, Science, Nutrition and Health Promotion, and Jessica Graves, lecturer in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of international capacity development at M4 Institute.

— “Coastal One Health and Conservation Research: PERU” by Holley Muraco, Mark Woodrey, and Megan Chevis, all research professors at the Coastal Research and Extension Center, as well as Veronica Ormea, veterinarian at Universidad Peruana De Ciencias Aplicadas.

— “Harmony Across Borders: A Collaborative Initiative for Cultural Exchange” by Daniel Stevens, music department head, as well as Amy Catron and Sophie Wang, both faculty members in the Department of Music.

For more on MSU’s global initiatives, visit

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