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Mississippi State researchers test their improv skills as part of an exercise during a workshop on communicating science last month. Sponsored by MSU's Office of Research and Economic Development, the workshop included a formal presentation and two breakout sessions led by Jason Organ, an assistant professor of anatomy and cell biology at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Organ, who is also the co-editor for the Public Library of Science (PLOS) Communication Blog, taught participants the importance of distilling a complex message down to more effectively communicate with people inside and outside a scientific discipline. PHOTO: Megan Bean | Public Affairs

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Welch's iguana study may yield broader conservation applications
A Mississippi State biological sciences faculty member is conducting international research that may help clarify the disease transmission threats of invasive species and lead to better management of endangered species. An expert on the conservation genetics of iguanas, Professor Mark E. Welch is developing new international collaborations to stem the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in iguanas inhabiting the Cayman Islands. He visited Grand Cayman this fall for the Blue Iguana Species Survival Action Plan Workshop, a weeklong program to develop a long-term management strategy for the area’s endemic blue iguanas.
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Counterman working to uncover evolutionary mysteries
Groundbreaking research on the evolutionary history of the Heliconius butterfly is the topic of three current articles involving a Mississippi State biological sciences faculty member. Associate Professor Brian Counterman is part of a research team whose new study is featured on the November cover of “Science” shedding light on phylogenomics -- the intersection of the fields of evolution and genomics -- and the ability of Heliconius to split into many species within a small window of time, a topic that has made the butterflies prime research subjects for evolutionary biologists for decades.
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Faculty recognized nationally for contributions to classical studies
Two Mississippi State faculty members are co-recipients of the 2019 Outreach Prize from the Society for Classical Studies, the largest professional association for classicists in the world. Salvador Bartera, assistant professor of classics in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures, and Donna L. Clevinger, a senior faculty fellow and professor in the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College, are being recognized for exemplary efforts in promoting classical studies to new audiences. They will accept their national award at the SCS annual conference in Washington, D.C., this January.
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MSU Extension adds community wellness planners
The Mississippi State University Extension Service has hired two new community wellness planners. Trudy Glusenkamp and Christyna Mangum joined the Extension Office of Nutrition Education Nov. 15. They will work with Extension’s regional registered dietitians to help improve nutrition and health in limited-resource communities. Glusenkamp and Mangum will deliver Extension Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education, or SNAP-Ed, evidence-based courses that teach children and adults about fun food facts, living a physically active lifestyle, and how to prepare quick and easy meals on a budget safely.
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MSU Libraries personnel contribute to online exhibit on slavery in Southeast U.S.
Mississippi State Universities Libraries personnel have helped develop a first-of-its-kind online exhibit on slavery in the Southeastern United States. The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries recently launched a shared online exhibit, “Enslaved People in the Southeast” to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the slave trade in the English Colonies. University Archivist Jessica Perkins Smith serves as co-chair of the collections group that developed the exhibit, while Coordinator of Manuscripts Jennifer McGillan served on the exhibit’s curation team.
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MSU, Jones sign MOU for Bachelor of Applied Science degree program
Mississippi State University and Jones College signed a memorandum of understanding last week to formalize partnership programs for students enrolled in technical education programs. “We need more two-year and four-year graduates to move Mississippi forward,” MSU President Mark E. Keenum said. “By working together, I believe we’ll be able to better assist our fellow Mississippians in gaining the education they need to compete for the jobs of the 21st century. We are committed to helping all of our BAS students excel, succeed, and earn a bachelor’s degree -- building on the excellent foundation they have been given at Jones.”
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MSU to build innovative $3M Northern Gulf Aquatic Food Research Center on Coast
Mississippi State is announcing plans to build the Northern Gulf Aquatic Food Research Center -- a $3 million facility funded through the state’s RESTORE Act and the first of its kind on the coast providing seafood industry safety testing and quality assurance. Wes Burger, associate director of the university’s Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, said the new analytical laboratory on MAFES property in Pascagoula is part of a three-phase MSU project to help rebuild and strengthen the Northern Gulf region’s seafood industry and economy.
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ActiveHealth offering resource overview webinar
Mississippi State employees are invited to join a free half-hour webinar on Thursday at noon to learn more about the available health and well-being resources provided by ActiveHealth and the MS State and School Employees’ Health Insurance Plan. Click here to register.

 

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Taylor to deliver fall commencement address
Mississippi State alumnus, benefactor and businessman William A. “Lex” Taylor III will address the university’s nearly 1,500 graduates on Friday. Taylor, chairman and CEO of The Taylor Group of Companies, Inc., will speak at MSU’s 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. commencement ceremonies at Humphrey Coliseum. A 1977 graduate of MSU’s College of Business, Taylor has spent most of his life involved in the family-owned business, Louisville-based Taylor Machine Works. He was named chairman of the board in 2008 and has overseen the company as it has grown and diversified, resulting in the formation of The Taylor Group of Companies, Inc.
Fountain to serve as next faculty athletics rep
Brent J. Fountain has been named Mississippi State University’s next faculty athletics representative, or FAR. His term as FAR will begin July 1, 2020. The FAR plays a strategic role at the university, ensuring the academic integrity of the intercollegiate athletics program, facilitating institutional control of intercollegiate athletics, enhancing the student-athlete experience, and advising the president and director of athletics. “I appreciate Dr. Fountain’s willingness to serve in this very important leadership role,” said MSU President Mark E. Keenum.
Willeford to lead Laboratory Animal Resources as interim director
A longtime Mississippi State clinical veterinarian will lead the university’s Office of Laboratory Animal Resources on an interim basis. Dr. Bridget Willeford will begin serving as interim director for Laboratory Animal Resources and University Veterinarian on Dec. 16. She succeeds Dr. Lucy H. Senter, who is retiring after serving as director of the office for 15 years. “This office plays an important role because animals in research settings need an advocate and a veterinarian that can speak for them,” Senter said. “The lab animal veterinarian plays that role for the animals. I will miss many aspects of this job, but, most of all, the people.”
Clary named Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science
A professor in Mississippi State’s Department of Geosciences and director of the university’s Dunn-Seiler Museum is being recognized nationally for her commitment and productivity in geological educational research, teaching and outreach. Renée M. Clary will be honored as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science during the organization’s February 2020 annual meeting in Seattle, Washington. She is among AAAS Fellows affiliated with the organization’s geology and geography section.
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