MSU Announces Winners of Summer Undergraduate Research Symposium


The MSU Undergraduate Research Summer Symposium received 113 project submissions from students conducting faculty-led research at the state’s leading research university. A team of 44 advanced professors and doctoral students judged the projects, which were categorized into arts and humanities, biological sciences and engineering, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences. (Photo by Beth Wynn)

Contact: Sasha Steinberg

STARKVILLE, Mississippi — Eleven students won honors at the recent Mississippi State Undergraduate Research Summer Symposium.

A student uses a brown pen to point at his research poster while explaining the project to a judge at the Mississippi State Undergraduate Research Summer Symposium.
Ian Bunker, visiting chemistry student in Little Rock, Arkansas, explains his research project “Computer Assisted Data Processing of Single Molecule Fracture Junction Experimental Results” to a judge at the recent Undergraduate Research Symposium ‘State of Mississippi. Bunker participates in MSU’s summer research program in chemistry and is supervised by MSU’s assistant professor, Kun Wang, from the Department of Physics and Astronomy. (Photo by Beth Wynn)

Hosted by Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College of MSU, this year’s competition featured 113 project submissions by students conducting faculty-led research at the state’s leading research university. The projects have been classified into four areas: arts and humanities, biological sciences and engineering, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences. Some categories have given rise to several winners due to the large number of entries.

Forty-four advanced-level professors and doctoral students representing a representative sample of academic fields served as judges for the competition.

Anastasia Elder, Director of Undergraduate Research and Associate Dean of the Honors College, said undergraduate research and creative endeavors for all students is part of MSU’s core mission as a higher education institution. . The symposium, she said, is a way for undergraduates to share their research and creative discovery activities to complement their academic studies and preparation.

“We were happy to be able to come back to an event in person and excited to have our biggest summer attendance,” Elder said. “I would like to express my gratitude to our teacher mentors. This symposium cannot take place without their encouragement and support for undergraduate efforts.

This year’s winners represent Mississippi, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee. They include (by type and category of project):


Joseph Newell, an English student from Cary, “The Expansion of Shakespeare’s Heteropatriarchate Through Dreams: A Mockery of the Triumph of Women in“ A Midsummer Night’s Dream ”,” framed by Assistant Professor MSU of English Dhanashree Thorat.


FIRST—Cara Stewart, Abbeville Senior Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture Specialist, “Assessing Climatic Extremes to Priority Bird Species in the Southeastern Coastal Plain”, supervised by Kristine Evans, MSU Assistant Wildlife Professor, fishing and aquaculture. She participates in the undergraduate research program of the MSU Office of Research and Economic Development.

SECOND—Madalyn Jennings, poultry science major from Folsom, Louisiana, “Evaluation of the antibiotic resistance model of avian pathogenic Escherichia coli isolated from broilers with colibacillosis in Mississippi,” supervised by MSU research assistant professor in poultry science Reshma Ramachandran.

THIRD (tie)—Samuel Cothron, Agronomist from Nashville, Tennessee, “Metabolites in the Sucrose / Starch Synthesis Pathway Affect the QQS Transcript in Arabidopsis,” supervised by MSU Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences Ling Li.

THIRD (tie)—Ibraheem Abbood, graduate in chemistry from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in Bryant, Arkansas, “Using mutagenesis to understand how a protein binds to a polystyrene surface”. He participates in a research experiment for undergraduates at MSU and is mentored by MSU chemistry professor Nick Fitzkee.


FIRST—Ian Johnson of Hattiesburg, participant in the University of Southern Mississippi Undergraduate Research Experiment, “Electrospinning Optically Active Polymer Fibers Containing Perovskite for Use in Fibrous LED Devices,” supervised by Associate Professor MSU of chemical engineering Santanu Kundu.

SECOND—Rudane Griffiths, Chemical Engineering Graduate from Starkville, “Efficient Dehydroaromatization of Propane on Ultra-Low Loading Pt / HZSM-5 promoted with Cu,” supervised by MSU Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering Yizhi Xiang.

THIRD (tie)—Bailey Bullard, chemistry graduate from the University of North Georgia in Sharpsburg, Ga., “Biochar test designed for the removal of phosphorus in runoff. She is participating in a National Science Foundation research experiment for undergraduates at MSU and is mentored by MSU chemistry professor Todd Mlsna and MSU landscape architecture professor Tim Schauwecker.

THIRD (tie)—Katelyn Woodard, Chemical Engineering graduate from Paducah, Kentucky, “A Radical Library: Cataloging Radiation Yield of Acrylates Subgoing Electron-beam Polymerization”, supervised by Julie Jessop, professor of chemical engineering at MSU.


FIRST—Sarah Dulaney, Major in Microbiology from Vicksburg, “Thematic Analysis of Vaccine Disinformation in Social Media,” supervised by Holli Seitz, MSU Assistant Professor of Communication.

SECOND—Lauren Adams, chemistry major from Columbus, “Eye Tracking Studies on Organic Molecule Representational Competence”, supervised by MSU Associate Professor of Chemistry Deb Mlsna.

In 2006, a generous donation from Bobby Shackouls, an MSU alumnus in chemical engineering, and his wife Judy, transformed the Honors University program into MSU’s Shackouls Honors College. The program has supported some of the best and brightest students in the country in their pursuit of educational excellence for over 50 years. Learn more about

MSU is Mississippi’s premier university, available online at

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