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Liu garners NIH award to study heart disease
An in-depth understanding of calcium-dependent heart diseases is aiding a Mississippi State faculty member in possible therapy development through a National Institutes of Health research award. Bin Liu, an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, will use the three-year $422,652 award for her research -- “Exploring the role of mitochondria in dysregulated calcium handling in diseased hearts” -- as part of the NIH R15 program to support faculty research, expose students to research and strengthen the research environment of educational institutions. “Inside the heart, there are billions of cardiac muscle cells that contract and relax following changes in calcium,” Liu said. “Calcium concentration goes up and down inside these cells on a beat-to-beat basis.”
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Devost-Burnett joins leadership of national organization expanding diversity in agriculture and natural resources
A faculty member in Mississippi State’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is a new officer of a national organization focused on expanding diversity in the fields of agriculture and natural resources. Derris Devost-Burnett, assistant professor of muscle biology and meat science in MSU’s Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences, will serve as national secretary for Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences, or MANRRS, a society that focuses on promoting academic and professional advancement by empowering minorities in the field. Devost-Burnett will keep records and minutes of society meetings at the national level for the 2021-2022 elected term.
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Stone elected to serve professional dairy association in leadership role
An assistant professor in the Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences at Mississippi State University has been elected vice president of the American Dairy Science Association’s Southern Branch. Amanda Stone, an MSU scientist in the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and dairy specialist for the Extension Service was selected to serve the organization for the 2021-2022 at the ADSA 2021 virtual annual meeting held July 11-14. She will move into the role of president for the 2022-2023 year. She was also one of four asked to present an invited presentation at the American Dairy Science Association’s annual meeting.
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Register today for New Faculty Orientation
Mississippi State University's Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President is hosting New Faculty Orientation on Aug. 17 at The Mill Conference Center, 100 Mercantile St., Starkville. Parking is available in the parking deck behind the center. Attendance is mandatory for all new full-time instructors, clinical, tenured and tenure-track faculty. Business casual attire is recommended. The orientation session will begin at 7:45 a.m. with a light breakfast. Lunch will be served at noon, and orientation will conclude around 3 p.m. This face-to-face orientation will be livestreamed for those uncomfortable attending in person and/or who are not located on main campus. Please click here to register.
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Deadline nears for Faculty Leadership Program applications
Mississippi State University's Office of Research and Economic Development is currently accepting applications for the 2021-2022 Faculty Leadership Program. Interested faculty members that meet eligibility criteria can submit applications through July 30. The Faculty Leadership Program is designed for faculty who have aspirations of becoming an administrator or who simply want to improve their personal leadership skills. Many past participants have been successful and serve in key leadership positions at the university today.
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International Institute shares passport reminders
Mississippi State's International Institute is encouraging all students and faculty who are considering travel within the next six months to apply or renew (if needed) their passport now. Current U.S. passport processing times are significantly longer than normal, so it is more important than ever that you plan early. First-time passport applications and renewals are taking up to 18 weeks for routine service and up to 12 weeks for expedited service (additional $60). If you aren't sure if you need to renew your passport, check the expiration date and make sure it is valid for six months after the end of your potential travel dates. Additionally, keep in mind that if your travel requires a visa, you often need to send your passport to the embassy to receive your visa prior to travel.
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Tours galore: Welcome Center resuming campus visits for individuals and groups
As pandemic restrictions are eased, Mississippi State University’s Welcome Center is resuming personalized individual and group tours of the Starkville campus this summer. Tours are open to all age groups and should be scheduled two weeks in advance. Guided campus tours, as well as historical and children’s tours and self-guided walking tours, are among those available. Each tour is led by a trained student volunteer with MSU’s Maroon VIP program. Tours are conducted Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To view tour options or schedule a visit, go to visit.msstate.edu, call 662-325-5198 or email visit@pres.msstate.edu. “While the MSU admissions office takes care of scheduling prospective student tours, the Welcome Center is here to enlighten visitors on the historical and visual aspects of our beautiful campus,” said Cristi Stevens, coordinator of MSU’s Welcome Center.
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Smoke-free policy enhances healthy environment
Mississippi State University is a smoke-free campus. Official policy prohibits the use of any combustible or vapor products anywhere on campus property including university buildings, university grounds, university vehicles, parking areas and sidewalks. The smoke-free campus policy is part of the university's commitment to creating a healthy environment for all members of the campus community. Use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, pipes, hookah or other similar devices are prohibited by this policy. The complete policy is available at www.policies.msstate.edu/policy/91301.


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Web links are subject to change. Submit news, questions or comments to Jim Laird.
West takes helm of CMLL department as interim
Mississippi State Professor Robert M. West adds interim department head for the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures to his leadership positions on campus. A faculty member in the English department since 2002, West was instrumental in MSU’s 2019 installation of a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. “Dr. West is a long-time member of the faculty in the English department and as such he has shared background regarding the teaching and research challenges in the humanities,” said Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Rick Travis. “Add on his experience as the associate editor of Mississippi Quarterly, which is housed in our college, and he has seen many aspects of administration. He will be a wise decision maker and effective advocate for the department.”
Shoup appointed PSPA's interim department head
A Mississippi State University faculty member with more than a decade of service in comparative politics and public policy is the interim head of MSU’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration. Associate Professor Brian D. Shoup previously served as the faculty advisor for the Mississippi Model Security Council and PSPA’s undergraduate coordinator. Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Rick Travis said Shoup is “well acquainted with the scope of the department” as he begins his tenure as interim department head. Shoup received his Ph.D. in political science with a focus in comparative politics and public policy from Indiana University and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Creighton University in Omaha. His primary research interests are ethnic conflict, state and nation-building, and sub-Saharan African politics.
Scott awarded fourth NSF grant in five years
Since joining Mississippi State University’s faculty in 2015, Assistant Professor Colleen N. Scott has received more than $1.6 million in awards from the National Science Foundation for her work in chemistry. Scott recently received her fourth NSF award in five years. “With a funded NSF proposal hit rate of 30% in 2020, faculty are fortunate to have one grant in five years,” said Dennis W. Smith, Jr. professor and head of MSU’s chemistry department. “Four NSF grants in five years, including her prestigious NSF Early Career Award, is crazy success.” Scott will use the newest NSF award -- a three-year $190,000 grant -- for her project on new approaches to narrow band electrochromics, a collaborative effort between Scott and Seth Marder, a researcher at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
Folk devises automated system to aid museums in collecting genetic data
A first-of-its-kind approach to unlocking biological collections for large-scale research that will complement museum efforts around the world to digitize collections is being developed by a Mississippi State faculty member. Ryan A. Folk, an assistant professor of biological sciences and herbarium curator at MSU, is using a $432,781 three-year National Science Foundation grant to automate the data collection process by using a combination of unique object identifiers, QR codes and citizen scientists, or non-biologists recruited to help with data acquisition. “Our goal is to create a resource for the scientific community,” said Folk, who is collaborating with researchers from the University of Florida, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Iowa State University. MSU Department of Biological Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow Carolina Siniscalchi also is involved in the project.
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