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REUs provide additional student opportunities, funding

We were pleased to see late last month that Mississippi State is among the top 60 public universities in the country in the latest edition of “The Top American Research Universities.” The annual report released by the Center for Measuring University Performance, a project of Arizona State and the University of Massachusetts, uses National Science Foundation data to measure and rank the nation’s leading research universities, and our placement at No. 56 in the survey is additional confirmation that MSU is our state’s flagship research institution thanks to the outstanding work of our faculty, staff and students. Thank you for your contributions to the success of MSU’s research enterprise.

It is hard to believe that spring break is a week away. This semester is moving quickly, and my office has been working on a number of important research and economic development initiatives that I would like to share with you.


David Shaw is vice president for research and economic development at Mississippi State University.

In conjunction with President Keenum's effort on enhancing undergraduate research opportunities at MSU, as well as the work of the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President and the Committee on Undergraduate Research and Creative Discovery, our office will host an interest session for the university community on writing proposals for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) on Tuesday [March 4] from 4-5 p.m. in Colvard Student Union, Room 329. The REU program is supported by federal agencies, and facilitates active research participation by undergraduate students in many disciplines. It is also a means of providing indirect funding for undergraduate students to participate in research while leveraging the current university effort to receive extramural funding to support additional undergraduate students. This is only one of many ways to help position MSU as the leading institution for undergraduate research while recruiting students not only to our university, but also onto a research-related career path. I encourage you to attend this session and learn more about the benefits and process of securing extramural funding through this program.

The university’s newest supercomputer, Shadow, is now installed and available for researchers here at Mississippi State. We are awaiting word from the next Top 500 benchmarking to determine where it will land in the rankings, but we know it will be one of the top machines at academic institutions worldwide. The member centers and institutes within the High Performance Computing Collaboratory are willing to work with faculty in accessing these phenomenal computational resources. The HPC2 system administrator, Trey Breckenridge, can assist you in providing information as you write grant proposals that can use these resources. Please contact him at trey@hpc.msstate.edu

As I have mentioned, providing research and community engagement opportunities for all of our students are top priorities at Mississippi State. On April 3, my office is co-sponsoring the Spring 2014 Undergraduate Research Symposium and Community Engagement Presentations. This program is open to all of our undergraduate students who are participating in faculty-guided research this academic year. Please encourage your students to participate in this special event, which features four categories: arts and humanities, biological sciences and engineering, physical sciences and engineering, and social sciences. For additional information, please visit http://www.honors.msstate.edu/research/symposium or contact Seth Oppenheimer at seth@math.msstate.edu

Dr. Lucy Senter, university veterinarian and director of Laboratory Animal Resources, reports that after an extensive review and site visit by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory and Animal Care International, the regulated animal care and use programs at the College of Veterinary Medicine and in the College of Arts and Sciences have been re-accredited fully. AAALAC accreditation is an example of Mississippi State’s commitment to responsible animal care and use. In addition to complying with local, state and federal laws regulating animal research, our institution participates in AAALAC’s program voluntarily. This process requires significant effort, and I thank everyone involved who have made it a success.

Sharing faculty and staff achievements with you every month is a highlight of the “Dear Colleagues” letter for me, and here are a few that have crossed my desk recently:

* Congratulations to K.C. Morrison, professor and head of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, who is now serving on the board of the American Society for Public Administration.

* Kudos to Damir Novosel, a 1991 Ph.D. graduate of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, who has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and to Giles Distinguised Professor Roger King, who was his major advisor and dissertation director at MSU. Election to the National Academy of Engineering is one of the highest professional distinctions for engineers, and this honor speaks very well of Dr. Novosel, as well as Dr. King and our university.

* Congratulations to Antaoli Afanasjev, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, who has been named a fellow of the American Physical Society — one of only 13 from the APS Division of Nuclear Physics. Dr. Afanasjev was honored for “his pioneering work on covariant nuclear density functional theory, and his contributions to the understanding of collective phenomena in atomic nuclei.”

* Kudos to the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and to everyone involved in the university’s outstanding cybersecurity education and research programs. A recent third-party survey of IT professionals for Hewlett-Packard ranks Mississippi State’s cyber program among the best — coming in at No. 3 in the nation. Read more about this honor in the Office of Public Affairs’ news release at http://www.msstate.edu/web/media/detail.php?id=6502

* Congratulations to Robbie Kroger, whose REACH (Research and Education to Advance Conservation and Habitat) program was recently accepted as a case study in the World Bank Shades of Green Series. Dr. Kroger is also serving as the science advisor for the RESTORE Council overseeing funds from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

We had a terrific turnout for Lawrence Berkeley National Lab Day last month with dozens of our researchers meeting with lab officials. We anticipate a number of productive collaborations to come from this meeting. Thanks to everyone who supported this effort, and thank you for reading this month’s letter. If you have any questions or comments about research or economic development at MSU, please feel free to contact me at dshaw@research.msstate.edu

Go Dawgs!

— David


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